Smith: It's a shame, what was done to the cross

  • Part of a large cross made of white painted rocks was recently removed from the steep slope above the St. Francis Acres/Skyhawk neighborhoods. (The Press Democrat)

Amid our debate over whether a teenage boy should or shouldn’t be allowed to resume upkeep of the large, white cross of stones on a hillside in east Santa Rosa, someone has acted the brute.

Suddenly, more than half of the boulders long set into the right side of the crossbar are gone. They were plucked up and rolled down the hill east of Calistoga Road and north of Sonoma Highway.

It appears as though some of the stones at the top of the cross that Christian ex-soldier and policeman Arvo Kannisto constructed almost 35 years ago were dislodged and sent tumbling, too.

It’s too bad. I haven’t been able to reach property owner Carl Merner, who’s out of town, but I doubt that he had anything to do with the partial deconstruction of the cross.

My guess is this was trespassing and vandalism by someone who resents the cross carved into the hill and opposes the effort by 15-year-old Cameron Whiteside to rally support for asking Merner’s permission to allow resumption of the weeding and other work necessary to prevent it from fading into the landscape.

Cameron, discouraged but undeterred by what’s just happened, said it’s unfortunate that if he is allowed to take up where the 96-year-old Kannisto left off in maintaining the cross, he will now have to “basically reconstruct” it.

As I’ve said, it seems to me that the conditions that allowed Kannisto to keep up the cross have all changed, so the contested landmark should no longer be painted and treated with Roundup. Instead it should be left alone and allowed to blend in as nature takes its course.

The old fellow who labored for decades on that cross and the kid who seeks to take over as its caretaker don’t deserve what an apparent vigilante has done to it.

PLAN TO SEE ‘PLANES,’ the Disney sequel that makes a firefighter of little, animated airplane Dusty Crophopper?

If you do see “Planes: Fire & Rescue” watch for the memorial tribute to an actual air tanker.

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