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Bartholomew County will have a full-time veterans affairs officer for the first time beginning next year.
Bartholomew County Commissioners have made this decision in an effort to better serve local veterans, said commissioners Carl Lienhoop and Paul Franke.
While the veterans affairs officer position always has been part-time in Bartholomew County, Franke said, the office has had a full-time assistant service officer who has handled day-to-day operations.
With the change, the assistant service officer would become a part-time position.
“Some of the veterans felt the system we had in place wasn’t working out as well as it should have,” Lienhoop said.
Franke added that some of the local veterans organizations suggested the type of change that will be implemented.
He added that Brown County has a full-time Veterans Service officer and that commissioners have heard good things about that structure.
Lienhoop and Franke said the full-time veterans affairs officer position was posted internally to see if any county employees might be a good fit for the job. One of the requirements, per state law, is that the person be a veteran.
That precludes Judy Devening, the current assistant, from applying. Matt Taylor, the current veterans affairs officer, said he wouldn’t apply because he’s not ready to retire from his full-time job with Duke Energy, Franke said.
Franke said commissioners have spoken with Taylor and Devening about the upcoming change.
“He (Taylor) thought we were heading in the right direction,” Franke said.
Franke and Lienhoop added that the commissioners thought Taylor and Devening had done admirable jobs, but a new approach was needed.
Two internal candidates have been identified and will be interviewed today, Lienhoop and Franke said. If neither is considered suitable for the position, then the job will be advertised broadly, the pair said.
Next year, the full-time veterans affairs officer position will pay $33,261.54, said Bartholomew County Auditor Barb Hackman. That reflects a 2.5-percent increase for all county employees, approved by the Bartholomew County Council. The part-time position will pay $2,196.74, Hackman said.
Currently, the part-time officer is paid $2,143.18 and the full-time assistant receives $32,450.34.
Franke and Lienhoop said the person hired as the next veterans affairs officer will hire the assistant.
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