SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - It's a big day for the South Dakota Veterans Council.
Governor Dennis Daugaard signed a bill into law that paves the way for a state veterans cemetery to be built in Sioux Falls.
But there is still a lot to check off the do-to list before this idea becomes a reality.
It is taking a collaboration of the South Dakota Veterans Council, the City of Sioux Falls, the federal government and South Dakota lawmakers to help this project come to fruition.
The law is paving the way for paying for the project, which includes an endowment fund, state funding and a $6 million federal grant.
“It's been a 20 year journey to get this done and finally, finally we're going to get a veterans cemetery on the east side of the state,” Terry Paulson, President of the South Dakota Veterans Council said.
Paulson says now comes the next part of the journey.
“The next step would be the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Secretary Zimmerman, him and his staff will be putting a pre-application to the National Cemetery Administration in DC showing that we've met all the benchmarks needed to apply for a cemetery grant,” Paulson said.
“If not the most rewarding, it's certainly one of the most rewarding projects I’ve been involved in, in my first term as a city councilor,” Sioux Falls City Councilor Rick Kiley said.
Councilors Rick Kiley and Rex Rolfing have been key players from the city.
The council passed a resolution to donate at least 40 acres of land to be used for burials. The land is located north of the city off of Slip Up Creek Road.
The land still needs to be approved by the National Cemetery Administration before the state can receive grant money.
Paulson says he expects the application to be submitted for the grant money sometime near August.
He says he has been told South Dakota will be on a priority list for the funding.
If the grant money is provided, it could take 12 to 18 months to construct the cemetery.