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Grant County community shaken after historic Grotto vandalized

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DICKEYVILLE (WKOW) -- If you drive through Dickeyville, you can't miss it.

"They drive by and they're like, 'Woah, wait a minute, what is that?'" said Tammy Kunkel.

Kunkel manages The Grotto -- a shrine dedicated to God and country in the village that has stood for nearly a century.

Darlene Lawrence's dad helped lay the stones back in the 1920s.

"Through all the years that Father (Matthias Wernerus) was building this, my dad and other young men in the community helped," she said. "My mom and dad were married here. They were born here."

Sometime early this week, Dickeyville Police say someone smashed a window inside the shrine, scattering broken glass everywhere and possibly damaging the decorative stones.

"I was sick," said Lawrence. "I really was."

Kunkel said, as far as they can tell, nothing was taken, but something strange was left behind.

"There was an apple on top of a five dollar bill sitting inside," she said.

Neither Kunkel nor Lawrence were quite sure what to make of that -- they just want answers.

"If it was an accident, if it was kids up here playing, just come and tell us," Kunkel said. "No skin off our nose. We'll be fine with it -- it'll just make us all feel better."

But the feeling that it's not is leaving the whole community concerned.

"It just kind of makes us feel a little bit more on edge," Kunkel said. "I guess just because somebody's around that would be willing to do something like this."

The folks at The Grotto are not yet sure how much it will cost to replace the glass. The Grotto is funded entirely by a gift shop that is open during the summer and donations which can either be dropped off in person or mailed in.

Dickeyville Police are asking for the public's help and for anyone who may have seen anything to contact them at (608) 568-7284.

Andrew Merica

Reporter/Producer, 27 News

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