If you take a look around the 117-year-old St. James Cemetery in Belleville, you would never know that just a couple of weeks ago more than 300 headstones were covered in spray paint following a rash of vandalism.
The cemetery was hit twice, first on Nov. 2 and a week later on Nov. 8.
St. James secretary-treasurer Richard Beare says being vandalized once was bad enough but the second time was almost unbearable.
“When I got a phone call to say they were back again I was almost sick. It’s a terrible thing to have to go through,” Beare said.
St. James was one of seven cemeteries from Quinte West to Kingston that had headstones and monuments targeted with spray paint in a span of a couple of weeks over the last month.
Trevor Howard, sales manager with Campbell Monuments, which has been fielding the cleanup in the Quinte area, says the continued vandalism has been baffling, but luckily, the community has stepped up to help restore the gravesites.
The monument company has started a GoFundMe to help cover clean-up costs, raising more than $10,000.
The city of Belleville contributed $15,000 as well for clean-up at St. James and Elmwood cemeteries.
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Campbell Monument also contributed knowledge and elbow grease in cleaning up the headstones, sending four crews to clean up the monuments at St. James.
It took them two days to clean all 365 headstones, according to Howard.
Belleville Police are offering a $7,500 reward to anyone who has information about the crime. The reward money came from an anonymous donor.
“It’s wonderful that the community has stepped forward to do this. And with this type of reward available, it shows the community was really concerned about what did happen here,” Beare said.