Vandals rip up Junaluska's rose bushes
Eleven of the beautiful rose bushes along the rose walk at Lake Junaluska were ripped up and taken some time Monday night.
Jack Ewing, executive director of Lake Junaluska Assembly, said the lake's horticulturalist Roddy Ray and her team discovered the damage Tuesday morning when they went to tend to the more than 200 roses as they do many times each week.
"At first she noticed some cut roses on the ground, then she saw a plant was missing," he said of Ray, who tends to the frequently admired plants at Lake Junaluska. "And then she found that 11 plants were missing — some were established and some were new."
Lake Junaluska has filed a report with the Waynesville Police Department and the lake's security team already has begun an investigation. Ewing is hopeful that a lead will pan out quickly.
While Ray doesn't have any records of plants being taken in previous years at the lake, Ewing said there have been four different instances this spring in which plants on the grounds have been stolen. It is unknown whether the vandalisms are related.
"This is just an odd situation where, for some reason, we've been targeted — we have thousands of plants in the ground," he said. "It's discouraging because we are committed to keeping our 'gates' open. As private property, we make the choice to have the grounds available for guests and the public."
Some of the bushes taken were just planted this spring after the March cold snap ruined 60 of them. Even though Ray and her team spend a lot of their time caring for the hundreds of roses on a regular basis, Ewing said she was not angry about the situation.
"Her comment to me was not in anger at the people who did it. She said, 'we need to pray for these people,' because she knows that people who are healthy and whole wouldn’t do this kind of thing," Ewing said.
Ewing said the lake was working on getting more security cameras on the grounds to help prevent something like this from happening again.
"We will continue to practice great Christian hospitality by offering our grounds to the public and we hope they respect our openness," he said.
If anyone has any information that might assist the lake in this investigation, call 452-2881 and ask to speak to someone in security.