Dayton Pushes for State Veteran Cemetery

Posted at: 01/24/2013 6:43 PM
Updated at: 01/24/2013 6:50 PM
By: Jenna Lohse

(ABC 6 News) -- Over 40,000 veterans are currently living within 80 miles of the community of Preston. Now, they are one step closer of getting a veterans cemetery in their back yard.

Earlier this year, Governor Mark Dayton proposed spending nearly half a million dollars in order to build the cemetery.

While the operating costs are taken care of, there's still the 8 to 10 million dollars in construction costs to think about. This money is expected to come from the federal government and plans have already been sent to Washington for initial review.

"I just look out here and envision it with, you know when you drive by Fort Snelling you see the white markers and stuff," said Jason Marquardt, Fillmore County Veterans Service Officer.

A vision is just about all there is to hold onto at the moment.

"I know they're talking this being a general area where everyone can meet and then out in here they are going to make it so there's the graves and the roads," said Marquardt.

"We have approximately two and a half miles of planned roads inside this hundred and fifty acre site," said Fillmore County Commissioner Chuck Amunrud.

Amunrud says there's a good chance of this vision coming to life.

"There are 10 expansion projects funded by the federal government for existing cemeteries being that we are 11 we are the new first cemetery to be built," said Amunrud

Which means the proposed veterans cemetery in Fillmore County is now at the top of the list.

"The Veterans Affairs Department in Washington wants to use us as the model for all new cemeteries being built for veterans in the United States," said Amunrud.

Bryan Meek is a specialist for the Army National Guard.

"This small town kind of reaching together, I think it's pretty neat that they brought it to the next level of helping," said Meek.

"Each step of the process gets us one step closer to having this cemetery in this beautiful location," said Marquardt.

A location close to home is what many find important.

"If I was going to be buried in a veterans cemetery up in the cities that it's just too far away," said Meek.

"Being buried here in Fillmore County, where my wife or my children or my grandchildren can come see me, that makes perfect sense to me too," said Marquardt.

Final plans for the cemetery will be submitted to Washington D.C. this May. If all goes as planned, construction could start sometime this fall.