By W. John Muirhead, Vice-Chairman of Veterans’ Council and Vice-Commander Post 35 American Legion
Demolition of the old Carnegie Library to make room for the New
Mike Dittenber, Director of the Caldwell Housing Authority (CHA), and a number of his friends and colleagues are donating their personal time to assist in the demolition of the interior walls in preparation of the building to construct offices, meeting rooms, a dining hall and kitchen.
CHA technicians carefully removed the building’s mechanical components such as: heating ducts, suspended ceiling grid, and non-structural wall sections.
On September 25th, a work crew that included volunteer veterans, Caldwell Veterans’ Council members demolished most of the remaining non-structural walls and removed four tons of debris from the building.
The City of Caldwell purchased the old Carnegie Library building, which is located at 1101 Cleveland Blvd., from the Caldwell School District and agreed to designate it as the Caldwell Veterans’ Memorial Hall. Under a 100 year lease agreement with the City of Caldwell and the Caldwell chapters of the Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, this building will be utilized by all veteran organizations and the partnership of organizations prepared to provide a wide variety of programs and services. The plan is to provide local assistance with education, employment and career development, counseling and health care issues, family programs, homelessness, addictions, abuse and humanitarian needs for a part of our society that are under-served and limited at times because of handicaps, economic issues or ability to get through often confusing and complicated processes. Not only are the veterans of the west-end of the Treasure Valley in need of an entity to provide unique specialized services, but also widows and family members of military personnel deployed, retired or deceased are in need of a facility where they will be understood and their needs, issues and benefits can be addressed and provided.
Where are the Canyon County Veterans?
The 2012 census identified 123,600 veterans living in Idaho, of that 14,470 live in Canyon County, 12% of the veteran population. Of this group of veterans 2,590 or 17.9% have disabilities, 1,534 are disabled female veterans. It is estimated that there are 57,880 family members also impacted by the lack of adequate programs and services. The long-term projected outcome of the Caldwell Veterans’ Memorial Hall is programs and services that directly contribute to improved conditions and quality of life for our veterans. The efficient and effective execution of programs and services will give veterans the skills, knowledge, positive behavior and confidence to be an active participations member of the community.
Planned Capital Improvements
The below listed items represent the capital improvements planned for the transformation of the Caldwell Carnegie Library building into the Caldwell Veterans’ Memorial Hall.
- Install four ADA Compliant Restrooms
- Asbestos Removal
- Build a Memorial Park: Relocate two monuments to the CVMH
- Build Partition Walls
- Install Carpeting
- Electrical Renovation
- Establish ADA Parking
- Foundation Repair
- HVAC Replacement of 4 AC units and heaters
- Refurbish the front entrance steps
- Install an ADA compliant Elevator to serve both floors
- Install a fire alarm system
- Install Gas Lines to serve the new heating and cooking equipment
- Install a full functioning kitchen
- Paint interior walls and trim Training Room
- Furnishings, tables, chairs, lamps and couches
- Refurbish Upper Level Floors
- Remove Main Entry Pillars and roof
- Roof repair; replace damaged sheet metal caps and wooden nailer boards
- Strip and refinish woodwork, stir handrails, baseboards and doors
- Upgrade Plumbing; install new sewer lines under the basement floor
- Window Refurbishment
- Lobby Furnishings; chairs, couches, lamps and tables
- Meeting Room Furnishings
- Office furnishings: VFW, AL, DAV, NSO and Day Officer Offices.
The Caldwell Veterans’ Memorial Hall, when complete, will offer a wide range of services for Treasure Valley veterans and their families. The Hall will be occupied from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm daily, Monday through Friday. A Veterans Service Officer will be available throughout the week with National Service Officer on site one day per week to finalize or initiate support for veterans or beneficiaries requiring assistance.
- Daily Veterans’ Day Officer on Duty
- Weekly Veterans’ Coffee
- Weekly Veterans Service Officer onsite
- Monthly Spouses’ Luncheon
- Monthly Volunteer’s Rally to participate in community projects
- Monthly Tai Chi lessons
- Monthly featured Speaker
Monthly Training Session in the CVMH training room Partnerships
- DAV National Service Officer
- Disability Claims
- Education on Benefits
- Death and Burial Benefits
- VA Home Loans
- Department of Labor
- Jobs in Training
- Job Search
- Boise Rescue Mission
- Indigent Services and Humanitarian Aid
- Vet Center
- Humanitarian Aid
- DAV Transportation Shuttle
- Mentorship of Young Marines and Youth Activities
- VETS Court-Mentorship and Counseling
- Disabled Veterans Memorial Garden
- Children and Family Services
- Clothing Assistance
- Crisis Assistance
- Dental Care
- Education Services
- Emergency Shelter
- Family Assistance
- Day Officer/Veteran Service Officer
How long does the VA take to process a claim?
As of September 23, 2014, the VA Regional Office in Boise reports the following figures. The average time to process disability claims is:
Original claims (7 issues or less)
121 days/159 days
Original claims (8 issues or more)
122 days/147 days
Reopened and claims for increase:
109 days/153 days
As of September, the Boise VA Regional Office has 1,806 disability claims pending an average of 114 days. Of those, 580 (32%) have been pending more than 125 days, and only 30 (1.66%) have been pending more than one year. In August and September, the VA Regional Office conducted 946 personal interviews with an average wait time of less than two minutes. The worse time to visit the VA regional office? The first three days of the month and any Monday. As of September, it took approximately 36 days from receipt of an application for vocational rehabilitation to the date the VA notified the veteran of the decision on eligibility. There are approximately 138,320 veterans currently residing in Idaho, and 20,262 of them are in receipt of disability benefits. The VA also issues monthly benefits to 350 widows, orphans, and dependent parents of Idaho’s veterans. In 2013, VA issued monthly benefits amounting to $20.9 million to Idaho’s veterans. This amount equals over $250 million per year to support Idaho’s disabled veterans, their dependents, and survivors.
Putting the Fun in Fund Raising
Coupling a barbeque with a demolition event was a good way to not only raise some funds but also introduce the project to the community. The Caldwell Fire Department stopped by for lunch and the Caldwell American Legion Post did the setup, cooking and cleanup.
All salvageable materials that were removed from the building were donated to the local Habitat for Humanity Restore. A comprehensive estimate of the building contents donated totaling over $31,000.
* Watch your mailbox for the December Edition of The Caldwell Perspective for more on this story and Happy Veterans Day to all our Soldiers *