Bob Horton, the public information officer for the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs, said Wednesday there is a special groundbreaking ceremony slated for the new veterans home at 1 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 30.
Horton said VA will hold the ceremony next to the Icademy on the Jefferson State Community College campus in Pell City.
“It’s been hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait,” said Kim Justice, the veterans’ home coordinator for the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs. “Well, this part of the waiting is over.”
She said state officials are excited the project is moving forward and bids are already solicit for the largest veterans home project ever in the state.
“Our largest veterans’ home is 150 beds,” Justice said. “This one is 254 beds.”
She said 10 contractors have pre-qualified for the multimillion dollar project and a pre-bid conference was held with qualified contractors last week in the St. Clair County Economic Development Council office at Jefferson State Community College.
Justice said the VA will open bids for the project next Friday at their Montgomery office.
She said the bids will have a base bid and several alternate bids.
“This is a huge project,” Justice said.
The certified bid tabulation will take at least one week, and must be completed before the bid for the project is awarded to a contractor.
“We plan to have our contractor present at the groundbreaking ceremony,” Justice said.
The location of the new VA Home is planned for a 27-acre site adjacent to where the new St. Vincent’s St. Clair Hospital is currently under construction. The building site is north of Interstate 20, near the Jefferson State Community College campus.
“We know the Veterans Affairs Board had a number of great locations to choose from to put their newest facility, but we are very happy they decided to build it in St. Clair County,” said Tommy Bowers, chairman of the St. Clair County Economic Development Council Board. “Having two large health related projects happening at the same time in St. Clair County is so important to the future of our area. I hope everyone marks their calendars and makes plans to attend the ground breaking at the end of the month.”
Local officials say the new veterans home will create about 300 new jobs.
“The Col. Robert L. Howard State Veterans Home is a wonderful thing for Pell City’s economy,” Pell City Mayor Bill Hereford said Wednesday. “In my view, the really great thing is that we have been entrusted with the honor of caring for those who have done so much for us.”
VA officials say the new Veterans Home is a cutting edge homecare facility with plenty of green space for veterans.
Officials say the new Veterans Home will have its own town center with a beauty/barber shop, coffee shop, chapel and a main dinning hall for residents. The town center will also have a “Hall of Honor” dedicated to the men and women who served the nation.
Officials say the new facility will house 254 veterans. The assisted living facilities have private bedrooms and bathrooms. There is also a special hospital facility planned for veterans who need special around the clock care.
“As an aging Vietnam veteran, I’m very excited about the official start of the veterans home in St. Clair County,” said Stan Batemon, chairman of the St. Clair County Commission, who spearheaded efforts to bring the veterans home to St. Clair County. “I want a room over there some day.”
He said Vietnam veterans are the next generation of war veterans this new facility will serve.
Batemon said the new veterans home will provide a place for Vietnam veterans to make peace with the past and will allow them to work through the trauma, both physically and mentally, they experienced in the later part of the Twentieth Century.
“Vietnam veterans are in need of some special care, and that care can only be provided by the interaction with other Vietnam veterans,” Batemon said. “I think this facility is going to be a very special place for Vietnam veterans.”
Construction of the new veterans’ home is expected to be completed by the spring of 2012.