SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Every day brings us one step closer to South Dakota’s first State Veterans Cemetery.
The cemetery will be located to the northeast of where Interstates 90 and 229 meet. The state is currently working with Journey Construction to finalize budgets that will then be turned in to the National Cemetery Administration.
“The Veterans are excited about this. I field many calls every day asking when it’s going to be completed,” Terry Paulsen said.
Paulsen is president of the South Dakota Veterans Council. A veteran himself, he can’t wait to see a State Veterans Cemetery right here on what is now 60 acres of state-owned land.
“On a fitting occasion as today, the 75th anniversary of D-Day, been watching that coverage and the cemeteries they’ve shown over there. That’s what we’re expecting here,” Paulsen said.
“We’ve pretty much narrowed down the design. So we’re pretty much at 100-percent design completion,” Aaron Pollard said.
Pollard is the Deputy Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs. He is working with Journey Construction to come up with a guaranteed maximum price for the cemetery.
“Just hone in on the numbers for the project so that way we’re on budget and that way we can submit the bids to the National Cemetery Administration to get the final approval for the grant,” Pollard said.
That grant will cover the roughly $5.5 million needed for construction. If all goes well, there could be a groundbreaking in late fall.
Ken Teunissen is the chairman of the cemetery’s endowment fund which will help offset maintenance costs for the grounds.
“I think it will be an awesome place. I think it should have been done a long time ago and now that it’s coming, I’m glad to see it. For the future generations, it will be awesome for the younger Veterans as yourself. It will be here for them. The World War II and the Korean Veterans, it’s too late for some of them but some of them not,” Teunissen said.
For those who do end up here, it will be a great honor and a peaceful resting place.
Local businesses are chipping in to raise money for the cemetery’s endowment fund. Nyberg’s Ace in Sioux Falls rounded up this past May and raised more than $15,000.
If a groundbreaking takes place this fall, Pollard says a new state Veterans cemetery would open 12-18 months after that.