By Lindsay Carey
Businesses in town that experience vandalism will now be able to receive volunteer help to clean their facility, free of charge, as a part of the Act On It anti-vandalism campaign in town.
Businesses can call Youth Services at 860-276-6281 to get volunteer help to clean and remove graffiti from a business.
“You want to get rid of it as soon as possible,” said Town Councilor Dawn Miceli. “Research shows that the faster you can eradicate the vandalism the better, because they realize there are eyes watching.”
Miceli said that she got the idea to assist businesses in cleaning up vandalism after receiving some concerns from business owners about the time frame that they were expected to have the vandalism cleaned.
Earlier this year, businesses in town were asked to have vandalism removed about 24 and 48 hours after the crime.
“It’s costly and time consuming, so it’s hard for businesses to do” said Miceli. “We’re hoping to alleviate some of the angst and expense when private businesses are tagged with graffiti.”
Miceli, who has been leading the anti-vandalism campaign in town, said that she wanted to develop a volunteer base to help businesses with graffiti removal.
She shared the idea with Rob Flood, VP of Liberty Bank, and said he thought it was a great idea.
According to Miceli, Flood networks with all of the Boy Scout troops in town, as his son was a scout.
Flood and Miceli have already recruited two of the three Boy Scout troops in town and has made plans to talk to the third group with the help of Vince Sumpter, assistant District Commissioner and Community Chairman for Troop 32.
“We teach the boys about graffiti and how costly it is, and then ask them to be a part of the volunteer initiative,” said Miceli. “It’s great, because they get to learn about vandalism and the destructive behavior that serves no purpose in our community.”
Sumpter said part of being a Boy Scout is cart of maintaining cleanliness and being charitable.
“I think it’s going to help show them what not to do,” said Sumpter. “These individuals are going out and spray painting everywhere and their ruining someone’s property.
Besides showing the Boy Scouts how damaging vandalism is, Sumpter said that he believes the initiative will make the troops more vigilant.
“I think they’ll start to keep an eye out for vandals and to report it,” said Sumpter.
In addition to help from the Boy Scouts, Miceli reached out to Kelly Leppard from STEPS and was informed of a link on the town’s website called “Southington Serves.”
The webpage is for young people that need to complete community service hours.
Places that need volunteers can post a listing and receive help.
Miceli said that she made a post requesting volunteer help for vandalism on the webpage and has recruited seen some interest in participating.
Miceli found out from Town Manager Garry Brumback that the town uses a specific solution to remove graffiti from schools and municipal buildings called “Tagster.”
According to Miceli, it is a non toxic solution that easily removes graffiti. Miceli said that she and Flood will be distributing Tagster to the volunteers when they go out to remove vandalism.
However, a case of Tagster costs $225, so Miceli is going to begin soliciting donations by going around to ask civic groups in Southington if they would like to contribute.
With the help of Flood, Liberty Bank purchased the first case.
The ACT On it campaign is multifaceted including an anonymous community tip line, potential consequences involving the Juvenile Review Board, a reward system and police activity.
It seems vandalism may be increasing in activity, as there were reportedly two more strikes of vandalism within a week of the Berlin Ave incident, which led town officials to set a reward of $200 to $1,000 for the vandal.
“We take pride and we are going to take action in our community,” said Miceli.
By Lindsay Carey