Sheriff Brings Graffiti Removal Program To Webster

BY JASON BLEAU

NEWS STAFF WRITER WEBSTER

Those passing through Perryville Road in Webster on Wednesday, April 13, may have noticed some work taking place on a bridge overlooking the Perryville Dam. During the early afternoon hours that particular bridge was the subject of the Worcester Country Sheriff Office’s most recent graffiti cleanup effort through a program launched in 2015 to serve the towns of Worcester County free of charge by removing graffiti from bridges, businesses and other town and private properties as needed. Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis said the addition of a graffiti removal apparatus and service to the region was sparked from his discussions with concerned residents and business owners in Worcester and the city’s extensive problems with graffiti on properties of all kinds. With Worcester being far from the only area of the region with such a problem, the sheriff decided to invest in providing the service for any town in his county. “A few years ago we noticed there was a huge increase and up tick in graffiti around the county, especially in Worcester. It was tagging a lot of private businesses as well as public buildings and we saw the community’s response,” said Evangelidis. “A lot of businesses didn’t have the money and the DPW was overwhelmed and there’s a public safety element when it comes to graffiti and tagging because it’s often gang and criminal related.” The sheriff described the issue using the “window pane syndrome” saying that it’s the kind of situation that can be resolved with constant upkeep and attention, but if left unattended for too long it can escalate out of control. The Perryville Road bridge in Webster is only the latest effort to remove graffiti from public domains and according to Officer Dan Joslyn, who was on site helping with the cleanup, it was a project requested to the sheriff’s office by the Webster Police. “One of the sergeants from the police department requested that we come down here and see if there’s something we could do about it,” Joslyn said. “Normally with stuff like this it goes unseen so it just keeps getting worse and worse. Kids will come down here and see it and think nobody cares, so they end up making more of a mess. A lot of towns try to keep that kind of activity to a minimum. People don’t like seeing this.” Josyln called the system “self-contained” with the cleanup requiring a single truck and the use of a sandblasting system that utilizes an all-natural mineral described as “hard and fine” in order to remove the paint. The extent of the process and how long it takes to remove the paint is dependent on the material it is being removed from and the type of paint used for the graffiti, but most materials are easily removed using the equipment available. Sheriff Evangelidis said he’s glad to see his new program really taking off and that he is proud communities are taking full advantage of it. He called it a worthy investment to help solve a small but growing issue in communities throughout his region. “It’s a public safety issue and it’s a beautification issue for the entire county,” he said. “The best thing of all is we do it for private and public properties and we try to get it done as quickly as possible. I think it’s just another benefit we can offer the people of Worcester County to make our community a better and safer place.”