LOCK HAVEN - Clinton County's newest Director of Veterans Affairs already has an extensive experience with the job, having served as a volunteer for that department for the past six and a half years.
On Thursday, the Clinton County Commissioners chose William Bechdel, of 69 Spring St., Lock Haven, as the new leader of the local veterans affairs department, effective July 29 at a salary of $28,439.
Bechdel replaces Dave Bower, who submitted his resignation to the Clinton County commissioners in June, and whose retirement is effective in August.
The Clinton County Veterans Affairs Department has received many accolades from the state during Bower's tenure, for his ability to accrue benefits for the county's veterans, and all three commissioners expressed confidence that Bechdel will be able to uphold that tradition.
Commissioner Joel Long said the board received a large number of strong applications, but chose Bechdel because "he showed a passion for the position ... and I am confident he will take good care of the veterans of Clinton County."
Commissioner Pete Smeltz echoed Long's remarks while stressing the importance of the task. Commissioner Snyder said he was initially concerned because of the "large shoes the candidate had to fill," but was "relieved" when Bechdel showed interest in the job.
Bechdel served in the active duty Army from 1981 to 1984 and in the Army Reserve from 1984 to 1987.
Bechdel's most recent job experience was as a supervisor for Labors Local 824 Union Hall and prior to that, he worked with Eagle Valley Construction, Hawbaker Construction and as a guard at Rockview State Correctional Facility.
He has served in a number of veteran organization in various capacities and now is adjutant officer of the Beech Creek American Legion Bitner-Bechdel Post 623, and was a veterans benefits service officer from 2009 to 2013, where he provided information to former service members on medical, financial, survivor, life insurance, burial and home loan benefits.
Bechdel also helped initiate the Veterans Expo, which is in its third year, and acted as a liaison between the Legion post, VA office and Veterans Administration Hospital.
Bechdel is a 1980 graduate of Bald Eagle-Nittany High School.