Raggio calls for improvements to Fernley veterans cemetery
Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, complained Wednesday that the Fernley veterans cemetery is neglected and not properly maintained.
He made the comments at an Interim Finance Subcommittee on capital improvements, telling Public Works Manager Gus Nunez the Boulder City veterans cemetery is well maintained, well run and “beautiful.”
Fernley, in contrast, he said “just really lacks the dignity I think a veterans cemetery deserves.”
He said he received a call from a constituent whose father is buried there who was very upset at the condition of the cemetery after visiting there Veterans Day, saying there weren’t even American flags posted.
“He was completely disillusioned about the veterans cemetery,” Raggio said. “And this constituent is not alone.”
Raggio added that he has been concerned about the operation and condition of the Fernley cemetery for some time. He asked staff to get him a report on what’s happening there.
The issue was raised during discussion of expansion plans at the southern Nevada cemetery, which recently received a federal grant of $2.3 million to build a new maintenance facility and service yard.
Raggio said he wants to know why the Fernley cemetery never seems to get those kind of grants.
Tim Tetz, administrator of the Nevada Office of Veterans Services, said those national grants are awarded on the need to build or expand cemeteries. He said the Boulder City cemetery is the second busiest veterans cemetery in the nation with more than three times the number of burials in a month than Fernley has.
“We run out of burial spots in southern Nevada a lot more quickly and, thus, there is a lot more money that flows down there to keep up with the needs,” he said.
Fernley and Boulder City, he said, both had major expansions in 2003, and it took until now for Fernley to run out of single burial spots. Now, he said, the office is asking for money to expand Fernley by another 900 burial spots.
In addition, he said, the support group at Fernley has raised $20,000 for new flagpoles which will be put on the hill where they can be seen from Interstate 80. Last week, he said, they got a grant to light those poles.
As for the condition of the cemetery, he said the regional Veterans Administration has come out repeatedly and said Fernley “meets or exceeds” standards.
As for the lack of flags on Veterans Day, Tetz said that event is “to honor the service of veterans who are alive.”
“Memorial Day is the day we decorate the graves of our heroes,” he said.
He said those events are handled by volunteers, not staff.
He said he would be glad to discuss the situation with Raggio and other members of the Legislature.
– Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.