Grand Island Senator Asks Millions For Veterans Cemetery

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (Nebraska) — About 1,400 headstones now stand in the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Cemetery on Grand Island, but if LB80 passes through the Legislature the cemetery would be the final resting place for tens of thousands of veterans.

The renewed push to expand the cemetery at the corner of Webb Road and Capital Avenue began with the disappointment of overdue federal funds.

“Last year we were number one on the VA list for priority funding, this year we are number three, Oklahoma and Texas are ahead of us,” said Don Shuda, veteran service officer at the VA. Hall county. “The state of New Mexico has been waiting for federal funds for 10 years. There are some places in California that last longer than seven years. Waiting another 10 years, the cost of this cemetery will be two, two and a half times what it is today.”

Enter Senator Ray Aguilar who proposed LB80. He thinks he’s found an $8 million solution.

“We found out that there is a veterans fund out there that has $58 million in it,” Senator Aguilar said. “It’s basically for emergencies for veterans if they need a little help. So, since it’s there to help veterans, we figured why not use it for maximum help.

Mike Ponte, an advocate for LB80, is working with other Hall County officials to get the project started and knows people are anxiously waiting for the cemetery to be finished.

“We now have veterans who have lost their spouses and have been cremated and are holding urns until this cemetery is finished,” Ponte said.

Hall County Commissioner Gary Quandt told Local4 News that LB80 is a matter of honor for those who have served.

“They have served their country well and we have to honor them, they shouldn’t have to wait 10, 15 years just to have a cemetery,” Quandt said.

Shuda said the LB80 will be submitted to the Appropriations Committee on Feb. 28.

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