Press-Republican

People

October 24, 2013

Sixth-grader heads fundraiser for headstone repair

SARANAC — When Mikayla St. Louis saw the smashed and broken headstones in Independence Cemetery, tears filled her eyes.

“That’s my community,” the 11-year-old said, trying to put into words the sadness she felt at seeing the markers that preserve the memory of those buried there. “That’s from the Civil War.”

And that cemetery, vandalized on Sept. 16, is the final resting place of her grandfather Stephen White.

He died when Mikayla’s mom, Susan, was just 4 years old, but the family visits his grave every year, on his birthday and on the Fourth of July.

Mikayla has come to feel she knows him from those visits.

“I feel like he’s right there (with me),” she said.

Her grandfather’s marker wasn’t damaged, but all the same, Mikayla started thinking. And she asked her dad, Rick, what she could do to help make the cemetery whole again.

“He said we could do a car wash,” she said. “I said, ‘How about a bake sale?’

“We just started plotting that night.”

QUOTES FOR REPAIR

The daytime destruction at the cemetery left 75 stones damaged — some knocked over, some cracked at the base or the top, others badly smashed.

Independence Cemetery Board of Trustees President Sam Tedford had estimated the damage at $8,000. He received two quotes for the repair: one for $26,250 and the other for $7,825. 

He said he wasn’t sure why one was so much higher than the other, but he knows the cheaper quote is the best choice.

They will do their best to repair the most seriously damaged stones, Tedford said.

“We can’t afford to replace them,” he said. “Some of them are quite old, and there are no families left … that look after those.”

“Even if they’re not perfect, I think we can get by with it.”

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