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January Newsletter (pdf)
Message from the County Administrator
As 2019 comes to a close, it is appropriate to look back over the year and take stock of where Lenawee County government is today.
The courts saw two new judges installed in 2019, Judge Catherine Sala took over the Probate Court bench in January and Judge Michael Olsaver was appointed to the Circuit Court in April. The Probate Court will also see a change in court administrator after the first of the year with long time employee John Drahuschak retiring with over 41 years of service to the youth and citizens of this county. Congratulations to John and best wishes in retirement!
County Prosecutor, R. Burke Castleberry, initiated a new service to handle criminal cases for local units of government. The program has worked well with local units benefiting from the experience of the Prosecutor’s Office and the addition of an assistant prosecutor helping with the workload in the Prosecutor’s Office. Public Defender John Glaser’s office completed the first year under the new state Indigent Defense grant. The grant provided additional funding to meet the new service requirements for indigent defense. The office also took on the duties of court appointed counsel in many Probate Court matters.
It was a very active year in the Sheriff’s Office, beginning with the installation of a new Sheriff in March when Sheriff Troy Bevier was sworn in. The jail implemented additional mental health services through the inmate health care program currently in use. Access to mental health counseling and psychotropic drugs help to keep inmates with mental health illnesses on track while in jail. A new camera system was also installed in the jail to provide better surveillance and security.
In October, the Sheriff’s Office employees moved into their new building. The construction project that spanned 15 months was completed and a ribbon cutting and open house welcomed county residents to the new office. The 911 dispatchers had to wait until December to move into the new building to coordinate with the new 800 MHz radio system. The new radio system infrastructure, including two new towers in the county, was built out over the last two years. Coverage testing has been completed and rollout of new radios is underway. The new system brings clear radio communications and much better coverage to better serve the residents of Lenawee County in emergency situations.
The Board of Commissioners adopted a new five year parks plan for the county in December. In addition to plans for each of the County parks, the plan incorporates many of the objectives of the several non-motorized plans and studies that have been created recently to pave the way for future collaboration and grant opportunities. A study of document management options is underway by county departments to improved access to County records and reduce the amount of paper records maintained by various departments. The County is also participating in the 2020 Census complete count effort being spearheaded by the Community Action Agency.
On the financial side of things, the County is closing out 2019 in the black and saw the first back-to-back growth in the tax base in excess of 3% for the first time in over ten years. Growth in the tax base was aided by the installation of two natural gas pipelines in the county as well as by a slight increase in the consumer price index that limits tax base growth. Tax base growth is expected to continue in 2020 even if it is not as robust as the last two years.
A major project is underway for 2020 with plans being developed for renovations to the Old Courthouse. The 135 year old building is scheduled for interior updates that will prepare for the next 100 years while at the same time respecting the history and period look of this local landmark.
While there are certainly challenges ahead, we have much to be happy about. It is this in mind that, on behalf of the Board of Commissioners and the 550+ employees of Lenawee County, I wish the residents of Lenawee County a very Happy New Year!
Martin D. Marshall,County Administrator