Since the fountain in Hillsboro’s Courthouse Square began its display in early June, it has been the subject of multiple instances of vandalism, which have cost taxpayers, Hillsboro Safety and Service Director Brianne Abbott told The Times-Gazette.
The latest incident occurred on Sept. 26 around 11 p.m. when a person or persons deposited two one-gallon bags of what the city assumes was dish soap into the fountain, Abbott said.
Though the fountain is under video surveillance, Abbott did not provide information regarding the number of suspects involved in the incident.
Eyewitnesses told The Times-Gazette that the soap suds quickly flowed out of the fountain and into the street, and police officers arrived on the scene to direct traffic.
While this is not the first incident when a person or persons placed soap in the fountain, Abbott said the fountain has been subjected to other forms of damage, including damage from bikes grinding on the fountain’s sitting walls, which removed “chunks” of concrete, and damage from trash items thrown inside the fountain.
“What some would say is a harmless prank forces the city to utilize taxpayer dollars to repair the damage,” Abbott said. “When the fountain is ‘soaped’ the city is forced to drain the 4,000 gallons of water, flush the system, replace filters, add necessary chemicals and refill. This process takes several hours and also takes city employees away from their typical daily tasks.”
Abbott said that pranks like the latest incident are disheartening for many reasons.
“This fountain is a beautiful addition to the city of Hillsboro donated by a very generous local family,” Abbott said. “The city may not receive donations such as this one in the future due to the possibility of vandalism.”
The Bagshaw family donated the fountain, which cost more than $100,000 to construct, to the city of Hillsboro.
In August 2018, the Highland County Board of Commissioners approved a contract between the county and the city regarding the fountain.
Crews began construction in October of last year, and the city announced that the fountain was in “working order” in early June of this year.
As of Tuesday, Abbott told The Times-Gazette that the city decided to shut the fountain down for the winter following cleanup after the latest incident.
“With cold weather just around the corner, the latest incident forced us to winterize the fountain earlier than anticipated,” Abbott said. “The fountain will reopen in the spring, but a date has not yet been set.”
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.