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Trespassing and thefts frustrate HR Adult Center

Trash dumping a rising problem; Lions face similar ills at newsprint donation sites

August 27, 2005

It would not be uncommon to look toward the basement of the Hood River Valley Adult Center and see a run-down sofa sitting there, seemingly without a purpose. Or if there is no furniture, chances are there is a donation bag that has been torn into and strewn about or a bag of trash just waiting to be taken care of.

These are only a few examples of a series of incidents involving trespassing, breaking and entering, theft and garbage dumping that have taken place at that facility in recent months.

“It’s been going on for years, but lately it’s been getting worse,” said Heidi Musgrave, center administrator.

The Adult Center, located just off Brookside Road, holds a rummage sale in its basement every Wednesday and Saturday. The sale, which is the main source of income for the center, is sustained solely by donations from the community.

Recently, however, more and more people have been donating items that are unusable — or, worse, just dropping off bags of trash for Musgrave and her volunteers to deal with. There has also been a sharp spike in the number of incidents that involve breaking and entering.

“It’s so disheartening it’s incredible,” said Musgrave. “Not only do they drop off stuff we have no hope of using, they vandalize us, too,” she said, indicating the sale’s outdoor storage facility.

At first glance, the storage area would look like nothing more than a cordoned-off area against a building that is guarded by wires and a gate. But closer inspection will reveal a pole that has been double- and triple-reinforced — and damage to the wood where previous vandals have ripped the pole from its support.

“They will come with bolt cutters and wire cutters. We replace it time and time again, but they continue to break in,” said Musgrave. “They rip open bags, throw things around and steal, in addition to the garbage that they leave.”

Musgrave said that, on average, the center transports a ton of garbage per month to the dump.

“Who in their right mind would think that we could use something like this?” she asked, pointing to an old, tattered mattress that had been dropped off the night prior. Also present and unusable was a torn up, stained love seat and three kids’ car seats, which, although usable, are illegal to sell secondhand — and now must be dumped at the center’s expense.

“People will pull down here with a truckload of junk, and when I tell them that we can’t use it, they get irate and say, ‘Now I have to pay at the dump!’” Musgrave said.

“We understand that some person’s trash is someone else’s treasure,” she said, but added that only certain things can be reused. “The basic criteria for donation is, if you need this item, would you buy it again in the condition that it’s in?”

But the main problem lies with people who drop stuff off when donations aren’t being accepted. Musgrave said that people will break through the gate that blocks off the road leading to the donation site, or they will park in the Brookside Manor lot and just walk it over.

“We’re a group of services, and I would hate to have to put a fence between us,” Musgrave said, but also commented that it might be necessary in order to keep people out.

There are things that the community can do to help stop this growing problem, like keeping an eye out when you drive by at night, Musgrave said.

She also encouraged people to drop stuff off only when donations are being accepted, which is Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. “It’s convenient for everyone because there’s even a weekend day in there,” she said.

There have been similar trash situations at the Lions’ newspaper recycling trailer located in the Rosauers parking lot.

“The Lions spend their free time stacking the newspapers,” said Lion Scott Johnson. “We don’t appreciate having to take the garbage,” he said, noting that the problem wasn’t rampant, but still needed to be addressed. He also said that newspaper is the only thing that should be left in that trailer.

“The community really supports us,” said Musgrave, “and there are a few out there who don’t seem to get it. We’re all volunteers.”

Musgrave said she would like to extend her thanks to all those who donate and volunteer, and asks that people please observe the donation hours and realize that it costs money for the center to haul away garbage.

The rummage sale is located in the basement of the Adult Center, and is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

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