When Dave Southan became a member of the Clintonville Area Commission nearly seven years ago, graffiti was, at it is today, a problem in the neighborhood.

When Dave Southan became a member of the Clintonville Area Commission nearly seven years ago, graffiti was, at it is today, a problem in the neighborhood.

Through connections he made with members of the University Area Commission, Southan got involved in a program that paired adults with juvenile offenders ordered to do community service for "tagging." After a 20-foot "mural" of a woman's face, her long, dark hair containing the signatures or "tags" of the youths who had created it, appeared on a building south of Studio 35 on Indianola Avenue, Southan was asked to supervise a young boy ordered to cover it up.

The youth was reluctant to do so because the "mural" was the work of others, Southan recalled.

" 'We have a code. This is art,' " Southan said the youth informed him. "I said, 'No, this is graffiti. It's vandalism, and it's criminal.' "

The boy spent the next two hours applying enamel paint with a roller to cover up what even Southan admitted was a beautiful piece of artwork - if it weren't for the tags.

"He was not happy about it and he complained about it the whole time," Southan said.

Last week, that boy, Seth King, now an adult, was sentenced by Franklin County Environmental Court Judge Harland H. Hale to 540 days in jail for vandalism of buildings in Clintonville, the Northland area, the University District and elsewhere. The judge suspended 180 days of the jail time, ordered the North Linden resident to perform 200 hours of community service and said he will be on probation for five years.

According to The Columbus Dispatch, Hale said during King's sentencing hearing that first-time adult graffiti offenders normally draw 10-day jail terms.

Southan was among those who urged the environmental court judge to give the 19-year-old King, whose tag is the word "SEED" in bulbous, shaded letters, to the maximum allowed by law.

Also weighing in was William Logan, coordinator of the Northland Community Council's graphics task force.

"I expressed the position of the graphics task force, relative to the expectations of the community, to see that the community was protected from Mr. King," Logan said.

Included in Logan's letter to Judge Hale was an image of the "SEED" tag that appeared on a church at 827 E. Maynard Ave. during the Christmas season.

"Which showed more, in my view, of the type of individual he is," Logan said. "I indicated to Judge Hale he has no respect for the community, no respect for God and obviously no respect for the court."

Both Southan and Logan pronounced themselves pleased with the jail time handed down for King.

"I agree with it wholeheartedly," Southan said. "It's a step in the right direction. It's about time.

"We've finally gotten a sentence for an adult that is worthy," he said.

"The word I am searching for is satisfactory," Logan said. "I requested the maximum from the perspective of the community. I respect Judge Hale's judgment on the matter. That's one down and the rest to go. We'll continue to pursue vigorously anyone who attempts to vandalize our area with graffiti.

"The rest of his gang, the HWC gang, is still out there."

One of that group's tags appeared on the Interstate 71 sound wall just north of Morse Road three weeks ago, according to Logan.

"Again, another reflection of the disdain that group has for the community," he said. "It's a slap in the face of the community. It's their way of implying they control the community and our neighborhoods. And our response back is it may take some time but we will track you down and you can join your buddy in jail for as long as possible.

"There is no tolerance for this issue in this neighborhood."

When Seth King gets out of jail to perform his community service, and Judge Hale indicated he would entertain the idea of early release, Dave Southan, for one, wouldn't welcome being the one who supervises him.

"Somebody else can take the time with him," he said. "I'm done."