EagleHerald Staff Writer

MENOMINEE—For the third time since the Menominee Lighthouse was restored in 2017, vandals hit the iconic structure with graffiti late Saturday or early Sunday, prompting a donor to pledge a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those who defaced the property.

“It’s our icon. It’s our symbol of Menominee,” Mike Kaufman, executive director of the Menominee County Historical Society, said about the lighthouse.

Graffiti also was found on the exterior of Menominee High School, and school authorities reportedly were reviewing video footage to determine who might be involved. The high school confirmed the incident but calls to the principal and assistant principal requesting comment were not returned at press time.

The reward funds were provided by an anonymous donor and will come from the Menominee County Historical Society, which runs lighthouse tours from Memorial Day to Labor Day four days per week.

Another donor, Timothy Farley of Farley Consulting, contacted the EagleHerald Thursday about making a $100 contribution to the reward fund. Donations can be sent to the Menominee Historical Society at P.O. Box 151, Menominee, MI, 49858. Farley, who grew up in Marinette, lives in Arizona but has a summer house on Shore Drive. He said he read about the vandalism on ehextra.com.

“That area is so beautiful and that lighthouse is one of its prized landmarks. They should install security cameras,” Farley said in an email to the EagleHerald.

By providing the reward, the primary donor hopes to encourage people to come forward with information about the vandalism. The Menominee Police Department said Thursday afternoon the incident was still under investigation. Anyone with information pertaining to it should contact the police department at 906-863-5568.

“Somebody’s going to talk for that kind of money,” said Skip Heckel, a volunteer lighthouse keeper who provides tours of the lighthouse and spotted the graffiti while photographing the sunrise Sunday morning after it snowed. He said vandals have spray-painted graffiti twice before.

“The last time, the people were apprehended,” Kaufman said. “If they get caught, that would deter them from thinking this is in any way a harmless prank. It’s not. It’s going to take a lot of hours to repair it.”

Kaufman and Skip Heckel, a volunteer lighthouse keeper who provides tours of the lighthouse, said they spent several hours Monday washing off the purple paint from the base, windows, doors and signs, but still had more to clean. “The reason you get out there and take care of it, you don’t want to draw attention to it,” Kaufman said.

The vandals’ message was vulgar, the men said. But after working to clean the lighthouse, “that’s all smudged out. You can’t read any more of the writing,” Kaufman said.

“They did the high school with the same verbiage,” Kaufman said.

Heckel said teenagers are the likely perpetrators because of this message painted on the lighthouse: “Maroons suck.”

Heckel said the surveillance cameras at the high school might help solve the crime. He and Kaufman said they’d like to place security cameras at the lighthouse, but running the electricity from the shore to the end of the pier will be costly.

“I don’t know if Marinette kids are doing it, or Menominee kids are making it look like Marinette kids are doing it,” Heckel said. Marinette High School had no comment.

“I’m pretty sure it’s teenagers,” he said. “Last time they did the lighthouse, they also did the courthouse and a few other buildings in Menominee. I guess they did apprehend whoever did it. I guess it was one kid and one adult,” Heckel said.

The white base of the lighthouse will have to be repainted, Heckel and Kaufman said, but it will have to wait until spring when the weather is warmer. Kaufman said the lighthouse is owned by the City of Menominee, but the Historical Society has an agreement with the city to use the lighthouse for tours and maintain it. “We’re responsible for its maintenance and upkeep,” he said.

Heckel said he noticed the graffiti from the shore Sunday morning. “I just zoomed in on my camera and could see there was graffiti,” he said. “I went up there later and could see it was on all four sides of the lighthouse, not just the ones you can see from the shore.”

Heckel views the lighthouse while taking sunrise photos most mornings. “I’m probably out there at least four times a week. Usually, there’s a couple of fishermen out there by the lighthouse,” he said. “I just happened to go out there Sunday morning because of the first snowfall we had,” he said.