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The Great SpongeBob Debate
CINCINNATI (Rich Jaffe) -- A local family thought the unusual tribute they'd placed on their daughters grave was a done deal that would have made her smile.
The memorial was a pair of seven foot high SpongeBob characters placed on plots purchased by the Walker family at Spring Grove cemetery.
But one day after the memorials were in place, the Walkers were called and told they'd have to come down due to complaints. Local 12 News reporter Rich Jaffe has the story of the SpongeBob battle.
Spring Grove's a National Historic landmark. It's been around for 160 years. Tuesday the Walker family met with cemetery officials debating whether Spring Grove is also a place for SpongeBob. Actually 2 SpongeBob's that are seven feet tall.
Where the controversial headstones and markers briefly stood you now find nothing more than two small concrete slabs. One of them marks the final resting place of Iraq war veteran Kimberly Walker.
Walker was killed in a different kind of battle.
She died in a Colorado hotel room on Valentines day. Her boyfriend is accused of killing her.
When she was buried at Spring Grove her family commissioned a pair of monuments in the likeness of her favorite character, SpongeBob Square Pants.
Twin sister Kara says, "She was really into SpongeBob. In fact she made me like SpongeBob, made me watch the cartoon with her and sing a little song. I went to visit her in 2008 in Egypt and we had to have a SpongeBob birthday party."
The 7 foot tall sculptures went up Thursday October 10th and after complaints, cemetery officials called the Walkers the following day and said the SpongeBob's had to come down.
Father Kevin Walker says, "It's like stirring up everything that we just went through months ago, it's just coming right back again."
The walkers say the memorials were bought and paid for through Spring Grove.
They say they even have a contract spelling out the details.
Kara Walker says, "I gave them a drawing said can you accommodate the drawing. They said yes. They came back and said this is how tall it's gonna be this is how wide it's gonna be and this is the price."
Kevin Walker added, "They had all the way from March when this was initiated all the way to now to come to say hey we have to come back with another design, this is not acceptable to the cemetery. You do not wait until you put something up and then turn around and say no huh uh...you have to come back with something else."
Tuesday both sides met, and agreed to disagree.
Kara explained, "We told them what we wanted. They didn't agree with what we wanted. We didn't agree with what they wanted so we'll give them time to think about what we told them and we'll take the time to consider what they told us but right now nobody's made and agreement."
The Walkers basically say they want the SpongeBob statues replaced.
That's the deal they had, that's what they want.
They tell us Spring Grove came up with 3 or 4 options, which they'll consider.
They say they'd like this issue resolved by November 9th which is Kimberly and Kara's birthday.
In a prepared statement cemetery officials told us they, "Apologize for their error and voiced their commitment to find a resolution."
They've offered proposals that include creating new monuments incorporating SpongeBob into alternative designs that would fit within their guidelines, or incorporating the existing monuments into a different style of memorial.
The Walkers tell us if they can't come to an agreement, they'll gladly take the case to court.