During the summer of 2012, the Heart of Rushville board member Brian Sheehan suggested a means to show and boost local pride of residents and businesses placing a concrete lion in front of their home or business.
The idea took root as the nearly four-foot statues were soon visible throughout the community. A contest was held to paint the Lions and was also deemed a success with a number of entries.
When asked at that time, “why a lion?”, Sheehan was quick to say there was not one single reason rather many.
“There are several reasons. First, it is to help build pride in our community. Second, the lion is a symbol not only of pride, but also of confidence and that what we’re trying to project – confidence in our future. Finally, the lion has been the mascot of our local high school for nearly 100 years. So, when anyone asks ‘why the lion?’ my first reply is help bring pride back to our community,” Sheehan said in August 2012.
Fast forward to the early hours of Monday morning, an alarming number of the statues were damaged when vandals tipped or knocked over.
As fortune would have it, a security camera in the 100 block of South Main Street caught one of the lions being tipped over. The camera then captured the vehicle pulling into the Kroger parking lot.
Law enforcement personnel are asking for the public’s help in identifying the vehicle. Officers believe the vehicle was occupied at the time by two or more people, and that someone may know the individuals responsible.
Wednesday afternoon, Rush County Prosecutor Phil Caviness and deputy county prosecutor Philip Morgan offered a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the vandalism.
The Heart of Rushville also commented on the damaged lions, by saying - “We are saddened and dismayed that someone or some persons would vandalize the Lions Pride Statues throughout town. These were put on display to show our community pride and have drawn many comments from both locals and visitors alike. It is unfortunate that, like the vandalism earlier at Veterans and Wilkie Parks, people feel this is acceptable. It is not acceptable to our community and, like the vandals of the covered bridge and gazebo, they will be arrested and prosecuted. To aid in this, the Heart of Rushville is putting out a reward for anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the vandalism to the lions.”
If others would like to contribute to the reward fund, please call City Hall or Sandy Fussner at the Chamber of Commerce.
Anyone with information regarding the damage is asked to contact the Rushville Police Department at 765-932-3907.
Contact: Frank Denzler @ 765.932.2222 x106.