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VANDALS MAR DECK OF RESTORED BRIDGE, BIKE PATH

Town of Clarence workers are cleaning up after vandals who spray-painted the oak deck of a restored railroad bridge and more than a half-mile of an asphalt foot and bike path just completed by dozens of volunteers.

Angry Clarence Town Board members Wednesday night offered a reward of at least $100 for information leading to arrests. Board members said if the town attorney decides that tax money shouldn't be used to pay rewards, they will pay the $100 themselves.

The vandalism occurred along a 4,000-foot-long section of paved path between Goodrich and Heise road, apparently late Sunday, officials said.

Working with donated materials estimated to be worth about $35,000, a large force of volunteers paved the path Aug. 23. An old railroad bridge over Ransom Creek near Heise at one end of the path was spruced up and given a new oak deck by the Clarence Rotary Club. The work was part of Clarence's "Rails to Trails" project, in which old railroad rights of way will become links in a townwide network of trails for walkers, joggers, runners and bikers.

Clarence Highway Superintendent Ronald L. Witnauer said obscenities and phrases like "Clarence Rules" were sprayed in yellow paint on the bridge deck and along the path for a distance of more than a half-mile, almost to Goodrich. "They must have had a load of spray cans -- some of the words were 100 feet long," Witnauer said.

Witnauer said the cleanup work should be finished by today.

State police will begin regular patrols of the area, town officials said.

"We'd sure like to nip 'em so we're not fixing this thing every week, especially with Halloween coming, the worst time of year for this sort of thing," Witnauer said. "Volunteers put it in but it's the taxpayer who pays to clean it up."

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