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Vandalism cost estimate $100,00-plus

Vandals damaged more than 71 headstones at the Oak Ridge cemetery in late July. File photo. (click for larger version)
September 08, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — It will likely be months before gravestones at Oak Ridge Cemetery will be repaired.

In the wake of the vandalism of more than 71 of the cemetery's headstones in late July, Southbridge DPW Operations Manager Ronald Trudeau said Tuesday, Sept. 7 the town is working to hire a contractor to fix the stones, but he acknowledged it would likely be months until the work is completed.

"I would love to have it all up in order by winter but that is wishful thinking," Trudeau said. "It is quite a time consuming, labor intensive job, to upright those things properly."

So far, the town has received one quote, over $100,000 from Southbridge-based M.D. Morrill and Monuments, and is seeking another from Spencer-based Fire Place Mantles Etc., according to Trudeau. The town is seeking payment from its insurance company, which would cover at least some of the costs of the repair work.

While the preliminary cost may seem excessive, Trudeau said the Morrill company would get its headstones from a Vermont quarry, which would better match the ambience of the cemetery.

"How does a town absorb that type of repair with a very tight budget? I'm hoping the town doesn't absorb this cost," he said.

Although Trudeau did not mention it, the Dudley District Court could seek restitution from Mitchell Spenard, 22, who is accused of vandalizing the cemetery. As of Tuesday, Sept. 7, he had not yet entered a plea on charges of malicious destruction of property over $250, doing more than $5,000 damage to a church or synagogue (which applies to cemeteries) and trespassing. He was scheduled to be in court Thursday, Sept. 2, but it is unclear whether that took place. Since his arrest, Spenard has been held in custody on $100,000 cash bail and $1 million bail bond. He is scheduled to appear in court Sept. 27. His attorney, Stephanie LoRusso, could not be reached for comment. Spenard allegedly confessed to the crime, according to police. LoRusso, however, said he made a false confession because he was scared.

If convicted, Spenard could be fined up to three times the costs of repair on each property charge, and face up to seven and a half years in jail.

See Friday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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