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Berrien County inches closer to naming new road department director

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. -- The newly-named and recently taken over Berrien County Road Department may now have a permanent director.

County commissioners spent about three hours on Wednesday interviewing three finalists for the job.

In the end, the ‘interview committee’ recommended the county hire a man who has been working in the area for the Michigan Department of Transportation.

The commission voted back in September to take over the Berrien County Road Commission and rename it the Berrien County Road Department.

With the change, came the need for a new leader.

Former road commission director Louis Csokasy came back to act as interim director while applications went out for the job.

After sifting through nine candidates’ resumes, commissioners selected three to interview in-person.

“I kind of feel like I’m the jack of all trades,” said Jason Latham, who’s currently the Southwest Region manager for MDOT.

“I always strive for perfection,” said Warren Meeks, an MDOT engineer in Detroit.

“I’m a manager. I’m not an engineer,” said Daniel Faulkner, the current village manager in Lawrence, Michigan.

Latham, who has worked on projects in Berrien County in the past, ended up earning the commissioners’ support.

“My style is supportive,” he said in his interview. “I certainly want [employees] to own their decisions. I want them to be in a position that they can justify what they’re doing and explain it to anybody.”

Commissioners said all three candidates were qualified, but Latham’s familiarity with the area and his established connections with local road departments made for a smooth transition.

Meeks and Faulkner explained in their interviews why they felt they were right for the job.

“I have at least 30 projects a year that I have to manage,” Meeks said. “And with my workload, I believe I can go anywhere and work and be great at what I do.”

“I know that I can come in and do a great job for all of you – all of you, all of you commissioners,” Faulkner said.

The interview committee was made up of five county commissioners, the county administrator, and the head of human resources.

“I feel like a lot of the skills and tools that I have will help get Berrien County, or keep Berrien County, where it needs to be,” Latham said.

The next step is for a resolution to be written up and for the entire board of county commissioners to vote to hire Latham.

That could happen as soon as next week.

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