Westfield man hired as veteran's director

Monday, August 24, 2009
Gene Shultz

Gene Shultz will pick up the reigns as Plymouth County's new Veteran Affairs director Tuesday.

Shultz, of Westfield, who served two years in the United States Army 36 years ago, feels very strongly about helping other veterans.

"The veterans have served our country and they deserve any help we can give them," Shultz said.

Shultz will replace Martin Balmer who retired in July after serving 10 years as director.

Although he doesn't have direct experience working with veterans, he enjoys helping and working with people, Shultz said.

"I just have experience in customer service and office management, computer skills like knowing where to work to find something that you need," Shultz said.

He learned about the director's job while in the Veteran Affairs office recording his discharge papers with Balmer, who mentioned he was retiring, Shultz said.

"I was thinking about it as I was coming home and I thought it might be a good fit for me," Shultz said. "With the engraving, I'm pretty flexible, I can work at night or in the morning."

He starting wage will be $12 an hour and increase to $13 in six months with another raise after becoming nationally accredited and a year of employment.

New legislation requires Veteran Affairs directors and employees to become nationally accredited and work 20 hours a week. Shultz's hours haven't yet been set.

In addition to working as Veteran Affairs director, Shultz will also continue his engraving business, which started out as a hobby five years ago.

"Most of it is gun engraving," Shultz said. "I get guns from all over the United States."

He works directly with customers to determine what they want engraved, like names, animals or scroll designs, on the gun.

Shultz attended two years of engraving classes and since then has perfected his art through practice.

His interest for engraving was piqued when he saw a documentary about it on television.

"I was always interested in art, drawing, things like that," Shultz said. "I was always interested in firearms."

His engraving business became more than a hobby in January when he was laid off when the equipment division shut down at Nutra-Flo, a liquid fertilizer subsidiary of Kay Dee Feed Co., in Sioux City.

Before that until about 1989 when he sold it to a competitor, Shultz owned a rig welding business, S and S Welding, with his son Wade Shultz.

After returning from serving in the Army, Shultz worked as a welder with Iowa Public Service Company, in Sioux City.

The Plymouth County Veteran Affairs Commission chose Shultz from seven candidates.

Don Neunaber, chairman of the commission, received approval from the Plymouth County Supervisors during their meeting last Tuesday to hire Shultz.

"Martin Balmer agreed to help Eugene out as his training agent," Neunaber said. "There's a lot of work to this."

Shultz and wife, Dianna, have been married 36 years, and have three children and four grand children.

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