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Perseverance, key 'pivot points' bring veterans home to Montevideo

Tom Cherveny / Tribune Flag bearers march Wednesday as supporters of the Montevideo veterans home gather at the future site of the home to celebrate the successful 11-year campaign to secure a veterans home in the western Minnesota community. In coming months, architects will begin seeking community input on design. 1 / 6
Submitted Veterans home supporters in Montevideo join for a photograph Wednesday at the future site of the home, celebrating the successful 11-year campaign to secure a veterans home in the western Minnesota community. In coming months, architects will begin seeking community input on design.2 / 6
Tom Cherveny / Tribune Montevideo celebrates its successful 11-year campaign for a veterans nursing home. The event Wednesday began with a gathering at the site of the future home, where participants joined for a group photograph and said the Pledge of Allegiance. 3 / 6
Tom Cherveny / Tribune Marv Garbe, who led the successful campaign to build a veterans home in Montevideo, offers his thanks Wednesday for the support and perseverance of the community. He recalled a night in 2015 when supporters showed up at the site to meet visiting legislators despite the wind and rain.4 / 6
Tom Cherveny / Tribune Loretta Garbe was surprised with a rose from her husband, Marv Garbe, in appreciation of her support during the 11-year campaign he led to secure a veterans home in Montevideo. She had a surprise of her own. Unbeknownst to her husband, she has been crocheting afghans for each of the 70 beds to be part of the home. 5 / 6
Tom Cherveny / Tribune Pat Kubly, widow of former Sen. Gary Kubly, speaks Wednesday at the veterans home celebration in Montevideo. Sen. Kubly first introduced legislation for a veterans home. Representative Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, background, and Senator Andrew Lang, R-Olivia, (not shown), authored legislation for the home in the past legislative session. 6 / 6

MONTEVIDEO — It took perseverance and key "pivot points" to bring Montevideo's 11-year-long campaign for a veterans nursing home to its successful conclusion, lawmakers told supporters of the home on Wednesday.

They spoke at a celebration at the American Legion Club in Montevideo to thank those who supported the effort to secure state funding for the home. More than 200 of the supporters gathered first for a group photograph at the future site of the home.

One of the critical steps was taken at the site when the state Senate's Capital Investment Committee toured it in November 2015. It was a "windy, rainy and dark" night, Marv Garbe, who led the veterans home campaign, reminded those who gathered for the group photo.

He feared the weather would keep away supporters, but instead, Garbe said he was brought to tears when he saw the large crowd waiting to greet the visiting legislators.

"That point set the tone and demonstrated how much the veterans and the community supported the project,'' Garbe said.

State Sen. Bruce Anderson, R-Buffalo Township, chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, credited the persistence of supporters who continued to show up at legislative hearings over all the years for the project's success.

"These opportunities, sometimes they come to our committee and we hear about them and we go yup, and they die. Yup, and they die. But you are troopers. You people did not give up,'' Anderson said.

State Reps. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth, and Bob Dettmer, R-Forest Lake, also cited the importance of the supporters perseverance. "Don't forget it. It was your perseverance that made this happen," Miller said.

Miller also pointed to two "pivot points" as critical. One occurred in February 2016 in Willmar, when supporters spoke at a hearing on veterans issues. World War II veteran John Handeen of Montevideo spoke about the need for the veterans home as being not for himself, but for those who would follow him. His message made Dettmer, as chairman of the House Veterans Affair Committee, and Sarah Anderson, as chairwoman of the House Finance Committee, proponents of the project.

"She (Anderson) walked away and said 'we've got to do something,' it made that big of an impression," Miller said.

He credited Brian Cook, a research consultant with the House of Representatives, with making possible the other big turning point. It was Cook who came up with the idea of tapping a reserve fund for the Vikings stadium to fund the veterans homes. It proved a game changer, according to Miller.

While the governor and others opposed tapping the stadium fund, the conversation now changed, Miller said.

"We were no longer talking about if we were going to do it. We were talking about how we were going to do it.''

The Legislature included $32 million in the bonding bill to build 70-bed homes in Montevideo, Preston and Bemidji. Supporters are now urging Congress to make available the federal matching funds needed for the project.

Garbe told supporters that Montevideo is close to raising an additional $700,000 for the project after learning its offer of land and infrastructure as part of the $5 million local pledge could not be counted. Wold Architects has been named architects for the project, and will be meeting with groups in Montevideo to gather input for the design in coming months, he said.

Tom Cherveny

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

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