ROGERSVILLE — Vandals struck Cherokee High School this past weekend for the second time in three weeks, causing damage to the vocational building, sports facilities and concessions areas.
This time, however, school officials and the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office might have their cross hairs on four culprits.
One of the areas hit by the vandals was a new indoor hitting facility for the baseball team.
CHS principal Patrick Fraley said a baseball booster has put up a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the vandals.
“I put that out to the kids this morning and we’ve received a couple of leads we’re checking on,” Fraley said. “Hopefully there will be some kids come forward. I sure hope so. I sure want to see them brought to justice.
“Baseball and softball got hit about three weeks ago, and I really believe both incidents are related. I think somebody got by with it the first time and thought they could do it again.”
Fraley estimates the value of damage and thefts from both incidents to be in excess of $10,000.
Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said students have been shown surveillance video of the vandals, and he believes one of the vandals has already been identified.
The burglaries and vandalism apparently took place Friday night and was discovered Saturday morning.
Assistant principal Bobby Edens told the HCSO he arrived at the vocational building around 7:30 a.m. Saturday and found the building had been burglarized and vandalized.
“Once inside the vocational building subjects attempted to disable the security cameras by unplugging the power cord,” HCSO Sgt. Scott Alley said in his report. “Subjects then entered several classrooms by climbing into the ceiling and going over the walls, which caused damage to numerous ceiling tiles. Subjects also broke the glass out of one classroom to gain entry, and a vending machine was vandalized in the shop area.”
The baseball field was damaged by pouring garbage and other items on it and digging several holes. Entry was also made into the field house by tearing a metal plate off the back door and prying it open.
Once inside, they kicked in five steel doors, broke into a locker, stole a football helmet and sprayed two fire extinguishers into the restroom.
The football concession metal window was damaged in an apparent attempted burglary that was unsuccessful. No such luck for the baseball and softball concessions.
“They got into the softball and baseball concessions also and did some vandalism and theft,” Fraley said. “The boosters had a bunch of hats and shirts that they sell, and they poured mustard and paint all over it. We’re in the process of building an indoor hitting facility at the baseball field, and they just cut all the insulation all to pieces. Just a bunch of stuff like that.”
Fraley said the only motive he can come up with for these break-ins and vandalism is “sorriness and meanness.”
Earlier this year, the Board of Education agreed to use funds originally intended for football bleachers to make improvements to the softball and baseball facilities. When those funds fell short of the cost the boosters made up the difference through fund-raisers.
Fraley added, “For the first time in a long time we’ve been able to devote some improvement money to both those facilities. We’ve had parents and kids and people in the community working really hard to get those places looking nice. It’s a huge commitment that our county and community have made to improve our facilities, and for someone to come in and mess it up like this. It’s just sickening.”