Bradley County's future veterans' nursing home is next project on federal priority list

Bradley County's future veterans' nursing home is next project on federal priority list

June 22nd, 2012 by Randall Higgins in News

Mayor Tom Rowland stands in front of the shops of downtown Cleveland, Tenn.

Photo by Jenna Walker/Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Good news for Montgomery County's future veterans' nursing home also is good news for Bradley County, veterans officials said Thursday.

In a letter to Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder said the recent state legislative session in Nashville was good news for Bradley County's future veterans' nursing home.

Gov. Bill Haslam's $31 billion state budget was approved with $23 million in state funding for the proposed home here. The funding remains allocated through 2015.

State funding is in place now for the Montgomery County/Clarksville facility, according to the letter. A designer has been approved by the State Buildings Commission. The plan should be finished by fall, the letter states. After the site gets final state approval from the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs "we can start the bidding process and find a general contractor," Grinder said.

On May 30 the state applied for conditional grant approval from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Grinder said.

"One of the challenges we face with projects like these are the differing timelines of federal and state government," Grinder said in the letter.

The good news locally, Bradley County Veterans Affairs Officer Joe Davis said Thursday, is that the Southeast Tennessee Veterans Nursing Home is the next Tennessee project on the federal priority list for veterans nursing homes.

Davis said the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs separates its construction budget between repairs and renovations, which come first, then new construction. On the new construction list, the first project on the priority list now is in Richmond, Va. Two other Virginia projects, ranked just behind Richmond, are not being considered for now.

"Tennessee can build only one at a time. I guess they can only do one at a time, too," Davis said.

Just after the Virginia projects on the 2012 funding list is Montgomery County, ranked at 55. Then come Radcliff, Ky., Salem, Ore., and Cleveland.

Local officials have their fingers crossed for the 2013 federal budget year, which begins in October. Even so, it may be months later before the rankings are made public. For 2012, the public list was not released until February.

The local project already has a site and funding commitments from local government plus a $3 million anonymous offer contingent on progress continuing toward securing a home here.

Continued local support for Bradley County "is imperative to meeting the U.S. VA requirements within the timeline that will begin once we receive the federal funding commitment letter," Grinder said.