New director of operations

May 12, 2014 by Administrator · Comments Off 

Three Rivers Community Schools has lost its director of operations, as Steve Lucas took a job with the Cass County Road Commission.

Lucas will become managing director of the Cass County Road Commission. He is stepping into a job previously held by Christopher Bolt, who was splitting the task with St. Joseph County.

A 20-year school district employee, Lucas’ last day in Three Rivers was Friday.

Juvenile supervisor

May 12, 2014 by Administrator · Comments Off 

The St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners has reached an employment agreement with Lori Barczak to serve as juvenile day treatment supervisor.

During action at last week’s commission meeting, the five-member panel OK’d the employment agreement, including a $41,000 annual salary plus benefits.

Barczak’s hiring is under the condition of an at-will employee.

Drunk drivers decrease

May 9, 2014 by Administrator · Comments Off 

Motor-vehicle offenses, including the number of drunken drivers, decreased in St. Joseph County last year compared to 2012.

District Court Judge Jeff Middleton provided details during his annual report Tuesday before the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners. His news, however, came with a caveat, as Middleton said he suspects the decrease was the result of fewer law-enforcement officials on the roads than in years past.

District Court fielded 163 new cases of operating while intoxicated in 2013. That figure was down from 203 in 2012 and 200 in 2011. Overall, the court handled 7,671 new misdemeanor and civil traffic cases last year. That marks a substantial decrease from 9,086 in 2012 and 10,415 in 2011.

Middleton, who is up for re-election and is running unopposed for a six-year term in the August primary, also elaborated on sobriety court. He said 25 participants in 2013 successfully completed the comprehensive program.

The court collected more than $1.4 million in fees last year.

Identifing meth houses

May 8, 2014 by Administrator · Comments Off 

St. Joseph County Register of Deeds Pattie Bender provided details this week related to the development of a program using a red-flag system to identify meth houses.

During her annual report presented at Tuesday’s county commission meeting, Bender said she and a team of county officials met last year with Three Rivers attorney Pat O’Malley. The focus was to discuss a system whereby houses in which methamphetamine production has taken place are flagged for the benefit of real-estate agents and prospective home buyers.

Bender said the initial meeting took place in February and included deputy register of deeds Jennifer Wall, undersheriff Mark Lillywhite and Three Rivers Fire Chief Dan Tomlinson.

She recently revisited the issue with O’Malley in hopes of moving the process forward.

Bender said in addition to identifying offending properties, the process would include a mechanism to remove the flag when the property is cleaned up.

When the procedure is established, it will likely begin in the city of Three Rivers, Bender said. She expressed optimism that it would eventually include all properties in the county.

Register of Deeds annual report

May 8, 2014 by Administrator · Comments Off 

In addition to providing an annual report as register of deeds, county clerk Pattie Bender presented county commissioners a summary of her department’s operations in 2013.

Bender, who will mark her 44-year anniversary as a courthouse employee later this month, said her department’s revenue report showed collections in circuit and juvenile courts were down in 2013 compared to 2012.

She said her department is looking into a locating service in an effort to contact some of the people who owe, collectively, millions of dollars between the county, state and victim fees, Bender said.

Other figures she noted include an increase in birth certificates, from 668 in 2012 to 736 in 2013; an upturn in deaths recorded, 494 to 497; more marriage applications, 408 to 467; a sizable jump in pistol permits issued, 576 to 931; and more passport applications, 298 to 348.

She estimated there are more than 6,000 CCW license holders in the county, a figure she estimated in response to a question posed by commissioner Al Balog.

In all, the clerk’s office collected $334,371 in general-fund revenues in 2013, an increase of more than $27,000 from 2012.

Inspection completed

April 10, 2014 by Administrator · Comments Off 

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.

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