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$4.47 Million grant awarded to state for Veterans Memorial Cemetery expansion

Veterans Memorial Cemetery is getting close to receiving a promised $4.47 million grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Ceremony Grant Service.

A ceremony had originally been slated for Monday at the cemetery, located on Maryland Avenue along the North Little Rock-Sherwood border, but the event was canceled due to an “unexpected administrative issue,” said Kelly Ferguson, Public Affairs Officer for the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs.

“The event will be rescheduled at a more convenient time, pending coordination with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Cemetery Grant Service and the Office of the Governor,” she said.

Tom Paquelet, a project manager and architect with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Cemetery Grant Service, announced the award of the grant funding.

The ADVA was awarded the grant by the National Cemetery Administration to develop approximately nine acres at the North Little Rock cemetery and allow the construction of 3,800 pre-placed crypts, 1,000 single interment areas, a memorial wall, roadways, irrigation and supportive infrastructure.

“The ADVA is proud to have this opportunity to improve our state Veterans cemetery at North Little Rock,” said ADVA Director Alicia “Cissy” Rucker. “We also appreciate the added bonus of hiring local companies for the designated projects. But most importantly, we want to do our best to honor our Veterans by continuing to seek ways to improve our state cemeteries.”

The Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery at North Little Rock averages 48 interments a month, and has completed 5,495 of all types since its dedication on Nov. 11, 2001.

“Our capabilities for interment after expansion will be significantly increased,” said Cemetery Manager Bill Wussick. “Also, in an effort to better use our resources, the grant allows us to enhance our lake and catchment areas for irrigation purposes.”

In 2012, the North Little Rock cemetery received a $1.1 million grant for raising, realigning and cleaning headstones, turf rehabilitation and the construction of 720 columbarium niches.

“This is an ongoing partnership with VA to help take care of our Veterans,” Wussick said.

The ADVA also oversees the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery at Birdeye, which was dedicated in 2010.

VA’s Veterans Cemetery Grants Program is designed to complement VA’s 131 national cemeteries across the country. Since 1980, the program has awarded grants totaling more than $483 million to establish, expand, improve, operate and maintain 87 Veterans cemeteries in 41 states and territories including tribal trust lands, Guam, and Saipan.

Veterans with a discharge issued under conditions other than dishonorable who have completed a period of active duty service as required by law, their spouses and eligible dependent children may be buried in either state Veterans cemetery in Arkansas. For more information about Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery at North Little Rock, call (501) 683-2259 or visit http://www.veterans.arkansas.gov.4

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