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 Young Vandals Slash Tires in Carthage

August 8, 2007 - "I think we have a problem in Carthage," Carthage resident Don Scheumann told members of the Carthage Town Council at their July 30 meeting. "And that problem is vandalism."

As a longtime local educator and the current principal at Knightstown Intermediate School, Scheumann is not unfamiliar with adolescent misbehavior. While usually in a position to address disciplinary issues when they arise at school, a recent spate of vandalism had Scheumann turning to the Carthage Town Council for help.

Scheumann told council members that vandals did $550 in damage to his truck when they slashed his tires, and estimated that he incurred another $100 or more in damages from eggs thrown at a newly painted portion of his house. He said that about $290 worth of damages had not been covered by his insurance and that he plans to seek restitution from the vandals and their parents.

"Do we have a curfew here in Carthage?" Scheumann asked the council. "If we do, I'd like it enforced." Council President Rick Bush answered that the town does not currently have a curfew ordinance, but noted that the state has a curfew law that can be enforced locally. He provided Scheumann, the media and other council members with a handout containing what he said was a proposed curfew ordinance for the town that closely followed the state statute.

Scheumann said he didn't think much positive came from juveniles being out past 12 or one o'clock in the morning. "Let's be proactive," he said, "and get them home where they need to be."

Crystal Trueblood, who suffered between $900 and $1,200 in damages to tires on her vehicle, said she thought the kids who committed these acts should have to perform community service. Like Scheumann, she said she also plans to seek restitution from the juveniles and their families.

Carthage Town Marshal Mike Oknst told the council that three juveniles - two males and one female - were responsible for the vandalism on July 11 and 12 to property owned by Scheumann, Trueblood and others in town. He said the damages - which mostly involved slashed tires - totaled about $3,000, and that the youths had been referred to Rush County juvenile authorities.

Scheumann assured the council that he had not been unhappy with the local police department's response to the vandalism. "I'm just here because I want to make Carthage better," he said.

Bush asked his fellow council members to give thought to what they would deem an acceptable curfew ordinance for the town. He said he thought state statute allowed towns to enact local laws setting curfews as much as two hours earlier than that set by the state, and the council's attorney agreed to research that issue. Until the town enacts its own curfew ordinance, however, Bush instructed Onkst to have his department enforce the state law. "If they don't have a valid reason for being out," he said, "start hammering them." In other business, the council heard a brief presentation from John Caton of Fleis & Vanenbrink Engineering of Indianapolis. Caton said his firm is willing to work with the town to help it develop a master plan for its park that would enable the town to apply for federal grant dollars to improve its park.

Bush told Caton that the council may be interested in establishing an official park board for the town. Caton suggested the council review the requirements for setting up a park board with its attorney.

Clerk-Treasurer Linda McMahan advised the council that the town recently received a $1,500 grant from the Rush County Community Foundation to use for new benches and trash receptacles at McNabb Park. The council also approved acceptance of a used slide for the park that is being donated by a school in Zionsville.

Trueblood, who is a member of the Carthage Volunteer Fire Department, told the council that the CVFD would like the town's help paying for materials for a child photo ID project on September 15 that would be open to anyone under 18 living in Ripley Township. She said the cost is about $2 per ID and that the CVFD will donate a dollar for each dollar the town gives.

Bush said he didn't know if the town had money for that, but said individual council members would likely help. Trueblood said Council Vice President Wanda Henderson had already pledged $100 herself, and Onkst offered to contribute money from his department's continuing education fund, if available. Onkst also said the CPD would also provide the camera and computer needed to make the IDs.


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