Archived Story

Berrien County Road Commission fires manager

Published 1:24pm Friday, May 3, 2013

The managing director of the Berrien County Road Commission was fired Wednesday after five months on the job.

Wayne Schoonover’s contract was terminated by a 3-2 vote taken during a special meeting of the county road commissioners at the road commission office in Benton Harbor.

Jess Minks, of Buchanan Township, was one of the commissioners voting to let Schoonover go.

He cited several reasons for his decision, including that Schoonover was still drawing a salary from the Ionia County Road Commission as the county’s engineer of record.

Minks said Schoonover had verbal permission to tie up loose ends with Ionia County when he took the job in Berrien County Dec. 24.

“My interpretation was he would have a couple weeks to take care of it,” Minks said. “He was still doing it last week.”

Minks said Schoonover had “communication issues” and had used a work vehicle to travel outside of Berrien County.

“My whole concern is we are trying to right this ship that is going in the wrong direction,” Minks said. “We thought we’d made the right first step, but it doesn’t appear that is happening.”

County engineer Brian Berndt has been appointed road manager on an interim basis.

August Zielke and James Daniel voted to terminate Schoonover, while Michael Kastner and Timothy Lynch voted against.

Kastner said he voted no because he wanted to give Schoonover one week to respond to some of the issues that were brought up during Wednesday’s meeting.

“I didn’t feel it was enough to call him out and fire him on the spot. He had never been on the spot before,” Kastner said.

Schoonover was contracted through 2015.

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