Hall County Asks Legislature to Revisit Vets Home Decision


Elected leaders in Grand Island say they're not giving up the fight on the Central Nebraska Veterans Home, even after the Gov. Dave Heineman urged the city to be gracious in defeat.
Instead, the Hall County Board of Supervisors took formal action Tuesday, with a resolution calling on lawmakers to revisit the governor's decision to build a new home in Kearney. "Request support of the Nebraska Legislature in retention of the Grand Island Veterans Home," Hall County Veterans Service Officer Don Shuda said, reading from a formal resolution.
Hall County board chair Pam Lancaster said they don't blame the other communities that bid, as she pointed out they cooperate with neighboring counties on many issues.
Bob McFarland agreed, saying "It's not a dispute with Kearney or Hastings or North Platte. We are disputing the process used to make this decision." A committee of three selected Kearney, after visiting all the sites, including Grand Island. But leaders in Grand Island say state officials left something out. McFarland said, "I think the scoring process was flawed. In fact, it didn't take into consideration lives of members of the home."
In addition, the Grand Island committee that prepared the veterans home bid says there's reason to believe very few employees will move with the home. "People are outraged over the loss of jobs, outraged over the fact this is going to affect 600 families in the Hall County area," McFarland said.
But the governor continues to say Grand Island had its chance and this time Kearney had the best proposal. Others too say it's time for Grand Island to let it go. "I can appreciate them saying that, however we feel differently," McFarland said.
And while at least two state senators are on Grand Island's side, it remains to be seen if other lawmakers have any interest in revisiting the issue.
Meanwhile, some members of the home are planning a petition drive. John Huebner has been at the home since 2001.
He has made up T-shirts and is formulating a petition he plans to circulate. He said members at the home are upset about the governor's decision.
Huebner said the site in Kearney is too far removed from retail areas of the city, which he feels would be detrimental to members of the home who like to go out into the community.
While some members may not like the site, it rated high on the state scorecard, and the governor said it was the best location.