WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Gregg Harper (R–Miss.) today announced $6.9 million in funding to establish the Mississippi Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Newton. The grant, issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs, will reimburse the state 100 percent for the cost associated with the construction of phase one of the three-phase development.

“The Department of Veterans Affairs Grant Award for construction of Mississippi’s first State Veterans Cemetery is the culmination of the hard work and determination of many people at the national, state and local levels, over the last few years, to make this possible,” said M. Jo Leslie, chairperson of the Mississippi Veterans Affairs Board. “The Mississippi Veterans Affairs Board is excited at this opportunity to be able to continue to serve our nation’s veterans; now even into perpetuity.”

Congressman Gregg Harper added, “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Mississippi’s veterans and their families. These are our nation’s finest men and women, and this eternal memorial will stand as a reminder of the sacrifices they made while protecting our freedom during their service to Mississippi and to America.”

The Mississippi Veterans Affairs Board plans to award a construction contract in the fall of 2009 after the design and bid tabulations have been approved by the Mississippi Bureau of Buildings. The cemetery is slated to open in the spring of 2011. Phase one of the project is designed for approximately 5,000 interment sites, including conventional burials, cremains and memorial sites.

Harper Press Release