From the Mayor's Desk, Sept. 2001
God knows we all could use some good news and in Cleveland this week it came in the form of a dozen energized volunteers, determined to win out over evil. In this case the bad guys are the vandals that, in an incredible rampage of destruction, toppled, tipped, smashed, broke or stole almost sixty grave monuments from our village cemetery last Monday or Tuesday night (Sept. 10 or 11).
Reaction to the vandalism ranged from absolute outrage to tears of despair. At first glance you'd say to yourself, this is unreal and may never be able to be restored. On further inspection, disbelief converted to rage. Most of the damaged stones were monuments remembering war veterans, and not just of 20th century conflict, but of those who fought in the civil war, and one who may have fought in the American Revolution.
So now the good news. On Sunday, Sept. 16th, in an amazing feat of will, civic pride, outrage and patriotism, twelve village residents and friends repaired and straightened every stone in the cemetery that could be saved. The few stones that could not be salvaged will be replaced with donations made by people outraged by the vandalism.
The local heroes who performed the work were led by former Village Mayor Donald Phelps and his son in law Pat Malone with assistance from Tim Claven, the owner of Johnson Monument in Oneida who provided the equipment and expertise needed to accomplish the repairs. The other determined volunteer workers were James and Dave Claven, Dan Swistak, Fred Kowanes, Mark Kringer, Joe Phelps, Chance Whitney, Brooke Fidler and Kiely Jo Malone (Pat Malone's wife).
In another overwhelming show of support, over $1,000 dollars has been received in donations to help the repair effort. Citizens of Cleveland have also pledged $600 hundred dollars as a reward for information leading to the capture of the vandals and at a special meeting of the Cleveland Village Board held Tuesday, Sept. 18th the board added $400 dollars to make the reward an even $1,000. We are asking for any information regarding the vandalism that has occurred. You are asked to please contact the State Police in Hastings, 676-3798 or Donald Phelps at 675-8118. All information will be kept confidential. A temporary village web site is now located at "reehil.com/cleveland" for people to send messages, tips, news and ideas. If we're lucky we will make this a permanent web site someday.
The cemetery restoration is a fantastic example of how we can turn all we are suffering into good.
On behalf of the Village of Cleveland, its employees and all people concerned about the Cleveland Village Cemetery, we offer you who volunteered or made a donation, our most heartfelt gratitude for your donation of resources, energy and caring in the restoration of our vandalized cemetery. We stand amazed at the speed with which you undertook the repairs and are impressed with the outstanding quality of your work. In this time of anguish over terrible atrocities your work is a bright light in a darkened sky and a statement to your patriotism and civic pride.
Roy Reehil, Mayor
Village of Cleveland, NY
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