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Adams County Veterans Commission to ask for additional grave funding

WiscNews - 1/16/2019

Jan. 15--The Adams County Veterans Service Commission is considering asking the Adams County Board for an increase in funding to care for veteran's graves.

Adams County currently provides about $1 in funding per veteran for grave care for those buried prior to Nov. 1, 1990, according to Adams County Veterans Services Officer Stephen Dykes. The average in contiguous counties is about $8. Costs for grave care for veterans buried on or after Nov. 1, 1990 is included in the cost of purchasing a plot and is not the responsibility of the county.

During the Jan. 8Veterans Service Commission meeting sexton Robert Barclay urged the commission to consider changes to veteran grave care.

"We need to find a better way of making sure this money, however much it is, is applied to making things better for veterans," Barclay said.

Members of the commission agreed with Barclay, voting unanimously to research costs for caring for graves with the intent to ask the county board for additional funding.

The commission and Barclay also discussed the placement of flags on graves for veterans, with some members suggesting that flags should be placed on graves year round, while others advocated for flags placed on graves from Memorial Day to Veteran's Day.

"They fought for the flag, died for the flag, why should they not have a flag on his grave 24/7?" Paul Kahr, United States Navy veteran and commission member said.

Other members of the commission expressed concerns about maintaining the flags year round, sharing worries that flags placed on graves could become deteriorated over time.

"We have a limited budget of about $4,000, with about $300 for flags, so flags seem cheap until you consider replacing them on graves for veterans in about 40 cemeteries (in Adams County)," Dykes said.

"We want the cemetery to look good, we want new flags to honor the vets, but after Memorial Day is over people go home and these flags deteriorate," Dykes said. "Even though it's only a 0.50 cent flag, we don't disrespect it."

Barlcay also suggested the commission consider implementing a system similar to the adopt-a-highway system, where a group or individual would volunteer to ensure flags are maintained at cemeteries in the county.

The commission plans to continue providing flags for Memorial Day in 2019, while leaving flag care to the individual cemeteries. Kahr expressed that he would continue to visit cemeteries on his own in his region to replace flags so that they are displayed year round.

In other business before the commission, members gave VFW and American Legion Post reports detailing:

* The installation of 114 flag poles as of the end of 2018

* A contribution of $1,500 to the veterans home in Chippewa Falls for holiday events

* The implementation of a new public relations program

* Donations to the American Legion of $1,000 for flood and hurricane relief

* Dykes informed the commission that reservists who served for 20 years or more can now receive headstones from the state, and that needy vets under certain income requirements can now get a grant of up to $4,500 for dentures.

The commission will next meet at 9:30 a.m.April 2.

Reach Christopher Jardine on Twitter @ChrisJJardine or contact him at 608-432-6591.

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