Evertson fired as county VSO

 

Shaun Evertson

The Kimball County Commissioners fired Veterans Service Officer Shaun Evertson Tuesday after an almost hour-long closed session with members of the county's veterans service committee.

Evertson, who was invited to but did not attend the meeting with the commissioners and the VSC, was informed of his dismissal by VSC chairman Bob Abramson during an emergency meeting of the VSC at 4 p.m., Tuesday. When asked if he wanted to say anything or had anything to discuss, Evertson replied, "Nope."

"As a board member that's been with you as a board member and as our director, thanks for all you've done," Abramson said. "I think you've done a tremendous job. I'm sorry this happened. I think it was out of our control. That's my personal opinion."

Evertson asked if he was needed for anything else and told no, and then left the meeting.

The VSC will serve as the interim VSO until someone can be hired to fill the part-time position. They will take applications through the end of the business day on Sept. 8. The VSC will meet at 4 p.m. on Sept. 10 in the county courthouse to look over applications.

Sheana Hendrickson, KCVSO administrative assistant, will continue to work under the committee until a new VSO is hired. She will report to Abramson, but will seek help from Scotts Bluff County VSO John Brehm as needed.

Tuesday's events began Aug. 4 after the commissioners voted to send a letter to Evertson and the VSC to inform him that a job evaluation of Evertson's performance would be held during Tuesday's commissioners meeting. The meeting, which Evertson did not attend, was held in closed session to "prevent needless injury to the reputation of the employee."

The rift between the commissioners and Evertson came to the surface in February. At issue has been the hours and pay for Evertson and his assistant. They are both part-time. The commissioners allowed Evertson to hire part-time help for his office this spring, which is the first time in at least two decades the office has had additional paid help. Evertson disputed some of the details surrounding the pay and hour allowed to work since he made the hire in late April.

A sometimes contentious discussion during the July 7 commissioners meeting led to an inflammatory-worded veterans service committee "emergency" meeting notice, written by Evertson, in which said the meeting was called to "discuss and take action regarding the ongoing disruptive and damaging activities of the Kimball County Clerk and the Kimball County Board of Commissioners which are severely impacting the ability of the Veterans Service Committee and Veterans Service Office to execute their statutory mission."


The commissioners immediately called an emergency meeting after receiving the notice July 9 and held a lengthy discussion about the meeting notice, the history of allowing Evertson to hire part-time help and a temporary solution. The veterans service committee then met July 16 to discuss its budget.

Things continued to escalate after Evertson posted a notice for a veterans service committee meeting set for July 23 to discuss the budget. Board attorney Audrey Elliott said in the July 21 commissioners meeting that Evertson's notice included multiple violations of the open meetings act. The commissioners voted unanimously that day to send a warning letter to the veterans service committee instructing them not to meet July 23 or the commissioners would take legal action against them. The veterans service did not meet July 23 after receiving the letter from the commissioners.

 

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