Articles published in December, 2014

Landscaping company volunteers to repair cemetery damage

(originally appeared on WCSH Channel 6)

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — An Augusta cemetery is looking cleaner Tuesday after vandals set fire to a shed, flipped benches and knocked over about 80 headstones in Riverside Cemetery last week, according to police.

“I was at a loss. I couldn’t fathom it,” said cemetery caretaker David McGuire.

Repairing the damage would take a lot of work and money, a responsibility that technically falls on the loved ones of those buried here. Fortunately, the owner of a local landscape company decided to help.

“I grew up here and the community has given a lot to me so its important to give a little bit back anyway,” said Tim Brown.

Brown said he believes a cemetery should be a place for peace and he wanted to help repair it. He brought along two employees, Angela Crisafulli and Adam O’Neal, who also joined Augusta Public Works to clean up.

Thanks to those Brownies Landscaping volunteers, crews were able to fix 30 stones Monday. They worked all day Tuesday and hope to finish the job Wednesday.

Crews will need to come back in the spring to apply an adhesive that will more permanently re-attach the stones.

Monmouth cemetery road rage damage to be repaired

(originally appeared on centralmaine.com)

The mother and daughter accused of ramming into each other’s vehicles in the cemetery 13 months ago both pleaded guilty Wednesday to criminal mischief.

338322_140929-20141029-Monmouth-2AUGUSTA — The cases involving the destruction at Monmouth Ridge Cemetery have been laid to rest.

The mother and daughter accused of ramming into each other’s vehicles in the cemetery 13 months ago both pleaded guilty Tuesday to criminal mischief. The same day, the Monmouth Cemetery Association sought a dismissal of a lawsuit they filed against the pair seeking restitution for the $33,837 in damages.

Additional Images

An overturned grave marker on Wednesday at the Monmouth Ridge Cemetery. Staff photo by Andy Molloy
And Wednesday, the association picked up a check for about $25,000, the settlement amount negotiated with the automobile insurance company.

“The nine members of the cemetery board are greatly relieved and grateful to the Maine court system that encouraged the settlement of the case,” said Hugh LeMaster, association president, on Wednesday. “We feel a large measure of responsibility to the families. Now that we actually have seen funds received, then we’re going to be able to move forward and talk to the monument company for replacement and repair.”

He added, “The whole town, I think, is breathing a sigh of relief.”

The damage was done on Sept. 27, 2013, by Melissa K. Grant, now 43, of Farmingdale, and her daughter, Savannah N. Lowe, now 21, of West Gardiner.

Monmouth police Chief Kevin Mulherin said at the time that Lowe tried to keep Grant from leaving the cemetery by hitting the mother’s vehicle with her vehicle because Lowe believed Grant was intoxicated, although Mulherin said police couldn’t prove that and didn’t charge her for it. The daughter hit her mother’s car with her car, then the mother hit the daughter’s car with hers, Mulherin said.

“They ended up hitting each other’s cars and taking out some gravestones,” he said.

Several days later, Grant denied the police account in an interview, saying Lowe’s foot got stuck on her vehicle’s accelerator and smashed into her car, damaging the stones in the process. She said her father was buried there. Grant said at that time she was working with her insurance company to pay for the damage to the headstones. The incident at the cemetery resulted in toppled and destroyed monuments and headstones.

On Tuesday, in Kennebec County Superior Court, Grant pleaded guilty to criminal mischief and operating beyond license restriction. She was sentenced to 180 days in jail, all suspended, and one year of probation. Conditions of that probation ban her from being at the cemetery unless she calls the association first and receives permission, according to Justice Robert Mullen’s order. Grant also was fined $100. She was represented by attorney Donald Hornblower.

“The objective of the victim from the beginning was to be able to repair the damage,” Hornblower said. “It enabled the association to get the amount of money needed to repair the damage.”

The same day, her daughter, Lowe, pleaded guilty to criminal mischief. She was sentenced to 180 days in jail, all suspended, and one year of administrative release. During the first 10 months of that time, she was ordered to perform 50 hours of community service work. She is also banned from returning to the cemetery.

“She accepts responsibility for her role in the events that day,” Lowe’s attorney, Matthew Morgan, said on Wednesday. “We’re certainly pleased the cemetery association has been reimbursed and feel it’s a fair outcome.”

The other charges against the women were dismissed in exchange for the pleas.

“One of the difficulties we faced was how to prove who caused what damage,” District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said on Wednesday. She said she spoke to association members about their desire to get the money to have the damage repaired. “We wanted the case to be completed as soon as we could so they could receive the money to repair the damage.”

The cemetery contains roughly 1,000 graves, some dating to the 1700s, and is still actively used for burials.

“We have to replace the shattered stones,” said Karen Cyr, association secretary. “These are white marble tablets from the 1800s. They did horrible damage.”

Some of the toppled monuments require a crane to be lifted back into position.

Last month the association filed the civil complaint in Kennebec County Superior Court against the two women after it appeared that the vehicle insurance would not pay for the damage. However, there was no evidence in the court file indicating that either woman was formally notified of the lawsuit. On Tuesday, the association’s attorney, Theodore Small, sought the dismissal of the complaint in a letter received by the court.

“There’s a lot of souls buried in that cemetery, and the association’s board is the one that can speak for them,” LeMaster said. “Whether it was a risk or not, we felt we had to do something on behalf of those people who couldn’t speak for themselves anymore.”

He said the all-volunteer association agreed to settle for about $25,000.

“It was a lot more than zero that we were offered for many months,” he said.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

badams@centralmaine.com

New Gloucester Veterans’ Monument Dedication

What a Beautiful Day in New Gloucester!
November 9th, 2014
Thank you!

Hundreds of people gathered on the site of the New Gloucester Veterans’ Monument for the dedication and to honor all New Gloucester Veterans.

The New Gloucester Veterans’ Monument Committee thanks everyone that attended and all those who helped to make this a very special dedication for our Veterans.

SEE THE FULL WRITE UP

720_SHARLENE_MONUMENT_PICTURE

 

The Tombstone of Winthrop Baston

(originally in the Forecaster)

North Yarmouth Town Clerk Debbie Grover, left, with Dick Baston and Clark Baston, descendants of Revolutionary War soldier Winthrop Baston, whose new tombstone was dedicated on Veterans Day, Tuesday, Nov. 11, in Walnut Hill Cemetery.

North Yarmouth Town Clerk Debbie Grover, left, with Dick Baston and Clark Baston, descendants of Revolutionary War soldier Winthrop Baston, whose new tombstone was dedicated on Veterans Day, Tuesday, Nov. 11, in Walnut Hill Cemetery.

NORTH YARMOUTH — Nearly 200 years after it was erected, the tombstone of Winthrop Baston – a captain in the American Revolution – was in pieces, sunken under the ground, and seemingly forgotten.

North Yarmouth Town Clerk Debbie Grover, left, with Dick Baston and Clark Baston, descendants of Revolutionary War soldier Winthrop Baston, whose new tombstone was dedicated on Veterans Day, Tuesday, Nov. 11, in Walnut Hill Cemetery.
But because there were those who never forgot, Baston now has a new stone at his Walnut Hill Cemetery plot, just in time for a Veterans Day dedication.

It was an effort about three years in the making, Town Clerk Debbie Grover said last week.

Baston’s stone was found to have collapsed during an annual inspection of the town’s three cemeteries, which is required by the Cemetery Commission. His descendant, Dick Baston, an octogenarian who still lives in North Yarmouth and was its longtime fire chief, inquired about getting the stone fixed. Grover, who is also the commission clerk, said she was happy to look into it.

“I used to be terrified of cemeteries,” she said with a smile, recalling the time she, as a child, fell into her great-grandfather’s newly-dug grave. “Now running them … I enjoy it. And I really feel that all our veterans should be recognized, regardless of what era they served in, and whether or not they did it in wartime; they were willing to.”

Grover’s mission to obtain a replacement marker for Winthrop Baston was hindered by challenges, including needing his non-existent discharge papers and finding the right person to approach – despite the contacts she has as past president of the Maine Cemeteries Association and serving on the board of directors of the New England Cemeteries Association.

The ultimate key was having a living descendant of Baston. Grover wanted the new stone to be a surprise for Dick Baston, so she involved his son, Clark – also a former North Yarmouth fire chief, and still its public works director – who signed a letter granting permission to work on his family’s behalf to get the marker.

Grover submitted that to the Veterans Affairs office along with her application and a copy of Winthrop Baston’s pay receipt. Early last month his new tombstone arrived at the public works facility.

“I just decided, ‘we’ve got to do something'” to honor the new marker and the 18th century veteran’s service, Grover said. And with Veterans Day around the corner, the timing was fortuitous.

The dedication ceremony was held at the Walnut Hill Road (Route 115) cemetery on Nov. 11. The North Yarmouth Cemetery Commission led the service, and among those in attendance were the Anderson-Mayberry Post 91 color guard, Boy Scout Troop 58 of Cumberland and North Yarmouth, and members of the recently formed North Yarmouth Veterans Park Corp.

Baston was born in Wells in 1739, and married Hannah Weare in North Yarmouth in 1762, according to information provided by the North Yarmouth Historical Society. During the Revolutionary War in 1775 he was a sergeant in the company of Capt. George Rogers. He rose to the rank of captain, serving in Massachusetts in 1776 with the regiment of Col. Jacob French with the objective of pushing the British out of Boston, according to information provided by Grover.

Baston, who died in North Yarmouth in 1817, and his first wife had seven children, according to the historical society. Four children came from his second marriage, and it is from the first of that group, Dura Baston, from whom Dick and Clark descend, Grover said.

“Debbie Grover should have most or all the credit for getting this done,” Clark Baston said last week, adding that “it’s pretty neat” that the government would send out a new marker honoring a veteran who died nearly 200 years ago.

Getting a new marker for Winthrop Baston is part of a long-term project, Grover said.

“I have three others that I want to get monuments for, who don’t have them at all,” she explained. She unfortunately does not know of any living family members of those veterans, “but I’m not giving up.”

Those veterans are:

  • Leander Frost (1847-1921), who served in Company E of the 30th Infantry during the Civil War and was wounded in 1864.
  • Edward Gooding, who died in 1923 at the age of 82 and served in Company G of the 25th Maine Infantry, also during the Civil War.
  • And Luther Baker, who served in the military from 1908-1912 and died in 1936.

Anyone who can aid in Grover’s project can reach her at Town Hall at 829-3705.

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