State hoping for Vets Home funding this year

The head of Nevada’s Veterans Services Department told the Board of Examiners Tuesday the VA has now ruled Nevada qualified for the full $33.5 million in federal funding to build a Northern Nevada Veterans Home.

Katherine Miller said a key element in that approval was Gov. Brian Sandoval and the Legislature approving the state’s $14.1 million share to match the federal funding.

She said that and the state’s commitment to fully design the hospital raised Nevada from 94th on the federal priority list to 32nd.

Public Works Manager Gus Nuñez told the board headed by Sandoval when the federal money is approved, “we are ready to start construction in March 2016.”

Southern Nevada has had a Veterans Home in Boulder City for more than a decade with 180 beds. But Northern Nevada didn’t get on the list until two years ago.

Miller said whether the money comes this next year depends on a variety of things including the total amount Congress appropriates to the VA.

Sandoval said his question is, has the state done everything “we can do that’s within our control?”

Miller assured him it has, adding that state is going to know between October and November whether Nevada is on the list for this coming year.

The discussion came as the examiners approved a $63,456 addition to the contract with Van Woert Bigotti Architects to cover the cost of remaining design needs.

In other business, the board:

Approved paying $52,067 to the operator of the Tourism Department’s existing China office. Under Chinese labor law, the contractor Karen Chen is required to close the office down and Nevada is required to pay her to do the work. Tourism Director Claudia Vecchio told the board the process of finding a new marking representative in China has already begun.

Approved spending $7.9 million on 163 new vehicles, 156 of them for the Nevada Highway Patrol. NHP Chief Dennis Osborne said 82 are Dodge Chargers, 31 SUVs and 53 pickup trucks being replaced because that many existing vehicles have reached the mileage at which the department must replace them.

Authorized the Attorney General’s Office to hire Marta Adams, who retired earlier this year as the chief deputy AG handling Nevada’s battle against Yucca Mountain. Assistant AG Nick Trutanich told the board she will teach her replacements the intricacies of the case law and history of the project for the coming two years. The money to pay her at a rate of $200 an hour will come from the $2.5 million appropriated to the AG’s office to fight any renewed attempts to license and open the waste dump 75 miles north of Las Vegas. Sandoval said the state was fortunate she’s willing to do the work for that low a rate.


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