Graffiti streaks across Joplin parks

Graffiti streaks across Joplin parks
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Katrin Herd built this butterfly garden in honor of her late son, Riley Minnis, who cleaned up this very park himself after the Joplin tornado.

“We knew Riley had helped in this vicinity and had a lot of passion about restoring everything and definitely passionate about the environment,” said Herd.

The environment here now is tinged with sadness, and still some spray paint, after vandals left their mark.

“Last week it was all covered in purple paint with some profane words across it,” explained Herd.

Herd and Parks and Rec officials worked for hours, scrubbing at the paint on rocks in the fountain, his marble plaque, and a bench made of recycled materials, but she worries some of this damage is too hard to erase.

“Even the bench over there, they got the paint off of it, but you can see the stains. It’s permanently stained,” said Herd.

Officials say it’s hard to keep up. A picnic table in Wildcat Glades was vandalized just last weekend, and already a fresh spray of paint is covering its surface.

“We have volunteers that come out at least once a week and they try to scrub that stuff off. They take care of the trails and try to help out the Joplin Parks and Rec as much as they can, but it happens. We clean it off. It happens again,” explained Robin Standridge, Executive Director of the Wildcat Glades Friends Group, a non-profit organization.

At Wildcat Park, vandals also tagged trees which can destroy them, and the removal process can harm the tree and wildlife that depends on it, so Standridge is hoping for a better solution.

“I think we have to be proactive. I think we need to start from the beginning and let’s teach our kids that this is not an okay thing to do,” said Standridge.

Herd isn’t sure if the vandalism in Wildcat is connected to her son’s memorial site, but she hopes whoever is responsible will turn themselves in and stop this kind of behavior.

“It really is destructive and painful for those of us that have personal attachments to these areas,” said a tearful Herd.

Herd is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the identity of those responsible the vandalism of her son’s memorial.
Recently, Landers Chevrolet stepped forward to match that reward.