Judge makes first reappointment to vet board in six years

The Butler County judge who just made the first reappointment to the Veterans Service Commission in six years says Commissioner Chuck Weber has “galvanized” the once dysfunctional board.

Common Pleas Court Judge Noah Powers said he interviewed nine “fabulous” candidates with stellar military service records who are dedicated to veterans, but Weber was a stand-out.

“Chuck earned it,” Powers said of Weber, whose new term starts in 2019. “But the thing that really stood out about Chuck is he came in at a bad time, willing to do what he was supposed to do and he has really galvanized that board and has served as a great leader.”

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Over the past several years the makeup of the five-member board has changed dramatically after years of dysfunction and in-fighting. A few years ago, the judges tasked with filling board seats — there is a seat open every year because commissioners serve five-year terms — said they had to worry as much about whether members could play well together as their qualifications for the job.

Weber joined the commission in August 2015, replacing Fred Southard who resigned from the board that June amid allegations he was creating a hostile work environment for the commission’s executive director, Caroline Bier.

Former commissioner Lowell Stewart — who retired last year after 22 years on the board — was the last board member to be reappointed back in 2013.

Commissioner Tom Jeffers is now the most veteran commissioner on the board, and he too has high praise for his colleague. He said with Weber at the helm as president for the past three years, meetings were always positive, and although they don’t always agree on everything, “we all agree when we leave (that) we did the right thing.”

“Chuck brings a lot of assets,” Jeffers said. “He has been one of the big assets as to why our numbers keep going up.”

When Weber joined the board the monthly average of the number of vets served was 407. Last year it was 502. Weber has been a big part of the advertising push to get the word out about the commission — that is responsible for serving about 27,000 vets in the county — and he even is the on-air voice behind some of the radio advertising.

Commissioner Bruce Jones — who was appointed to replace Stewart last year — said the board membership is clicking and he is glad the judge didn’t disturb it.

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“I think we have a good chemistry right now within the group and I think we need to continue with the group we’ve got for now, and continue to work to serve more veterans,” Jones said. “I think Chuck has that in his heart, so that’s the kind of people we want on the board.”

At every monthly meeting the board discusses the upcoming outreach efforts of the commission and Weber is always offering to tag along with the staff — the other commissioners do as well but probably not to the level of Weber’s participation — to various events and visits to places where veterans are found.

He considers himself lucky to have been reappointed.

“I have been rewarded by this opportunity at this stage in my life to spend this kind of time in a very productive and helpful way for fellow veterans,” Weber said. “I don’t think I could have stumbled into anything more fruitful, in my wheelhouse anyway.”

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