Berrien County commissioners meet in person for first time since beginning of pandemic

BERRIEN COUNTY – The Berrien County Board of Commissioners met in person with the public present for the first time since meetings were mandated to be hosted remotely due to the pandemic in 2020. The meeting was hosted in the Berrien County Administration Center, 701 Main St., St. Joseph.

The meeting was streamed via YouTube, but public comments were limited to the in-person audience. The board now has microphones interspersed throughout the tables so that remote participants are able to hear the commissioners. Acoustic panels and industrial technology were upgraded in anticipation for the meetings to return in person.

The in-person audience amounted to seven individuals.

“I am glad we are all here,” said Berrien County Board of Commissioner Chairman Mac Elliot. “We all know people who are no longer with us that we have lost in the last year and a half, some way before their time. I’m glad that we are here, and I’m glad that our regulars are here, and you all survived.”

During the meeting, the commissioners approved an honorary resolution regarding the volunteers that assisted the Berrien County Health Department during the COVID-19 pandemic. The resolution acknowledged “the effort and hard work” the volunteers put in as testing, contact tracing and vaccine efforts were raised throughout the heights of the pandemic.

“Over 400 volunteers answered the call and assisted the health department with 2,880 donated hours during 150 vaccination clinics, thus resulting in Berrien County reaching a vaccination rate of 51 percent for those over the age of 12,” the resolution said. “It is appropriate to express gratitude to those volunteers.”

The commissioners also voted to officially recognize the Berrien County Deputy Health Officer, Courtney Davis, as interim department head of the BCDH.
“Courtney will be taking over on an interim basis as Nicki Britten leaves,” said Berrien County Administrator Brian Dissette. “Nicki’s last day will be July 9. Courtney has an excellent education; an excellent background and she is going to do a great job. The state of Michigan has recognized her into the acting role.”

The commissioners also approved an annual percentage increase for Dissette to $145,350. The increase marked a year since he had begun in his position with the county.

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