You Ask, We Investigate: Citizens concerned about maintenance at Fort Smith cemetery

You Ask, We Answer

Questions raised over the maintenance of Oak Cemetery in Fort Smith

FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA) —  In this week’s ‘You Ask, We Investigate’ report, KNWA’s Katelynn Zoellner looked into whether or not maintenance is being kept up at a cemetery in Fort Smith.

Paula Hanson’s son Caleb is buried at Oak Cemetery in Fort Smith.

“In January of this year, we lost our 27-year-old son unexpectedly,” she said. “Oak Cemetery stuck in our mind, because they have baseball fields nearby. And, my son, played a lot of sports.”

Hanson visits the her son’s grave several times every week. She said the city is not maintaining the cemetery.

“It’s not a matter of maintaining his grave, it’s just the surroundings,” she said. “They just look run down and it’s been shabby. I don’t know the last time they mowed. I don’t know that they’ve mowed this summer.”

Carl Geffken, city administrator in Fort Smith, said there are two reasons for the current conditions at the cemetery. There has been a decrease in people working for the parks department. Also, there was a large amount of rain in the spring.

“This is a rather unfortunate condition that occurs,” he said. “When we receive an incredible amount of rain there are certain parts of Oak Cemetery that can not be mowed, it’s too muddy.”

Geffken said the parks department will strive to maintain the grass at the cemetery through the fall.

“We are really sorry to anyone who has loved ones buried,” he said. “We are always willing to listen to anyone who especially has loved ones buried there. We understand how this can upset them and that’s the last thing we want to have happen.”

If there’s something you want to know about in your community, we want to investigate it. You can send your questions to Katelynn at KZoellner@knwa.com.

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