Sampson Veterans Military Cemetery Update

Article from Finger Lakes Times, Monday, Sept. 21, 2009:

"Vets cemetery work begins
ROMULUS - Held up by a delay in state funding, construction of the Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery has begun.

The Seneca County Highway Department has done initial site work. Bids will be opened today (Monday) for the demolition and removal of six old buildings on the site.

Contracts will be awarded this fall for other work, including site work on the cemetery grounds.

Planning for the veterans cemetery began in 2002.

Groundbreaking for the 162-acre site on the grounds of Sampson State Park was a year ago, and the first veteran is expected to be buried there in the fall of 201 0.

"This has been a long journey from the initial efforts of groups of dedicated people who initially proposed the project in 2002 until now," said Richard Connors, president of the Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery Association.
Money for the project includes $3.97 million from the state, $25,000 from Seneca Meadows Landfill, $13,500 from the state
Veterans of Women's Auxiliary and $5,000 from the Hallett Family Charitable Foundation.

In addition, Seneca County employee Rhonda Maher organized a fund drive that raised $650 for the cemetery.
That money will go toward construction. An endowment fund will be established to support annual operations and maintenance.
"I know I speak for all of us when I say that we feel honored to be stewards of this project that means so much to so many," Connors said.
Any veteran is eligible for burial there.
The cemetery is on the site of the World War 11-era Sampson Naval Training Station and the 1950ís Sampson Air Force Base. It overlooks the eastern shore of Seneca Lake.
The idea for the cemetery came from Navy and Air Force veterans who trained or were stationed at Sampson and later established a museum there.
Several statewide veterans organizations joined the effort. With the help of state Sen. Michael Nozzolio, R-54, of Fayette, state funding was secured and recently released.
This past July, the state Legislature authorized the transfer of the site's title to Seneca County. The county Need to put new picture here has established the not-forprofit Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery Association to administer the site and handle financial matters.
The firm of Wendel Duchscherer of Buffalo has completed a master plan for the first phase of the cemetery. Lu Engineering of Penfield will be construction manager. Volunteers have helped clear the site to prepare for the start of construction this month.

An estimated 193,500 veterans live in the 20-county area that's within 75 miles of the cemetery.

The veterans cemetery in Elmira is at capacity for in-ground burials and is now only accepting cremated remains. The cemetery in

Bath will be at capacity in the next five years.

The only other veterans cemeteries in the state are in Saratoga and on Long Island.

"We hear nearly daily from families who are anxiously waiting for the opening of the Sampson cemetery,"said

Mitchell Rowe, Seneca County planning and community development director. "There is no doubt the need exists and, in fact, families with remains in their possession are waiting now for the opening of the cemetery."