Cpt. Lonnie Neeman reported Monday afternoon that police have interviewed several youths, ages 9-11, and believe they are responsible for damage to the public art tree sculpture at Steinhart Park.

Rewards are still offered for information leading to an arrest in the vandalism to a sculpture at the MRB Lewis & Clark Center Wednesday night or Thursday morning, May 16.

The Enchanted Arboretum Committee and Nebraska City Crime Stoppers are offering rewards.

Three kids, ages 9-11, were playing at Steinhart Park on Thursday, May 16, and participated in pushing over a Enchanted Arboretum tree sculpture there.

Cpt. Lonnie Neeman said one of the fins on the sculpture broke. He said the kids reported that when they returned to the park on Friday, someone had picked the sculpture up and put it upright.

He said the sculpture was hit with a baseball bat on Friday. The kids returned on Saturday and again damaged the artwork. Pieces broken off were found in a nearby creek bed.

Neeman finished his report Tuesday morning and expects to turn the information over to the Otoe County Attorney's Office.

Cpt. Neeman said a parent approached police about suspicions of what happened.

Neeman said he explained to the kids the importance of the public art.

"I explained to them that to have this happen is very disappointing. the city takes this very seriously," he said.

The Enchanted Arboretum Committee and Nebraska City Crime Stoppers offered rewards for information regarding the vandalism.

A sculpture at the MRB Lewis & Clark Center was damaged Wednesday night or Thursday morning, May 16.

Mayor Jack Hobbie is offering to contribute $100 to the community reward fund saying the entire community should be outraged at the vandalism.

He said it is difficult to harmonize these acts of destruction with acts of creativity and community pride felt when over 1,000 art maquettes were displayed.

"Every child in the public, parochial and school for the visually handicap was involved and these trees were just beautiful. I'm truly hoping there will be an outpouring of people who want to protect this art," he said.

"I am also hoping, when we catch the person or persons responsible, that there will be a community showing at the courtroom to demonstrate to the judge that we want the maximum sentence for this," he said.

Jenni Brant of the KHN Center for the Arts said the committee has contacted the artists who projects have been destroyed. She said she hopes they are willing to do new projects before the art auction this fall.

Brant said she has been encouraged by support offered from the community since she posted the vandalism report on Facebook on Friday.

She said strong support from the community will help protect the remaining art pieces.