Last-minute amendment saves funding for veteran cemetery

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New budget shuts off funding for veteran cemetery

UPDATE: In response to Senator Berger, Governor Cooper's office said the General Assembly did not use the governor's budget in crafting its own budget and said lawmakers still have failed to provide recurring funding for the cemetery.

UPDATE: Senator Phil Berger's office said late Tuesday that a budget amendment will keep the cemetery open. It blamed the lack of funding in the budget passed by the General Assembly on Governor Roy Cooper's office, saying the funding was left out of the governor's initial proposed budget.

ORIGINAL STORY

GOLDSBORO, North Carolina (WTVD-TV) Families still grieving the loss of their loved ones buried at Eastern Carolina State Veterans Cemetery are now fighting to keep the gates open.

"I will not be able to be buried with my husband," said Vickie Roby who laid her husband to rest at the cemetery seven months ago. "I will not be able to come and visit his grave."

In their $23 billion budget, state legislators left out the $200,000 it would take to operate the cemetery for two years.

Funding for five positions was also cut, to which staff tell ABC11 they feel caught in the middle of Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of the budget and lawmakers' ability to override that veto.

The cemetery was dedicated by Gov. Pat McCrory and opened in Feb. 2016. Already, more than 260 veterans have been buried with more than 420 veterans and their families pre-registered.

"I'm hopeful that they're going to keep it going," said Theodore Dawson, a Vietnam veteran who was visiting the cemetery Tuesday, making plans with his wife Nina.

"We deserve it," Nina said. "Not just him but all of them. There's a lot of veterans that don't have any place to be laid to rest."

Sec. Of Military and Veterans Affairs Larry Hall did not return ABC11's requests for comment, but has told reporters that should the cemetery close, the state will need to pay back the $5 million in federal grant money it used to build it.

For Roby, who's visited her husband's gravesite every two weeks since he was laid to rest, the legislature's actions feel deeply personal.

"I think this is a slap in the face to the people that protect all the people of America," she said.

Related Topics:
newsgeneral assemblypoliticsveteransGoldsboro
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