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The Dedicated Vets Behind Utah's New Veterans Home

PHOTO: An intensive fundraising effort by local veterans' groups has allowed for upgraded room interiors at the new Southern Utah Veterans Nursing Home in Ivins. Courtesy of Utah Dept. of Veterans Affairs.
PHOTO: An intensive fundraising effort by local veterans' groups has allowed for upgraded room interiors at the new Southern Utah Veterans Nursing Home in Ivins. Courtesy of Utah Dept. of Veterans Affairs.
May 23, 2013

IVINS, Utah - The new Southern Utah Veterans Nursing Home in Ivins is open to the public for a first look today. It's a 108-bed skilled nursing facility for the state's growing population of aging vets.

The State of Utah fronted about one-third of the construction cost and the Veterans Administration funded the rest. But beyond the building itself, the rooms needed to be furnished and decorated - and local volunteers stepped up to the challenge.

The VA pays a basic amount for furnishings, but Utah vets wanted to make them even nicer. Bill Stay, the American Legion's Area 4 commander, headed the fundraising effort.

"It cost us about $4,000 per room to upgrade each one of the rooms with a flat-screen TV, a computer, easy chairs and of course, the decorations," Stay said, "and so that's what we set out to do."

The VA matched some of the more than $300,000 in donations from local businesses, veterans organizations and individuals. In addition, a local quilters group is making quilts for every resident of the new facility and says it will continue to do so in coming years.

This is the latest project of the Veterans Coalition of Southern Utah, a group of about 10 vets' organizations that sometimes find themselves competing for donation dollars. Coalition chairman Bill Toole said this project changed that mindset.

"I started it with the idea that there is no end to what an organization can accomplish, so long as people are not hung up with who gets the credit," he said. "By talking back and forth instead of looking like enemies at each other, we're helping each other. Whatever else veterans can do, it's help each other."

The project also helps the local economy. It's expected to bring more than 150 jobs to the Ivins area, and it brings the number of Utah veterans homes to four, with another new facility in Utah County soon to open.

The dedication ceremony is scheduled for 1 p.m. today at 160 North 200 East, Ivins.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - UT