Field vandal sought

Driver doing doughnuts damages grass at Hickman High
Monday, January 24, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:28 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Columbia police have requested a warrant for the arrest of a man believed to be responsible for vandalizing the Hickman High School athletic field this month.

The Jan. 7 vandalism, caused by someone doing doughnuts with a sport utility vehicle, caused an estimated $900 to $1,500 in damage to the turf, police Capt. Brad Nelson said Friday. He said police are not pursuing warrants for two adult male passengers who were with the driver.

Nelson would not disclose the identity of the suspect or his passengers.

“All I can say is that all three have ties with the Columbia school system,” he said.

The Columbia Public School District plans to replace the grass fields at Hickman and Rock Bridge with artificial turf as early as next fall.

Bruce Whitesides, district director of physical education and athletics, said the vandalism won’t affect those plans. The damage at the Hickman field will be repaired because the Hickman girls’ soccer team will need it in March.

Artificial turf can be vandalized, Whitesides said, but it is much more difficult.

“According to the vendors, the turf can be lit on fire, and it would just smolder,” he said. “Or you could introduce another color of paint.”

Whitesides said an artificial turf field costs between $500,000 and $600,000. He said the cost is worth it because turf fields are much more durable than grass fields and more athletes will be able to use them.

Artificial fields have a warranty of eight to 10 years, Whitesides added, but they last 15 to 20 years. In addition to this advantage, the district would save on maintenance because the fields are premarked with striping and there is no need to patch, mow or water them.

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