LIVINGSTON – A proposed Upper Cumberland Veterans Cemetery would serve more than 25,000 former service members in the greater Upper Cumberland region, but it’s possible the project could be an economic win for the UC as well.
The burial grounds, which are in planning stages, would create jobs – between 10-15 – bring visitors and require an influx of roughly $8 million in state and federal dollars to build. Overton County currently tops the list of possible locales, specifically 97 acres near Willow Grove Highway and Little Creek Road in Livingston. Sites in Cumberland and Fentress were also in the top three.
“There will be a lot of economic spin off, I believe,” said Overton County Executive Ron Cyrus. “The jobs would be permanent state jobs. There would be a spin-off for gas stations, restaurants, flower shops.
“It would literally almost look like a golf course by the time it is finished, possibly with a chapel for services, an administrative building, storage for equipment (etc.).”
The Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs is proposing a new site because veterans and family members in the UC currently have to drive to Nashville or Knoxville for services. The cemetery would serve much of the UC, minus Cannon and including Trousdale. The process still runs a lengthy timeline – the first burial isn’t scheduled until fall 2017, Cyrus said.
But the Overton County Commission has done its part, at least, to move the project forward, in February OK’ing the land purchase for $300,000. If the National Cemetery Administration, which is responsible for the burial of deceased service members and veterans, confirms the site meets necessary criteria, the land will be donated by the county, Cyrus said. If the site fails inspections, the Cumberland County location, which the city of Crossville owns and would donate, and then Fentress County site, which would require the state to raise funds to purchase, could be considered.
“We’re in the early stages of it,” Cyrus said. “Once the contract is let, we’re hoping local contractors will be able to do the land cleaning, whatever is necessary to meet the specification.
“It will be a great project for our community.”