Fargo National Cemetery restroom project to see upgrades

FARGO, N.D. (KVRR) — Following outcries from local veteran groups, Senator John Hoeven says he’s secured an agreement with the Department of Veterans Affairs to add heat and electricity to a planned restroom at the Fargo National Cemetery.

The plan for a restroom at the Fargo National Cemetery comes as part of a $250,000 enhancement project under development.

It includes wind walls and is expected to be completed later this year.

Some veterans from the Fargo Honor Guard are critical of the VA’s “vault toilet” restroom plan, calling it an “outhouse.” They have plans for a building which would already feature a restroom and amenities for vets and their families.

“We’ve been trying to be honest with people. Tell them what we wanna do. We wanna build a gathering space in the chapel, a parking lot, a place for family to gather before or after the burial and to have some type of museum and that’s been our standard presentation,” says Jim Graalum of the Fargo Memorial Honor Guard.

The VA is not convinced the Honor Guard will have everything set up in the near future, despite the Honor Guard raising more than a million dollars in funds for the project.

“If we don’t do the vaulted restroom now and the Honor Guard wants to do what they want to do, certain members of the Honor Guard, there won’t be any restrooms for a few years. If they think they can get the land to build a building up within the next 5 years, that’s not gonna happen. You’re looking at least 8 to 10 years to get anything up like that,” says David Huth of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The dispute over the facility has even resulted in the suspension of Jason Hicks of the United Patriotic Bodies and a vocal critic behind the restroom plan.

The VA says the suspension was for rude behavior towards employees.

“We’re here to support the community and Senator Hoeven, Mr. Quinn, we’re all for it. We are not opposing anything, that’s one of the things I, too, wanna address. The members of the Honor Guard wanna build their own building. We’re not opposing that. We asked for their help,” Huth said.

“Both the VA and the Honor Guard people, we need to take a step back, act like adults and quit playing this tit for tat. We’re out here for one thing and one thing only, the families and the veteran who’s being buried,” Graalum said.

Hoeven says work is also underway to add other enhancements and to acquire additional land to ensure the cemetery has enough burial space in the future.

Meanwhile, Graalum says the Honor Guard has plans to finish their outline of an independent building by the end of the year.

Categories: Local News, North Dakota News