A dream realized as work to begin soon on Montevideo Veterans Home

·3 min read

Jul. 17—MONTEVIDEO — A groundbreaking ceremony will take place Aug. 23 for the construction of a 72-bed veterans nursing home in Montevideo, Commissioner Larry Herke of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs told supporters of the project Wednesday in Montevideo.

Herke and representatives of the architectural and construction teams for the project reviewed plans for what they said will be a "state-of-the-art" skilled nursing facility for veterans.

"This is really going to be the place in Minnesota," said Douglas Hughes, deputy commissioner for veterans health care, during the presentation on the project.

The nearly 95,000-square-foot facility will be constructed on a 4.11-acre campus on the east side of Montevideo. The nursing home will include four connected households, each holding 18 individual units for veterans, according to Sara Malin, lead architect with Wold Architects. The Montevideo home is one of three veteran nursing homes being erected in the coming year after receiving state and federal funding.

The state Legislature approved $12.4 million in funding in 2018, and the federal government allocated $34.3 million this year.

Montevideo raised $5 million in private funds for the project. The local funds include a nearly $3 million donation from the estate of Steve Williams, a Vietnam veteran from Clarkfield, along with financial support from local governments.

The local funding will make it possible to develop a community center in the Montevideo facility, which will be unique among the three nursing homes to be built. The others will be located in Bemidji and Preston.

"We want this to feel like your home, want it to feel like home," said Malin in describing the plans for the facility.

The project comes with an overall budget of $52.8 million, with construction representing $44,615,109 of the total. Buddy Juusola, senior project manager for Knuston Construction, said the firm is currently taking bids on materials and is locking in prices as much as possible.

The contractor is hopeful of having footings for the facility in place in January and the building's exterior erected by May 2022. The facility should be substantially completed in May 2023 and turned over to the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs in July 2023.

Herke and Hughes said one of the challenges ahead will be recruiting staff for the facility. The facility will require 108 full-time equivalent positions. With a mix of full- and part-time employees, they expect to hire 120 people. They will be state employees and paid on state wage scales, ranging from more than $15 an hour for certified nursing assistants and housekeeping staff and up to $130,000 annually for the top administrative position.

The facility will provide an overall payroll estimated at about $7.5 million annually, according to Hughes.

Marv Garbe and a fellow group of veterans first met in 2007 with the hope of developing a veterans home in Montevideo. The original plan, developed by architects for Montevideo, estimated construction costs of $15 million.

Garbe told attendees at the Wednesday presentation that when the effort began in 2007, he and other supporters felt a home could be approved by the federal Veterans Administration in a few years' time. Of the 17 supporters who traveled to St. Paul on the first of many trips to lobby legislators, nine have since died, he said.

Garbe said he took to heart the advice he received at the time from the late Gary Kubly, then a state senator, and his spouse, Pat, to "never give up."

Garbe said the credit for the project's success belongs to the many local supporters as well as legislators Sen. Andrew Lang, R-Olivia, and Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg.

"I can't thank the community enough," said Garbe of the support he said was responsible for winning state and federal funding.

Jim Williams, representing the estate of Steve Williams, told Garbe the project would not have succeeded without his persistence and led the gathering in applause for his effort.

Montevideo Community Mtng REV 7.13.21 by West Central Tribune on Scribd

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