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Anti-Graffiti Warriors: Meet 3 City Employees Who Do Their Part to Keep Knoxville Looking Its Best 
For Enzo Montenotte and Abe Crabtree, scrubbing graffiti, painting over taggings and peeling off stickers is kind of personal.

It's also physically demanding, time-consuming and, well, satisfying.

The two Public Service Department managers estimate they tackle and remove more than 200 vandalisms to public property in South Knoxville each month. That's almost 2,500 tags and spray paintings removed in a year.

Abe Crabtree, Public Service Department Foreman, and Enzo Montenotte, District Manager, battle graffiti on public property. They clean about 200 taggings each month.

Abe Crabtree, Public Service Department Foreman, left, and Enzo Montenotte, District Manager

It's almost like an itch needing a good scratching. That's how protective they are of the utility boxes, telephone and light poles, metal signs and expanses of concrete that are part of the public infrastructure in their district, which includes South Knoxville and parts of West Knoxville.

"You see the graffiti on the back of a sign as you're driving away, and you just have to turn around and take care of it," says Montenotte, the district manager and a 15-year City employee. "Even when I'm going home at the end of the day, I've got my eyes open, looking for it."

They're always prepared. The rear of their City SUV is loaded with multiple gallons of paint in five colors, plus touch-up paint, solvents, cleaners, rags and brushes.

"It keeps you busy," says Crabtree, a Foreman who's worked for the City for 9.5 years. "They get sneaky in where they paint the graffiti. And cleaning concrete is the toughest.

"When you clean a spot, and then you come back and it's tagged again, that's deflating for sure."

Montenotte describes it as a war of attrition.

"They paint it, and we clean it or paint over it," he says. "They will paint it again, and we'll paint over it again. Eventually, someone wins. We want it to be us."

On Thursday, Mayor Indya Kincannon treated a small group of City employees, including Crabtree and Montenotte, to lunch at Pete's Coffee Shop on Union Avenue. It was a small thank-you for their conscientious service.

Also included in the lunch group was Bryan Gilbert, the City's Signs and Markings Supervisor in the Engineering Department.

Gilbert's crews have been busy lately freshening up the curb lines and replacing older signs throughout downtown, but a part of their everyday job is to peel stickers off metal signs and remove spray-painted graffiti.

One thing that's making the effort a little easier is that new City signs are covered with an anti-graffiti laminate. A sign costs a bit more, but it's cleanable after being tagged.

"Graffiti removal is time-consuming for our crews, but it's important," Gilbert says. "We take pride in how our city looks, and we want to be good stewards of what we're given."

Posted by evreeland On 19 November, 2021 at 12:14 PM