Albert G. Horton expanding again

Published 8:09 pm Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery will see its third expansion with a $10 million grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“We are doing three new gardens with 9,000 double-depth crypts,” said Dan Kemano, director of cemeteries.

The crypts, though an integral part of the cemetery, won’t be the only additions to the Suffolk cemetery coming later this year.

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Office spaces will also be renovated to accommodate the large number of administrators that have joined the team since the cemetery opened. Currently, the administrators reside in the family room, but the renovations will provide all new offices. The renovations will also add a larger kitchen, storage and a staff bathroom.

“We are getting the walls pushed back here in the office, because we don’t have space for all of Susan’s administrators here,” Kemano said, referring to Susan Ulrich, the administrations manager.

The front of the cemetery will also get a makeover. The entrance will be completely torn down and widened to accommodate larger vehicles. The entrances have marks from where they have been hit, Kemano said.

A fence will be added along Milners Road as a safety measure for the cemetery and its visitors. Some folks park on Milners Road when they come to visit loved ones, Kemano said.

These new additions are part of the established master plan that the cemetery agreed upon with the Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration.

“Every time we put a grant in to national, it has to be on the master plan and laid out exactly how it’s laid out. We can’t change anything. When National went into partnership with us, they agreed to this,” Kemano said.

The plans are already being worked on for the new construction, and a bidding phase will begin around March or April. Construction will begin three to four months after the bid phase.

“We are trying to expedite them to have the crypts installed,” Kemano said.

The Albert G. Horton cemetery expansion sits at No. 13 on the Fiscal Year 18 Priority List of Pending State and Tribal Government Cemetery Construction Grant Pre-Applications. It sits in Priority Group 1 with 17 other cemeteries.

Two other expansions have already happened, and the second expansion is still being worked on. The construction for the last two added new roads, columbariums, ground cremation spaces and pre-installed double-depth crypts.

With the current expansions, and the remaining expansions, the cemetery will continue to be viable for at least the next 60 to 80 years, according to Kemano.

The cemetery in Suffolk buries almost double the number of veterans than the other two state cemeteries in Virginia.

Burial at the cemetery is available to all service members who died on active duty, retired or were honorably discharged, as well as their spouse and unmarried minor children under the age of 21. Some Reserve and National Guard members are also eligible.

Except for the $300 administrative fee for the spouse, there is no cost for the site, opening and closing of the site, headstone, double-depth crypt for veteran and spouse, funeral services and perpetual care. Standard military honors such as the flag to drape the casket and honor guard at the service also are provided at no charge.

The cemetery is located at 5310 Milners Road. Call 255-7217 for more information.