by Max Brantley
Gov. Mike Beebe put a new director, Cissy Rucker, in charge of the state Veterans Affairs Department and this report is a result of efforts to assess the current state of affairs.
Bottom line, though not a definitive cost analysis after a two-day inspection, is a whopper: Repair and renovation could cost $7.5 to $10 million. This does not include potential costs for environmental inspections or abatement of any hazards found. The estimate cautions that design and other considerations could alter the figure significantly. The report also notes that the home's projected operating expense is $4.2 million annually. There's strong sentiment in the legislature for providing a home for veterans. The state also operates a home in Northwest Arkansas, which has also had some operational problems. $70,000 per person a year in operating expense, plus renovation cost up to $10 million, is a stiff bill, however.