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Updated: VSO resigns after much debate about the position

Embattled Hubbard County Veterans Service Officer Dave W. Konshok abruptly submitted his resignation to the county board Wednesday afternoon and then was praised for a job well done.

His resignation came after months of wrangling over staffing of the part-time position. He also serves as the county's part-time Emergency Management Director and resigned from that position as well.

His resignation is effective Jan. 15, 2010.

Reading from a short prepared statement, Konshok said he was resigning "to pursue other endeavors." He declined to elaborate.

"I'm shocked," said commissioner Don Carlson.

The board wished Konshok, a City Council member and downtown business owner, well and thanked him for his service. More than a dozen veterans attended the county board meeting to get a status report on the position. Earlier this fall nearly 30 came to the board to lobby for a full-time VSO and to complain about poor service from the office.

Veterans Glenn Harvala and Art Wood said their concerns weren't about who staffed the position as long as it was staffed. They said they weren't complaining about Konshok specifically.

"The county needs to realize we could care less about who does it as long as they put their heart into it," Harvala said.

"There's just no one there when we've gone to the office," said Wood, addressing past concerns about Konshok's frequent absences.

Konshok brought State Homeland Security Director Kris Eide and Senior (Minnesota) VSO claims handler Reggie Worlds with him to plead the case for more help for each position.

"I know there have been some issues here with that job split," Eide began. "That's not unique to Hubbard County."

But she said statutory requirements mandate that the county staff an Emergency Management Director position at some level and offered extra funding to entice the county to raise the position to a full-time one in three years, funded with matching monies the state would provide.

"You have nine types of vulnerabilities including cyber crime, tornados and floods," Eide told the board. She urged the board to split the jobs, to "consider the gamut of responsibilities that person has on their shoulders" in the combined position.

Worlds offered training to help an interim county employee, Darryl Hensel, get up to speed in the office. Hensel was brought over to the VSO from the county recorder's office last month to assist Konshok.

As Worlds stressed the importance of the county having a full-time VSO, and the problems forcing the two positions to co-exist, board chair Lyle Robinson fired back.

"We've had less than a half-time person with his military duties," he said of Konshok's out-of-state monthly reserve duties that required him to be in Utah over long weekends.

"Our commitment is greater than you think," Robinson continued. "I want someone in the office all day long, five days a week."

And he criticized both Eide and Worlds for the constant training that has contributed to Konshok's absences.

"The work Dave did was great but you guys require him to be in so cotton pickin' many places at once," Robinson complained.

And he said the mandates for each office, unaccompanied by any funding, are not setting well with the county when homeland security and taking care of veterans should be federal and state responsibilities.

But Robinson would like to see the new VSO attract more of those state and federal dollars to vets, maintaining it's a form of economic development when veterans spend those dollars in the region.

The county will decide next month how to go about filling the job. Most commissioners want to see the Emergency Management duties returned to law enforcement personnel, like most of Minnesota's counties do.

Konshok is scheduled to be deployed to Afghanistan in July with his Air Force Reserve unit, so Hensel was brought on board to fill that void.