Merrill Memorial Park restoration nears completion
Tuesday, July 28, marked two-years since Merrill Memorial Park Cemetery was struck by an act of catastrophic vandalism.
The aftermath resulted in tens of thousands of dollars in damages as a total of sixteen monuments-some being well over 100 years old- were completely destroyed and nearly 100 other monuments were tipped over and damaged.
However in that same time frame, thanks in large part to the generosity of the Merrill community, a concerted effort has been underway to restore the damage, one memorial marker at a time.
Within weeks of the incident, a private Go Fund Me account was established and other donations from community members and businesses began to pour in, in support of the restoration effort. By the fall of 2018, over $8,000 had been raised.
“Park employees were able to reset most of the monuments, which were property of the burial plot owners,” explains Merrill Memorial Park Cemetery Association Vice-President Pete Lokemoen.
“However a number of the older monuments were broken beyond repair.”
Replacement of the damaged monuments was made possible by the donated funds as well as donated time and labor from Kevin Koss.
“Since many of the stones were so old, made of marble and etched by hand, replicating them was difficult and in some cases impossible. Park Sextant Kevin Koss spent many hours of research to determine the exact names and dates for each stone. Kevin recreated the stones at cost and were reset by park staff.” Lokemoen adds.
“The generosity expressed shows how much the Merrill community cares about their history and ancestry. We’re forever grateful for the generosity of this community.”
Lokemoen and Koss estimate the restoration effort to be completed by later this fall.