GoFundMe started for damaged gravesites

Published 10:22 am Thursday, November 17, 2016

Community members are raising money to repair damage incurred when more than 100 gravesites were damaged at Graceland Cemetery Sunday night.

A GoFundMe page was introduced Tuesday to raise money so the cemetery board can repair the damage.

More than $1,300 was raised as of press time. The site’s goal is $15,000 — slightly more than the $14,000 damage estimate.

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The site was introduced by Doc Bohlman, a childhood friend of Freeborn County Sheriff Kurt Freitag, of Granite Falls.

In a message posted on the GoFundMe page, Bohlman said he still feels a connection to the incident despite not living in the community.

“I’m just a stand-up guy who, when he sees a wrong, does whatever he can to help make it right; and in making my plan with this fundraising campaign known to to the cemetery board, law enforcement and the general public, I hope that everyone who feels the same way about this atrocity will see their way clear to give whatever they are able,” he said. “Every dollar helps.”

Bohlman said he remembers a similar incident happening at one of Granite Falls’ oldest cemeteries when he was in high school.

“Civil War era monuments and grave markers were damaged or destroyed,” he said. “The damage was repaired as best it could be, but you can still see it when you visit it, and it’s very sad. This kind of thing cannot be allowed, and we must come together as a community not only in seeking justice against those who did this, but also for the victims of this senseless act, both living and deceased.”

Cemetery board President Brad Wedge said Albert Lea Monument and Star Granite will help set the damaged monuments back up Nov. 27, adding that will allow a better idea of damage estimates.

Volunteers are needed to clean the spaces between the monuments so the work can commence. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Wedge at 396-3755.

Albert Lea Electric is repairing the light by the cemetery’s main veterans monument at its own cost, Wedge said.

Some of the 106 gravesites damaged dated back to 1892,1895,1898 and 1920. Pots in the military section of the cemetery were reported tipped over. A light that illuminates the flag at the veterans memorial was reported broken out.

Most of the damage occurred in the northeast side of the cemetery. The perpetrators used baseball bats and pushed over some by hand, Wedge said.

Anyone interested in donating can visit the site at https://www.gofundme.com/2zcgr5w. Look to the Tribune for more information as it is released.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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