OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. Frank Simpson and Rep. Pat Ownbey announced that they will be holding a town hall meeting on Tuesday, January 24, to share information regarding a possible veterans’ cemetery in the community. The legislators will be joined by officials from the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs’ (ODVA). The meeting will take place at 7:00 PM in the Ardmore Convention Center.
This would be the state’s first veteran cemetery operated by the ODVA. There is currently one state-owned cemetery, which is located in Oklahoma City and operated by the Oklahoma Military Department.
“This site will provide a dignified and stately place for our veterans to be honored. It will honor those who served our nation and made so many sacrifices on our behalf,” said Simpson, R-Springer. “I do understand that some of our citizens have concerns. Hopefully this town hall meeting will ease those concerns.”
There are 53 acres of land available at the Ardmore Veterans Center and the cemetery would utilize 20 acres southwest of the center. The project is estimated to cost approximately $9 million. If approved, the Veterans Administration (VA) would cover all of the initial costs of construction as well as provide funds for equipment to operate the facility. The entire site would be required to meet VA standards for design and eligibility of veterans interred at the cemetery. The state would be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the cemetery.
“When I envision this project I think of Arlington National Cemetery with rows of white markers, all uniform and dignified,” said Rep. Ownbey, R-Ardmore. “I think it’s important that we allow our constituents to communicate their concerns and support for this project and I encourage their attendance at our town hall."
The cemetery will offer 1,600 burial plots per acre for a total of 32,000 plots. It would take nearly 200 years for the cemetery to reach its full capacity.
The legislators emphasized how vital citizens’ support is to the success of the project. ODVA welcomes community input as ideas for the project are developed.