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Cascade school signs vandalized

March 04, 2001

Cascade school signs vandalized



By TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

All but one of the signs placed throughout the Cascade area in support of keeping Cascade Elementary School from possibly closing and being consolidated have been vandalized. Parents think whoever is responsible planned the act in advance.

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"I can tell you that it doesn't seem to be a random act of vandalism by bored youth," said Karl Weissenbach, chairman of the Cascade Committee. "This was professionally done."

The signs state "Save Our Community School" and were made out of wood from the Cascade float in October's Mummer's Parade. The signs were placed in January by Weissenbach and other parents, Richard Thompson and David Eyler, in Cascade, PenMar, Sabillasville, Blue Ridge Summit and one on Route 491 on the way to Cascade.

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Last week, Weissenbach said the vandals cut out pieces of cardboard, stenciled the word "Sell" in bold letters, and then stapled the cardboard over the word "Save" on the signs.

The sign in Blue Ridge Summit was the only one not vandalized. Weissenbach said that's probably because the sign is located in front of a gas station that's open 24 hours.

Weissenbach thinks the vandals have an agenda to suppress the Cascade Committee's mission to keep the school open.

"Someone who doesn't agree with our aims is deliberately setting out to make his or her viewpoint known," Weissenbach said. "It's unfortunate that whoever is responsible for this senseless act of vandalism doesn't give us our right to make our case to defend the school from possible closure."

"Further, I can't imagine anyone in the Cascade community stooping to such a level as to deface the signs."

The Cascade Committee was formed in January when parents in the area got word that the school could close and be consolidated with Smithsburg Elementary School. The committee has recently changed its name from the Save Our Community School Committee.

The Facilities Review Committee, initiated by the Washington County Commissioners, propose the consolidation of several elementary schools. In addition to consolidating Cascade and Smithsburg elementary, the county would save about $1.6 million a year by combining Winter Street and Salem Avenue elementary schools; Fountain Rock, Emma K. Doub and Funkstown elementary schools; and Maugansville and Conococheague elementary schools.

Cascade, Winter Street, Funkstown, Maugansville and Conococheague would close under the plan.

A new $11 million school would be built to house Conococheague and Maugansville students. The review committee has said both schools are in need of extensive repairs and that county would save $1 million by building a new school, rather than renovating the two schools. It would cost about $12 million to repair both schools, it has said in its report to the Board of Education and commissioners.

The Cascade Committee is working on a rebuttal to the report, which should be done in about three weeks. The committee holds regular meetings to discuss the issue.

Weissenbach said that while the vandalism will most likely continue, the committee isn't giving up its mission.

"Despite this unfortunate act of vandalism, which I expect to continue, I believe that most of the community fully supports the continued operation of the school," Weissenbach said. "The vandalism of the signs will not intimidate us."

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