We have a problem.

Doug Inman called The Commercial Review’s office Thursday morning to vent.

He had been over at Freedom Park and spent about 40 minutes cleaning up cigarette butts and other trash.

We don’t have to tell you that such litter left scattered at a site honoring local veterans is a disgrace.

Unfortunately, it’s also part of a pattern.

Portland street and parks department employees reported several acts of vandalism during the September park board meeting. They said the summer had been fairly quiet previously, but that there had been recent damage at Milton Miller Park and Haynes Park.

In an effort to curb those issues, the park board approved closing restrooms early in the evening. City employees also requested additional security cameras.

Later in September, new Jay County Solid Waste Management District director George McGinnis reported a problem at the Pennville recycling trailer. The trailer had not been replaced before the scheduled Saturday recycling and therefore was already full. Instead of accepting that as an unfortunate inconvenience, some recyclers started dropping off their items next to the trailer and moved on.

What McGinnis found when he arrived at the trailer was a mess. It took hours to clean up.

This type of vandalism and littering works against efforts to revitalize all communities in Jay County.

Fortunately, we can work together to put an end to it.

We can make sure that when we go to one of our community parks, we pick up our trash and place it in the proper receptacle. (Maybe even pick up trash that isn’t ours to help leave the park better than we found it.)

We can follow the rules for the Saturday recycling trailers by bringing items only when they are staffed and not leaving them lying next to the trailer if it is full. (There are multiple locations available in the county each Saturday morning, as well as the trailers that are permanently stationed at Jay County Sheriff’s Office. If one is full, another one might not be.)

Perhaps most importantly, we can adopt a phrase that has become prominent in school safety but works just as well for this issue — if you see something, say something.

We can’t expect police officers to constantly patrol our parks, cemeteries and other public places. But, if we all keep an eye out, we can help them keep our community from being vandalized.

So, if you see suspicious activity in a cemetery, say something.

If you see someone callously discarding their trash or cigarette butts on the ground in a park, say something.

If you see recycling (or trash) being left to sit outside of a trailer, say something.

And, if all of those things still fail and you stumble upon someone tasked with cleaning up an unwanted mess, follow the example of Michael, Sophie and Gage Heckman.

The family happened to be driving past that Pennville recycling trailer when McGinnis and his wife were working to clean up the mess. Only, they didn’t just drive past.

They pulled over to offer their assistance, not for a few moments, but for a few hours.

McGinnis wanted to do something to thank the Heckmans for their efforts, but they turned down any sort of compensation.

The more of us who are keeping an eye out to report vandalism, and the more of us who are helping to clean it up when it unfortunately occurs, the easier it will be to keep our community clean and beautiful.— R.C.