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Posted: Thursday, 03 October 2013 2:50PM

Berrien County Commission Weighing Takeover Of Road Commission



Years of turmoil at the Berrien County Road Commission have culminated with a 45-page report from County Administrator Bill Wolf regarding the possible takeover of the BCRC by county government. He spoke to the county commission Thursday morning, and said the problems aren't where literally the rubber meets the road.

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Wolf says the issues of mistrust come from bad management and appointed Road Commissioners intent on micromanaging.

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The County Board will hold public hearings October 10 and October 24 to gather input about a possible takeover. Since last fall, the Road Commission has gone through two managing directors, two lower level managers, and three Road Commissioners. The federal government is also investigating their records.

The problems came to the forefront in June 2012 when 13 non-union Road Commission employees filed a grievance against then-managing director Rhonda Hildebrand and two managers, alleging a hostile work environment and mismanagement of funds. Those three were let go, and three Road Commissioners were also removed by the County Commission. Hildebrand's replacement, Wayne Schoonover, lasted just six months on the job before being fired. The Road Commission is currently operating without either a finance director or managing director, with engineer Brian Berendt currently overseeing the operation on an interim basis.

If the County Commission votes to take over the Road Commission, it will become the sixth county in Michigan to do so. Calhoun, Ingham, Jackson, Macomb and Wayne counties have all previously taken that step. Wolf says doing so is "feasible," and laid out possibilities for how it would be structured. He also gave commissioners a list of pros and cons involved with a takeover.

   

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