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Gravestones in Colby reset by volunteers

By TIM UNRUH Salina Journal

COLBY — Local muscle met at Beulah Cemetery on Monday morning and erased the most glaring of last week’s vandalism.

Some 250 volunteers reported to help a worker from Bell Memorials of Beloit reset 168 gravestones that were knocked over and damaged between the night of Aug. 9 and morning of Aug. 10 in the cemetery on the southeast edge of Colby.

Righting the monuments had been expected to take up to three days, said Relda Galli, of Gem, secretary of the District 1 Cemetery Board. But with volunteer help, the job took six hours or less.

“It truly demonstrates the community spirit here in Colby,” she said. “We were overwhelmed by the support.”

Bell Memorials had yet to submit a bill for its work, but Galli said the cost “is certainly not as much as we had anticipated because of all of the manpower provided. That’s our assumption, anyway.”

Members of the Colby High School football team, Colby Community College baseball team, a local Boy Scout Troop, Heartland Christian School, a church youth group, and many Colby community members showed up to collectively make light work of fixing a bad scene.

Some brought skid loaders, and the memorial company had a hoist, Galli said, but “manpower” was the most-used tool.

Colby businesses loaned or sent help as well. Homeland Realty provided a luncheon under a tent from Colby Canvas. Sonic, Walmart and Dillons donated cases of water. Supplies came from Beringer Hardware.

Colby Chamber of Commerce provided communications and some of the crew, and the city added tables and chairs.

Attorney John Gatz put together the liability release forms that volunteers were required to sign.

“It’s done, 100 percent,” Galli said. “We had a phenomenal turnout.”

Reward up to $1,750

Still others gave money to help law enforcement find who did such a disrespectful deed.

The reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the vandal or vandals has grown to $1,750, including $500 from the Colby Police Department’s law enforcement trust fund, $1,000 from the cemetery board and $250 from a local individual and organization, Galli said.

As of Monday morning, the case had generated more than 100 calls and face-to-face offers of information to Colby police officers, Police Chief Randall Jones said, but not enough to nab the vandals.

Investigators made castings of several shoe prints at the cemetery, he said, apparently all from the same pair of shoes.

Jones still encourages anyone who has information to call the police department at (785) 460-4460.

n Reporter Tim Unruh can be reached at 822-1419 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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