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CURRENT STORIES


Nursing home grant OK'd

by Jim Fisher

STAFF WRITER

CLARKSBURG -- The majority of funding for the planned Bureau of Veterans Affairs nursing home in Clarksburg is now officially in place.

VA Secretary Anthony Principi this week approved a $14.9 million grant for the home.

The remainder of the money will come from proceeds generated by Veterans Cash scratch-off lottery tickets, created by the Legislature in 2001 to help pay for the facility. The state has 180 days to complete the remaining federal requirements of the grant for construction to begin.

"That's a major piece of the puzzle in place now, and moves this project along," said U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.

"It is time West Virginia's veterans had their own state nursing home," he said. "This is an example of a state and federal partnership to do something good for aging veterans."

The federal money is from the State Home Program, which is a partnership between the federal and state governments to acquire, construct or renovate nursing homes and adult day health care facilities for veterans.

The homes are owned and operated by the states, but the federal VA provides up to 65 percent of construction costs.

The 120-bed facility, which will be built on land adjacent to the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center, is expected to cost about $20 million.

The home includes a 20-bed wing for Alzheimer's patients, although plans allow for possible expansion if the need arises.

State Veterans Affairs officials have been working for several months to complete as much of the preliminary paperwork as possible. That was so the project could get started as soon as the money was finally made available, said Larry Linch, director of the state Division of Veterans Affairs.

An official groundbreaking ceremony is slated for Oct. 13. Barring any unforeseen problems with federal Veterans Affairs' approval, the facility will be completely finished and turned over to the state by February 2005, Linch said, although some sections will be open as soon as September/October 2004.

The facility earlier this year was ranked 19th of 81 proposed facilities on a priority list of federal grant applications. The priority list provided the basis for awarding the grants.

Staff writer Jim Fisher can be reached at 626-1446 or by e-mail at jfisher@exponent-telegram.com