GI Discounts Vets Home Priority Rank; State Moves Forward
Construction of a new veterans home in Kearney ranks among the top 25 projects on a national list and Mayor Stan Clouse takes that as a sign of support to build the home in Kearney.
He said, "The priority list speaks volumes to the fact we do need a veterans home in central Nebraska and we should not lose sight it's for our veterans."
But in Grand Island, the ranking is seen through different eyes.
State Senator Mike Gloor and Mayor Jay Vavricek think by the time the government reaches that point on the list, the dollars may be gone.
Vavricek said, "I'm also surprised there's not a higher ranking, but none the less, when you look at the facility that uses all of the funding, maybe it's to be expected you wouldn't get all the funding right away."
If there's not enough federal funding this year, Kearney believes that simply means a better shot next year.
Clouse said, "We're fairly confident next year it would be ranked even higher."
Grand Island continues to believe the best site is the one vets have called home for 126 years.
And while the buildings may not be fit for a modern nursing facility, Vavricek thinks there are other options than tearing it down.
He recently sent a letter to the CRA, Community Redevelopment Authority, requesting dollars to transform facilities into something else, like lodging for vets, even homeless vets.
Vavricek said, "Why spend $4 to 5 million when you can potentially redevelop it. "
The state is also moving forward, selecting architects from Kearney to begin design work. But Grand Island is undeterred.
"We have an investment there, we'll continue to honor that, once again knowing what's in the best interest of veterans is what's driving this whole decision and why it's so important to our community," Vavricek said.
The state has selected an architectural firm from Kearney, but that contract won't be finalized until federal funds are granted.
Wilkins Hinrichs Stober Architects (WHSA) will be the lead firm on a team of nine specialized consultants.
"Wilkins Hinrichs Stober Architects is uniquely qualified to oversee the development of the new Central Nebraska Veterans' Home," said John Hilgert, Director of Nebraska Health and Human Services Division of Veterans' Homes.
WHSA has planned and designed more than 100 senior care projects, according to DHHS.