Unfinished park vandalized for 2nd time before its completion

Soap suds create an unnatural bubbling effect Friday morning in the collecting pool of the fountain at the still-unfinished Keith Blackledge Park in downtown North Platte. It was the second act of vandalism in a month at the fountain, which was installed by Stone Creek Landscape & Design of North Platte. Dedication of the mini-park, named for The Telegraph’s late former editor, is expected in late October.

No, it didn’t snow in downtown North Platte Thursday night without anyone noticing.

City officials say someone poured liquid soap into the recirculating fountain at still-unfinished Keith Blackledge Park, creating a frothy but unwelcome impression of a snowdrift in the collecting pool.

It’s the second act of vandalism in recent weeks at the mini-park, which will be dedicated later this month on North Jeffers Street next to Whitetail Screen Print and Cycle Sport.

In the earlier incident, someone pulled up one of the flowering plants installed along the fountain’s base by Keep North Platte and Lincoln County Beautiful, Public Service Director Layne Groseth said Friday morning.

“It’s frustrating,” he said. “There are cameras in the area.”

Though the suds should dissipate over time, Groseth said, city workers planned to add fresh water to the fountain to help flush them out sooner.

He said Stone Creek Landscape & Design co-owner Troy Erickson, whose firm installed the fountain, inspected it Friday and told city workers soap was the most likely cause.

The year’s wet weather has dragged out construction of the mini-park, which sits on the original site of the Lincoln Connection homeless shelter.

It’s named for the late Keith Blackledge, The Telegraph’s editor from 1967 to 1992, who championed community beautification among many local causes.

Groseth said the remaining dirt area in the park should be sodded early next week, if conditions are dry enough for the supplier to cut and deliver the sod.

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