Items removed from graves without warning - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Items removed from graves without warning

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People are returning to the grave sites of their loved ones and discovering items missing from them and it's the city who is taking responsibility for it.

It happened on Wednesday at the Riverside Cemetery in Anamosa. Many of the graves were discovered to have been picked clean of flowers, wreaths, and other mementos.

A woman found a mound of the items discarded in a pile meant to be thrown away which was found unsettling by those who said they had no warning that this was going to happen.

The city of Anamosa said that mistake is on them.

On Wednesday, the cemetery underwent fall cleaning, something normally done in the spring around Memorial Day, which the city advertises for ahead of time. The idea behind the fall cleanup was to make the spring cleaning easier, according to Tammy Coons, the Anamosa Interim City Administrator.

"We tend to get a lot of build-up of items and it's been building up over the years, and I think the intent was to do a solid cleanup to get rid of some of those items that needed to be removed," she said. 

Coons said items that had been there for a long time or didn't follow the cities ordinance. She said the outcome of the cleanup was overzealous on their part.

"But in end result, ending up removing things that really were not appropriate and we do, like I said, apologize, for our error," Coons said.

When the cemetery gets clean in the spring, Coon said people are told to temporarily remove items while they go through and mow and clean, before they're able to return the items. With this cleaning, there was no notice for people to do the same. Coon said lack of communication was one of the key errors in what happened. 

"It should have been processed better and communicated to the public," she said.

The topic will be discussed at the upcoming city council meeting to set guidelines so that what happened doesn't repeat itself.

Items that were removed can be picked up at the Anamosa City Shop and put back on the gravestones.

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