BEMIDJI -- The Beltrami County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday began the hiring process for a new Veterans Service Officer to replace Scotty Allison, who plans to retire in a year.

During the meeting, the board was informed about Allison's intentions to reduce his hours as he transitions toward retiring from the position, which is expected no later than spring 2022. Because there's a lengthy credentialing period to certify a new officer, commissioners were recommended to get the process underway now.

The Veterans Service Office for 2021 has budgeted the salary of a full time officer and a 3/4 time assistant officer who would be benefited 75%. The goal for the county is to hire the assistant position by April 20.

Allison would then provide up to six months of transitory training for the new hire. Following those six months, the assistant officer will be appointed to the main officer and Allison will work half time until retirement.

On Tuesday, the county approved forming a committee, which will include Human Resources Director Linda Tran and County Administrator Thomas Barry, as well as two veterans. Allison will also be with the committee, serving in an advisory capacity.

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Interviews for the position are expected in mid-March.

Other county business

The board also approved a new lease on Tuesday with Aurora Waaskone Charter School, for the education provider to continue renting 8,712 square feet of space in the county's Community Services Center. With the previous lease set to expire June 30, terms were negotiated between the school and the county before being reviewed by the county attorney.

The new lease will be for three years, ending in June 30, 2024. Based on a cost of $15.66 per square foot, the school will make a monthly payment of $11,369.67. The rent for the total lease period is $136,436.

Commissioners also spoke about plans for a joint meeting with the Bemidji City Council to address several common topics and get introduced to new members of the governing board. The last joint meeting between the two government units took place in May 2019.

This year's joint meeting is expected this spring. Potential topics include the community response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Bemidji veterans home, the future of the Beltrami County Jail and solid waste management. Commissioners said they would send additional topic ideas to Barry to be compiled.