The California Department of Veterans Affairs’ (CalVet) Northern California Veterans Cemetery today received a $900,174 grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (USDVA) for construction of 2,000 columbaria niches. CalVet Secretary Peter J. Gravett was on hand to receive the ceremonial check from Frank Salvas, director of the USDVA State Cemetery Grant Program. Also on hand was Stephen Jorgensen, administrator, Northern California Veterans Cemetery.
“We are grateful to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for approving this grant to expand the number of burial niches at the Northern California Veterans Cemetery,” said Gravett. “This expansion in the number of columbaria will allow us to provide veterans and their families with a place to honor the memory of loved ones who gave so much to preserve our nation’s freedoms and way of life.”
CalVet applied for and was approved for this $900,174 grant from the USDVA for construction of 10 columbaria walls to provide 2,000 niches at the cemetery. This is the first expansion of the NCVC since it was opened in 2005 and will provide columbaria niches for an estimated 10 years. The existing cemetery columbaria walls, offering 1,600 niches, were installed during the initial construction of the cemetery in 2005. These columbaria are expected to be at full capacity during the month of November. There will be a three to four month waiting period for new niches while the new columbaria are under construction.
“This grant represents the ongoing partnership between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the State of California,” said Salvas. “These funds will ensure that these columbaria niches are available to veterans for the next 10 years. This is one of the most beautiful cemeteries I have seen, thanks to the dedication of Steve Jorgensen and his staff.”
While the columbaria niche option will not be available during the short construction period, the cemetery will offer the option of in-ground burials for cremated remains. The cemetery has a 70-percent cremation interment rate, which is above the state average. The columbaria construction contract has been awarded to E.C. Smith Inc. of Anderson.
In addition to the check presentation, Gravett presented certificates of appreciation recognizing their commitment to veterans and their contributions to the Northern California Veterans Cemetery to:
• Eagle Scout Ryan Parke for his completion of the construction of two committal service urn pedestals honoring all five branches of the service. These urn pedestals will be used at both the Veterans Memorial Building and the outside committal shelter during services.
• Eagle Scout Zachary Havens for constructing a shade shelter next to the Memorial Building as his project.
• Chris McCandless for providing his sound system and musical talents at cemetery events and for also being a contributor at many other Northstate veterans’ events.
• Home Depot Team #6682, for planting trees around the Memorial Building and painting several of the cemetery’s structures.
The Northern California Veterans Cemetery is the first state-owned and operated veterans cemetery in the Golden State. The cemetery serves the veteran population in 18 Northern California counties, and the currently developed area of the cemetery provides sufficient burial space for more than 30 years. Beyond that, the cemetery has the capacity for expansion. Any eligible veteran, along with spouses and eligible dependents, may be interred at the cemetery. The Northern California Veterans Cemetery is located at 11800 Gas Point Road in Igo.