published Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Proposed Cleveland veterans home name to have regional appeal

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Cleveland and Bradley County leaders have agreed to a name for a proposed 108-bed living facility for veterans.

On Monday, the Bradley County Commission endorsed naming the facility the Cleveland/Bradley County State Veterans Home in a 14-0 vote. The Cleveland City Council approved the name last month.

The name was chosen in lieu of titles with regional appeal or those associated with a particular benefactor.

"A private donor, who is providing $3 million for the project, has made a condition that the home not be named after anyone," said Commissioner Mark Hall, who serves on the veterans home panel.

The anonymous private donor has agreed to provide over half of the local required funding for the facility, according to officials. Bradley County and Cleveland have both agreed to provide $2 million each.

Commissioner Ed Elkins, who also serves on the veterans home board, said he had expressed interest in naming the facility the Southeast Tennessee Regional Veterans Home, partly in hopes of soliciting funding from surrounding counties.

However, Elkins said that state veterans affairs officials said such a proposal might come into potential conflict with any veterans home built later in the region.

Request for federal funding and the subsequent groundbreaking for the project moves forward, but the timeline is not concrete, said Larry McDaris, director of veterans services for Bradley County. The Bradley County project moved up the federal funding list significantly last July after a few veterans facility projects in Virginia were suspended.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is expected to release a new funding priority list within the next few months, said McDaris.

"Hopefully we will be in that group, but it's not a done deal," he said.

McDaris and Hall are hoping that the facility will also receive additional grant funding through Bradley County's Healthy Communities Initiatives program.

The project has already received a $60,000 grant through the program, according to McDaris.

A number of site preparation tasks could significantly benefit from grant funding, McDaris said, including preliminary location studies, right-of-way acquisition needed to create a second entrance to the facility and earth-moving.

The proposed facility, which has been described as a community of individual dwellings, will be located on 27 donated acres on Westland Drive, near APD 40 in southern Bradley County.

The veterans home board will meet Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Cleveland/Bradley County Chamber of Commerce.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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