Join the battle against vandalism

Jeff Gilliland Staff columnist

Jeff Gilliland Staff columnist

It seems that more and more often I find myself scratching my head wondering what is wrong with people these days.

Lately, there has been a string of alleged sex offenders in Highland County. If you read court documents detailing exactly what these people allegedly did to juvenile members of the community, it’s enough to make some people sick. Then we have the myriad issues that seem to be splitting our country in half, and way too many people who get offended if someone does do not see things in the same light they see them.

It’s hard for me to understand. Because while I’d like to think I have become more open-minded as I have aged, it seems too many are unwilling to even listen to an opposing point of view.

But those issues are not what has me scratching my head today. The issue is an increasing amount of vandalism in Hillsboro, particularly at the city parks, but elsewhere, too.

Last spring a sparkling new fountain that was donated to the city by a generous family started flowing in the center of town. It was obvious by the number of people that gathered around it in the evenings that it was a hit. But by early autumn it was turned off because it had been vandalized so many times.

Recently, city employees renovated the bathrooms with brand new toilets and plumbing at the city park on Railroad Street. Within two weeks, the doors had been ripped off the hinges, the toilets damaged, and all the copper pipes cut and removed.

At Liberty Park on the city’s north side, trash cans have been set on fire, park benches tossed into the park’s Harmony Lake, and there is reportedly a litter problem at the park’s veterans memorial (which is quite nice if you have not noticed).

I doubt that the perpetrators do a lot of reading, but in cause they do, I have to refer to my opening statement again — what in the heck is wrong with people? What makes them think it is OK to destroy things that were put in place for others’ enjoyment? What makes them want to tear things down rather than lift their community up?

It has reached a point that the city’s parks committee has called a meeting for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 4 at the old fire station at the corner of North High Street and Governor Trimble Place with the idea of setting up a community watch program for the parks.

Really, the vandalism should come as no surprise, at least for me. When Liberty Park was in its infancy about 30 years ago, several volunteers, including yours truly, helped build two new adult softball diamonds at the park. A concession stand was built near the diamonds. But at least once every other year, someone would break into the concession stand, often ransack it, and take whatever they could find.

I assume they were looking for money. But since we didn’t keep money there outside of operating hours, about all they usually got was some candy and pop. Those things could be replaced, but it was the damage they did breaking in that caused the real problems and left our building unsecure until we could make repairs.

In the later years of the softball leagues, the city built a very nice restroom near the ball diamonds. But in short order it was vandalized, too, and the city was forced to lock the doors.

In the last couple years the city has made many nice improvements at Liberty Park. There are new, paved walking trails, new shelter houses, a disc golf course, a pedestrian bridge leading from Richard Shaffer Park to Liberty Park, and more. Lots of people are taking advantage of all the park has to offer. The parks committee volunteers want to add more things so more people can enjoy the park.

But they are hesitant because they are afraid someone will destroy whatever they build. It’s pretty sad when a group is fearful of improving its community because too many in the community have evil intentions.

So if you’re one of those who say there is nothing to do in Hillsboro, don’t blame the city or its volunteers. Blame the ones that having nothing better to do than destroy things. Or better yet, join the fight against those with evil intentions and become part of the community watch.

Jeff Gilliland is the editor of The Times-Gazette. He can be reached at [email protected] or 937-402-2522.

Jeff Gilliland Staff columnist Gilliland Staff columnist