AP

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A nearly decadelong effort to build a military veterans' nursing home in south central Kentucky reached another milestone Tuesday when Gov. Andy Beshear signed legislation to provide $2.5 million to fund design and preconstruction costs.

The governor was joined by a group of lawmakers and veterans at the statehouse signing ceremony for the bill, which supports another phase in the Bowling Green Veterans Center project.

The measure, which sailed through the legislature with bipartisan support, reflects Kentucky's commitment to its veterans, Beshear said.

“All of our veterans risked everything to protect their fellow Kentuckians, their fellow Americans," he said. “It is our turn to take care of them."

The $30 million project calls for a 90-bed, long-term skilled nursing care facility.

The federal government will provide $19.5 million and the state will allocate $10.5 million in bond funding, said Republican Rep. Michael Meredith.

“Without a doubt, this speaks volumes about why Kentucky is recognized as one of the most military-friendly states in the nation," he said of the project.

Meredith, the bill's lead sponsor, said efforts to build the veterans center started around 2012. Republican Sen. Mike Wilson shepherded the bill through the Senate.

Construction will begin after the state receives the federal matching funds, expected later this spring. At the bill signing, state veterans affairs Commissioner Keith Jackson said he looks forward to a ground-breaking ceremony in about a year. Barring unforeseen delays, the center is expected to open about two years after construction starts, Beshear said.

The Intermodal Transportation Authority that oversees the Kentucky Transpark industrial park committed years ago to provide property for the center, the Bowling Green Daily News has reported.

The Bowling Green facility will be the state's fifth veterans center.

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