POMEROY — Members of the Meigs County Veterans Service Board spoke to the Meigs County Commissioners on Thursday morning, voicing their displeasure with the relocation of the Veterans Service Office earlier this year.
Mickey Williams addressed the commissioners, stating that the housing situation for the office is not working out.
The office, which had previously been at the Courthouse Annex on Memorial Drive in Pomeroy, was moved in the spring to the Department of Job and Family Services building in Middleport. Williams said that in that space, the office does not have the room or the confidentiality needed.
Williams said as the current space is not working, the board had been looking into other options and was moving forward on a one-year lease for the former Peoples Insurance Office in the former Peoples Bank building in Middleport. The lease is set to begin Oct. 10.
When the decision was made to move the office out of the annex to another location, Williams and others were reportedly told the office would move into another space on Memorial Drive where the Board of Elections and OSU Extension moved. All three were initially discussed for the space.
Williams said the veterans got “left out again and moved to Middleport.”
Commissioner Randy Smith explained that it was not the intent of the commissioners to have the veterans feeling left out, but rather after walking the space on Memorial Drive with the veterans service officer and Board of Elections employees, it was determined the space would not work for the office. Therefore, the space in Middleport seemed like the perfect option.
Some of the items of concern that were an issue at the previous location, and may have still been an issue with the new location option on Memorial Drive, were security and confidentiality, things that were potentially resolved in the DJFS building. The veterans coming to the Veterans Service Office could also access the additional services available at DJFS. There also was no board room available at the Memorial Drive location.
One of the main concerns with the DJFS space dealt with the ability for board members and drivers to access the office which could only be accessed with a code.
Commissioner Mike Bartrum said the commissioners have the highest respect for veterans and the veterans service office and only want to do what is best for them.
Veterans Service board member Ron Eastman said he thought the commissioners had good intentions with regard to the move, but it was not working out.
Eastman said the board members came to the commissioners asking for help with moving and with regard to payment of the rent for the space.
Commissioner Tim Ihle said that the commissioners would take care of the rent, but would not be able to have a check prepared by the start of the lease. The Veterans Service Office is to pay the first payment, which includes a deposit, and then will submit the bill for reimbursement. In having the rent money come from the county, any carryover money remaining at the end of the year, which was estimated to typically be around $1,000 to $2,000, would go back to the county to be used for a portion of the rent for the upcoming year. Rent for the space is to be $430 with utilities included, Williams told he commissioners.
DJFS Director Chris Shank, who was at the meeting on another matter, said that having the Veterans Service Office in the DJFS building had not been an inconvenience on his staff and he was sorry it did not work out.
The commissioners also offered any assistance with moving that may be needed.
Also since the move, the office had been receiving a separate phone bill which had previously been combined with the other offices in the annex building.
Ihle said the commissioners would take care of the bill they should have been receiving rather than it going to the Veterans Service Office.
Reach Sarah Hawley at 740-992-2155 ext. 2555 or on Twitter @SarahHawleyNews