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(WBIR) Friday marked another big step in the state's quest to build a new veterans cemetery to serve 14 counties on Tennessee's Plateau.

After months of searching for potential sites, a steering committee met in Cookeville Friday morning to vote on its top three recommended locations for the new Upper Cumberland State Veterans Cemetery.

The committee deemed a site in Overton County its top choice. The property along Willow Grove Highway and Little Creek Road has a price tag of $300,000. However, the Overton County Commission has indicated it will consider purchasing the property and donating it to the state in order to make the project a reality.

The second choice is a piece of city-owned property in Crossville. The city has said it will donate the parcel on Albert Frye Road and Peavine Road to the state for the new cemetery.

The committee decided its third-best option is in Fentress County at 1207 Clarkrange Monterey Highway near the community of Clarkrange. That parcel would come at a cost of $350,000 and the state would have to raise funds to purchase the land.

The committee's vote is not a final decision. It serves as a recommendation to the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs. The department will now take a closer look at the three sites to examine issues such as current infrastructure, roads, and environmental impact. Arguably most importantly, the department will determine which site provides best ease of use for the more than 25,000 military veterans who currently live in the 14-county region.

Ease of access is a main reason why the department is in the process of build two future veterans cemeteries in the state. A cemetery is in the works for southwest Tennessee in addition to the future cemetery in the Upper Cumberland region. The new cemeteries will provide an option much closer to home for tens of thousands of veterans. Right now the closest options for veterans on the Plateau are the state veterans cemeteries in Nashville and Knoxville.

Federal dollars will pay to design and build the cemeteries. State and local funds are required to obtain the land for the new cemeteries.

The Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs website includes a page devoted to future state veterans cemeteries.

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