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Butler County's Veteran Services head under fire

HAMILTON, Ohio (AP) — A southwest Ohio county's veterans services director is under fire, but has withstood an effort to cut his pay.

The Hamilton-Middletown Journal-News (http://bit.ly/1aSOyYM ) reports that a vote Wednesday to reduce Curtis McPherson's pay by $15,000 from $91,420 was a 2-2 tie, so it stays the same. A fifth commissioner was out sick.

However, there was much criticism of McPherson during a seven-hour meeting of the Butler County Veterans Service Commission.

"We've got to do something about this guys, people are suffering," said Tom Johnson, a former service officer.

The Journal-News has reported that Butler's agency turns away veterans at unusually high rates and that less than 1 percent of 27,000 veterans in the county got emergency aid last year. Johnson said many veterans have stopped coming for services because of the problems at the agency.

McPherson said little in the Wednesday meeting, other than denying making a racial slur and denying that he secretly recorded staff meetings.

Commission president Dan Biondo had earlier called for McPherson to be put on administrative leave.

"Some commissioners thought it would be better if all of the commissioners were present before we take any action or discipline," Biondo said Wednesday.

The agency provides a range of services such as transportation to medical appointments and emergency financial assistance.

McPherson last month asked that his agency's budget be increased to $2 million from $1.3 million, with plans to increase emergency aid for veterans and to hire another service officer to help with veterans' benefits claims.

"The directors of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services are telling us that we should become more aggressive on outreach and to try to enlist as many veterans as possible," McPherson said last month.

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