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Proposal to move county's veterans service to VFW post hits snag

Mineral Wells Index - 11/28/2018

Nov. 27--PALO PINTO -- A plan to shift the county's veterans services to VFW Post 2399 under post Veterans Services Officer Clay Roundtree hit a snag Monday with questions over the proposed compensation package.

Palo Pinto County Commissioners last month agreed to move ahead with a plan to move its veterans services program following the announced retirements of county VSOs Mack and Debbie Huddleston. They have provided veterans services out of a building adjacent to the county courthouse.

On Monday, County Judge David Nicklas made a motion to name Roundtree the county's veterans services officer, compensating him at a rate of $19.50 an hour for 400 hours annually, plus mileage reimbursement for any homebound visits he makes. The county would install a computer and any other necessary equipment for Roundtree at the VFW post in Mineral Wells.

It was the mileage reimbursement, and oversight, that drew questions from Pct. 4 Commissioner Jeff Fryer.

"I am not in agreement with (Roundtree) being over there working for the county and we have no control over him," said Fryer.

He questioned Nicklas about mileage reimbursement for the position, saying it was not budgeted.

Last month, commissioners seemed in consensual agreement with paying Roundtree $8,041 a year. Nicklas' proposal amounts to $7,800 a year plus mileage.

That compares to annual combined salary costs of $46,854 for the Huddlestons, with an entire VA department annual operating budget of just over $60,000.

"He is not getting anything from the VFW," Nicklas said of Roundtree. "It's all volunteer."

After further discussion and lack of a second, the retiring Nicklas withdrew his motion and told commissioners they can sort it out after Shane Long becomes the new county judge in January. Pct. 2 Commissioner Louis Ragle is also stepping down, being replaced Jan. 1 by his precinct foreman, Mike Reed, who has been attending meetings.

Roundtree has been training as a VSO under Lee Downs, who has been heralded for his work serving veterans and their families, amounting to more than $8 million in found and recovered benefits. Roundtree will take over for Downs whenever the retired Navy veteran resigns.

Part of the plan to move the county's veterans services to the VFW post under Roundtree is to free up the county building on the east side of the courthouse where veterans services have been conducted, handling a reported 50-55 inquiries per month. The county is considering moving exercise equipment and other property housed in a portion of the former café on the opposite side of the courthouse to develop that property into additional courthouse parking.

Commissioners took no action Monday on the veterans services proposal.

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(c)2018 the Mineral Wells Index (Mineral Wells, Texas)

Visit the Mineral Wells Index (Mineral Wells, Texas) at www.mineralwellsindex.com

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