A proposed veteran's cemetery in the Annaville area, and a first in South Texas, has met with positive reaction from local military members around the Western Nueces County area.
Dan Menn, quartermaster for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7841 in Robstown, said he is glad to see a veteran's cemetery being considered for the South Texas area.
"I think this is long overdue," Menn said. "It's a great idea and very much needed for this area."
Doug Blumberg, a veteran of the Vietnam War who served three years in the U.S. Army, said the county's 57,000 veterans are in need of the proposed cemetery.
"I'm sure the veterans of this area could really use it," Blumberg, who is a member of the VFW Post 3837 Post in Annaville, said.
Nueces County Commissioners formally accepted a donation of 55 acres of land Aug. 27 from Flint Hills Resources, worth $1.2 million, which would be used for the creation of a veteran's cemetery.
The donation is the largest single donation in value that the company has made in Texas, Flint Hills representatives said.
"It's important that we have something for our veterans," Rich Tuttle, director of regional public affairs for Flint Hills, said last month. "It's been a rewarding and innovative, but I have to admit, challenging process.
The county does not currently have a veteran's cemetery nearby. In fact, the closest one is in Mission, Texas, more than a two-hour drive for those looking to honor friends and loved ones who have given their lives in service for their country.
There are also two others in Arlington and Abilene.
The proposed site is located on a 55-acre stretch of land on Carbon Plant Road alongside Interstate 37.
"We believe it's of high value to the community to have a veteran's cemetery at that location," Tuttle said.
The county began looking to acquire land for a veteran's cemetery in 2004 and was originally considering a site in Agua Dulce. However, that site was later turned down by the state, because of the state's desire to have a location closer to a metropolitan area.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Betty Jean Longoria said other sites that were considered and turned down were asking for money the county did not have.
"A lot of the properties that were good properties came with a dollar sign," Longoria said.
Not long after the Agua Dulce site was refused, Flint Hills approached the county about donating the property on Carbon Plant Road for the cemetery. Over the past year, however, negotiations began to slow down as work began between Flint Hills, the City of Corpus Christi, Nueces County and the state to ensure that the agreement's language was suitable for all of the parties involved.
The Texas Department of Transportation, county officials said, is also going to be working with officials to ensure a future project, the Interstate 37-Carbon Plant Direct Connector, will not impede with the look and feel of the cemetery, since it will run adjacent to the property. The retaining wall that runs near the cemetery will have a large mural of an American flag running across it and the pillars will be decorated with various military logos and insignia.
Now that the county has formally accepted Flint Hill's donation, they must now turn the property over to the state, whose responsibility it is to develop and maintain the land after the turnover is complete.
An agreement with the state could not be reached by the Aug. 27 commissioners meeting, but the issue may be up for discussion at the court's Sept. 10 meeting.
Funding will also need to be obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Veterans Affairs, which must also be done by the state, though there is no timeline for when federal funding may become available.