Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: July 25

Thumbs Down

Vandals strike in Perryville

Early Saturday morning, someone or someones wandered through Perryville, doing damage to vehicles and buildings all over the place.

An estimated 15 vehicles had their tires slashed, an air conditioning unit at the Dollar General was cut, windows were broken on the Legion Hall and two homes, a storage building at the cemetery was damaged and a picnic table was thrown into the Chaplin River.

In a small town like Perryville, such a level of vandalism is shocking, as well as harmful to the sense of community.

Police Chief Parker Hatter believes, based on the kinds of crimes committed, that the perpetrators may be juveniles or young adults. That certainly makes sense to us. There also doesn’t seem to be any kind of a profit motive involved, which further suggests someone behaving in an extremely immature way and not, as we see more often these days, someone committing a crime in order to get drugs or money for drugs.

If it is the case that this was some kids or young adults with a terrible sense for appropriate ways to have fun, we hope they can be found and taught a real lesson from this that will stick with them.

A natural urge is to seek vengeance, to punish the perpetrators ruthlessly. Perryville Council member Paul Webb, who was a victim of some of the vandalism, said he intends to “push for the county attorney to seek the maximum punishment allowed.”

If the maximum punishment is what it takes to make someone realize the error of their ways, then so be it; but it’s also possible that by offering a lesser but more meaningful punishment, the vandals could be turned into allies who understand why what they did was wrong and will help prevent similar occurrences in the future.

The vandals acted out of emotion, in the heat of the moment. Those investigating and hopefully prosecuting the crimes should keep cooler heads and think long-term.

Thumbs Up

Board of Adjustments weighing all sides

Planning and Zoning’s Board of Adjustments had a tough decision to make last week on whether the Jane Trail McDonald’s in Danville could rebuild a new restaurant near a high-pressure gas line.

The new building will encroach on a set-back from the gas line, but it won’t be over top of the gas company’s easement, so the land above the actual gas line will continue to not have any structures on it.

The set-back exists for a reason — to ensure access to the line is as easy as possible if something should go wrong — but it’s not a hard and fast rule, as the fact that the Board of Adjustments can approve variances proves.

The board took into account a lot of different facts in making its decision: that the existing McDonald’s was constructed before the set-back rules went into effect in 2004; that the existing restaurant encroaches on more square feet of the set-back than the new one would; that the energy company that owns the line would be monitoring construction of the new restaurant continuously; that the energy company wants to protect its easement; what the likelihoods are of issues with the gas line … and many others.

They came out the back end with a decision to allow the new restaurant to be built. We think this is a good example of a well-functioning regulatory board. They were careful to take into account all information and all perspectives; they took time to think it all over; and they made a decision that respected the property owner, the public good and the rule of law.