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'It was chaos': Kirksville Community Center board calling for volunteers to clean up vandalism damage

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Posted at 5:27 PM, Oct 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-26 17:27:27-04

KIRKSVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Kirksville Community Center needs volunteers to help clean up months after vandals broke in and destroyed the inside.

The building was broken into on April 25, according to Kirksville Community Center Board President Jud Patterson.

“It’s hard to believe that anybody would attack the community center which has done nothing but serve this community. It was a shock that that would ever happen here in Kirksville,” Patterson said.

Board members found extensive damage inside, including smashed urinals, broken doors, and furniture, and a pulled apart ceiling in one room.

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“If you weren’t here to see what the destruction looked like, you can’t possibly understand it. It was global. Every space, they hit,” Patterson said.

They also found fire extinguisher spray on all corners of the gymnasium.

“It looked like somebody had dumped 10,000 bags of flour in here,” Patterson said of the gymnasium. “The stands were covered, the floor was covered, the stage was covered and there were broken chairs thrown about. It was chaos.”

The Kirksville Community Center closed indefinitely while volunteers worked to clean the damage.

Six months later, Patterson said they have made progress, but will need a lot more help before they can consider reopening the center for public use.

“Grab a mop, grab a broom, grab a dustpan. Help us clean up,” he said.

The center is the site of various community events, including the Fall Festival, Christmas gathering, Kirksville Days, craft fairs, and more.

The town’s annual Halloween Carnival was canceled in October because the center could not be used. Instead, board members said they hosted an outdoor Trunk or Treat.

But, they are hoping to avoid missing or adapting any future events with the help of the community.

“We’re at a good time of year now to be able to lock doors and do the cleaning,” Patterson added. “The spring and summer events are usually what raise the money to pay the bills you use to cover the place in the winter. We need to be up and going when the weather turns in the spring.”

The Kirksville Community Center is operated as a non-profit and is always accepting donations.

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Patterson explained the building, which originally opened as an elementary school in 1912, was in need of repairs to the roof and plumbing before the vandalism.

“When you have unforeseen and unnecessary expenses like this vandalism, it really puts you on the edge. You know, is it something that you can survive and still provide this space to the community?” Patterson said.

Patterson said the board will continue fighting to repair the center. He believes the community will come together to aid the Kirksville Community Center, which has always been open to people in need of a safe space.

“It's difficult, to sum up what this place means because it's more than a building. It is truly a legacy of wonderful people,” Patterson said. “We’re all very hopeful that we can get it back to the point where that’s available to people again.”

To make donations or to find out more information on how you can volunteer to help clean and assist in repairs, email kirksvillecommunitycenter@gmail.com.