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May 01. 2013 10:11PM

Woodlawn Cemetery takes steps to reduce vandalism in Nashua

NASHUA - Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said Wednesday that extra security measures have been implemented at Woodlawn Cemetery in the wake of damage caused by vandals in March.

While the main entrance gate will remain open at all hours, Lozeau said other, smaller gates around the perimeter of the cemetery are being locked daily at 4:30 p.m.

"It is just unfortunate that it has come to this, but we have to be a good steward and try to eliminate opportunities for disrespect," said Lozeau. "It is so horrible that you have to think about that - that someone will have a total disregard for both the living and the dead."

Police are continuing to investigate the vandalism that took place earlier this year when about 80 gravestones were toppled, some of them broken in the process. The vandals caused about $30,000 in damage.

Lozeau, who serves as a Woodlawn Cemetery Trustee, said some of the headstones received minor damage while others will need significant repairs or even replacement.

"The big question right now is whether it makes sense to install cameras on the grounds," said the mayor, adding she supports placing security cameras at the cemetery site. Other trustees also seem to favor the camera idea, said Lozeau, adding it is important to provide authorities with the tools to prosecute the individuals responsible for this type of vandalism.

The city, according to Lozeau, should not have to pay for the $30,000 in repairs. She said a trust fund is set up to accommodate cemetery needs.

"Woodlawn Cemetery is self-sufficient, and it can run its organization from their investments and trust funds," she said.

Even with some of the gates being locked in the evening, and the potential for future security cameras, Lozeau said it is critical to keep the cemetery a peaceful place where residents can visit.

"We are trying to figure out the right solution," she said.

Len Fournier, cemetery superintendent, said Wednesday that the main gate of the cemetery will remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

As far as the other gates being locked daily at 4:30 p.m., Fournier said, "It is an inconvenience for us, and it is an inconvenience for the public."

Still, Fournier and the mayor agree it is important to deter future vandalism.

Authorities continue to investigate the incident. Anyone with information is urged to call police at 594-3500.

khoughton@newstote.com


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