While construction continues to hum at the site of California and Marks in Southwest Fresno it looks like when it's finished it won't open as planed in January of 2013. And no one knows when it will.
At the construction site in Southwest Fresno the 27 acres is filled with hundreds of rooms for veterans to live in and the support structure for care, recreation and several options on where to take in a meal. It has come a long way from its ground breaking in 2011 with the original opening day slated for the spring of this year: 2012.
That later became by January of 2013. And now the governor's plan to divert the projects operational funds of $92 million for other uses... has once again set back the opening of the Fresno veterans home.
For Marine Veteran Charlie Waters, who took fire in Korea that, is not acceptable. He told me those who served deserve this home now, "We've overcome everything, Nancy. And now, now that it's ready to open... they do this." His passion is mining support from his fellow veterans as well as elected officials in the Valley to fix the problem.
California Assembly members Henry T. Perea and Linda Halderman are on board as is Congressman Jim Costa who met with Governor Brown in Sacramento this week. Costa says that Brown will revisit his decision later in the year and hopes to find a way keep the promises made to Valley veterans, "He says, look Jim, we've got cuts across the board I don't want to make. If we can put this package together he says, I promise you we'll take another look at returning back to that January 2013 opening timeline."
For now construction continues. The Department of Veteran Affairs is preparing to provide a small crew with security to monitor the buildings and the grounds until the state coffers allow it to open.
Charlie Waters, meantime, is planning a more pro-active approach to reclaim the high ground and get the doors open sooner rather than later. There are he adds plenty of vets in need of this home, "They really are bureaucrats. They are sitting behind their damn desks thinking of ways to keep their job. They outta think about the real pain, the real agony that these people went through for them." The home will accommodate three-hundred veterans in need of care and assistance and will also need the same number of employees. And for now the plan is to when it opens it will do so in phases for a smaller number of patients and the same number of staff. It will be occupied in increments.
But stay tuned... Charlie Waters is a force of nature who rarely takes no for an answer.