Will ‘1984’-like surveillance deter flower-pulling ruffians?

City pledges zero tolerance, will adopt ‘Big Brother’ approach with ‘regret’

BUCKHANNON — The flowers dotting downtown have been holding their own with no signs of frost in sight, but they were no match for the alleged vandalism that was discovered early Saturday morning.

An individual or individuals pulled up some of the flowers in the beds by Dairy Queen, pushed over a pot and also pulled up flowers from a planter beside The Shops at 46 Main and planters near Chase Bank. The bulk of the damage was done to the flowerbed by Dairy Queen.

Mayor David McCauley said, “Virtually everyone in our community feels violated by this latest, senseless act of vandalism. Our city’s floral and landscape program headed by horticulturist, Rob Barbor, and supported by our Streets and Parks department, is perhaps that single thing we do as a community that most proudly distinguishes us from other places in our region. Our residents love our flowers.”

Many people expressed their concern over the vandalism on social media Saturday as pictures were shared.

After learning of the vandalism, one local resident, Brandon Weese joined with some others to make a Go Fund Me Page to support the purchase of more surveillance cameras, https://www.gofundme.com/project-taking-back-buckhannon.

“Sometime between the night of Sept. 22,  and the morning of Sept. 23, someone took time to deface Buckhannon’s beautiful flowers on Main Street,” Weese said. “With this, myself and a couple other people are coming together to help take back Buckhannon. I know the city police as well as other police agencies have worked very hard to help deter crime in our area, however there isn’t enough law enforcement to go around. With that being said, I am starting a fund raising campaign to purchase cameras to have coverage on Main Street and Trader’s Alley.”

The higher resolution cameras cost about $1,500 and the goal is to raise $7,500, enough for five cameras. The mayor said he didn’t have an estimated cost of the flower damages.

Donations can also be made directly to city hall with security cameras written in the memo line.

The city recently acquired higher resolution cameras for Jawbone Park that were instrumental in identifying two people responsible for vandalism at the park. It is also looking into the same for North Buckhannon Riverfront Park where vandals struck and cost city workers a full day of clean-up.

There are cameras on Main Street that may help, in the meantime.

“Our police department is thoroughly investigating this matter, and we are hopeful that video footage will identify the perpetrators,” McCauley said. “Anyone with any information about this crime is asked to contact the Buckhannon Police Department at 304-472-5723.

“We are committed to prosecuting those responsible to the fullest extent of the law, and we will have zero tolerance for this kind of criminal activity. Our community cannot be deterred in our collective efforts to beautify our downtown. 

“Unfortunately, it seems that our city now will be required to divert additional resources toward surveillance cameras as a deterrent to this kind of crime.  I deeply regret further embracing a ‘Big Brother’ approach, but it also would be irresponsible for us to fail to deploy available technology to deter this kind of criminal conduct.”

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