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County News

Lenawee County. We believe it’s the greatest county in Michigan. That’s why we continue to invest in a wide range of county programs and services to make this the best place to live in Michigan. 

Apr 11

Preserving Lenawee County History: Renovating the County Courthouse

Posted on April 11, 2022 at 4:03 PM by Katherine Fiorillo


In early 2020, the Lenawee County Board of Commissioners decided it was finally time to update and restore Lenawee County’s Courthouse for the next 100 years of serving the community. The County Courthouse is a cherished historic building but, as it was built in the 1800s, it didn’t have the heating and cooling, technology, or security needed to make it a truly functional office space that could safely and effectively serve the needs of the county. 

The County Courthouse holds a special place in the community’s vibrant history, so renovating this space meant honoring and preserving the past while adding just enough modern technology to improve the safety and functionality of the building, without hindering its historical charm. 

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History

The original Lenawee County Courthouse was devastated by a fire that destroyed years of local court documents, birth certificates, marriage records, and other irreplaceable documents. The impressive building we see today was built to house county operations and was completed in 1884. For nearly 100 years, the County Courthouse was the home for courts, record-keeping offices, and the county treasurer until a designated judicial building was erected in 1978, leaving the County Courthouse to house the administrative and record-keeping offices of the county. 

Originally, the courthouse was heated with fireplaces and illuminated with oil lamps, both of which can still be seen by visitors today- though only as decoration. The push to renovate truly came when a repair job exposed the beautiful, original ceilings. With several safety, climate control, and functionality issues facing the employees and citizens utilizing the courthouse on a daily basis, the county administration decided to lay out careful, conservative renovation plans for the courthouse that would utilize taxpayer dollars efficiently, benefit the community, and create lasting improvements.

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Safety Improvements

Because the County Courthouse was built in the 1800s, its safety features needed to be updated to fit today’s standards to protect our county employees and citizens. A team of contractors added a state-of-the-art fire suppression system and security systems to protect the administrative and historical records that are kept there. They added handicap-accessible entryways and bathrooms to accommodate all members of our community. 

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Climate Control Updates

A new HVAC system was added to the building, which will save money on repairs, routine maintenance, and electric, heating, and cooling expenses. 

Functionality 

To improve the functionality of the courthouse and make better use of the space, the offices were rearranged so services are all located on the first and second floor, opening the space on the lower level for three additional meeting rooms. Relocating offices also increases the accessibility to the public, as everything citizens need is in one convenient location. 

Budget

Preservation and maintenance of county buildings is built into the county’s annual budget, so Lenawee County taxpayers saw no increase to their taxes for these renovations. With increased functionality, safety, and climatization, the building’s monthly electric and maintenance costs will decrease as well as the likelihood of major repair costs from weather or fire-induced damage. 

Preserving History 

The courthouse is a crucial piece of Lenawee County’s history so special care was taken to preserve the structure, design, and intricate details of the courthouse. 

Master crafters recreated plaster flowers, blended trim work, and restored hardwood flooring throughout the building. The wheat mosaic in the center of the building was repaired and preserved while the two, formerly enclosed, grand staircases were opened and beautifully restored. 

The area between the first and second floor is once again open, restoring the rotunda to its original size. From the balcony of the rotunda, you can now look down upon the wheat mosaic tiles of the first floor or look up to a fantastic stained-glass dome created specifically for this building. The artist, Victoria Balva, incorporated architectural designs from the exterior of the building and captured the spirit of the building while adding hints of lavenders, peaches, and pinks. 

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The courthouse holds much of the local government’s administrative services but it also holds much of our rich history. Properly preserving the County Courthouse means creating a legacy for the future and with the improvements we’ve made in less than two years, this historic building is ready to serve the community for generations to come. 

Oct 08

Unveiling the Project Phoenix Facility

Posted on October 8, 2021 at 1:58 PM by Jennifer Ambrose

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Transformation. Prosperity. Growth. 

For months, Lenawee County has kept you updated on Project Phoenix: a proposed county facility in Tecumseh that will turn the unused and blighted former Tecumseh Products site into a beautiful community space that improves the quality of life for Lenawee County residents, like a phoenix rising from the ashes. 

Today we are thrilled to unveil the name of the facility: The Lenawee Community Complex. 

The Lenawee Community Complex is a proposed facility for Lenawee County that will serve the needs of the community, bring economic opportunity to our county, and improve the lives of Lenawee County residents. 

So Much More Than A Sports Complex 


While the Lenawee Community Complex will have indoor and outdoor sports facilities, it is most importantly a multi-use facility for community use. Proposed features include:

  • A full-scale commercial kitchen for the Department of Aging to prepare meals for senior centers and Meals on Wheels, which currently provides nearly 1,000 home-delivered meals for residents across the county 
  • Home to the Tecumseh Senior Center
  • Leased retail and professional space for businesses
  • Opportunities for nonprofit and community organizations to use facilities for programs and services 
  • Outdoor walking paths that connect to the Kiwanis Trail
  • An indoor track as well as indoor walking paths for community use 

The Lenawee Community Complex will increase the number of programs and services the community can provide by offering an accessible public space. 

Every Season Is Sports Season 


With many exciting indoor and outdoor features for athletes, the Lenawee Community Complex will become a destination for travel sports teams and tournaments. It will also offer a practice location so local club teams can form and young athletes in Lenawee County can become elite competitors in their sports without having to move or travel long distances for training. A facility like this simply does not currently exist in our area. 

 The Lenawee Community Complex is proposed to include indoor and outdoor sports facilities including:

  • 5 regulation turf fields for soccer, football, and lacrosse 
  • 4 baseball or softball diamonds
  • 8 indoor basketball courts convertible to 16 volleyball courts
  • 8-lane indoor 200-meter track 
  • Indoor baseball and softball pitching and hitting alleys
  • Indoor turf infield for baseball and softball
  • Regulation indoor turf field for soccer, football, and lacrosse
  • Golf academy 

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The sports tourism industry is huge. Sports complexes are a travel destination for sports teams to compete in single-game or tournament competitions. Competitive sports teams- youth, young adult, and adult- travel constantly to compete against new teams and in tournaments. By providing an elite destination for sports competitions and tournaments, teams from the Detroit area, Northern Ohio areas, and Midwestern Michigan areas will undoubtedly travel to the Lenawee Community Complex, bringing out-of-town visitors to local restaurants, hotels, and small businesses all year round and driving Lenawee County’s economic growth to new heights. 

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Outstanding Impacts to Lenawee County 


First and foremost, it’s important to know that there will be no increase in your taxes to fund the building, maintenance, or operation of the Lenawee Community Complex. This project will be funded by several funding sources including: state and federal funds, municipal funding, county funding, and private and public investment. If you are an organization that would like to donate in support of the Lenawee Community Complex, please contact Kim Murphy

Lenawee County has demonstrated its mastery of program and facility management through the success and growth of local human service organizations and offices already thriving in our community. Lenawee County leaders have already conducted market research and analysis to ensure the Lenawee Community Complex will bring positive change, opportunities, and growth to our community. 

The Lenawee Community Complex has the opportunity to be a spark to ignite growth in Lenawee County, bringing new businesses to the area, creating 200 more jobs, and increasing the amount of money visitors will spend in Lenawee County. 

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On October 20, 2021, the Lenawee County Board of Commissioners will be voting on whether to proceed with this project. If you have questions, please visit the Lenawee County website for more information, pictures, and frequently asked questions. And if you’d like to see this proposed project become a reality, please contact your County Administrator or Board of Commissioners whose information can be found here.

Aug 03

Building Lenawee for our Seniors

Posted on August 3, 2020 at 11:06 AM by Jennifer Ambrose

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Our community’s foundation

As you get older, many things begin to change. There are daily living activities that you used to be able accomplish without thought that you may not be capable of doing independently. To put it simply, the entire structure of your everyday life changes. The Lenawee Department on Aging is committed to providing quality services that enable persons who are age 60 and over to live independently with dignity. 

If you are an elderly individual or perhaps you care for one, COVID-19 may be especially worrisome for you. Older people are known to be more at risk of serious illness due to coronavirus, especially those with pre-existing conditions and those who are immune-compromised. One thing is certain, the importance of experienced caregiving is being highlighted throughout the country and the world during this time. 

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The Department on Aging offers a variety of services to assist persons age 60 or older. During this unprecedented time, they, like many others, have had to adjust their services to protect one another and their clients. Simultaneously, their services have become even more important. Director of Department on Aging, Cari Rebottaro speaks on how they are adapting saying, “What we do has always been vital in our community but it has never been more evident than through these last few months, as we struggled to find ways to find safe avenues to provide our services. Our neighbors, families, and other volunteers have supported us.”

Currently, all Senior Centers are closed to the public, but curbside meals are offered to individuals over the age of 60 at Addison, Adrian, Blissfield, Hudson, Morenci, and Tecumseh Senior Centers. Staff has been able to transition to kitchen help as need increased. Connie Beevers, Nutrition Director explains, “We’ve been able to provide nutritious meals to our homebound clients during COVID-19. Because our senior centers had to close, we started a curbside service so those who needed to could still participate in that service.”

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Keeping seniors healthy during this time is crucial. Maintaining good nutrition can boost immunity and help ward off sickness, and a healthy immune system can help fight the germs that cause colds and the flu and even help prevent infection. Just how important is providing nutritious meals to these seniors? “Even more so now with the pandemic. Having that balanced nutrition could be hard to come across in the stores and you may have limited access to it,” answers Connie, “We serve a highly susceptible population and for them to go into a store to buy the foods they need, is a risk for them. It’s scary for them. So being able to make meals and have them delivered to their home is very important.“

Cari reports that in June the department’s home delivery meals were up by over 4,000 meals a month, as were the curb-side site meals. She expresses her gratitude for the volunteer drivers who help with delivering the meals to their clients saying, “We couldn’t do this without our volunteer drivers. It was overwhelming, the number of people in our community who care about taking care of our seniors.”

The Department on Aging in Lenawee County also provides volunteer transportation. Volunteer drivers are available to transport older adults in Lenawee County to in-county and out-of-county non-emergency medical appointments. There is no fee charged for volunteer driver transportation, but contributions are encouraged so that services can be extended to others in need.

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Amy Young, the Transportation Coordinator at the Department on Aging, explains why this service is necessary for Lenawee County. “Most of our seniors who utilize this service, don’t have family available to take them to their appointments and are in no position to drive themselves. We’d rather have somebody capable and comfortable to do that than put a scared senior behind the wheel.”

Lenawee County has limited options when it comes to public transportation, but Amy is grateful that they are still able to provide wheelchair transportation to their clients. “One of the most important things that we’ve continued to be able to provide is wheelchair transportation. We offer a door to door personal transportation service catered specifically to that single person, reducing their risk to exposure by utilizing this service.”

According to the National Council for Aging Care, seniors make up about 13 percent of the population, meaning about 42 million seniors are living in America today. With that population continuing to grow, we will need to continue to find ways to serve the elders of our community. Caregivers provide essential long-term services to their recipients of care. The services can range from emotional to physical support, to help with everyday tasks such as grocery shopping and preparing meals, to general companionship. 

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Daybreak has been assisting caregivers for 20 years here in Lenawee County and offers a secure environment for individuals who are 60 and older displaying age-related challenges or who cannot be left alone safely. Due to the pandemic, they have had to close their doors to in-person care, but have not left the caregivers without help. Their support groups, constant contact and support, as well as in-home respite care have helped them through this pandemic.

Tammy Jewell, the Director of Daybreak shares that they have seen a lot caregivers struggling with how to fulfill the role without becoming overwhelmed. “When a person steps into that full-time caregiver role it’s important for them to have a team of supporters around them. We can provide that to them. The pandemic has taken a toll on our caregivers as well as our participants. We try to be available to guide them through it with weekly check-ins and offering our advice on situations they may be struggling with caring for their loved ones.”

Hailey Simpkins, Assessor at LDA adds, “It’s taken a toll on the families that now must become full-time caregivers on top of working a job and keeping themselves safe. It’s a lot to take on, especially if you’re not trained to handle certain things, and a lot of clients need a lot of care. We have seen that it can be easier for someone in need to accept help from someone whose job is to assist them, compared to a family member. It can be a difficult and emotional experience for the family, and that’s what we’re here to help with.”

The LDA also offers Homemaker Assistance, which provides Home Care aides to assist eligible older adults (60 ) with household activities, which help them maintain an adequate living environment. These tasks include mopping, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, laundry, and grocery shopping. Home care can be supportive assistance that’s provided in the comfort of your own home. 

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Hailey shares, “Before the pandemic, we had over 900 clients and now our homemaker aids are only able to visit 2 clients a day to limit exposure. We serve the most susceptible clients and it’s just too great a risk to do more now.” LDA’s priority remains the health and safety of its elderly clients they serve and the caregivers who provide the service.  

The Lenawee Department of Aging relies on funds from state and federal grants, donations from clients and families, and most importantly, the Lenawee County senior millage fund. Without support from the community, they would not be able to operate.

Cari praises the community on their continued support, “I am humbled by the trust that our community has in us. That speaks volumes to the services this team provides and the support that they are offering to older adults and caregivers.“

We are building Lenawee by taking care of its foundation, our Seniors.  Lenawee County would not be what it is today without the hard work they have done to build our community.

This investment by our community to provide in-home care and assistance, respite care, meals, transportation, and case management is important because we care about paying them back for their service to the community.  The Lenawee Department on Aging is providing valuable services to our most vulnerable citizens during this pandemic, keeping them safe at home.