By BRIAN WALKER
Hagadone News Network
POST FALLS — Construction of a new state veterans home in Post Falls will start sooner than expected.
"On the funding list for fiscal 2019 we were No. 45 [among projects nationwide] and the V.A. funded the first 35," said Len Crosby, a local veteran who has been involved in the Post Falls effort. "However, some states didn't get everything squared away and we were able to jump in to take advantage."
The faster funding means construction on Idaho's fourth state veterans home will start next year and be completed about a year later.
"This is huge," Crosby said. "I was jumping up and down when we received confirmation we are funded. The Idaho Division of Veteran Services stayed on top of it and kept abreast of what was not proceeding."
Donated land, a needs study and other already-completed preliminary work helped make the project shovel-ready.
The initial construction estimate for the home is $49 million. About $31 million will be covered by the federal government. Idaho Division of Veterans Services will use money already set aside in the Veterans Recognition Funds to cover its 35% match.
The home will have 64 beds and cover about 82,000 square feet.
The design will incorporate a small-house concept, where possible, to ensure a home-like environment while still meeting the state regulations applicable to IDVS and maximizing the staff-to-resident ratio for operational efficiency, said Kevin Wallior, IDVS executive assistant.
The building will consist of four units, which are called neighborhoods. each has 16 private rooms with private baths. All neighborhoods will have direct access to the main community and administrative areas, and each household will have its own living space, den and garden.
Wallior said the number of employees who will work at the home hasn't been determined.
The home will be built on 7.3 acres donated by the Jacklin Land Co. in Riverbend Commerce Park on Post Falls' west side. It is adjacent to BioPol Laboratory and Buck Knives.
"The effort to build a fourth state veterans home in North Idaho is all about improving our veterans' quality of life by providing them a safe, home-like environment," Gov. Brad Little said.
"Thank you to the many partners who continue to press forward making the Post Falls veterans home a reality, including the veterans groups, Idaho Division of Veterans Services, federal government, businesses, locally elected leadership and our state legislators."
The home has been in the works for about 15 years as former Post Falls mayor Clay Larkin and the late state legislator Frank Henderson led the charge early on.
"As a nation, we owe a debt of gratitude to our veterans who deserve the best care possible," said Tracy Schaner, deputy chief administrator of IDVS.
Idaho's other veterans homes are in Boise, Pocatello and Lewiston. There are 153 homes across the country with more than 30,000 beds available to eligible veterans and spouses. Homes are owned and operated by the states.