WAMEGO CITY PARK SCENE OF LATEST ARSON FIRE
Arson—Wamego City Park Train Station The new train depot at the Wamego City park is the latest victim in a small string of arson fires. According to a Wamego Police Department press release, on Monday, Oct. 7, at about 10:20 PM, Officer Derek Gray, while on patrol, noticed smoke in the area of the Wamego City Park. Officer Gray determined that a fire had been set inside the men’s restroom located in the train station on the north side of the park. While a specific dollar amount is unknown, the fire and smoke caused significant damage to the interior of the bathroom. Investigations also continue regarding two other arsons that have occurred in Wamego, each of which resulted in a total loss to the structure. On May 26, 2013 the day before Memorial Day, a set fire destroyed the Tradewinds banquet facility. And on Aug. 9, 2013, a fire was started at an occupied home in the 300 block of Poplar. The resident escaped but his dog, who had alerted him to the fire perished. It is unknown at this time if any of the crimes are related. Concerning the most recent arson, Julie Roller, development associate with the Pottawatomie County Economic Development Corporation who wrote the grant for the project, related that the Wamego Community Foundation received a $100,000 grant from the State of Kansas but only after matching funds—most of which were donations—were secured to build the structure. Roller remarked that while any vandalism would be disappointing, a bathroom being targeted was especially discouraging. She explained that when research was being done while designing the new train station many Wamego children had asked for new bathrooms to be included as the (then) existing ones in the city park were “old and scary.” Roller noted that the most of the materials were donated and labor was done by volunteers, and that building the train station was truly a community effort. Rewards are being offered in each crime. Wamego Police may be contacted at 785-456-9553 and tips can also be provided by calling 1-800-KSCRIME (800-572-7463).