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Tampering doesn’t deter pumping efforts

 

Luke Froncheck

Staff Writer

People just can’t seem to keep their hands off Barry County Drain department equipment.

Someone has been vandalizing the pump on Cloverdale Lake, Drain Commissioner Jim Dull said. He suspects someone has been tampering with the pump on Crooked Lake, too. Someone even messed with a trail camera that was put up to monitor the pump on Cloverdale Lake after it had been vandalized the first time, he said.

“It’s very, very disappointing,” Dull said. “But even with someone messing with our pumps, we’ve still been able to take 7 inches off of Cloverdale Lake.”

DeWind Dewatering, the subcontractor providing the pumps for Cloverdale and Crooked lakes, could end up charging his office, and the property owners of Barry County, for the cost of damages incurred.

“Whoever is doing this is putting the bill on the property owners,” Dull said. “Anything that happens there is just going to go back on them is just going to raise their assessments. It’s not rocket science.

“I don’t understand why anyone would be screwing with it other than to make me look bad. So they can say, ‘Oh, look, you’re not getting anything done.’ But we have; we’ve taken 7 inches off the lake.”

The trouble started at Cloverdale Lake almost as soon as the pump was installed. Dead batteries, suspicious fires, alternators that kept shorting out, bad starters and broken clamps.

Dull said that they put up the trail camera to monitor the pump after the first suspicious events. He figured that the camera's presence would at least discourage would-be vandals from messing with the pump. He was wrong.

The camera clearly was not discouraging vandals, in fact, it may have caused them to become even more mischievous. Someone has been removing the camera from the tree it is mounted on, removing the batteries from the camera, messing with the pump, putting new batteries back into the camera so it doesn’t catch the vandalism and then putting the camera back.

“I mean when I went out there, I was looking at it and I thought, ‘Wow, I did a crappy job hanging that camera.' ”

Dull talked to Sheriff Dar Leaf after the initial problem. Later, he filed a report with the sheriff's department and had an officer come out to the site after he suspected that someone had tampered with the camera.

“It ain’t smart,” Dull said. “It’s just dumb and creepy.”

The pump at Crooked Lake is having its own share of suspicious activity, he added. “We don’t know what’s going out there. The whole pump was popped apart when we went down there a week ago.”

It had cracked once before, but they had been able to fix that. This time, the entire pump clamp was broken, and the pin was out of it.

Could the pump  do that on its own? He shrugged his shoulders. “I asked the guy from DeWind how often something like that happens, and he said never. It was a relatively new pump.

“It would be very surprising if that clamp wore itself out sitting there like that.”

Speculation aside, now there are two cameras in place – and one goes straight to a phone so that any tampering will trigger it. Both are high enough off the ground that any vandal will need a ladder to reach them.

“Try me,” Dull said.

 

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