Vandals target Alzheimer’s Association building

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2007

FRANKLIN—A series of vandalism at the Franklin branch of the Southeastern Virginia Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association has raised concerns as to why the non-profit organization has been targeted.

Over about a four-week period, glass has been broken out of the windows in the front and on the sides of the building, which is located at 115 Bogart St. in the downtown area.

&uot;They are using the rocks out of our own driveway,&uot; said Susan Story, branch manager and Education and Family Services coordinator. &uot;One time, there were rocks all the way back to my office, which is about 50 to 60 feet from the front of the building.&uot;

One small pane was broken by rock-slingers during the first incident.

The second time, 10 to 12 panes were smashed, and the third time, the vandals tried to break out some of the double-paned glass on the side of the building.

&uot;It only broke the outer panes,&uot; said Story.

&uot;I was also loading my vehicle one evening for a health fair when I was approached by a man.&uot;

Story said the man startled her by coming up behind her. He spoke in a gruff voice and said something inappropriate. Story screamed and ran, scaring the stranger away. By the time police arrived, he was long gone.

&uot;The Franklin Police have just been great,&uot; she said. &uot;Mark Cornell is going to go through the building to see if there is anything else we can do to protect ourselves, such as add better lighting.

&uot;They also said they were going to beef up patrols in the area. But, I know they can’t be here all the time,&uot; she said.

Story said her and volunteers at the office have asked family and friends that if they are in the area, to drive by and not stop, but keep an eye out for irregular activity.

&uot;We’ve asked them to call the police if they see anyone around the building,&uot; she said.

Mary Frances and Jimmy Newsome, who own the building, said they are looking into other security options as well.

&uot;We have nothing of value here,&uot; said Story. &uot;We don’t keep money here, and there’s no money kept in the adjoining offices.

&uot;I don’t know why we are being targeted. We’ve never had any problem with security before,&uot; she said.

The local branch moved to the location in August 2005 from Fourth Avenue because of the need for more space. The building was renovated and furnished by volunteers and donations.

A second renovation more recently took place after the nor’easter in October flooded downtown and left three feet of water inside.

Story said that getting the word out about this vandalism may warn other agencies or businesses about the possibilities of such incidents occurring at their locations.

&uot;No one is immune,&uot; she said.