Washington County Attorney Scott Vander Schaaf said during a Washington County Board of Supervisors on Dec. 10 that he has begun some research into the process of filling the District 7 county board seat left by the death of board member Andy Andreasen.

Andreasen died unexpectedly Dec. 5 after collapsing at his store, Andy's Mow Town. He was 46.

Supervisor Steve Dethlefs, District 1-Fort Calhoun, recognized Andreasen on behalf of the board to start the Dec. 10 meeting.

"We are not only sorry to hear of Andy's death, but we are also stunned," Dethlefs said. "The board would like to express our sincere sympathy to Shelly and the entire Andreasen family during this very difficult time. Andy was a highly valued and respected member of our board. The effects of his passing will be felt as we try to lead this county going forward. Andy was a wonderful board member who understood the meaning of the word 'team.' He was focused on the good of the county and not his personal agenda. He just wanted to make a good county better."

Vander Schaaf said the process to fill the open county board seat will begin in earnest this week, which was decided on out of respect for Andreasen and his family. Services were held last week.

"There are some questions that we have to try and answer in order to understand the process," Vander Schaaf said. "I have reached out to Sarpy County, they have had a scenario similar."

Vander Schaaf said he has also looked at Nebraska Attorney General's opinions to get clarification on the process.

"This is something that doesn't happen often, so there is very limited statute and attorney general opinion," he said.

Under state statute, the seat is to be filled within 45 days, which would be Jan. 20, but the county could show good cause to extend that date.

"There also can be good cause shown and add some extra time due to the fact there's holidays and this courthouse will be closed," Vander Schaaf said. "We will do everything in our power to try and have that done within the 45 days, but we do have the ability for good cause if we need a week or two after that."

Vander Schaaf, the county clerk and the county treasurer will work as a committee to fill the seat through reviewing applicants. Vander Schaaf said people interested in the seat can contact the county clerk's office with their information.

"I'm hopeful to move this along as quickly as possible," he said. "We will do the best we can, but we will be as transparent as humanly possible, and we're going to do everything above board so we can accomplish the task at hand."

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