Veterans home set for Lebanon

The Lebanon home is to be built within three years.

"I'm shocked," Chairman Roger Nyquist of the Linn County Board of Commissioners said this morning. "I felt like we had a good chance, but to find out it's actually going to happen is great. This is a terrific opportunity for our local economy, but especially for our veterans."

Linn County, working in partnership with the city of Lebanon and Samaritan, compiled a 208-page application that was submitted in February. Heading up that phase of the project was county health director Frank Moore and Ann Steeves of Samaritan.

The facility will be constructed on 10 acres of the Samaritan Health Sciences campus across from Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital, on the same property as the new College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific-Northwest.

"The opportunity to be part of a team involved with the future placement of a VA facility on our campus is an honor and a privilege for Samaritan," said Larry Mullins, president and CEO of Samaritan Health Services and a Marine Corps veteran.

Mullins added, "This has the potential to demonstrate the tremendous benefits possible when the public and private sector work together for a worthy cause."

Oregon's only state veterans home, in The Dalles, has 151 beds and was constructed in 1997. It has an annual operating budget of $13 million. A study in 2000 indicated the state needs at least 804 more beds based on the statewide veterans population of 352,000.

"We're ecstatic," Lebanon City Manager John Hitt said. "I know a lot of people from the county, Samaritan and our staff have worked very hard on this."

Hitt added that the combination of the veterans home and the new medical college "will have a huge long-term impact on the city of Lebanon and all of east Linn County as a whole."

Linn County has pledged $15 million toward the total cost of the project.

The plan is to ask Linn County residents to pass a 10-year tax levy of 25 cents per thousand dollars of assessed value.

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