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Mayor pledges corrective action after city cemetery damaged

by DERRICK PERKINS
Daily Inter Lake | March 23, 2021 7:00 AM

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Deep tire ruts could be seen above graves at the Libby Cemetery March 16. (Will Langhorne/The Western News)

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Deep tire ruts could be seen above graves at the Libby Cemetery March 16. (Will Langhorne/The Western News)

Mayor Brent Teske apologized March 15 for damage done to the City of Libby Cemetery by municipal work crews over the winter and said disciplinary action was being taken.

Teske said the damage to the grounds occurred after the city’s small backhoe died last fall. Heavier equipment used in its stead tore up the ground, he said.

Headstones also were damaged.

“I would like to apologize on behalf of the City of Libby and let you know we are making changes to make sure this doesn’t happen any more,” Teske said at a city council meeting.

A member of the public reported the damage. As what little snow accumulated this year melted away, the extent of the harm was exposed, Teske said. He faulted workers for not performing spot checks on the property after working in the vicinity.

Caught earlier, it might have been handled better, he said. Existing city policy requires employees to report any damage to municipal property, which did not occur in this case.

“Unless there is a service or dig, no one goes out there to check on the place,” said Teske. “This is a little more personal; those are folks’ loved ones out there.”

That would change in the future, he said.

City Councilor Kristin Smith said she was glad officials were dealing with the situation, which she described as “egregious.”

Fellow City Councilor Gary Beach described the damage as “pretty extensive.”

“At a couple of spots the rutting is pretty deep,” he said.

Teske did not describe the nature of the disciplinary action. While understanding of mistakes, damages need to be reported and remedied as they occur.

“I’m not a big fan of excuses,” Teske said. “I understand stuff happens. The excuses aren’t going to cut it.”