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Many citizens outraged at the removal of items from grave sites at Kimball Cemetery

Kimball City Administrator Daniel Ortiz: “At my order, the (regulations) are now being enforced.”

Several local residents are outraged at what they believe is a lack of care being given to the Kimball Cemetery, after an array of plots in the eastern portion of the cemetery were defaced, including several overturned planters and flower pots near grave sites. The latest details show directions handed down by city officials are likely behind the removal of these items.

“I’m so upset,” Kimball resident Robin Wilson Sherman said on Facebook last weekend. “My dad will be gone seven years this Wednesday, and I can’t even put flowers out because of someone’s selfishness. Shame on you for taking that away from me.”

When questioned concerning the removal of items including flowers and vases from near grave sites, Kimball City Administrator’s Daniel Ortiz’ response shows that what many believed were incidents involving unknown members of the public are actually being carried out by city workers, in accordance with cemetery policy.

“These rules have been established, but they were enforced laxly,” Ortiz said. “At my order, they are now being enforced.”

A sign posted near the entrance to the cemetery lists several rules related to the placing of flowers and vases. One that pertains to the Christus Garden, the site of these incidents reads as follows: “Permanent vases in Christus Garden or those vases that are not presently in line with markers or monuments in the Kimball Cemetery must be kept upside down during the mowing season. Vases will not be permitted in front or back of the marker or monument. They must be placed to the sides.”

Another of the regulations listed on the sign gives the City of Kimball the right to remove any “flowers, floral designs, weeds, trees, shrubs, plants or herbage of any kind as soon as in the judgment of the Caretaker, they become unsightly, detrimental or diseased.”

One of the most prominent incidents that has grabbed the attention of the public is centered around grave sites of the Hickman family. According to sources, Dave Hickman went out to visit the graves of his wife and son, only to find the flower vases and other memorials strewn across the grass.

“The board and city officials need to go out and look at how this once beautiful section is now bare and ugly,” wrote Hickman in a letter to the editor in this week’s Observer. “Do they feel that the people who are laid to rest in this section are undeserving of having their graves decorated with flowers year round like the other sections of the cemetery?”

Some members of the community have even gone so far as to bring up the idea of circulating a petition to have cemetery caretaker Ryan Wilson, who took over the role in February, removed from his position because of what they believe his fault in the mess that has taken over portions of the property.

Former cemetery caretaker Spud Rowley was dismissed at that time, due to accusations that he was using city electricity in his camper without proper payment. Many in Kimball believe that Rowley always performed his duty, never ceasing to maintain the cemetery properly.

“Spud always had the cemetery looking nice and he cared about people’s feelings toward their lost family and friends,” said Regina Aguiniga Hinton. “My youngest daughter asks me ‘Why mommy?’ I don’t have an answer for her. I am disgusted.”

According to Kimball Police Chief Darren Huff, no calls have been received on the matter.

“No reports have been made to us,” he said when asked about the issues at the cemetery.

A meeting of the Kimball Cemetery Board is scheduled for July 30 at 5:30 p.m.