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2 school board vehicles stolen, discovered burned in Reserve

By Rebecca Burk Ellis and Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / May 27, 1998

RESERVE – Two vehicles belonging to the St. John School Board werereported stolen during the Memorial Day weekend. Each was later foundburned.

Lt. Michael Tregre of the St. John Sheriff’s Office reported that ChristineRobiskie told a deputy she parked a 1997 Dodge Neon driver’s education car at the school board office, 118 West 10th St., Friday at 2:45 p.m.By Monday, it was discovered on fire on East 16th Street, Reserve.

At the same time Robiskie reported one stolen vehicle, Personnel Director Alfred Donaldson reported the theft of a Head Start van, also parked at the school board office.

Likewise, it was found burned on West 17th Street.

Stephenie Watkins, Head Start director, said the van is used for transportation of parents to the center for volunteering and to take Head Start employees to conferences.

“It saved us mileage money because we would all get in the van and go,” she said.

Although the 15-passenger Chevrolet van is very helpful to the Head Start program, Watkins doesn’t know if they will be able to replace it immediately.

“It’s something we are going to have to talk about and see what kind of money the insurance will pay,” Watkins said. “The van was purchasedthrough a one-time funding grant.”And the destroying of the driver’s education vehicle may hinder some students from learning to drive this summer. Donaldson said Driver’sEducation classes originally scheduled for this summer may be canceled if the car isn’t replaced.

“But I’m sure they had insurance on it,” he said.

Donaldson said he looked at the burned vehicles and the damage was so bad that nothing was salvageable. “They took the gas in the van and poured itinside before they set it on fire,” he said.

“I didn’t look at the van, but Mr. Donaldson said it was really like theywanted to destroy it,” Watkins added.

Tregre said he had no further information on the vehicle thefts. Theinvestigation is continuing.

In the meantime school officials with the help of the Sheriff’s Office are improving security to prevent events such as these from occurring.

“We kind of beefed up security,” Donaldson said. “We are working incooperation with the Sheriff’s Office to make the schools more secure.

They are increasing patrols. They have been very, very helpful.”

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