MARK GILLESPIE/Livingston County News
On Friday, members of the Kappa Sigma Epsilon Fraternity had repainted the boulder on I-390 in West Sparta to approximate the original mural.
Fraternity paints over, then restores, roadside memorial
WEST SPARTA — Livingston County Sheriff John York was not pleased to see members of the Kappa Sigma Epsilon fraternity of Alfred State College out with paint buckets Friday morning at a rock alongside I-390.
“When I drove away, I was feeling better,” York told the County News Friday. “They were trying to make things right.”
Earlier in the week, fraternity members had painted over a tribute to Devin Snyder, a Cohocton native and Army sergeant who was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan last June.
Friends of Snyder had painted her face superimposed over an American flag — along with the words “R.I.P. Devin Snyder.”
On Thursday, York said he noticed that Snyder’s face had been replaced by black paint and the fraternity’s Greek letters in white.
Fraternity members, realizing their mistake, tried to return the rock to its original appearance. On Friday morning, the flag and lettering had been replaced. York says the fraternity said they were hiring an artist to re-paint Snyder’s face in the center of the flag.
State police have arrested a dozen fraternity members, not for painting the rock, but for walking on the highway and painting a guard rail.
Alfred State College has suspended the fraternity, which also has chapters at SUNY Delhi and Finger Lakes Community College.
The fraternity issued the following statement on its website:
“In a brief moment of self-gratification, we thought of no one else but ourselves, and for that we were wrong. Our actions and lack of empathy have caused the family of Sgt. Devin A. Snyder additional unnecessary grief, as well as the local communities and Alfred State College.”
Courtney FitzPatrick, who helped paint the original mural, hopes the incident won’t overshadow the upcoming anniversary of her friend’s death.
“The rock is, after all, just a rock and the paint, just paint,” she told the County News by e-mail. “We knew when we painted the rock that night that one day the image we placed on it would be covered and changed, as it always has.”