Memorial Day ceremonies one year from today could be held at the new Iowa Veterans Cemetery. The state broke ground for the Iowa Veterans Cemetery on Veterans Day in November at the 100 acre site on the south side of Interstate 80 near Van Meter. The Executive Director Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs, Pat Palmersheim, says the bids were opened on the project May 1st and have been submitted to the Veterans Administration.
It looks like the project is going to cost seven-point-seven-million dollars, funded by the federal government. He says they have 90 days after the opening of the bids to start construction, so the end of July would be the latest they could start. They’re still waiting for the V-A approval and for the check to be issued. The best case scenario would have Iowans honoring veterans at the new facility by this time next year.
Palmershiem says they’d like to see construction completed by Memorial Day 2008, but a lot depends on the weather and how fast construction can progress. Palmershiem says there’s a great need for the new cemetery. He says there about 276,000 veterans in Iowa, and 92,000 in a 75-mile radius of the cemetery. Palmershiem says you also have to add in the spouses of the veterans who would be eligible to be buried there too.
Palmershiem says the state’s veterans population has decreased, but not very fast because of the current war. About 525 veterans die each year in Iowa. For more information on veterans programs, check out the Iowa V-A website at: www.iowava.org