OPINION: Progress being made on veterans cemetery for area
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 5:56 AM
Last year, it was my honor to author a bill that designated southeastern Minnesota as a location for a new veterans cemetery. Rep. Greg Davids, legislators on both sides of the political aisle, local officials from Fillmore county and the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs all contributed to our success.
The National Cemetery Association had concluded in 2008 that southern Minnesota was outside a recommended 75-mile service area for the state's two existing veterans cemeteries, at Fort Snelling in Minneapolis and in Little Falls in central Minnesota. Fillmore County offered 153 acres of beautiful land overlooking the Root River near Preston for a new cemetery.
Final administrative details of the land transfer are being worked out and expected to be complete by the end of April. In the meantime, preliminary environmental, wetland and cultural reviews on the land have been completed, and work will begin shortly on a design of the cemetery, based on engineering and topographical studies of the suitability of the land for this purpose. Once this design is approved, the land will be officially transferred from the county to the state. The full design process will take up to 12 months, followed by 12 to 18 months for construction.
The federal government will reimburse Fillmore County for construction costs, but the state is responsible for ongoing operating costs.
More than 30,000 veterans live within 50 miles of this site, and it will mean a lot to them and their families to know that this nearby spot will be their final resting place. I am proud to be part of honoring our veterans in this way.
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