School bus shelters: Some remain riddled in graffiti, others cleaned up

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Every morning, school bus shelters vandalized with all sorts of graffiti and with trash strewn around them greet students, residents and visitors.

On Monday morning, some military personnel cleaned up and repainted some of those problem bus shelters in the north.

But there are still many others that are waiting for volunteers to give them some care.

“I think graffiti-laced bus stops are a problem because this is one of the first things the young impressionable minds see most mornings. How do they learn to respect the villages, or the island for that matter, if they see no one respects them?” concerned Dededo resident Gary Kuper told the Pacific Daily News.

On Monday morning, while driving around Yigo, the Pacific Daily News chanced upon a group of Marines cleaning up and painting over some bus shelters outside the main gate of Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz in Dededo.

The painting was done to cover the markings left behind by vandals, community liaison coordinator Uriah Perez said, while Marine Lance Cpl. Ryan Little, Marine Lance Cpl. Garrett Gillespie and others were adding fresh coats of paint to two bus stations.

These newly cleaned and repainted bus stops are in stark contrast to the heavily vandalized and trash-stricken ones blocks away.

Kuper, the concerned resident, linked vandalized bus stops to a growing sense of detachment within the community.

“Ever (wonder) why (it is) so relaxing going to a few beaches? I think it’s mainly because of the pristine surroundings. Well, it’s completely opposite when you pass a tagged bus stop or a trash riddled park,” said Kuper. “The longer we are exposed to such conditions, the less connected we become to the world around us.”

Kuper said he requested the Guam Environmental Protection Agency for resources to be able to paint several school bus stops in Liguan Terrace, Dededo that have been covered with graffiti.

“I’m trying to get a hold of some paint to paint several bus stops in Liguan Terrace … This might turn out to be a battle of wills between those who graffiti the shelters and my attempt to keep them respectable, so I might be coming to you often,” his email to GEPA read.

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Kuper noted that some people even dump their yard waste next to the bus shelter.

Despite reaching out to various authorities, Kuper said he has not received any responses from them.

“I’ve personally called or emailed the (governor’s) office, Guam Clearing House, Guam Beautification Task Force, DPW (Department of Public Works) directors’ office, DPW bus ops, Guam Contractor’s Association, Guam EPA with no luck,” Kuper said. “Currently, I’m waiting for a response from GSWA (Guam Solid Waste Authority). Senator Barnett and Mayor Gogue have reached out with advice and offers to help.”

Supplies needed

Kuper shared efforts that are being made by a nonprofit organization, Lions Clubs International District 204, in painting bus stops, but he stressed the need for government assistance in providing supplies.

“In the (Facebook) post, Ms. Yagitaret asked where she could get supplies to paint a bus stop in her village, but she received no responses … I know of a second Lions Club that is also seeking information on how they can also paint a bus stop,” he said. “So, I know there are people out there willing to help, if only the government could help them with a few supplies.”

Kuper suggested installing night vision cameras to know when the last time someone was caught tagging bus stops.

“I would like to know what the penalty will be if they ever do get caught. Everything else is going up in price, the financial punishment should as well,” he said.

In the recent years, several bills have been proposed regarding the installation of surveillance cameras in public areas. In 2022, the Mayors’ Council of Guam opposed a similar bill due to its uncertainties related to cost, bandwidth, and logistics.

According to Guam laws, vandalism is often considered as a misdemeanor, although it may be elevated to a criminal charge depending on the extent of property damage and associated costs.

(With reports from Rick Cruz/Pacific Daily News)

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