The vandal scandal

The crime in Creston and the frustration that follows.

In the decade or more that I have been writing the weekly police news summary it has become one of our most popular and talked about features. I love doing it too, in part because it shines a light on so much of the nonsense that our police officers have to deal with in the course of their duties. If I get a crank call I can just hang up the phone. They don’t have it quite so easy.

Best of all, I think, is that the police news highlights that we live in a pretty darn safe community, because what one RCMP corporal used to refer to as “the goofs” tend not to be very dangerous. Do we have too many people with major—and I do mean major—drinking problems? Absolutely. Do we have too many people whose intolerance or thoughtlessness leads to those silly neighbourhood disputes? Of course. Are there genuine issues that reflect that we live amongst many who get up each day not knowing how the bills are going to get paid? You bet.

But I think it’s safe to say that residents in many other communities would be very happy to trade their crime problems for ours. I hear that regularly through anecdotes related by readers. Many send off snippets from the weekly police report, their way of giggling and showing friends from elsewhere how good we have it here.

But there is an ugliness that lies beneath most of what we see here on a day-to-day basis. There is spousal abuse, bullying, drug dealing and abuse—the list goes on. Three separate incidents in the past year show just how miserable some people’s lives must be. I refer to vandalism acts that take out unknown frustrations and hatred on property that really have no effect on their lives.

When the news broke of a radio communications facility being broken into and equipment destroyed there was a sense in the community that we had been betrayed. That equipment is vital when there are wildfires, because it allows crews to communicate and coordinate strategy. What possible thrill could anyone, regardless of their intelligence, get from such a stupid act? The damage obviously took quite an effort, as did the ascent up Thompson Mountain to get to the building. I have not heard a single theory about why the vandalism might have somehow made the perpetrators feel good about themselves.

It was heart-breaking, too, when earlier this fall the newly constructed washroom and change facility was damaged in Centennial Park. The Advance provided a lot of publicity about this marvelous effort by the Creston Valley Rotary Club and other volunteers, who worked with the Town of Creston to make the park an even greater source of enjoyment for families, both local and visitors, and it was well known that it was completed by people who really had no personal gain in mind. Again, a lot of energy was expended to do the damage, and the real hurt could be gauged in the eyes of those many volunteers who donated their time and energy to help make this a better place for others.

Then, on Monday morning I opened my email and my heart dropped. There, in a message from Area B director Tanya Wall, was a photo of the beautiful spirit bear in front of Kunze Gallery, beside the grain elevators. The huge black granite sculpture had been marred by graffiti. Among the messages disgracing the marvelous work of art was “Waste of money!”

That the vandalism was done by an idiot or idiots is clear, because “money” is not in any way an issue with regard to any of the Stewart Steinhauer granite sculptures that enhance the Pine Street-Northwest Boulevard intersection. All of the pieces are owned by the sculptor himself, and loaned for display purposes. If the vandal or vandals think they were making a statement about the use of public money, or tax dollars, they were sadly and stupidly mistaken.

Shame on all of you, regardless of your age or circumstances, who undertake to hurt your neighbours’ efforts. The people who are responsible for this sort of damage are not the “goofs” that the aforementioned RCMP corporal described. He was talking about young adults who partied too much, worked too little and, generally, disrupted the lives of people in their social circle. Vandals are a different brand of beast altogether, and I cannot begin to understand how their minds work.

Creston Valley Advance

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