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Jacobetti home replacement focus of veterans forum

Photo by Randy Crouch/Marquette Mining Journal Ryan Engle, Michigan Veterans Homes Director of Development, updates area veterans on plans for the complex that is slated to replace Marquette’s D.J. Jacobetti center during a Wednesday forum at Northern Michigan University.

MARQUETTE — Officials from Michigan Veterans Homes gave an update on the proposed complex which is meant to replace the D.J. Jacobetti Veterans Home in Marquette.

The community forum came just days after chief executive director of Michigan Veterans Homes Anne Zerbe gave an update to the Marquette City Commission on the project. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced earlier in June that the project is fully funded, with $97.6 million being set aside from the state budget and United States Department of Veterans Affairs funding.

While the final site for the new veterans home is yet to be set in stone, the former Cliffs Dow site has been consistently discussed as a potential site for the complex.

During Wednesday evening’s forum, held at Northern Michigan University’s Northern Center, Michigan Veteran Homes Director of Development Ryan Engle discussed the need for the new center due to the age of the Jacobetti home, which was built in 1954.

“We didn’t really expect to get 2023 dollars. It’s just an incredible investment in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and veterans,” Engle said. “With the transition and modernization we really want to try to change by building facilities worthy of those who wore the cloth of our nation. I love the Jacobetti building, I worked there for a number of years, but long-term care has definitely moved away from the hospital-like setting.”

One of the issues that Engle pointed out about the current Jacobetti home is that the facility requires some veterans to share bathrooms.

“Veterans are hearty people, as everyone in this room knows. There’s also a piece to be said about giving them a home-like environment,” Engle said. “I know when I hopefully make it to an age of being senior in years, I hope I can have my own bathroom.”

The current timeline for the new project is contingent on a few things, including environmental studies that Michigan Veterans Homes says are currently underway, with a tentative start date on construction being next summer.

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