Someone pushed the solid granite bench over causing a minor crack and several small pieces to break off the benchtop. The bench itself weighs hundreds of pounds and would never fall over by someone sitting on it. The vandalism is believed to have occurred sometime late Saturday night to early Sunday morning.
A brand new headstone located at the adjacent Ida-Stone Memorial was also tipped over, damaging the face of another new headstone. Larry Nims of Ida-Stone said the damaged headstone, valued at $350, will no longer be useable.
“The destruction of property, you know of all places, I just couldn’t imagine in this town, people being that disrespectful,” said Ken Damron, who helped upright the bench with the help of Kiwanis Member Dave Hasz, retired Chief Marshal Joe Albright, a passerby and this reporter.
“It’s time to put it on the community. Are we going to allow this to continue?” questioned Albright.
Hasz said parents need to do better. He said last year when kids were running around being chased by teens and young adults in cars some of the parents told him they didn’t see any harm in it.
“This is the harm,” he said. “It’s sad.”
Damron said he has kids banging on his door at 11 o’clock at night.
“In 20 years that’s the first vandalism we’ve ever had,” said Nims. He said the damage is more esthetic than monetary. “This was more disrespected than anything else. Obviously whoever did it didn’t know Dave Kries.”
“That’s what I said,” added Hasz. “The kids in town who knew him as Mr. Kries, they would never have done this. He was so well thought of. The kids loved him.”
“He was generally everybody’s favorite teacher,” said Nims.
“He was a jovial, very nice individual who was very giving,” added Hasz.
Following the tragic death of Kries during an ice fishing accident at Winchester Lake, the Kiwanis Club decided to place a bench in his honor along Main Street.
The Kiwanis, with the blessing of Kries’ widow Patricia, dedicated the bench in October of 2015. Larry and Sheryl Nims of Ida-Stone Memorial graciously donated the stone and carving.
Kries was a charter member of the Kiwanis Club beginning in 1981 and remained an active contributor of it until his death.
He taught many hundreds of students at Kamiah and was one of the favorite teachers, according to Hasz.
Kries also helped build some of the original benches in downtown in the ’90s and more recently had donated a wood bench that sat in front of the Kiwanis bulletin board.
Hasz said the bench will be restored and perhaps better secured to the ground. It was not cemented to the concrete just in case the Kiwanis ever wanted to move it to another location. No one expected that someone would even think about doing something so disrespectful to it and to the memory of Kries. The Kiwanis plan to discuss the issue at its regular Thursday morning club meeting.
“This was deliberate vandalism. This is what you call maliciousness,” said Hasz. “When I was growing up we found all kinds of things to do without being destructive.”
Anyone with information about the vandalism is encouraged to contact the Kamiah Marshal’s Office at 935-0467 or Lewis County Sheriff at 937-2447.