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Montevideo veterans home one step closer with bonding bill inclusion

West Central Tribune - 5/22/2018

May 22--MONTEVIDEO -- An 11-year campaign to obtain state funding for a veterans nursing home in Montevideo needs only the governor's signature to put it over the finish line.

Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, phoned Montevideo nursing home proponent Marv Garbe at 11:58 p.m. Sunday with news that the omnibus bonding bill that included funds for veterans nursing homes in Montevideo, Bemidji and Preston had been approved in the Legislature.

"He told me, I don't care what time of night it is. You call me," said Miller, laughing.

Miller and Sen. Andrew Lang, R-Olivia, had authored legislation in their respective chambers that provides $32 million to construct 70-bed veterans nursing homes in Montevideo, Bemidji and Preston. The total includes $9.4 million for Montevideo, which on its own obtained pledges of nearly $5 million to reduce the state's share of costs for a nursing facility.

If the legislation is signed by the governor, the money will allow the three communities to pursue approval and funding from the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. Obtaining federal approval is expected to take four years, but could happen sooner if Congress increases funding for military services.

The federal government would fund about two-thirds of the project costs.

The communities have missed the 2018 application deadline, and will have to apply by April 15, 2019. Once they do, they will be placed on a list of applicants and awarded as funding is available.

Miller is optimistic that Montevideo will be approved as one of the top applicants on the federal level.

"In my opinion it is just a matter of time now," he said.

Miller said Montevideo has put together a complete and comprehensive proposal. He expressed his doubts that other communities anywhere have put as much together.

"It's been a long haul. I can't give enough credit to veterans who supported us all of these years," Garbe said.

He credited Miller and Lang as well as committee chairs Rep. Bob Dettmer, Forest Lake, and Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth, with carrying the measure through in the Legislature.

Ultimately, Garbe said, it came down to all of the public support, from making trips to the Capitol to letter writing and phone calling.

"It takes everybody to get behind it," Garbe said. "Every voice counts."

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(c)2018 West Central Tribune (Willmar, Minn.)

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