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Western New York National Cemetery

May 17, 2022 - 5:03pm
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The intersection of Route 77 and Indian Falls Road is deemed safe in that it meets or exceeds all state and national design standards, according to a draft report released this week by the Office of Veterans Affairs.

The latest report is based on data and a study by an independent engineering firm, Larson Design Group.

The location is outside the Western New York National Cemetery, which opened a year-and-a-half ago and where two veterans (Christopher Rowell and Arnold Herdendorf, both of Lockport) were killed in a motor vehicle accident in September of 2021.

Glenn Elliott presented the report at a meeting hosted Monday in Corfu by Rep. Chris Jacobs. Elliott is the environmental director in the office of facility planning, construction and facility management at the VA.

"The draft study concludes that the intersection meets NYSDOT standards for sight distances and the US Federal Highways Administration Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices," Elliott said. "This is the standard used by roadway managers nationwide to install and maintain traffic control devices on all public streets, highways, bikeways and private roads open to the public."

He also said, "It finds that the sight distance is at the State Route 77 in Indian Falls Road intersection for greater than design criteria. Concluding sight distances do not propose a safety issue for traffic turning off Indian Falls Road. It concludes neither an all-way stop nor a traffic signal are required for the applicable criteria of METCB. It finds the expected crash frequency not significantly higher than the predicted crash frequency. Therefore safety performance is consistent with what is expected at this intersection. Since November 2020, when the cemetery opened, the crash frequency incident rate did not increase."

And, "The study finds that the expected crash frequency is not significantly higher than predicted crash frequency. Therefore, the safety and performance of the intersection is consistent with what is expected for this type of intersection."

However, because of the interest within the veterans' community in the safety of the intersection, the report reviews seven potential changes to the intersection.

  • Eliminate the existing departure passing zones at the Indian Falls Road intersection.
  • Install a flashing intersection control beacon or alternatively install side-mounted flashing warning devices along Route 77 intersection warning and involves road stops.
  • Install rumble strips on the shoulder and centerline on State Route 77.
  • Eliminate the existing departure and passing zone mentioned earlier.
  • Installed larger right and left stop signs with reflected posts on Indian Falls Road, including placards for cross traffic does not stop at stop pavement markings on Indian Falls Road.
  • Install larger intersection signs on State Route 77.
  • Install a roundabout at the intersection of route 77 and Indian Falls Road.  

None of the possible changes are explicitly recommended though flashing beacons, signage and pavement markings, and a roundabout all score the best when mathematically weighted for effectiveness in reducing accidents.  Roundabouts reduce accidents by 60 percent and fatal accidents by 99 percent.

One suggestion by the study explicitly deemed ineffective is reducing the speed limit approaching the cemetery.

Jacobs said he organized the meeting in order to give community members a chance to review the report and make their own comments about it and potential changes to the intersection. 

"It is clear that more needs to be done to make this intersection safer for our veterans and our families who come to pay respects to our fallen heroes," Jacobs said. "I am committed to working with the veteran community to ensure meaningful changes are made."

For more details and for comments from among those who attended, watch the video above.

December 15, 2021 - 4:23pm

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The Pembroke Veterans Outreach Club was recognized today by the Hiram G. Luhman Post 626 of the American Legion for their efforts to support Wreaths Across America.

The club raised $2,300 for the organization by selling 470 wreaths in support of service at the WNY National Cemetery in Pembroke on Saturday.

At the event, family members of servicemen and women, among others, will be laying wreaths on the graves of veterans and spouses. The event is open to the public and begins at noon (recommended arrival time, 11:30 a.m.) Speakers include David Bellavia, Medal of Honor recipient, Rep. Chris Jacobs, and Assemblyman Stephen Hawley.

Ed Mileham, far right, presented the club with a framed letter of appreciation from the Legion.

Previously: Wreaths Across America comes to Genesee County to honor veterans

 

November 26, 2021 - 12:00am

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Several years of volunteer time, energy and collaboration will come together next month for a wreath-laying ceremony at Western New York National Cemetery in Corfu.

The cemetery was officially opened in December 2020, and now for the first time, it will play host to a Wreaths Across America ceremony featuring Keynote Speaker and Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia, the laying of wreaths for at least 700 fallen soldiers, and an Honor Guard, Public Affairs Chairman Patrick Welch said.

“This is the first year, and we feel we’re doing fairly well,” he said to The Batavian on behalf of the cemetery’s council. “We’re at 530 wreaths purchased … from everywhere in Western New York. We’re looking to sell around another 200 by the close of business on Monday.”

Yes, the clock is ticking to buy a wreath for a veteran’s grave. The deadline for orders is Monday, Nov. 29. People have the option to lay the wreath themselves during the event or someone else will take care of it. This link ensures that wreaths purchased are designated for Western New York: www.wreathsacrossAmerica.org/NY0368P

The Western New York National Cemetery Council, classified as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit,  will receive $5 from each wreath purchased. Proceeds will go toward necessary items not provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration due to a lack of resources or legal restrictions, Welch said.

He gave two examples of such necessary purchases. The VA provided a construction trailer to house Honor Guardsmen in between funeral services. Only thing was that it was empty, so the Council had to buy furniture, a refrigerator and/or coffee pot so the Honor Guard could keep warm and relax for a while before heading out again. Another need was for some type of vehicle to transport the guardsmen — who are typically 60 to 80 years old — around the cemetery to designated gravesites.

“So we had to go out and raise money to get golf carts so that we can transport the honor guard around the cemetery through the services,” Welch said. “Those are just a couple of examples.”

Wreaths are $15 apiece. If more wreaths are purchased than needed, the credit will go toward a purchase for next year’s ceremony and burials, he said. The ceremony is open to the public, and Welch recommends that visitors show up early, as seating is limited. Visitors may want to bring a lawn chair to ensure seating for the event.

There is to be a multi-phase development of the cemetery, which will include a columbarium to house cremations on-site. That project and other additions are set to begin in 2022, said Welch, a retired U.S. Marine from Amherst. Although he has been working on this effort for several years, it isn't about him, he said. 

“It’s about the cemetery and those that served this country,” he said. 

Wreaths Across America started as a simple gesture of thanks, organizers said in a news release. The effort has grown into a national movement of dedicated volunteers and communities coming together to "not only remember the nation’s fallen and honor their service but to teach the next generation about the sacrifices made for us to live freely," it stated. This year, there will be more than 2,500 participating locations placing wreaths on National Wreaths Across America Day – Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021 – with more than two million volunteers coming together.

“We are forever grateful for the thousands of supporters who dedicate their time and effort to fulfilling our mission on a local level,” said Karen Worcester, executive director of Wreaths Across America. “These individuals and their communities know the value of remembering the fallen, honoring those who currently serve, and teaching the next generation about the sacrifices made for our freedom every day, and without their continued support, Wreaths Across America would not exist.”  

In May 2014, the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration purchased 132-acres in Corfu for $625,000, and acquired two additional parcels of land in 2018. Western New York National Cemetery is a 269-acre Department of Veteran Affairs national cemetery located at 1254 Indian Falls Rd. and Route 77, Corfu.

The council sought permission to include an Avenue of Flags and was granted permission as only one of three cemeteries to have one. The flags hold special significance as having been draped over veterans' caskets and donated for this purpose. 

According to the WNY cemetery website, it serves the needs of more than 98,000 veterans, spouses, and eligible children within a 75-mile radius of Batavia. For more information about the cemetery, go to:  https://www.cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/WesternNewYork.asp#hi

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Top photo: The Avenue of Flags, Honor Guard and entrance at Western New York National Cemetery in Corfu. Photos submitted by Patrick Welch

October 7, 2021 - 6:26pm

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Article and photos by Glenn Adams

The Honor Guard was established to provide Military Honors in funeral services for veterans from any of the U.S. Armed Forces. The Western New York National Cemetery Honor Guard for Genesee County is looking for volunteers to help with that important task.

The National Cemetery, located in Pembroke, has become the final resting place for over 600 veterans so far this year. Opened late last year, it provides a place where loved ones can say their final farewells, and thereafter, visit the grave as often as they desire.

They average about 3 funerals a day there, Monday through Friday, and occasionally have one on Saturday. An Honor Guard is there in the summer heat, wintery blasts, and everything in between, honoring those who have given at least a part of their lives for their country.

I witnessed my first funeral there last week. The Honor Guard was on hand to do their part in making a difficult time a little easier for family and friends. John Case was there then, an ex-Marine He was laid to rest his father, who had served in the Air Force. The ritual flag folding, gun salutes, taps, and expressions of gratitude for his father’s service from a grateful nation, lent an air of gravity to the proceedings.

The Genesee County detail, which takes the Monday services, is made up of 47 volunteers, although the numbers dwindle as snowbirds leave for the south each fall, and other commitments take volunteers away from week to week. Tuesday’s Honor Guard is from Orleans County, Wednesday, from Wyoming County, Thursday from Erie County, and Friday’s Honor Guard is made up of Vets from the various surrounding counties served by the Cemetery. Carl Hyde, a Navy Veteran and in charge of the Genesee County Guard, tells me that the last Monday of each month is a service for unclaimed Vets.

But they need help from Veterans in the area who can give a little time to help the families of their fellow soldiers. Who can help out? Anyone with an honorable discharge from the military is eligible. You don’t need to be a part of any Veteran’s organization. There is no requirement for attendance each week. Some vets are only available once or twice a month. Right now they’re stretched pretty thin on some days, for the south is calling some for the winter, and none are getting any younger.

For more information on how you can help, stop by the Batavia American Legion, 8969 Alexander Rd on Saturday, October 9th from 1-4 pm or call Carl Hyde at 585.356.2658. If you are from another county, he can put you in touch with a person from your county to contact.

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March 29, 2021 - 12:00pm


The Western New York National Cemetery is open and accepting donations of interment flags for their Avenue of Flags program. This is a stunning presentation of flags lining the lanes of the National Cemetery.

To donate your interment flag to be flown in memory and in honor of your loved one or more information contact us at (585) 344-4295 or [email protected]

Of the 143 national cemeteries in the United States, only three are participating in the Avenue of Flags program, including our own Western New York National Cemetery. Each flag is donated by the family and friends of those entitled to military honors and are flown in tribute to their loved ones and honor of those entering the cemetery.

Our funeral homes would be honored to take care of each donation and bring them to the National Cemetery, where they will stand guard for our nation’s veterans on their last journey. Only interment flags are permitted, no store-bought flags are accepted.

March 11, 2021 - 12:00pm


The Western New York National Cemetery is open and accepting donations of interment flags for their Avenue of Flags program. This is a stunning presentation of flags lining the lanes of the National Cemetery.

To donate your interment flag to be flown in memory and in honor of your loved one or more information contact us at (585) 344-4295 or [email protected]

Of the 143 national cemeteries in the United States, only three are participating in the Avenue of Flags program, including our own Western New York National Cemetery. Each flag is donated by the family and friends of those entitled to military honors and are flown in tribute to their loved ones and honor of those entering the cemetery.

Our funeral homes would be honored to take care of each donation and bring them to the National Cemetery, where they will stand guard for our nation’s veterans on their last journey. Only interment flags are permitted, no store-bought flags are accepted.

December 5, 2019 - 1:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Western New York National Cemetery, pembroke, news, veterans.

Press release:

Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs, Randy Reeves along with other VA National Cemetery Administration officials visited Western New York yesterday, meeting with Veterans, Contractors, Federal, State Veterans and County representatives reviewing progress on the new Western New York National Cemetery.

“I am pleased to see work on this moving forward,” said Randy Reeves, under secretary Memorial Affairs. “The team of VA staff, Service-Disabled Veteran-owned Small Business contractors and the community are working together to ensure Western New York Veterans and their families will have access to this benefit, as soon as possible, close to home.”

VA operates 139 national cemeteries and 33 soldiers' lots and monument sites in 41 states and Puerto Rico. For Veterans not buried in a VA national cemetery, VA provides headstones, markers or medallions to commemorate their service.

Information on VA burial benefits is available from local VA national cemetery offices, online at https://www.va.gov/burials-memorials/ or by calling VA regional offices toll-free at 800-827-1000.

To make burial arrangements at any open VA national cemetery at the time of need, call the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 800-535-1117.

May 24, 2016 - 2:35pm

Press release:

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Cemetery Administration (NCA) announced the name "Western New York National Cemetery" for the new national cemetery planned for construction in Pembroke, New York.

“The Veterans of Western New York deserve a final resting place worthy of their service to our nation,” said Ronald E. Walters, interim under secretary for Memorial Affairs.

National cemeteries are named based on the geographic location of the cemetery. VA relies on local veterans and community leaders to submit name suggestions. Of the names submitted, “Western New York National Cemetery” best met VA’s naming criteria and is consistent with the requirements specified in title 38 United States Code § 531, requiring VA property, including national cemeteries, to be named for the geographic area in which the facility is located. Any other name suggestion, such as that of a particular person, requires congressional action.

VA purchased the Genesee County property at 1232 Indian Falls Road off Exit 48A on Interstate 90 for $625,000 in May 2014. The cemetery will serve more than 96,000 veterans, their spouses and eligible children in the Buffalo and Rochester areas. The initial phase of construction will develop approximately 70 acres and provide for approximately 10 years of burials, accommodating both casketed and cremated remains.

The nearest open national cemetery is Bath National Cemetery located in Bath, New York, approximately 85 miles away.

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