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story.lead_photo.caption Work crews with local ML James Construction started moving earth last week in preparation for building a new and larger Veterans Administration clinic for military veterans throughout the Texarkana area. Photo by Greg Bischof / Texarkana Gazette.

TEXARKANA Texas: Work crews with the Texarkana-based ML James Construction sent dirt flying as the building process started for a new Veterans Administration clinic on Summerhill Road cranked up.

"The dirt work just started this week," a spokeswoman with the firm said Thursday.

The new Community Outpatient Clinic, being built near the northwest corner of Summerhill Road and Moores Lane, is projected to open in the spring of 2022.

The future 21,000-square-foot building will have almost twice as much space as the current 11,000-square-foot VA clinic in the 900 block of Realtor Road. It opened in 2003.

Besides the added space, the new building will have patient rooms for primary care as well as for women's health care.

The new clinic will also provide expanded mental health services, audiology services, an optometry shop, lab services, basic (X-ray) radiology services and physical therapy.

"Veterans who live in and around Texarkana make up a unique part of Arkansas and Texas," said Shannon Arledge, with the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center in Shreveport during a January interview.

Technological advances and an increased numbers of veterans choosing VA medical care, made the expansion to a larger facility necessary.

In January, Charles Jordan, administrator for the current VA outpatient clinic on Realtor Road, said the VA plans to spend slightly more than $4 million building the new clinic and that the Blue Cord Development Group, based in Orlando, Florida, will construct the building.

He said Murray, Thomas & Griffin would do the engineering work.

Prior to 2003, the Twin Cities' initial VA clinic opened further south on Summerhill Road in 1994, before moving to Realtor Road on the Arkansas side nine years later.

Jordan said that there are about 5,000 local and area veterans registered for medical service at the current clinic. He hopes to increase the number to 6,000 by the time the new clinic opens.

"Last year, our current clinic received 22,000 visits," he said during a January interview.

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