One of the St. Joseph County Road Commission’s (SJCRC) leading staff recently received the top award in the state for a rural road engineer. At a regular SJCRC meeting Wednesday morning, board members learned that Assistant Director and Engineer Garrett Myland received the “Rural Engineer of the Year” award from the County Road Association of Michigan (CRA). An award also goes to the “Urban Engineer of the Year,” but for the “Rural” title, Myland won over engineers in similar positions all around the state.

A decision on the abandonment of a section of Haybridge Road by the St. Joseph County Road Commission (SJCRC) has been delayed pending review by Florence Township officials. The section under consideration runs eastward from Sevison Road, and ends at a condemned bridge over the Fawn River. On the other side of the bridge, Haybridge Road continues past a connection with Block Road, and ends at Engle Road. That section would remain active if the abandonment goes through.

At a monthly work session this past Wednesday morning, St. Joseph County Road Commission (SJCRC) staff brought board members up to speed on the status of several pending projects, including a statewide “bridge bundling” project that will see a bridge replaced on Nottawa Road. Board members also addressed a few standard procedural items for the beginning of the new year, continuing a series of several such items addressed at a board meeting on January 6.

The St. Joseph County Road Commission (SJCRC) reviewed a draft budget for next fiscal year at a regular meeting Wednesday evening. Managing Director John Lindsey presented the draft to commission members with the caveat that they review it thoroughly and offer revisions before the next time they meet for a work session on December 16. The working 2021 draft budget currently includes a rough total of $12.5 million in projected revenues and $13.1 million in projected expenses.

A short stretch of Lutz Road heading south from Three Rivers may be up for reconstruction soon. Garrett Myland, Assistant Manager and Engineer for the St. Joseph County Road Commission (SJCRC), said in a report Wednesday he is pursuing a longer-term project to have Lutz Road rebuilt in its entirety from Highway M-86 all the way to U.S.-12. Working toward that larger goal, Myland is seeking a handful of grants to help rebuild the road’s first two miles from M-86 south to Fairchild Road in 2021.

Jack Coleman, who recently ran for the seat of 59th District Representative in the Michigan legislature, has a new position in St. Joseph County. At a regular meeting Tuesday evening, the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners (BOC) appointed Coleman to an upcoming vacancy on the St. Joseph County Road Commission (SJCRC). Coleman will replace John Bippus in the position, which turns over after January 31.

One by one, representatives of the St. Joseph County Road Commission (SJCRC) have been meeting with townships around the county to discuss next year’s road work priorities. Each year, SJCRC accomplishes a variety of paving, pavement sealing, reconstruction, and bridge work projects around the county. Some of those projects are funded entirely by SJCRC’s own funds, some are partially covered by outside grants, and some are shared in equal parts by the SJCRC and the townships. At a Wednesday meeting of the Park Township board, Township Supervisor Ed English provided an overview of potential projects for 2021.

Following an Executive Committee meeting Tuesday, members of the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners held their second workshop to plan the 2021 Fiscal Year budget. At the previous workshop, held two weeks prior, commissioners sought to address a significant potential shortfall, and directed County Administrator Teresa Doehring and Finance Director Angie Steinman to ask each of the county’s various department heads to submit their own savings proposals.

The St. Joseph County Road Commission (SJCRC) voted Wednesday to pay half the total amount to replace sprinklers damaged by road work equipment in White Pigeon Township earlier this year. Residents in the Wahbememe subdivision had sprinklers installed outside their own property lines and within the property of adjacent, county-owned throughfares when road work required use of a grader, which uses a long, narrow, horizontal blade to scrape roadbed surfaces level. After discussion, commissioners agreed to pay half the replacement costs and to warn that items placed in roadway property in the future could be subject to damage without compensation. Commissioners also approved health plans, received updates on road work, and conducted an annual evaluation for Managing Director John Lindsey.

Following an Executive Committee meeting Wednesday morning, the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners held a workshop to start planning the 2021 fiscal year budget. For the last several years, the county has operated under a balanced budget, but only by making up shortfalls through drawdowns from the Delinquent Tax Fund (DTF). This year, possible revenue impacts from the ongoing pandemic and a slowed economy brought the imbalance to the front of many of the commission’s conversations about money.

Following an alignment of several funding sources recently, St. Joseph County Road Commission (SJCRC) staff said the Langley Covered bridge will receive an extensive overhaul in 2023 at a board meeting Tuesday. Funding from the state legislature and the Southwest Region Bridge Council of Michigan (SWBC) will fund a significant portion of the work. SJCRC will provide some of its own funds and Managing Director John Lindsey said he hopes the County Commission will close a remaining gap.