Vandalism mars Henleyfield Community Center

Published 7:26 pm Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Recent damage to a statue in the park in the Henleyfield community is the latest in a string of vandalism occurrences, and residents are getting tired of the destruction.

The statue of an angel watching over a child, which had been standing in the park at the Henleyfield walking track behind the Henleyfield Community Center since mid-May, was donated to the park by Henleyfield resident Debi Jarrell in memory of her late son, Benji Jarrell.

Paulette Fortenberry, a resident of Henleyfield and a key participant in the beautification of the park, said a resident found the statue early last Tuesday morning when he went walking at the track. It had been pushed over on its back, and the wings were broken off, Fortenberry said.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“It was there Monday night when we went walking around 9 or 10, but it was down the next morning,” Fortenberry said.

Fortenberry said this is the fourth incident of vandalism in the past few months. Other instances included the theft of a baby swing from the swing set, a stolen “smoker’s pot” and the turning over of all the benches in the park.

“The smoker’s pot was chained to the fence, and they cut the chain to steal it,” Fortenberry said.

Jarrell said they have several projects planned to improve the park, but the acts of vandalism are worrying some people.

“The park is for everyone in the community to enjoy. We have a lot that we want to do, but we’re scared to do it,” Jarrell said.

Fortenberry said the park needs new playground equipment, and plans were being made to apply for a grant for the new equipment, but now community members are nervous about putting anything else in the park.

“We’re supposed to be getting lights, but we don’t know if they’ll tear everything up again,” Fortenberry said. “(The park) is a pretty thing for people, but (the vandalism) is aggravating.”

Fortenberry said the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department has been called several times, and reports have been made, but so far no one has been caught.

“They don’t have enough people to patrol the area all the time,” Fortenberry said.

Jarrell said plans were being made to pick up the statue late Monday evening, and to see what was needed to repair it.

“We called Mr. Whiskers in Natchez where I got it to see if they could put it back in the mold, but they can’t do that. We don’t even know if it can be repaired,” Jarrell said. “They tear up everything we do and we’re tired of it.”

Jarrell said a reward of an undisclosed amount is being offered for information leading to the apprehension of the vandals. Persons with information regarding the incident may call Debi Jarrell at (601) 798-7544 or Paulette Fortenberry at (601) 798-2156.