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A U.S. and a POW/MIA flag

U.S. and POW/MIA flags fly at the site of the memorial marker for U.S. Navy Lt. Commander Alan Ashall at the Yellowstone National Cemetery on Sept. 18, 2015.

CASEY PAGE/Gazette Staff

The Yellowstone National Cemetery will begin several improvement projects in June, including adding more space for cremated remains and upgrading the restrooms.

Noel Baumann, cemetery manager, said construction will begin in early June and be finished by October.

The cemetery is located at 55 Buffalo Trail Road, north of Laurel.

One of the projects will be to build a new columbarium, an above-ground structure that holds cremated remains marked by a small plaque mounted onto its marble front. The new columbarium, Baumann said, will have 320 spaces or “niches,” with each space able to accommodate two cremated remains, such as for spouses.

The existing columbarium has eight spaces left and is expected to be full by mid-June, Baumann said.

Families requesting placement in the columbarium are welcome to have committal services at the time of need and delay urn placement until completion of the new columbarium, she said.

YNC s columbarium placement rate is about 45 per year. The new columbarium will extend burial availability until about 2023, she said.

Cremated remains also may be placed in the ground for interment, Baumann said.

The cemetery also is adding 763 pre-placed concrete crypts for another option for casket interments, she said.

The concrete crypts will be placed side-by-side in the ground and will have concrete tops, enabling two caskets to be placed one on top the other.

The concrete crypts eliminate the dirt spaces between plots in a traditional burial and will allow the cemetery to accommodate more burials, Baumann said.

Another improvement will be to add heat, power, flushable toilets, sinks and running water to the restrooms. The existing restrooms are more like an outhouse.

Visitors also will notice new signs. A new entrance sign will indicate that cemetery is the Yellowstone National Cemetery and will replace the sign that says the cemetery is the now-former Yellowstone County Veteran’s Cemetery, Baumann said. Other signs will include a Stop sign, floral regulations sign and a one-way sign.

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Federal Court, Yellowtone County Reporter

Federal court and county reporter for The Billings Gazette.