Commissioners throw out welcome mat for Veterans Agency facing stiff budget cuts –
By Patricia Beech –
They want never to see the inside of another moving panel truck like the one from which they’re now hauling their files, records, equipment, and furniture.
It’s the second time in less than two years that members of the Adams County Veterans Services agency have moved their office in an effort to save money.
For the better part of the morning of May 30 , Veterans Service Officer, Russell Todd, Jr. and a couple of helpers moved the agency from its temporary home at the old Bentonville School into a new office at the government annex building on Courthouse Square in West Union.
“We’re excited to be here,” Todd says. “It’s centrally located so the office will definitely be easier to find, and with the courthouse and post office being so near, it’s just more convenient.”
According to Todd, the agency will be better able to serve veterans from their new location on Cross Street.
“The Board of Commissioners have really helped us out,” he says. “Everything is basically free – no utilities, no phone bills, no rent. It frees up more money we can put toward financial assistance for veterans.”
Commissioner Diane Ward is helping Todd and the other movers pack boxes into their new 24 X 27-square-foot-office.
“I’m really pumped,” Ward says. “We’re very pleased to be able to offer them this room.”
Providing office space to the financially strapped veterans agency solves more than one problem for the Board of Commissioners who will ultimately wield the fiduciary scalpel that slices funds from several county agencies, including Veterans Services, in order to compensate for the loss of DP&L property tax revenue amounting to millions of dollars.
“Our county’s Veterans Service isn’t exempt from budgetary cuts associated with the closure of the power plants,” Ward says. “The money they’re going to save by moving here will make it easier for them to continue providing necessary services to our local veterans.
“This move is for the best,” says Bill Conn, President of the Adams County Veterans Service Commission. “It’s a more modern facility, and it makes sense for us to be in the county seat because we are a county office, it’s certainly more economical for us to be here.”
The veterans agency took its first budgetary hit in 2016 when Duke Energy sold its share of the county’s power plants to Dynergy, forcing a devaluation of equipment and property.
“We lost $42,000, or over five percent of our yearly budget,” Conn says. “Making this move will really cut down on our expenses. We’ll save us about $5,000 a year, and that’s money that we can pass on to our clients.”
Additionally, the village of West Union, granting a request Ward made on behalf of the veterans, has designated two veterans-only parking spaces adjacent to the handicap space on Cross Street.
“Any veteran that’s in town can park there, whether they’re visiting the Veterans Services Office, or not,” says Ward. “It’s a way of honoring them and showing that we appreciate them. We need to provide services like this for the veterans in our communities. They’ve worked hard – that’s why we’re all living in the United States of America.”
The Veterans Service Commission provides a wide range of benefits to local veterans including: educational services, employment services, financial assistance, health care, home loan assistance, transportation, and many other needful services.
The staff at the Veteran Services Commission is trained to advise veterans how to apply for available benefits. In addition to Conn, the Commission board members include: Board President, Garry Mitchell; Service Officer and Transportation Coordinator, Russell Todd Jr.; Dean Collins, Secretary; Jerry Naylor, and the late Marvin Greene, who succumbed to cancer earlier this year.
Located in the government annex building at 215 N. Cross Street, West Union, the Veterans Services Commission is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. For more information, call (937) 544-5005.