Nine veterans are vying for the one at-large seat on the Butler County Veterans Service Commission, including the sitting president and one of this year’s Veterans of the Year.
Butler County Common Pleas Court Judge Noah Powers has been interviewing the applicants for the at-large seat on the commission that works to serve the estimated 27,000 veterans in the county. The seat is currently held by board President Chuck Weber, and Powers said he plans to name the new commissioner in mid-December.
The candidates include:
• Steven S. Cole, 56, product manager at Worldpay, West Chester Twp.
• Mark D. Doty, Jr., 72, retired from the city of Hamilton, Hamilton
• James D. Eriksen, Jr., 53, senior program manager at National Cash Register, Liberty Twp.
• Troy E. Gibson, 73, retired sergeant from the Butler County Sheriff’s Office, Hamilton
• Lloyd V. Gilliam, 68, retired senior human resources manager at LyondellBasell Industries, Liberty Twp.
• James C. Lewis, 71, self-employed CPA, Hamilton
• Jerry Nelson, 76, retired regional manager at Siemens, West Chester Twp.
• Gregory A. Robinette, 56, material manager at Foxtail Foods, Liberty Twp.
• Chuck Weber, 71, retired assistant manager at FedEx Freight, West Chester Twp.
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.
Nelson was one of two veterans selected as Veteran of Year last month, the other was Marvin Sizemore. Bier said as far as she knows the rest of the candidates have not had previous involvement with the veterans board.
The veterans board for several years had been a source of consternation for the appointing judges — by law the common pleas court is the appointing authority for the veterans board — with in-fighting members, a former executive director accused of being a bully and making racist remarks, and decisions critical to serving veterans stalled.
Retired Judge Patricia Oney who once had the appointment task said she was forced to look not necessarily at the qualifications of the candidates but rather if they could “play well with others.”
In recent years the board has transformed into a work unit that is serving more of the estimated 27,000 veterans in the county than ever. Meetings are congenial and productive, where it used to be a hostile, foreboding atmosphere. That is why Powers has said previously he can focus on things that are important about the position, like service candidates already give to veterans and the community at large.
After swearing Commissioner Bruce Jones in last year, Powers told the Journal-News he is very pleased with the new board.
“I’m really thrilled about the composition of the board, those guys, their heads are all in the right place,” Powers said. “They are all focused on the service to our veterans. That’s the most important thing to me. I think Bruce Jones is just a perfect compliment to it and I see him being a visionary for this group for the future.”