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Tree Destruction Sparks Outrage

by Todd Wellington

The weekend assault on four thriving Japanese lilac trees lining the sidewalk on Depot Street in Lyndonville has sparked outrage from both the town and village.

Three of the decorative trees, growing from plots in the sidewalk between Lyndonville Video and Church Street, were completely destroyed: ripped apart, branch by branch, leaving only naked stumps sticking out of the ground.

"This was a stupid, senseless, idiotic, act of vandalism," said an angry Municipal Assistant David Dill.

"I'm furious at the needless, wanton, malicious vandalism to village property," said Village Trustee Donna Edwards. "All of the trustees are very upset," she added.

"What's the point?" asked irate Lyndon resident and business woman Nancy Hibshman. "I think its disgusting; it's just stupid. It's a mean kind of destruction."

The trees had been installed two years ago as part of a village beautifician effort during renovations to the infrastructure of the downtown area.

According to a report from the state police, Sgt. Leo Bachand, who was on Lyndonville patrol early Sunday morning, responded to a report: of three subjects causing a disturbance in the Main Street/Depot Street area. Bachand came around the Corner of Church and Depot and reportedly caught Scott Keithan, 22, St. Johnsbury, in the act of destroying one of the trees.

Keithan was cited to appear in Caledonian District Court to answer the charge of unlawful mischief.

"I'm delighted that the state police caught the perpetrator," said Dill. "We will prosecute to the full extent of the law and seek for full reimbursement for the cost of replacing the trees."

"I hate vandalism because it serves no purpose," said Don Blake, chairman of the village trustees. "I hope that the fellow is made to pay for the cost to replace the trees, and hopefully others who thought of doing this will think twice," he said.

Although the trees were village, not town property, Bruce James, chairman of the Lyndon board of selectmen, citing the significance of the downtown area to all Lyndon residents, also called for stiff penalties for those convicted of the crime.

"This is a pride issue," said James. "I hope that the culprit is punished to the full extent of the law."

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Copyright 1997

The Caledonian-Record

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