Veterans Declare War for Retirement Home

December 18, 2008 6:21:27 PM PST
Despite the legislature's approval of the new budget plan, billions of dollars in funding for state construction projects remain frozen. Fresno veterans are threatening an all out war if the state doesn't make that money available. They face the prospect of losing millions of dollars to build a veterans home in Southwest Fresno located near the failed running horse development. If California fails to fund the veterans' home then the federal government could drop millions in matching funds. Local veterans are mad and even threatening a lawsuit to get what they want. Charles Parrell is a Fresno veteran who said, "Running Horse and the veterans' home have no association."

The veterans already endured the Running Horse financial meltdown. Now they don't want to face another debacle. Fresno veterans met on Thursday with state leaders. Charlie Waters is a local veteran who said, "The 2.3 million veterans of this state are not going to take this sitting down?We're informing the assembly to get off their back side and get something done."

A site is already marked for a $100 million home for retired service members. Across the street sits the failed Running Horse Golf Course- a development that once had big promises but landed in bankruptcy. Veterans fear their project could also die. This week, the state halted funding for all tax payer funded construction. Kelly Gill with Congressman Jim Costa's office warned nearly $47-million in federal funds are being threatened. Gill said, "If the there's a joint project between the federal government and the state and the state is not putting up its share of funds then there can be problems."

J.P. Tremblay with the state's veterans affairs said the project's planning is underway, but he can't guarantee groundbreaking will happen next fall. Tremblay said, "Could it impact these homes and projects if the legislature doesn't do anything and they don't get the budget crisis resolved soon? Yes."

Veterans are unsure how Thursday's budget passage and possible veto will impact funding for their retirement home.

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