NORTH LITTLE ROCK — Officials held a groundbreaking ceremony here Wednesday on a new state veterans home to replace one that was closed in 2012.

NORTH LITTLE ROCK — Officials held a groundbreaking ceremony here Wednesday on a new state veterans home to replace one that was closed in 2012.


The $24 million Central Arkansas Veterans Home, actually eight separate units that will hold 12 people each, will be at the former Emerald Park Golf Course and across the street from the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, commonly known as Fort Roots.


"I don’t know how many thousands of golf balls they’ve (the construction crew) picked up, but they’ve been picking them up," said Dan Bailey, deputy director of the State Department of Veterans Affairs.


Work has already been underway at the site. Officials attending the ceremonial groundbreaking included Gov. Asa Hutchinson, state Sen. Jane English, R-North Little Rock, and North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith, whose city held the lease for the nearly 53-acre golf course and driving range.


North Little Rock ended the lease on July 1, 2014, to allow the construction to go forward.


"This is a tangible, concrete action that we are taking for our veterans," Hutchinson said, adding that the state has about 250,000 veterans and "they need to have services."


Bailey said the veterans home will open in late 2016 or early 2017 and will provide residential space to "any veteran with a need for long-term care." The construction schedule allows time for possible delays because of weather, he said.


The home will replace the Arkansas Veterans Home in Little Rock, which fell into disrepair before being closed in November 2012.


When the new home opens, Arkansas will again have two state veterans homes. The other is in Fayetteville and houses about 112 people.


Bailey said veterans at the Fayetteville home range from "one who stormed the beaches at Normandy to a guy who stepped on an IED (improvised explosive device) in Iraq, and every war and conflict in between."