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Witness Testimony of Chuck Amunrud, Commissioner, Filmore County

I FIRST WANT TO SAY THANK YOU TO THE COMMITTEE FOR TAKING TIME TO COME TO OUR BEAUTIFUL FILLMORE COUNTY.  IT IS INDEED AN HONOR TO BE INVITED TO TESTIFY ON BEHALF OF FILLMORE COUNTY.

 MY NAME IS CHARLES (CHUCK) AMUNRUD AND I AM A FILLMORE COUNTY COMMISSIONER REPRESENTING THE THIRD DISTRICT.

 I AM ALSO A 60% DISABILED VETERAN.  ENLISTING IN THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE FROM 1968 TO 1972.

MY STATEMENT WILL MENTION THE LOCAL COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS OF OUR STATE LEGISLATURE, THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS, THE FILLMORE COUNTY BOARD, AND OUR LOCAL VETERANS GROUPS.  REASONS FOR FILLMORE COUNTIES BOARD DECISION TO DONATE LAND FOR A VETERANS CEMETERY.

 THE BOARD WAS APPROACHED IN 2009 BY OUR THEN STATE SENATOR SHARON ERICKSON-ROPES, WHO AT THAT TIME SERVED ON THE STATE SENATE VETERANS COMMITTEE.  WANTING TO FIND LAND THAT WOULD BE SUITABLE FOR A NEW VETERANS CEMETERY IN THE SOUTH EAST PART OF OUR STATE.  THE FILLMORE COUNTY BOARD SUGGESTED THAT THEY WOULD CONSIDER GIVING UP A PORTION OF LAND, THE COUNTY OWNED NEXT TO PRESTON THAT CONSISTED OF APROXIMATELY 245 ACRES.

 IN NOVEMBER 2009, THE THEN CURRENT STATE COMMISSIONER OF VETERANS AFFAIRS MICHAEL PUGLIESI AND STAFF VISITED THE FILLMORE COUNTY BOARD TO DISCUSS THE POSSIBLITY THAT OUR PROPOSED SITE COULD BE SUITABLE. AND THE NEED TO DO PRELIMINARY WORK ON THE SITE. WE DISCUSSED THE NEED TO AMEND THEN THE CURRENT STATE STATUTE.  THE STATUTE HAD SET ASIDE FUNDING TO ACQUIRE LAND AND DESIGN FOR TWO NEW CEMETERIES IN SOUTHWEST AND NORTHEAST MINNESOTA. WE NOW NEEDED THE STATE LEGISLATURE TO AMEND THE LAW TO INCLUDE SOUTHEAST MINNESOTA FOR LAND ACQUSITION AND DESIGN.

 DURING THE 2010 SESSION, STATE HOUSE REPRESENTATIVE GREG DAVIDS WHO STILL REPRESENTS OUR DISTRICT AND THE THEN STATE SENATOR SHARON ERICKSON-ROPES BOTH WERE CRUCIAL IN GETTING THE LAW CHANGED TO INCLUDE SOUTHEAST MINNESOTA.

 DURING THIS TIME FRAME THE FILLMORE COUNTY BOARD WAS VISITED BY OUR LOCAL VETERANS  GROUPS WHO PRESENTED RESOLUTIONS OF SUPPORT URGING US TO GIFT THE LAND NEEDED AS A WAY OF PAYING HONOR TO VETERANS FROM OUR CITIZENS. THE BOARD AGREED. 

 WE THEN LEARNED THAT WE WERE NOT DONE AT THE STATE LEGISLATURE.  THE NEW LAW WOULD AGAIN NEED TO BE AMENDED TO INCLUDE SOUTHEAST MINNESOTA DUE TO LANGUAGE IN THE ORIGINAL LAW AS PART OF A BONDING BILL.

IN 2011 OUR NEW STATE SENATOR JEREMY MILLER ALONG WITH STATE HOUSE REPRESENTATIVE GREG DAVIDS PROPOSED LEGISLATION THAT PASSED INTO LAW MAKING FILLMORE COUNTY A PRIORITY IN FUNDING FOR DESIGN TO CONSTRUCT A NEW STATE VETERANS CEMETERY. OUR ENTIRE REGION IS IN SUPPORT KNOWING THAT FAMILIES WILL BENEFIT FROM HAVING THEIR LOVED ONES BURIED CLOSER TO HOME.  NEW JOBS DUE TO CONSTRUCTION AND THE ONGOING OPERATIONS WILL HAVE A LONG TERM BENEFIT TO OUR LOCAL COMMUNITIES. 

 I WANT TO THANK THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON DISABILITY ASSISTANCE AND MEMORIAL AFFAIRS, THE MINNESOTA LEGISLATURE, THE MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS, TO MY FELLOW COUNTY BOARD MEMBERS IN A VERY POSITIVE COLLABORATIVE EFFORT TO BENEFIT OUR PAST CURRENT AND FUTURE VETERANS.

I WILL DO MY BEST TO ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS.