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Martinsburg cemetery vandalized

January 13, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - More than 20 gravestones were pushed off their bases at New Norbourne Cemetery off South Queen Street in Martinsburg.

Exactly when the vandalism happened isn't clear, and the crime has not been reported to the Martinsburg Police Department, according to City Engineer Michael M. Covell.

A detective with the police department deferred questions to the city's engineering/planning department, which Covell supervises.

"I don't think anyone has called it in," Covell said.

Individuals concerned about the cemetery's stone monuments have contacted the city about volunteering to restore the monuments, Covell said.

There is an effort to revive an oversight board that existed for the cemetery and Old Norbourne Cemetery, a related burial ground off West South Street, Covell said. Several monuments at Old Norbourne Cemetery were pushed off their bases, as well. The older cemetery is the burial site of a number of notable citizens, including individuals who fought in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and the Civil War.

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At New Norbourne Cemetery on Tuesday, the toppled stones were an all-too-familiar sight for Charles Kendrick of Martinsburg, who says he regularly visits the burial ground.

"This has been happening for years," Kendrick said while parked in his pickup along the cemetery's loop road.

Kendrick said he previously contacted the Sheriff's Department about similar vandalism because its headquarters is within view of the cemetery.

"I have a lot of friends in here," Kendrick said.

Given the size of some of the monuments, Kendrick hoped a group of volunteers could get together to restore the markers, work he suggested might require a crane.

"Some of these stones, no two men are going to lift," Kendrick said.

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