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1/30/2014 Valley out of running for Fed VA cemetery

                                                   Valley out of running for Fed VA cemetery
Though Custer County was not selected as a location for the establishment of a national Veteran’s Administration cemetery, it may be in the running for a state VA burial ground.
Last year, residents in Custer County learned it had not been chosen as a site for a national VA cemetery. Instead, that distinction went to El Paso County. Regional news revealed that the VA concluded a $4.4 million deal to purchase 374 acres east of the Colorado Springs airport for the national cemetery..
Though Custer County was not selected for the national cemetery site, Charles Bogle, who is part of the Custer County Community Development Cooperation (CCDC), indicates the group is still working on getting a VA cemetery established in the area.
“We lost out on the competition for the national cemetery,” Bogle said. “However, we have applied to the VA State Grant Program to try to get a state VA cemetery in our county.”
The process involves the state applying to the Department of Veteran Affairs to provide six million dollars to build the cemetery. Once that has been done, the cemetery will be turned over to the state to manage and maintain. The only other state VA graveyard is in Grand Junction.
“That one existing cemetery only allows Colorado residents to be buried there,” said Bogle. “If we have a state VA cemetery here, we’d like it to be open to anyone outside Colorado, which will increase burials and bring in more visitors.”
Indeed, Bogle sees a state VA cemetery leading to a significant number of visitors. “In VA cemeteries, funerals are conducted Monday through Friday,” Bogle said. “That would attract plenty of outside people to come into our Valley.”
Bogle stated a state congressional effort is needed to get the state VA cemetery located in Custer County. “First a congressional committee needs to be established, which will determine funding and review competing sites,” said Bogle. “However, at this point no other county has submitted a request, and so Custer County is the only one interested in starting a state VA cemetery.”
To help Custer County’s candidacy for the cemetery, land that is part of the Wolf Springs Ranch has been donated. “Tom Redmond offered to donate 900 acres for the national cemetery,” Bogle stated. “We still have that agreement with him for the state cemetery.”
– Cyn Williams