The Alabama Veterans Administration is planning a state-of-the-art nursing home for a site in Pell City, one that will offer sorely needed services for veterans from across Alabama.
The site is chosen. The plans are drawn. What officials are lacking are the funds to build it. Local officials are waiting on federal grant money to break ground on the new facility, which could be as much as a year away.
That’s too long, say county officials, who know the positive impact the Veterans Home could have on the region, not only in terms of services, but in jobs. They predict 300 jobs would be on the immediate horizon with this project.
As the site develops with Jefferson State Community College’s possible expansion and a new St. Vincents St. Clair Hospital ready to begin construction nearby, more jobs will likely follow.
That’s why St. Clair County Commission Chairman Stan Batemon is posing the question, ‘Why wait?’ This is good for the region, good for the state and good for the economy. And he is proposing the county lend money to the project to get it started more quickly while it awaits federal funds.
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, said he will support funding the project from next year’s federal budget if it is included, and local officials are wise to explore a way to get it on the fast track with temporary funding now.
With the country in the midst of two wars, the $50 million facility, offering 254 private rooms in a setting with amenities that make it more like a community than a nursing home, it is obvious that it can only enhance what this state and this country can give back to their veterans.
And in the process, it will serve as a way to bolster the economy.
That’s a win-win for all involved, and officials ought to be urged to push forward in that direction.