The Iowa Veterans Affairs Commission cemetery committee voted today (Friday) to recommend a piece of land off Interstate 80 near Van Meter as it’s top choice as the site for the new Iowa Veterans’ Cemetery. The committee chose a piece of state property near the Woodward Resource Center as second choice. Both of the sites are in the district of State Representative Ralph Watts, a republican from Adel. He says either of the sites would be “excellent choices.” Watts says the Van Meter site gives access to the interstate, allowing a number of people to visit and honor the veterans. The committee recommendation now goes to Governor Vilsack. Watts says it’s his hope the governor will pick either of the top two sites. Perry and Pella were the third and forth choices of the committee, and they also considered proposals from Earlham, Marshalltown, Newton, and West Des Moines. Watts says it’s important to get the veterans cemetery built. Watts says now more than ever we “need to have those facilities available, and available to the public so they can better appreciate the sacrifice that veterans have made for us.” Federal officials estimate the cemetery will cost $8 million and will be paid for entirely from a federal grant. The land is expected to accommodate burials for about 20 years, with an anticipated 600 burials per year. The Veterans Affairs Commission plans on a groundbreaking ceremony in September of 2006.
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