Tontitown Trees Poisoned by Herbicide

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The Washington County sheriff's office has opened an investigation after they said vandals infected some 100 year-old trees at Harry Sbanotto Park in Tontitown.

City officials blame someone who they said dumped pounds of the deadly herbicide Spike.

Tontitown residents who often spend time at the city’s park are upset someone is responsible for destroying their trees.

"It was really sad to hear that, that somebody would do something to the community," Ivan Longueville said.

City officials estimate around 50 trees are infected. Tontitown Mayor Tommy Granata said the some of the small trees are already dead and the bigger ones are "fighting the chemical."

Granata said they took a closer look at the trees after park visitors in April began asking, “What’s wrong with the trees?”

The city confirmed the presence of the herbicide after sending samples to the Arkansas State Plant Board.

City officials said the person responsible, poisoned the oak trees last fall or winter placing the herbicide at the base. When it rained, the soil soaked up the herbicide traveling to the roots.

"Those will never be replaced. I won't see it happen; I'll never get to look at a tree like that again,” longtime resident Larry Ardemagni said.

According to officials, the chemical evident by the brown and fallen leaves, which isn’t typical for this time of year.

Some residents said they think it might be an act of revenge.

"I thought, 'Why in the world would somebody viciously, vindictively do something to a park as opposed to somebody that they are truly aggravated with?," Ardemagni said.

The city brought in an expert who recommended to leave the trees alone.

“We won’t cut any trees, some might survive, if that fails we might replace some of them,” Granata said.

However, the option is still up in the air since the soil is infected and might kill new trees.

"'s kind of a little town landmark and used quite a bit, so you would want to see it replaced or fixed," said resident Bryan Moore, who lives near the park.

Granata said the expert recently sent the city a recommendation to neutralize the soil but it’s not guaranteed to work.

Granata also said the investigators have visited several stores that sell the herbicide to see if they can trace it to a customer. Police have interviewed several people as they continue working on this case.

Anyone with information should call Northwest Arkansas Crimestoppers at (479) 790-TIPS. You could be eligible for a cash reward and can remain anonymous.