Commissioners Saluted As They Step Down


Two longtime Berrien County Commissioners have been honored as they step down from their posts. Commissioners Debra Panozzo and Jeanette Leahey have served on the board since 1997 and 2003, respectively. Resolutions were approved by the county commission at its Thursday meeting to thank them. Leahey told WSJM News it’s been a long, eventful ride.

“I do believe that I’ve gone through the good old boy syndrome, I’ve gone through the leadership…and I do believe the day has come now, as we’ve talked about it in the bylaws, we need to become a team working together,” Leahey said.

Leahey said she hopes the board continues her efforts to update the body’s bylaws to allow for a greater role for the vice chair. She also praised her fellow commissioners for working on behalf of the community. Panozzo told us she’s not sure what she’ll do next, but it’s been an honor to serve.

“Being a county commissioner is never boring, it’s always interesting,” Panozzo said. “We do good work here, and I hope Bob Harrison – I wish him well in the new year as he picks up the role of county commissioner next year.”

Bob Harrison, former president of Lake Michigan College, is Panozzo’s replacement. Replacing Leahey is Chris Heugel of the Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce. Harrison and Heugel were sworn in at Thursday’s meeting, although they don’t officially start to serve until January 1.