Negotiations are ongoing between the state of Texas and Nueces County officials on the donation of land that may be used for a veterans' cemetery.

Currently, the closest veterans cemetery to Nueces County is in Mission, Texas, more than a 2-hour drive for those looking to honor those who have given their lives in service to their country. Two others are in Arlington and Abilene.

However, current plans by the county and Flint Hills Resources to donate a 55-acre stretch of land on Carbon Plant Road to the state for the purpose of constructing a veteran's cemetery for the county's 57,772 veterans may change that.

Precinct 2 Nueces County Commissioner Betty Jean Longoria said planning for the cemetery began in 2004, not long after she was elected into office.

After a site in Agua Dulce was turned down by the state, Flint Hills stepped forward and announced it would be willing to donate the land on Carbon Plant Road for the cemetery.

County grants administrator Roxana Hunt said the county paid to conduct Environmental Phase I, which included topography and water table tests and cost about $52,000. Flint Hills then conducted Environmental Phase II before turning the results over to state officials, who conducted their own assessment of the land.

Originally, when testing was completed, Flint Hills was to convey the land to the county and the county would then turn the land over to the state, county officials said. However, the four parties involved - Flint Hills Resources, the city of Corpus Christi, Nueces County and the state - are in the midst of negotiating the legal language of the agreement.

"It's moved forward, but (the agreement) is not ready to be executed yet," Hunt said.

Once the state does take ownership of the land, county officials said, it will be the state's responsibility to develop and maintain the property. It could be a couple of years before any signs of a cemetery are noticeable, though.

"Federal funding through the state wouldn't come until 2009 at the earliest which means the cemetery wouldn't be complete until at least 2010," Hunt said.

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.

County officials said they hope to present something to the Commissioners Court before the end of April.