Mourners angry with city after workers remove memorial items

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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (KWWL) – Workers at city-owned cemeteries in Cedar Falls have been removing meaningful items used to honor the dead over the past few days, many people say without proper warning.

“I do understand they have to mow the cemetery but if you don’t put out a notice, and you don’t let us know that, you’re totally in the wrong,” John Johnson said.

On Tuesday, people came in waves to Greenwood Cemetery, sifting through piles of memorial items looking for theirs.

“My kids have had a cross that said ‘grandfather’ on it,” Ron Bolin said. Bolin’s father and aunt are buried at Greenwood. “It’s been here for years and it’s gone,” he said.

People also noticed that city workers threw away a handful of American flags in their cleanup.

“The flags were in the dumpster, and now the dumpster is empty,” Theresa Miller said, whose husband is buried at Greenwood.

“We apologize for any confusion this may have caused our citizens and we should have done a better job informing them. We will improve our communication in the future,” Mark Ripplinger, Director of Public Works and Parks, said in an apology press release.

Ripplinger said the city was only enforcing a rule that’s already on the books, requiring items to be attached to the grave or base of the tombstone. City workers started taking down anything extra three days after Memorial Day.

He admitted, though, that they have enforced this rule at different capacities over the years.

“I don’t think I can drill into that cement like he wants,” Miller said.



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