Redwood County board sees initial veterans cemetery timeline

Troy Krause
Dave Swantek of the Minnesota Department of Affairs (center) talked about the veterans cemetery site during a 2019 visit.

After hearing the announcement that the Redwood County veterans cemetery project has been funded the previous week, county commissioners met with Dave Swantek, deputy director of memorial affairs for the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA), to talk about the next steps in getting the state site open.

Swantek and representatives from Seventh District Congressman Collin Peterson’s office were part of a virtual meeting held Oct. 20 where a tentative timeline for the project was outlined.

According to Swantek, now that the funds have been committed, the project will move into the design phase. 

Swantek said they will be dusting off the original plans for the project and then updating them.

The initial plans will be further detailed and will lead to the development of construction documents.

When completed, those documents will be used when the project goes out for bids. That will likely happen some time next summer.

“That is when we will see what the climate is for a project like this,” Swantek explained, adding if the bids are good they will be accepted with that likely taking place next fall. “The bids will be the basis of the grant award.”

How much is actually allocated will be based on those actual costs, rather than having a specific amount dedicated at this time, Swantek said. Once the bids have been awarded, work can begin, which Swantek also indicated could start in Fall 2021.

Based on past projects, Swantek anticipated it will take approximately 24 months to complete.

Ideally, he said, the project will be ready in Fall 2023, and, as has been the case with other veterans cemeteries, the first burial would be scheduled to be held on Veterans Day.

A dedication ceremony would then be held the following spring.

“We would schedule that on Memorial Day,” said Swantek.

The county board offered the following statement following its conversation with Swantek,

“The Redwood County commissioners extend their appreciation to the federal and state legislators, along with the State Veterans Affairs Team, Commissioner Larry Herke, landowners Bob LeSage and Dean Swigert and county staff for their ongoing advocacy and support to bring this long awaited project to fruition. We are just thrilled to know the site will serve the veterans and their families of southwest Minnesota. Additionally, thanks to all past and present employees and elected officials that have helped bring this project to fruition.”

The county has committed funds for the purchase of land for the cemetery and will discuss the current purchase agreements it has for that property at an upcoming meeting.

Swantek said the cemetery will employ approximately five full-time people, with funds for that coming from the state.

Swantek expressed appreciation to the county for its patience over the years.

“This project has always been important to us,” said Swantek. “I am glad to see it moving forward.”