HED:TVA landmark sign damaged by suspect

CATEGORY: Crime

AUTHOR: GIBSON

HED:TVA landmark sign damaged by suspect

The landmark TVA sign at the Crosstown intersection in Tupelo was damaged by a vandal Monday night.

A homeless Tupelo man was arrested by a Tupelo police officer who witnessed the attack on the sign just before 10 p.m. The neon sign touts Tupelo’s status as the first city to use Tennesee Valley Authority electricity.

The Tupelo lettering on the south side of the arrow-shaped sign was destroyed and pieces of the neon outline were damaged as well, said Boyd Yarborough, environmental manager for the city of Tupelo.

“We’ll repair it,” Yarborough said. “I hope the offender can somehow be held responsible for the damage.”

Tupelo Police Sgt. Larry Grissom was stopped in front of the traffic light at the intersection of West Main and Gloster streets when he saw a man crossing West Main Street with a brick in his hand, he said.

Grissom turned his patrol car’s blue lights on and got out to confront the man.

“I thought he was going to throw it at me,” Grissom said.

Instead, he turned and threw the brick at the Tupelo sign, causing the neon lights to burst and explode, according to the police report.

Donald R. Hester, 38, of Tupelo was arrested at the scene on a charge of malicious mischief-destroying city property. He is being held at the Lee County-Tupelo Adult Jail on a $400 bond.

Papers that Hester was carrying indicated he was suffering from mental illness and had recently checked himself out of an area hospital, Grissom said.

The costs of repairing the sign will probably top $500, Yarborough said.

“The neon is expensive, especially with custom lettering,” Yarborough said.