Veterans services officer backed by manager
By Steve Huffman
Rowan County’s lone veterans services officer got a vote of support from the county manager Tuesday.
The exchange concerning Elaine Howle came at Tuesday’s meeting of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners.
“I just wanted to stress, it’s not an easy job,” County Manager Gary Page said of Howle’s duties. “It’s like working in the tax office, a lot of people are not happy unless you tell them exactly what they want to hear.”
Commissioners took no action concerning Howle’s work, but Page promised he and others involved in veterans affairs would be keeping an eye on her performance.
The situation arose as the result last month of a number of veterans complaining that Howle wasn’t getting her job done and was causing delays in veterans getting their benefits. Will Pleasants, Bill Wallin and Rodney Cress said that with more veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, problems were only going to get worse.
The county invests more than $17,000 in the Veterans Services Department budget.
But Page said Tuesday that he and others involved with the county’s veterans had examined Howle’s work and found it to be largely satisfactory.
“I’m in the building every day,” Page said. “I see her work, I know what she’s doing.”
He said an examination of Howle’s efforts ó as well as complaints leveled against her ó revealed that she was largely doing what is expected of her.
“My recommendation is, keep the course on what we have,” Page said. “I’ll keep a close eye on her.”
Howle stepped to the lectern and briefly addressed commissioners. Asked how long veterans have to wait to make appointments to meet with her, Howle said she has three openings this Friday, as well as one opening both today and Thursday.
“No one’s ever had to wait a week,” she said of the time it takes to schedule an appointment with her.
Homer Robertson, president of the Rowan County Veterans Council, attended Tuesday’s meeting and seemed to support Howle. The two shook hands and smiled after Page gave Howle a vote of confidence.
Howle has been the county’s veterans services officer for 15 months. She is a veteran.
Howle reports to Clyde Fahenstock, senior services director. Previous veterans services officers reported to Ken Deal, director of administration.
– – –
Staff writer Jessie Burchette contributed to this story.