Two appointments have been made the Livingston County Veterans Services Committee.

Terms for committee members Hansel Keene and Joe Riker were set to expire at the end of the month, prompting the county’s Board of Commissioners to make two appointments at their Monday night meeting. Commissioner Dave Domas made a motion to reappoint Joe Riker and to appoint Commissioner Bob Bezotte to the committee. The motion passed unanimously.

Chairman Don Parker and Commissioner Kate Lawrence both felt appointing Commissioner Bezotte to the committee would provide a level of oversight that some community members have called for, following controversy over donations made to the committee last year, but mishandled by Keene resulting in a criminal investigation. No charges were ultimately filed against Keene, who served as chair of the committee, but the controversy led to his decision to not seek another term. Despite that, Keene was honored for his service at the county’s meeting. Bezotte feels in Keene’s absence, he will have “big shoes to fill”. Bezotte, who served in the U.S. Army in a combat zone in Vietnam, says he is looking forward to bringing oversight to the committee.

Riker, who has served on the committee for approximately a year and a half, says of his reappointment that he most looking forward to putting the situation involving the donation controversy behind the committee and moving forward. Riker says he is also looking forward to re-staffing the office and exploring how the committee will utilize funds generated by the veterans’ millage, one possibility being transitional housing.

Michael Reeve, Jim Pratt and former County Commissioner Steve Williams had also been in the running for the appointments; however Williams withdrew his name prior to the board’s vote, saying there had been enough fighting going on regarding the committee. (DK)