GREAT FALLS — The 10th Street Pedestrian Bridge, also known as the Arlyne Reichert Community Heritage Bridge, was vandalized recently.
Last summer, 40 students from Great Falls Public Schools constructed large oak planters in an effort to beautify the bridge. These students were a part of a construction camp program sponsored by the school district and building industry partners.
Ten of these planters were built, and recently all of them were found smashed or thrown into the river below.
“When I came down and walked the length of the bridge, all ten of the planters were gone. There was nothing left except a small pile of debris,” says Bernadette Bankhead, a member of Cascade Preservation Inc. Her group has helped to preserve the bridge through the years.
One of the students who participated in the project, Jonah Crist, was puzzled as to why this occurred.
“I mean, I was kind of just wondering why you do it. I felt proud that I had done something for the bridge,” said Crist.
A police report has been filed, but work is still being done to apprehend the vandals. There are those in groups working to preserve the bridge who want to install motion detectors as added security.
“It's hard to know whether it's just people on drugs who are angry and want to do damage as an outlet, or whether these people perhaps were not in favor of saving the bridge, who knows?,” says Chuck Jennings, a member of the River’s Edge Trail Foundation.
As for the namesake of the bridge, Arlyne Reichert is extremely disheartened.
“I really feel for those kids. It's going to make them disillusioned, I'm afraid. To have something that they worked so hard for and then having it just torn apart, destroyed and thrown in the river,” says Reichert.
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