COLUMBIANA CO. Officials: Report graffiti

Police figures show no major increase in graffiti or vandalism.
SALEM -- The city and the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce agree: Report graffiti problems to the police.
Some property owners haven't been reporting graffiti to the city, said Salem Police Chief Michael Weitz and Audrey Null, director of the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce.
City and chamber officials met earlier this week in part to discuss chamber concerns about graffiti, vandalism and weeds in many of the city's landscaped areas.
Weitz said police records show 15 reports of graffiti in the city since early this year.
Police found some of the graffiti, some was reported by others, and some of it wasn't reported, possibly because it was easily removed, Weitz said.
Used a ladder
Some graffiti, on the second-story wall of a building that's visible from East State Street, was sprayed on after a ladder was left outside. Weitz and Null reminded owners to secure anything that would help vandals.
Weitz said police can't do anything about the problem if they don't know about it.
The chamber also is getting information on a zero-tolerance response to graffiti for property owners. That would include quickly covering or removing graffiti.
Null said the chamber expects to have people doing community service from the county's municipal court in September. They can help to either remove or cover up the graffiti, she said.
In recent weeks there have been several cases of vandalism, such as large windows that were broken out at two downtown stores.
Weitz said the department's numbers indicate that there's been no increase in vandalism.
City street workers have pulled some weeds in the city's many landscaped areas.
The city also has a machine used to remove graffiti from bridges. But Mayor Larry DeJane said he wasn't sure it was the city's job to remove graffiti from private property.
He said he hadn't heard any complaints about the lack of weed removal.
"We don't have any money in the budget for it, anyway," DeJane said. Money is budgeted only for pothole repair, he added.
Councilwoman Nancy Cope, the head of council's finance committee, who also was not at the meeting, said the street department had not replaced one worker and had held the line on a tight budget.
Still, Cope thought that there should be enough money in the budget for weed control.
Null said she would revisit the issues with city officials in a few months.

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