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Monday, May 2, 2016

Downtown merchants upset over vandalism

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Streaks of black spray paint marred the alleyway door of Bright Futures in downtown Greencastle Tuesday afternoon.

Next door, the rare black glass facade of Fine Print Books had been defaced by a jumble of silver paint streaks that spoiled the view along Washington Street.

Around the corner, someone had damaged the city's Heritage Wall that pays tribute to many famous -- and some infamous -- visitors to Greencastle through the years and recognizes businesses that have been part of the community for decades.

When Eitel's Flowers and Gifts owner Ken Eitel passed by the wall on Monday morning, he noticed the metal plate depicting his business as one that has operated in Greencastle for 100 years had been removed and the wood backing was all that remained.

A second plaque on the wall has recently been pierced through the center, according to Judy and Lester Wilson, owners of the building where the Heritage Wall is located.

Several months ago, the same wall was targeted by someone who spray-painted a large design on the bricks just feet from the plaques.

Eitel, who is president of the local Heritage Preservation Society, said the group has been working to remove the graffiti from the Heritage Wall, but it's a time-consuming and difficult process.

"It's frustrating to us because there's not much you can do about it on the brick," Judy Wilson said.

The damage is upsetting to Eitel and members of the preservation society who are working to expand the city's historic district, including some of the homes on Anderson and Seminary streets.

"Obviously I just think it's unfortunate that those things that are important to our community have been defaced," Eitel said. "It's just unfortunate that there's no respect."

True, graffiti is not new to downtown, however, business owners are concerned because they have noticed a marked increase in the activity in the last couple of weeks. Several of them have contacted the police department in hopes of deterring additional attempts by the vandals.

Greencastle Det. Randy Seipel told the BannerGraphic Wednesday that the department is working on its investigation.

He said DePauw University has experienced a similar problem in recent weeks and that the police department is working with them to find a solution to the problem.

"It started over there and seems to have moved this way (toward downtown)," Seipel said.

Across downtown on Tuesday, at least 25 different designs, or tags, had been painted on walls, windows and doors.

Some business owners have speculated that the activity is gang-related and others think it's youth hanging out downtown in the middle of the night.

The Wilsons, who live above their business Greencastle Photo Supply, told the BannerGraphic they have been awakened at 2 a.m. by people skateboarding on Vine Street. But they have not actually seen anyone paint their building.

"It's frustrating," Judy said, noting that she called the Putnam County Dispatch Center and was told "there was nothing they could do."

In the same block, Bright Futures co-owner Leslie Hanson has seen the activity increase recently. Her business was hit Feb. 23.

"It's happened over a period of weeks," Hanson said. "I'm disappointed that we have people who feel free to deface other people's property."

Someone painted the word "nice" on the back door of the Putnam County Convention and Visitor's Bureau. Director Karla Lawless wonders if the culprit is not local teenagers frequenting the downtown area at night.

She said she called the police department and was told officers would be stepping up patrols in the area.

"It's someone's property, so just don't do it," she said of the vandals.

The Wilsons believe the police department has been checking the downtown area about twice a week because they leave notes under the doors to the businesses to let they know they have been there.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Greencastle Police Department at 653-2925.



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