MUSKEGO, Wis. — A Franklin man was issued a $500 fine last month for mowing the grass at a cemetery where two Civil War soldiers are buried.
Muskego Police responded to Luther Parker Cemetery June 20 and found 64-year-old Jordan Wenzel Sr. of Franklin mowing. Wenzel told the officer he did not have permission to cut the grass but had heard a television report about a dispute over tall grass at the cemetery and decided to help out.
“I heard everybody saying it needs to be cut, it needs to be cut. Why doesn’t someone get a mower and cut it?” he said to WISN 12 News.
The officer said Wenzel immediately complied when told to stop mowing. Police later issued Wenzel a citation carrying a $500 fine for violating a city park regulation.
“It will cost me more to fight it than pay for it,” said Wenzel, who maintains he was just trying to help.
A sign outside the cemetery asks people not to mow. City officials want to keep the native wildflowers and prairie grasses on the graves like they would have been during the Civil War. The area is an official designated natural area and the municipality wants to keep it that way. But a Veterans group thinks the vegetation shows neglect. In April WISN 12 News reported on how The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War is suing the city for not taking care of the graves.
“The City of Muskego could mow around the graves and leave the rest of the area for the prairie plants and wildflowers,” Dave Daley, Senior Vice Commander, said. “We would like to see it maintained like normal cemeteries. This doesn’t look like a normal cemetery.”
Wenzel says he didn’t know about the lawsuit when he mowed part of the cemetery.