Graveyard controversy in Grand Tower

GRAND TOWER, IL (KFVS) - The Spurgeon family says their mother's grave has been desecrated, and they feel disrespected.

The problems for the family began this past Tuesday when they placed a gravestone on Betty Lou Spurgeon's grave site.

"We placed it flat on the ground in a cement frame," said Tammi Hardy granddaughter of Betty Spurgeon. "Then we came back up here on Wednesday on her birthday to place some flowers at the grave and there was nothing but a big hole."

The family says no one with the Walker Hill Cemetery Board called them to tell them there was a problem with the gravestone.

There is an ordinance requiring all gravestones in the newest section of the graveyard be flush with the ground for easier care of the graveyard.

"They dug it up said it couldn't be like that. In my opinion they have no heart. Because if they had a heart they would have at least called us and give us a chance to fix it," said Hardy.

On Monday night the family took up the issue with the mayor and village leaders in Grand Tower during their monthly meeting.

"It's a bad situation and there's no winners in this," said Mayor Mike Ellet. "I apologize, and I take full responsibility for this. I didn't make the call to have them to take her stone up."

Barbara Williams a cemetery board member told the family that the Bell Monument Company dug the stone up. But she says she didn't tell them to do so.

"We just want someone to tell us who told them to dig up our mother's stone. And my plan is make her grave the happiest and most beautiful one it can be.  As long as they'll allow us to do so," said Hardy.

"I'm going to try to get to the bottom of this and make it right with the family," said Mayor Ellet.

He apologized again to each one of the family members who were present during the village board meeting.

Now, the mayor says he and the rest of the village board members will have to figure out how they're going to handle the placement of future gravestones in the cemetery.

"We're going to have to decide if we're going to allow the five standing stones that are out there now, or enforce the ordinance requiring all stones to be flat on the ground," said Mayor Ellet. " We're going to have to move forward from here and do it in the most respectful way we can for the families."

Copyright 2012 KFVS. All rights reserved.