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County affirms support of ‘new’ VAC

Appellate court sends legal battle over organization back to circuit court

Published: Thursday, April 11, 2013 9:48 a.m. CDT

Grundy County will continue to fund the new Veterans Assistance Commission despite an appellate court decision that has cast it into uncertainty.

Though the path forward is not clear, County Board Chairman Ron Severson said the board still had a duty to fund the comission.

“If we didn’t continue to fund this, people would not be getting the help they need,” Severson said. “Things will not be changed [in the wake of the ruling].”

In 2012, a circuit court judge ruled it was permissable for the county board to no longer recognize the then-existing VAC and authorized it to, instead, recognize a newly created VAC.

Now, however, the third district appellate court has sent the case back to the circuit court for further consideration, Grundy County Assistant State’s Attorney Perry Rudman said.

Elton Monson, superintendent of the old VAC, said during public comment at the board’s meeting Wednesday night that the decision meant the new organization is not valid.

“So what are you going to do about it?” Monson asked.

The VAC has been surrounded in controversy going back more than five years, with the board regularly critizing the original commission for inefficiencies and that VAC accusing the board of conspiring against it.

In 2011, the county board filed an emergency complaint against the VAC in response to allegations from several local veterans’ groups that they were not being represented at VAC meetings.

The VAC was violating state statute and its own bylaws, the complaint stated.

Soon after filing the complaint, the board approved a resolution to recognize and approve a reorganized VAC and to repeal its previous resolution from 2002 to recognize a VAC.

In 2012, a judge ruled in favor of the new VAC, authorizing the board to recognize the new organization and to no longer recognize or fund the old one.

The judge did not rule on whether the old VAC could continue to exist or not. Since that time, Monson has continued to operate the old VAC under his own accord, with no support — financial or otherwise — from Grundy County.

Rudman said they were not sure how the appellate court would rule in the case.

There wasn’t much in the way of prior litigation,” Rudman said.

According to Severson, the board is currently examining its court options.

“It’s currently under advisement,” he said.

The important thing, Rudman and Severson said, is to continue providing services to local veterans.

“We need to make sure that those who served us continue to get our help,” Rudman said.

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