ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Chopping down a healthy tree was the last straw.
City Administrator Steve Garrett told the Hillsboro City Council at its April 4 meeting that he is fed up with the recent vandalism that has been occurring in Memorial Park.
Painting graffiti and obscene words on park equipment was bad enough, he said, but when he discovered that a person or persons unknown took an axe to one of the young trees growing in the recently refurbished park, he had seen enough.
“If they’re going to go to that extent, I’ll declare war on them, too,” he said. “I no longer think it’s cute and I have had my fill.”
Garrett said he determined the value of the lost tree at $1,100, exceeding the $1,000 delineation that moves the act from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Garrett said he has instructed the local police department to increase its surveillance of the park at night and he hopes citizens will be quick to report suspicious activity they might see.
“We’re going to need help (stopping the vandalism),” he said. “This is not just the job of the police or the city council. If the entire community doesn’t draw together and draw the line on vandalism, it’ll just continue.”
The destructive behavior comes at a cost to the city, both literally and figuratively, he said.
“The damage caused by vandals costs money to repair or to replace, and it makes the city look bad,” Garrett said.
“Money that might be spent on programs or improved equipment for the kids, instead goes to make up for what these one, two or three kids are doing. It’s not fair to the community.”
Garrett said, given the nature of the graffiti, he is confident the perpetrators are youthful.
“That’s bad, because 99 out of 100 kids in Hillsboro are just great,” he said. “I would sure hate to see that one make the other 99 look bad, or not get something we would otherwise want to do for them.”
In other business, the council:
— approved Mayor Delores Dalke’s three-year appointments or reappointments to the following city boards: Krista Heinrichs, Ray Franz and Virginia Martens to the Community Planning and Zoning; Becky Nuss to the Marion County Economic Development Council; Lola Unruh, Brenda Coryea, Frances Walls and Matt Dalke to the Convention & Visitors Bureau; Jerry Dalke and David Marsh to the Airport Board; and Doug Faul to the Hillsboro Recreation Commission.
— agreed to vacate the alley between the 400 block of Adams and Madison streets, except the portion at the south end that is adjacent to the Subway/Ampride property. Tabor College made the request as part of its student-housing project that will begin this summer.
— approved paying $245,511 to Carrothers Construction for work completed at the new aquatic center and nearly $21,214 to Burbach Aquatics for engineering and inspection.
— approved paying $207,872 to Utility Contractors for work completed at the water-treatment plant and $14,918 to EBH & Associates for engineering and inspection.
— authorized Dalke to sign the final paperwork for the Community Development Block Grant that helped fund the waterline-replacement project on Lincoln Street this summer.
— appointed Garrett to another term as a director on the Kansas Municipal Energy Association.
— heard Councilor Byron McCarty encourage the city to consider repairs around the area of Second and Cedar streets.