EDITORIAL: Persistence rewarded with Fresno Veterans Home opening

The Fresno BeeOctober 18, 2013 

Veteran Brady Bridges of the Sounds of Freedom band performs during the grand opening ceremonies for the new Veterans Home of California-Fresno.

JOHN WALKER — THE FRESNO BEE Buy Photo

The effort wasn't easy. Locations were debated. Promises were made and broken. Politicians tangled. And a smooth-talking developer failed to deliver on his promises, was convicted of fraud and sentenced to prison.

Now the 300-bed Veterans Home California-Fresno finally is open more than 11 years after then Gov. Gray Davis signed legislation authorizing it.

The $250 million campus on about 26 acres at California and Marks avenues in southwest Fresno is beautiful -- a worthy residence for the men and women who have served our country in the military.

In addition, the home brings much-needed investment to the neighborhood. Eventually it will provide hundreds of well-paying jobs for a region mired in double-digit unemployment.

Making the home a reality has been a community-wide effort. But there are people who deserve to be singled out for their contributions.

Congressman Jim Costa, D-Fresno, has been both longtime supporter and watchdog of the project.

In 2011, after the home's opening was rolled back because of state budget problems, he and Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, urged that the home open sooner rather than later. Their clout came from the fact that a federal agency, Veterans Affairs, was a funding partner.

Assembly Member Henry T. Perea, D-Fresno, wrote the 2011 legislation that allowed the California Department of Veterans Affairs to dip into its savings to finish the Fresno home and another in Redding that is opening next week.

Former Assembly Member Linda Halderman, R-Fresno, was a bulldog, too, demanding that Gov. Jerry Brown and other Democrats who control the Capitol make good on their promises to veterans.

Veterans advocate Charlie Waters piled up countless miles on trips to Sacramento to talk to lawmakers about the need for a veterans home in Central California.

And let's not forget that the city of Fresno donated land costing $750,000 for the home. The city also supplied infrastructure such as water, sewer, utilities and a ponding basin. The city's total contribution: more than $2 million.

Originally, Mark O'Meara -- now in prison -- and his Running Horse project were to provide the land and infrastructure.

"It's a beautiful facility," Rojirio "Roy" De La Cerda, the home's administrator, said Thursday.

It will be even more beautiful when all 300 rooms are occupied and our veterans are receiving the care they need and deserve.

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