OUR CITY: ‘Make-it-work’ attitude needed for veterans home project
by Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland
Mar 27, 2014 | 449 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cleveland Mayor Tom  Rowland
Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland
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When State officials flew into Cleveland last Friday morning, they came to revisit our plans for building the Cleveland/Bradley County Veterans Home and address concerns lifted by the state’s real estate and asset management division.

A Veterans Home has been in the works here for some time and land has already been donated on Westland Drive. Changes to federal requirements has surfaced in the past few months that could affect our project. Friday’s session was impressive indeed. The officials flew into Cleveland’s Regional Jetport and held a roundtable discussion face to face with the various parties involved in the veterans home project. Then a hands on visit was made to the site.

A great deal of thanks goes to state Rep. Kevin Brooks for working out details to have State Commissioners Bob Oglesby, General Services, Many-Bears Grinder, Veterans Affairs, and Cid Heidel of Southeast Tennessee State Veterans Home Council join our state legislative delegation, city officials and other state leaders. Sen. Todd Gardenhire, Rep. Eric Watson and Rep. Brooks were in attendance. The discussion was held at the Church of God General Offices, which provided us a centrally located meeting room. The city of Cleveland staff provided transportation from the airport to the meeting and then to the construction site. Also meeting were property owners involved in the proposal, including the land donors and architects from the Lewis Group. It was a great joint effort by many people.

A great deal of planning has already gone into the site and a visit to the actual location was part of Friday’s agenda. Hopefully, state officials left with valuable input that would assure them our City with Spirit is more than willing to make this site work. I definitely feel there was a positive attitude upon their arrival and their departure.

In fact, Friday’s visit was a reassurance that our community is indeed committed. Robert Wright, land donor, said is best when he noted it simply needed to be “approached with a make-it-work attitude.” That attitude certainly exemplifies his philosophy and his background, experience and knowledge in the site preparation industry. That should be reason enough to make our case to the state for this project to move forward. Steve Williams, also with expertise in the site development and construction industry, showed the architectural drawing that would solve the state’s issues with the site.

Williams has volunteered his expertise to make the site acceptable with a generous offer of in-kind work that would be about $870,000. This would blend with additional local and state fund needed for the project completion.

Though state officials note their concern arose due to federal requirement changes for building and design of veterans homes, local land owners and experts in our community, have done their homework. The ball is now back in the state’s court as the April 15 funding deadline nears.

Hats off to Wright, Williams, our legislators and others who gave their time Friday for this show of support. Our Veterans Affairs Department here has been valuable in assisting as needed.

I definitely think our session Friday had a “more positive feel” than our last meeting when the issues arose. Hopefully, the participation from our representatives, officials and landowners made a difference.

I was truly proud of the “make-it-work” attitude and determination on behalf of our veterans that was exhibited here Friday. Our veterans deserve no less.

Thanks to all for keeping the issues front and center as deadlines draw near.