Statue, playground vandalized at Grotto

WEST BEND – Staff members at an Iowa landmark are looking for answers after vandals struck the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend twice over the past two weeks.

Mary Straub Lavelle, director of the Grotto, said an airplane toy on the nearby playground and one of the monument’s statues were damaged by the vandals.

The statue of St. John was found last Wednesday scratched and missing bolts, and some large rocks appear to have fallen from one wall of the Grotto.

“We think, most likely, the vandal came down the wall and loosened rocks or landed on the St. John statue,” said Straub Lavelle. “And the piece of playground equipment was destroyed.”

Straub Lavelle said the statue of St. John is the only metal statue in the Grotto. The rest of the statues are made of marble.

A local organization, Mindy’s Miles, has already replaced the broken playground equipment, and Straub Lavelle hopes the Grotto may be able to install surveillance equipment in the future.

“We’d really love to install some security cameras, but that isn’t in our budget right now,” she said. “We’re hoping perhaps we could have a fundraiser.”

Grotto staff members have been checking over the various monuments and statues each morning looking for any additional damage.

“So far there hasn’t been anything more,” said Straub Lavelle. “The word is out that this has happened and I think the perpetrators know that.”

The Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the incident and a reward is being offered for anyone who can provide information leading to the arrest of the suspect or suspects.

If anyone has information on the incidents, they are asked to call the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Department at (712) 852-3535.