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Group established to support NY state veterans cemetery in Seneca County

The Citizen - 5/8/2024

May 7—An organization has been formed to provide financial support for the New York State Veterans Cemetery-Finger Lakes, the former Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Seneca County.

Friends of the New York State Veterans Cemetery-Finger Lakes aims to raise funds "to achieve a higher standard of care, maintenance and permanent additions to the magnificent and naturally beautiful memorial to our nation's veterans," according to a news release.

The group is chaired by former state Sen. Michael Nozzolio, who long advocated for the establishment of a state veterans cemetery at the Sampson site in Romulus. Other officers include Bruce Tuxill, a retired U.S. Air Force general who is serving as vice chair, and Joan Grela, a longtime aide to Nozzolio who is the group's secretary. Richard Ward, a certified public accountant and partner of the Cuddy & Ward firm in Auburn, has been named treasurer.

Friends of the New York State Veterans-Cemetery-Finger Lakes has already held its first meeting. Attendees included the founding directors — Rick Connors, Don Linborg and Carm Pascarella — of the former Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

"It was an incredibly happy day for all of us when the Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery was selected to be the first New York state veterans cemetery, and it's again an honor to bring dedicated individuals to work together to ensure the lasting integrity and quality of this outstanding memorial to our nation's veterans," Nozzolio said.

A selection committee voted in 2021 to choose Sampson as the site of the first New York state veterans cemetery. Sampson had operated as a county-owned cemetery for 10 years before receiving the state designation.

The state officially took ownership of the cemetery in 2023 and renamed it the New York State Veterans Cemetery-Finger Lakes. Late last year, the state learned that the National Cemetery Administration, which is within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, awarded $3.9 million for infrastructure projects at the cemetery.

The federal and state funding covers day-to-day operations and maintenance costs at the cemetery. Friends of the New York State Veterans Cemetery-Finger Lakes plans to provide additional assistance to support projects at the site.

Donations can be sent to: Friends of the New York State Veterans Cemetery-Finger Lakes, P.O. Box 444, Seneca Falls, NY, 13148.

Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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