Next year, Otoe County veterans may have more reliable transportation to and from medical appointments.
The Otoe County Board of Commissioners set up Fund 1905 Veterans’ Special Fund line item in the 2019-2020 budget during the board’s Aug. 13 meeting.
Under a Disabled American Veterans (DAV) program, the Otoe County Veterans Services office has to raise half of the cost of a new van, said Chad Miller, Otoe County veterans services officer.
“The vehicles that veterans are transported in are aged vehicles,” said Miller, who noted that one 2005 van currently in use has more than 200,000 miles on it.
Some of the vans previously used by the program have broken down, said Miller, leaving veterans without a way to get where they need to go.
After purchase, the DAV donates the van to a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center, said Miller.
The VA allows Otoe County volunteer drivers to use the vehicle to transport veterans to and from medical appointments at VA facilities in Omaha and Lincoln.
Miller said the VA takes care of fuel and maintenance costs of the vehicle, while the Otoe County Veterans Services Office schedules trips and recruits volunteer drivers. Approximately $15,000 will be needed for the county’s portion of the van cost, said Miller, who added he has been writing grant applications to try to secure funding for the new vehicle.
Miller estimated that a new van would be delivered in spring or summer of 2020, assuming his office is able to raise the necessary funds.
During the meeting, commissioners also approved the update of an interlocal agreement for the Southeast Nebraska Emergency Management Group.
Otoe County Emergency Management Director Gregg Goebel said the agreement was updated after a Lancaster County official who had served as the group’s grant administrator retired.
The new agreement now rotates the grant administrator responsibilities every three years, instead of leaving it solely for Lancaster County to handle, said Goebel.
Commissioners also approved the adoption of the Radio Standard Operation Guide for County Communication.
Otoe County Emergency Management Deputy Director Steve Cody said that he and Otoe County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Mike Holland developed the guidelines for fire and EMS agencies in the county, as well as Nebraska City schools and county hospitals.
Cody said county law enforcement agencies have their own set of guidelines.
The board also approved an interlocal agreement for rescue services at the Otoe County Detention Center.
Otoe County Sheriff Colin Caudill said the agreement, which is with the Nebraska City Fire and Rescue Department, provides the services at the lowest cost to taxpayers.

Commissioners voted to deny all bids for a new Unadilla Northwest low water crossing after the bids that were received were higher than commissioners expected and what the Federal Emergency Management Agency had provided to pay for the work.
Board Chair Jerad Sornson assured the audience that the board would “find someonw who will get the work done reasonably.”
“We’re not done with this,” he said in response to a request from property owner John Stillwell to have the road repaired so that Stillwell could have access to about 100 acres of land that are currently inaccessible.
At the conclusion of the meeting, commissioners made a quarterly visit to the county detention center.
The next regular Otoe County Board of Commissioners meeting is set for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27, at the Otoe County Courthouse.