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Ground broken on veterans nursing center

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Slated for completion by summer 2015

By Marty Finley

Seven years after the first application was filed for a veterans’ nursing facility in Hardin County, movement is noticeable on the $40 million facility off Logsdon Parkway north of Radcliff.

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Gov. Steve Beshear joined local officials, community leaders, active-duty soldiers and veterans in breaking ground Wednesday morning at the site of the Radcliff Veterans Center.

The 120-bed facility, which will mimic home life for its occupants, is slated for completion by April 2015 and should start accepting tenants by summer of the same year, barring delays, said Gilda Hill, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Veterans Centers. It will become the fourth center in the state dedicated to veterans with locations 

already established in Hanson, Hazard and Wilmore.

Hill said the rooms will be divided across four neighborhoods with 30 beds in each. Built in pods of 10 units, each home will have a living room, dining room and kitchen while patient rooms will house private beds and bathrooms. The floors of the rooms will be carpeted, she said, as the state moves away from a medical model in its nursing facilities.

“It won’t look like a hospital,” Hill said. “It won’t look like a nursing home.”

Commissioner Ken Lucas of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs said the homes will have assigned staff to meet needs. Preliminary estimates put the number of employees at the facility between 160 and 200.

“Our goal is to provide quality care to the veterans,” Lucas said.

Beshear said the project is overdue for a region in which roughly one-fourth of the state’s veterans reside.

“I know a lot of people are eager for this to be completed,” Beshear said.

Radcliff Mayor J.J. Duvall stressed the need for the center because of the number of veterans who have retired to the city. Once completed, he said, it will be one of the few facilities of its kind built so close to a military installation. The property off North Logsdon Parkway, which formerly was part of the Fort Knox military reservation, was donated by the Department of Defense.

Duvall thanked Beshear for his support of veterans and his belief in northern Hardin County, telling the governor Radcliff will do its part to take care of its veteran population. The city intends to annex the property once the center is built.

Hardin County Judge-Executive Harry Berry said veterans throughout the region have sacrificed much for their country and for others and there is no better way to repay them than to take care of their needs in the twilight of their lives.

“They served our country faithfully and gave our community the opportunity to serve them,” Berry said.

Federal funding of more than $21 million was given for construction costs while the Kentucky General Assembly allocated $18.6 million to cover remaining costs, Beshear said. Without the state stepping up and covering more of the expense, Lucas said, the facility never would have been built.

The groundbreaking brought out droves of active-duty service men and women and veterans, some who have been involved on the “ground floor” of the nursing center’s development.

Glen Guth, a member of AMVETS Post 61 in Louisville, has been involved in the construction of all four veterans nursing centers, traveling around the country looking at other facilities and designs.

Guth said the nursing facilities in Kentucky stack up to any around the nation.

“Being one of the most populous parts of the state, we definitely need one here,” Guth said.

Clint Meshew, Fort Knox veterans service officer, said the facility will remove some burdens off family members and pay proper respect to veterans.

“What pains me is little old ladies driving halfway across the state to see their husbands in the nursing home,” he said. “Now they won’t have to do that anymore.”

It has been a long time coming with a lot of hard work involved, Meshew said.

“The bottom line: We’ve won,” he said.

Marty Finley can be reached at 270-505-1762 or mfinley@

thenewsenterprise.com.