Refugee Initiative

County West on April 4, 2016, in Twin Falls.

TWIN FALLS — Some former hospital rooms could soon host services for local veterans if the County Commission approves a lease Thursday with the Twin Falls Veterans Council.

The commission is expected to review and sign the lease at its meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday in the upstairs meeting room of the County West Building, 630 Addison Ave. W. The agreement happens to come before the commission on the 76th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Those involved in the process say the move will help make County West a one-stop shop for veterans services. It’ll also give veterans groups a more regular place to conduct business, as many of these groups currently share buildings or meet in people’s homes or restaurants.

“It’s a really big step for all of us,” said Bob Jackson, a member of the VFW who’s been working temporarily in the Twin Falls County veterans service office. “We’re going to be signing a contract permitting the veterans groups using half of the second floor for meetings.”

The Twin Falls Veterans Council includes groups including the Twin Falls and Buhl posts of the VFW, the American Legion Post 7, Disabled American Veterans Stradley Chapter 5, and the local chapter of the Marine Corps. League.

The plan is to allow those groups to lease about 7,000 square feet of space for $50 per month, County Commissioner Don Hall said. This includes about 5,000 square feet of hallway and offices upstairs that used to be the patient tower for the old county hospital. These have been vacant.

“Each of those offices has a bathroom in it, which is nice,” Hall said.

The groups will also have access to a kitchen, where they can make meals for events. Storage rooms in the basement will be used for ceremonial honor guard equipment.

This will be the second change the county has taken this year to its veterans services. Last month, the county moved the Disabled American Veterans van to the County West building. The location now serves as a pickup spot for veterans who need to get to the Boise VA Medical Center.

On Mondays and Tuesdays, a vehicle arrives from Mini-Cassia to transport veterans. From Wednesday through Friday, local volunteers operate the van, Hall said. It’s now parked in an alcove that’s safe from the wind and snow, Jackson said.

There are almost 7,000 veterans in Twin Falls County, and that number is growing. Many of those veterans will be eligible for multiple groups or services, so having them under the same roof adds more convenience. Hall said it has been his goal to help make this happen since he became a commissioner in January.

Meanwhile, the county has begun interviewing candidates to fill the vacant veteran service officer position — a job that the county intends to make full-time. Calvin Armstead was the previous veteran service officer for the county, but left weeks ago for reasons Hall could not disclose.

There were 55 people who applied for the job, Hall said. A final candidate should be selected in the next couple of weeks.

The veterans services officer can assist veterans with filling out paperwork and scheduling trips to the VA hospital in Boise, for example.

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