Local News

City offers reward after statue, trees vandalized

Police say vandals left a total of seven gouges on the Baranov statue's head and one on the bridge of its nose. In this photo, you can see two of the head gouges. (KCAW photo by Ed Ronco)

Police say vandals left a total of seven gouges on the Baranov statue’s head and one on the bridge of its nose. In this photo, you can see two of the head gouges. (KCAW photo by Ed Ronco)

The gouge on Baranov's nose, and several on the head, were reported to city staff on Monday, but have probably been there about a month. When the statue was originally unveiled, someone vandalized its nose, but the artist then was able to repair the damage quickly. (KCAW photo by Ed Ronco)

The gouge on Baranov’s nose, and several on the head, were reported to city staff on Monday, but have probably been there about a month. When the statue was originally unveiled, someone vandalized its nose, but the artist then was able to repair the damage quickly. (KCAW photo by Ed Ronco)

Update: Interim Municipal Administrator Jay Sweeney says the reward extends to vandalism of several trees referenced lower in this story. The trees were not mentioned in the initial information provided to Raven Radio.

The City of Sitka wants to know who vandalized the statue of Alexander Baranov in front of Centennial Hall, and it’s willing to pay to find out.

Sitka police Lt. Barry Allen says the city is offering a $500 reward for information that leads to an arrest. He says someone took a bladed instrument and made seven cuts into the top of Baranov’s head. The vandal also struck the statue on the bridge of the nose.

Interim Municipal Administrator Jay Sweeney says the reward money will come from his office’s discretionary fund.

“We’re hoping the person will own up to it and say ‘I did it, I’ll take the consequences,’” Sweeney said, adding that the chances of that actually happening are slim. “We’re better than that as a town. We shouldn’t be tearing (things) apart. We should be taking care of them.”

Sweeney also noted during Tuesday night’s Assembly meeting that some of the new trees planted along Harbor Drive in front of the Centennial Building had been slashed with a hatchet or blade of some kind. The trees, he said, can be saved.

This isn’t the first time someone has vandalized the statue. Before it was originally unveiled, someone tried to saw off the statue’s nose. At the time, the artist was able to repair the damage.

Allen says the damage happened sometime in the last month, but city officials were only alerted on Monday. The statue, which usually sits on an elevated pedestal in the plaza in front of the building, has been at ground level near the front door while the plaza is renovated.

Alexander Baranov is the namesake of the island that contains Sitka. He managed the Russian-American Company in Sitka in the early 1800s, and occupies a controversial place in history.

Anyone with information on the vandalism can call Sitka police at 747-3245.

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