PAYSON -- A project that has been in the works for more than three years will finally see completion in early June. The Central Utah Veterans Home in Payson is tentatively scheduled to open on June 6 with a scheduled dedication for 1 p.m. and plans to start moving the first patients in around that time.
"The facility is currently 75 to 80 percent complete," Central Utah Veterans Council chairman Gary Schwartz said. "We want all of the counties in central Utah to be aware that this facility is for all veterans, not just Payson or Utah County. Preference will be given to veterans who reside in Utah, Juab, Millard, Sanpete, Carbon, Sevier and Emery counties, but veterans from throughout the state can still be admitted."
Terry Schow, director of the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs, Payson Mayor Rick Moore, and schedule permitting, Gov. Gary Herbert will be speaking at the dedication.
The home was going to be in Spanish Fork, but when land there fell through in April 2011, the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs began looking elsewhere. Payson city, along with Farmland Reserve, the real estate arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, donated 10 acres for the project and ground was broken at the location on Dec. 14, 2011. The finished facility will have 108 private rooms with private bathrooms and showers. Services will include skilled nursing care, rehabilitation therapy, long-term care, hospice care, Alzheimer's and dementia care, behavioral health programs and therapeutic recreation. Avalon Health Care will run the facility. To be eligible for admission to the facility, veterans must be registered with the Department of Veterans Affairs. A waiting list is in place and Avalon Health Care is filling rooms as well as providing employment opportunities for local residents.
State and federal money is funding the building, grounds and basic furnishings, but the veterans council is raising funds to improve the quality of the furnishings.
"We want to improve the quality of the mattresses, window coverings and furnishings for the veterans," council member Andrew Wilson said. "We also want to be able to purchase a pool table and a barbecue pit for the veterans to use."
"Our goal was to raise $432,000 for these improvements," Schwartz said. "But because the Payson site was chosen later than the Ivins Veterans Home site our fundraising efforts have been lagging behind. We have currently raised about $150,000 with donations coming in every few days. A donation of $100 or more will get your name on a plaque in the common area of the new home. A donation of $4,000, which is the cost to upgrade a single room, will get a plaque on the entryway to a room in the home with dedicatory language as requested by the donor."
The Central Utah Veterans Council has planned fundraisers to raise more funds.
"We have quite a few more fundraisers planned over the next few months," Schwartz said. "We want people to know that we will still take donations even after the home is completed."
Upcoming fundraisers for the home include a Veterans Nursing Home Benefit from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on April 19 at the Payson City Center. The event is sponsored by the American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary.
"Dinner will be served for $15 a plate and cooked on site by Sizzler," Schwartz said. "Entertainment will be provided throughout the evening as well as a raffle for two quilts made by Linda Lee."
Lee, as well as Kristy Beck and Cristy Metz, have organized a quilting project to provide at least 108 quilts for each of the beds in the new home. Other community members, church groups, quilting groups and businesses in Central Utah have donated quilts as well.
"Quilts are coming in not only from the Payson area, but throughout Utah County and other counties," Schwartz said. "Quilts are even being made and sent in from the Vernal and Tabiona area. As of March 1, 105 quilts have been made."
Tickets for the dinner and raffle can be purchased at Morganson Frame and Sew Forth, 515 S. Main Street in Payson and Pacific Horizon Credit Union in Payson.
On April 20, the inaugural Central Utah Veterans Home Golf Tournament will be held at the Gladstan Golf Course. Tee time begins at 9 a.m. Everyone, veterans or not, is invited to play, excluding professional players. Hole sponsors are needed and by sponsoring a hole, businesses can have a sign with their name at the hole and can pass out materials, snacks and water. For more information on the golf tournament, contact Glen Bradford at (801) 794-3610 or email@example.com.
"We appreciate all of the support we have received," Wilson said. "The Utah Elks Club has been very generous and have donated thousands of dollars."
"We are finding that the greatest amount of support has come from veterans, their families and businesses owned or run by veterans," Schwartz said. "The Utah Elks, Wing Enterprises, Payson Walmart and their employees, Xango and Triple T Sheet Metal have been very generous donors. There have been many other veterans and families of veterans who have made full room contributions."
To make a donation, checks or money orders may be made out to the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs Charitable Trust with notation for "Central Utah Veterans Home." Send donations and resumes to Tonya Knight, Utah Department of Veterans Affairs, 550 S. Foothill Drive, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84113.
Inquiries for placement on the resident waitlist for the Central Utah Veterans Home should be directed to Kelsea McVey, director of community relations with Avalon Health Care, at (435) 553-5917 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inquires for employment at the Central Utah Veterans Home should be directed to Byron Kirton, director of development and talent acquisition with Avalon Health Care, at (801) 325-0177 or email@example.com.