- Associated Press - Saturday, June 14, 2014

RAYVILLE, La. (AP) - Preliminary design plans are in place for the new Northeast Louisiana Veterans Cemetery which will be built near Rayville in Richland Parish.

“I am excited about the progress on the Northeast Louisiana Veterans Cemetery project,” said David LaCerte, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs.

“I know our veterans and their families are eager to see this new cemetery become a reality, and I’m pleased to report that we are one step closer to finalizing the design plans for what will be a beautiful final resting place for our honored heroes,” he said.

The News-Star reported (http://tnsne.ws/SIeWDe) that in fall 2013, the federal Department of Veterans Affairs approved spending up to $10 million for the cemetery after about a decade of lobbying by authorities in Louisiana.

State Sen. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, and state Rep. Bubba Chaney, R-Rayville, got a look at the preliminary design recently.

“This is going to be a tremendous project that honors our own fighting men and women in our region,” Thompson said.

Thompson and Chaney said a special feature of the cemetery will be a reflecting pond.

“It’s going to be a beautiful site and perfect location,” Chaney said.

The 50-acre site, which was donated by the Franklin family, is near Interstate 20 off U.S. Highway 425 and Louisiana Highway 137. Up to 35,000 veterans could be buried there.

Louisiana’s state veterans cemeteries are often described as “mini-Arlingtons,” referring to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

They have similar features and employ a staff of 10-15. Once the federal agency pays for planning and construction, the state assumes the operating expense.

The Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs operates two other cemeteries: the Northwest Louisiana Veterans Cemetery in Keithville and Central Louisiana Veterans Cemetery near Fort Polk.

Robin Keller, spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs, said once plans are approved by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs construction will take about 18 months.

“We’re hoping construction can begin late this year or early next year,” she said.

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Information from: The News-Star, http://www.thenewsstar.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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