Come together to stop vandalism

Lesley Toth
Lesley Toth

When I drove around Rec and Trimble parks this past week to photograph the latest rounds of graffiti spray painted all over several city buildings, I couldn’t help but feel disgusted.

As a Milaca native, these overt acts of disrespect and property damage not only give the community a black eye physically, but they do it no favors reputation-wise.

I know the boredom of a teenager or young adult living a slower-paced rural area. But scratching initials in a tree trunk is a far cry from covering an entire building in immature scribbles.

The Milaca Police Department is racking up the overtime trying to catch those responsible for the rampant vandalism that has cost city and private property owners tens of thousands of dollars in losses and repairs. I have no doubt these fine men and women are trying their best to put a stop to it. I also have no doubt that it’s impossible for them to be every where all the time. They will need our help.

The city has offered a $1,000 reward to enlist such assistance. I would hope that as tight-knit community, the satisfaction of having our parks, bridges, businesses and homes looking more like the small, Minnesota town we know and love, rather than the underpass of a busy city public transportation hub, would be all the reward one needs. Then again, the cash incentive just may motivate someone who already knows the names of the vandals to come forward.

The vandalism that has cropped up all over town and all summer long is especially disheartening considering how hard several of our residents have worked the past few years in sprucing up the place. The Milaca Community Action Team has spent countless hours designating city walking routes, encouraging downtown businesses and organizations to adopt flower pots and benches that now adorn our sidewalks and storefronts, and hanging retired Milaca High School color guard flags around town to give the city a splash of summer fun and color. Milaca has never looked nicer!

Meanwhile, some very bored and immature individuals are running around destroying property, costing home and business owners thousands of dollars and transforming several locations of our peaceful, nice community into a dump. Just weeks after ECM Publishers paid to have the exterior wall of the Mille Lacs County Times building repainted due to the familiar-looking blue spray paint streaks, the vandals struck again. The very same wall had the very same color paint splattered all over it.

I hope whomever is responsible for this petty and childish behavior is brought swiftly to authorities. Help this effort in any way possible. Watch out for our neighbors’ garages. Keep an eye on our downtown businesses and parks. Report suspicious activity — even if it’s “not your problem.” Milaca has long prided itself on providing a safe, beautiful place to live. Let’s not let that reputation be ruined by allowing this vandalism to continue.