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WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2007
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State plans new nursing home for veterans

MONTGOMERY (AP) — The state announced plans Tuesday to build a new state-run nursing home for military veterans in Alabama — most likely in the Birmingham area, with 280 beds.

Gov. Bob Riley said the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has agreed to provide about $26 million of the nursing home’s expected $40 million cost.

Riley said state officials are currently looking for land in Shelby and Jefferson Counties. He said he plans to ask the Legislature next year to provide the remainder of the funding.

The state currently runs 150-bed veterans nursing homes in Bay Minette, Alexander City and Huntsville. Riley said he hopes building a new and larger nursing home will reduce the waiting lists of veterans trying to get into the homes. There are 75 veterans on the waiting list for the Alexander City home, 77 in Huntsville and 38 in Bay Minette.

“We have a waiting list today of veterans we just can’t serve,” Riley said.

Riley made the comments at a ceremony announcing that $2.3 million in improvements have been completed at one of the homes — the Bill Nichols State Veterans Home in Alexander City. The work was partly financed with $1.49 million in federal funding.

State Veterans Affairs Director Willie Marsh said the work included replacing walls, lighting fixtures, plumbing and wallpaper.

Riley said he wanted to build the new veterans nursing home near Birmingham because it is Alabama’s biggest city and is centrally located.

State Sen. Ted Little, D-Auburn, said he believes legislators will come up with funding for the new veterans nursing home.

“I still believe this is our greatest generation and we need to provide for them,” Little said of the World War II veterans who make up much of the population of the homes.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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