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Posted: Thursday, 24 October 2013 10:40PM

Berrien County Board To Decide Road Commission's Fate October 31



A special meeting of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners will be held next Thursday at 3 p.m. to discuss and vote on the future of the county Road Commission. The board held a second public hearing last night in at Berrien Township Hall, and like an earlier hearing, public opinion was split between urging the county to take over the Road Commission and asking them to let the issues work themselves out. Road Commission Chairman August Zielke wants the county to either appoint a fifth board member, or take the commission back to a three-member body when a term expires at the end of this year.

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The board deadlocked in several votes earlier this month on hiring a new managing director. Zielke told the County Board Thursday night they have selected Louis Csokasy, and pending contract negotiations, he is set to start on November 4th. Lincoln Township Trustee Kevin Gillette called on the county board to get the right people in place on the Road Commission board said a takeover is not needed.

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Two of the 13 non-union employees who filed the grievance in June 2012 alleging a hostile work environment and financial mismanagement that kick-started the public discussion spoke at the hearing. Accounting specialists Carol Benjamin and Lindie Delk made their first public comments to the county, with Delk getting emotional at the end of her remarks urging the commissioners to take over the Road Commission and install new management. County Highway Engineer Brian Berndt, who is currently serving as the interim managing director, was the target of criticism by several speakers. He called some of the it unfair.

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Lincoln Township Supervisor Dick Stauffer echoed Gillette's comments that a takeover isn't needed, while several Wesaw Township officials said their roads are some of the worst in the county and they want to see big changes made.

   

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