Three Rivers Community Schools Superintendent Roger Rathburn has announced he plans to run for state representative next year.
The 51-year-old Rathburn, who is retiring in June following a 13-year tenure as superintendent in Three Rivers, will seek the 59th District State House seat currently held by Matt Lori. Lori, who will begin his sixth and final year as state rep in January, is term-limited and unable to run again.
Rathburn said he planned to retire to seek other opportunities, preferably in the arena of education. But after being approached by a number of county residents, Rathburn said his interest in the state representative’s position grew in its appeal.
To date, John Bippus is the only other candidate to declare his plans to run for the seat.
The 59th District covers St. Joseph County and all but a small pocket of Cass County.
The St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners made a number of appointments and reappointments during Tuesday’s twice-a-month meeting.
Commissioners appointed Kathy Humphreys as chief deputy treasurer. She replaces Vicky Anders, who is retiring next month.
Eric Shafer was reappointed to another term on the St. Joseph County Road Commission. Shaffer’s new term starts Jan. 1 and concludes at the end of 2019.
One-year terms of service to the county’s Community Corrections Board were approved for members Jeff Middleton, Tony Callaway, John McDonough, Dave Griffin, Paul Stutesman, David Tomlinson, Rob Pattison, Gina Wagner, Tim Schuler, Robin Baker Thomas Miles, Howard Bush, and Eddie MacKay.
Also, the board approved renewing an independent contractor agreement with Indiana resident Charles Eckenstahler for consulting services related to zoning matters for the St. Joseph County Planning Commission.
Eckenstahler’s services call for $250 for each desk review and $150 per meeting attendance.
St. Joseph County’s 2014 fiscal-year budget was approved by the five-member St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners Tuesday.
More than $16.7 million was set aside for county operations in 2014, an increase of more than $1.6 million from the amended 2013 fiscal year budget of $15.1 million.
Joni Smith, St. Joseph County’s director of finance, said in addition, the county has budgeted a transfer from the general-fund fund balance of $2 million to the county’s Building Improvement and Replacement fund.
The transfer, she said, is to set up a reserve to address the future facility needs in the county.
A review of the 2014 financial allocations show almost $2.3 million to the sheriff’s department, $2.2 million to the jail and turnkey, and $1 million to District Court. The allocations are increases from 2013 in all three cases.
The County’s appropriation to the road commission has increased from $70,000 to $191,000 for 2014. Smith said that is the only significant change in appropriations to outside agencies or organizations.
St. Joseph County administrator Pat Yoder will shed his “interim” label at the start of the year.
Yoder, a 65-year-old Sturgis resident, was given a one-year contract Tuesday to serve as the full-fledged county administrator. He has been serving in an interim basis since April, following the January retirement of Judy West-Wing.
Yoder will receive a $105,000 base salary for the year. In addition, terms of his employment starting Jan. 1 include full benefits, a $500-per-month car allowance and five weeks of vacation. Unused vacation days can be rolled over into the following year or paid out upon the end of his employment.
Commissioner Allen Balog said he and board chairman John Dobberteen met with Yoder last week and reviewed feedback yielded by the five-member board regarding Yoder’s nine-month performance. With everyone’s input, Balog said, the commission agreed to extend an offer to stay on as administrator in a permanent capacity.
Three Rivers Mayor Tom Lowry said he received comments from residents earlier this month regarding the city’s polling place being inside a church.
Lowry said the concerns centered on people having to go into a church to cast a vote.
The city commission in 2009 consolidated polling places to Riverside Church as a money-saving measure. Voting locations were previously scattered at four different precincts within the city.
Commissioners last week discussed the issue, with some suggesting the city return polls to the four precincts.
No action on the matter was taken, however.
Appointments and re-appointments were made by members of the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners last week.
Constantine-area resident David Miars was reappointed to another three-year term on the county’s Board of Public Works. His current term expires at the end of the year.
Deb Leyes of Sturgis was tapped to serve a one-year term as a general-public representative on the Central Dispatch Policy Board. Her appointment fills a vacancy on the board.
Four members on the St. Joseph County Planning Commission Board were reappointed to three-year terms. They are: James Griffith of Flowerfield Township, Mark Ripplinger of Mottville Township, Doug Pagels of Fawn River Township, and Warren Atkins of White Pigeon Township.