Buchanan man named director of county road department

Published 3:30 pm Monday, July 18, 2022

ST. JOSEPH — Berrien County Commissioners hired a new department head for the second time in as many weeks. Last week, commissioners hired Buchanan Township resident Mark Heyliger to be the new road department director. Thursday, they hired Maureen Adams to be the new Veteran Affairs Administrator. 

Adams has been with the department since 2016 and previously served as an assistant veterans benefits coordinator. She replaces Lee Lull who retired last month after a long career with the county. Her salary will be $49,915. 

Prior to joining the Veterans Services Department, Adams was as an administrative assistant and bookkeeper for Stephen Ross & Company in Stevensville.  She also worked in administrative roles for organizations in Sault Ste. Marie and Southfield.  

In her new role, Adams oversees the county’s Veterans Services Department, providing administration, direction and management to staff, assisting veterans and their family members with obtaining benefits and emergency assistance while advocating for them at the local, state and federal levels.  

“Maureen is a compassionate, knowledgeable team member with a passion for helping our veterans,” Berrien County Administrator Brian Dissette said. “She has been a wonderful asset to the Veterans Services team over the past six years, and we are excited to watch her continue to make an impact in this expanded leadership role.”  

During her tenure with the department, Adams supported veterans and their families through the benefits and claims processes, created resources for them and served as an authorized agent for the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund, which provides emergency financial assistance. The office has been recognized as one of the Best Place to Work in Southwest Michigan for 2022. 

Adams is an accredited veteran service officer with the National Association of County Veterans Service Officers, Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans.  

Adams discovered her passion for advocacy when navigating special education as the mother of a child with special needs. This led her to Berrien County and a career in helping others find the resources they need.  

“The highlight of my job is the trust veterans and their families place in us,” Adams said. “The work we do can be life-changing for a veteran. It is an honor to have the opportunity to provide that level of service to our community. I’m excited to continue supporting veterans in Berrien County through this leadership role and look forward to expanding our programs.”  

The new road department director is Mark Heyliger, a Buchanan Township resident and Army veteran. He is a South Bend native and had been a candidate for one of two new Buchanan Township Trustee positions this August until his county appointment. His wife, Wendi, is the Buchanan Township Clerk.  

His salary will be $97,267 and he will start his new post Aug. 1. He was one of around a dozen people who applied for the job. He was the unanimous choice of the county’s interview committee. Committee members were Board Chair McKinley Elliott, Vice-Chair Teri Freehling and Committee Chairs Jim Curran, Robert Harrison and Mamie Yarbrough. 

In his new role, Heyliger will oversee all activities of the Berrien County Road Department, including the design, construction and maintenance of roads and management of equipment.  

He also will recommend policies on county roads to the county commission and ensure implementation of approved policies, establish internal procedures for the department and serve as a liaison for other governmental agencies and community groups.  

Thursday, Heyliger’s appointment drew criticism from Sodus resident Tony Benhart. He noted that the road department has had five directors in five years and questioned why Heyliger was hired when he has no experience dealing with roads.