Veterans service office move planned

Any of the 2,500 to 3,000 veterans living in Jackson County and needing help with obtaining services provided for them by the government will soon have to visit a new office.

That office, however, is located just a short distance from the present one at 1222 W. Bloomington Road on the west side of Brownstown.

The new veterans service office at 270 Woodside Court will provide easier access for veterans and especially for those who may have some kind of disability.

It also has an advantage over the present building, which it has shared with the Jackson County Solid Waste Management District for about 15 years, Veterans Service Officer Keith Boling said Thursday morning.

“It’s a lot better office as far as having room to take veterans in and have private space where they can talk about their issues,” he said.

Boling said he and the county’s assistant veterans service officer, Twana Guthrie, often meet with veterans and their spouses in private at the present office, but that generally requires asking someone else waiting for assistance to step aside or leave and come back a little later or reschedule their appointment.

While the office doesn’t make decisions about eligibility for services, it does help with the paperwork requirements, which can be difficult to navigate, he said.

While the present office is Americans with Disabilities Act accessible, the new location will be a lot better, said Boling, who has been the veterans service officer for about 13 years.

“It’s already set up for ADA,” Boling said. “Plus, down there, we will have a place to put our vans, which will be under cover.”

The office presently has two vans and two or three volunteers to drive them, but Boling likes to have five or six.

“We need more drivers,” he said.

Boling said county officials had discussed the possibility of locating the office in the courthouse annex. The annex is connected to the Jackson County Judicial Center. But while the judicial center is ADA compatible, the journey to the annex from the front of the judicial center is long and winding.

During a meeting in April, county commissioners approved the purchase of the building at 270 Woodside Court.

On April 20, the county council put in place the funding for the 1,500-square-foot building, which sits on a 1-acre site. At that time, county attorney Susan Bevers said a purchase agreement to buy the property for $165,000 had been signed.

The council agreed to use up to $170,000 in funding the county received for the sale of the former Jackson Superior Court I building at 1420 Corporate Way in Seymour. That building was sold to Seymour Community School Corp. for $675,000 in July 2021.

The county also will use some of those funds to pay for the remodeling of the veterans service office and purchase office equipment.

Boling said he has spoken with county Building Commissioner Conner Barnette about the remodeling project, and Barnette estimated a cost of $20,000 to $30,000 for the work.

He said he has had problems getting bids for the work and believes Barnette can help with the remodeling project.

During Wednesday morning’s county council meeting at the courthouse, council President Dave Hall suggested approving an additional appropriation of $30,000 for the remodeling and up to $10,000 for new furniture, which Boling said he needs to start purchasing because of supply issues. The council passed Hall’s recommendation unanimously.

Boling, who praised county commissioners and councilmen for always finding ways to help veterans, said it’s his goal to be in the new building by September if everything comes together.