Camas city officials are hoping the community will step forward to help replace a century-old headstone damaged by vandalism last week.
On Wednesday, it was discovered that approximately 15 headstones, many of them in the southeast “pioneer section” of the cemetery, had been pushed off of their pedestals and onto the ground.
On Friday, city of Vancouver public works crews joined those from the city of Camas, with the help of equipment from the Port of Camas-Washougal, to re-mount 14 of the headstones onto their bases. Only one was damaged to the point that it will need to be replaced.
That headstone belongs to the grave site of Alexander Stuber, who lived from 1866 to 1908. His brother and sister-in-law, John and Felicia Stuber, are also buried at the Camas Cemetery. Their headstones were not damaged.
“It’s terrible,” said Denis Ryan, Camas operations supervisor, of the vandalism. “It’s kicked everybody in the gut.”
Ryan said it is expected to cost approximately $700 for a new headstone. Vancouver Granite Works has agreed to pay for half of the cost of the replacement marker.
Camas Police Chief Mitch Lackey is hoping local citizens will step forward with donations to help fund the rest.
“I’d like to send the strong message that Camas takes care of these things, and even though none of us knew Mr. Stuber, we know that he was a part of the community,” said Lackey, who has already made his own contribution to the effort. “Who knows what part he might have played in building what we all enjoy today.”
Donations can be made to the Friends of the Camas Cemetery account at Riverview Community Bank. Any contributions made above the amount needed for Stuber’s new headstone will be used by the non-profit group to benefit the cemetery.
Eunice Abrahamsen, a member of the Friends of the Camas Cemetery, said she “was sick inside,” when she heard about the damage.
“It just really shocked me,” she said. “Someday I would like to talk to the people who did this, to give them our viewpoint to help them grow from this experience and understand what a stupid thing they did. I don’t know if that will ever happen. [The Friends of the Camas Cemetery] have worked so hard to do something good, and then something like this happens.”
Michael Garwood, 21, of Camas was arrested Thursday on charges relating to the vandalism. He remains in the Clark County Jail on 15 counts of violating laws governing the protection of cemeteries and one count of second degree malicious mischief. The case remains under investigation. Additional arrests are possible.
Lackey said the person, or persons, convicted of this crime is likely to receive a restitution order as part of his sentence. However, when an if any actual money will be received is uncertain.
“Where there are no funds there is no ability to pay the restitution order,” he said. “For many victims, this means that the restitution might trickle in over several years — if paid at all.”
The cemetery was plotted in 1885 by the Camas Colony Company. The Camas Cemetery Association operated the cemetery for more than 80 years before transferring ownership and operation of the 30-acre facility back to the city in 2007.
Throughout its history, several local cemeteries incorporated their graves into the Camas Cemetery, including the Camas Catholic Cemetery, and the Dead Lake and Fallen Leaf cemeteries.