"The signs are mostly for public safety. They alert motorists about road conditions and give them directions," he said. "The county road signs provide information to law enforcement agencies, ambulance crews, firefighters and others where a residence is located. Their family might be the family that suffers if a road sign is unreadable or even stolen and the proper authorities can't get to them in an emergency."
Oregon County Presiding Commissioner Leo Warren said the county road signs cost $13.39 apiece and the poles to place them on cost another $13.95.
"That doesn't even account for the manpower hours that the county has too pay to replace the signs," Warren said. He agreed with Wrenfrow and Northern District Commissioner Buddy Wright that the sign problem in the county is likely the work of juveniles.
"Some of the signs that have been stolen in the southern portion of the county are the large, orange road work or men working signs. If our crews are working in a particular area of the county and at the end of the day their task is not complete and they know they will need to return to the same work area the next day or for several days, they will leave the signs overnight or for as long as needed to complete the job," Wrenfrow said.
The commissioner said the signs are left in the work area for motorists' safety and to alert drivers they need to be cautious.
"The large orange signs cost $40 or $50 each to replace," he said.
Warren said the signs are purchased from the South Central Ozark Council of Governments. "Last year the county spent $2,640.09 replacing stolen or damaged signs. That dollar amount does not even cover the bolt and nut assembly needed to replace the signs on the pole," he said.
Just recently Warren said he had one of his political signs stolen from the northern end of the county. "My political sign and a city of Alton street sign were found in the Garfield community," he said.
Wright said his end of the county does have the same problem with stolen and vandalized signs, but he thinks it may be better than in years past. "What these people who are doing this need to realize is that they are taking taxpayers' money away from needed worthwhile projects to replace signs that would last a long time if left alone," he said.
"They need to stop and think just how important the signs are. Their family member might be the one needing an ambulance or firetruck someday," Wright said.