GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — Grand Island’s City Council has approved a $5,000 contribution to a legal fund for the fight to keep a veterans home in the south-central Nebraska community.
The council voted 9-0 Tuesday night to approve the expenditure.
The money will join the $5,000 pledged by Hall County and the $2,500 promised by both the Grand Island Area Economic Development Corp. and the Grand Island Area Chamber of Commerce.
State Sen. Mike Gloor asked for the council’s support Tuesday so he could devise legislation next year in an attempt to change the decision to build the replacement in Kearney.
He said he’ll need a substantial measure to garner 25 votes for passage and 30 votes for an expected gubernatorial veto, Gloor said.
“It’s going to be an uphill battle, but we won’t know unless we try,” Gloor said.
Kearney finished ahead of Hastings, Grand Island and North Platte in the bidding process for the $121 million project. It will replace the outdated, 225-bed facility in Grand Island, where a state veterans home has been a fixture since the Soldiers and Sailors Home opened in 1888. The home was built on 640 acres of land donated by the city.
Most of the money needed will come from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Gloor said many of his Grand Island area constituents have been up in arms since Gov. Dave Heineman announced the move decision on July 12.
“I think it’s because the veterans home is part of the culture of this community in so many ways,” Gloor said. “It’s touched all of us in some way, shape or form.”
Mayor Jay Vavricek and other Grand Island leaders said the selection process was unfair because the Veterans Home Selection Committee had private conversations with Kearney officials ahead of the bidding process. They also complained that the process did not include the opinions of veterans who live at the home and of people who work there.
Kearney Mayor Stan Clouse said last month that Kearney representatives met with state officials twice last year, but he said the meetings didn’t yield any advantages and the city didn’t do any lobbying.
State officials have said the selection committee rated the four cities’ bids on nine major categories. Kearney’s total was the highest.