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Ivins, Payson breaking ground on veterans homes
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The stars — or at least bad economic conditions elsewhere in the country — aligned to allow the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs to launch two new nursing homes in December.

Ground is being broken Thursday in Ivins for an 108-bedroom home that will serve veterans in nine southern Utah counties. A second ground-breaking is planned Dec. 14 in Payson, where a nearly identical home will serve veterans from throughout central Utah.

Both are expected to be finished in the spring of 2013.

"We just had all the stars align. That's the reason it's imperative we move ahead," says Terry Schow, executive director of the department.

The state submitted a request for federal Veterans Administration funding in 2004, and was far down on the list of proposed nursing home projects — 45 and 46 — before the bad economy walloped other states' ability to kick in their share for such projects.

Utah, however, had $13.5 million set aside after finishing the veterans home in Ogden several years ago. At the time, the state fronted all the cost of that home's construction, and it was later reimbursed more than $13 million from the VA.

"If it weren't for the Legislature front-loading the costs for Ogden and allowing us to use those [reimbursed] funds, we would have been one of those [states] whistling in the wind," Schow said.

The VA will provide $18 million for each of the two new nursing homes, and Utah will kick in $6.5 for each.

Meanwhile veterans groups are raising money to furnish the veterans' rooms, which are fairly spartan.

The Veterans Coalition of Southern Utah, which represents 11 veterans groups, has raised more than $200,000 and wants to raise $300,000 or $400,000 more, said coalition chairman Bill Toole, a career Marine and transplant from California.

The money will make resident veterans' lives more comfortable by providing such amenities as flat-screen televisions, he said. The nursing homes are wired for television, but none are provided with government funds.

The two nursing homes will share a floor plan with pods of rooms each modeled on a small home. Each room will have its own bathroom — a new VA concept that acknowledges a growing number of women veterans — and each will have at least a modest view of a green area.

"It's not going to be a brick wall or car barn," Toole said.

The city of Ivins donated the 10 acres for the nursing home, Schow said.

In Utah County, the LDS Church's Farmland Reserves Inc. donated 10 acres on North Main in Payson for the veterans nursing home.

Gary Schwartz, with the American Legion, is among a group of veterans organizing a coalition to raise money to furnish the rooms in the Payson nursing home.

People who donate $100 can get a plaque at the nursing home, and those who donate $4,000 to furnish an entire room will be noted in a plaque outside the door, Schwartz said.

"We're trying to get the word out," he said.

kmoulton@sltrib.com

How to help

To help add amenities to veterans rooms in the new homes, contact the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs at veterans.utah.gov or call 801-826-2372.

Choosing home sites

The Utah Department of Veterans Affairs bases its nursing home efforts on population, said executive director Terry Schow.

Salt Lake County has 65,000 veterans and is served by a home built in the late 1990s. Constrained by its location on the VA Medical Center campus in Salt Lake City, it has 81 beds and a typical waiting list of 100.

The Ogden home serves more than 40,000 veterans from Davis, Weber, Box Elder and Cache counties. It has 120 beds and is essentially full, Schow said.

Utah County has 18,000 veterans and Washington County has 10,000, he said. Choosing home sites

The Utah Department of Veterans Affairs bases its nursing home efforts on population, said executive director Terry Schow.

Salt Lake County has 65,000 veterans and is served by a home built in the late 1990s. Constrained by its location on the VA Medical Center campus in Salt Lake City, it has 81 beds and a typical waiting list of 100.

The Ogden home serves more than 40,000 veterans from Davis, Weber, Box Elder and Cache counties. It has 120 beds and is essentially full, Schow said.

Utah County has 18,000 veterans and Washington County has 10,000, he said. —

How to help

P To help add amenities to veterans rooms in the new homes, contact the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs at veterans.utah.gov or call 801-826-2372.

Military • Feds, state, private money to help vets.
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