Workers fix up vandalized headstones in Farmers' Valley Cemetery in Hamilton County


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HENDERSON, Nebraska — Workers are fixing up old headstones that were vandalized last year in a Nebraska cemetery.

More than 40 headstones, some from the 1870s, were damaged in August in Farmers' Valley Cemetery, The Grand Island Independent reported ( .)

Over the past two weeks, Debi Hacker and Michael Trinkley of the Chicora Foundation in South Carolina have worked on more than 20 headstones, spending about four hours on each of them.

Robert Kelly Jr. was sentenced in January to six months in jail for pushing over the headstones. The Saronville man, who admitted to drinking that night, also received five years of probation.

Cemetery Association President Larry Carlson said the people who cared about the cemetery never gave up on restoring it.

"When the vandalism was (done), it looked like a war zone," he said. "I think a lot of people thought it was the end of the cemetery."

The association was able to put some of the newer stones back, but the group knew others would need special attention. Donors and foundations helped raise more than $50,000 to install a gate and get Trinkley and Hacker to the cemetery, where they're finishing up two weeks of work.

They had to very carefully reset each stone and then go through the process of restoring and shoring it up.

"If you're drilling a stone and you make a mistake, you can't replace that stone," Trinkley said. "It's an antique."

Carlson said seeing the cemetery restored has been very meaningful.

"It shows people that, by gosh, we're here," Carlson said. "You're not going to get the best of us, and there are a lot of people that care about this kind of stuff."

Information from: The Grand Island Independent,

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