A Fort Smith citizen who has fought for over 15 years to have Roselawn-Holy Cross Cemetery maintained properly was notified Saturday by an Arkansas state board that his complaints are being addressed, but it may be awhile before an on-site inspection can take place.
Robert McKenzie also received notice from Roselawn-Holy Cross Cemetery ownership that ground maintenance has been limited because of a lack of funds.
The Arkansas State Board of Embalmers, Funeral Directors, Cemeteries, and Burial Services wrote McKenzie an email Saturday in response to his complaint dated April 16. It included an attached response from the cemetery owner, Tommy Fowler, that included a note that the cemeteries are for sale.
"The response does not address your concerns as outlined in your complaint,“ the cemetery board’s email states. ”Staff will address your complaint and the Cemetery’s response with the Board updating them on these issues. We are trying to address, assist and assure the public that their concerns and issues are recognized and under review regarding the Cemetery and Forest Park Cemetery.“
The cemetery board email also said an executive order by Gov. Asa Hutchinson put a moratorium on State of Arkansas employee travel for on-site inspections.
“This prohibition on work-related travel has also impacted our abilities to do a visual inspection of the cemetery at this time,” the board’s email reads. “As quickly as the moratorium is lifted, we will resume our on-site inspections.”
McKenzie expressed further frustration that in the past 16 years since he has fought to get better maintenance of the cemetery he feels now he is simply faced with more “red tape” that he experienced between 2004 and 2007 over these same issues that ended with the previous cemetery board ruling in his favor and ordering the lack of repairs and “fact of abuse” to stop, he wrote.
“Then here we are again like the past never happened,” McKenzie wrote. “Just as amazing is the lack of push back by the majority of the people they are hurting.”
McKenzie also said he still wonders what happened to a two-hour inspection taken last September. An inspector took many photos and said it was “one of the very worse cemetery situations he had seen,” McKenzie noted. The citizen is urging people to come forward to help him form a committee to “get something done here locally.”
McKenzie may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.