The Fort Jackson National Cemetery is ready to begin its next phase of construction after the Department of Veterans Affairs awarded LW Construction, LLC a $10 million contract, officials announced recently.

Gene Linxwiler, cemetery director, said the contract is for the building of the second, permanent phase of the cemetery.

The finished project will encompass more than 4,000 concrete vaults, 2,000 burial vaults, an administration and public information building, a maintenance complex and two shelters to be used for interment services, a public assembly area, utilities and irrigation systems.

Currently, only 14 acres of the cemetery are open. Linxwiler said this second phase will include an additional 74 acres for development.

According to a Department of Veteran Affairs news release, "This 74-acre development, along with a previously constructed early-burial area with temporary facilities, is expected to provide an estimated 10 years of burial services."

The announcement of this second phase comes a year after construction first began on the cemetery. Interments began in January.

Louis White, owner of the Charleston-based construction company, said he was pleased his company was selected for the project.

"I'm very happy to be doing this project for the VA," he said. "I think it's going to be a terrific project."

White said he is aware of the sensitivities that should be taken to ensure families visiting the cemetery are not disturbed by the construction.

"We are going to put everything in place to make sure we don't have an occurrence where a family member will experience something like that," he said.

He added, "As a veteran myself, I'm very respectful of the families here."
White is an Air Force retiree.

He said he expects the project to be completed by late 2010.
In total, 585 acres of land near Percival and Clemson roads have been set aside for the Fort Jackson National Cemetery. Linxwiler said roughly 10 acres of land will be developed each decade for burials.