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County keeps VSO aid

The Douglas County Board earned a round of applause Thursday night as veterans packed the Government Center Board Room in a show of support for the Veterans Service Office.

The Board approved extending the term of employment for an assistant in the office, Carissa Skifstad, as the county begins the search for a new veteran service officer.

Skifstad joined the office earlier this year to help with a growing caseload. She has also been instrumental in planning fundraisers like the Heroes Run in September and the Military Ball earlier this month.

The Board approved extending her position for a year on a full-time basis; the resolution that extended the position also calls for adding it to the 2017 budget.

Supervisor Jim Paine said the resolution allows the county to increase the size of the office at a time when the demographic of Douglas County’s veterans is changing and growing. He’s said the kind of services needed by today’s veterans is different than what has happened traditionally.

"This allows us to retain Carissa, hopefully, and I know I’ll get to say this again when she’s eventually named our employee of the quarter," Paine said. "She has done a fantastic job." Paine said Skifstad has done a lot of the work herself for events that hadn’t been held in all the years since he left the U.S. Marine Corp., or since he’s served on the County Board.

Larry Quam thanked former Veteran Service Officer Trevor Welsch for his service to the county’s veterans. Welsch resigned a week ago rather than appeal his Oct. 28 termination, but attended Thursday night’s meeting in support of Skifstad retaining her position.

He was fired one day after a county budget session in which some supervisors hoped to insert Skifstad’s position in the budget and 12 days after he entered a no contest plea to an ordinance violation, a noncriminal offense, for theft. The latter was cited as the cause for termination.

"I thank the County Board for extending Carissa’s time for another year here," said Thomas "Butch" Liebaert of the Retired Enlisted Association. "She’s done good here."