‘The ship is built and ready to sail’

Road commissioners urge Yunker’s re-appointment

CENTREVILLE — Over the past 10 years, the St. Joseph County Road Commission has made some tough decisions but it is on the right path, and road commissioners would like to continue this with the re-appointment of colleague Dave Yunker, whose six-year term is expiring at the end of the year, several road commissioners expressed at the road commission’s meeting Wednesday, Dec. 21.
Seven other people have also indicated interest in obtaining the post.
The St. Joseph County commission deferred the decision on who would fill that vacancy until the new county commissioners take office. Only two of the five current county commissioners are returning.
Road commissioners Eric Shafer and John Bippus urged county commissioner Al Balog, who was in attendance, and his fellow county commissioners, to re-appoint Yunker.
“In the last three or four years road commissioners have made a lot of tough decisions that resulted in a lot of change and a lot of political pressure, resulting in a situation (in which county commissioners are) probably feeling pressure to make a change to this board,” Shafer said.
He noted that Balog had had a chance to observe road commission meetings and Yunker’s leadership, and said if Yunker was not reappointed the road commission would be “losing a lot of valuable experience and knowledge.”
Bippus said that this county road commission had done so much work to change the road commission, “but the results you’re looking for take time to show up,” he said. “It’s going to get better next year.”
Their changes have included consolidation of facilities, GPS tracking, going to working supervisors, and a five-member executive board that worked closely with a four-person management team. Plus, the state will soon have a seven cent gas tax increase for roads.
“It’s all going to add up,” Bippus said. “You’re probably looking at $400,000-$500,000 per year savings.”
Shafer said, “Now that we have consolidated and reorganized, any changes we make from here on out are going to be minor.”
“The ship is built and ready to sail,” Yunker said, indicating they had spent 10 1/2 years building it, and if it didn’t veer, it would get to the destination the county wanted.
“If after a year or two the ship has sailed and it happens to veer or it’s sinking,” that’s when the county commission should look to put on new members, Shafer said.
Yunker said that 10 1/2 years ago when he came on the board, the culture was much easier to bow to political pressure and do things that made people happy rather than the right thing.

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