BUTTE — A man who owns about a half dozen buildings in Uptown Butte says he’s concerned by what he believes is an increase in vandalism and vagrancy in the uptown area.
“Somebody sticking a needle in their arm right in the open public on a Saturday morning during a farmer’s market and vandalizing—that to me is not acceptable, it’s just not acceptable,” said Jeff Francis.
Francis, who lives in Florida and spends part of the year in Butte, wrote an open letter to the city recently complaining about the problem and the negative impact it has on the city. He said he spent $10,000 replacing a window that had been broken this year already.
He blames certain people who routinely cause problems.
“Habitual trouble makers and they should be run out of town in my opinion,” he said.
Butte Sheriff Ed Lester said, “Truly, if you take somebody who hasn’t committed a crime and run them out of town or take them to someplace of isolation, that’s basically the definition of kidnapping and that’s not what we do.”
The sheriff added that they will step up patrols in the uptown.
“Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter if you’re having mental illness or intoxicated, or you just walking down the street, you’re much less likely to cause an issue if there’s a police car in the area,” said Lester.
Some business owners in the area don’t believe this is a growing problem.
“I think I’m experienced enough to see if Butte’s changed drastically and I don’t see that,” said Gretchen Miller of Venus Rising.
Bremer Hollingsworth of Buffalo Gallery said, “I think Butte’s good, I think Butte’s coming around, I don’t think it’s any better than it ever has been. I think it could be better but it could be worse too.”
Miller added, “They need to be here longer than two weeks a year to figure out what’s really going on in our town, or even a month out of the year.”