Road commission boards in St. Joseph and Cass counties have agreed to a restructuring that will involve each entity being governed by their own manager.
During a joint meeting Jan. 29, current manager Christopher Bolt recommended each agency continue to collaborate on sharing services in accordance with an agreement reached in 2010. Bolt, however, said in the face of numerous and compelling issues, each agency demands attention and focus of a full-time manager.
A revised joint endeavor agreement was signed last month and the new structure was approved by both boards.
The Cass County Board has started a search for a new manager; Bolt will continue to lead both organizations as long as necessary, he said.
The St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners has renewed a five-year lease agreement with 911/Central Dispatch.
During last week’s commission meeting, commissioners approved the agreement for 911/Central Dispatch to continue using the 4,000-square-foot space at 620 E. Main St. The annual rent is $788.
When St. Joseph County’s 911 was formed in the 1990s, it constructed its headquarters. The county leases back the land.
Central dispatch is responsible for costs associated with heating and air conditioning, electricity, and water and sewer. Janitorial service and exterior maintenance are provided by jail trustees.
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.