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Veterans’ cemetery coming to Wayne Co. during 2015

Eli Panee, cemetery program manager with the North Carolina Division of Veterans Affairs, said that while the plan for a veterans cemetery off U.S. 70 have changed, plans for the 73-acre complex could be completed in about 10 months. (Staff photo by MICHAEL JAENICKE)
By Michael Jaenicke
Staff Writer
Wayne County should have a cemetery for veterans in 2015, according to Eli Panee, cemetery program manager with the North Carolina Division of Veterans Affairs.
Panee said the new graveyard, which would be located on Long’s Plant Farm Road, just off U.S. 70 in Goldsboro, would be called the Eastern Carolina State Veterans Cemetery.
Panee said that while blueprint plans have changed periodically, final drawings have been completed and received the OK by nearly every sanctioning organization.
“We expect to have a pre-bid conference by July 15, and take bids by the end of the month or the first week of August,” Panee said to the Wayne County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday. “We’re moving along very quickly.”
The project could start in September and is expected to take 10 months to complete.
SfL+a Architects were hired in February. The company has submitted four plans to the State Cemetery Grants Office. Each time, they have made revisions. Other offices the plan had to clear were the U.S. Division of Veterans Affairs Memorial Affairs Construction Section, State Cemetery Grants Office, State Construction Office, and the Department of Insurance.
The North Carolina Legislature appropriated $600,000 for the project, which has a price tag of between $4 and $4.5 million. The state received a $6 million grant from the national Veterans Cemetery Grant Servicing Agency.
“You were one of 15 states fighting for money for veterans' cemeteries,” Panee said. “The artist’s rendering has changed dramatically. One change came when we saw the committal shelter was on low ground, and we’ll have to add 2½ feet of fill.
Last year, Wayne County paid $468,000 for two tracts of land, which combined for 50 acres, from Harry and Mollie Ivey. Another 26 acres were donated by the Wayne County Development Alliance. All 76 acres will be transferred to the state, which will have five employees — two administrators and three grounds workers — on the cemetery site.
“Phase I of this will cover 10 years,” Panee said. “If we start to see we need to do more in, say eight years, we’ll do that. We’re starting with close to 6,000 gravesites, 868 columbarium and 985 cremation sites with pre-placed crypt slips, which will save families between $700 and $1,000.”
The plans include an entrance that runs into two huge connected circles, with space around both the inside and outside of the circles.
Former Commissioner Andy Anderson has been working behind the scenes on this project, and wants it to be a national cemetery. It is currently a state cemetery, because it does not meet the population threshold for a national cemetery.

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