Nebraska will receive the federal funding needed to build a new veterans home in Kearney.
The Veterans Administration has $105 million available for priority projects, which includes the new Central Nebraska Veterans Home.
Kearney won a competitive bid process among four Nebraska cities, including Grand Island, where the home has been located for 125 years.
Kearney City Manager Michael Morgan says it’s a great payoff for a lot of hard work.
“We tried a lot of different things as we put this proposal together and it’s going to be an exciting time; there’s a lot of work ahead,” Morgan says.
The move of the veterans’ home became controversial as Kearney was determined to win the bid process over Grand Island and two others. The home is expected to cost $121 million. It contains about 225 beds and employs approximately 350 workers. Grand Island fought the move.
Kearney City Councilmember Randy Buschkoetter praises Governor Dave Heineman for putting the new veterans’ home up for bid and then sticking with Kearney’s winning bid.
“It took some courage for the governor to decide that we’re going to put this out for an open bid so we get the best possible home for our veterans,” Buschkoetter says. “And, then, to take what I think was really a courageous decision; Kearney wouldn’t have had ill feelings for not having something that we’ve never had. It takes some guts, politically speaking, to go out and make the decision that he made.”
Kearney has agreed to pay for the infrastructure the home requires. The Unicameral allocated $47 million for the project.
“I know I speak for every Nebraskan when I say how very proud we are of our military personnel and our veterans; they are our heroes,” said Hilgert. “This is for them, and I look forward to each and every milestone until the new Veterans’ Home is completed.”
Brent Wiethorn, KXPN, contributed to this report.