New digs cause doubts for some Nevada County vets |

New digs cause doubts for some Nevada County vets

Veterans Services Office is currently located at the Veterans Memorial Building in Grass Valley.
John Hart/ | The Union

A plan to move and upgrade the Nevada County Veterans Services Office had some vets asking questions, while others have already voted to support the plan.

“Some of us guys were pretty nervous about the whole situation,” said veteran Eric Trygg, about the plan to move the county office from the Veterans Memorial Building in Grass Valley to larger and improved quarters at a newly leased building at Brighton Greens Office Park on McCourtney Road in Grass Valley.

Trygg and about 25 other veterans met Thursday with Nevada County Supervisor Dan Miller and county Facilities Manager Tom Coburn at the current Veterans Service Office to discuss the situation.

“They did a pretty good job explaining it,” Trygg said after the meeting. “It was a positive experience.”

“Currently, the waiting room chairs are less than 3 feet from the counter where someone comes in to say, ‘I’d like to apply for veterans benefits because I have some issues.’ Then they do go back to an office for the consultation — but the reception area is not private.”County Facilities Manager Tom Coburn

Trygg said he felt more “comfortable” about the county’s plans after the meeting.

“We’ll just have to wait and see,” he said.

Coburn said he would dispel rumors that have surfaced in recent days.

“We’re not planning to sell that building,” Coburn said in response to one of the rumors. The existing veterans office will remain at the Grass Valley building for use by veterans organizations — although Coburn said the details of that use are still being worked out.

“It will still be veterans-related,” he said of the 700-square-foot dining hall and offices in the rear basement of the Grass Valley building. “I have my wish list, but I’m still putting in suggestions.”

He said the other offices in the building, such as Nevada County Agriculture Commissioner’s office and UC Cooperative Extension, will remain in place.

Coburn said it was not an “eviction” from the Grass Valley building, but a way to offer more space, more privacy, more hours and better services to veterans who are applying for benefits. Space will increase from 700 square feet to 1,200 square feet, with a private entrance and separate waiting area from other county social service agencies that will also be moving to Brighton Greens.

“It will be separate,” Coburn said. The new office will remedy several complaints about the current space — lack of privacy for veterans applying for benefits and reduced hours over lunch break.

“Currently, the waiting room chairs are less than 3 feet from the counter where someone comes in to say, ‘I’d like to apply for veterans benefits because I have some issues,’” Coburn said. “Then they do go back to an office for the consultation — but the reception area is not private.”

In addition, access to the office will be improved. When receptionists for the veterans service office go to lunch, they will have staff from other offices at the new building to cover for them, so the office will remain open.

“At least you’re not going to have someone going there to open the door and it’s locked,” Coburn said.

Aside from the group of veterans meeting Thursday, Coburn said he has had mostly positive feedback from area veterans groups, including the American Legion Frank Gallino Post 130 in Grass Valley, the Nevada County Consolidated Veterans Council and the Marine Corps League.

“While the move from the Veterans Memorial Building is an emotional one, the Frank Gallino Executive Committee Board recognizes the need to provide communities’ veterans to the highest possible level of service,” said Robert Germann, Commander of the American Legion post, in a Dec. 15 letter to Coburn. “The board has voted to support this move.”

Coburn, who said he goes to all the NCCVC meetings, said that group was supportive of the plan.

The move to the 20,000-square-foot building at Brighton Greens, announced in December when the lease was approved by Nevada County Board of Supervisors, will consolidate Nevada County’s diverse and spread-out social services offices in one central location. Currently, members of the public who may need housing, job or mental health services — for example — likely have to travel to three or more office locations.

“Overall, the public gets more services at one location than they have ever had before,” Coburn said.

Ultimately there could also be some cost savings, he added.

“We have three different leases out there now (for social services offices),” Coburn said. “All are due and all are due for increases.”

Nevada County Veterans Services Officer Vic Ferrera echoed Coburn’s comments.

“The veterans office will be separate,” said Ferrera, also Nevada County Office of Emergency Management director. “It will not be lumped in with other social services.”

According to the announcement in December, the following offices are scheduled to move to Brighton Greens in July:

— Veterans Services Office, currently at the Grass Valley Veterans Memorial Building;

— Women, Infants and Children program (WIC), currently in leased offices on the second floor of a retail space on Sutton Way in Grass Valley;

— CalWORKS/One Stop, currently in a leased office on Maltman Drive in Grass Valley;

— Children’s Behavioral Health and Child Protective Services, both currently at the Laura Wilcox Memorial Building on Sutton Way in Grass Valley;

— Social Services Eligibility, currently split between the CalWORKS/One Stop office at Maltman Drive in Grass Valley and the county’s Rood Center in Nevada City.

To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email or call 530-477-4239.

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