Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday signed legislation authorizing the state to study a proposed Veterans Cemetery in Anaheim Hills, a necessary step before a resting place can be built there.
Congresswoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, who sponsored a bill to merge with senators. Tom Umberg of D-Santa Ana joined Orange County Veterans Coalition President Nick Berardino to welcome the move.
“It’s been a very, very exciting day,” Quick-Silva told the city news service. “There’s a lot of emotion. We’ve been working on this for almost 10 years. A huge thank you to the governor who signed this bill and everyone who helped us get there, but first and foremost the veterans who have worked on this for a long time.”
Umberg told the city news agency, “Of course, I’m excited to see it signed. … A thorough feasibility study of the Gypsum Canyon site is needed so we can see if this is appropriate for the final resting place of our most revered fallen hero.” place.”
If the site is found to be viable, the $1 million study will be paid for by the county to free up funds, Umberg said.
“Everything needs it, state money, federal money,” Umberg said.
If the site is found to be viable, “the next step is to find funding for the project,” Umberg said.
Umberg, Quirk-Silva and Assemblyman Tom Daly, D-Anaheim, received roughly $20 million in funding a few years ago for undesignated locations at the county’s Veterans Cemetery, “still available,” Umberg said.
Quirk-Silva initially supported plans to build a cemetery at the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station in Irvine (now Orange County Grand Park), but when political infighting stalled those plans for years, she and local veterans turned to Gypsum Graveyard Project Canyon.
Technically, the Irving site is still an option, but politically, it seems unlikely that most local elected leaders (Republicans and Democrats, etc.) will support the Gypsum Canyon site.
“As veterans, we are grateful to everyone involved in this process, and we are proud to be pioneers of what Americans can achieve by working together on a nonpartisan basis, and we hope this will serve as an example for others in the country,” Bellardino Tell CNS. “Certainly, we are very excited about the Governor’s support for signing this vital bill.”
For more than a decade, Bellardino said, “Veterans have been used in what now seems like a distant political struggle, but we’re on the right track, and we’ve done it with the help of all of us, and that’s our message. The most important message we can send to our fellow Americans and our communities — and if we do, we can all work together and achieve.”
Bernardino noted, Rep. Katie Porter of D-Irvine and Young Kim of R-Placentia support the Gypsum Canyon site.
Quirk-Silva said the state will take up to six months to complete a study of the Gypsum Canyon site.
“…Then the next step is that the state can apply to the federal government to be recognized as a national cemetery, which would then bring in at least $10 million in addition to other funding,” she said.
The key, Quirk-Silva said, is to complete the study in time to apply for federal grants, which are usually approved in July.
“After that, I knew I would be working with my Orange County colleagues on additional budget requests that might be made for this project,” she added. “It’s a great day for Orange County veterans.”
She said the road to finding a veteran’s cemetery in the county was a long one, but added: “I’m an elementary school teacher by profession, and I like to say slow and steady to win the game. Things are always linear.”
In December, Orange County officials celebrated the groundbreaking ceremony for the Gypsum Canyon site. In October, the Irvine City Council became the last city in the county to support the Anaheim Hills project.
Orange County supervisors have committed $20 million to the project. In December 2019, the Orange County Board of Supervisors agreed to transform 2,500 acres of land donated by the Irving Company. Enter the cemetery – half reserved for Veterans – near the Riverside (91) highway and Plaster Canyon Road near the 271 Turnpike.