06/15/14 — Veterans cemetery plans near

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Veterans cemetery plans near

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 15, 2014 1:50 AM

Final construction drawings for a state veterans cemetery on Long's Plant Farm Road could be completed by late this month or early July, officials say.

The state has appropriated $600,000 for the project that could range in cost between $3.8 million and $4.5 million, with construction taking 8 to 11 months. The completion date could be by early fall 2015.

The state, which has received a $6 million grant from the federal Veterans Cemetery Grants Service Agency, will build and maintain the cemetery.

It will be a state cemetery because the area does not meet the population threshold to be designated as a national one.

SfL+a Architects, hired in February to design the cemetery, recently submitted its third set of drawings to the State Cemetery Grants Office in Washington, D.C., for review.

The State Cemetery Grants Office suggested some corrections and adjustments in order for SfL+a Architects to proceed with the final construction drawings.

It could take six to eight weeks for the final drawings to be reviewed by the State Construction Office and the Department of Insurance as well as the State Cemetery Grants Office and the U.S. Division of Veterans Affairs Memorial Affairs Construction Section.

However, the state and the SfL+a Architects will still have administrative requirements to complete before the project can go out to bid, Eli Panee, cemetery program manager with the N.C. Division of Veterans Affairs, told Wayne County Commissioner Bill Pate in an email.

Pate is the chairman of the commission's Veterans Advisory Committee.

"The key to award of the actual grant fund by USDVA is the cost estimate prepared by the architect," Panee said in the email. "There are always adjustments that need to be agreed upon between the SCGO and the State Construction Office on the final amount to be awarded for the cemetery construction.

"Once this is settled, there will be a pre-bid meeting for contractors hopefully in late July and the actual bid submission (by the contractors) in late August or early September. But this is subject to adjustment and change."

Panee said he plans to schedule a briefing this month for Wayne County commissioners and anyone else interested in the project.

"We, the State Construction Office and the architect have had to make numerous revisions to the master plan, and changes to the facilities in order to meet SCGO requirements," Panee wrote. "But we are progressing and I do look forward to bringing the plans to the commission and show you all what is on the drawing board.

Penee could not be reached for additional comment prior to deadline Wednesday morning.

Former Wayne County commissioner Andy Anderson, who has advocated for the project since its inception, has said he will continue to work to secure national status for the cemetery that has been an ongoing project for six years.

Five state employees will work at the site -- two administrators and three grounds personnel.

The cemetery will occupy approximately 80 acres.

The county purchased two tracts of land for $468,862 from Harry and Mollie (Ivey) LLC, a Goldsboro real estate investment firm managed by Ted E. Ivey and Robert W. Ivey.

The Wayne Development Alliance donated 26.3 acres it owns to the project.

One of the Ivey tracts is 14.49-acres and is located on the west side of Long's Plant Farm Road. The second tract of 35.74 acres is located on the east side of the road and adjoins the land donated by Development Alliance.

The county will transfer the land to the state.