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Veterans Hall Improvement Project Gets Go-Ahead

Tuolumne County Supervisors gave unanimous approval Tuesday morning to start the bid process on the Sonora Veterans Hall Americans with Disabilities Act project.

An on-going issue for two years now, the ADA handicapped access improvement plan for the building on South Washington Street has been subject to numerous delays and a lawsuit.

Supervisor Dick Pland urged fellow board members to move the issue along.

“I´ve never seen a project in Tuolumne County of this modest size that has had so many meetings and discussions,” he said. “It´s time to make a decision. We´re really at that point where it´s time to take some action.”

Part of the ADA improvement plan is to install a wheelchair lift to upper floors of the Veterans Hall.

Local veteran Al Koski, in a wheelchair, told the supervisors; “I´ve been waiting 18 years to have access to the other floors, I´d like to be able to do this before I die. I want you to approve this and get it started tomorrow.”

Tuolumne County Veterans Committee President Dick Southern was pleased with the Supervisor´s vote today.

“There´s been little hold-ups here and there, but as far as my reaction to what´s happened today, it´s about time,” Southern said.

Still, the veteran´s representative said, today´s vote puts any action on the project off until at least November, as the county waits for contractor bids to begin to come in.

Southern praised Craig Pedro and the County staff for their work with the veterans on the project.

“They worked with us and supplied us with information every step of the way so we had no doubts where we were and where we were going,” he said.

Sharon Marovich with the County Landmarks Committee says she has concerns on how the preservation work is being done to the 1933-vintage building.

“We feel that there were alternatives that were less expensive and more feasible, Marovich said. “We were unable to convince the board (of supervisors) of that.”

She did say the committee was pleased that the project will maintain the historic integrity of the vintage building´s interior.

“The architect worked with the State Office of Historic Preservation on the interior of the building, and we´re pleased there is the degree of sensitivity on the inside of the building,” she said this morning. “Our quarrel is with the access with the outside of the building.”

The project, which includes handicapped parking, a wheel chair lift and ramps, is estimated to cost about $305,000.


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