Unfortunately, vandalism is not all that unusual these days. Here and there, we see buildings and fences and signs and almost everything else tagged with graffiti, and we notice the occasional broken windows.

Yet last month, a seemingly small case of vandalism took on added meaning because of what was targeted. Sometime in late December, someone vandalized the friendly sign at the eastern city limits of the city of Cornelius on Highway 8.

In bold, silver letters, the sign reads: “Welcome to the city of Cornelius. Oregon’s family town.”

The roadside marker has been there since 2001, greeting motorists heading west out of Hillsboro on their way to Cornelius, Forest Grove or points beyond. It’s just a simple greeting that makes people feel good for a moment, like a friendly wave from a stranger.

Yet someone has stolen several of the letters from the sign, leaving the “Oregon’s family town” portion of it undecipherable.

Mark Crowell, director of the Cornelius Public Works Department, said someone pried the letters off, and he pointed out that it took quite a lot of effort to do that. It wasn’t something that could be done quickly or easily.

City officials pointed out that this same type of vandalism — with letters being stolen — has happened to this sign several times before. Apparently it has been happening “maybe once every other year,” according to Crowell.

The sign will be fixed, of course. Employees of the city of Cornelius will create new metal letters and they will be affixed to the concrete blocks as before. Apparently the cost to fix the welcoming marker is not all that much; about $200 according to City Manager Rob Drake.

But it’s about more than money. In addition to the dollar amount, creating new letters and attaching them will take staff time that could have been better spent serving residents of Cornelius.

Further, it makes you wonder about people when someone would attack a sign that welcomes people to the city. In a way, that’s an attack on the entire community. Is the thief (or thieves) saying they don’t want to welcome visitors? Are they saying through their actions they don’t believe Cornelius is a “family town?” Or is this just random vandalism, with no point intended?

In any case, a lot of us take it personally when a city’s greeting sign is defaced. Most of us want to feel welcomed and we want to extend a spirit of neighborliness and good wishes to those coming to visit or just passing through. A welcome sign is inherently a positive message, and to trash it like this strikes us as especially unfortunate.

As this sign has been vandalized previously, it might be time for the city’s leaders, the Forest Grove/Cornelius Chamber of Commerce or a local company to post a significant reward leading to an arrest in this case. Someone out there knows who did this. Perhaps the same person (or persons) is responsible for the other cases of vandalism to the sign as well.

After multiple cases of having the sign defaced, this crime should no longer be considered a minor prank. Rather, it’s an affront to all the citizens of the area, from Forest Grove and Hillsboro as well as from Cornelius. It’s our community, and our neighborhood, and we won’t allow vandalism to defeat the spirit of welcome the city of Cornelius wants to share with all of us.

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