The St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners last week adopted a revised policy regarding the weather-related closure of county offices and buildings.
In light of a two-day closing earlier this month due to snow and cold, the commission last week agreed that the decision to close county government will be made with input from the county board chairman, road commission manager, county administrator, sheriff and emergency services coordinator.
The board of commissioners chairman, however, will have the final determination.
The policy also requires that commissioners and department managers be advised of a closure either through telephone or email.
Central dispatch will be charged with notifying local media.
County employees scheduled to work on days when offices are closed for an emergency will receive their regular pay for the day.
The snowstorm that brought St. Joseph County to a standstill earlier this month came with a substantial price tag.
Christopher Bolt, engineer/manager for the St. Joseph County Road Commission, said it’s estimated the agency spent nearly $225,000 during the seven-day period that began with the start of the storm Jan. 4.
An average winter week will cost the agency about $65,000 in manpower, materials and fuel, he said.
Bolt said the storm required about 1,300 tons of a dirt/salt mixture, which accounted for about $36,000 alone. Bolt said labor was a major cost, at $56,000, as the storm peaked on a Sunday, a day when drivers receive premium pay.
The St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners last week approved the sheriff department’s request to submit a Marine Safety Program grant application.
The request is for more than $65,000 through state and federal sources, and allows the department to continue to man its seasonal Marine Patrol division in 2014.
If approved, the grant would fund the services of one full-time and three part-time members. In addition, it would cover fuel costs, expenses related to boat repairs and equipment, training and travel, and uniforms and cleaning.
The grant will be forwarded to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
The St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners last week gave approval to fill a few open positions.
A candidate for the job of deputy probate register will be pursued, as it was vacated due to the retirement of Bonnie Walter. Her last day of work was Friday.
The vacant position of juvenile neglect/abuse specialist, which has been open for a month, has been filled by a temporary employee. Court administrator Kathryn Griffin indicated the position needs to be filled with a permanent employee as soon as possible.
In another personnel move, the county board agreed to the employment of Kenneth Syers Jr. as land resource data cartographer. His pay is $15.29 an hour.
Also hourly rate-of-pay increases were awarded to Julie Brenner, Kate Fair, Bernice Metzger and Alex Milliman.
The St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners agreed to keep its meetings at 5 p.m. the first and third Tuesdays of the month.
The matter was resolved during Tuesday’s meeting.
The exceptions to the 2014 schedule are the first meetings in August and November, which will be moved one day earlier to not conflict with primary and general elections.
On a related note, one notable change agreed to by the commission was moving the monthly committee of the whole meeting to a Thursday before the second county commission meeting of the month.
The committee meetings, which previously took place Fridays, will continue to be called to order at 8 a.m. in the third-floor history room.
John Dobberteen will head the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners for the second consecutive year.
The unanimous decision was made Tuesday at the commission’s first assembly of 2014. The meeting had been postponed one week due to inclement weather Jan. 7.
Dobberteen, whose jurisdiction covers the city of Sturgis and Fawn River Township, is starting his 16th year on the commission. This will be his sixth year as chairman.
The nomination of vice chair resulted in Allen Balog being named to the post. He will oversee the county’s twice-a-month meetings in Dobberteen’s absence.
Balog is starting his fourth year as a county commission member after serving three years as mayor of Three Rivers. His district consists of Flowerfield and Fabius townships, and the city of Three Rivers.
Commissioners are paid $7,200 annually.