AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Vietnam veteran and former Augusta Mayor Bob Young is looking for something new.
He said, “We’re going to get our cemetery there’s no question about that. The question that’s out there is when?
Young serves as the co-chair of the Augusta veterans cemetery project along with veteran and Giving Your Best Award winner Don Clark.
“We’ve been lobbying for the last two years, Wes. No, we’re not going to let down on our lobbying guard at all,” explained Young.
The project on the Gracewood property to build Augusta’s veterans cemetery won’t happen this year. That’s following the release of the VA’s project priority list. The proposed cemetery site is more than 200 acres.
“Put out its rankings for cemetery expansions and new cemeteries. And Augusta faired pretty well on the list but the funding that the VA had did not go down as far as Augusta,” said Young.
The veterans cemetery application rolls on to next year. The good news is the project goes up on the VA’s list but challenges remain.
Young said, “Things working against us is, at this point, congress doesn’t have a budget this year. They’re operating on continuing resolutions and so really there’s no opportunity for any significant bump in VA funding at this time.”
Young and his group are working with Augusta’s congressional delegation to find funding through an earmark in the VA’s budget.
He said, “Earmark discussions typically start in the spring, and then the members of congress typically put out those lists during the summertime. And then the VA grant program won’t be settled until October of next year.”
Georgia state leaders have agreed to pay $1 million to help demolish buildings at the Augusta veterans cemetery site. It’s estimated the project would cost about $10 million but according to Young, it could be done cheaper with the same quality.
He added, “With perhaps as little as $8 million but these are all things that are in discussion right now. We’re trying to put the game plan together to get funded by the federal government.”
Patience is key. Young and his group have their fingers crossed.