Cemetery rocked by damage

Published 12:06 am Friday, October 11, 2013

NATCHEZ — Two recent acts of vandalism — one apparently accidental — have officials at the Natchez City Cemetery hoping someone will step forward and take responsibility for damage there.

The more recent incident — and the one that could be an accident — happened during the early morning hours Saturday when someone traveling northbound on Cemetery Road apparently failed to negotiate the curve and crashed into the cemetery’s brick wall, knocking down an 8-foot section and loosening the concrete cap for several more feet on the wall near the southern gate.

“We find it kind of amazing that they missed the concrete pillar and the crepe myrtle right there at that gate,” Cemetery Director Danny Brown said.

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“We don’t know if it was somebody texting and messed up driving, somebody drunk or somebody who deliberately got between that pillar and that crepe myrtle and hit that wall. We do know they did not stop and leave a card saying they were willing to pay for the damage they caused.”

The wall has been cobbled back together as best as it can be, but Brown said it hasn’t been repaired, though one cemetery worker has estimated the repairs will cost thousands of dollars. The second act of vandalism seems more deliberate. An ornamental granite ball was taken from the top of one of the pillars of one of the cemetery gates a couple of months ago, Brown said.

“Surely somebody knows something about it,” he said. “I don’t know if it was taken like some people will take a street sign for memorabilia, but this is a heavy piece of rock. I don’t know if this is something someone will take and discard, or if it will be a part of someone’s garden somewhere.”

Brown said he has a message for whoever did the damage.

“You know who you are, you know what you did and you know this is hallowed ground,” he said. “It just puts more of a financial strain on the cemetery, which is already under a financial strain. The thing to do is man up and take care of the financial end of it.”

The last few years have been financially tough for the cemetery, Brown said, and the cemetery had to raise its plot and burial fees earlier this year. The city also increased its annual appropriation to the cemetery from $39,600 to $72,000 this year to aid it in its operations.