Replacing missing or damaged signs on county roads is a regular chore for the Barton County Road and Bridge Department. On Monday, county employees were busier than usual, Department Director Dale Phillips said.
"We seem to have had a rash of vandalism over the weekend," Phillips said. "It’s costing a lot of dollars — taxpayer dollars."
The weekend damage inventory included a gate to the county sandpit at 80 South Washington Ave. Phillips reported Monday that someone drove a vehicle into the gate and broke the lock. Nothing was missing from the property, however.
Later in the morning, a Barton County Sheriff’s Office deputy discovered that someone had torn down the "911 locator," or road sign for SE 90 Ave. and SE 30 Road. A short time later, someone reported the stop sign at SE 30 Road and SE 80 Ave. had been stolen.
Someone also drove over a stop sign at SW 40 Road and SW 50 Ave.
When a sign has to be replaced, Road and Bridge employees have 24 hours to do the work, Phillips said.
Most of the damage is intentional, Road and Bridge Department sign expert Ken Fritz told Barton County Commissioners earlier this year. "We put new 911 signs up and they shoot them or steal them," Friz said, noting the county had to replace between 300 and 400 signs in 2011 because of theft or damage.
The county is working to replace older stop signs with high intensity signs that have diamond reflectors, and old 911 locator signs with larger signs that are also more reflective. Some of the vandalism has been to new signs, Phillips said.
He estimates each sign costs $55, and posts cost $30. Replacing a sign costs about $150, including materials and labor.
The Road and Bridge Department is responsible for constructing, improving, repairing and maintaining all of the paved county highways and certain bridges. They also maintain all county road signs, access roads and parking lots common to the various county departments.