GRAND ISLAND — Gov. Dave Heineman says he understands Grand Island's disappointment over the loss of its veterans home — but that the city needs to accept it.
Heineman responded to questions last week during Husker Harvest Days about how Kearney was awarded a new $121 million veterans home project that will replace the outdated, 225-bed facility in Grand Island.
"The most important thing here is we need a new veterans home," Heineman said. "The second issue is, I believe the state ... needs to get the best deal we can for taxpayers."
Kearney beat out Grand Island, Hastings and North Platte for the new home. Heineman said the four cities' bids are online, and he encouraged those with questions to check out the bids.
But some who have say the scoring on the bids doesn't make sense. Grand Island state Sen. Mike Gloor said he was shocked to see that Grand Island, Kearney and Hastings all scored a 75 on available workforce. He says Grand Island should have had the highest score since it already has a veterans home workforce in place.
He also was concerned that Grand Island scored a 40 on workforce development, compared with 60 for Kearney, 65 for Hastings and 85 for North Platte.
Kearney has a "self-professed shortage" of workers, Gloor said.
"There's clearly a degree of subjectivity — and there's our problem," he said.
Heineman dismissed concerns recently voiced by Hall County officials that other state support, such as roads funding, may be lost if Grand Island continues to complain about the veterans home loss. That type of retaliation doesn't happen, Heineman said.
But he agreed that Grand Island is making its displeasure known.
"There are a lot of people who think Grand Island is whining," Heineman said. "Grand Island is going to have to make that decision, but at some point, we have to move forward."