Created: April 07, 2021 07:45 AM
(ABC 6 NEWS) - Governor Tim Walz recently announced that three proposed veterans homes in Minnesota would receive federal funding this year. One of those homes is in Preston.
The three homes are going in Bemidji, Montevideo, and Preston. The Preston project has taken around seven years to get to this point.
"They are gonna love it, there is going to be a view up here that is just fantastic," said Retired Navy Veteran, Ronald Laughlin.
Laughlin served in the Vietnam War. He's excited to see some of his fellow veterans get a new home because the house on the hill is finally becoming a reality this year.
"The state funding through the state of Minnesota was allocated a number of years ago, that was about $10 million dollars. There were about a million dollars of local fundraising through the city, the county, veterans groups, other organizations, and other units of government," said City Administrator, Joe Hoffman.
Tuesday, March 30, Governor Walz announced that federal VA funding will help finish these projects. Many thought COVID would delay the plans, but it actually helped.
"There were concerns that COVID could really derail this process, there is so much uncertainty revolving around the pandemic, but in the end, that's actually what got the project funded," said Hoffman.
Crews are expected to break ground on the new home this Fall.
"I think it is very important for families to be close to their loved ones and that's what they are going to have here," said Laughlin.
The need is there for southeastern Minnesota. About 46,000 veterans live in the southeastern portion of the state, according to Hoffman and currently, there is not a veteran home in the area. Veterans will be able to enjoy the bluff country in the new 54-bed facility. It will provide both mental and physical services for those who qualify as well as some fun too with everything from a coffee shop to a movie theater.
"Outdoor areas, items like firepits, and trails, and gazebos, and really making sure the residents can connect with the surrounding environment," said Hoffman.
It will give these veterans a chance to share their stories with others who fought for our country.
"I hear stories from them and I guarantee you they deserve to be up here," said Laughlin.
This home will also bring a boost to Preston's economy, the facility will provide 80 full-time jobs. The construction process should take about 18 months.
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