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Residents distraught after decorations on headstones taken off and damaged at the Monahans cemetery

The mayor told NewsWest 9 that the move was made to improve the cemetery, but it has some residents upset.

MONAHANS, Texas — Confusion and emotion. That was the feeling at Monahans Cemetery last night and early today, after a resident on Facebook posted that their decorations on a family member’s tombstone were thrown away a day after they were put there.

"Well it all started by a Facebook post that somebody posted because I guess they just decided to come and check on their loved ones," resident Alexis Rios said. "And from there is when everybody else kind of figured out what was going on."

Other residents also said they found decorations and other objects removed or damaged.

"From what I understand, there is a veteran's headstone that is broken," Rios said. "There is a lot of little knickknacks and stuff that people put on the grave sites that are broken. There was a man who had that bench for his wife that ended up cracked."

According to Mayor Adam Steen, there has been a rule in place for years that you can’t have certain objects in certain areas of the grave, and anything on the grass. This makes it easier for the groundskeepers to mow, weed eat and keep the area clean. The objects in violation are now in a secluded area inside the cemetery.

According to the residents, this rule hasn’t been enforced for a while, so when they did start to enforce it, it was out of nowhere.

"You could have let us all know because this is people's hard earned money and this is the way that they're showing their loved ones that they love them," Rios said. "[Just] For it to just be taken away and broken like it's trash."

Finances for gravestones and burials were also a sticking point for family members with loved ones here.

"My aunt at the time, [...] her family didn't have the money to buy her headstone," Rios said. "So we had like a makeshift headstone that was taken away. And now I mean, it's gonna be hard to find her unless we can get a headstone for that, you know, the people that don't have the money or that you know, decided to make it themselves."

The residents don’t care whether it was purposely broken or not, just that it was broken.

"They want us to contact a man who makes headstones in town for the ones that they are responsible for breaking, which is ridiculous because that man has already made his money," Rios said. "We shouldn't have to pay for something that was broken by somebody else. You know, it's not wear and tear. It's not whether it was purposely broken."

A lot of residents are incredibly emotional about this, as for them this is the only way to honor their deceased loved ones. There are also others scared they won’t be able to find their relative’s tombstones in the future in fear that it will be ripped out.

The mayor has stated that this happened because the town is trying to enforce their rules more in order to have a better looking cemetery, and all this was for the betterment of the town, but all the residents wanted was a heads up, and to handle their deceased family member’s graves with care.

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