FORT SMITH, Ark. — A newly formed non-profit, Fort Smith Cemeteries Inc., will now be managing Rose Lawn, Holy Cross and Forest Park cemeteries.
“I’ve been trying to get something done for years but this is wonderful to see this all come to fruition. I’m excited and happy and pleased and I hope everyone else will be,” Board Member Ann Wilson said.
Potholes, overgrown trees, grass and weeds covering monuments were all problems at Rose Lawn Park Cemetery.
David Hartsfield is the owner of Yard Works and a partner to the non-profit. He says they’ve been able to take care of many of those ongoing problems and it already looks much better.
“We’re going to work on keeping all the weeds down," Hartsfield said. "We’re really going to be focusing on improving the grass and keeping it short and keeping it mowed on a weekly basis, keeping all the headstones trimmed around and that’s going to make a huge difference."
Fort Smith Cemeteries, Inc. says they believe it will cost around $1.3 million to get the cemeteries back in the shape they need to be, but they don’t know an exact dollar amount yet that it will cost for upkeep.
Board Vice President, Larry Bone, says how much work and upkeep they are able to do on the cemeteries is solely dependent on how much money they are going to be able to raise.
“We’re going to have a really beautiful site for people to come and really deal with the dignity and respect that needs to be given to the families that have lost loved ones and to those who have gone before, and family members still come out here on a daily basis,” Bone said.
Once they finish work on Rose Lawn and Holy Cross they will start working on Forest Park Cemetery. But first, they need support from the community.
The non-profit is currently working on setting up a website and social media page so it’s easier to donate, but for now, you can call the Fort Smith Mayor’s office at (479) 784-2437 for details on how you can make a tax-deductible donation.