Was it something like that which brought an act of revenge and consequently the latest round of tree damage Saturday night or early Sunday morning?
It wasn't that at all, says Kevin W.W. Johnson, co-owner of The Emporium at Portsmouth on Chillicothe Street. He's convinced its vandalism.
"The trees we have now don't attract roosting birds, as those in past years did," he said.
He believes attacks on the trees happen after bars close and believes that some bars carry part of the responsibility.
"Once again it was the trees that took the brunt of drunks or druggies who obviously were traveling between downtown bars or were leaving after closing and had nothing better to do with their lives," Johnson said. "When this happens, it always seems to be on Saturday night about the time the bars close."
There were five trees damaged in the latest attack, Johnson said. They included those in front of Johnson's business and nearby Williams Restaurant, as well as some along Seventh Street west of Chillicothe Street.
There have been four trees destroyed in the past six years near the front of his business, Johnson said.
He said the city has invested thousands of tax dollars within the past month in replacing previously vandalized trees and those trees lost to nature.
"Plus, hundreds of hours were spent by volunteers pruning the trees, mulching and otherwise beautifying the downtown area," Johnson said. "This type of vandalism simply sucks the hope out of many who are working to make downtown a wonderful place in which to live and shop."
Whoever damaged the trees needs to be punished, Johnson said.
One of the first questions, he said, is always, "Where are the police?"
Portsmouth Police Chief Charles Horner said his department will be investigating and that any leads will be followed up on, with hopes of making arrests.
"Obviously we can't be everywhere at any given time," he said.
Johnson suggested establishing a fund to pay for a "security presence" in the hours before and after bar-closing time in downtown Portsmouth, which is 2:30 a.m.
Johnson said he believes the fund should be fed by a 25-cent per drink tax on downtown bars to pay for security in downtown between midnight and 3:30 a.m.
Another option, he said, would be requiring bars to close at 11 p.m.
"Thus, should morons such as those who like destroying trees want to get drunk or do their drugs - do it somewhere else because we don't want you in our town," he said.
Horner said he would hate to say the bars are responsible for the damage, or the damage is the result of bars.
"I don't know that it's very responsible to blame the police department or the bars. The responsibility lies with the person or persons that did it," the chief said.
Johnson said his remarks about requiring bars to close before midnight were made tongue in cheek.
He has initiated a more realistic approach to solving the problem.
He said he and his partner, Paul, are moving to contract with Southern Ohio Security to install three television cameras, two in the 600 block of Chillicothe Street and one in the municipal parking lot at Seventh and Chillicothe streets.
The cost for the cameras and monitors is $2,075.80. Johnson said Wednesday he had raised $520.71 of that amount and knew of other contributions that would be coming in.
Among those giving money so far, have been Second Ward City Councilman David Malone and residents Gail Chinn and Roger Sessor.
He said city officials have agreed to install electronic surveillance signs in the area.
"These are day-night infrared cameras that pick up good at night," he said. "Paul and I will take care of the maintenance on them."
He said he hopes other business owners and individuals will install such security cameras at other key points in the downtown area.
"This is a community project and the money provided is tax deductible," he said.
Donations to support the project he has started can be made by calling Johnson at (740) 351-0842 during business hours.
G. SAM PIATT can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 236.