On a prairie path behind their Verona home, Sarah and Jon Pundt continue to be frustrated with the empty posts.
Those pieces of wood, now reduced to splintered panels, used to show runners and bikers where they were heading on the half-mile loop and what plants they might see along the way. That was before their son’s Eagle Scout project was vandalized twice.
“I don't know what the thought process is to lead someone to do that,” Sarah said.
The Pundts' 16-year-old son, Jackson, wanted to help his own neighborhood, so he decided to set up signs along the path for his capstone project with the troop. The Pundts' said Jackson started planning in February and finally finished installing the signs on June 30.
It only took a day for the signs to be ripped off the posts and thrown into the field.
“He was riding his bike through here to go to his cross-country practice, and they were there at 8 o'clock in the morning,” Sarah explained, “and at 10 o'clock, when he came home, damaged.”
“I'm not sure you can sell nature signs on the grey market, yeah I think it was about kicks, like let's see if we can take this a part, and OK we did, and they tossed it into the brush,” Jon said.
The family reconstructed the project, this time making the signs’ setting more durable.
“It was also designed to protect them from vandalism, ironically,” Sarah said.
They lasted about a month before being damaged again on Sept. 7.
Verona police have developed a potential lead on these incidents, but there is no suspect description at this time.
Sgt. Mark Horstmann said cases of vandalism increase in the summer when the younger crowd has more time on their hands and fewer activities to fill it with.
“We typically suspect teenagers that are out maybe with nothing better to do or just suddenly come across a temptation and act on it,” Horstmann said.
Despite the crimes, Jackson was honored with Eagle Scout status.
“They can damage these signs all they want. He has the experience and the know-how and the pride that he did this,” Sarah said.
The Pundts said it’s up to the city whether or not they want to remount the signs or try repurposing them in another location where they might be less susceptible to vandalism.
“Here's one kid trying to make his community a better place, and really donating a lot of hours to do that, and then someone else comes along and just destroys it,” Sarah said. “That's not the greatest feeling.”