10/11/2019 12:00:00 PM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
St. Paul, Minn. – The architectural designs are nearing completion, and the Federal funding application has been submitted. Additional details have been provided to decision makers.
Officials from the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs visited Bemidji on Thursday to provide an update to the Veterans Home planning task force on the status of the /mdva/homes/futurehomes/index.jspproposed Minnesota Veterans Home in Bemidji.
In 2018, the Minnesota Legislature allocated $10.2 million toward the cost of the project which will be funded by a combination of federal-granted (65 percent), state-bonded and pending community-provided monies (35 percent). In March of this year, MDVA submitted an application for Federal funds from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; that funding will not be confirmed until early 2020.
While Federal funds are not guaranteed, there is continued optimism among the planning team. “The process is on track,” said MDVA Commissioner Larry Herke. “We look forward to approval of our Federal funding request and breaking ground on this new Veterans Home next year.” If funding is approved in early 2020, the project’s tentative timeline includes construction beginning in mid-2020 and the new home opening in early 2022.
The Bemidji Home’s design reflects a North woods cabin feel for the public spaces that include a Town Center featuring a small coffee shop/cafe, theater/meeting room, family dining room, meditation room/chapel, and club room. The 72 residential units all have private baths and will be split into two sections and four “neighborhoods,” avoiding long institutional-feeling hallways.
While the funding process is moving along, there have been some adjustments in the final design. Increasing construction and labor costs necessitated selecting more economical materials for roofing and countertops and the elimination of some features including a picnic shelter and a maintenance building.
Jim Lucachick, Bemidji Veterans Home Task Force Chair, said the adjustments were consistent with their vision for the project. “We have always said it is OK to be conservative in the design,” he said, describing the changes to the plans as “wise decisions and prudent.” The task force’s priority is to ensure that Veterans are well cared for.
County Veterans Service Officer Scotty Allison noted that he is already getting questions from Veterans wondering when they can apply for residence. Commissioner Herke said that MDVA is not yet accepting applications for residents but will announce that when ready.
Staffing the new home will be a priority as the home’s construction is completed. All staff will be State of Minnesota employees who receive competitive pay and generous benefits. About six months prior to opening, hiring will begin for leadership positions with more than 100 other roles filled thereafter.
For more information, visit the /mdva/homes/futurehomes/index.jspFuture Homes page of the MDVA website.
The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) is a cabinet-level state agency dedicated to serving Minnesota Veterans and their families. In addition to overseeing the five State Veterans Homes, MDVA helps eligible Veterans and families secure state and federal benefits and provides programs and services relating to higher education, benefits, burial, claims, outreach and Veterans employment. Veterans and their families are encouraged to visit www.MinnesotaVeteran.org or call 1-(888)-LinkVet for more information about benefits.