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02-27-1996 VETERANS AFFAIRS ADVISORY BOARD CITY OF LAS CRUCES P.O. DRAWER CLC LAS CRUCES, NEW MEXICO 88004 MINUTES OF THE 27 FEBRUARY 1996 MEETING The board convened at 1: 13 p. m. in the Board Room, Branigan Memorial Library. Roll call of members: Mannie Evaro, Chairman-present; Joe Heintz, Vice Chairman- present; Warren Rogers, Acting Secretary and DAV representative- present; Elsa Baker, VVA-present; John J Dewey, American Legion- present; Gaston Mungia, American Legion alternate-present; Fred J Frank, VFW-present; Noel Cooley, AMVETS-excused. Others present: Darlene Garcia, Senator Domenici's representative; Lee Gemoets, Senator Bingaman's representative; and Mel Barlow, cemetery committeeman. The minutes of the January meeting were approved as written. Old Business: Elsa Baker, Veterans Park subcommittee Chairlady, reported that progress is being made on the park design. The City will install an underground drainage conduit in the arroyo to carry runoff from the culvert under Roadrunner Parkway to the flood control dam pond. The parking area will be over the conduit adjacent to the parkway. Access to the parking area will be across the parkway from the entrance road to the housing area east of the park. The landscape plan is being revised to limit the excavation and grading so that more of the natural contours of the park will remain. The funds allocated by the city are to be used to purchase materials for the initial construction phase. Labor and equipment will be donated by the Las Cruces Homebuilders Association. Mel Barlow recommended that a swale be provided over the drainage structure to carry any overflow to the dam pond in event the flow from storm water exceeds the capacity of the underground channel. Mrs. Baker distributed a contour map of the area which the city surveyors recently completed. Mr. Joe Heintz displayed a series of photographs he has taken of the park area. These pictures very clearly show the location of the arroyo and an excellent views of the topography. Mel Barlow reported that the Fort Bliss National Cemetery is being enlarged. This will reduce the urgency of constructing a cemetery in Southern New Mexico. He distributed a letter which he is sending to all veterans organizations. This letter updates the status of the need for additional grave sites in the Las Cruces and El Paso area. He was requested to get the resolution for building a new cemetery revised as soon as possible and get it approved by the local government and sent to our congressional delegation to get the needed land transferred from the Bureau of Land Management. Land acquisition is a time consuming process and can be costly unless the land is tranferred before it is donated or sold to others. Mr. Barlow has been in contact with the director of the Fort Bliss National Cemetery and is most familiar with the current status. Fred Frank reported that the planning for the Veteran's Day Parade continues and that a committee meeting will be held 7 March. He is also working with the City on the 4th of July parade to get entries from the Navy and Army at WSMR and the Air Force at Holloman. Joe Heintz brought up the proposal to establish a local newsletter covering activities of all veterans organizations and events including legislative measures which will affect veterans. El Paso has such a newsletter which is well received by the veterans. He has discussed this with Mr. George Smith, publisher of the Las Cruces Sun News, who seemed most interested in the idea. New Business: Joe Heintz proposed that planning the ground- breaking and dedication ceremonies for the veteran's park be started and the dates be coordinated with the Congressional offices so that our Senators and Representative can be present. Mrs. Darlene Garcia of Senator Domenici's office said if we want the congressional delegates here for the ceremony, we must get on their calendars to ensure that they can be available for these events. The meeting adjourned at 2: 15 p. m. The next meeting will be at 1:00 p. m. Tuesday 26 March 1996. Warren Rogers Acting Secretary 2 Encl: Contour Map Letter on Cemetery CC �.r 9w, Loi r�r d �r oa Y `b NIN6� V 4 r x d s A V '6 P O ASS �♦\ � � ', 'COY ,fir `c �` o J� 1 ` Rfe 4130- 0 Feb. 27, 1996 1283 Wingate Rd. Las Cruces, NM 88001 SUBJECT: Update, Resolution re National Cemetery Las Cruces, NM TO: All Veterans Organizations in the greater Las Cruces Area The resolution recently passed by veterans organizations in the Las Cruces Area was the result of several years of observation of the national cemeteries available to New Mexico veterans plus a report from Mr. Roger Rapp, Director, Office of Field Operations, the Veterans Administration dated Nov. 30, 1994 to Senator Bingaman. The Rapp report indicated that Ft. Bayard, Santa Fe, and Ft. Bliss National Cemeteries would have burial space for veterans only until 2030, 2000, and 2003 respectively(See Exhibit A). With knowledge of the existing nationwide political situation and the long lead time required for establishing and/or expanding national cemeteries there is a potential critical concern for all veterans who anticipate burial in national cemeteries. Consequently the attached RESOLUTION(Exhibit B)was passed by all veterans organizations within the Las Cruces vicinity. Whether this resolution had any effect or not is not known, but within the past year Ft. Bliss has acquired an additional 22 acres of adjoining land for expansion of their cemetery. Using traditional actuarial projection methods, Eileen Harrison,Director, Ft. Bliss National Cemetery projects that this should permit Ft. Bliss to accommodate internments for another estimated 30 years, barring any unusual occurrences such as another war. Consequently,the urgency of another national cemetery in New Mexico has been temporarily relieved. I say temporarily because any number of things could accelerate filling these cemeteries to capacity. Of continuing concern is the long lead time needed to acquire, fund and construct,or expand national cemeteries. Now may not be to soon to start planning for 30 years from now. After all,the potential problem with the New Mexico cemeteries was initially pointed out in 1988. The former urgency is somewhat relieved,however the intent still seems to be viable. Therefore, I recommend to my fellow veterans that we continue to keep our congressional delegates informed of the status and potential need for a new national cemetery in New Mexico. Dolt go to sleep. Doift let this sneak up on us again. As to exactly what to do, I will leave that discretion and abilities of my fellow veterans. A new cemetery in the Las Cruces Area is especially viable with the availability at no cost of public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. However,to insure the future availability of these lands that are now identified for disposal, I further recommend that BLM be advised of the possible use of federal lands for a cemetery and that BLM be requested to protect suitable lands for a possible future r- national park in the vicinity of Las Cruces. This tract should be of a size to accommodate anticipated usage for the next several hundred years. I propose to send a copy of this report to all veterans organizations in the Hatch and Mesilla Valley for their review and action as they deem appropriate. I also will send a copy to our congressional delegates, the BLM Las Cruces District and to Director Harrison, Ft. Bliss National Cemetery. The fact that all 22 veterans organizations in the Mesilla Valley signed the attached resolution affirms the ability of local veterans organizations to work together when the need arises. I would like to encourage all veterans to continue this type of cooperation and communication for the mutual benefit of all veterans and consequently the benefit of America. I would like to express my appreciation for the assistance and cooperation in this'endeavor of the local veterans organizations; Senator Jeff Bingaman and Lee Gemoets of the Senator's Las Cruces Office; the Mayor's Veterans Advisory Board of Las Cruces, and especially Mike Milam of Mayor Smith's office who worked to keep us on an even keel. I would also like to use this opportunity to alert veterans that the Veterans Administration, probably consistent with Congressional directives, is attempting to modify America's contractual commitments to veterans for internment in national cemeteries by turning those cemeteries over to the states to operate. I personally do not approve of this and foresee it as a major problem. Neither is it in compliance with what was originally promised to military enlistees and veterans, nor is it in line with current commitments by today's military recruiters. This is just one of the many areas where America is, and historically has been,breaking it's contract with it's people. America's Broken Contracts is a subject that I propose to address as soon as I can find ' time to write it. If I can be of any further service to my fellow veterans in any capacity it will be my pleasure to serve them to the best of my ability. Respectfully Submitted, Melvin E. Barlow Atomic Veteran WWII NATCEN19.W PS: 02!28!%