Company apologizes, takes care of gang graffiti

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Every once in a while it's good to find out that some large companies can be big enough to admit their mistakes.

Experts agree that it is important to remove gang-related graffiti quickly.   Mike Wynn/Staff
Mike Wynn/Staff
Experts agree that it is important to remove gang-related graffiti quickly.

That's exactly what Jefferson Energy Cooperative did recently.

In a May 10 column, I wrote of my difficulty as a concerned south Richmond County resident in getting the company to respond to a report I made about gang graffiti painted on two switch boxes on Willis Foreman Road. It took Jefferson nearly two months and three phone calls before it got around to removing the graffiti.

I had become sensitized to the issue from stories I've done on gangs and knew experts on the topic believe it imperative to get such graffiti removed as soon as possible. After I identified myself as an Augusta Chronicle reporter, I questioned a company representative about Jefferson's lack of response and its policy in handling this sort of thing. Shortly thereafter, a company technician was dispatched and a crew painted over the graffiti.

The company sent me a letter May 12 apologizing for its handling of the situation.

In her letter, company service manager Virginia Rushing wrote: "After reading your article, I immediately researched the entire situation with all the employees involved, beginning with your initial contact with our Call Center to the completion of the field work by our line services technicians.

"I certainly agree that the situation was not handled appropriately or with the highest level of customer services that JEC consistently strives to provide to our members and our community in general. Your frustration was certainly well-founded."

I talked to Jefferson's director of public relations, Steve Chalker, on Wednesday, and he reiterated that the company had come up short on this one.

"We always try to make sure that our members are taken care of ... but, unfortunately, sometimes things fall between the cracks," he said.

Most people can understand that, and I accept the company's apology.

By the way, Norfolk Southern finally did remove some graffiti on a shed at a railroad crossing on Willis Foreman. It took them a couple of weeks and two phone calls, but they painted over it Thursday.

Thanks, Norfolk Southern.

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Trey Enfantay
Trey Enfantay 05/22/10 - 06:16 am
Nice job, Mike. Appreciate

Nice job, Mike. Appreciate the update info.

citizeng 05/22/10 - 11:17 am
Nice job ??? If this bothers

Nice job ??? If this bothers you so much and its imperative to remove it quickly then do your part as a concerned citizen and paint over it until it can be taken care of properly. But I guess sitting on your rump and making phone calls telling the owners of the graffiti painted items that you are a reporter wanting to know when they are going to remove the graffiti makes you a big man. Please try and report on something worthy instead of personal issues.

mrpcez 05/22/10 - 12:09 pm
Although I don't think it is

Although I don't think it is your job to paint over other people's property to remove graffitti, it is going to take more than getting the company to respond to solve the problem of vandalism. Where the police called to at least document the event? I would assume the Gang Intelligence Division may want to be aware. Ultimately I applaud you on addressing the issue.

TakeAstand 05/22/10 - 01:41 pm
Let us know when the graffiti

Let us know when the graffiti in these locations go back up. We will see if it was even worth it. I agree with Mrpcez, especially if ti goes back up, it sounds like a gang task force job to me. They have their CI's and intelligence and can maybe make some arrests or at least get the word out they are looking for them painting utility poles. Just forcing a victim of vandals to repaint over and over and over is no good without the documentation of a police report. Get on them to file police reports if it keeps happening because without those or at least contacting the gang task force about the issue and asking them to get the word out its like putting a temporary band aid on something needing 100 stitches.

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