According to Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce executive director Sue Stidham, the site in Kilmichael is 50 acres located at the intersection of Highway 82 and Knox Road. The property is currently owned by the Montgomery County Economic Development District, a political arm of Montgomery County.
“Funding for this project comes by way of a federal grant,” Stidham said. “They will apply for the grant, which could be up to a $5 million investment. Funding is not guaranteed, but all indicators show this will be money that is forthcoming.”
Stidham explained that if funding is granted, the cemetery will be developed in three phases that will take three to five years to complete, and federal approval will need to be obtained on all three phases.
“Work should begin when funding is available,” Stidham said.
Stidham went on to say that the proposed cemetery will hire approximately five people and will serve approximately 20,000 to 30,000 veterans within a 75 mile radius.
Stidham continued, “This site is 75 miles from state line to state line and almost goes all the way to the state line to the north. It also reaches into Jackson.”
Ron Wood, president of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors, said the county is required to meet several requirements before the agreement with the State Veterans Affairs Board can be finalized. Those requirements are a deed transfer on the site, a current survey, a written commitment from Montgomery County to provide necessary construction to the entrance and access from Highway 82 as well as pave the road adjacent to the property, provide utilities for the site, and work in conjunction with the State Veterans Affairs Board in making the cemetery development a success.
Wood said the county was extremely pleased to be selected as home to the proposed veteran’s cemetery.
“If it is funded, this will benefit the entire county,” Wood said. “And it is a real boost for the Kilmichael community.”
Kilmichael Mayor Ryan Wood said, “I think our site was the best site to begin with because of the low cost of development and its location on Highway 82. I think this could be a big deal for Kilmichael – a huge deal.”
In a recent community meeting about the proposed veteran’s cemetery, Randy Reeves, executive director of the State Veterans Affairs, explained that State Veterans Affair Board looked at several sites around the area to develop a proposed multi-million dollar veterans’ cemetery. He said the organization planned to apply for a federal grant that would fund the project 100 percent.
“We are looking to apply for a federal grant to build a second state veterans’ cemetery.”
Reeves said there are currently 22,000 “unserved” veterans in Mississippi that do not have burial options through the state within 75 miles from their home, but a second state veterans’ cemetery would serve many of those veterans.
“We are targeting to be able to get a grant awarded in late 2015,” Reeves said.