Hao Li, owner of Ling's Chinese restaurant in White City, has reopened his business after vandals ransacked it in February. Bob Pennell / Mail Tribune photo - Bob Pennell

Open for business

Roughly a month after vandals trashed the White City Chinese restaurant, Ling's is again serving egg rolls, chow mein and other favorites to customers old and new.

"It's nice to see our customers again," owner Hao Li said.

The restaurant Li's family has operated for nearly 17 years was shuttered in late February after vandals smashed in a window and ransacked the business. They scattered trash, broke dishes, clogged toilets and turned on taps to flood the floors; turned on burners and threw take-out boxes into the flames, and stole nine cases of beer from a walk-in cooler, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department reported.

Investigators arrested three young men from White City — Justin Allen Reeves-Blake, 21, Zachary Ryan Orvis, 19, and a 15-year-old boy — after the teen's mother found stolen beer in her garage and called police. The three were charged with second-degree burglary, second-degree arson and first-degree criminal mischief.

Reeves-Blake pleaded guilty to burglary, arson and criminal mischief charges on March 19 in Jackson County Circuit Court. He has been released from jail, but he will be on probation for two years and must pay restitution, although the amount hasn't yet been set, court records show.

Orvis remains in jail, with his next pre-trial hearing set for Monday. The teen's records weren't immediately accessible.

Steve Nottingham, a Grants Pass resident who comes to Ling's each Wednesday for the chow mein, said he was saddened to hear about the damage at the restaurant and hoped those responsible would be held accountable. He was glad that it was back in business.

"Everything tastes wonderful," Nottingham said.

Across the dining room, his praise was echoed by 9-month-old Zerick Kilgore, who gobbled up soup, a bit of egg roll filling and fortune cookies and crowed happily while lunching with his mom, Shannon Kilgore, and her parents — Gamma and G-pop to little Zerick.

Li said his business was fully insured so all repairs — from the smoke-damaged ceiling to the water-logged carpet — were covered. All new cooking equipment has been installed in the kitchen.

Decorative ceiling tiles featuring dragons and a shiny red border that Li helped paint as a teenager when his parents first opened the restaurant have been cleaned and restored.

From an insurance adjuster to cleaning crews and building contractors, many of those hired to help bring Ling's back were customers who had eaten at the restaurant, Li said. And many more customers and fellow business owners stopped by to offer help, he said.

Li said he had to turn away volunteers who wanted to pitch in. People also gave cash donations.

"It was $20 here and there, and we got their names so we could thank them," he said.

But one afternoon, a woman handed an envelope with Li's name on it to an employee who was cleaning in the dining room. The envelope contained $2,000 and a copy of a Psalm, but no clue about who the money was from.

He said he is grateful to the woman who donated the money, the mother who stood up to do the right thing and all others who came forward to help.

"The community really rallied around," he said. "There are more good people in the world than bad."

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 541-776-4485, or e-mail

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