EAST HELENA – School officials are explaining how a controversial design depicting guns ended up on the side of the new high school.
The design, which shows a small cowboy figure standing between two large revolvers, raised eyebrows among local parents.
Ron Whitmoyer, the Superintendent of East Helena Public Schools, says it was an attempt by a subcontractor to do something special for the school by adding a design portraying the new high school mascot, the vigilantes.
The superintendent says the school district had no clue about the design until they started receiving messages and phone calls from upset parents who said the images looked like guns pointing at a child. The school district immediately took steps to correct the issue after finding out.
“My apologies to anybody in the community that was offended by that. I was unaware of it, any of the school officials were unaware it until about 8 O'clock yesterday (Tuesday) morning,” Whitmoyer said.
Whitmoyer said he initially found out about the design on Tuesday morning. He first thought the image was photoshopped. After finding it wasn’t, he immediately called Dick Anderson Construction and asked them to paint over the images.
On Wednesday morning, Whitmoyer learned there was a second design on the inside of the building and called the construction company to have that one covered up as well.
Dave Gruber, Owner of Gruber Masonry, the Company that worked on the design at East Helena High School, says in no way did the general contractor or the superintendent know anything about this.
“Obviously, some people are very sensitive to this and I do understand now. It never crossed our mind that would be the way someone interpret it,” said Gruber.
He went onto say, he is giving this statement to deeply apologize for the misunderstanding of the picture on the side of the gym wall at East Helena High School.
“We did not in any way intend this to be taken in the wrong way. Their mascot name is the vigilantes. We thought we’d have a little fun and have a sign depicting their mascot as so on. Again, we deeply apologize for any misunderstanding on this and we should have never done it,” said Gruber.
He says the design is covered with paint, but it will be covered with insulation and metal siding and the inside will be painted.