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Newly Renovated Gazebo Becomes Target for Vandalism and Litter

By Staff | Sep 16, 2015

Photo by Lauren Matthews Tyler County resident Jennifer Negie said the lattice bulging out likely shows that something was thrown from inside the gazebo, damaging the lattice work.

An initiative that was meant to spark positive change has resulted in disappointment as the Middlebourne Senior Center’s freshly renovated gazebo has been target of vandalism and litter.

Tyler County resident Jennifer Negie explained that the idea for the project came to fruition through the power of social media. Negie said she noticed a Facebook status addressing the state of disrepair of the gazebo. A week or two later, Negie and her husband were walking in the neighborhood and noticed the gazebo was definitely in need of some cosmetic updates.

“The lattice was broken, staples were sticking out, and weeds had overtaken the flower beds,” Negie explained. “Bryce (Negie’s husband) and I decided we should find a group of people to help fix it up. We asked Amy Haught (of Middlebourne Senior Center) for permission to work on the gazebo since it belongs to them.”

Negie says a planning committee meeting was held in May, in which Tyler County residents Alli Watson, Sarah Smith, Julie Bolin, Chris and Jeff Davis, Alex King, and Peggy George all attended, along with herself and Bryce, as well as another representative from the senior center.

“We created a ‘game plan’ for the project that session. After that, we received several monetary donations from people in the community. Chris Hoke donated flowers; the Farmer’s Exchange donated supplies, and Ace Hardware donated paint,” Negie stated.

Negie added that the work as completed on three different days in July.

“Kate Vincent, Sarah Smith, Alex King, Bryce, and I did the ‘demo removing’ of the broken lattice and weeds. We painted, repositioned several of the bricks around the flower beds, and planted new flowers. Sarah dug all the weeds out of the gravel by hand.”

Negie also hopes to get the high school kids of the community involved in the project.

“Our plan was to have the high school art students paint murals on wooden panels for the bottom of the frame. Once all the painting was completed, we were going to install a motion activated solar light. This is going to take place as soon as the students can finish their section,” Negie explained.

About five weeks after the improvements were made, it was noticed that the lattice work at the top of the gazebo had been busted. Negie explained that one piece of the lattice bulges out, proving that the lattice work had not been busted through an accidental hit from outside of the gazebo. Furthermore, litter has been strewn inside of the gazebo.

This has been a disappointment to those who worked so very hard on the gazebo especially Negie who created and runs a “Middlebourne Improvements” Facebook group, which consists of more than 600 people.

“We use the group to advertise community events, offer suggestions for the town, and recognize positive things that we see. At first, I did think ‘What’s the point?'” Negie admitted of her feelings after the vandalism. “That only lasted five minutes though. If anything it made me more steadfast in proving positive change can and will happen.”

To those who committed the acts of vandalism, Negie has the following to say: “It’s not okay.”

“It took a lot of time and effort to do the project,” Negie added. “I’d like them to help fix it, honestly, but just not doing anymore harm is fine . . . I’d like to hear their ideas. What are we not doing to prevent it?”

As for now, Negie stated there would be added surveillance around the area of the gazebo.

There is also more work to be done on the gazebo; thus, Negie also encourages those who want to help with the project to contact her through the “Middlebourne Improvements” Facebook page.

“Part of our mission was to fix the gazebo up so it would be more appealing to the seniors and others in town … I know it’s a little ways from the main center, but that’s great for people to get moving and enjoy fresh air.”