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County to interview six for Veterans Service Officer job

Hubbard County received 81 applications for the position of Veterans Service Officer.

Commissioners will winnow down the field to six candidates who will be interviewed publicly March 10. The board hopes to have someone on the job by April.

"We are going to have some extremely good people in that group," Hubbard County board chair Lyle Robinson predicted.

"There are some well-qualified candidates," agreed county coordinator Jack Paul.

Commissioners will each read through the applications and submit a list of interviewees they feel are the best candidates. Those finalists will be submitted by the March 3 board meeting.

A consensus list will be presented to the board to determine the final six.

But left unanswered is what role veterans will play in the process. Robinson said they should be able to attend the interviews and give their thoughts to the board on candidates. But they would not be allowed to ask questions.

Open interviews "could give an unfair advantage to candidates who lobby" veterans' groups such as the American Legion, said commissioner Greg Larson.

"We can't really have an open system that's fair," Robinson said.

"If you're the first person picked (to be interviewed) you're hitting questions you've never heard."

Meanwhile, an applicant sitting in the audience might be formulating better answers, he said.

Paul suggested putting the applicants in a separate room to prevent such preparation.

"So you discriminate against 'em because they're candidates?" Robinson asked.

But commissioners want to avoid the mistakes of the past.

"The criteria is to know they have to cover the office five days a week all year long except vacations and holidays," Robinson said.

Paul suggested asking each candidate to be interviewed, how they would accomplish that.

The interviews will begin at 9 a.m. in the county boardroom. The commissioners will rely on interim VSO John Lombard to help them with the selection. Lombard stepped in temporarily to help the office when former VSO Dave W. Konshok resigned last month.

The county also accepted a transportation grant of $11,148, which pays to take vets to doctors' appointments and other services.

Last meeting, the board voted to return $8,613 in unused transportation grant monies to the state. All the vets who needed transportation apparently were provided it, but commissioner Cal Johannsen said, "You just hate to return something."

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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