KILMICHAEL – Representatives from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Architecture State Cemetery Grants Program were in Montgomery County Monday to meet with the design team and visit the site of the proposed Veterans Cemetery in Kilmichael.
Randy Reeves, executive director of the State Veterans Affairs Board, said, “The purpose of the visit was to come down and physically visit the site and get a first-hand look at where we plan to put the cemetery.”
Reeves said George Eisenbach, director of the Cemetery Grants Program, and Howard Orr, project coordinator, were part of the group that toured 50 acres, located at the intersection of Highway 82 and Knox Road in Kilmichael, that is proposed for a Mississippi Veterans Memorial Cemetery. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has designated a $6.5 million grant for the project, however, all federal specifications must be met to receive the funding.
After the site visit, a kickoff meeting with the design team – including members of the Mississippi Bureau of Building to oversee the bid process and the project architect, Tom Howorth of the Howorth and Associates in Oxford -- was held at the American Legion Post 52 in Winona to discuss a master plan for the cemetery.
“We plan to do burials for 50 years,” Reeves said. “The master plan is an overall design concept of what the cemetery will look like after all phases over 50 years.”
Reeves said the $6.5 million grant will fund the first phase of the project, which is the most expensive phase of the project due to construction of the cemetery’s infrastructure and buildings. Phase one is the plan for the first 10 years of the cemetery.
“The master plan has been accepted by [the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Architecture State Cemetery Grants Program],” Reeves said. “Now we can proceed with the detailed design and start doing the phased design.”
Reeves said the detailed design will include designs for buildings, burial areas, lighting, and landscaping for phase one.
“It is a higher level concept,” Reeves said.
Reeves said he is expecting the final grant to be awarded by July 2015, with construction beginning in early fall. He said although actual construction will not begin until next fall, the design team is constantly working on the project with environmental studies, soil analysis, and water tables.
“Right now people are out there on a pretty regular basis,” Reeves said. “There is a lot of work that goes into it from the kickoff meeting through the design process, but you won’t see bulldozers rolling until the fall of next year.