Schools hit by vandalism

A Sunday night vandalism spree left a pair of Portales businesses and three Portales schools with extensive damage.
The most notable damage was done to Portales Junior High School, where 24 windows were broken in the courtyard area. Other schools vandalized included Valencia Elementary and Steiner Elementary.
Portales Schools Superintendent Jim Holloway said that he is offering a $1,000 reward, in conjunction with Roosevelt County Crimestoppers, for information leading to an arrest.
“If the people we arrest are the ones we’re looking for, I’ll worry about a conviction later,” Holloway said. “They messed up a lot of public property that will have to be paid for.”
The businesses affected were Quality Sales and Poynor’s bicycle shop. The Portales Police Department believes the events were related due to the general proximity of the buildings and a similar pattern in damage.
Portales Police Chief Lonnie Berry said the department is working on small leads, and collected fingerprints and footprints from both of the affected businesses.
Also, officers spent the day talking with students who might have had information.
“Most of the witness information has been, ‘I’ve heard some people talking,’ but nothing about witnessing anything,” Berry said.
Both Valencia principal David VanWettering and PJHS principal Steve Harris said they were alerted early Monday morning by custodians in regard to the damage.
Harris approximated the damage at nearly $5,000, figuring a price of $200 for each of the 24 windows that were broken on three buildings — the vocational building, gymnasium and the main building.
VanWettering said that the vandalizers managed to break into Valencia, where various items were damaged, including door handles, windows and some teachers’ personal effects.
One window was broken at Steiner Elementary.
The cleanup effort affected both Valencia and PJHS’s regular class schedule. Harris said students had to wait at the softball field adjacent to the school early in the day, and had their general schedule interrupted as custodians worked for more than three hours cleaning up.
“ We had to reroute traffic to get our student flow around the glass.,” Harris said. “We had to lock off some doors because there was broken glass. It inconvenienced us some because kids had to go on a path that they normally didn’t take.”
VanWettering said that Valencia had to bring in custodians from other schools to help with the cleanup effort, and fourth-grade classes were delayed for nearly 40 minutes. VanWettering said that fifth-grade classes were unaffected.
Holloway realizes the extra effort his employees have put in, and considers that to be something for which the vandalizers should be held accountable.
“I’m keeping up with all the extra time my employees have to put in,” Holloway said. “Those are all things the taxpayers have to pay for later. You have to wonder what goes through somebody’s (mind). They’ve got to be a little on the sick side.”