Veterans Council looking at site
by JOYANNA LOVE Banner Senior Staff Writer
Jan 10, 2014 | 827 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Land donors of the proposed site for the Cleveland Bradley County Veterans Home have received a detailed list of concerns about the site from state officials.

Cid Heidel, co-chair of the Southeast Tennessee Veterans Home Council, gave a project update during a session Thursday night.

Heidel said the property donors will be submitting information to the Tennessee Department of General Services on how they plan to address the concerns.

In November 2013, the State of Tennessee Real Estate and Asset Management expressed four concerns about the site. Heidel said the most recent list featured nine. He commented that most of these issues were related to the original four.

“I am still hopeful that the current site can be used,” Heidel said.

Heidel said the information had been given to the local land donors Tuesday. He said he doubted the landowners had been able to get a plan back to state officials yet.

Land donor Steve Williams said during a meeting in December he and the other donors have already promised to donate labor to correcting any fill or grade issues on the site.

Council member Herb Stafford reiterated this point Thursday, saying the only cost would be fuel reimbursement.

Heidel said he thought all the concerns could be addressed.

A rough draft outline of the facility has also been provided to the land donors. A final architectural drawing has not been completed.

The state Department of Veterans Affairs, which will have the final say, has not made a determination on whether the land is usable. If the land is officially rejected, it would be a setback to the project.

A councilman asked Heidel if he thought that would happen. Heidel said he could not tell at this point.

Heidel was present at a meeting last week in Nashville with the commissioners of the two departments involved in this issue.

“It was a good meeting,” Heidel said.

Tennessee Commissioner of Veteran Affairs Many-Bears Grinder said during the meeting in Nashville she wants the home to be in Cleveland.

Heidel said a final decision on the location should be known by the council’s next meeting in March.

Comments were also made about the proposed local home dropping from No. 71 to No. 100 on the federal funding list.

“That was not unexpected, because we had to resubmit our application,” Heidel said.

Changes in federal regulations have changed the style of the proposed facility and increased the cost. Reapplying means the federal government will be contributing more of the increase in cost than if was not resubmitted.

He said many homes on the list had changed between Priority 1 and Priority 2, just as the proposed local home had.

“A lot of places that were (down to) Priority 2 last year are back on Priority 1 this year. It all depends on when that money is available,” Heidel said.

He said he was surprised a proposed home in Chicago jumped from the Priority 2 list to the second spot on the Priority 1 list. Whether a home is on the Priority 1 list is determined based on whether the project has state funding secured. The veterans homes are funded through local, state and federal funding.

The local home has not changed on any state funding lists, according to a recent interview with Grinder.

The drop in the federal funding list is unrelated to state concerns about the proposed site. Grinder said in an interview last week the federal government entities were not aware of the land concerns at the state level.

Also during the meeting, the council discussed a fundraiser set for June 7. The council is beginning to look for donors for its fifth annual golf tournament. Those interested can contact Joe Davis in the local veterans affairs office at 728-7149.