(Seguin) -- Guadalupe County is continuing to make its veterans a priority. The Guadalupe County Commissioners Court recently approved a contract with ThornGraves Architects for a conceptual design of what will be the future Veterans Center.
Guadalupe County Judge Kyle Kutscher says the county is looking to renovate the old county hospital and former Head Start building at 205 E. Weinert St. Kutscher says the building, which never successfully sold during the county's attempts a couple of years ago, has now blossomed into this idea for a new veterans center.
"The idea of having the Veterans Center for Guadalupe County and surrounding counties really came out of some discussion with veterans that are needing services in this area that are having to travel to San Antonio and Austin for those services. We've got 22,000 plus veterans that live in Guadalupe County and if you look at Hays, Comal, Caldwell, Gonzales and Wilson Counties in addition to Guadalupe County, there's about 65,000 veterans that live there that have to travel upwards to 60, 70, 80 miles sometimes to go get services. Our population is substantial here and we are going to do everything we can for our veterans," said Kutscher.
Although there is a strong system of support already in place, Kutscher says the county is finding that many needs are still being unmet. He says veterans having to travel long distances for services remains a problem for many in the area.
"We have a county veterans service officer plus a staff plus volunteers and treatment courts and all types of other wonderful people in our community helping now but we are trying to consolidate some of those resources that the idea behind it being that veterans go to one place and get multiple services from multiple agencies -- other agencies even possibly the VA -- if they would agree to have an office in a building like that to give a veteran the ability to walk in one door and receive services from six different agencies than being passed around having to go to 10 different places," said Kutscher.
Kutscher says the county and the committee members envisioning this project believe that having a conceptual decision is vital in campaigning and soliciting funds for such an endeavor.
"We entered into a contract with the architect. That's the first step in this process. We have a committee that's been meeting for months and months now talking about a path forward in how to get to our goal of opening a veterans center here in Guadalupe County. But this architect contract is one of the first steps so we can have 3D renderings and very preliminary construction costs so we can go out and garner support from the other counties, state agencies, elected officials and maybe some local businesses, other agencies that may want to house in the facility. We want people to know that we are serious about this project and we are going to move forward to do everything we can to have it built. We want to show that. We want to have a good plan so we can go out and get it actually supported and built someday," said Kutscher.
County officials say if built, the Veterans Center will be a one of a kind and unique facility for veterans in this area and could draw tremendous support not only locally but statewide.