Multiple gravestones at Riverside Cemetery off Maple Street in Paris lie broken and in disrepair. Though the land is owned by the Riverside Cemetery Association, Town Clerk Elizabeth Knox said the town is responsible for maintaining veterans’ stones and old grave markers. Repairs will begin in the middle of September. Jon Bolduc/Sun Journal

PARIS — It looks like a better future is in store for the toppled and broken gravestones at Riverside Cemetery.

At Monday night’s selectmen’s meeting, Town Clerk Elizabeth Knox said a time frame has been set to address the cemetery’s condition.

Knox said Dana Chandler, owner of Weston-Chandler Funeral Home, will do initial work on the stones Sept. 19, working with a crew to set the heavier broken stones back on their bases.

On Sept. 21, volunteers from the Oxford Hills Rotary Club plan to complete the remaining work, including fixing as many stones as possible.

State statute makes municipalities responsible for maintaining veterans’ or ancient monuments. In a previous interview, Chandler said an ancient monument is one erected or established before 1880.

According to a search of a document containing a list of gravessites at Riverside, the earliest seem to be from about 1830.

Knox said Monday night that graves with ancient monuments and veterans’ headstones would be given priority.

“We need shovels, we need dirt and we need glue,” Knox told selectmen.

Anyone interested in joining the restoration efforts should contact the Town Office.

In July, Chandler said when graves are broken or disturbed, the responsibility typically falls to the families of the deceased to fix them. The age of many of the stones, however, makes that difficult.

“The problem with this cemetery is that its so old and we’re so many generations removed,” Chandler said. “It would be impossible to know who to get in contact with.”

Though some gravestones at Riverside are labeled as “perpetual care,” that only applies to the mowing and upkeep of the cemetery’s grounds.

“’Perpetual care’ means they’re mowed and trimmed,” Chandler said, “but as far as the monuments being upright, it’s kind of the responsibility of the lot owners.”

Chandler said it is not uncommon for cemeteries to fall into disrepair.

“Several years ago we had the same issue in the same cemetery,” he said. “Sometimes it’s vandalism, sometimes it’s just the age of the grave and the monument tips over.”

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