Berks County Commissioner Kevin S. Barnhardt announced during the commissioners' meeting on May 29 that Steve Harrity was hired as the new graffiti abatement project coordinator.He had been on the job for two weeks, said Barnhardt.

The commissioners approved the Graffiti Abatement Project "a few months back," he added.

An $80,000 state grant was given to Berks County on Dec. 19, 2007, to help clean up graffiti vandalism.

"It's moving along very well. With the community involvement, with the municipalities, townships, boroughs and the city, I think it is really going to put a dent in graffiti," said Barnhardt.

"What the municipalities have to understand is this is a crime and with the ordinance they can actually prosecute from this point and that is what Tim Daley (Berks County criminal justice program director) and Steve Harrity are really looking at, to really send a message that this is something very serious and that it needs to be followed through with the law," he added.

The first phase of the project is getting sample ordinances out to municipalities that don't have graffiti abatement ordinances so graffiti abatement workers can go on to private property as needed, said Barnhardt.

Last week the Graffiti Abatement Project was looking into a software program which was developed to monitor and track graffiti by specific tags, perpetrators and locations, said Barnhardt.

"The big thing about graffiti is getting it off, getting it identified, getting it photographed, downloading it into the system and getting it removed."

Harrity and Daley are exploring a way to buy cover up paint, either from Lowes or Home Depot, so home owners can remove the graffiti from their homes or have the graffiti abatement coordinator and work crew remove it, Barnhardt said.

Harrity and Daley also allocated at least 1,000 hours from adult probation for community service to assist with the graffiti clean-up.

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