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Meetings set on VA Black Hills Health Care System; focus of some is on historic properties

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HOT SPRINGS, South Dakota — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has scheduled public meetings next week on the proposed reorganization of the VA Black Hills Health Care System.

Two of the meetings will focus on the National Historic Preservation Act, with requires federal agencies to consider the effects of their actions on historic properties. The century-old VA hospital in Hot Springs, the Battle Mountain Sanitarium, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and could be shuttered under the VA plan.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation named the hospital as one of America's 11 most endangered historic places. Part of the hospital campus also contributes to the Hot Springs Historic District listing on the National Register.

Meetings about the historic properties are set in Hot Springs on Nov. 18 from 1-3 p.m. in the Mueller Civic Center, and in Pine Ridge on Nov. 19 from 10 a.m.-noon in Billy Mills Hall. They are open to the public, but discussion will be limited to invited groups, according to the Rapid City Journal (http://bit.ly/1w9Aqpl ).

"There will be discussion. I can't predict whether it will be good discussion or contentious discussion," said Pat Russell, co-chairman of Save the VA, a group fighting the government's plan.

The Hot Springs campus is part of the broader VA Black Hills Health Care System, which serves veterans in South Dakota and portions of Nebraska, North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. The proposed reorganization of the system was announced in 2011 with goals including the relocation of services closer to veteran population centers. That could mean moving Hot Springs operations to Rapid City. A number of alternatives are being studied with a final decision scheduled for late 2015.

Public meetings to provide updates on the proposed reorganization also are scheduled next week:

PHOTO: FILE - This Feb. 12, 2013 file photo, shows the Veterans Affairs Black Hills Health Care System in Hot Springs, S.D., formerly the Battle Mountain Sanitarium. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has scheduled public meetings beginning Nov. 18, 2014, on the proposed reorganization of the VA Black Hills Health Care System. The meetings will focus on the National Historic Preservation Act, with requires federal agencies to consider the effects of their actions on historic properties. The Hot Springs VA hospital is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and could be shuttered. An opposition group called Save the VA is fighting that. (AP Photo/Rapid City Journal, Benjamin Brayfield, File)
FILE - This Feb. 12, 2013 file photo, shows the Veterans Affairs Black Hills Health Care System in Hot Springs, S.D., formerly the Battle Mountain Sanitarium. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has scheduled public meetings beginning Nov. 18, 2014, on the proposed reorganization of the VA Black Hills Health Care System. The meetings will focus on the National Historic Preservation Act, with requires federal agencies to consider the effects of their actions on historic properties. The Hot Springs VA hospital is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and could be shuttered. An opposition group called Save the VA is fighting that. (AP Photo/Rapid City Journal, Benjamin Brayfield, File)

— Rapid City, Nov. 17, 6-8 p.m., Best Western Ramkota.

— Hot Springs, Nov. 18, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Mueller Civic Center.

— Pine Ridge, Nov. 19, 1-3 p.m., Billy Mills Hall.

— Chadron, Nebraska, Nov. 19, 6-8 p.m., American Legion Hall.

— Alliance, Nebraska, Nov. 20, 1-3 p.m., Newberry's.

— Scottsbluff, Nebraska, Nov. 20, 6-8 p.m., John H. Harms Advance Technology Center.


Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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