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Posted: 01/01/14

Volunteers repaired
damage to local cemetery

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      Hundreds of volunteers gave their time in 2013 to help right the wrongs of vandals that demolished a local cemetery.
       Bruce Township officials were shocked to learn that more than 40 grave markers were damaged or pushed over in the Goodrich Cemetery, wrecking tombstones that date back to the 1800s.
       Bill Bristol, 87, a lifelong resident of Almont and owner of the Brookwood Orchard on Bordman Road, reported the damage on Aug. 19.
       "I have relatives buried here," he said.
       Supervisor Richard Cory said on Aug. 15 or 16 vandals entered the cemetery, located on Kidder Road north of 37 Mile Road, and toppled the various grave markers.
       "This cemetery is destroyed, it's completely destroyed," Cory said.
       Tombstones were found on the ground, having been pushed off of their pedestals. Some fallen markers even landed on other stones, causing further damage.
       Lt. Mike Shaw of the MSP said troopers swept the site on Aug. 20 for fingerprints and other evidence, but were unable to locate any of either.
       The vandals have yet to be caught, but residents were more than willing to lend a hand in restoring the historic site in September.
       Anthony Kruckeberg, a National Guard soldier waiting to head out to Kuwait for his sixth deployment, heard the news and wanted to do something good before leaving.
       He and a team of fellow Guardsmen responded, collecting donations, tools and even food for volunteers who showed up on Sept. 21 to restore the cemetery.
       More than 100 men, women, and children showed up, including Romeo Varsity football players and the Minute Men Platoon Post 1370 of Pontiac, a group certified by Homeland Security. Volunteers brought epoxies and cement, shovels, rakes, chainsaws, scrub brushes and other equipment to repair the damage.
       "Our players are just very appreciative of our community and how much it gives them, and this is a way to give back," said Jason Couch, Romeo Bulldogs football coach.
       In addition to the restoration, volunteers planted perennials, painted the cemetery's fence, trimmed branches and removed overgrown vines. In fact, some of the cleaning unearthed a couple of tombstones that had fallen prior to the August incident.
       Bruce Township is in charge of maintaining the grounds. Cory said anything that couldn't be set right would likely be restored and maintained by professionals. He said he wanted to see what could be done before making an insurance claim.
       "It's wonderful when the community comes together like this," Cory said.


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