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Gentry Safari Land Condemned for Power Line Construction

GENTRY, AR-- There's a need for more power in Northwest Arkansas, but it's coming at a cost.
GENTRY, AR-- There's a need for more power in Northwest Arkansas, but it's coming at a cost.

"The power line is coming through Safari Four which is one fourth of our property. AEP Electric has condemned that portion of property for the power line." Co-manager of the family owned business, Leon Wilmouth said.

SWEPCO has declared eminent domain on 100 acres of the Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari in Gentry, also known as Safari Four.

"What they're doing is not more beneficial than what we do," Wilmouth said.

Wilmouth has worked on the Safari since it began about 40 years ago. He never imagined having to go to court to save his second home.

"The process is hoping to move Safari Four at some point,  but right now we don't have any place to move it. we will have to leave the animals there, just the public won't get to see any of them," he said.

Wilmouth said poor planning is the reason.

"If they had gone 300 yards north, and they could have stayed on our property, but the power lines would not have been in the middle of Safari Four, and we could have worked something [out] with them to keep some of that park open."

"Probably next week they're going to come in and set the poles," he said.

After construction is complete, the animals have to be relocated due to USDA regulations.

Wednesday, Wilmouth placed signs in front of the portion of park that will need to closed, urging visitors to make a call to save the park.

"If he won't talk to me, maybe he will hear from the general public with the sign."

For now, details of the litigation between SWEPCO and the Safari have not been released, but for Wilmouth, this fight is for memories more than money.

"There's a large monetary value here but the sentimental value is a lot greater."
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