Wayne Day has a dream — the same dream he's had for at least 10 years. He's not getting any younger and nothing's happened. So this is the time to begin pushing forward to establish a halfway house for homeless veterans on his eastern Pratt County property.
Day visited briefly with county commissioners last month and was referred to Tim Branscom, county planning administrator. He has begun the process of applying for a special use permit from the Planning and Zoning Board.
"I know there's a need," Day said, adding that what he has in mind is a hand-up, not a hand-out.
"If they want a hand-out, I don't want anything to do with them," he said. "I'm offering a helping hand to get back into society."
He's also not planning to offer a retirement home, but a shop building, where veterans can work on equipment, that also includes living quarters for him and a barracks-type facility for 20-24 men.
There will be requirements: the veteran must have been honorably discharged from the military and free of alcohol or drug addiction. Day would like the facility to also be tobacco-free. Everyone will work, either in the shop or off-site.
He has talked to local farmers and the grain cooperative headquartered in Isabel, and believes the business could pay its way.
He doesn't want government help, because that "comes with strings."
If he builds it, they, meaning homeless veterans, will come, Day said, referring to the movie "Field of Dreams."
Plans for a building call for an initial outlay of $1.5 to 1.75 million. Day doesn't have that kind of money, but he has an answer for a question about how it will be financed.
"God," he asserted. "You know he works in mysterious ways, doesn't he?
"This mission cannot fail. I know there's a need."
Day is not a veteran.
"My (draft) number was called in 1974," he said. "A month later (President) Nixon abolished the draft."
A few years prior, Day's father had told his sons they had three options. You can volunteer, and owe three years, but have some choice. You can wait to be drafted. The time is shorter (two years) but you don't have a choice in assignment. Or you can run. If you run, you keep on running.
He claims his inspiration in wanting to help veterans comes from his grandfather's World War I dog tag. Day never met his grandfather, but the family story is that, in the trenches of Europe, the tag lay over his heart and stopped the shrapnel that would have killed him.
Day grew up in rural Texas, worked as a custom cutter, worked for an equipment manufacturer, tried farming and in 1998 moved to Pratt to take a job with the railroad.
After a few months, he told wife Edwinda "this country boy cannot live in town" and bought 170 acres between Isabel and Cairo. He still works for the railroad, raises registered Hereford cattle and has a job in Liberal. Edwinda, a registered nurse, is currently working for a dialysis company in Florida and comes home when she can.
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