published Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Bill seeks specialty tag to aid vets home

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — A Tennessee legislator is proposing a specialty license plate to honor military veterans and raise money for a veterans nursing home.

State Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, said in a statement that bill has passed the House Transportation Committee and will be voted on by the General Assembly.

“I am excited to see this bill progress so quickly through committee,” Watson said in the statement.

To be put into production, a specialty plate in Tennessee must have 1,000 advance orders at a cost of $35 each. If the bill is approved, motorists could start buying the veterans’ tribute plate July 1. Money raised from sales would go to the Tennessee Veterans Homes Board for the Bradley County home.

Bradley County Veterans Affairs Officer Joe Davis said Tuesday that the Southeast Tennessee Veterans Home Council is exploring ways to raise money for a veterans nursing home on land already set aside off APD 40.

GOLF TOURNAMENT

For information about the June 11 golf tournament, including registration, play and sponsorships, call the Veterans Services Office at 728-7200 or 423-728-7149.

“We are trying to get the state to pay the startup costs,” Davis said.

The proposed 108-bed facility is estimated to cost about $21 million, with two-thirds funded from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

In January, the VA said its current spending priority list includes proposed nursing homes in Montgomery County (41st) and Bradley County (47th).

An anonymous donor has pledged $3 million, and the Cleveland and Bradley County governments have pledged $2.2 million for the local home. The 27-acre site on Westland Drive in south Cleveland, was donated.

The council, representing various veterans groups, has been holding fundraising events to complete the funding.

A golf tournament is set for June 11 at Chatata Valley Golf Course to benefit the project.

Contact Randall Higgins at rhiggins@timesfreepress.com or 423-314-1029.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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