Veterans' homes across Missouri are about to get some much-needed upgrades.
Gov. Jay Nixon traveled to the veterans' home at St. James Friday where he told residents, staff and their families that their facility will soon be getting a $6.9 million upgrade.
"(It includes) construction of a solarium and other projects, such as nurse-call and fire alarms that need to get done that will enhance the care that is provided," Nixon said. "It also means $275,000 for renovations for the veterans' cemetery here."
Republican House Member Jason Chipman lives in St. James and was on hand for Nixon's appearance.
"From what I've been told, this veterans' home will not hold every resident in their dining area, or in any (other) room," Chipman said. "So part of the money that's being allocated for this purpose is to expand their dining area so they can fit all of the residents in one area for any event they may have."
In all, $33 million will go into improvements at the seven Missouri veterans' homes. The expenditures were authorized by the passage of three capital improvement bills earlier this year -- HB 17, HB 18, and HB 19. Improvements at other veterans' homes include:
- St. Louis – Renovate the front entrance and lobby, construct storage building, upgrade lighting and replace air handlers, water heaters and anti-scald devices
- Mexico – Renovate bariatric shower rooms and replace nurse call and fire alarm systems, chillers, water softener, cooling tower and flooring
- Cape Girardeau – Renovate nurses stations, kitchenette and restrooms, and replace nurse call and fire alarm systems, boilers, water heaters, sump pump and hot water circulating pumps, and exterior doors
- Mount Vernon – Renovate kitchen hood and system, and replace hot water circulating pumps, pool pack, water heaters, chillers, cooling tower, backflow preventers, pump pack, sprinkler system and boilers
- Warrensburg – Replace nurse call and fire alarm systems, sprinkler pipe systems, exterior doors, chillers, boilers and water softeners and make electrical upgrades
- Cameron – Replace sprinkler pipe systems, chiller, water softeners, cooling tower, boilers and exterior doors, and make electrical upgrades
Afterward, Nixon told reporters that the state needs to build at least one more veterans' home, especially as more Cold War and Vietnam-era veterans reach retirement age.
"As I said in my State of the State (Address), the demand for these institutions in Missouri exceeds our supply," Nixon said. "The waiting list is over a thousand. ... I called for (a new home) last year, (but) we weren't able to get that done."
Chipman said Missouri probably needs "one or two more homes."
"As a veteran myself, there's good possibility that I could end up in one of these homes in the future," he said. "I think it's very important to provide a place for these people that have written a blank check to the country and repay them with interest."
Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport