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VA Board to consider changes to commissioner selection process

Published: Friday, Nov. 10, 2017 10:05 a.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Nov. 10, 2017 10:47 a.m. CST

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A new program will shift the way that commissioners who serve on the Jasper County Veterans Affairs board are selected, director Kurt Jackson said. On Wednesday, during the monthly meeting of the VA board, Jackson said after completing his semi-annual state training in Des Moines last month he’s been looking into the issue.

Currently, commissioners are appointed by the county board of supervisors, but Jackson said that doesn’t match the way other counties in Iowa select new members for the VA board. Most use an application process, which Jackson said is designed to help maintains its equal opportunity requirements.

To meet this goal, Jackson has developed an application process, and when a member of the VA board is nearing the end of their term Jackson will begin the process of advertising for new members. The five members of the VA board each serve a three-year term, staggered to limit turnover. Commissioner Jerome Gunderson is the next board member whose term expires in 2018. During Wednesday’s meeting, Gunderson announced that he’ll be moving out of the county next summer, leaving a vacancy on the board.

“It gives us a ready supply of commissioners who are interested in the job,” Jackson said. “We want to eliminate any discontent, that’s the way it’s supposed to work.”

To create the application Jackson looked at the applications other counties in the state are using, and boiled it down a single page application. After advertising for the position, Jackson plans to cull the applications and then conduct interviews with the top candidates. He said he’d give preference to commissioners who are interested in staying in their position. Commissioner Fred Dimon, the newest member of the VA board, said he feels like the change will make it easier to fill vacancies that arise on the board.

“When they asked me they were just looking, it was a stab in the dark,” Dimon said.

As the newest member of the board Dimon said he was contacted by a county supervisor to ask if he’d be interested in serving on the board, and shortly thereafter, he received a call to let him know that he’d been selected for the board. While he likes the idea of advertising for the position, he’s unsure if there enough Jasper County residents who meet the requirements and are interested in serving.

“Are you really thinking we’ll get that many applications?” Dimon asked Jackson. “I’m going to be greatly surprised if we have more than four.”

Commissioner Marta Ford said she agrees with Dimon, and she said when she was tapped to serve on the board, she wasn’t exactly sure what the organization was.

The county board of supervisors will have final approval over the appointments, but Jackson said it’s his hope this will streamline the process and give everyone who’s interested an opportunity to serve. Ideally, Jackson said he’d like to see the board include both men and women, and have representatives who’ve served in all major conflicts.

“I’m heading this up to make sure this happens the way it’s supposed to happen,” Jackson said.

Contact David Dolmage at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or ddolmage@newtondailynews.com

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