LINCOLN — Gov. Pete Ricketts announced Friday that federal officials have set aside $52 million this year toward building a new Central Nebraska Veterans Home.

The money is part of what the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs plans to provide for construction of the planned 225-bed home.

The state got word in December that funding would be provided but not the amount. Additional federal funds are expected in future years, although the amount has not been determined.

The federal veterans home construction program reimburses states after costs have been incurred.

The Kearney facility will replace the aging veterans home in Grand Island. The latest estimates put the total cost of building and equipping the new home at $121 million.

Wilkins Hinrichs Stober Architects of Kearney was contracted in June 2014 to do design work on the project, which is now complete.

Courtney Phillips, CEO of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, said the next steps will include final architectural drawings and specifications, an advertisement for construction bids and submission of the final application for the federal funds.

The federal government requires the next steps to be wrapped up within six months, but a groundbreaking date has not been set yet. The home is expected to be complete by fall 2018.

Nebraska lawmakers had set aside $47 million in 2013 to match the hoped-for federal funds. Kearney also has pledged funds to pay for infrastructure around the project.

Contact the writer: 402-473-9583, martha.stoddard@owh.com

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