The Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs has received word that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has approved the request for federal funding for the state veterans cemetery. Cemetery director Steve Young says the seven-point-six million dollars will allow the construction to get underway.
Young says the final piece of the process was getting the actual funding in the federal grant, so they can start construction and hope to be able to be open by Memorial Day 2008. The state broke ground for the Iowa Veterans Cemetery on Veterans Day in November at 96 acre site on the south side of Interstate 80 near the Van Meter exit.
He says the money from the federal government will pay for the construction and reimburse the state for some of the up-front costs. The state will then pay for the ongoing operation of the cemetery. Young says they’ll build the cemetery in four phases. The first phase is the entryway, the administration and maintenance buildings, the committal shelter and other grounds — with space for 20 years and a burial capacity of 80-thousand.
Young says they are still taking donations for memorials and another important part of the plan. Young says the grant pays for the construction, but all the memorials and beautification of the cemetery are done with private donations. They’re currently taking donations to build a wall that shows the location of the cemetery from the interstate.
You can get information on the cemetery and donations at: www.iowava.org/vetcemetery . Young says the website will feature a link that will be updated to show the progress of the construction. The website also gives information on who is eligible to be buried in the cemetery.