Groundbreaking held for Cranberry VA clinic

About 50 people, including many veterans and officials, turned out Wednesday morning for a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Veterans Affairs clinic in Cranberry.

John Gennaro, director of the Erie VA Medical Center, said the facility being built in front of Home Depot, called the Venango County Community Clinic, will expand and modernize the VA clinic’s presence in the county.

The national anthem was played on the guitar by Sean Carey, and an invocation was offered by chaplain Katie Strouse of Franklin VFW Post 1835.

Gennaro welcomed everyone and introduced the speakers as the construction on the new clinic continued in the background.

The Venango County VA clinic was created in 2004 and was first housed in the old Franklin Hospital that has since been torn down, Gennaro said.

The new facility in Cranberry will be quite spacious at 12,000 square feet, according to Gennaro.

Speakers during the ceremony included Dr. Borys Loza, chief of staff at the Erie Medical Center; Lori Bergquist-Springer, manager of several VA clinics in the region; Michael Downing of Downing Construction of Cleveland, which is building the clinic; and Lawrence Deal, retired first sergeant in the U.S. Army.

Loza said the clinic’s mission is to improve the lives of veterans with “world class care.” He added that last year about 2,000 veterans from Venango County received medical care through the VA.

Deal, a Vietnam era veteran who also served in Iraq and is an ordained minister, encouraged veterans to sign up with the VA and use its benefits.

Gennaro, Loza, Bergquist-Springer, Venango County Veteran Affairs director Harry Whittemore, Downing, Deal, Strouse and Jan Ward, chief of clinical services with the VA, took part in the shovel turning following the speeches.

Strouse closed the ceremony with a benediction.


For more local news, visit