MONTEVIDEO - Montevideo is rallying the troops for another run at winning state support to build a 90-bed veterans’ nursing home in the community.
Some 70 supporters on Tuesday joined Sen. Lyle Koenen, DFL-Clara City, and House Rep.-elect Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, to discuss a renewed campaign at the Legislature.
During a meeting at the American Legion in Montevideo, the elected officials pledged to work for the project, and sounded an upbeat note about their hopes for eventually seeing a veterans’ nursing home built in Montevideo.
“I can’t tell you this is going to happen,’’ Miller said, but he added that he felt “conditions are very favorable for a project like this.’’
Montevideo and Bemidji are considered the leading contenders for a new veterans’ nursing home in the state, according to Koenen. He too is not certain it will be approved this session, but he urged persistence.
The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs operates five homes offering long-term care to veterans. They are located in Fergus Falls, Hastings, Luverne, Minneapolis and Silver Bay.
Any proposal for a new nursing home for veterans faces two challenges. The first is posed by the work that will be getting underway to add 100 nursing home beds and remodel 100 existing beds at the Minneapolis Veterans Home. The federal government is “double counting’’ the beds against the number of beds allocated by the federal government for Minnesota.
A Minnesota nursing home project will need an exemption to the federal rules to allow another project to go forward while the Minneapolis project is being completed. Or, a Minnesota project will have to wait until the Minneapolis project is completed and the project is no longer counted as 200 “new” beds, according to Koenen.
The other challenge is monetary. A Minnesota project will need state funding toward the construction costs.
Montevideo is proposing an estimated
$33 million project. It is seeking $11 million in state bond monies, to be matched by $22 million in federal funds, according to Marv Garbe, who is leading the Montevideo proposal.
Montevideo has an advantage no other project enjoys, according to Koenen. Chippewa County, the city of Montevideo, and supporters have pledged a total of
$5 million in local funds to the project.
The Montevideo project also has updated engineering and architectural designs. The Montevideo Community Development Commission, city of Montevideo and Chippewa County have invested $152,000 to date to make the project as shovel-ready as possible.
Koenen said the Montevideo project is definitely considered the best proposal right now. He said he recently spoke with Commissioner Larry Shellito, leader of the Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs, who shared that assessment.
The other element in Montevideo’s favor has been its ability to muster community support for hearings at the Legislature. Koenen said the presence of Montevideo supporters makes a difference, and he encouraged them to continue their efforts this coming session.
Miller said having legislators from the two different parties working on its behalf could help in the Legislature, since each is part of the majority party in their respective chambers.
Having both an experienced and newly elected office holder might help too, he said. Miller said he can be the “young, brash” legislator “who thinks he can get anything done and is dumb enough to ask the questions and push people around and Lyle will clean up the mess and take care of it,’’ he said, laughing.