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Archive for Thursday, August 7, 2003

Second state veterans’ cemetery under way

Demand for plots expected to be high at new WaKeeney burial ground

August 7, 2003

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— The state's cemetery projects director expects a big demand for plots at a new veterans' cemetery being constructed in WaKeeney.

Dirt work and construction of buildings began last month on the second of four veterans' cemeteries planned across the state. The first 12 acres of the 24-acre Wakeeney cemetery are expected to be finished sometime between January and March, depending on the weather.

"We look for the business to be really good," said Kafer Peele, the state's cemetery program director. "I don't know of a better way to put it."

Burial at veterans' cemeteries is free and limited to veterans, their spouses and, in some cases, their children. The families must pay the funeral home costs, including the price of the casket.

Besides WaKeeney, the state is constructing veterans' cemeteries in Fort Riley and Winfield. A cemetery in Fort Dodge opened in December.

The first phase of the WaKeeney project will include construction of an administration building, maintenance shop, interment shelter and columbarium wall, which is a place for storage of urns containing human ashes.

The site also will include a flag plaza that will include a flag that was a gift from former Lt. Gov. Gary Sherrer. He attended the groundbreaking ceremony last fall and presented local officials with a Kansas flag that had flown over the state Capitol.

Those first 12 acres are expected to accommodate veterans and their spouses for about 10 years. After that, Peele said, the cemetery will apply for another federal grant to pay for developing the rest of the cemetery land.

Peele said turnout at that September event showed how important the cemetery was to the northeast Kansas community. More than 200 people were invited, but at least twice that many showed up.

The cemetery will be able to accommodate 2,136 burials. That includes 1,566 plots for full caskets, 250 plots for burial of ashes and 320 niches for containers of ashes in the columbarium.

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