The St. Joseph County Board of Election Canvassers completed a once-every-four-years task Wednesday.
According to state law, every county’s board of election canvassers must complete an inspection of ballot boxes and bags. County Clerk Pattie Bender said the task previously was performed over a two-day period, when she and the four-member board traveled to all 16 townships and the cities of Three Rivers and Sturgis.
This time, Bender and board members set up a check station at the county fairgrounds and representatives from the 18 entities made the trip to Centreville. It was an all-day job, as Bender scheduled each entity in 15-minute increments. But, she said, it’s a relief to have the task out of the way before a May 6 vote.
Bender said the inspection ensures it’s impossible to tamper with ballots. She said the inspections Wednesday yielded no problems.
The St. Joseph County Road Commission has announced it is closing its Colon Township and Three Rivers-area garages. The move means three area foremen, including the Centreville area foreman, will be offered an early-retirement incentive.
The positions will be eliminated effective May 1.
Operations from Colon, Centreville, and Three Rivers garages/districts will be gradually folded into the central facility in Centreville. Christopher Bolt, engineer/manager, said the positions will be replaced by one new director of operations position.
Bolt said the agency in 10 years has seen its share of Michigan Transportation Fund dollars drop from $5.5 million a year to $4.5 million annually.
He said for now, St. Joseph County will retain ownership of the Colon and Three Rivers-area garages. They will come in handy for storage of equipment and materials, and maybe even serve as temporary headquarters for crews working on larger projects in the area, he said.
St. Joseph County’s Board of Commissioners has set a time and date for a work session to meet with the county road commission.
The meeting, set for 3 p.m. April 30 at the county courthouse, will center on the road commission’s millage renewal request this year and an update on road conditions in general.
County administrator Pat Yoder said he met with road commission head Christopher Bolt Tuesday and the two agreed the timing of a work session would be prudent.
Bolt later this spring is expected to appear before commissioners with a request for resolution to stage the millage renewal request.
The matter is one of likely a few agenda items slated for the work session.
St. Joseph County’s Board of Commissioners has renewed its contract with Fabius Township for law-enforcement services.
During Tuesday’s meeting, the commission agreed to the one-year contract. The measure, which has been in place more than 13 years, calls for the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department to dedicate a car and deputy to patrol Fabius Township exclusively.
Undersheriff Mark Lillywhite said patrol officer Tim Barnes will continue to serve as the township’s contracted officer. The $93,000 expense is paid for by Fabius Township.
One modification from previous contracts has to do with using the Fabius-Park Fire Station on West Broadway Street as a substation for Barnes. Lillywhite said Barnes is a Three Rivers resident, so rather than driving to Centreville in his personal vehicle then driving back to Three Rivers area for patrol, Barnes will leave the sheriff’s department vehicle in a bay at the station.
The setup will save Barnes driving time and miles on the county’s patrol car, Lillywhite said.
Barnes works a 40-hour week.
The St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners and human resources director Elishia Arver have reached an employment agreement that will see the 5 1/2-year employee remain in her current position.
The deal was made official during Tuesday’s board of commissioners meeting.
Arver had turned in her letter of resignation earlier this month to county administrator Pat Yoder. Arver said she was offered and had accepted a job as controller and manager of Maple Lawn Medical Care, a senior-care facility in Coldwater.
Based on what Arver was being offered by the Branch County-operated care facility, Yoder helped work out an agreement resulting in an 18 percent raise and more vacation time for Arver.
Specifically, she made $60,890 a year and will now be paid $72,000 annually, as her new job title will include the role of deputy county administrator.
In addition, Arver’s number of vacation days will increase from 15 to 25 annually, Yoder said.
The revised salary and vacation days were consistent with what Arver was offered by Branch County, which owns the nursing and rehabilitation facility.
There’s some good news for county government and municipalities facing road-budget shortfalls in St. Joseph and Cass counties, as the Michigan Legislature has approved $215 million in supplemental road funding.
State Rep. Matt Lori said $100 million of the emergency funds will go to county and municipal governments to deal with deficits as a result of the inordinate amount of snow and freezing temperatures.
The money targets potholes and other repairs to roadways caused by the weather. The other $115 million will go to priority road projects to be announced later.
The Legislature budgeted $412,709 for St. Joseph County, with $295,984 dedicated to the county road commission. Municipalities in the county receiving funds are Burr Oak at $4,523; Centreville, $6,246; Colon, $6,039; Constantine, $9,939; Mendon, $4,904; Sturgis, $45,406; Three Rivers, $32,884; and White Pigeon, $6,784.