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Montevideo rallies for veterans’ home

Supporters of a proposed veterans’ nursing home in Montevideo wait in the rain for members of the state senate’s capital investment committee to arrive to tour the proposed site. An estimated 200 plus came to rally for the home Wednesday evening. 1 / 2
State Senator LeRoy Stumpf greets the crowd waiting in the rain for the capital investment committee he chairs to arrive at the site in Montevideo being proposed for a veterans’ nursing home. (TOM CHERVENY | TRIBUNE)2 / 2

MONTEVIDEO — Montevideo offered a hero’s welcome to members of the state Senate’s Capital Investment Committee as they arrived to see where the community hopes to build a 70-bed nursing home for veterans.

Over 200 people stood in the rain and cheered Wednesday evening under an American flag as the visiting senators departed their tour bus like hometown champions coming home from a big victory.

“You rock,’’ committee member Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, told the crowd waiting to shake the hands of committee members.

A short time earlier, in the Montevideo City Hall, supporters of the veterans home project outlined their proposal to committee members led by chairman Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, D-Thief River Falls.

This is the ninth year that the community has sought state bonding funds to construct a nursing home for veterans. Marvin Garbe, chairman of the nursing home committee, told the visiting senators that during that time, the state has approved bond funds to help build new stadiums for the Twins, Vikings and St. Paul Saints.

The need to provide care for a growing population of aging veterans in the region remains as important today as ever, he told the group. There is a list of 1,000 veterans in the state seeking admission to veterans’ nursing homes. According to the state’s website, Minnesota’s five current state Veterans Homes are located in Fergus Falls, Hastings, Luverne, Minneapolis and Silver Bay.

The waiting list would be longer but most veterans see its length and do not add their names, Tim Kolhei, Chippewa County veterans service officer, told the group.

“If they opened this tomorrow, it will be full,’’ said Angie Steinbach, assistant city manager in Montevideo.

Minnesota is eligible to add 144 veterans nursing home beds.

Montevideo has put together a proposal that it believes can go head-to-head with any other proposal in the state. The city has garnered support from the region to pledge over $5 million toward the construction of an estimated $30.7 million facility.

The federal government would provide $20.4 million toward the project.

The state would be expected to provide one-third or $10.2 million, but the local pledges being offered in the Montevideo proposal reduce the state’s actual share to $5.2 million.

The community has acquired the land needed for the project, and completed the architectural work and economic analysis required. The community has invested more than $152,000 to date in preparing a project, members told the visiting senators.

Members of the veterans home committee said the proposal is aimed at serving a large population of veterans in the rural area. There currently is not a veterans’ nursing home within a two-hour drive of Montevideo, they said.

“We are here to serve the veterans,’’ Steinbach said. “It’s where our hearts are.’’

Stumpf said they are in the fourth week of a statewide tour to view projects for which state bond funds are being sought. “We’re probably not quite half way done with the tour,’’ he said.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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