St. Joseph County Commission approves district court request in split vote

(Photo by John Deacon|American Courthouse Photo Archive)

With a 3-2 vote the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners approved a request from 3B District Court for an exception to the county’s hiring freeze during its regular meeting Tuesday, April 20. Court Administrator/Magistrate Tabitha Wedge had previously requested permission to hire a deputy clerk to fill the lone vacancy in her department, and after much discussion on the matter during both the county’s executive meeting last week and its regular meeting Tuesday her request was granted.

Commissioners Dennis Allen, Kathy Pangle, and Jared Hoffmaster voted in favor, while Commissioners Ken Malone and Dan Czajkowski opposed it.

The position, which is slated to pay at least $17.90 an hour and include a comprehensive benefit package, has gone unfilled for some time as the county commission worked its way through financial difficulties associated with the pandemic. The crux of Malone and Czajkowski’s resistance to approve the request was not the position itself but rather previous requests from the commission to the courts division to make budget cuts that according to Malone went unanswered.

The commission approved a similar request from the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department Tuesday to hire an administrative secretary at a higher pay grade, which was approved unanimously.

Alek Haak-Frost is executive editor of Watershed Voice.