County seeks public help to stop road-sign vandalism

CountyRoadSigns4252

CountyRoadSigns4252

The routine theft and destruction of county road signs is ?getting ridiculous,? Randy Crawford, director of the Marion County Road and Bridge department, told commissioners at their Jan. 17 meeting.

?(Vandals) are shooting or tearing these signs up left and right,? he said.

Crawford asked if there was something more the commission could do to help his department reduce the vandalism.

Commissioner Dan Holub said damage to county road signs is covered by state statute; any fines rest with judges.

?This is not something we can do under home rule,? Holub said.

Crawford said something more needs to be done about the problem, though.

?Every sign up north is shot up, unless it?s on a major highway,? Crawford said. ?It is bad.?

Holub asked if he was primarily referring to directional signs.

?It?s all the signs,? Crawford said. ?Just this morning, a curve sign was so damaged that you couldn?t even tell what it was.?

Criminal damage to the signs negates efforts by Crawford and his department to replace stolen or demolished signage on county roads.

?Everyone wants street signs and road signs, but the problem is as soon as we put one up, they are shot at,? he said.

 

Commission chairman Roger Fleming said some people now have automatic weapons.

?Maybe they can?t find their coyotes or whatever, so they shoot at whatever is out there,? Fleming said.

Senseless acts

Citing examples of recent vandalism, Crawford said he got a report from a farmer about kids going down mud roads in their four-wheel drive vehicles and ramming signs until they break.

?The farmer said these kids then threw the post, sign and all into the back of their truck,? he said.

Another incident, Crawford said, involved a person who stole about six signs, then got stuck on a county road in the Florence area. Before he could ask someone for help, the vandal tossed all the signs into a ditch, Crawford said.

Although it doesn?t happen enough, Crawford cited one incident where someone was stuck, and the person who was going to help the driver called the sheriff instead of a tow truck.

?I am worried about stop signs (being stolen) that go onto a major highway,? he said.

Holub said the same could be said about the loss of railroad-crossing and yield signs.

Crawford talked about the sharp curves on 310th Road.

?We have people taking lineators down, throwing tires, shooting up the signs and we just can?t keep up with it,? he said.

Fleming asked Crawford what happened in Tampa involving someone putting up a barricade.

Crawford said, ?Luckily, no motorist drove down that road until first light. If someone had come through in the dark, (the barricade) would have nailed the driver. It?s vicious stuff.?

Help sought

Fleming said he, along with Holub and Crawford, would like people living in rural areas to pay attention to anything that appears out of the ordinary.

?Be aware and help us find these people who are destroying everyone?s property,? Fleming said.

Holub said with 1,600 miles of road in Marion County, law enforcement officials need the public?s assistance.

According to Dennis Mag?gard, Marion County traffic sign supervisor, the average cost to replace a sign is about $100.

?This includes the sign, post, screening and mileage (to drive to the location),? he said.

Maggard said the county has literally thousands of road signs.

Maggard and Crawford agreed that continued vandalism and theft of road signs is not only costly for the taxpayers, but also dangerous for the residents who live and visit here.

Anyone who has information about damaged signs is urged to call Crawford at 620-382-3761 or stop by the office at 200 S. Third St., Suite 5, Marion, or call the Marion County Sheriff?s office at 620-382-2144.

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