2013 Year In Review — Changes, struggles and hopes
The year 2013 unfolded with some changes, some governmental financial struggles, especially regarding road budgets, and remnants of hope that things might be turning around in Michigan, Lenawee County and Tecumseh and the surrounding area. Changes in leadership took place as long-time superintendents Mike McAran and David Pray retired from Tecumseh Public Schools and Clinton Community Schools, respectively, with Dr. Kelly Coffin and Sean McNatt filling the positions. Governmental entities continued to struggle with how to fix the state’s deteriorating roads. Tecumseh received two large road improvement projects this year with S. Occidental and Maumee Streets being repaved, but officials know there are many more roads that need fixing than funds to do it.Raisin Township trustees considered capturing additional millage that they are able to do without a resident vote in order to move forward on repairs of deteriorating township roads, but chose instead to take a look at a future millage campaign, involving the residents. And the Lenawee County Road Commission continues to look for funding that will help them take care of the much-traveled Occidental Highway beyond continual patching.On a positive note, Michigan’s faltering economy seemed to be showing signs of slow-but-steady recovery as pointed out in a series of stories Herald reporters did in April and May, which showed how some local manufacturers decided to make investments in Tecumseh, both existing and new companies. Tecumseh’s downtown remains vibrant with a high occupancy rate in its buildings, something few cities can say. Other businesses have opted to open in the city as well, from The Spotted Cow and Foundation Realty to a Tim Hortons franchise. Local stories also demonstrate the influence of national headlines, such as the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the bombing at the Boston Marathon. Following is a recap of the top stories of 2013 in the Tecumseh Herald.January• Tecumseh District Library announced that it would seek 1.35 mills in a May election as two separate proposals, adding approximately $100,000 needed to its annual revenues to operate.• Tecumseh Public Schools add security, including camera systems at locked doors, in light of Sandy Hook shooting.• Tecumseh City Council approves a 100 percent tax abatement for Lenawee Stamping/Van-Rob to potentially bring an additional 200 jobs to the city.• Nurses at ProMedica Herrick and Bixby, through the Michigan Nurses Association, claim staffing shortages may harm patients at county hospitals.• New Raisin Township Supervisor Jay Cavanaugh begins his term of office leading the township.• Raisin Township’s board continued its plan to renovate the old Sutton School building for a police department building, seeking bids for the project.• Tecumseh Public Schools narrowed its superintendent search to six candidates to fill the position when Supt. Mike McAran retires at the end of the school year.• The Fieldstone opens for senior residents, adding a new building at Tecumseh Place for assisted living.• A Tecumseh woman was life-flighted to Ann Arbor after being run over by a truck turning a corner onto Chicago Boulevard in downtown Tecumseh.• Tecumseh partners with the Tecumseh Coalition for Youth and sets up a drop-off box for unused and expired medications at the Tecumseh Police Department.• A hearing was set in Lenawee County Circuit Court to set a legal lake level for Tecumseh’s Red Mill Pond. • Tecumseh Middle School orchestra teacher Amy Marr is named statewide Orchestra Teacher of the Year.• The Spotted Cow announces that it will be coming to downtown Tecumseh in the former Chocolate Vault building. Foundation Realty, also owned by the Baker family, will be located in the other side of the retail space.• A Tecumseh High School student was hit by a pickup truck while crossing Chicago Boulevard from Cairns Street to the school drive. The victim was transported to the University of Michigan Medical Center.February• Power-Tec Manufacturing announces that it will be leaving its Raisin Township plant.• Tecumseh previews its radio spot for the 2013 Pure Michigan! campaign.• The Tecumseh School Board selects three finalists for its superintendency: Dr. Kelly Coffin, Sean McNatt and Dr. Michael Osborne.• Workers begin to demolish the former Clothesline Laundry at 901 W. Chicago Blvd. to make way for a new Tim Hortons.• Megan Porter is named as the new Tecumseh Senior Center director, who plans to expand activities for seniors.• Tecumseh City Manager Kevin Welch estimates that the city could lose $18,000 to $25,000 for the 2014 tax year due to the repeal of personal property tax, and an additional $75,000 to $100,000 when the legislation affects industrial properties.• New complaints on use of mascots with Native American logos are filed by the Michigan Department of Civil Rights to the United States Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights.• Maumee Street and S. Occidental are slated for repaving projects during the 2013 construction season.• The city of Tecumseh issues a Stop Work Order on building demolition at the former Tecumseh Products location, seeking proper permits to continue.• Raisin Township Fire Chief Rick Renard steps down as the township works on ways to reduce expenditures.• Dr. Kelly Coffin is selected by the Tecumseh School Board during a special meeting, to replace retiring Supt. Mike McAran.• TPS ranks high in scores on a survey conducted by the Lenawee County Superintendents Association.March• Raisin Township board creates a Department of Public Safety, combining its police and fire services, as a way to cut expenditures in the township budget. Police Chief Scott Lambka will serve as Department of Public Safety Director over both units, and be assisted by assistant chiefs. The township also halts consideration of the old Sutton School building as a police department and will withdraw from the contract with the Lenawee Intermediate School District, which was formed for $1.• Tecumseh City Council takes no action on an ordinance to require home inspections prior to sales or transfer of properties. The issue was brought forth by council member Pat Housekeeper at an earlier meeting to help prevent blight and home problems.• Tom McNaughton steps down as long-time director of the Lenawee County Department on Aging. Cari Rebottaro was named to the post.• Communities in Schools of the Tecumseh Area plans March Mingle fundraiser to benefit the organization.• TPS offers tentative contract to Dr. Kelly Coffin as she completes position with Lenawee Intermediate School District.• Tecumseh native Tim Simpson, announces that he will bring his printing business, DiggyPOD, from Saline to Tecumseh’s industrial park.• Residents of Tecumseh’s Red Mill Pond area raised objections regarding an assessment district in Lenawee County Circuit Court; Judge Margaret Noe confirmed a legal lake level and special assessment roll of 49 property owners.• Supt. Mike McAran took the state to task for tapping into a pension fund for state educators, paying $1 million of the money to pay down a debt incurred by a Pontiac-area movie studio.• Two of Tecumseh’s most familiar downtown buildings, the Union Block 1849 LLC and The James Block 1894 LLC, will receive renovation work after purchase by Dan Meikle.• Tecumseh’s proposed city budget, to be adopted in May, is estimated at $4.8 million as the city “holds its own” in providing services, according to City Manager Kevin Welch.• Police Officer Bill Warner is asked to present a diploma to Dustin Jones, whom Warner pulled from underneath a pickup truck in 1996. The Tecumseh School Board voted unanimously to depart from its policy on who is allowed to present a diploma for this circumstance.• Well-monitoring is fine-tuned at former Tecumseh Products property line on South Maumee Street where permeable reactive barriers were set up following earlier reports of contamination.April• Tom and Jeannette Meyer are named as this year’s Musgrove Evans Award recipients.• The Lenawee County Road Commission is seeking funding opportunities to fix the Occidental/Valley corridor where 12,000 cars travel daily.• City Council votes to waive utility tap fees for residential development as an incentive program.• A citizens group will spearhead the library’s millage campaign to renew 1.15 in operational millage and add .20 mills to keep programs operating.• Glycon Corporation shares its success story, partnering with the city on a tax abatement and other economic development incentives in order to grow its Tecumseh business.• The Tecumseh School Board approves a contract with new Supt. Kelly Coffin with annual compensation of $125,000. • Two suspects were arraigned in district court following a search warrant executed by the OMNI III Narcotics Team regarding operation of a methamphetamine lab in the Marlboro apartments in Tecumseh.• Britton Deerfield coach Jay Yockey gives the Herald a personal account of the bombing during the Boston Marathon. • Eden Foods files a lawsuit to fight the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to provide contraceptive medications as part of employee health care packages.• The Clinton School Board names Sean McNatt as its new superintendent.• Herald reporters begin a seven-part series showing positive signs that the economy is picking up, reporting on the real estate market, residential and commercial construction, local manufacturing, auto sales, tourism, banking and the retail sectors.• Tecumseh banker Joe Williams is honored with the Lenawee Leadership Award.• A THS coaching controversy begins regarding the wrestling program with school board audience members voicing displeasure over the dismissal of Tony Greathouse as coach.• Continued revenue losses threaten the Tecumseh Center for the Arts budget.May• Nearly half of THS wrestling team contracts staph infection of the HSV-1 virus, possibly from improperly cleaned mats, and controversy surfaces over Supt. Mike McAran writing check to one affected student.• A Raisin Township man perishes in a fire in the Crofton Court area. Fire also destroyed a Macon Highway barn owned by the Teboe family.• Tecumseh City Council adopts a $4.9 million budget, which city manager calls, “tight.”• Tecumseh City Council directs Tecumseh City Manager Kevin Welch to prepare a lease with a livery company that proposes to rent space in the lower community center building for canoe/kayak rentals. Questions arose earlier regarding “sensitivity” issues with Red Mill Pond residents, who will be part of an assessment roll to maintain the dam.• The Irish Hills Historical Society seeks to raise $200,000 to renovate and save the twin towers on U.S. 12.• City voting precincts will now all be at the AJ Smith Recreation Center.• The Tecumseh School Board offered an “olive branch” to former wrestling coach Tony Greathouse, allowing the coach to rebut the non-renewal of his contract. Following a closed session, the board supported an administrative decision not to renew the contract.• An Indiana company, March Ceres Farm Holdings, LLC, purchased 18 parcels of land on Pennington Road, Welch Road and Ford Highway in Macon Township. • The city of Tecumseh receives an A+ in the Standard & Poor’s rating denoting a stable outlook regarding its general obligation bond commitments.• Occidental Highway/Valley Road are identified by the Lenawee County Road Commission as a top priority for road projects as funding becomes available.June• Rumors that could not be confirmed begin that Hyundai is eyeing recently sold property in Macon Township.• Clinton Supt. David Pray winds down his tenure of leadership in the Clinton Community Schools district.• Britton builds local history into its newly completed streetscape with new signage, cement work and lighting.• Matt Oren resigns from the Tecumseh School Board.• A complaint filed federally regarding Native American mascots was dismissed by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights.• Raisin Township board members discuss a township survey it conducted regarding roads.• Tecumseh City Council applies for a Brownfield grant for environmental cleanup to help bring Salsarias, an Adrian restaurant business, to downtown Tecumseh.• Members of the Raisin Township Dept. of Public Safety dedicated a new ambulance to Carl Wagner, who served several years as supervisor in the township as well as many years as fire chief.• Tecumseh School Board adopts $23.7 million budget.• Tecumseh Schools Orchestra holds its annual yard sale benefit and raises approximately $4,700.July• A Spirit Airlines jet had to dive to avoid a collision with a Skydive Tecumseh plane, prompting an investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA was looking into reports that the jet responded to an onboard traffic alert while flying between Detroit and Dallas-Fort Worth.• Tecumseh considers allowing ProMedica to lease the Glass Room full-time for an additional $15,000 per year, to begin in 2014.• Retiring Tecumseh Public Schools Supt. Mike McAran accepts a post as Interim Supt. for Morenci.• The dismantling of two historic Irish Hills Towers begins as tops are slated to be removed. The Irish Hills Historical Society canvassed the area to help save the structures.• Tecumseh Paddling Company, owned by Jennifer and Mark Johnson, begins its first season renting canoes, kayaks and paddle boards from space at the Tecumseh Community Center.• Tecumseh patrol cars receive new onboard computer systems as part of a county upgrade, allowing more access to records and other functions from the car.• Raisin Township names Dale Witt as Deputy Supervisor.• South Occidental Highway is closed to through traffic for fix from M-50 to Russell Road.• The former Airport Bowl on N. Evans St. is sold and will become a recreation center/convenience store owned by Troy and Nicki Wright; it will include a new location for Curves.• A new Tim Hortons in Tecumseh nears completion.• Raisin Township honors building inspector Harry Hutchison, battling cancer, with a Movie and Music in the Park night.• Raisin Township officials approved a tax abatement for investment of $595,000 for Uniloy Milacron. • New Tecumseh Public School board member, Debbie Johnson-Berges was administered the oath of office, filling a vacancy created when Matt Oren left the area.• Community members rally for the return of a Clinton toddler, Rachel Hardy, from Spain after her mother was arrested on a drug charge in the Czech Republic.August• Clinton Community Schools welcomes new Superintendent Sean McNatt, who helped administrators ready the district for a new school year.• ProMedica Herrick Hospital begins a weekly farmer’s market in its lobby.• Hazel Jacobs was feted by the Federal Aviation Administration for 50 years of flying. Jacobs received the Master Pilot Award for 2013.• Britton-Macon alumni held a Welcome Back Weekend, with a special salute to the Class of 1963 and its State Champion basketball teams of 1963 and 1964.• City Council member Pat Housekeeper announces her plan to step down after many years of service and not run in the November election.• Tecumseh Public School Supt. Kelly Coffin plans strategic planning sessions to involve school personnel and community members.• Raisin Township considers whether to levy 1.5 mills allowed under the township’s charter to go for road projects. The discussion follows a survey the township conducted.• Tecumseh Public School eighth graders each receive new Chromebooks that will follow them through high school.• Rumors continue that Hyundai may be considering putting a plant on farmland in Macon Township.• The Lenawee County Drain Commission awaits a permit regarding repair and maintenance work at Red Mill Pond Dam, hoping to get it done before winter.• Community Arts of Tecumseh announces a benefit to be held Sept. 21 at Hantz Golf Club to raise funds for the organization’s operation.• Eden Foods in Clinton has a court date set for October for a federal appeal regarding an exemption from requirements to provide birth control coverage to employees as part of its health insurance package. • Skydive Tecumseh celebrates a 50-year milestone with a reunion bringing former owners and patrons together.• The Lenawee Intermediate School District invalidates the school board appointment of Debbie Johnson-Berges, due to a technicality in the process. (Johnson-Berges is later authorized as a school board member.)• Tecumseh will share $287,000 in funding from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority for upper floor rehabilitation projects at Carpet on Wheels and in the James Block 1894 building also known as the Masonic Building.• GLOV Enterprises hosts an open house to thank supporters through its recent investment and growth process. • Long-time banker Merlyn Downing passes away. Downing was known for his kindness and community service.• Republic Services announces it plans to close its Adrian landfill, which will cost the county revenues through its tipping fees.• A preliminary examination was scheduled for Kent E. Losee, Clinton, accused of stalking his minor neighbor.September• Art Trail Tecumseh unveils a plan to add 2-D art to the side of Boulevard Market in 2014.• TPS strategic planning begins with all-day sessions involving local businesses, organizations, and public.• DiggyPOD, a printing company that moved its facility from Saline, requested a tax abatement for new investment just under $600,000, to help retain 15 current jobs and create two more.• Tecumseh City Council holds a study session to make plans for future replacement of a blower at the wastewater treatment plant, project to cost $440,000.• Vandals drive heavy equipment owned by Slusarski Excavating into the woods, damaging ballfields behind Tecumseh Middle School.• Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church celebrates its 75th anniversary.• Area groups, including the Tecumseh Coalition for Youth, raise awareness regarding the dangers of opiate medication, especially among youth. Tecumseh Police Department now has a drop-off container for unused and expired medications.• The Tecumseh Planning Commission approves another medical marijuana moratorium to allow time for court cases to be resolved.• Tecumseh senior resident Jennie Schober, 108, passes away at Tecumseh Place.• Robyn Francis is returned to her role as principal of Herrick Park Elementary School, and adds Patterson Elementary School to her duties.• The city of Tecumseh receives an EPA grant for $20,000 to help with a proposed clean-up for Salsarias Restaurant, which proposes to locate in the former Ivy Gallery building.• A drawdown for Red Mill Pond Dam is set for Sept. 30 for a dam inspection by a Grand Rapids firm contracted with the Lenawee County Drain Commission, which owns the dam.• TPS’s Strategic Plan includes 10 goals, giving district “focus and clear direction” for the future. Committees representing each goal are being formed to implement them.• TPS teachers receive a pay raise, approved by the school board, under its one-year contract. The increases were to be given as teachers move up a step, with those not eligible for step increases receiving $1,300 off schedule.• Early intervention programs and establishing reading level libraries at all elementary schools and the middle school help prepare students for future success.• Accidents at Tecumseh football games, including buildings and grounds monitor Albert Flores being hit by a car, prompt safety reminders at school events.October• Tecumseh considers becoming a part of the Pure Michigan campaign for a second year, with a committee hoping to raise approximately $30,000 to be a part of the 2014 campaign.• Patterson Elementary School is recognized by the state of Michigan as a “reward school” as a Top 5 percent achievement school. • A Tecumseh man, Greg William Keebler, 42, was awaiting sentencing for operating a meth lab in the Marlboro Court apartments in Tecumseh.• U.S. Army soldier Brian J. Gogue was arrested on a five count felony warrant including murder and felonious assault at Lee Villa Estates in Raisin Twp. Gogue was accused of strangling Joel Matthew Krutsch, 20, from Manchester, and injuring Scott Anthony Fernandez, 18, also of Manchester.• Tecumseh business owners Doug and Rochelle Bird celebrate 30 years in a downtown location, with 15 of them as the British Tea Garden.• J. Tree Cellars seeks to lease the eastern space of the Tecumseh Community Center for a tasting room and winery sales. The proposed lease would be for $1,050 per month, and renovations would be made to provide dedicated space for the Tecumseh Senior Center. City council approves the lease at its next meeting.• Clinton High School is recognized as a High Performance and Beating the Odds reward school.• Raisin Township approves a Back Yard Hen ordinance to allow the keeping of a limited number of chickens, with a permit, in enclosed pens in back yards to include non-agricultural zoned areas.• Tecumseh resident Derek Atkinson completes a 215-mile bike ride across the state to raise awareness regarding adoption.• Engineers inspect Tecumseh’s Red Mill Pond dam.• Tecumseh High School art students invite the public to partner with them to install a new sculpture garden on school property outside the complex where art classes are held.• Tecumseh resident Michele Koniarz asks council to consider an ordinance regarding roaming and feral cats after her dog is attacked by a cat that came onto the deck where they were sitting.• Tecumseh Public Schools approves an audit with a $5.2 million fund balance.• The race for Tecumseh City Council includes incumbents Gary Naugle, Laurence Van Alstine Jr., and newcomers Judith Lividini, Vicki Philo, and Ann Wann.November• The Hamblin Company celebrated 40 years of doing business in Tecumseh as a printing company.• Bob Fox, sales manager for Howard Hanna, receives the Golden Rule Award presented by the Lenawee County Association of Realtors. • A visiting delegation of students from Moriyama, Japan, visits Tecumseh Public Schools. Students from Lenawee County will travel to Japan next spring.• Incumbents Gary Naugle and Laurence Van Alstine Jr. keep their Tecumseh City Council seats, and Vicki Philo, who is also the executive director of the Tecumseh Area Chamber of Commerce, is elected to fill a seat vacated by Pat Housekeeper.• TPS Supt. Kelly Coffin shares progress on the 90-day plan she proposed to the district upon her selection as superintendent.• The state’s Department of Environmental Quality approved a $220,000 site reclamation grant to fund clean-up activities at the proposed Salsaria’s Restaurant site where the Ivy Gallery is finishing up its business.• Cambrian Assisted Living plans a March opening of its new memory care center in Tecumseh.• State Rep. Nancy Jenkins speaks at the city’s Veteran’s Day ceremony held in Tecumseh’s Brookside Cemetery.• A Raisin Township man, Kyle Alan Harrison, 27, was arraigned on charges of larceny in a building, larceny of a firearm, felony firearms and carrying a firearm with unlawful intent after firing a gun in the Gady Road area.• The U-M Dearborn’s iLabs eCities group recognized Tecumseh as one of eight communities in the state identified for strategies employed that foster entrepreneurial growth and economic development.• Locals reminisce on 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy assassination. • Jet’s Pizza announces intent to open a Tecumseh site early in the New Year.• The Tecumseh School Board decides to seek requests for proposals to update its board policies and administrative regulations.December• Talk of possible public access through a small park or boat launch begins at Tecumseh’s Red Mill Pond, with Lenawee County Drain Commissioner Stephen May saying the addition could make it possible for the county to pursue grant dollars toward the estimated $315,000 dam maintenance, now expected to begin in the fall of 2014.• Tecumseh City Council approves resolutions that further movement toward opening of J. Tree Cellars tasting room at the community center, and Salsarias, a restaurant proposed for the downtown.• Tecumseh City Council reviewed the cat issue, taking no action, and learned more about a possible sidewalk grant in partnership with Tecumseh Public Schools, to be considered along with the 2014 budget.• The Lenawee County Road Commission receives word of an award of $375,000 in state money toward repaving the southern portion of Occidental Highway from M-52 to Gady Road. Funds will still have to be found for the projected 2015 project totaling $750,000.• Police in Clinton seek information regarding vandalism at Clinton Veteran’s Park.• Community Arts of Tecumseh hires Nicki Coughlin as its new executive director. • TPS takes legal steps to recover overpayments made to an administrator who left the district prior to the start of the new school year.• Tecumseh receives a grant of $21,250 from the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs for the Tecumseh Center of the Arts season, and the Downtown Development Authority received $8,500 toward the 2014 Art Trail Tecumseh.• Renovations that the City of Tecumseh is responsible for totaling $25,000-$30,000 are nearly complete at the Tecumseh Community Center. J. Tree Cellars will begin its portion of the renovation early in 2014.• The Lenawee County Road Commission receives word that state funds will be awarded to repair M-52 from Valley Road to M-50. Managing Director Scott Merillat said Occidental is the heavier traveled and neediest road, but the funding was directed at M-52. Occidental is still slated to receive 2015 repaving from M-52 to Gady Road using a $375,000 grant from the state’s economic development funds. More funding is still necessary to complete the entire project.