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Maryland Theatre to get new roof

April 29, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- The Maryland Theatre's roof is being replaced because of damage possibly connected to vandalism last year.

Ron Bowers, a member of the nonprofit theater's board and chairman of its building committee, said graffiti was made on the theater's roof in April 2008.

This year, as heavy rain caused water to soak through to the ceiling inside, it looked as if the damage was tied to last year's vandalism, Bowers said.

Bowers said the theater's insurance is covering the damage, estimated at more than $16,000.

Carson Roofing is putting a new energy-efficient roof on two parts of the building, he said.

The ceiling and carpet also are being replaced, Bowers said.

On a rainy evening in December 2008, a ceiling tile in the lobby swung down and struck a pregnant woman in the chest as she held her 21-month-old son, but no one was injured.

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Bowers said the vandalism was spotted in April 2008.

First, someone made graffiti on the First Hagerstown Hose Co. station next to the theater. The fire company covered up the graffiti, Bowers said.

The next day, graffiti was found on the roofs of the fire station and the theater.

Bowers said a video surveillance system captured images of people on the roof in May 2008.

Someone matching the description of a person in the video clip was seen downtown a few days later and tried to hide a spray paint container, but wasn't charged, he said.

Bowers said it appeared no one was prosecuted because the theater didn't have a "no trespassing" sign.

Hagerstown Police Department Sgt. Paul Kifer looked through police records Wednesday, but wasn't able to determine what happened in the investigation, which he didn't handle.

In general, though, a police officer's discretion lets him or her charge a person who clearly is not supposed to be in a particular place, Kifer said.

Trespassing around The Maryland Theatre has been a gray area in the past because the neighborhood is partly residential, he said.

Bowers said a brick wall will be put up to block what might have been the vandals' access to the theater's roof. Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr. is having his construction company build the wall at no cost, Bowers said.

During the 2008 Maryland General Assembly session, the theater was approved for a $125,000 state bond bill for indoor and outdoor renovation projects.

At the end of the year, Sam Young, the theater board's president, said he wasn't sure the theater could claim the money, which required the theater raising $125,000 to match the bond bill.

This week, though, Bowers said the theater will claim the state money, but it won't be used for the current renovation work.

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