An act of vandalism in which two young men accrued about $50,000 worth of damage at a Vilonia cemetery early Wednesday spurred a community work day of sorts, with as many as 70 volunteers responding at short notice, along with some of Faulkner County’s inmates.
Cypress Valley Cemetery saw 60 to 70 volunteers in a come-and-go fashion Saturday morning, an effort set in place by Maj. Andy Shock of the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office.
“Our goal was to leave the cemetery in better shape than before the vandalism,” Shock said. “And we’ve definitely done that.”
Residents of Mayflower, Vilonia, Conway and Beebe were among those volunteering, along with Faulkner County Sheriff Karl Byrd.
A group of eight Faulkner County inmates worked to repair headstones while supervised by two deputies who volunteered Saturday.
Shock said it was refreshing to see so many young people responding.
“There were around 20 people here under the age of 15, I think,” Shock said. “One man with no ties to this cemetery brought his two young sons, and they worked very hard.”
Overseer Gordon Higgins said everyone worked well together, picking up broken pieces of monuments and doing general maintenance.
Twenty to 30 headstones had to be reconstructed with the help of a volunteer from McGee Monument Co. Inc.
“It absolutely could not have been done without the representative from McGee Monument,” Shock said. “He worked hard with us. He brought a truck with Quikrete and a sealing compound to piece the stones together.”
Higgins said that while the amount of vandalism caused a lot of damage, the community made something good out of it.
“There’s not a doubt in my mind that it’s better than it was before,” Shock said. “General maintenance took place as well.”
Irreparable stones will eventually be replaced by blank markers, Higgins said, and no grave will be left unmarked.
Harps Food Store of Vilonia provided a discounted lunch to volunteers. Several community members supplied food, and Knight’s Super Foods of Beebe provided bottled water.
The two Vilonia residents responsible for the vandalism, males ages 15 and 16, are scheduled to attend a juvenile detention hearing Monday.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)