Grand Traverse Co. Looks For V.A. Director After Investigation, Resignation

 A Grand Traverse County department head, forced to resign after weeks of an internal investigation.

Chuck Lerchen, former Grand Traverse County Department of Veterans Affairs director resigned in May after complaints over how he treats his employees sparked an investigation.

In the report we obtained, employees state Chuck Lerchen treated them poorly, created a policy where walk-in visitors had to wait ten minutes before getting help, and was dishonest to the county about his vacation time.

The county and local V.A. Board are looking for a new director.

9&10’s Megan Woods has more details on the shake-up.

“As chairman I had no idea that this was going on.”

It all started when a county commissioner who also sits on the Grand Traverse County Veterans Affairs Administrative Committee received employee complaints, but the board chairman, James Wagener says it didn’t have to get to this point.

“The items that we were given that were complaints by employees are nothing that I felt that the board could have straightened out or rectified without somebody who’s been an employee of the county for 27 years and 19 years as director. It’s really tough.”

Chuck Lerchen was put on paid leave while an internal investigation was done by Grand Traverse County Human Resource Director Bill Hendry, but the results weren’t in Lerchen’s favor.

Wagener says, “We called an emergency meeting and at the emergency meeting the county laid out their plan and said that we’re negotiating with Chuck to resign and we’re going to draft up some paperwork that obviously the board needs to sign.”

With Lerchen gone, the county has more than 30 applicants for the job and is working with the board to fill his position as the county deputy administrator works as interim director.

H.R. Director Bill Hendry says, “This is a chance to take a fresh look at what’s needed in terms of when he was hired for the position nearly 20 years ago. I’m sure things have changed it does give the board a fresh look at what do they want in their next leader and how to best serve the veterans in the area.”

At the next V.A. Administrative Committee meeting on July 27 at 8:30 a.m. the committee and H.R. will work on ways they plan to narrow down their applicant choices.

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