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Vandals strike again

Signs like this one used to invite visitors to look, listen, touch and think about the features of Jennings Nature Park. -
Signs like this one used to invite visitors to look, listen, touch and think about the features of Jennings Nature Park.
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MARYSVILLE Over the weekend of Jan. 12-13, Parks and Recreation Director Jim Ballew said city parks were struck with 55 incidents of vandalism and graffiti.
Although a couple of different parks were hit, including Comeford Park, the worst damage was done at Jennings Memorial Park and the adjacent Jennings Nature Park, said parks maintenance director Mike Robinson.
Ballew put the price tag for repairs at $2,000. Robinson said that figure includes the cost of the materials and the man hours expended fixing the damage, but also about $800 for some destroyed signage that cannot be repaired.
According to Robinson, vandals struck throughout Jennings Park, but their assault was concentrated on restrooms and a playground area as well as knocking over trash cans.
In the nature park, the local Kiwanis Club had installed custom-designed signs pointing out various natural features of the park, inviting visitors to learn more about their surroundings. Robinson put the cost of the signs at about $100 each. During the recent vandalism spree, several of the signs were covered with graffiti that could not be removed so city workers had to paint over the signs. The signs are no longer readable, but Robinson isnt sure when or if they will be replaced.
Ballew made his comments during last weeks City Council meeting. Vandalism has been a problem in the parks for some time but an angry Council member Jeffrey Vaughan said he has reason to take the issue personally.
Im pretty upset about this and I want to see some real action, Vaughan said. Numerous amenities have been destroyed in the city park system, but one included the project that helped earn Vaughans son, Christopher, the rank of Eagle Scout from the Boy Scouts of America.
Following the Council session, Jeffrey Vaughan said Christopher would formally earn his new rank at a ceremony the weekend of Jan. 18. Several members of the Vaughan family planned on making the trip to Marysville to mark the occasion.
Its kind of a big deal, Vaughan added.
But he also said he cant take any visiting family members to look at the community service project Christopher completed in order to earn his Eagle Scout rank. The reason is the project basically no longer exists.
Theres really not much left, Vaughan said.
Christophers efforts included the installation of a couple of benches and accompanying concrete supports at a spot overlooking some wetlands and Allen Creek, according to Robinson. Vaughan said hoodlums not only covered the benches with graffiti but set them on fire several times. After repeated incidents, Vaughan said the parks department decided the benches needed to be removed.
We had to struggle with that, Robinson said. It was a great project. Unfortunately, it was somewhat secluded.
Christopher Vaughan was unavailable for comment. His father said his son refuses to return to the spot where his project used to stand.
Even before Ballew made his comments about the parks, Councilwoman Carmen Rasmussen said the city has been hit with some 520 graffiti-related incidents since July. She noted the only city park that has been spared is the Marysville Skate Park. Rasmussen credited security cameras with helping keep would-be graffiti artists under control at that park and suggested the city needs to look at installing cameras elsewhere.
Marysville police did not return a phone call requesting comment for this story. Robinson said the parks department has and will continue to work closely with safety forces in dealing with graffiti problems in the parks and elsewhere. The parks department has taken on the job of cleaning graffiti, which by city ordinance must be removed or covered within 48 hours after it is discovered. In the case of the most recent attack on Jennings Park, Robinson said the graffiti was almost entirely removed about 24 hours after city workers uncovered the problem.
According to Robinson, the spread of graffiti through the city has remained fairly steady. He said there is usually a drop off in the winter months, but that hasnt happened so far this year. Robinson also mentioned a new wrinkle in the habits of local vandals: the use of priority mail stickers easily obtained for free from the U. S. Post Office. Robinson said taggers draw and paint on the large stickers in the comfort of their homes or elsewhere, then smack the stickers in places they dont belong.
They are very difficult to remove, by the way, Robinson said.

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