This alert is a continuation of previous articles regarding the federal offenses committed by the Buffalo River National Park Service against the Shaddox Cemetery in Newton County Arkansas.
If you haven’t read about this until now, here are links to past articles:
And we even posted this one back in August 2014:
Sion Shaddox deeded the land to be used for the cemetery. Remember, this cemetery was created BEFORE the Civil War! Some of the earliest Shaddox Cemetery burials were two Civil War soldiers that were killed September 4, 1864. The two soldiers were brothers: one fought for the North, and one fought for the South!
Our articles have apparently drawn the interest of some media outlets in Arkansas. Here’s a link to a recent Democrat Gazette – Arkansas Online article entitled “Fence Fiasco” by Mike Masterson dated 10/16/2016:http://www.arkansasonline.com/
Click the link above to read that editorial for yourself.
Here are some snippets:
“It's difficult to believe no lesser a bureaucracy than the National Park Service chose years ago to engage in what's become a needless and sustained conflict with little Newton County over the location of a Civil War-era graveyard along the Buffalo National River at Pruitt.”
“County Quorum Court members have been upset enough over the expensive and tedious mess to seek help from much of our state's Congressional delegation.”
“At that point, 3rd District Rep. Steve Womack arranged for members of the cemetery board to meet with the Park Service's regional director. It was there the board asked that Cheri be replaced as superintendent. The director also was informed that two cemeteries in Searcy County were having their own difficulties with the agency.”
“Last month, the Park Service sent workers to dismantle the fence. If that in-your-face move was intended as peaceful, I'd say it fell a tad short in the eyes of many across Newton County and beyond.”
“Part of the resolution said the cemetery board was planning to replace the fence without Park Service assistance. Well, OK, I suppose. But seems to me they'd better take care in determining where the post holes are drilled this time.”
And here is our reply to that editorial… so we can set the facts straight.
Dear Mike Masterson,
About your Sunday, October 16, 2016 "Fence Fiasco" editorial regarding Shaddox Cemetery in Newton County, you concluded that story with your comment about "reasonable minds" should have ”measured twice and fenced once"… and they did! The National Park Service had the flag markers placed! Your readers need to hear both sides of the story and be given the true and documented facts from you about this issue instead of the errors you accidently quoted in that editorial. And we’re hoping you’ll make your corrections very soon.
We at Secure Arkansas have been diligent to search out the documented facts in this case and have been reporting this matter for quite some time now. We invite you to look at and report those facts as well that you will find at SecureArkansas.com on our website. Just use the search box and type in “Shaddox Cemetery”.
To mention just a few of the errors in your October 16, 2016 article, we list them here, making it clear that this is only a partial listing:
That Shaddox Cemetery Association (SCA) fence was completed in August 2009 – more than seven (7) years ago, not five years ago as you and other news sources have mistakenly reported. (See the Harrison Daily Times errors here: Sept 15, 2016 article and Oct 8, 2016 article) The elk damage had been going on for quite some time before the fence was built, and the National Park Service (NPS) began complaining about the location of the fence as soon as it was built in 2009… even though NPS had flagged the line for the contractor to erect the fence along — supposedly according to one of two surveys obtained by SCA. Later surveys in 2010 and 2014 revealed in some places the fence was "over the line" on federally-managed territory by a few feet in some places and only a few inches in other places… all total, 2/10 of an acre. It is now believed by Shaddox Cemetery Association (SCA) that NPS purposely flagged the line in the WRONG place so they could, after the fence was built, claim land inside the fence so NPS could put an NPS lock on the SCA gate and issue SCA a sneaky “special use permit”, to use their own cemetery, as NPS repeatedly tried to get SCA to do before they finally tore down the fence, when SCA kept refusing the underhanded "special use permit", etc. That belief is supported by several NPS tactics — too numerous to list here — that have transpired in the last 7 years. If you want the WHOLE story, we or SCA can supply plenty of documentation which your October 16, 2016 editorial is lacking.
SCA has never contended that it was an elk-proof fence but an elk-resistant fence, because elk are so big they could jump the fence, BUT it has proven to be elk-resistant in the last seven years, because the elk damage to the tombstones and graves ceased upon completion of the fence that is/was too strong for them to push over. Now, since the unwarranted demolition and seizure of the fence material by Park Supt. Kevin Cheri's orders, the cemetery is unprotected again from the elk until SCA can manage to rebuild the fence.
Also, that fence was in excess of 1,400 feet in length, not only 1,000 feet as you reported. Cheri's contractors destroyed and seized / removed more than 1,100 feet of it to federally managed territory at the Pruitt maintenance shop.
Senator Boozman himself, in person, actually visited the cemetery in 2013 and the Newton County Courthouse to address the issue, promising all kinds of help to not stop UNTIL the matter was resolved. You only reported that his staff had been there. Congressman Womack was involved for a while, but his presence was more Park-friendly than Cemetery-friendly, except for the time he was quoted as saying that the exorbitant "fines had gone away" that the Park had assessed against the cemetery. (Just one of those fines was $77,000.) However, he never required the Park to provide in writing that they had withdrawn the horrific, unjustified, and unsubstantiated fines they had written against the cemetery association.
Senator Pryor's staff was the most consistently and effectively helpful, but unfortunately at the most critical time of his help, Senator Pryor lost the election. Senator Cotton's staff promised help during his campaign, BUT once he was in office, his staff ignored the SCA plight and refused to respond to requests for his assistance. And neither they nor the Senator responded to any of the full documentation that SCA sent to Senator Cotton.
Mike Masterson, WHY are you mentioning the Cemetery Association regarding where they drill the post holes for the new fence that they intend to build? They are begging, along with the support of the Newton County Quorum Court, to have the Congressmen certify the PROPER LINE so the NEXT fence will not be torn down again by the unscrupulous Park Service. The impending winter weather makes their need to get this fence started imperative — immediately! The question that needs to be asked is WHY the congressional offices are now, in essence, telling callers to their offices that they will not get involved to grant the Newton County Quorum Court request and preserve the peace for the future of the new fence and the Cemetery Association members, by requiring the Park to show where they insist that the line should be according to the surveys!
There are plenty of other questionable implications, etc. that you make in the October 16, 2016 "Fence Fiasco" editorial, but that will have to be enough for now.
Secure Arkansas' following TIMELINE of the Shaddox Cemetery Association events will help address those and other matters. PLEASE READ ON…
Shaddox Cemetery Timeline
URGENT UPDATE – PERTAINING TO MORE FEDERAL OFFENSES
AGAINST SHADDOX CEMETERY IN NEWTON COUNTY:
Read the whole story in our previous posts……about how the National Park Service (NPS) has destroyed and confiscated more than 1,000 feet of strong iron pipe-rail fence protecting a beautiful 2 ½ acre historic, well-maintained and still-active privately-owned cemetery near Jasper in Newton County, Arkansas. Presently, the cut and twisted pipe rails, having been reduced to scrap, have been piled up and are being held on federal property at the Pruitt Maintenance Shop in plain visible sight for the public to see.
August 25, 2016 at 3:17 pm: Email to Shaddox Cemetery Association from Deputy Supt. Laura Miller of Buffalo National River (BNR), Harrison, Arkansas office. This email reveals that BNR was STILL ignoring the “minor boundary revision” solution proposed by Shaddox Cemetery Association (SCA), which solution is spelled out in the enabling legislation of the creation of the Buffalo National River and was supported by evidence documents of 3 other much larger “minor boundary revisions” that had already been done by BNR in the same general area; yet NPS kept ignoring this simple, inexpensive, and beneficial solution which could have saved thousands of dollars of taxpayer funds, staff time, and and destruction of the privately owned $20,000 fence. AND SADLY, our congressmen never required NPS to submit to this lawful “minor boundary revision” solution. Instead, that email was the last communication from NPS “offering” to get a signed agreement from SCA before September 2, 2016, which SCA sees as an entrapment for NPS to gain control of the cemetery through a “special use permit”, which a multitude of documents reveal has been NPS’ goal for a long time.
Shortly thereafter, Sen. Boozman and Congr. Womack were notified of that email, both offices of which refused to follow through on the “minor boundary revision” provisions of the enabling legislation, and instead allowed NPS to proceed with their unjustified destruction and seizure of private property, which had then been in place more than seven years. The fence and gates were plainly marked with warnings against unlawful removal of them. No warrant was ever issued in the destruction of the fence! Shaddox Cemetery Association contends that NPS acted unadvisedly and unlawfully in that September 12th and 13th, 2016 demolition and seizure, and sadly, with which the congressmen and law enforcement agents are complicit in the crime as they did nothing to stop it— even though they had full disclosure and notification of all the facts.
Even though the local Sheriff had been notified of the threat and had given promise of intervention, the Sheriff left town on the day of the destruction, and the deputies who came to the scene of the crime were reportedly only there to keep the peace as the crime was occurring.
Monday and Tuesday, September 12, and 13, 2016: Contractors hired by NPS took two days with heavy equipment to remove the more than 1,100 feet of the approximately 1,400 foot fence. While the travesty was transpiring, the Shaddox Cemetery Association delivered an affidavit of notification of the incident and request for intervention to the Newton County Sheriff’s office. It was ignored and temporarily refused to be filed by that office.
Friday, September 16, 2016: A member of the Shaddox Cemetery Association, at his own expense and staying well inside the “accepted boundary”, erected 4 metal fence posts at 4 locations along the cemetery boundary and hung PRIVATE PROPERTY signs on the posts. The devastated members of the Shaddox Cemetery, in disbelief that the congressmen and law enforcement had allowed the crime to proceed with members of the public and the media observing, have begun making plans to somehow raise funds to begin the rebuilding of the fence as soon as possible – to protect the graves from future elk damage AND to make it clear that it is still PRIVATE PROPERTY, even though it is surrounded by public land of the Buffalo National River, agents of which will apparently stop at nothing to gain control of the 2 ½ acre private Shaddox Cemetery.
Monday, October 3, 2016: The Newton County Quorum Court passed an official Resolution that was read by Arlis Jones (CLICK HERE to watch the video!) and sent it as a request to the U.S. Congressional delegation for their official action to get a certified line marked for the erection of a new fence SO THAT THE BNR/NPS CANNOT IN THE FUTURE COME BACK AGAIN TO TEAR DOWN ANOTHER FENCE THAT THE CEMETERY ASSOCIATION WILL BUILD! (As of this date, none of the congressmen have responded, and calls from the public to their offices are met with negative answers! WHAT IS WRONG WITH OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS who will not even try to prevent future problems of this magnitude?!) Contact information for their offices is provided below. (After you watch the video, another one with Lois Willard should play immediately afterward. BE SURE TO WATCH that one as well. Here’s the link if you need it:https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Thursday, October 6, 2016: An SCA member took his turn to check on the cemetery for elk intrusion or other damage. Everything seemed to be in order, including the 4 metal corner posts with PRIVATE PROPERTY signs which had been placed Friday, September 16, 2016 after the heavy-duty pipe-rail fence had been destroyed and seized three days earlier.
*Friday, October 7, 2016: The 4 metal fence posts with the 4 PRIVATE PROPERTY signs on them had been removed and stolen, as was discovered by another SCA member while he was taking his turn to check the cemetery! A report was made to the local Sheriff’s office.
Saturday, October 8, 2016: 4 more metal fence posts were re-erected with 4 PRIVATE PROPERTY signs attached. Hidden cameras were placed and activated. SCA members continued taking turns to make regular visits to the cemetery to check for damage.
*Thursday, October 13, 2016: The SECOND set of 4 metal fence posts erected with 4 PRIVATE PROPERTY signs were discovered stolen! An SCA member had discovered the theft on Thursday afternoon, October 13, 2016. Report to the Sheriff’s office is pending.
Friday, October 14, 2016: A member of the public reports speaking with the offices of Senators Boozman and Cotton and Congr. Womack to inform them of the above information which is circulating among the public but has not heretofore been released to the media. It is apparently unknown at this point whether the congressmen plan to protect the public and private citizens’ interests in this historic cemetery by responding to the Newton County Quorum Court’s official request for them to require certification for the remarking of a fence line that CANNOT in the future be challenged or destroyed by the National Park Service.
WHY WOULD OUR CONGRESSMEN NOT WANT TO PROTECT THE PEACE OF THE PUBLIC AND OF PRIVATE CITIZENS IN THIS MATTER IN WHICH A BUREAUCRATIC AGENCY HAS WAY OVERSTEPPED THEIR PURPOSE AND AUTHORITY TO HARASS PRIVATE CITIZENS AND DAMAGE THEIR PRIVATE PROPERTY?! The Department of the Interior, under which the National Park Service of the Buffalo National River operates, is subject to action by congressional committees charged with the oversight of such errant activities.
Action: The public is urged to contact the offices of these congressmen and the governor and demand intervention by certifying the new boundary line for the new fence for the Shaddox Cemetery because such rampant and arrogant offenses against the private sector by our own government endangers us all!
(Sen. Boozman has actually visited the cemetery and sent representatives since. Whenever SCA could actually get his personal attention, he was helpful, but in recent months, it is evident to SCA that he is not being informed by his staff of critical information that SCA has attempted to get to him. His September 23, 2015 letter to the regional NPS office to provide legal written analysis of the “minor boundary revision” proposal to settle the matter was the last contact SCA had from the Senator directly. Since then, his staff has refused help for the cemetery, has misrepresented the issue to the public, and has refused to follow through by requiring the legal analysis of the “minor boundary revision” for which Senator Boozman asked.)
U.S. Senator Cotton’s office: Patricia Herring in El Dorado: 870-864-8582
(His predecessor, Senator Pryor, was very instrumental in helping the Shaddox Cemetery Association against the federal harassment, through his staff member, Kelvin Stroud. Senator Cotton’s staff promised help during his campaign, but once in office, his staff has been very negative toward the cemetery issue and has never even responded to SCA about the documentation they sent or their requests for his assistance.)
(His staff refused to address the enabling legislation provision for a “minor boundary revision” apparently to please Park Supt. Kevin Cheri. He showed little respect for the cemetery from the beginning of the issue. It is reported now, however, that he seems troubled that the Park so arrogantly destroyed the fence and took it to federal property, as he understood that they would immediately replace it in the right place, just a few feet and, in some places, just a few inches from where it originally stood.)
HOW CAN ANY OF THE CONGRESSMEN HOLD THEIR HEADS UP OVER THE DESTRUCTION OF A $20,000 PRIVATE CEMETERY FENCE THAT THEY HAD THE POWER TO PREVENT? DO THEY CARE ENOUGH TO MAKE THE EFFORT TO PREVENT IT FROM HAPPENING AGAIN, AS THE NEWTON COUNTY QUORUM COURT HAS REQUESTED THEY DO?
WHY DOESN’T THE GOVERNOR EXERCISE HIS CONSTITUTIONALLY-EMPOWERED “SUPREME EXECUTIVE AUTHORITY” TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE CITIZENS IN THIS MATTER?
Further Points of Interest:
About the same time that Senator Boozman sent a letter (September 23rd, 2015) to the Regional Office requesting an official “written, legal analysis” of the “minor boundary revision” proposal which SCA had submitted to the Congressmen, also a week later on September 30th, 2015, SCA received an official letter from Governor Hutchinson confirming that he was “working with Senator Boozman’s office concerning this issue.”
However, by December 2015, Boozman’s staff had changed their stance and dropped their efforts to require NPS to provide an official “written, legal analysis.” And apparently, the Governor’s office never followed through concerning the “minor boundary revision” to “work” with Senator Boozman on this issue, as announced in the Governor’s September 30, 2015 letter to SCA.
Both letters are shown below as evidence. What’s changed Boozman's and Hutchinson's minds since last year?
Whom do you suppose in federal power or in campaign management has the influence to cause both U.S. Senator Boozman and Governor Hutchinson to “back off” and just let the feds destroy sacred private property in such a high-handed fashion? And now, their office staffs are telling the public who call them that they are not willing to get involved by officially marking the boundary line for the new fence so that there can be no misunderstanding when the new fence gets built.
Remember, SCA needs to get that fence rebuilt before bad winter weather sets in this year!
If they allow SCA to proceed to build just by guessing at the line, and NPS tears it down again — because the Congressmen were unwilling to “get involved” — does that make our Senators, our Representatives, and our Governor liable for damage and guilty of nonfeasance?
Remember to call the contact numbers above to support the Shaddox Cemetery! And stay tuned.. This is all about property rights.
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Securing the blessings of liberty,