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GoFundMe account set up for restoration of Turning Angel monument

NATCHEZ — In two weeks, the Natchez City Cemetery has raised approximately $5,000 to restore the Turning Angel monument after a vandal damaged the landmark statue.

On Monday, the cemetery started a GoFundMe account to help raise donations. In the first 24-hours of the online fundraising effort, the cemetery raised a little more than $2,000 from 26 donors. Approximately $3,000 had been sent to the cemetery through the mail, Natchez City Cemetery Board President Elise Rushing said Tuesday.

The GoFundMe page is here.

The cemetery hopes to raise up to $40,000 on the GoFundMe page to help restore the angel and, if any money is left over, purchase cameras and other items to help make the cemetery a more secure place, Rushing said.

“We are very grateful for the response from the community,” Rushing said.

The Turning Angel is a landmark of Natchez and has stood watch in the Natchez City Cemetery over five young girls who perished in a 1908 explosion at the former Natchez Drug Company since the drug company’s owner placed the statue in honor of the victims.

The angel was damaged on June 23 when a vandal toppled the monument from its base.

Natchez police arrested Austin Petty, 20, who was charged with felony malicious mischief over $25,000.

The cemetery, Rushing said, is currently considering four restoration companies to do work on the Angel. Rushing said the board has received numerous referrals, including some as far away as Connecticut. Other restoration companies that have been referred to the cemetery are from Texas, New Orleans and the surrounding region, Rushing said.

“What we want is the most qualified group,” Rushing said. “We also want to deal with someone relatively close.”

With the uncertainty of the current pandemic and how it will affect future donations from the city and future fundraising efforts, Rushing said the city is thankful for all of the donations that have been given to the cemetery.

“The cemetery depends upon funding from the city and on Angels on the Bluff,” Rushing said. “With the pandemic, we do not know for sure that Angels on the Bluff will go on this year.”

Rushing said the cemetery is always working on a variety of projects, including work on statues, fences, gates and other artwork in the cemetery. Even still, the cemetery barely gets by with the funding it receives from the city and donations each year.

The cemetery’s biggest expense is the payroll for the small crew of employees that tend to the cemetery each day. Much of the work requires using weed trimmers instead of mowers because of the small plots.

“We are always in need,” Rushing said.

Contributions to the angel’s restoration could also be mailed to Natchez City Cemetery/Turning Angel Fund, P.O. Box 1738, Natchez, Mississippi 39121.

Click here for link to GoFundMe account.

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