County board wants volunteer accountability

Published 12:02 am Saturday, December 11, 2010

ST. JOSEPH — The Berrien County Board of Commissioners is trying to create some attendance accountability among volunteers on various county boards and commissions.

“We have a terrible problem with attendance,” Commissioner Jeanette Leahey told fellow commissioners Thursday.

Leahey, the chairperson for the Personnel and Human Services Committee (PHSC), introduced a resolution that would allow the parent committee for various boards and committees to remove a member due to poor attendance or place him or her on probation.

County attorney Mac Elliott encouraged the board not to pass the resolution, as the board already has the power to remove any board or commission member without cause.

“You don’t want to bind yourself,” Elliott said.

Elliott recommended upping the communication to those with poor attendance and if the problem continues to simply exercise the board’s right to remove them.

Leahey said the PHSC committee has been working for more than a month on the resolution and wasn’t ready to watch it die.

Commissioner Don Ryman suggested adding a preamble to the resolution acknowledging the commission has the right to remove any board or commission member at any time with or without cause.

Leahey said would rewrite the resolution and add it to next week’s agenda.

With the topic on the table, Commissioner Gloria Gillespie brought up an individual on the Harbor Authority Board with poor attendance.

“He has missed two of the last three meetings without notice,” she said.

The board then voted to remove Nickolas Magee of Benton Harbor from the Harbor Authority, effective immediately.

The vacancy will be added to a long list of vacant volunteer positions for which the county is conducting interviews.

New family treatment program

Also on Thursday, the county commissioners approved an agreement with the Family Empowerment Services to bring a program called Parenting with Love and Limits to the county.

Parenting with Love and Limits is a nationally recognized program providing office and home-based family-centered treatment to delinquent youth and their families. It also provides facility-based treatment to help reintegrate youth back into the community from residential care.

The Trial Court Family Division will allocate up to $559,118 for the program.

Grant for juvenile center

The commissioners also approved submitting an application for the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant to go toward the purchase of six laptops and wireless connectivity for the county juvenile center. The grant would amount to $16,217 with a county match requirement of $1,802.