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Public's help needed to catch park vandals

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Your Opinion

Editor:
I am writing today in my role as president of the Vandalia Park District Board of Commissioners. We on the park board are charged with the privilege of trying to create an atmosphere in which our park superintendent, Gary Oldham, and his crew can keep our Vandalia parks as beautiful and well-maintained as possible.
One of the biggest challenges we face in this goal is vandalism … including breaking light bulbs and lamp covers, defacing surfaces and signs with graffiti and spray paint, destroying stools and lavatories in our public restrooms, and just creating havoc with about anything else they can get their hands on. The thing about vandals is that they strike when there are no park district staff or other figures of authority around … when they hope that no one is looking.
We’re hoping that sometimes they’re going to be wrong. That’s why we need your help.
I have spoken with Vandalia Police Chief Jeff Ray about our concerns, and he reminds us that the best thing any of us can do if they see an act of vandalism or some other illegal, suspicious or intimidating activity happening is to call the police immediately at 283-2131. Don’t try to deal with it yourself, and don’t wait to report it later. If the police are notified in real time, they may be able to catch the culprit(s) in the act. In this day of cell phones, if you don’t have one, the person next to you probably does. Call on it immediately! If you have photo capability, how about a picture? This could help us pin down the culprit(s) later when police catch them.
Remember, vandalism of this nature is not a harmless prank; it is a destructive and illegal action, and it must be stopped! The park board oversees the parks, and no one really owns them. But, as taxpayers, we are all responsible for the well-being of our parks. Thus, everyone should become guardians of the parks by keeping an eye out, and reporting anything suspicious – immediately!
Please help us to keep Vandalia’s parks beautiful and well-maintained. If you see any suspicious, illegal or intimidating behaviors by an individual or a group, call the Vandalia police.
Thanks for your assistance.
Charles Hutson
President
Vandalia Park Board