Veterans Home Battle Hits Legislature


The contention over the Veterans Home move from Grand Island to Kearney has hit the capitol city.

More than 100 veterans, city, county, and economic development leaders from both cities testified before the legislature for nearly three hours on Thursday.

They were there because of a bill sponsored by Sen. Mike Gloor of Grand Island. His proposal would require a vote of the legislature, if the state wanted to move any facility with a value of at least $15 million.

Gloor says the process to choose a site for the Veterans Home was flawed, and did not allow for veterans to be heard.

Senators on the committee pushed back, questioning Gloor if he would be making that argument if Grand Island had been selected.

Kearney Sen. Galen Hadley said to go back and change the decision, the legislature would have to explain why the governor's decision was incorrect. "Grand Island was closer to last than first," he said.

Grand Island Mayor Jay Vavricek said the home was on "life support" and needed to be replaced. Vavricek said the process needed more "sunshine."

However, Kearney Mayor Stan Clouse said the central Nebraska mayor agreed on the process ahead of time, and said the decision was fair.

Grand Island Economic Development Director Randy Gard was asked if the community would abide by the legislature's decision, if they chose Kearney through the process outlined by Gloor. Gard said if it was the will of the legislature, they would accept the decision.

Hadley said Gov. Dave Heineman did not intentionally slight Grand Island. Hadley said if the scores had been close, Grand Island would have retained the home.

Hadley said it was a case of being upset after the fact, when he believes the process was open.

The past administrator of the Veterans Home in Norfolk was among those who testified in support of the bill. He said moving veterans could be traumatic.

Other veterans testified in support of building the home in Kearney, saying the scoring showed Kearney was clearly the best location.