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The Walking (Legally) Dead

Will Minnesota have a Third Veteran's Cemetery?

Redwood County in Minnesota has been developing a veterans cemetery since mid-2014, but has met several roadblocks in this process. The Redwood County Board of Commissioners has committed up to $1 million for this parcel, and around August 2014 agreed to purchase over a 63 acre parcel of land for $537,710. The plan behind this land purchase is for Minnesota approve the land, and the County would then donate the land to the state for the “multi-million dollar effort to develop the cemetery in the area.” However, the project has stalled since the purchase of the land, seemingly due to a combination of funding, planning, and bureaucracy issues. For one, a mile-long gravel road that leads to the parcel of land would have to be paved, at a cost of “hundreds of thousands of dollars” that appears to have to come from local tax levies (not state or federal funds). Additionally, the state of Minnesota is currently in the middle of two other cemetery projects, and the impression is that work on the veterans cemetery would not begin until both of the in-progress cemeteries are completed – which could take until some time in 2016.

Despite these issues, Minnesota law does not appear to address the timeliness of the development of a state-operated veterans cemetery. Minnesota maintains a veterans cemetery development and maintenance account to be used for “development, operation, maintenance, and improvement of [veterans] cemeteries.” Yet, operations of a veterans cemetery seem to be left to the commissioner of veterans affairs, and not subject to Chapter 306 of the Minnesota Statutes, which governs public cemeteries. Therefore, while there are state-statutorily-devoted funds for the development and maintenance of a veterans cemetery in Minnesota, the process, timeliness, and maintenance of development is not addressed. Besides these law-related issues, it is interesting that there is only one current operating veterans cemetery in Minnesota, another under development, and the Redwood County veterans cemetery would be the third veterans cemetery in Minnesota.

Anastasia Fanning


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