TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - Spray paint vandalism found at Clegg Memorial Gardens is mostly gone thanks to the efforts of a local housekeeping team. The family who volunteered their time has a special connection to the nature preserve Monday afternoon.
"He said to us there's some spray paint if you know anything about that and I said, we don't, but we will and we did," said Vanessa Chalifoux, Co-Owner of The Happy Housekeeper & Co.
She said this as she thought back on two months ago. People were working to clean up the Tippecanoe County Courthouse after racial protest turned violent on the night of May 31st. Chalifoux and her team went to see if they needed help cleaning up, but were asked if they knew how to clean spray paint off limestone.
"This is so much easier," remarked members of her team as they scrubbed graffiti off two old bridge pillars and a slab of concrete on the ground. The knowledge they gained back in May was coming in handy again.
"Some point Tuesday night some individual or individuals came out here with some spray paint graffiti'd the pillars here, a couple trees and some other spots on the property," said Gus Nyberg, Executive Director of NICHES Land Trust.
Nyberg said what happened is disappointing. He said all their locations across 13 counties have seen an increase in visitors since the pandemic. He hopes people who come to the preserve will leave it as good as they found it.
"We want people out here, its the focus of the organization," he said. "But you just hope that the people that utilize the lands can be respectful of them."
That's where this team of four determined women, armed with a secret cleaning ingredient, stepped up to help.
"One of my team members, Jaci, she saw it on Facebook," said Chalifoux. "She came out here with her siblings. She sent it to me and I was like set it up."
One of Jaci's siblings is 16-year-old Kyle Richardson. He was one of the Harrison High School students killed in a car crash on February 26th near Lovetree Lane. They say Kyle loved coming out to Clegg to enjoy nature. Chalifoux said she knew her team could help the place that meant so much to their lost loved one.
"Kyle was all about the outdoors," she said. "I'm hoping that this is part of the healing process because that stuff is still pretty raw, he was just 16."
Their efforts paid off throughout the steamy and humid afternoon with much of the graffiti scrubbed away. They say they felt Kyle with them the whole time.
"He was an amazing kid, a ray of sunshine and we miss him," said Chalifoux.
"Well you've got lots of sunshine out here today right?" we replied.
"Yup, this is for him, this is for you Kyle Ray," she answered as she looked off into the woods.
NICHES is still looking for the person or people responsible for the vandalism. Anyone with information should reach out to NICHES or contact the police.