Vandals extensively damage school undergoing reconstruction in Gamber

June 14, 1994|By Bill Talbott | Bill Talbott,Sun Staff Writer

Nearly $4 million in expansion, reconstruction and renovations at the Mechanicsville Elementary School in Carroll County was almost complete, until vandals tore through the building over the weekend, hurling cans of paint into the air to burst open upon impact, according to state police.

Construction workers discovered the extensive damage when they arrived for work yesterday at the sprawling, one-story school on Route 32 in Gamber.

Police reported that at least a dozen one-gallon paint cans had been taken from a locked storage room off the gym.

They apparently had been thrown into the air, leaving small marks on overhead beams.

When they fell to the wooden gymnasium floor, the containers burst open and the paint spattered.

A five-gallon container of oil, used for lubrication while cutting and threading steel pipe, was also emptied onto the gym floor.

State police were unable to determine how the vandals got into the building, but said they broke through a wooden door to get to the paint and oil.

The construction of a new addition and the reconstruction of the older building, due to be finished in July, is a $3,797,000 project being done by Craft Construction Inc. of Reisterstown.

Bernard Shisler, owner of the company, has offered a $1,000 reward for the apprehension and conviction of the individuals responsible for the vandalism, according to his brother Vernon, who has been foreman of the renovation and expansion project.

Vernon Shisler described the vandalism as "major league destruction," as he led a reporter through the gymnasium, bathrooms, hallways and stage area.

All of them were defaced with paint, graffiti and vulgarities written on the freshly resurfaced walls.

The foreman said the new tile on the walls of a bathroom near the cafeteria would have to be replaced because the paint, which had soaked into the grout between the 2-inch-square tiles, would be impossible to remove.

A can of contact cement had also been emptied on the floor of another newly constructed bathroom, next to what will be the office of the gym instructor.

The project, which started 13 months ago, was to be completed July 1.

For the past school year, students from Mechanicsville Elementary have been bused to portable buildings on North Center Street in Westminster. Carroll County's school year will end Friday.

The portable buildings will be removed the following week.

"So the job [at Mechanicsville Elementary] must be completed," Vernon Shisler said.

Police said they were not sure when the break-in and destruction occurred, but they set the time span at Saturday evening through Monday morning.

The cost of repairing the damage could not be determined yesterday; school facilities personnel did not return calls to their office.

State police investigators said that inside the school building they found fingerprints and other evidence that will be sent to the crime laboratory at police headquarters in Pikesville.

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