Mower County pledges $10,000 for state veterans home project in Preston

Published 8:40 am Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Putting their hands into the effort, Mower County agreed to donate $10,000 for the $35.8 million state veterans home project in Fillmore County.

During Tuesday’s board meeting, county commissioners had revisited a request that was made by the City of Preston for Mower County to donate funds to help build a 74-bed facility that would service veterans from around the region.

Freeborn County donated $15,000; Wabasha County $5,000; and Blue Earth County $10,000. Although $50,000 was originally requested, it was up to Mower County with how much of a donation they’d be willing to pledge to put toward the state veterans home.

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“Mower County veterans would benefit,” said Chairman Jerry Reinartz. “But, how much?”

Whatever donations are made to the building project, the federal government would match the funding 2 to 1, according to a previous story. Mower County has the funding currently to donate to the project, which would be withdrawn from county reserves, said Craig Oscarson, county coordinator. Even though the county board would commit to funding part of the project during Tuesday’s session, the actual check wouldn’t be written out until next year, and would only be a one-time donation.

Commissioner Tim Gabrielson recommended a donation of $10,000 from Mower County to be made toward the state veterans project.

“I think that’s fair,” Commissioner Polly Glynn added.

The board voted 4-0 (with Commissioner Tony Bennett being absent) to approve the donation.

Even though the state veterans home would be built in Preston, Mower County veterans would still be able to receive services and be housed in the facility that’s more accessible to southeast Minnesota.

This project came into fruition after Gov. Mark Dayton approved a $32 million bill to be divided among three project sites: Montevideo, Bemidji and Preston.

Fillmore County had received about $10.2 million from the state to offset construction expenses, and various coalitions came together to raise $30.6 million for the funding of the state veterans home in Preston.

The county has 2,739 veterans who are eligible to be placed, and there are around 46,000 veterans who live in the region. The Austin Daily Herald previously reported that there was a 100 percent occupancy at all state veterans home, with 1,898 applicants who were on waiting lists to get into homes, and 1,000 of those applications were still actively being worked on statewide.

Before the Preston site was announced to be the future location of a state veterans home, the closest facility would have been a two-hour drive to Luverne, Minnesota.

Final plans for the facility need to be submitted by April 2019, with the project groundbreaking to take place sometime in fall 2019.

A good call

During the session, Mower County Sheriff Terese Amazi praised and recognized Deputy Tom Brogan for his lifesaving efforts in de-escalating a high-intensity situation that could have ended tragically.

Brogan had been driving early one morning and had avoided hitting an individual who had been suspected of using drugs. Amazi shared that the individual had also been drinking, and when Brogan approached him, the individual had pushed for Brogan to “shoot him” repeatedly with his hand underneath his shirt holding an unknown object at the time. Brogan continued to maintain communication with the individual, and asked him to “show his hands” repeatedly and refused to shoot. Eventually, the individual was tasered and was not injured from the incident. The object underneath his shirt was found to be his wallet.

“It was a good call,” Amazi said of Brogan’s actions. “It could have turned out a different way.”