GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — Somebody poured salt in Grand Island's wounds.
On Tuesday, new signs were erected at the Grand Island Veterans Home. The new tan and white signs read, “Central Nebraska Veterans' Home.”
Mayor Jay Vavricek saw the signs Wednesday morning and was shocked.
“I'm aghast that they did this,” Vavricek said as he looked at the sign at the home's east entrance along Capital Avenue, renamed earlier this year by the Grand Island City Council as Veterans Memorial Avenue. “It's absolutely and fundamentally wrong and disrespectful to our community's integrity of service.”
Grand Island has been host to the original Soldiers and Sailors Home, later renamed the Grand Island Veterans Home, for 126 years. Grand Island submitted a bid to host the proposed new Central Nebraska Veterans Home, but in July Gov. Dave Heineman said the new facility would be built in Kearney.
Vavricek was so upset that he contacted Heineman's office about 9:40 a.m. Wednesday and requested that the signs be removed.
Within five minutes of Vavricek's call, orders apparently were issued to have the signs removed.
As Vavricek stood on the veterans home lawn, Clayton Hanika of American Lift and Sign Service arrived. The Omaha company had installed the signs and others around the veterans home.
“I've got orders to take this down,” Hanika said as he began dismantling the sign. “Somebody signed off on the wrong thing.”
The new sign appeared to be for Grand Island, though. The home's address of 2300 West Capital Ave. was lettered vertically along the front edge. All six new signs were removed.
By Wednesday afternoon, the governor's office distributed a string of emails between his office, Department of Administrative Services Director Rod Anderson and other state officials. The emails included an apology from the sign company and a mockup of the signs the state had ordered, which were to have read, “Grand Island Veterans' Home.”
“The mistake was on our end,” said Todd Carey, general manager of ASI Sign Innovations in Omaha. “The wrong version of the signs was approved by the project manager.
“I apologize for the error,” Carey wrote to state officials.