Vandals damage Kobler center again

Center closed temporarily for repair work

The administration of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres has temporarily shut down the Koblerville Youth Learning Center after it was vandalized again early Friday morning.

In a statement yesterday, Shelane Borja, the special assistant for Youth Affairs, said the center will be temporarily closed to all activity until further notice. “At this time, [the] Koblerville Youth Center will be undergoing construction to repair vandalism and to make necessary safety improvements,” Borja said.

These two teenagers visit the Koblerville Youth Learning Center yesterday and feel sad that it’s temporarily closed due to another vandalism that occurred early Friday morning. (Ferdie De La Torre)

The center, just a stone’s throw from the Koblerville fire station, was built in 2005 with funding from the community development block grant.

Two male teens, who had gone to the center yesterday afternoon, assisted in cleaning up the broken glass from a shattered window.

The 17-year-old boy said he was upset upon learning that the center had been vandalized again as he would always go there to use the computer and play table tennis.

“It’s not fair,” he said.

The other teen, a 15-year-old boy, expressed sadness at not being able to visit the center until it re-opens.

“It’s crazy,” said the boy about the vandalism.

Torres expressed disappointment upon learning of the incident.

In a statement, Torres said the youth centers are not just important parts of the community, but the efforts of the staff are geared solely for the betterment of the youth and their advancement.

“It is difficult to understand the reasons behind this type of vandalism, but despite the reasons, it is important that our community join together and help maintain our centers,” Torres said.

On behalf of the youth who use these centers, he said people must speak out against those who commit these acts.

Vandals continue to hit youth centers. Photographs show damage to windows all around the building but no apparent signs of entrance. (Contributed Photo)

Torres said vandalism causes unnecessary disruption to those who rely on these services, and disrupts the efforts of those in the community seeking to do good for one another.

Borja noted that in the past year, they have been able to rehabilitate and reopen the youth centers in Koblerville, Gualo Rai, and San Antonio.

A police substation was even installed at the Chalan Kanoa Youth Center in collaboration with the Department of Public Safety.

Borja said it is disheartening to wake up in the morning and find out that one or more of the centers have been damaged or broken into.

“Since our opening, we’ve been assisting more students to improve literacy rates and extracurricular activities, but these criminal actions have been hurting our operations,” Borja said.

She said options are being explored to prevent future acts of vandalism. They are looking into acquiring surveillance cameras to curb this activity, but that it is quite costly, she said.

“We just want to remind our community that these centers are for our collective benefit, and they offer our families the ability to learn skills and engage with one another,” she said.

Last June, three male teenagers allegedly vandalized the center and fled to the jungle behind the building.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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