Wrong action

Fighting for the Grand Island Veterans Home is the right thing to do.

A decision of where to build the new home should not have been made by a select few. When these individuals are put into position of power and control that affects such an outcome, maybe it’s time for other changes in addition to a new facility.

Some may call it sour grapes. Grand Island played the political game and lost. But I say, “When it quacks like a duck, it is a duck. When it smells like a skunk...” Well, you can fill in the rest.

Gov. Dave Heineman had the right intentions but the wrong actions. His plan for a new facility is correct but he threw many under the bus by pitting communities against each other.

The impact on the current resident veterans and the negative economic impact on a proud community is shameful. At no time did our governor take into account those who gave him the right to serve our great state.

This selection process was started many months prior to Grand Island or any other community (with the exception of Kearney) being made aware.

Before anyone knew there was a possibility of the veterans home being moved, I personally received many calls from people close to the current home wondering why community leaders of Kearney were taking measurements of the current facility.

These Kearney leaders were invited into the home and when the current director, Alex Willford, was asked why, the response was, “No one ever said the new home would be built in Grand Island.”

Again, these invited visits were made many months prior to the governor’s announcement for the bidding process.

Here is an abbreviated timeline of events:

In 2011, there was strong division between Willford and our veterans service officer, Donald Shuda. 

It was noted in a story published in the Grand Island Independent on Nov. 14, 2011, from a Hall County Board meeting that the “Hopes are that the tension between the two won’t be the decision-maker for the home’s location.”

As a funeral director who is privileged to assist many veterans’ families, I am honored to work with Shuda and his most caring staff. They always put veterans first.

This was posted Nov. 25, 2011, in the Kearney Hub: “In appreciation for the efforts of Alex Willford (Grand Island veterans home administrator) and his staff, the Buffalo County Veterans Service Committee plans a special presentation at 7 p.m. Dec. 7, 2011, to recognize the administrator of the Grand Island Veterans Home.” 

As we fast forward to March 27, 2012, Kearney government leaders were invited into the current facility for a tour of the home. 

On Oct. 1, 2012, it was announced at the home that a major donor from Kearney was coming in for a tour of the wood shop and occupation therapy area to provide new equipment for the new home. 

Now in 2013, Heineman announces that the state Appropriation’s Committee has approved funding along with federal dollars for a new veterans home. 

Four communities put their best efforts forward and we know the final results, which was a decision that was made before the entire process began.

Heineman told me that when taxpayer money is used for this size of community project bids are necessary. It is public record that the Norfolk Veterans Home was built without pitting communities against one another.

The politics and entire process is an example of good intentions gone wrong. The governor of our great state must right the wrong!

Daniel D Naranjo
Grand Island

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