BEND, OR -- Central Oregon is one of the fastest growing regions in the country, and all those new people bring big-city problems. Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson is renewing efforts to clean up eyesores around the area. Last week, he announced plans to launch an online portal for reporting graffiti and dump sites.
Craig Fancher, General Manager for Oregon Wholesale Hardware, says his Bend building is a magnet for taggers. "Once the trains park behind the building, you can’t see that anymore; the street’s not visible, they can just go for it." He tells KBND News, "We get it quite often in this town, it seems like. And, it’s worse here, lately." Fancher says the wall along the railroad tracks is a chronic trouble spot. "Last spring/summer, we had it three times and so far this year, just this one time. You get calls from community people asking ‘what’s going on with your building?’"
A Deschutes County inmate work crew painted over graffiti on the back of his building, Friday. The business provides the paint and inmates provide the labor. Nathan Veltrie spent his last day as an inmate cleaning up the mess At Oregon Whole Sale Hardware. "I’ve been those kids that have actually done that; I’ve changed my life around. Honestly for me, it’s about paying my debt to society where it belongs instead of sitting behind bars and doing nothing." He tells KBND News he spent quite a bit of his sentence on a work crew, "We clean up the parks/rec, we’ve cleaned up at the graveyard, we’ve done graffiti removal, we actually help at the ranch for the abused and neglected animals. We do all kinds of work for the community, honestly."
Inmates volunteer for the program, which can result in a reduced sentence. Veltrie was arrested in January for Driving While Suspended. His sentence went from 90- to 60-days, due to his community service work. But he says it's about more than just reducing his time. "We clean up the parks/rec, we’ve cleaned up at the graveyard, we’ve done graffiti removal, we actually help at the ranch for the abused and neglected animals. We do all kinds of work for the community, honestly." He adds, "Last week we went to a place where I take my kids a lot that was actually tagged up by graffiti, so I got a sense of pride by cleaning up stuff that my kids go and play at. And, it’s a sad thing that these kids, that don’t realize that they’re actually affecting smaller kids, are going out and tagging this stuff." Veltrie was released Saturday.
The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office says they photograph the graffiti prior to painting over it, so it can be added to a database and investigated in an effort to track down the taggers.