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Federal money allows cemetery to expand

FORT SNELLING, Minn. -- Recent congressional approval of $24.8 million to improve and expand the Fort Snelling National Cemetery will ensure room for burials through 2020.

FORT SNELLING, Minn. -- Recent congressional approval of $24.8 million to improve and expand the Fort Snelling National Cemetery will ensure room for burials through 2020.

The new development will provide at least 30,000 additional grave sites at Fort Snelling, said Bob Holbrook, director of the Office of Construction Management for the National Cemetery Administration in Washington. The Cemetery Administration, responsible for providing space for veterans at about 120 national cemeteries, is a branch within the Department of Veterans Affairs.

A burial site for veterans since 1951, Fort Snelling is the fourth-busiest national cemetery. There are more than 158,000 burials on 200 acres, said Don Emond, cemetery assistant director. The site had more than 4,500 services (2,500 full-casket burials and 2,000 cremations) last year.

Half of the 30,000 new grave sites will be used for full-casket burials and the remaining sites will go toward adding columbarium niches to store urns, prebuilt lawn crypts and in-ground cremation sites. Holbrook said he believes the pre-placements will reduce long-term grounds maintenance.

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