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Plans Being Made to Repair Veterans' Section of Cemetery

Plans Being Made to Repair Veterans' Section of Cemetery

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Tonya Papanikolas Reporting The headstones on graves of veterans at the Salt Lake City Cemetery are sinking into the ground. But the question of who's responsible for maintaining the headstones depends on whom you ask.

The veteran section of the Salt Lake City Cemetery holds 2,500 graves. This is the oldest veteran cemetery in the state, which is part of the problem. Older graves were not placed on cement blocks, and over time, the headstones start to settle and sink into the ground. It's a large problem that no one seems to agree on how to fix.

Plans Being Made to Repair Veterans' Section of Cemetery

No one's denying the veteran section of the Salt Lake City Cemetery is in great need of repairs. For two years, veteran organizations say they've been trying to talk to the city to figure out how to resolve the problem.

Utah Veterans of Foreign War Commander Norman Nelson said, "It's been really frustrating because you try to get people to support a project that you know is an eyesore, yet 'Oh, it's not my responsibility, it's somebody else's.' "

But the city says the Veterans of Foreign Wars own the plots, and according to city ordinance, are therefore responsible for maintaining the headstones. "We don't have money set aside to maintain headstones because it is the property owner's responsibility," said Nikki Bown, of the Department of Public Services.

Veteran groups say they want to fix the markers and have cemented several dozen headstones into the ground over the last couple years, but it's costly. Veteran organizations spent about $400 fixing less than 100 gravestones. And it's heavy work that requires a lot of manpower.

Plans Being Made to Repair Veterans' Section of Cemetery

Utah American Legion Commander Richard Fisher explained what the headstones have to go through to get upright. "We actually have to take a backhoe or some kind of lifting device to pull the stone straight up," he said.

Though it still doesn't know where it will get the cement and supplies, the VFW says it has a plan for recruiting help. It has asked the Boy Scouts to put this on their Eagle Project list. And Veteran Affairs has another meeting with the city in a week and a half to talk about collaboration.

"We're gonna try to work together with the city and get this resolved and get it fixed the way it should be fixed," Fisher said.

City cemetery spokeswoman Nikki Bown said, "We're always willing to work with organizations to help them do what they can do." She said that the city has a plan in the works to try to cover some of the costs.

Veteran groups say it's possible they could also get some donations to help.

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