GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — The Hall County Board voted unanimously Tuesday to fight a decision to move the Grand Island Veterans Home to Kearney.
The board passed a resolution asking the Legislature to support keeping the home in Grand Island, where it has been for 126 years. Gov. Dave Heineman announced July 12 that a new home would be built in Kearney.
“This is a quality-of-life issue that rises above any point system that could ever be established,” said board Chairwoman Pam Lancaster.
Four communities bid for construction of the $121 million Central Nebraska Veterans Home and were graded on a 1,200-point scale. Kearney came in first with a score of 1,033; Hastings was second at 977; Grand Island third at 889; and North Platte fourth at 855.
The state plans to pay $47 million toward the project and apply for federal funds to cover the rest. While a new home is needed, Lancaster said, it should remain in Grand Island.
The veterans home is in an “absolutely gorgeous” residential setting with mature trees and a lake. It is close to medical care, social activities and areas of reflection, she said.
“Board members have shared that they have had amazing input from the community. ... They are stunned, frustrated and, quite frankly, rather angry to think that a home for veterans could be considered anywhere else,” Lancaster said. “We were caught off-guard by the fact that the veterans would ever need to consider someplace else when they considered this home for 126 years.”
A resident of the Grand Island Veterans Home plans to give the County Board some help.
John Huebner said he plans to circulate a petition among fellow members asking to have the veterans home remain in Grand Island.
Huebner also has created a T-shirt that expresses support for Grand Island's effort.
The front of the shirt says: “Keep Veterans Home here in GRAND ISLAND.” Beneath the blue lettering on the front is the black silhouette of a service member framed with an arching inscription: “America's Heroes.”
On the back of the T-shirt, Huebner has a blue-lettered inscription saying, “Grand Island Has!” Below that is a list of Grand Island institutions, services and activities that he sees as reasons for keeping the home in Grand Island.