Five years after funding was first approved for it, construction is starting on a new nursing facility at the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King in Waupaca County. Construction on the Moses facility was originally set to start in spring of 2017 and is now expected to last two years, according to Gov. Tony Evers' office.
Evers and Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary-designee Mary Kolar broke ground on the John R. Moses Skilled Nursing Facility on Tuesday.
"We are looking forward to serving Wisconsin’s veterans and their family members for years to come in this modern facility on this incredible campus,” Evers said.
The improvements come years after critics have decried a longstanding practice of transferring money away from the home to fund other veterans programs. At the same time, staffing shortages there remain a challenge.
The 192-bed facility is set to cost $80 million, 65 percent of which is covered by the federal government. It is a part of a larger $104 million upgrade at King, which currently has three separate nursing facilities on its campus. Moses will be its fourth such facility. It replaces Burns-Clemmons Hall, which had sat vacant for more than 20 years.
Miron Construction is building the facility, according to the company. The company said residents will be split across 16 households in a home-like setting. Each household will house 12 residents with a shared kitchen, dining and living space to promote social interaction. It will also feature an outdoor living space and will be connected to the tunnel system, an underground pathway that connects all of the nursing facilities at King. It will have views of Rainbow Lake and will also include a memory care unit.
“This new facility will usher in a new era of WDVA service to veterans and their families,” Kolar said.
John R. Moses, for whom the facility is named, was a World War II veteran and Purple Heart recipient who served as Wisconsin's Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs for 23 years. He was dedicated to making sure that King was a place that veterans could be proud to call home, according to the department.
In 2014, former Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill approving the new $80 million nursing facility at King.
King's larger upgrade includes improvements to its veterans cemetery, a retaining wall replacement on Rainbow Lake, water system, electrical and other safety upgrades, and an overhaul of its food service.
The Wisconsin Veterans Home at King is located on 42 acres and sits on Rainbow Lake one mile southwest of the town of Waupaca. The facility was founded in 1887 by the Grand Army of the Republic, a Civil War veterans organization. it is one of three nursing homes run by the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs. The other two are at Union Grove and Chippewa Falls.