Concerns about continued vandalism at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Veterans Park were raised at the Porterville City Council meeting on Tuesday.
Two veterans who expressed their concerns in oral communications at Tuesday’s meeting said security cameras were needed at the site.
Concerns were raised after the American flag and POW/MIA flag were recently stolen from the site. These flags were replaced on the site last week.
Other acts of vandalism that have occurred at the site include the vandalism of the MediVac “Huey” helicopter.
The granite monument displaying the names of all those from Porterville who died in the Vietnam War was also vandalized and had to be replaced. Graphic, filthy graffiti covered the names of everyone in Porterville who died during the Vietnam War and a 15-year-old juvenile suspect was arrested.
Brock Neeley, a veteran who regularly attends council meetings, noted at the November 16, 2021 council meeting that he suggested security cameras be placed at the site. At this meeting, Neeley also noted that the flags he had placed at the site for Memorial Day had been stolen.
An emotional Neeley at that meeting said: ‘We have to catch these little bastards who are desecrating the park. That’s the only way to describe them. Because they don’t understand the sacrifices of all the names on that plaque.
“They wrote a check and it was cashed. Luckily I wrote out a check and it wasn’t cashed. That’s why I’m here today.
Neeley echoed his own thoughts from the Nov. 16, 2021 meeting during Tuesday’s meeting. “Let’s put cameras on this thing,” he said. “That way we can catch these idiots. People gave their lives for it.
John Coffee, another veteran, also talked about the check he wrote and also didn’t have to cash. “What is being done to catch the low life that made such a desecration,” asked Coffee, referring to the latest incident in which the flags were stolen.
“Many of Porterville’s best died or disappeared for these flags and we must give them the honor and respect they are due. This is not the first time that acts of vandalism have occurred at the memorial site. It is high time for the city to take the necessary security measures.
“On behalf of Porterville veterans, I must insist, not demand, that the city install at least three CCTV cameras.”
The extra cost of coffee shouldn’t be a problem. “To those who might say it would cost too much. What price do we put on our freedom? Those of us who served wrote a blank check to our country that could have cost us our lives. In my case, my check was not cashed.
“In many other cases, it was not. Let’s show the respect deserved and take the necessary safety precautions to protect this part of the park.
NEW LIBRARY GRANT
Vice Mayor Kellie Carrillo said at Tuesday’s meeting the city remains optimistic it could receive a $10 million grant to help fund construction of the new library that will be placed just south d’Olive across from the South County Justice Center.
The construction cost of the new library is expected to be between $25 and $30 million. Insurance funds from the February 18, 2020 fire that destroyed the Porterville Public Library and killed Porterville Fire Captain Ray Figueroa and Firefighter Patrick Jones will be used to fund construction of the new library.
The city also applied for a grant of $10 million, the maximum allowed, under the state’s Building Forward library infrastructure program.
There were 278 applications totaling $1.1 billion which exceeded the just over $400 million that will be allocated in the first round of funding.
Carrillo said the state requested more budget information about the city’s bid. “We think that’s a good sign,” she said.