Community helps replace stolen 4-H materials

MERCER, Pa. (WKBN) — A Mercer County man was charged with receiving stolen property after materials from the local 4-H park were recovered.

State police said Cody Brown, 25,  of Coolspring Township, allegedly sold stolen farm gates for $161. Only some of them were recovered, but what’s remarkable was the community’s response to help replenish those needed supplies.

The gates went missing last spring and had a value of $9,000.

“We felt violated,” said Denise Suereth, Mercer County’s 4-H educator. “This has always been respected as a place for youth development, and that we could keep things out and open and didn’t have to worry about securing things, and making sure that everything was locked up and ready to go.”

“Most of our gates were taken, and some of them we got back, and most of them we did not,” said facility manager Don Koontz.

Suereth said the community was devastated.

“When we do our roundup, this is a huge community event.  People have been in 4-H for generations.  Grandparents, parents, and the children are back to do this, so for us it was just that age of innocence was gone,” she said.

That’s when local businesses and other organizations stepped up to the plate by donating money and materials for the Mercer County Career Center to build new farm gates.

Mercer County Commissioner Matt McConnell said it made him proud.

“It showed a community activity that really made lemons into lemonade,” McConnell said.

Thanks to the community’s generosity, the 4-H park will now have more gates than they had before the theft.

Suereth thanked the community for their tremendous response.

The park will take more precautions and bring in devices that would keep the gates in place inside the locked arena.

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