Vandalism at McNeill Walking Trail

Published 5:04 pm Friday, October 12, 2007

An increasing amount of vandalism at the McNeill Walking Trail has caused frustration and concern for the members of the trail committee, who are asking the public for any information that may lead to the arrest of the vandals.

Matty Jo Fox, president of the committee, said Wednesday that incidents of vandalism have occurred since the trail opened four years ago, but have escalated in the past few weeks.

The most recent destruction includes the theft of the American flag and the pole from which it flew, broken rails on the trellis bridge, and the destruction of wooden benches that line the trail.

Joyce Pope, another committee member, said this is the third time the flag has been stolen, but the first time the pole was taken as well.

The McNeill Walking Trail is owned by the county, but Fox said the committee has not approached the board of supervisors for any kind of helpt.

“We have not asked the board to do anything yet, but it’s definitely something to look into, since we are owned by the county,” Fox said. “If we had the funds, we would hire a security officer, but we just don’t have the funding.”

Fox said there has been some discussion among committee members as to whether or not to proceed with “Christmas on the Trail,” which is an array of Christmas lights and decorations put on display at the trail every year.

“We leave the lights on throughout the (Christmas) season, and it would be a shame if we had to call it off … but I think we’ll go ahead with it for this year,” Fox said.

Fox said tthe Christmas lights ceremony is held the first Saturday in December, and usually draws a large crowd.

“We had close to 800 people hear last year for it, so that’s why we probably will go ahead with it,” Fox said.

Pope agreed, saying, “My husband has played Santa (at the event) for the last several years, and he is determined to play him again this year. I’m pretty sure we’ll have it.”

The Trail committee is offering a reward of $100 for information leading to the arrest of the vandals. Anyone with information should contact the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department at (601) 798-4374 or (601) 798-2272.