Wednesday, April 23, 2003/lk
The City of Hood River is offering a reward in hopes of solving a “fishy” mystery.
Sometime last weekend someone took one of five leaping bronze salmon in the fountain of Overlook Memorial Park. Lynn Guenther, city manager, said $1,000 will be turned over to the individual who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of the thief.
Police Chief Tony Dirks said the sculpture is valued at about $5,000 and was cut from its stainless steel support rods. He said a thorough search was done of the surrounding park above Second and State streets but the missing item was unable to be located. Neither Dirks nor Guenther believe the theft of artwork was in any way related to the recent demonstrations that have taken place on that site in recent weeks.
“I would like to think it has nothing to do with anything else, I would doubt anyone would stoop to that level that was involved in any event here recently,” said Dirks.
Guenther, a decorated Vietnam war veteran, is upset about the disrespect shown to the memorial that was constructed to honor military personnel who died in service to their country.
“What in the world anyone would be thinking to desecrate a memorial in this fashion is beyond me,” he said.
City Prosecutor Teunis Wyers said the suspect could face not only a theft charge in Municipal Court but an additional penalty for Abusing a Memorial to the Dead. He said both charges are Class A misdemeanors and carry a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine and one year in jail.
Guenther said if the thief decides to turn over the bronze casting, he/she may leave it on the doorstep of the police department, city hall or even at the fire station.
“We don’t care who has it, if they would only return it there will be no questions asked,” Guenther said.
Meanwhile, Dirks is asking that anyone with information about the incident make a confidential call to his office at 386-3942.
Overlook Memorial Park was dedicated on Memorial Day in 1999. About one year later two young adult males were arrested for pouring detergent into the fountain. They were charged with third degree criminal mischief and not only sentenced to community service but ordered to write a public letter of apology and a report on what the names listed on the veteran plaque mean to the community.