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Eagle Valley High vandalized

Scott N. Miller

In addition, the vandals damaged the course work of several students, destroyed numerous plants and killed a number of fish being raised in the “bio building.”

The case remains under investigation, so neither school officials nor James van Beek would comment at length. High school Principal Nelson Gould did say that a new video surveillance system at the school will be “helpful” in cracking the case. And, following a “no comment” from van Beek, he allowed that the progress of the investigation was “pretty good.”

“We just don’t know who did this,” said Gould. “It could be students; it could be non-students. It could be kids; it might not be kids.”

Kids is a good guess, though, at least concerning the bus vandalism. Melody McMichael, transportation director for the Eagle County School District, said that the vandals gained access to the buses through a side window, something that takes a small person to accomplish.

Once the first person was in, the doors were unlocked and the floodgates opened.

All the buses had trash thrown throughout the interiors. Some mirrors were cracked, circulation fans were torn out and at least one two-way radio was stolen. One bus had a fire extinguisher discharged inside, which made the bus hazardous to drive Tuesday morning before it was cleaned, since the fire retardant sucks oxygen from the air.

In addition, first aid kits on all the buses will have to be either restocked or replaced, depending on the amount of damage.

The incident has left McMichael frustrated and angry, especially since buses were vandalized at the high school earlier this year.

“I want to know where the parents were,” she said. “I know where my kids were Monday night.”

McMichael said the three buses had been parked at Eagle Valley High School for the convenience of the drivers, who live in Gypsum, and to save on fuel costs.

Starting now, those buses will be parked in the district’s fenced-in lot in Eagle. The vehicles will use gallons of fuel for each round trip between the towns, which will be a “significant” long-term cost, McMichael said.

Damage at the “bio building” was also significant. The vandals broke in through a louvered window made of heavy aluminum. Once inside, they broke into lockers and scattered paper throughout the building. They also overturned plant stands, damaged irrigation systems, and threw several live fish to the floor.

The mess was significant. Gould praised a group of teaching assistants who cleaned up the building as soon as police investigators were through at the site.

Gould said teacher Emily Large has put hours of her own time into nurturing the bio building and was “quite distraught” by the damage. The assistants cleaning up “really helped (Large) by doing that,” he said.

While the vandals caused a lot of damage Monday night, Gould said an incident last fall might have been more severe. That vandalism involved spray-painting the bleachers at the football field, as well as more spray-paint scrawling on the exterior walls of the school.

That incident occurred on a Saturday, and the following Monday was a day off for students, Gould recalled. Gould’s philosophy is that the best way to attack paint vandalism is to clean it up immediately, thus depriving the criminals of any glory from their acts. So school custodians and others got to work immediately, cleaning the damaged property with high-pressure hoses and strong chemicals.

Those vandals have yet to be caught. However, students who participated in Tuesday’s Shadow Day activities with Eagle County officials strongly suspected that the people responsible for last fall’s incident may have been involved in this one.

Asked what should happen if and when these vandals are caught, student Nolan Royle suggested that this group “take lie-detector tests” regarding last fall’s vandalism.

Student Amanda Jones said school officials “should make an example” of whoever is responsible. She said the culprits should be forced to read an apology to the student body at an assembly.

Other Shadow Day teens nodded when an adult suggested that the culprits pay for the damage or be compelled to clean up other vandalism or do other heavy, sweaty work.

Told of the students’ suggestions, Gould said, “We won’t be that restrained.”

“We’re going to go the full measure on this,” he added. “Whatever the law allows, and whatever the district’s policy allows, that’s what’s we’re going to do.”

If you have any information about Monday’s night’s vandalism at Eagle Valley High School, you can call the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, 328-8564, or, to remain anonymous, Eagle County CrimeStoppers, 328-7007.


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