Grafton National Cemetery To Undergo Renovations - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Grafton National Cemetery To Undergo Renovations

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GRAFTON -

Many people believe there is no better way to pay tribute to a fallen soldier than by burying them with honor. That's where National Cemetery's step in.

"What the veterans have done for our country and the freedom that we enjoy today is because of the service and sacrifice of our nations veterans. So it's very important," said Ronald Hestdalen, Acting Director of the West Virginia National Cemetery.

The Grafton National Cemetery is the final resting place for hundreds of veterans, dating all of the way back to the 1800s.

It has received its fair share of wear and tear over the years and a renovation project is well overdue.

"We work very hard, the National Cemetery Administration, our leadership and our staff at all of the cemeteries, to maintain our cemeteries in the best condition possible," Hestdalen said.

The Millennium Grounds Renovation Project will consist of leveling the gravesites, the installation of a headstone support system, turf renovation and more.

"What we are going to do is take and raise and realign the headstones. In other words, the headstones will be removed from their sockets. They will not be removed from the site. They will remain at the site," Hestdalen said.

Certain areas will be replanted with a new grass that is tolerant to both shade and drought.

Each section that is being worked on will have restricted access. Staff said the renovations will not keep you from your loved ones.

"Anyone that wants to visit any graves will be able to visit those graves. The contractors will stop their work, let the visitation happen, and continue on with their work," said Chad Mayle, Foreman.

The work has been contracted out to Team West Contracting Corp, a service-disabled veteran-owned company. It is being carried out by the West Virginia National Cemetery staff.

The renovation will begin in March and can last up to 18 months. Plans for the annual Memorial Day parade will be altered.

"My understand is that this is a wonderful tradition that has been going on for years and years and its going to continue," Hestdalen said. "I believe the committee is going to make some adjusts as far as the location in the cemetery but it will in fact continue."

If you have additional questions about the renovations, call (304) 265-2044.