October 26, 2014

Elyria
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Trustee quits VFW board, says group overspent

ELYRIA TWP. — Lorain County Veterans Service Commissioner Bob Childers said Tuesday that he resigned as a trustee at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1079 in Elyria because of his concerns about the fiscal health of the post.

Childers’ comments came during a discussion at the Veterans Service Commission meeting when the board was asked about the possibility of giving $15,000 to provide the VFW honor guard with new uniforms and repairing weapons.

“Until 1079 shows me some austerity measures, I’m not going to help them out,” Childers told VFW Past Commander Gene O’Quinn.

Childers said his chief concern was the roughly $35,000 in annual pay and benefits paid to VFW Quartermaster Jay Arnett. Childers said other veterans organizations pay their quartermasters around $600 per month; Arnett said he makes $600 per week.

O’Quinn told Childers that he thought his reasoning for opposing the uniform request was “more like a vendetta than anything else.”

Arnett, who wasn’t at the meeting, said later Tuesday that Childers had a “personal gripe” against him and the VFW.

Arnett also said that the VFW has taken some austerity measures to cut spending, but the post’s overall financial health is good. He said the post has an annual budget of a little less than $240,000 and has not had trouble meeting its budget.

The problem, he said, comes in the charity account. The rise of Internet cafes and Ohio casinos have cut into the profits generated for charity work by veterans groups, Arnett said.

He said he hopes that Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine will crack down on Internet cafes, which have dubious legality, and that the state will allow veterans organizations to install slot machines.

Arnett also said that when Childers departed around two months ago, he left months worth of audits uncompleted.

Childers said that he still has concerns about the post he spent years at and believes that Arnett’s pay should be cut to a flat fee of $25,000, something he said would free up money to provide the honor guard with new uniforms.

He also said that he isn’t even certain that spending money on new uniforms for an honor guard would be legal for the Veterans Service Commission to do. He said prosecutors would have to review the request before the commission could vote on the matter.

In other business at Tuesday’s commission meeting, several veterans criticized the hiring of Terry Stone as the agency’s new executive director.

Stone replaces Don Bates, who resigned last year while he was facing discipline during an investigation into numerous allegations of wrongdoing.

Bates is now the veteran service officer at Post 1079.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.