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Man restores emblem thought stolen

July 23, 1999|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - It wasn't vandals, as was first suspected, but a retired Maryland carpenter who used a chainsaw to cut a painted bulldog mascot from the gym floor of the old East Junior High School building now being torn down in Waynesboro.

Richard Kreitz, 64, of Cascade, said he took the emblem because he wanted to fix it up and donate back to the community. He also said he was afraid someone who didn't know about carpentry would ruin it trying to cut it out of the floor.

Kreitz said he plans to return the emblem to the community on Monday at 9 a.m. in a brief ceremony in front of the Waynesboro Area School District's administration building at Clayton Avenue and Third Street.

He said he had planned to return it later during some official event, like the town's Memorial Day parade, but decided to do it now because of some threatening phone calls he has been getting.

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The mascot was discovered missing on the morning of July 16 when school district maintenance employees entered the building. They thought it was the work of vandals.

The Waynesboro Area Business, Education and Community Foundation, a local group dedicated to improving education, has permission to remove some nostalgic artifacts from the building, which they hope to sell as a fund-raiser.

Kreitz, who makes small wooden crafts as a retirement hobby, said he has been in and out of the old school building for the last two weeks. He said he has permission from the company doing the demolition work to take old wood out of the building. He said he figured that included the mascot because it was painted on the wooden gym floor.

He wouldn't say who gave him permission to enter the building. "I had to sign a paper saying I was responsible if I got hurt in there."

Kreitz said it only took about 20 minutes to cut the bulldog out of the gym floor. "I did it in the daytime, not at night like they said."

Once back home he carefully followed the emblem's circular outline with a band saw. He took it apart and carefully reassembled it before varnishing and shellacking its surface, he said.

"It was hard work," he said. My son had to help me, but it looks better now than it did before"

East Junior High opened as a high school in 1937. It became a junior high school in 1962 and closed for good in 1989. It was bought at public auction in 1990 for $500,000 by Waynesboro Hospital and has been vacant since.

Summit Health, which owns Waynesboro Hospital, came under heavy criticism from local residents, generations of whom had gone to school in the old building, when the demolition plans were announced.

Hospital officials said they have no definite plans for the land under the old school.

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