Montmorency reviewing Veterans Trust Fund board

ATLANTA – The Montmorency County Board of Commissioners discussed issues with appointments to the Veterans Trust Fund board, and discovered while reviewing previous years’ appointments that the veterans board has not changed in years.

There were appointments where terms had expired according to the last records found by the board secretary. Commissioners also have expressed concerns over the use of the Veterans Trust Funds and the board fund administrator.

“We appoint the Veterans Trust Fund board, and they appoint an administrator,”Chair Gene Thornton said. “The administrator resigned as the veterans counselor, but not as the trust fund administrator. That is the one that looks at the applications and everything in order to use the state money and authorize it. Then it goes to the state and they do the same thing.”

Thornton said the board has been paying for the burials out of the general fund, and not out of the state money that was sent to be used for those types of purposes. The only money coming out of the fund was administrative salary.

“In talking with the head man in Lansing, we need to make changes,” Thornton said. “That board is the one who must make the change, and we’re supposed to appoint the board. Our recommendation is to make Larry Pascador, who is going through all the training to make him the funds administrator. So he gets all the information and looks at it and talks with Lansing about it.”

The board previously had an issue with the current administrator not approving a request already approved by Lansing, and the board had to take the money from the general fund to pay for the burial.

“If we want to keep getting that money to help us with those veterans’ situations, then we need to do it the right way,” Thornton said. “It’s currently not being done the right way and we’re trying to work through that.”

The contact the board has been seeking for information regarding how to handle this issue is planning to travel to northern Michigan to hold trainings for the county veterans affairs administrators to bring practices in the area up-to-date and better serve northern Michigan veterans.

In other business:

* during public comment, a resident expressed concerns over being banned from the libraries in the county. The board said that decision is up to the library board.

* claims and accounts totaled $225,410.32.

* Karen Fifield of Michigan State University Extension Food Safety updated the board on the programs she has been heading to introduce children and the community to healthy cooking, food preservation, nutrition and Serve-Safe programs.

* Barb Steele updated the board on the MSU Extension mentoring program and its successes. The program saves the county money by keeping children out of the court system and provides a support system for the children involved. Mentors with the program are volunteers who are looking to make a difference in a child’s life, and the program is always looking for additional mentors.

* the board approved taking $276.94 from the treasurer’s budget to pay for checks for district court to manage its bond and trust funds.

* the next regular board meeting will be June 25 at 9 a.m.

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at ngrulke@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.