A wise person once told me “Don’t complain about something unless you are willing to be part of the solution”. The “Old Leatherman” occupies a special place in the cultural fabric of dozens of communities in our region. The exhumation project is premised on serving the public’s best interests, yet, to my knowledge, there was no public discussion about it until after the court order allowing it to happen was signed, sealed, and delivered. Over a month ago, I reached out to the team, and asked whether any alternative solutions other than the one I was “complaining about” were considered.
The silence has been deafening.
Since I have not yet heard or read that there were any other solutions proposed, I have posted some suggestions based on public feedback. Each suggestion sticks to the issues, acknowledging first and foremost a concern for public safety. Additionally, each also takes into account to varying degrees, the undeniably private manner in which the “Old Leatherman” lived, which was respected by the people of his time. They also acknowledge the modern public’s opinion that he should be afforded that same respect for his privacy in death.
Myself and many others would be more than willing to volunteer our time to help carry out these suggestions. So yes, although there are complaints about the current plans, I(we) are, in turn, offering to be a part of a revised solution which accomplishes all of the original goals- and takes public safety, the Old Leatherman’s life, and the public’s opinion, into consideration.
I fully understand that with a court order in hand, in a legal sense, the team has no obligation to acknowledge the public’s opinions or suggestions, and reconsider some of their proposed actions. However, in the unique case of the “Old Leatherman”, doesn’t common sense indicate that they should?
Here’s my pick for an alternative solution: (See the others here)
“Relocate the headstone and replace it with one with accurate information, in a safer area. The cemetery owners would maintain in perpetuity the actual coordinates of the assumed location of his remains, should “heirs” ever come forward, or the state demand that grave sites must be dug up to widen the road. This option saves money, keeps his remains undisturbed, keeps the legend and his memory alive, corrects misinformation, takes how he lived his life into full consideration, and acknowledges public opinion. Done on its own, it keeps large groups safe at the site of the new marker. It keeps everyone visiting the Sparta Cemetery safer when done in conjunction with the suggestion to close off, and discontinue any use of, the current access road (driveway) to the cemetery and build a stone wall in the southeast corner of the cemetery, providing a quiet, secure, corner where the “paupers row” currently exists (This driveway has been deemed unsafe in a sworn affidavit by a traffic consultant in its current condition and location)