Lenawee County Investing in You

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. Investing in our communities. Investing in our citizens. Investing in You.

Oct 11

Lenawee County is Investing in Safety by Upgrading Radio Towers for Emergency Personnel

Posted on October 11, 2017 at 9:33 AM by Jennifer Ambrose

The citizens of Lenawee County rely on first responders, including police, fire and emergency medical personnel, to leap into action whenever they call for help. Whatever the nature of the emergency, the role of the first responders is to assess the situation and react accordingly. What many citizens may not realize is the level of communication and coordination that occurs behind the scenes.

“Communication is everything,” explains Troy Stern, Chief of Police for the City of Tecumseh. “It is non-stop. We get our dispatches through our radio system. We reply to the dispatches through our radio system. It’s how we respond when people need help.”

For the past few years, the police and fire departments across Lenawee County have been trying to function with an outdated radio communication system. It all ties back to a change in the federal communication regulations that required radio signals, such as those used by first responders in Lenawee County, to be moved closer together in order to make room for more signals. Moving the radio signals closer together weakened the signals so they could not travel as far of a distance.

“We used to be able to send a signal from the central tower in Adrian to all four corners of the county,” explains Ryan Rank, Fire Chief for Madison Township. “The signal doesn’t do that anymore. Now we have to rely on outlying towers to broadcast that signal. All of the stations cannot hear the dispatches. And they can’t always communicate back to the central tower. It’s very frustrating.”

The challenges sending and receiving radio transmissions also pose a significant safety risk. Police officers responding to a standoff with a man on a motorcycle at a Michigan Pallet plant in July found that they could not transmit or receive communications while they were inside the building. Many officers have to deal with the low signal strength on a daily basis by holding their radios up in the air to get a better signal. This can be dangerous in potentially violent situations, where officers need to keep both hands free.

Upgrading Equipment for First Responders

In order to address the growing safety issue, the Lenawee County Commissioners recently approved a plan to upgrade the county’s outdated radio system. After exploring multiple options, the county decided to join a statewide radio network that is maintained by the Michigan Public Safety Communications System (MPSCS). This radio upgrade, estimated to cost around $6.5 million, includes construction of two new towers to fill in service gaps in outlying areas of the county.

Not only is the county providing the new towers, but the County Commissioners also agreed to provide funding for vehicle-mounted and portable radios and related equipment from Motorola for all of the city and township police and fire departments within the county.

“This investment by Lenawee County is huge for the police departments. As with every municipality, budgets are tight,” explains Michael Shadbolt, Chief of Police in Madison Township. “This investment is very helpful. To go out and try to purchase the system ourselves would be out of our budget and reach at this point.”

The upgrade will be funded using the money collected through the county-wide 911 telephone line surcharge, which was approved by voters last year. However, the surcharge is only effective through 2021 and the contract with Motorola will last for ten years. By approving this contract, Lenawee County Commissioners showed their commitment to investing in your safety and the importance of this upgrade.

Improving Communication and Coordination

The new system provides an opportunity for all emergency personnel within the county to tune into the same frequency to communicate with each other. That is extremely helpful in a variety of situations, from a simple road shut down to a major large-scale event, such as race weekend at the Michigan International Speedway or large concerts, such as the Faster Horses country music festival.

“Based on our testing, the new system has been superior so far,” says Shadbolt. “The clarity is better. It also tracks the GPS location of the officers. During a foot chase, it can map and follow the footprints of where the officer went. There is also an emergency button in case an officer is in distress.”

Another benefit of the new system is improved communication with other agencies that are also using the system. In the current system, there is no way for Lenawee County emergency personnel to communicate with other counties, such as Washtenaw or Monroe. This capability would be critical in the event of a major health or safety threat affecting the entire region. “This new system is the wave of the future,” says Rank. “It allows everyone to communicate with each other. We can even talk to the State Police in Lansing. The interoperability is great.”

Leveraging the State of Michigan’s radio system not only improves communication and coordination, it also reduces maintenance costs. The State is responsible for monitoring the radio towers 24 hours a day, and they also handle maintenance and repairs.

Investing in Safety, Investing in You

Police officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel are on the front lines every day. They need reliable equipment to keep them safe and to help protect the public. The new system is necessary, state of the art, and built for the future. It will create a safer environment for citizens on a daily basis by ensuring timely access to emergency personnel and improved response times. In the event of a natural disaster or terrorism attack, this type of instantaneous communication among first responders could mean the difference between life and death for our citizens.

“When public safety is at risk, we need something that is 100% reliable,” says Stern. “The system we are switching to gives us that 100% reliability.”

For more information on how the Lenawee County is investing in safety, visit us online at www.lenawee.mi.us/investing or call 1-888-448-1387.

Oct 05

Justice for Businesses through the Economic Crimes Unit

Posted on October 5, 2017 at 12:57 PM by Jennifer Ambrose

An unpleasant reality of running a business is bad debt received through fraudulent check writers and theft (retail fraud).  Both activities directly affect a business’ bottom line.  But, there’s an untapped resource in Lenawee County that every business should be informed of:  the Lenawee County Prosecutor's Office Economic Recovery Unit.

About the Economic Crimes Unit

Started in 2014, the Economic Crimes Unit (ECU) was developed to assist businesses recover these economic losses.  The County has invested in this unmandated program that is free to county businesses. Both businesses and citizens benefit from this program. Businesses receive the money owed to them and citizens avoid criminal penalties by working with the ECU. 

The ECU takes a business approach to business crimes. The Economic Crimes Unit has recovered over $250,000 for Lenawee County businesses since its inception. The Economic Crimes Unit works with every type of business in Lenawee County, from a small family business to large corporations. A team consisting of an assistant prosecuting attorney, detective, and an administrative assistant work solely on economic crimes – bad checks, unreturned rental property, retail fraud and jail reimbursement.

How Does It Work?

If a business has been the victim of an economic crime, the Economic Crimes Unit can help. To start the process, businesses can visit the ECU online.  Their web page has many resources and step-by-step guides for recovering lost funds. Businesses can also download or submit a complaint form to the ECU along with supporting paperwork.  The ECU will review the facts and decide if the offender qualifies for a diversion program – an alternative to criminal prosecution.

Why It Matters

Without the Economic Recovery Unit, there are limited options available to businesses to recover lost funds due to these economic crimes.  Businesses can try to take the offenders to court.  It’s expensive, time consuming and even after winning, businesses are last on the list to receive awarded funds – after fines and court costs. 

Offenders could also be reported to a police agency.  This is very time consuming for both the regular officer and the business.  And without the resources available to the Economic Crimes Unit, funds are often unrecovered.

Finally, businesses can hire a private collection agency for fraudulent checks, but are often spending more money chasing after lost funds than what it is worth.

By investing in the ECU, Lenawee County saves money for everyone.  As part of the program, the offenders – not tax payer money – pay a fee to cover the cost of the investigation and prosecution.  The tax payers save the money spent on court cases and regular police officers investigating fraudulent checks.

An Investment That’s Almost Too Good to Be True

The Economic Crimes Unit continues to help Lenawee County businesses every day.  Ask Bill Decker, Jr., owner of Lily Ann Cabinets.  The ECU helped Lily Ann Cabinets recover money that they assumed was lost.

“We had some large checks, $20,000 we had basically written off,” said Bill, “He [Lenawee County Prosecutor] collected the money.  We received every penny.  It was business friendly… almost too good to be true.”

In Lenawee County, companies don’t need to struggle on collections problems.  That saved revenue can be invested in more employees and business growth which benefits everyone in our county.

Investing in Justice. Investing in You.

The Economic Crimes Unit is just one of the many ways Lenawee County is investing in justice. To learn more about the Economic Crimes Unit, please visit their web page or call Robert Wendt, Investigator, at 517-264-4642. 

Oct 01

Lenawee County is Investing in Parks by Maintaining and Enhancing the Grounds

Posted on October 1, 2017 at 5:24 PM by Jennifer Ambrose

Lenawee County is home to a lush landscape that is rich with native wildlife. Residents of all ages can connect with nature and enjoy a variety of recreational activities at our many local parks. According to a recent survey, 98% of Lenawee County residents have visited at least one of the public parks and 25% of residents reported that they visit the local parks on a weekly basis.

Brian Sills, a resident of Blissfield brings his young children to the Lenawee County parks to enjoy the many family-oriented activities. “We like to come up to the park to walk on the trails or play on the playground. In the winter we like to go sledding,” explains Brian. “We would miss having the park if it wasn’t available.”

The 419 acres of parkland and miles of trails in our parks are maintained by the Lenawee County Parks Department. Their mission is to enhance the quality of life in Lenawee County by providing recreational, social and cultural opportunities for the public. They also play a role in the preservation, conservation, restoration and promotion of the natural, scenic and historical resources in Lenawee County.

Gerber Hill Park – A Hidden Gem

There is a long history behind Gerber Hill Park. It was formed by glaciers, which left a sand base where the park is now located. With over 40 acres of land, this park provides many family-friendly activities, such as horseshoe pits, soccer and baseball fields, basketball and volleyball courts, playgrounds and a sledding hill for winter months. There is also a pond where visitors can observe local wildlife.

The park has also become a second home to local cross country running teams. Longtime resident Al Navarro has been coming to Gerber Hill Park for years. After complaining that his cross country team at Blissfield Community Schools was unable to compete in hilly areas, he was contacted by Frank Gerber who offered use of the park’s rolling landscape for the team to practice. “He offered to cut the grass for us and cut some trails for us,” Al recalls. “This park is a hidden gem because unless you are actually from the area you don’t know what’s out here.”

Bob Griffin is the cross country coach for Britton Deerfield Schools. He brings his cross country teams to practice at the park on a regular basis. “It is close to our school and it’s close to home,” says Bob. “It is very well-maintained and it has the perfect mix of flat areas, rolling hills and steep hills. It is the perfect cross country course.”

Features and Benefits of Local Parks

In addition to Gerber Hill Park, there are many other local parks that residents can enjoy within the county, including Bicentennial, Iron Lake, Medina and Ramsdell. Each park offers its own unique atmosphere. Some parks are more developed, while others are geared toward preserving nature. Most parks offer picnic shelters with grills, playground equipment, sports fields and various recreational activities, such as hiking, fishing, boating and biking.

The parks are open from 8:00 a.m. until dusk from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, unless otherwise noted. During the off-season, the parks are open on weather permitting weekends. There is no entry fee for any of the parks in the county.

Adequate Funding is Key to Supporting the Parks
A successful parks recreation program usually relies on many sources of funding. The Lenawee County Parks Department relies on general tax dollars, grants, and gifts from citizens. Annual parks revenues in Lenawee County averaged about $34,000 from 2009 through 2013. Ongoing support through tax revenue is critical to ensuring that the parks remain open and in good condition.

Investing in Parks, Investing in You
The county parks are a valued resource for all citizens. The Lenawee County Parks Department is committed to maintaining ‘green space’ for the benefit of our residents and to preserve and protect wildlife in the area. Lenawee County has updated its five-year parks and recreation plan to define its goals and objectives through the year 2019. This plan outlines the existing recreation facilities and programs within the county and describes the desired action to be taken to improve and maintain recreation facilities in the future.

Ongoing maintenance and upkeep is critical to keeping the parks in excellent condition for the residents of Lenawee County. This will ensure that individuals and families will continue to enjoy the parks for many years to come.

For more information about how Lenawee County is investing in parks, visit us online or call 1-888-448-1387.