Central Nebraska The new Central Nebraska Veterans Home is still years away from being ready to move in. But this week it took an important step towards its completion.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs released a list of the vets home construction grants priority list for 2014.
In the list of 62 state matching funds, the new Central Nebraska Veterans Home was listed as 22nd.
The federal government only has about $53,000,000 to give in grants, which would mean they would only be able to fund the first 18 projects in full.
Kearney officials, however, are not concerned that there wouldn't be enough money for the project.
"What's allowable at the federal level and the state, how do we get additional funding allocated for this project keeping in mind that we don't need the full amount right now. We can do this piece meal and eventually we can work with them and get the total amount," said Kearney Mayor Stan Clouse.
Kearney officials say they expect more grant money to become available and their ranking is key for when that happens.
"With almost $490 million worth of projects on that top 62, I think it's pretty obvious that they don't have enough money to fund all of the projects. That's why the ranking and where you're positioned in the ranking is important," said Clouse.
Kearney feels very excited about the 22nd rank.
Clouse said, "The thing that's the most positive about this is that the Federal Veterans Administration recognized the need for replacement of the facility in Central Nebraska because of the dollars that they require for the matching grant. It's an expensive project, but yet they feel there's enough value there to place us that high on the ranking so we feel very good about where we fell out in the ranking."
However some in Grand Island feel it's bad news for the project.
"If the decision had been to leave the veterans home in Grand Island, I would have been disappointed. The 22nd ranking, to me, seems to be pretty far down the list given recent history of funding for renovation replacement projects of the veterans administration," said District 35 State Senator Mike Gloor.
Senator Gloor doesn't think it will prevent the new vets home but perhaps it will stop a move to Kearney.
He said, "Whether the federal dollars are allocated this year or next year, I suppose it buys us a little more time to be able to explore other options that relate to keeping the veterans home in Grand Island and having it cost less money by keeping it in Grand Island."
Mayor Clouse said the near $65,000,000 cost can be delt with in small installments, not one big payout.
He said, "We're really 2-3 years away before we would need the full amount of the funding so if you can get partial funding that will help us continue the process and I think it helps spread the cost out and it would help the federal government as they start looking at their processes."
At this point, Kearney officials are not worried their veterans home project will be scrapped.
"There's not any nervousness about the project being cancelled. The only concern I think would be the timing and does it delay, how much, what do we need to be doing? And right now we can't answer any of those questions because we just got the information," said Clouse.
If the vets home does make the move to Kearney, an architectural firm has been selected to build it.
The Department of Health and Human Services said Wilkins Hinrichs Stober architects will be the lead firm on a team of 9 consultants. He firm has designed more than 100 senior care projects.