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Commissioners vote to send delegation to visit veterans “village” in Kansas City

Famed for tomato-based barbeque and its powerhouse pro-football team, Kansas City, Missouri isn’t as nearly well known for its contributions to the wellbeing of U.S. military veterans.

Even so, an innovative program to house homeless vets has placed Kansas City squarely on the itinerary of officials in Alamance County.

Last week, the county’s board of commissioners agreed to send one of its own members to Kansas City along with two county staff representatives in order to learn more about this community of tiny homes that has sprung up in the American Midwest.

The brainchild of an organization called Building Houses for Heroes, this demonstration village is part of a larger initiative dubbed the Veterans Community Project, which also operates a walk-in clinic for veterans in the Kansas City area. Since its inception some 13 years ago, the project’s housing initiative has reportedly grown to include over 255 “tiny” dwellings for former members of the U.S. Armed Forces who might otherwise be eking out a meager existence on the streets of Kansas City.

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This program’s apparent solution to an intractable social dilemma hasn’t been lost on county commissioner Pam Thompson, who has offered to serve as one of Alamance County’s delegates on the upcoming fact-finding mission.

“I looked all over the country for something like this,” Thompson said when she and her fellow commissioners held their latest regularly-scheduled meeting last Monday. “Why would Alamance County not want to try for something like this and be an example for the entire state?”

Compounding Thompson’s own motives to visit this site is a recent announcement from the Veterans Community Project that it intends to export its program to other parts of the country. According to a flyer that was presented to the commissioners, the organization is currently looking for eight sites to set up expansion villages – an opportunity that Thompson insisted Alamance County should seize if it really is serious about taking care of its vets.

The board of commissioners ultimately agreed to send Thompson to Kansas City during the first week of August along with Alamance County’s manager Bryan Hagood and Tammy Crawford, the director of the county’s veterans services office. The commissioners also allocated $2,216 to cover the trio’s travel expenses as they scout out the program in Kansas City in the hope of establishing something similar back home in Alamance County.

The summative word on the matter was ultimately uttered by commissioner Craig Turner, who is himself a veteran of the U.S. Navy.

“If we’re going to do this, let’s do it right,” Turner told his fellow commissioners. “Let’s have some property in mind.”

Although Thompson tried to abstain from the board’s subsequent vote, she was nevertheless included in the board’s unanimous decision in favor of the travel request. John Paisley, Jr., the chairman of Alamance County’s commissioners, insisted that Thompson should be counted with the rest of board.

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