Vandals strike at Casino cemetery
By JANELLE McLENNAN
CASINO residents have been urged to close ranks in a bid to stop ongoing vandalism at the historic West Street cemetery.
The plea has come from the Richmond Valley Council as it struggles to find an affordable means to protect the site and the hundreds of historic, often fragile headstones and monuments that are targeted by the hoodlums.
Just last month about 30 grave sites were vandalised over a three to four-night period.
This follows several vandal attacks about three years ago during which scores of headstones were damaged.
Council's manager of environmental health and regulatory control Peter Cotterill pleaded with residents living near the cemetery and people who travelled past it regularly, to report any suspicious activity as soon as it happened.
"Unfortunately, the cumulative effect of the ongoing vandalism is that we are losing a very important part of Casino's history," he said.
"The council has looked at fencing the cemetery or increasing the lighting, but both strategies are extremely expensive.
"Lighting the cemetery would be the least expensive proposition, but on the last quote we received even that would cost more than $100,000.
"The council has demolished an old storage shed in the cemetery where people used to congregate in a bid to reduce the vandalism.
"It has also increased the level of maintenance at the cemetery to keep it presentable and tidy, and to engender a sense of community pride in the site.
"But still, the vandalism has continued.
"We're now appealing to the community to keep a close eye on the cemetery and report any suspicious activity immediately to the police or the council."
The council is also looking at calling for nominations for a volunteer group to repair and preserve damaged or vandalised headstones and will investigate the chances of getting a grant to either fence or install lighting the cemetery.
Vandalism or suspicious activity at the cemetery can be reported to the Casino Police on 6662 0099, the Richmond Valley Council 6660 0300, or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.