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Veterans Home Breaks Ground On Friday

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Everyone is invited to a groundbreaking ceremony for the $88 million veterans care home on Knighton Way in Redding. The event is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Friday, May 21.

Planned for the event are a flyover by the California Air National Guard, a formal presentation of colors, patriotic music and speeches by veterans and public dignitaries. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is known to be fond of both veterans and the Redding area, is likely to be on hand.

The event is a major milestone in the long history of the veterans home, which was first proposed nearly a decade ago by then-State Sen. Maurice Johannessen. Although others eventually pushed the project through final approval and lined up financing, Redding’s own MoJo deserves credit for keeping alive a proposal that at one time seemed like a long shot.

The cause was helped greatly when developer Jon Thomason donated the 26-acre site, located between Churn Creek and Redding Municipal Airport. The City of Redding then cleared up some mineral rights associated with the property, paid off a sewer assessment, and agreed to extend a water line, a sewer line and electrical conduit to the location. The city also nudged PG&E into providing gas service to the site, according to Greg Clark, a spokesman for the City of Redding.

The design of the facility is anything but institutional. The 155,000-square-foot vets home will be composed of several smaller buildings, called “neighborhoods.” Residents will live in their own individual units, while they will share gardens and courtyards, a chapel, a general store and a variety of medical and recreation facilities. The home will have room for 150 veterans and offer different levels of care appropriate to the physical and mental health of individual residents.

Last year, the California Department of Veterans Affairs completed new residential facilities in Ventura and Lancaster, and the department is about to open a new home in Los Angeles. On Wednesday, the agency broke ground on a 400-bed home in Fresno.

“We anticipate completion of both the Fresno and Redding projects in the spring of 2012,” said JP Tremblay, deputy secretary of Veterans Affairs. The federal government will pay about 60% of construction costs. The state will operate the homes, with the federal government reimbursing about half of the state’s cost.

Honorably discharged veterans who are disabled or at least 62 years old are eligible for residency in the homes. About 85% of residents are men, and nearly all of them are single, although Veterans Affairs does allow non-veteran spouses to live in some units, Tremblay said.

The project is expected to have a decent economic impact on Redding. Not only does the vets home represent a large construction project, but about 240 people will work at the facility once it is open. “That’s a pretty good-sized business for Redding,” observed Clark. “It’s a bigger operation than people think.”

Southern California companies Clark Design/Build of California is the contractor for the project, while Jacobs Engineering is the architect of record. You’ll be able to follow along development of the project on Clark’s website, www.veteranshomeofcalifornia-redding.com.

Tremblay said about 400 people – including the governor – attended Wednesday’s groundbreaking in Fresno. I would expect a similar sized crowd on Friday morning.

shigley-mugshotPaul Shigley is senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a frequent contributor to Planning magazine and co-author of Guide to California Planning, a reference book and college text. He lives in Centerville. Paul Shigley may be reached at pauls.anewscafe@gmail.com.

Paul Shigley

has been a professional journalist since 1987. For 12 years, he served as editor or senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a statewide trade publication for land use planners, real estate development professionals and attorneys. Prior to that, he worked as a reporter or editor at newspapers in Redding, Grass Valley, Napa and Calistoga. Shigley's work also has appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Planning magazine, Governing magazine, California Law Week, National Speed Sport News and elsewhere. In addition, he is co-author of Guide to California Planning, a college text and reference book, and is currently working on a book for the American Planning Association about the Bay Delta and California water resources. A graduate of California State University, Sacramento, Shigley has contributed to A News Cafe since 2009. He and his wife, Dana, live in western Shasta County.

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