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Thousands of dollars worth of Christmas decorations stolen from town

Published: Dec. 8, 2021 at 6:47 PM EST
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FORT GAY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Each December, the lawn of the old Fort Gay High School is decked out in holiday lights and blowups to bring the holiday spirit to the town.

“The community comes together. Churches help out and difficult organizations and groups help out, and it’s just a really nice time of the year,” said Fort Gay Mayor Joetta Hatfield.

All the decorations were stored in the old school. Last week, when Hatfield went into the storage room to pull out the decorations, she realized a lot was missing.

“Frantically, we looked through every possible thing and went through the school to make sure they weren’t there, but they’re nowhere to be found,” Hatfield said. ”We were very upset, of course, but then later when we realized how much was missing then we kind of got a little bit angry.”

The more they searched, the more they found was missing. Hatfield says 15 blowups, three light shows and tubs of lights were taken.

“We think probably we’re up to over $6,000 worth of stuff right now,” Hatfield said.

Now, the lawn is left empty as they don’t have the money or time to decorate before Christmas.

“It was an extremely hard blow to take, knowing that someone would come and take that away from our community,” said Sheila Bowen, the town recorder who helps decorate.

Discouraged, they did not want to put up any of the decorations they had left, but decided to not let the thief steal Christmas.

“We’re going to put that behind us. We’re done with it. It is not going to defeat us. That was one of the reasons for us doing the state, just showing we will not be defeated,” Bowen said.

The stage next to the old high school is decorated with what they have left, to not let one incident destroy what they worked hard to build.

“I still firmly believe that we have more good people in Fort Gay than we do bad, and we’re going to move forward. We’ll just make it bigger and better the next time around,” Hatfield said.

The thief did not steal the six large Christmas trees they put out as memorial trees each year, but Hatfield said they didn’t have the time to put them up this year.

Police are investigating the theft. Hatfield says she does not know when it happened, as she hadn’t been in the building to check on the decorations for months.

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