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Support for Northern Nevada Veterans Home

Veterans turned out in force on Tuesday to back construction of a Northern Nevada Veterans Home.

At present, the only veteran’s home in the state is in southern Nevada and, with 180 beds, is at capacity.

Kat Miller, head of the Nevada Department of Veterans’ Services said Gov. Brian Sandoval included the $1 million for design and planning of the new skilled nursing facility in his budget two years ago.

This time around, he included the $14.1 million in state funds needed to build the skilled nursing facility.

She said the project has been on the Veterans Administration priority list since 2005 but there hasn’t been the funding needed to move it forward.

She said the project stays on the list but at the bottom until the state comes up with its one-third match. The $14.1 million will leverage $30.6 million in federal funding from the VA and $3.4 million in agency money to actually build the project.

The home would be built on the grounds of the Northern Nevada Mental Health property in Sparks. Miller told the joint Senate Finance, Assembly Ways and Means subcommittee she hopes to have the northern home open for business and able to accommodate 96 veterans, spouses and Gold Star parents by the end of 2017.

The new home will be what she termed an innovative design, more residential than institutional and yet able to “provide the support services required in a skilled nursing setting.”

“It is the Community Living Center concept embraced by the VA,” according to her prepared testimony for the committee.

One question raised at Tuesday’s hearing was over the use of $2 million from the southern Nevada home’s reserves to fill out the $3.4 million in agency funding. She said that account has $4 million total reserves but that she is “absolutely comfortable” using half of it in the north since everything that needs to be done at the southern Nevada home has been fully funded.

Miller said the need is undeniable since there are more than 80,000 veterans living in northern Nevada and an estimated 95,000 veterans in the state who are 65 and older.

“We’re told this project has a very high probability of success,” she said of the federal funding.

The subcommittee was also told the CIP budget includes the state’s 50 percent share to build the long-sought Hotel College and Academic Building at UNLV. The total cost of that 92,000 square foot building will be $48.8 million.