Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

June 13, 2012

Sign vandalism costly for taxpayers

TAHLEQUAH — Theft and vandalism to Cherokee County road signs cost taxpayers a boatload of money every year, so commissioners are trying new materials that may cut down on some of those problems.

In just his own jurisdiction last year, District 1 Commissioner Doug Hubbard said, some 600 road signs had to be put up to replace those that were stolen or vandalized.

Hubbard believes a large portion of the theft can be attributed to what is ultimately called “scrapping.” Metal prices are high, and the thieves may be able to sell the stolen signs for a quick buck at a recycling facility. But some people take road signs for more personal reasons.

“They take about any of them, but if it’s a common name, or something that’s related to them, that happens quite a bit,” said Hubbard.

Replacing one smaller sign, such as a road-marking sign, costs just under $10; larger ones, like stop signs, are more expensive.

Several years ago, the county was spending thousands of dollars every year to order new signs, but now, signs are produced in-house, which cuts the yearly expense by about half.

Regardless of the decrease, taxpayers still have to fork over thousands of dollars every year to keep roads safely marked.

“It’s a big problem,” said District 2 Commissioner Bobby Botts. “I’ve got one guy that works constantly on road signs. It’s a daily thing. Every day, there are signs gone, vandalized, tore down. They just tear them up or steal them.”

Botts said commissioners are introducing signs made with plastic instead of aluminum, hoping to deter some of the theft.

“They are coming out with a new type of sign – there’s not much aluminum, mostly laminated plastic,” said Botts. “A lot of people sell the signs because the aluminum is so high, so this is liable to curtail some of that.”

But commissioners admit it’s unlikely vandalism and theft of road signs will ever come to a halt. In fact, Botts said, it’s a statewide epidemic.

“It’s happening in other counties,” said Botts. “I talk to different commissioners, and I think it’s a problem all across Oklahoma.”

District 3 Commissioner Mike Ballard said more signs are stolen every year than are vandalized, and it’s not often the stolen signs are recovered. And even when signs are vandalized – riddled with bullet holes, covered in paint, or dented with a baseball bat – they typically have to be taken down and replaced.

“We put up a lot of signs every year, and then have to replace them later,” said Ballard. “A lot of our signs we’ve found just thrown in ditches or creeks.”

Botts said he knows of sign thieves who’ve been caught and arrested for their acts, though commissioners admit it’s often hard to catch them in the act.

Hubbard said the underlying issue is a general sense of “meanness” from those who vandalize or steal the signs. And what some people may see as a harmless act can actually have serious repercussions, Hubbard said.

“You run into the situation where, if they’re taking stop signs down, and a stranger comes through town, they could cause a crash,” said Hubbard.

Botts said the thieves need to realize they, in the end, have to pay for replacing the signs they take or vandalize.

“You’re stealing out of your left pocket and putting it in your right pocket,” said Botts. “It would be better for them to just get a job.”

Hubbard said anyone who sees someone taking or vandalizing road signs should contact the sheriff’s department and also the district’s commissioner.

Click here to get the entire Tahlequah Daily Press delivered everyday to your home or office. Code for E-EDITION TRIAL OR SUBSCRIBE Click here to get a free trial or to subscribe to the Tahlequah Daily Press electronic edition.

It's the ENTIRE newspaper (without the paper) for your computer, iPad or e-reader.

Text Only
Local News
  • ts-Trail-show-1.jpg Jackson takes prize

    Cherokee Heritage Center Museum Curator Mickel Yantz kicked off his 10th anniversary at the venue with the opening of the 43rd annual Trail of Tears Art Show this past Friday.
    “The Trail of Tears show was my first exhibit opening when I arrived 10 years ago,” said Yantz. “Since that time, the show has changed so dramatically; we’ve added so many new artists, and the art work has excelled over time. It’s like Christmas for me.”
    Yantz said he was exceptionally pleased with the opening reception.
    “We had a fantastic turnout,” said Yantz. “We had a lot of fun and sold some artwork, which is great for opening night.”
    The exhibit is on display at the Cherokee Heritage Center through May 26. This year’s show features 130 pieces of art spanning eight different categories, including basketry, graphics, jewelry, miniature, painting, pottery and sculpture.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • churchguy.jpg Some NSU students find Church of Monett offensive

    They turn heads every time they show up on campus, and some students at Northeastern State University are offended by their presence.
    The Church of Monett, Mo., has made periodic trips to Tahlequah to stage quiet demonstrations in public campus spaces in recent years. They carry signs that read, “Wives, Obey your Husbands,”; “To be Married to the divorced is Adultery”; and “Don’t be deceived: fornicators homosexuals idolaters adulterers thieves drunkards - shall not inherit God’s Kingdom.”

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Teen sent to hospital after being struck by tractor-trailer

    An 18-year-old Tahlequah man was struck by a tractor-trailer early Tuesday morning on the State Highway 51 bypass near Mimosa Lane.
    Tahlequah Police Capt. Tom Jones said officers responded to the scene at about 5:40 a.m., when Sage Sohns was found injured and lying in the road. A medical helicopter responded to the scene to transport Sohns to a Tulsa hospital, where he was being treated for a closed-head injury, police said.

    April 16, 2014

  • TPS board hears architect presentations for cafeteria

    Members of the Tahlequah Public Schools Board of Education heard from four architectural firms seeking a contract for construction at Cherokee Elementary School.
    TPS plans to build a cafeteria-auditorium and a music room with a stage, which may also serve as a safe room during storms.

    April 16, 2014

  • Briggs.jpg Local man hit with assault, burglary charges

    Prosecutors have formally charged a Tahlequah man accused of breaking into a motel room, tying a rope around a man’s neck and stabbing him repeatedly with a syringe.
    Jimmy Dale Briggs Jr., 33, is charged with first-degree burglary, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and two counts of threatening to perform an act of violence.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Boy whose mom scolded deputies in trouble again

    Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies arrested a 15-year-old theft suspect Monday night after he allegedly assaulted his brother.
    Deputy Kim Novak said authorities were dispatched to a home and ultimately took the teen into custody. While there, they also discovered items that had been reported stolen, including a bed and several tools.
    Novak said the teen is the same boy who has previously been found to be in possession of stolen items.

    April 16, 2014

  • plane-crash-1-a.jpg Plane crash victims recovering

    Two Arkansas men remained in a Tulsa hospital Monday after the plane they were flying crashed into a wooded area in Cookson.
    According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the 1946 Ercoupe 415 crashed under “unknown circumstances” about a mile from the Tenkiller Air Park in Cookson Saturday morning.
    The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says 75-year-old John McCreary and 85-year-old Albert Demarco Jr., both of Ozark, Ark., were flown from Cookson to St. John Medical Center in Tulsa.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • walker-terrance.jpg Man taken for blood sample confuses hospital with hotel

    Tahlequah police say an Austin, Texas, man stopped Saturday mistook a local hospital for a hotel when he was taken to have his blood drawn.
    Officer Cory Keele’s affidavit says 20-year-old Terrance Walker was driving south on Muskogee Avenue at about 2 a.m. Saturday, swerving from one line to another.
    Keele tried to stop the car near Muskogee and Chickasaw, and Walker eventually slowed to a stop near South Street.
    Walker opened the car door as Keele approached. The officer said Walker had dilated pupils.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • ennis-scottie.jpg Knife-cutting incident lands man in jail

    A Tahlequah man jailed for allegedly cutting a woman with a kitchen knife was released on a recognizance bond Monday.
    Scottie Lee Ennis, 42, was arrested after Officer Austin Yates was sent to Tahlequah City Hospital late Friday night.
    There, Yates spoke with Jennifer Pennell, who had apparently suffered a stab wound to her arm.
    Pennell told Yates she and her husband, Ennis, had gone to Dewain’s Place earlier in the evening, and while at the bar, a man bought her a drink.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • hawley-jeremy.jpg Tahlequah man bonds out after arrest for assault

    A 22-year-old Tahlequah man bonded out of jail Monday after his weekend arrest on domestic assault charges.
    Jeremy Hawley was booked into jail Sunday for domestic assault and battery in the presence of a minor and interfering with a 911 call.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo


What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video