PAUL, Idaho (AP) A 19-year-old Rupert man who says he was inspired by a country-Western song is now starring in his own country ballad, replete with love, crime, a small-town water tower and maybe a stretch in the heartbreak hotel.
Last week Brandon West was charged with two misdemeanors: injury by graffiti and violation of a city of Paul ordinance against climbing the municipal water tower, for allegedly painting a love note there in September.
According to the Minidoka County Sheriff's Office, West confessed that he climbed the old tower to spray-paint "I luv Staci," as homage both to his 16-year-old true love and to a country-Western tune.
The crime initially went unsolved, but on Oct. 23, Paul Public Works Director Richard Rau informed the local law about a rumor circulating at his daughter's school. Deputies started interviewing Minidoka County School District students named Staci and stopped when they reached the object of West's affection.
The manhunt ended Nov. 26 when West and his attorney, Stan Cole, met with sheriff's detective Eric Snarr.
West told the lawman he was inspired by the Montgomery Gentry song "My Town," which he and Staci had listened to together. Gentry's lyrics describe a place where there's "just up the road, a pale-blue water tower, with 'I love Jenny' painted in bright green."
Authorities say West confessed that he bought his green paint at Wal-Mart.
West's attorney later asked Rau if the city would accept restitution and avoid charges. On Dec. 12 Rau bumped it up to the Paul City Council, which came down as hard as a West Texas rain. Looking at a $1,970 bill to wipe away West's profession of love, the council voted to ask the Minidoka County prosecutor to press charges.
"If it was a young teenager I wouldn't have a problem slapping his hand, but we're talking about a young man here," Mayor Randy Jones said.
And they wanted to send a message to any other lovesick vandals.
"If we don't do this now, we're going to have people on the water tower and all sorts of problems," said Councilman Brent Stimpson.
West could not be reached for comment.