Slidell — Land-clearing work has begun on Louisiana’s newest veteran’s cemetery, which will be located on property donated by the Louisiana National Guard at Camp Villere near Slidell, and burials will take place there by the end of 2013 or early 2014.
The cemetery is designed to meet the needs of 100,000 veterans and their families.
The Department of Veterans Affairs gave the state official notification last week of an $8.3 million grant to build the cemetery, which will be the third operated by the Louisiana Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
The money will be used to build the cemetery’s main entrance, roads, a combined administration and public information center, a maintenance facility and an assembly area as well as gravesites for casketed burials cremains, memorial and scatter burial areas and crypts and other features.
The project will include 2,579 preplaced crypts, 273 cremains gravesites and 480 columbaria niches.
The Louisiana National Guard donated 75 acres for the cemetery, which will be located northwest of Slidell on South Perimeter Road.
It will be visible from Interstate 12 with the main entrance just outside the gates of Camp Villere. The first phase will be built on 21 acres, according to the state Departments of Veterans Affairs.
Robin Keller, press secretary for the department, said that when Lane Carson took office as secretary of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs in 2002, he set a goal of having a veterans cemetery in each region of the state. The Northwest Louisiana Veterans Cemetery is located in Keithville, south of Shreveport, and the Central Louisiana Veterans Cemetery is just outside For Polk in Leesville. Carson is continuing to work on getting cemeteries for northeast and southwest Louisiana, she said.
Veterans of the armed services, their spouses and dependent children are eligible for burial in the cemetery, she said. The cost of the gravesite and the head stone are covered by the VA, she said.
The construction bid for the cemetery was awarded to Select Building Systems Construction. Meyer Engineering LTD was previously awarded the contract for architectural and engineering services.
An official groundbreaking ceremony will be held in December, Keller said. Ground-clearing and other preliminary work began last month.
The grant program is designed to complement the VA’s 131 national cemeteries across the country, according to Department of Veterans Affairs.