- Associated Press - Sunday, June 19, 2016

BIRDEYE, Ark. (AP) - Managers of carefully tended to cemetery nestled in the foothills of northeastern Arkansas are facing a dilemma: they have plenty of pristine land for burial plots but a shortage of customers.

Four years after the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery at Birdeye opened, operators of the site say the cemetery remains virtually undiscovered, located in a town that didn’t even make the last U.S Census count.

Four years after opening, 240 veterans and their spouses or dependent children have been buried here. As a comparison, however, Birdeye’s counterpart in central Arkansas buried 580 people last year alone, while operating at less than a quarter of the cost to the state. Arkansas has about 247,900 veterans, according to the VA.

The solution, say some cemetery operators at the Birdeye site, it to advertise, so to speak, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Sunday. (https://bit.ly/1tvynSm ).

“We do recognize that Birdeye is a remote location and many people are not aware that it’s there,” state VA spokesman Sarah Jones. “We are working on getting the word out.” Additionally, the cemetery manager interacts with the community by providing details on the history of the site.



“We are also working on creating new marketing materials,” Jones told the newspaper.

Supervisors here are also trying to explain the appeal of the Birdeye cemetery, like the fact it grows its own sod or uses a solar-powered watering system. Its charm, they say, is also the large, state champion Southern red oak tree that till grows in the southwest corner of the property.

“If we’re not doing interments, we’re out here beautifying,” maintenance supervisor David Ramsey says after stepping off his lawnmower. “That’s what I call it.”

Some of the supervisors predict if current projections hold and a new cemetery isn’t built, Birdeye could end up being the state’s only veterans cemetery with available graves in a few decades.

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