July 20, 2007

County Offers Veterans Services Officer Job to GF Woman

By Stephen J. Lee, Grand Forks Herald, N.D.

Jul. 20--After interviewing four candidates Friday, a two-person committee of the Grand Forks County Board of Commissioners decided to offer the job of Veterans Service Officer to Barbara Zavala of Grand Forks.

Zavala is a billing supervisor at Altru Health System and a former equal employment opportunity administrator at Grand Forks Air Force Base.

County Board Chairman Gary Malm and commissioner Connie Triplett interviewed Zavala and three others, assisted by Bob Hanson, North Dakota's commissioner of veterans affairs.

The interviews each lasted 30 to 45 minutes, said Ed Nierode, county director of administration, who spent Friday afternoon checking out the candidates' references and then contacting them about the committee's decision.

Malm said he and Triplett made the final decision to offer the job to Zavala on Friday afternoon after Hanson had given his input.

The meetings, including the interviews and discussions about the candidates, as well as the decision to make an offer to Zavala, were all public, Malm said.

Nierode will talk with Zavala on Monday, and negotiate a salary package if she decides to accept the offer.

The full five-member County Commission must approve the hire and is expected to vote on it Tuesday afternoon at the regular commission meeting, if Zavala accepts the offer, Malm said.

The other three finalists, chosen from 66 applicants, were: Leslie Ashe, Gilby, N.D., who is the veterans service officer for Traill County in Hillsboro, N.D.; Thomas Tezel, Grand Forks, who is emergency services director for the American Red Cross's Red River Valley chapter; and Bruce Steele, West Fargo, N.D., the project director of the Veterans Upward Bound program at North Dakota State University.

Tom Saddler, who held the job for 12 years, left the position at the beginning of July.

Saddler's salary was $54,960 this year, Nierode said. The position has a salary range of $44,592 to $72,408 and the county's general hiring policy is not to hire anyone at a salary above the mid-point of the range for that position. In this case, that mid-point would be about $58,000.

The job requires a military veteran with at least two years of active duty. In a system set up after World War II, Veterans Service Officers in each county, directed by a state office, help military veterans and their families obtain all the benefits and medical help they have earned and need.

Reach Lee at (701) 780-1237 or at [email protected]


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