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La Salle-Peru High officials overwhelmed with community support following field damage

'It was a great reminder' how the community feels, superintendent says

A panoramic view of Howard Fellows Stadium shows the new turf.
A panoramic view of Howard Fellows Stadium shows the new turf.

La Salle-Peru High School is looking at its security protocols and procedures after its nearly one million dollar new artificial turf at Howard Fellows Stadium was damaged this weekend.

With that said, Superintendent Steven Wrobleski said he hopes the incident was a singular event — and the aftermath of the incident made him proud of the quick work by the Peru Police Department and more appreciative of the character of the city.

Multiple members of the La Salle-Peru community pledged money to raise a reward pot up to $2,700 within 24 hours of the incident.

“We have really strong core values in this community as it relates to respecting private or public property and I’m not surprised,” Wrobleski said. “When you see it like we saw it over the weekend, it was very affirming as far as the quality of community that we live in.”

The monetary damage caused by the act still is unknown, but Wrobleski said representatives from the turf company were at the high school Tuesday to assess the damage and give an estimate on the repair cost.

Leaders throughout the community were proud of how quickly the situation was handled and the response of support from the community.

According to the police report at 5:33 a.m. Saturday officers responded to the school for an incident as someone had entered the locked stadium and lit a homemade Molotov cocktail causing damage to a small section of recently-installed field turf.

The officers who responded to the call began conducting neighborhood canvasses. At Monday’s Peru City Council meeting, Police Chief Doug Bernabei thanked the community members that made a call to alert the department of possible wrongdoings.

“We wouldn’t have been there if it wasn’t for some residents that live down there and were willing to call the police and say ‘I don’t know what’s going on but something’s not right,’ ” Bernabei said. “That was the type of call, it wasn’t that there was a fire or anything like that.”

Later Saturday the department had the two suspects in custody. Peru Mayor Scott Harl was pleased with the quick action of the police department.

During the investigation Wrobleski and his wife, Kristin, as well as Harl and his wife, Barb, announced they would fund a $1,000 reward for information leaving identifying the suspects.

Bernabei credited the Peru police tip-line for helping to gather information on the suspects. The tip-line is modeled after Illinois Valley Crime Stoppers and offers an anonymous number with a layer of separation between the caller and the police department.

Individuals who call the line with information are given a tip number and are told to call back in two weeks to find out if their information led to an arrest and if they are entitled to offered reward money.

After word got out about the reward money, multiple members of the La Salle-Peru community also pledged money.

Wrobleski appreciated the positive reaction from residents that added reward money, offered to assist in repairs or provided kind words of support.

“I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of support,” Wrobleski said. “It was a great reminder of how the community feels about the school, particularly Howard Fellows Stadium.”

The new artificial turf was installed at the stadium in August after the board approved a contract with Byrne and Jones Construction for $900,450 this spring.

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