Vandals who mess with other people’s cars are scum

Posted by admin | Hummer H2 | Sunday 7 September 2008 2:50 pm

Vandals who mess with other people’s cars are scum — bottom-feeders who are beneath contempt. It doesn’t matter what the vehicle being damaged is. Cars are a major purchase, there’s often an emotional connection to them, and most importantly, they generally represent the owner’s primary source of mobility — getting him or her to work, to the store, to pick up the kids, and so on.

SUV owners know the deal, and it sucks. Stories of drivers (and dealers) finding trucks partially or completely trashed in the name of saving Mother Earth are nothing new, and now it seems that Prius owners are getting their own taste of this nonsense. Inside Line reports that a recent Los Angeles case in which one of the Toyotas was burned to the ground has been determined to be the result of arson. In Petaluma, CA, meanwhile, seven Priuses were vandalized over a two-week period in April. One poor woman had her car attacked twice, and then when it was in for repairs, the Prius rental she had also got worked over. The conventional wisdom suggests that the Prius is a juicy target because it’s a poster child for the environmental movement. And seriously, is this at all surprising? Some sort of anti-eco blowback like this was probably inevitable. People get fed up, so just as the HUMMER and other SUVs are targeted by greens looking to send a message, it was only a matter of time before the anti-HUMMER started getting the same kind of attention from the other direction.

What’s it all prove? Nothing, except that asshats are readily found on both sides of every issue. If you don’t like a particular car or truck, feel free to talk as much trash as you want (it’s practically a sport in the comments section around here). Think the HUMMER represents some sort of rolling apocalypse? Fine. Ditto if you feel that the Prius is nothing but a snob capsule for tree huggers. Just don’t turn those thoughts in to actions, because when you willfully screw with another person’s car or truck, you’re just another stupid criminal, and whatever message you think you’re advancing just falls on deaf (and angry) ears.

Topeka’s Hummer Sports Park has won over a fan in Randy Weseman, Lawrence’s superintendent of schools.

“I’ve been there several times and think it’s just a fantastic facility,” Weseman said. “I think Topeka really did it right.”
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File Photograph / The Capital-Journal

Then-USD 501 superintendent Robert McFrazier breaks ground at what would become Hummer Sports Park.

Where: Just north of S.W. 6th and Oakley.

Namesakes: Dana Hummer, a retired Topeka police chief who died in 2002, and his wife, Louise, who survives. The couple donated $360,000 to the park’s endowment fund.

Dedication: Sept. 6, 2003.

Offers: Two baseball fields, two softball fields, a soccer field, a football field, an eight-lane track, and areas for shot put, discus and javelin throws.

Annual expenses: $1,156,932 for the 2007-2008 school year.

Annual revenues: $323,316 for the 2007-2008 school year.

Web site:

SOURCE: Topeka Unified School District 501HUMMER SPORTS PARK FACTS AND FIGURES’It’s a community treasure’Economic tourist impact estimated in millions

Weseman said his school district is looking at upgrading its outdoor athletic facilities and that Hummer Park “has certainly set a standard for quality against which any future facilities should be measured.”

Saturday marked the fifth anniversary of the dedication of Hummer Park, which was built after Topeka voters in April 2001 approved a $24.5 million bond issue that included $17.5 million to construct the sports park. The rest went to build 40 classrooms for schools in Topeka Unified School District 501.

Hummer Park was constructed near S.W. 6th and Oakley Avenue, on the grounds of the former Topeka State Hospital. USD 501 had bought the property for $1 million in 2000 after the institution for the mentally ill closed three years earlier.

Hummer Park supporters on Sept. 4, 2003, announced they were forming the Topeka/Shawnee County Sports Council to build on the park’s potential by turning Topeka into a hub for regional, state and national athletic events. Two days later, the park was dedicated in a ceremony in which then-USD 501 school board president Mark Braun described it as “one of the best high school athletic facilities in the Midwest, and possibly in the country.”

The park was named for Dana Hummer, a retired Topeka police chief who died in 2002, and his wife, Louise, who survives. The couple donated $360,000 to the park’s endowment fund, with $10,000 in the form of a gift and the rest in a bequest.

So far, the park’s endowment fund has received about $1.9 million in pledges and donations, said Tim Clothier, a former USD 501 board member hired by the district to raise money for the endowment. Clothier thinks the park eventually could become self-sustaining, but it isn’t there yet.

Mike Jones, general director of fiscal services for USD 501, said the park during the 2007-2008 school year incurred expenses of $1,156,932 and revenues of $323,316, with the latter stemming from such sources as concessions sales, rentals and special events.

Meanwhile, students and their families from all over Kansas have traveled to Hummer Park for sporting events. Rick Benke, who manages the park for USD 501, said it has hosted 26 Kansas state high school championships in football, swimming, softball, baseball and soccer.

Gary Musselman, executive director of the Kansas State High School Activities Association, said the park has helped foster a positive impression of Topeka.

“I think it’s represented the community well,” he said.

Hummer Park also has hosted the Olympic women’s softball team, college and junior college soccer games, and swim meets that brought in youths and their families from across the Midwest.

Such events have proven to be a financial boon for the community as competitors have shopped in Topeka, eaten in its restaurants and stayed in local hotels.

The most recent estimate available from USD 501 indicates that through June 2006, the park had generated about $5.2 million in revenue from tourism.

Bill Bagshaw, USD 501’s general director of school leadership and academic programs, said the district took into account the park’s role in promoting the community when it developed the Web site The site includes links to Web pages maintained by such entities as the city of Topeka, the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce and Visit Topeka Inc.

Bagshaw said USD 501 is promoting those entities as part of its role as a partner in working to give the community a rich quality of life.

“There’s a bigger picture here than some football and baseball games at a sports park,” he said. “This is a community venue, and we’re very appreciative that we have it and that our taxpayers enabled us to build it.”

In Clothier’s view, the park doesn’t belong to USD 501 — but to Topeka.

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