In closing out 2018, we have one commissioner, Jim Driskill, retire from the Board of Commissioners, which means we will have one new commissioner joining the board. Nancy Jenkins-Arno is certainly not new to politics in Lenawee County but she is the newest member of the Board of Commissioners as of January 1, 2019. We will miss Jim and wish him well but I am sure that his grandchildren will appreciate the additional time he can spend with them.
At the December board meeting the commission viewed a presentation on the Community Health Assessment by Frank Nagle, the Manager of Population Health for ProMedica. The presentation provided summary information about the in-depth health assessment that looks at many factors effecting the health and wellness of Lenawee County residents.
The commission also received the annual report from MSU Extension on the various programs provided through the partnership between MSU and Lenawee County. District Director Matt Shane presented information on the programs and services available to residents of all ages.
2018 was a very busy year for Lenawee County. The most obvious activity is the rebuilding of the Sheriff’s Office. That is the main element of the first phase of the Complex capital improvement project. There were several other improvements in Phase I that made the main rebuild possible. The remodeling of the Annex Building at 113 W. Front Street provided swing space for the Sheriff Department during construction. The buildout of a new Emergency Operations Center at the Airport allowed the Emergency Dispatch Center to move into the basement of the Robertson Building. Many County departments have been involved in the planning and construction of these improvements.
Funding for Phase I came from the sale of bonds in September and the County’s strong bond rating allowed the bonds to be sold at a good interest rate.
The Judicial Building saw improvements to building security with Alice Training for employees and the addition of more security at the building entrance to keep employees and customers safe. Another improvement at the Judicial Building was the waterproofing of the elevator pits to keep the elevator equipment dry and working properly. We have also started on upgrading the elevators in the building.
The Public Defender’s Office was one of the first in the State of Michigan to sign the grant agreement and receive funding in the first steps to improve representation of indigent defendants in the state. Lenawee County created the Public Defender’s Office a couple of years ago which made the transition and compliance fairly smooth. In 2019, the office will take over assigned counsel duties for Probate Court cases completing the move of all assigned counsel cases to that office.
Early in 2018, the Prosecutor’s Office took on additional work prosecuting local ordinance violations for the City of Adrian and the Village of Clinton and that work will expand in 2019 to other municipalities.
The recycling center faced challenges this year as road construction made it difficult to access the center throughout the summer and, with the closing of the Adrian and Raisin Township sites, an influx of new users this fall. In 2019, our recycling program will have to adjust to the changing recycling marketplace.
The Medical Examiner’s Office is completing the first full year of service to Hillsdale County. The office has provide Medical Examiner, death investigation and autopsy services to Hillsdale County and the program has been well received.
Looking forward to 2019, we will be completing the rebuild of the Sheriff’s Office and exploring possible phase II options including restoration of the Old Courthouse and developing a digital records management system for use by all departments. While there are challenges ahead, we are excited about the opportunities available to us.
On behalf of the Board of Commissioners and Lenawee County government, I wish all county residents a very happy new year.
The next steps in Lenawee’s future
The support shown by the voters who participated in the November 7th election and approved the tax limitation proposal was tremendous. With a 70% yes vote the proposal was supported in every precinct in the county. The day after the election the Board of Commissioners moved the budget forward and at their December board meeting will approve a general appropriation act that includes funding for important county services. Many County employees contributed to the educational campaign to allow voters to make an informed decision and I want to thank all of you for your efforts.
Also included in the budget for next year and in coming years are projects to improve County facilities. Some of the projects are part of the Capital Improvement Plan and others will address work that goes beyond maintenance and includes major rebuilds of some buildings. The commission will soon be making decisions on the Sheriff’s building and other buildings in the downtown complex to provide offices that meet the needs of our employees as they provide excellent service to county residents.
We have also laid a stable foundation for our employees and for County finances by completing three year agreements with the bargaining units and laying out a three year financial package for non-union employees. Employees will have the stability of knowing what to expect for the next three years and the County will have that same stability in the budgeting process. I appreciate the work that went into this year’s negotiations and the respectful and cooperative manner in which negotiations were conducted.
With the election behind us and with a full schedule of work ahead of us I know that there will be challenges to be addressed and surprises that we cannot anticipate. At the same time, I know that we have the solid support of a caring community, a supportive commission and dedicated co-workers that will turn our plans into action and goals into success.
Thank you again for the tremendous effort and support over the last few months. A team effort really makes a difference.