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Rep. Mitchell sponsors bill for new veteran’s cemetery

by CHRIS PETERSON
Editor | January 18, 2023 12:35 PM

A bill that would create a new state Veterans Cemetery in Columbia Falls passed the House last week. It was sponsored by Republican House District 3 Representative Braxton Mitchell.

The bill passed unanimously in the House and is expected to pass the Senate as well.

The new cemetery would be in Columbia Falls on state land south of the Montana Veterans Home Cemetery.

The land is an open field at the moment. The north end of the field would be for future expansion of the Montana Veterans Home Cemetery and the south end the new cemetery, explained Joren Underdahl, administrator of the Veterans Home. The home has a separate cemetery west of the railroad tracks that is used only for residents and spouses.

This new cemetery would be for all veterans in Lincoln, Sanders, Flathead, Lake, Glacier, Toole County, Pondera, Teton and Liberty counties, Mitchell said in a release.

The bill calls for a cemetery in Columbia Falls is funding allows for it, but Mitchell said it’s in Gov. Greg Gianforte’s budget.

While the initial plot of land is west of the railroad tracks, it could expand to the field to the east in the future, Underdahl said.

Veterans groups began lobbying for a cemetery here a few years ago.

“These Veterans deserve everything for their sacrifices. It’s a great day for Flathead County, Northwest Montana, and Montana as a whole,” Mitchell said.

A Veterans Administration grant is expected to cover development costs and then upkeep and maintenance will run between $160,000 and $175,000 annually, Mitchell said.

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