IVINS – Despite the cold and the wind, local and state officials and veterans gathered for the groundbreaking of the new veteran’s nursing home in Ivins today.
The gathering of the crowd was initially slow at the corner of 200 E. and 200 N. in Ivins. Cars were parked along the small strip of road that separated the main parcel of land that would serve as the foundation of the nursing home, and a much smaller strip that would be turned into a veterans’ memorial park. A sound crew set up a small stage and sound system while aged veterans belonging to America’s greatest generation began to appear.
Even though the sun shined overhead, it denied the gathering crowd the traditional warmth that southern Utah was lauded for. There was already a chill in the air, but the heavy wind that had started the night before was still present and blasting young and old alike.
Despite the unfriendly weather, the veterans and others came. Local and state officials at the groundbreaking included Chris Hart, the mayor of Ivins, as well as state Senator Steve Urquhart, and state Representatives David Clark and Don Ipson. Representatives of Layton Construction, the general contractor that will oversee the construction of the veterans’ nursing homes in Ivins and Payson, were also present.
Most notably however, were the veterans of World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam and Iraq.
The groundbreaking ceremony began as Terry Schow, the director of the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs, welcomed the crowd and thanked everyone who had a hand in making the nursing home a reality.
“What a wonderful day,” Schow said. “This is a red letter day for veterans.”
Schow also acknowledged Bill Toole and Bill Stay, the chairman and vice chairman of the Veteran’s Coalition of Southern Utah who he credited with raising $200,000 for the nursing home.
An invocation was given next, with an announcement afterward that the Presentation of the Colors, along with the Call of the Colors, had been cancelled due to the wind.
The Pledge of Allegiance was then given, all eyes turned to the American flag on the stage while an army serviceman held the flag pole tight so the wind would not topple over Old Glory.
The Snow Canyon High School Band played the National Anthem next, followed by comments from the gathered officials.
Mayor Hart spoke first.
“It’s a good day for short speeches,” Hart said as he clutched notes he had in hand, the wind threatening the carry them away.
With one of Ivins’ iconic red rock mountain behind him as he spoke, Hart said there wasn’t a more lovely and serene place for veterans to come and rest, and that his city was honored to have the veterans’ nursing home in the community. He then thanked the veterans for their service and sacrifice, a sentiment that would be echoed by others as the program continued.
A band from the Lava Ridge Intermediate School played a medley of tunes next, providing a short intermission before state senator Urquhart spoke.
“God bless the men and woman of the US military,” Urquhart said, and handed the microphone to Representative Clark.
Clark thanked the local veterans, and added he hoped the new nursing home would be a place of comfort and refuge. Representative Ipson mirrored these sentiments.
The members of the state legislature were then thanked for the parts they played in bringing the veterans’ nursing home to Ivins by Dennis McFall, the deputy director of the UDVA.
Toole was the last speaker, and like the rest of the assembled guest, he offered only a few words.
“Now we all know what it feels like to be on the deck of an aircraft carrier,” Toole, a veteran of the navy, said in reference to the blasting wind.
He went on to say he was grateful for the new facility as it would “help perverse a veteran’s dignity in their final days.”
When the comments ended, the long line of officials and veterans with shovels in hand formed and the soft ground beneath them was broken by the multiple shovel blades that jabbed into the earth. A symbolic gesture, but one that served as a sign that the veterans’ nursing home was soon to take shape and ultimately accept aged warriors into its halls.
“Ivins is proud and honored to have this facility,” Hart said after the groundbreaking.
Hart said there was an obvious financial boon the nursing home would bring to the community, but emphasized that its primary goal was to the care of the veterans.
“There’s no better fit than Ivins for the veterans,” Hart said. “We’re a very fortunate community.”
With the groundbreaking concluded, the crowd quickly dispersed. Soon the cars were gone and the stage dismantled. All that remained was the large, undeveloped lot that consisted of dirt, tumble weeds and desert shrubbery. Soon, however, the lot will find new purpose as the facility built upon it begins to care for Utah’s veterans.
Copyright 2011 St. George News. This material may not be published or rewritten without written consent.