Growing graffiti angers Edwards residents |

Growing graffiti angers Edwards residents

Steve Lynn
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyGraffiti stains a wall at Berry Creek Middle School Thursday. The graffiti was reported to the Eagle County Sheriff's Office Dec. 20, but has not been removed yet.

EDWARDS, Colorado ” Jeremy Lepore isn’t used to the black spray-paint on fences and walls that has been cropping up in his neighborhood lately.

“It’s a small mountain community,” said Lepore, who enjoys his young neighbors and nearby Freedom Park, with its playground and Astroturf field. “We’re not inner city.”

“Unfortunately, graffiti is more or less an eyesore for residents and visitors,” he said.

Graffiti in Miller Ranch was reported four times in two weeks in December, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office said.

At Berry Creek Middle School, “SUR 13,” “South side” and curse words condemning “Nortenos” were recently spray-painted on an outside wall, a large orange storage bin, a forklift and a trash can.

“Sur 13” and “Norte” were spray-painted on an outside wall of Red Canyon High School in October.

Robert Cuevas, principal of Berry Creek Middle School, could not be reached for comment. The cost to clean the graffiti was estimated at $3,500 to $4,000, according to a Sheriff’s Office report.

Sheriff’s deputies are investigating the graffiti, which is bashing another gang, said Kim Andree, spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office.

“Sur 13” is a symbol for a street gang known as “Sureno” or “Sureno Trece.” “Sureno” means “southerner” in Spanish. “Norteno,” a rival street gang, means “northerner” in Spanish.

“It’s been a while since we’ve had graffiti like this,” Andree said.

Dave Meirowsky first saw the graffiti at Freedom Park’s skateboard park. Then he and his neighbor’s fence were spray-painted.

Meirowsky said he does not think there are gangs in the affordable housing neighborhood, which is a “terrific place” with lots of families, friendly people and dogs.

“It’s a joke,” Meirowsky said. “It’s a bunch of kids thinking they’re tough guys.”

Jim Middleton said he has seen the graffiti, which has an “urban look,” on a bridge near the wastewater treatment plant in Edwards.

Extra sheriff’s deputies in the area would not solve the problem, said Middleton, of Miller Ranch.

“How long does it take to empty a spray-paint can?” Middleton said. “You won’t get caught.”

If kids don’t ski or snowboard during the winter, they might get bored and vandalize property, Lepore said.

“What do we do for a child who kind of has cabin fever?” Lepore said.

The Sheriff’s Office does not know whether the graffiti is gang-related. Sheriff’s deputies have dealt with people in Eagle County who have weak ties to gang members, but not in connection to the recent graffiti, Andree said.

“I think it would be foolish to say we don’t have any gang activity here,” said Andree, who defines gang activity as a group of people committing crime together.

Lori Mapes, of Miller Ranch, has seen the graffiti on fences, signs at the nearby railroad tracks and other places in Edwards, she said.

“Graffiti isn’t the worst problem in the world,” she said. “But if there are gang elements, those need to be dealt with.”

Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or

If you have any information about graffiti in Edwards or elsewhere in Eagle County, call the Sheriff’s Office at 328-8500 or remain anonymous and earn up to $1,000.00 by calling Eagle County Crime Stoppers at (970) 328-7007 or (800) 972-TIPS.

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