There were 277 dinner tickets sold and the fundraiser is expected to net $3,000 for the Southeast Tennessee Veterans Home Council in spite of the minor glitch.
For the second time in less than a week, it has not been a good experience for speakers to drive from Nashville to speak about the Southeast Tennessee Veterans Home Council. One speaker was delayed and the other was waylaid.
Last Thursday, the executive director of the Tennessee State Veterans Home Board was held up two hours in Chattanooga traffic on his way to update the STVHC on the status of the future home in Bradley County.
Bob Tuke, chairman of the State Veterans Home Board, was the scheduled speaker Tuesday at the dinner fundraiser in the Bradley Central High School Cafeteria.
Tuke was stranded in Monteagle where his car broke down.
Southeast Tennessee Veterans Home Council Co-chair Cid Heidel said Tuke was stranded on top of the mountain trying to find a mechanic to work on his car.
“What do you think are his chances of finding someone this time of day to work on a SAAB convertible?” Heidel asked.
Heidel was one of three people to speak in Tuke’s place. The other two were Bradley County Veterans Services Director Larry McDaris and Veterans Services Officer Joe Davis.
Oscar Kelly during the benediction expressed thanks for Simmons, who spent most of his time assisting veterans and their families.
“Even though John has passed on, his spirit and the work he started continue to live on,” Kelly said.
Heidel met Simmons in 2006 and remembered him as a unique individual who promoted the need for a nursing home in Bradley County when they were first introduced.
“In 2008, a couple of us suggested we should have a citizens-slash-veterans type organization in this area to get involved,” Heidel said.
The regional description “Southeast” was included in the name of the local council because they wanted to include the surrounding counties though the home would probably be located in Bradley County.
“Our purpose is to promote the veterans home and keep it in front of our politicians and citizenry of this area,” Heidel said. “Our secondary purpose is to raise funds to help defray the startup costs or anything else that might be associated with the home.”
Davis said in his remarks the construction of a home is getting closer but there are still hurdles to cross and of those obstacles, the biggest is the approximately $1.5 million startup cost. The state board is trying to save enough money, but there is a possibility of building the home in Cleveland and one in Clarksville in the same year. The state appropriated the money for the home in Knoxville and Davis anticipates approaching the State Legislature again.