Some would call them vandals.
Richard Smith would go one step further and call whoever damaged the gates on a newly installed chain-linked fence around the perimeter of Eugene Field Elementary School a siphon on the community’s pocketbook.
“My custodial supervisor saw the damage early Monday morning,” Smith, the Ottawa school district’s director of facilities and operations, said. “Someone tore the panic bars off the gates and damaged the hardware. The drive-through gate was bent. Elementary-age kids wouldn’t have been strong enough to do this. I don’t want to speculate on who might have done it, but the kids probably had to have been a little older.”
District officials reported the vandalism at the school, 720 S. Tremont Ave., Ottawa, to Ottawa police at 7:48 a.m. Monday, according to a police report. The damage occurred sometime between Friday night and when the damage was discovered Monday morning, Smith said.
“Two window air conditioner units were damaged, too,” Smith said.
Smith estimated the damage to the fence and air conditioners was between $1,500 and $1,800, he said.
“This is ridiculous,” Smith said of the damaged fence. “You put so much effort into trying to provide something nice for the school, and then somebody comes along and does this. Because of our [insurance] deductible, this is probably going to come out of the school district’s pocket — the community’s pocket, really.”
The dawning of a new day Tuesday shed light on a second act of vandalism — this time at the school district’s Steve Grogan Stadium, 1120 S. Ash St., Ottawa.
“This morning, we found that someone had spray painted bad language sometime last night on the ticket booth and metal bleachers [on the visitors’ side of the stadium],” Smith said. “So we’re going to be out cleaning that up. Somebody is out and about at night [causing trouble].”