ST. PAUL -- Paperwork moving through St. Paul this week means another step has been taken toward the construction of a veterans home in Bemidji.

On Tuesday, Nov. 19, the Minnesota Legislative Advisory Commission sent a letter to the Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans to approve the agency's plan to spend federal grant funds for the construction of veterans homes. According to a press release, the action is required by state law when federal funding is to be used.

In 2018, the Legislature approved $32 million for the construction of new veterans homes in Bemidji, Montevideo and Preston. When veterans homes are built, state and local entities cover 35 percent of the cost while the federal government pays for the remaining 65 percent.

For the Bemidji home, $12.4 million was made available by the Legislature.

"Over the past decade, we have seen all three communities work tirelessly to get these veterans homes funded," said District 5 Sen. Justin Eichorn, R-Grand Rapids, in a release. "Their passionate commitment has played an instrumental role in getting these projects done. Now with the state dollars secured, the only hurdle that remains is securing the federal funding. While we won't have a definite answer on that front until January, it is critical that we continue to exhaust all avenues of support to ensure that we honor our promise to Minnesota veterans."

Proponents in the Bemidji area have been advocating for a veterans home to serve northwest Minnesota for more than a decade. As part of the commitment, Beltrami County officials have led the effort to raise $2.3 million for the local share of the project.

The building will be constructed to house 72 beds on the north side of the city on land donated by Sanford Health, located directly east of the Neilson Place nursing home. It will be a long-term and short-term care facility, as people will be able to stay for rehabilitation after a hospital stay, for example.

The home will include physical, speech and respiratory therapy services, as well as laboratory, x-ray, dental and optometry care.

According to the release, all three projects are in the beginning design stages. The homes are expected to open in late 2021 and 2022.