The groundbreaking for the U.S. Marshals Museum will take place on Sept. 24 at the intersection of H Street and Riverfront Drive in Fort Smith, Ark. Following the groundbreaking is a community cookout for everyone attending the ceremony. A group of Fort Smith companies will be onsite preparing and serving a wide range of lunch entrées. Supporting companies include Arvest Bank, First National Bank, Bancorp South, Harry Robinson Buick, Golden Corral, OK Foods, Goody’s and the Coca Cola Bottling Company.
FORT SMITH, Ark. – Ground will be broken on September 24 for the U.S. Marshals Museum in the western Arkansas city chosen as its home because of its storied history with the longstanding law enforcement agency. The groundbreaking launches the first phase of the project, which includes architectural and exhibit design and site preparation.
This date also marks the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Marshals Service, the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency. The Service selected Fort Smith in 2007 as the site for the museum because its history is closely linked to the iconic frontier lawmen. The museum will serve as a national center to educate visitors on the past and present roles of the U.S. Marshals Service and inspire visitors with stories of their service and sacrifice since our nation’s founding.
U.S. Senators Mark Pryor and John Boozman, U.S. Congressman Steve Womack, Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe and U.S. Marshals Service Director Stacia Hylton will be on hand for the formal program. Other dignitaries expected to attend include Principal Chief George Tiger, president of the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes; Louis McKinney, president of the U.S. Marshals Service Association; Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders; Judge Jim Spears, chairman of the U.S. Marshals Museum board of directors; and Robert Young, chairman of the U.S. Marshals Museum Foundation. John Farrell of Forfeiture Support Associates, the lead event sponsor, will also be on the program.
Fort Smith’s history is teeming with stories of the U.S. Marshals and their exploits on the American frontier when what is now the Oklahoma state line was the border with Indian Territory. More than 100 marshals are buried within a 50-mile radius, making Fort Smith one of the most revered places in the Service’s long history.
The U.S. Marshals have become part of America’s folklore and imagination. But they are more than the Rooster Cogburns, Sam Gerards and Raylan Givens of America’s real and fictional past. They are part of the day-to-day law enforcement in America, and abroad, and they have played a significant part in American history of the 20th Century as well.
The museum will be designed to educate visitors on the contributions of the marshals and deputy marshals from its founding in 1789 until now.
“The U.S. Marshals are a vital part of our pioneering past,” said Jim Dunn, president and CEO of the U.S. Marshals Museum. “They played a central role in the rule of law as our nation grew to its present borders. But they were also a key in the battle for Civil Rights in the mid-twentieth century, and they currently help keep our citizens safe while working with other law enforcement agencies and other countries to securely extradite and return fugitives to custody.”
Plans for the museum include:
-Three main galleries with 20,000 square feet of exhibition space
-Education areas with exhibits designed for discovery-based learning
-Theater space for films about the U.S. Marshals Service
-Interactive exhibits for all ages
-Incorporation of the area’s scenery, including the Arkansas River, into the museum experience
-The Hall of Honor to memorialize U.S. Marshals killed in the line of duty
-Community meeting space and class areas
-Space for temporary and traveling exhibitions, and
-A museum gift shop
The groundbreaking ceremony sponsors include Forfeiture Support Associates, Corrections Corporation of America, AKAL Security, Inc., First National Bank of Fort Smith and Verizon.
The groundbreaking ceremony will also showcase the United States Marshals Service 225th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Program gold, silver and clad coins. Earlier this summer, the United States Mint unveiled three commemorative coin designs and will make them available for purchase in limited quantities in early 2015. The U.S. Marshals Museum is authorized to receive the first $5 million in surcharges from the sale of the coins. Additional surcharges are authorized to be paid to three other recipient organizations: the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.