Caretaker Of Vandalized Van Buren Cemetery To Apply For Preservation Bond

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VAN BUREN (KFSM) – It will cost nearly $10,000 to repair the monuments that were vandalized at a Van Buren cemetery last month, according to Randy Smith, a benefactor of the cemetery.

Five of the 35 monuments vandalized this summer at Fairview Cemetery remain broken in half.

Smith said it will cost about $2,000 each to fix them.

"They were all fairly small monuments. Nothing really, really large, so they're pretty comparative in price,” he said.

Smith said the monuments are from the mid-to-late 1800s; and while he may not know exactly who these people were, two of the monuments that were damaged belong to a husband and wife.

"The stone is a physical representation of that person’s life. If the stone is lost -- like could have happened in this case -- then the story of that person is lost as well. Every monument represents a story and that's why they're so important,” Smith said.

It’s the stories behind each of the five monuments that are inspiring him to write a grant, to make the repairs a reality.

The grant is called the “Option Three Historic Restoration and Preservation Grant,” from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program.

"The cap on these grants is $9,999. We came in $4 shy of that,” he said.

Smith sent pictures of the damage to the Norton Fine Arts Conservation, and found out from co-owner Liz Norton how much the repairs would cost.

"She had no idea what the grant ceiling was. I had no idea what the grant ceiling was. She came in at $9,995, the grant ceiling is $9,999,” he said. “So don't tell me things don't work out the way they're supposed to -- because it was just amazing how all of that just fell in place.”

Smith said the deadline to apply for the grant is Sept. 14, and he will find out in October if they will receive the grant money.

“That grant requires a 20 percent cash match. The very fine people of Van Buren and Crawford County have been donating money since this happened. Right now in my possession, I have the 20 percent match to go with this grant money,” he said.

The Van Buren Police Department said no arrests have been made, but police are following leads on who vandalized the cemetery.