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Veteran Affairs director says some veterans still unaware of benefits

Aug 02, 2013
Photo by: Steph Tahtinen Henry County Engineer Jake Hotchkiss


Mt. Pleasant News

Some veterans in Henry County don’t know that they are eligible for benefits for their service.

Henry County Veterans Affairs Director Rick Van Winkle told the board of supervisors Thursday morning that he had just helped yet another veteran sign up for benefits for the first time. Such a report is not uncommon for Van Winkle. Many of the veterans who come to see him for the first time are Vietnam veterans who do not realize what is available to them.

“The word is getting out, but it’s word of mouth more than anything,” Van Winkle said during the monthly department head meeting Thursday morning.

To help reach more veterans, Van Winkle is planning to hold a service fair in November.

“We’re working on this yet,” he said, “[We’re] trying to get people to come in and see what benefits they have.”

The Veterans Affairs office will also have a table set up at Museum B at the Old Threshers Reunion on Thursday, Aug. 29.

For more information on the benefits available to veterans, call 319-385-0792

The Veterans Affairs office is located at 101 N. Jackson Street, Mt. Pleasant. Office hours are Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m.; Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Thursday 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.

In other department head news, Sheriff Rich McNamee said that his department is close to being fully staffed but he still needs to hire one more jailer.

He noted that the jail has an average daily population of 16.2 people, but there are only eight beds.

“It continues to be overpopulated,” said McNamee.

He has said in the past that the county will have to look at expanding the jail in the future.

County Auditor Shelly Barber noted that the state auditors were in Henry County the week of July 15 to work on the county’s audit for fiscal year 2013.

“They seemed very nice, very thorough,” said Barber, noting that they were good to work with.

This is the first year that the State of Iowa is completing the county’s audit. Previously, the county’s audit was completed by TD&T in Mt. Pleasant. However, due to an employee leaving, TD&T will no longer be doing county audits.

The state auditors will be back at the end of this year and again in January 2014 to finish the audit.

County Engineer Jacob (Jake) Hotchkiss took the chance to meet and introduce himself to his fellow department heads during the meeting. Thursday was his first day as county engineer, and he had already met the employees of the secondary roads department that morning.

“I met everyone at the shop this morning,” said Hotchkiss. “I look forward to working with them.”

Hotchkiss was previously the assistant engineer in Washington County.

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