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New Grand Island veterans cemetery project on hold

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 8:56 PM CDT|Updated: 18 hours ago
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Plans for a new state veterans cemetery in Grand Island has hit a speed bump. The four-month long attempt at getting the down payment was a success but to get additional funding has proven to be a bigger challenge.

The Hall County Hero Flight Association, who is spearheading this project, was waiting to get additional funding.

They were getting help by the Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs, who is working with the committee and submitted a grant application to the National Cemetery Administration’s Veterans Cemetery Grants Program.

The project, which happened to be number one on the list for new cemeteries, was still 16th in comparison to other priorities for the department. Only, the top 12 on the NCA’s list received funding.

Hall County Commissioner Chair Pam Lancaster said this is the first time in 24 years there hasn’t been funds set aside by the federal government for new cemeteries. She said they’ll just have to wait for funding next year.

“We will be funded as soon as there is money available,” Lancaster said. “Just for whatever reason, that portion of the budget was cut this year and so like I said, we’ll just keep our fingers crossed and say a few prayers that by next year that funding will be there.”

They were able to get $750,000 for the down payment in only four months, which to Lancaster was a huge accomplishment.

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Lancaster said. “We’re very proud of the community and what they were able to accomplish, raising the money, being number one on the list but the difficult part is, we’re going to have to wait until the funding comes available next year.”

“It’s a disappointment,” Lancaster said. “It is because we were hoping to start construction very, very soon but on the other hand to know that our application’s number one, at the federal lever, it’s a huge relief.”

Lancaster said they are the first on the waitlist and the moment the state gets funds, they’ll be the first ones to get it. Until then, they’re looking to raise money for additional features the state won’t cover. They would like to add a bell tower and a monument to honor veterans.

To donate, call Don Shuda from the Veterans Service Office at 308.385.5065.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article said the Nebraska Department of Veteran Affairs didn’t have enough money in their budget for the project. That was incorrect, the department was assisting with the grant application to the federal government.

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