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Johnson reflects back on serving city as mayor

“Memorial day service at the cemetery — that was probably the pinnacle of my experience as being mayor.”

Come the November 4 election, Tecumseh Mayor Richard Johnson will be stepping down from the city’s highest office, tossing the mayoral baton to former Mayor Jack Baker.

“Presiding over that ceremony, that’s the one thing I am going to miss most of all,” said Johnson, a veteran himself. “Some of the people who were honored were personal friends of mine that died in battle.”

Johnson, owner of Evans Street Station, ran for mayor hoping to use his business skills to spur economic development in the community. He felt as a business man he could talk to other businessmen and thoroughly enjoyed his time spend courting potential business owners contemplating coming to Tecumseh.

However, timing was not ideal. Buildings and property were virtually being given away in the depths of the Great Recession when he took office in 2010.

Johnson said he was happy to have pushed for a road millage to fund road repairs in the city, as money from the state and federal government is unlikely anytime soon. We have a beautiful city, but the roads are in need of repair, said Johnson, adding that this was a one-time shot of placing Tecumseh up with the best cities.

Tecumseh is a unique city, Johnson said. His push for first-floor retail on Tecumseh’s major blocks is something he felt is vital to Tecumseh, even though any decision by council on the proposal will likely happen after he has left office.

“Our downtown is a vibrant downtown that’s quite unique,” Johnson said. “If another city had everything we have in their downtown, none of their people would come to our town. We have what other cities would like to have in their downtown but don’t.”

TCA to host Driftwood on October 24

The Touring Season at the Tecumseh Center for the Arts (TCA) opens on Friday, Oct. 24, at 7:30 p.m. featuring Driftwood. From the Binghamton, New York, music scene, Driftwood is a band with a rock n’ roll soul and a folk art mind. “The band brings one of the most unique, raw sounds to the Americana/roots music scene through electrifying live performance,” said Shelley Lim, Director of Cultural and Leisure Services for the City of Tecumseh.

Driftwood features four string musicians on bass, bango, guitar and violin.

The special performance is sponsored by the Elizabeth Ruthruff Wilson Foundation (ERWF), which has been the driving force behind the creation of the Tecumseh Public Schools Orchestra program. What began with 40 students in 2003 has grown to a program of over 350, and is under the direction of Amy Marr.

Because of its sponsorship, the ERWF has made it possible for the TCA to offer special ticket pricing. In addition, those attending are invited to a complimentary dessert reception immediately after the performance. Those in attendance can also meet the performers in a relaxed atmosphere.

The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. and doors open at 6:30 pm. The Tecumseh Center for the Arts will feature beverages of J. Trees Cellars during this performance. J. Trees Cellars is a local producer of artisan crafted wines and hard ciders.

Ticket prices for the Driftwood concert are: $15 adult, $13 senior, and $5 youth. Tickets can be purchased at the Tecumseh Center for the Arts, by phone at 423.6617, or on-line at www.thetca.org.

For additional information about the Driftwood performance, call the TCA at 423.6617.

Crews drain pond as repairs begin on Evans Street dam

Those driving by Red Mill Pond have likely noticed the water level is quite low. The Lenawee County Drain Commission lowered the water level so they can inspect and begin repairs on the dam.

“If everything goes well, we’d be able to start repairs this week or next,” said Lenawee County Drain Commissioner Stephen May on Tuesday, Oct. 14.

Drain commission staff and local contractors are completing the work on the dam after the lone bid for the project was rejected because it asked for almost double the $315,000 estimated cost.

Repairs will focus on concrete patching, the steel catwalks, and replacing a security fence, which are being completed by local contractors and the commission staff itself.

Originally, the dam was to be drawn down until the end of May 2015; however, May said that if all the repairs can be completed by November 1, the pond would be refilled then.

May added that the refilling of the pond would not be contingent on the catwalk or fence being complete, as that could be done after the water level is returned.

Great weather helps make Appleumpkin ‘100 percent perfect’

Perfect weather and a larger festival area brought large crowds to downtown Tecumseh for the 21st annual Appleumpkin Festival last weekend.

“Appleumpkin was absolutely awesome,” said organizer Jan Fox. “The crowds came. Everybody had a great time. It was one-hundred percent perfect.”

Approximately 25,000 to 30,000 people came to wander the streets of downtown, enjoying music, food, art, antiques, and activities. This year, the festival spread out to Kilbuck St. on S. Evans St., and went into the 300 block of S. Ottawa St.

The free shuttle service was used from Tecumseh High School, and for visitors to travel out to the Apple Festival at Kapnick Orchards.

The new Saturday tractor show on S. Evans St. was a popular new attraction, as was the straw maze in the southeast parking lot.

Kids enjoyed playing in the corn box to find hidden gold coins. The Tecumseh Rotary had great success with the scarecrow building, and ran out of clothes after 400 scarecrows were built.

“Our kids activities are always well-received,” Fox said.

Food was very popular. “Everybody eats no matter what,” said Fox. “There’s a little something for everybody.”

Downtown merchants had a very busy weekend. Crystal Winkler of Tecumseh Antiques and More expected large crowds and told her dealers to be prepared and to plan to work extra shifts during the weekend.

“It was fabulous. It was a great weekend,” Winkler said. “I had very positive feedback about Tecumseh and how Appleumpkin was set-up and organized.”

Improved business continued into Monday for Tecumseh Antiques and More. People called about pick-ups and came into the store.

Winkler believes Appleumpkin really benefits the city and merchants. “It brings people into town,” she said. “We really appreciate the city doing this.”

Kapnick Orchards sponsors an Apple Festival that runs in conjunction with Appleumpkin downtown. Scott Robertello was pleased the weekend turned out so perfectly.

Raisin Township extends superintendent position through 2015

In a 6-1 vote Monday, Oct. 13, Raisin Township’s board of trustees extended the superintendent position through 2015, with current Supt. Jim Palmer filling that role. The superintendent position was to end on November 12.

Raisin Township Supervisor Jay Cavanaugh was the only dissenting vote.

Cavanaugh iterated that he thought the six-month limit on the superintendent position was to allow the township time to find a long-term candidate, adding that at the time when Palmer was appointed the board felt rushed.

“I think we need to be doing an application process,” the supervisor added.

Trustee Tom Hawkins agreed with Cavanaugh that the township should seek applications for the position, but thought the extension through 2015 would give the township more time to make the right decision on who to appoint, or to even keep the position.

“He’s done an excellent job in the role,” said trustee Debra Brousseau.

“I think he’s well qualified for the position,” said trustee Betty Holdridge.

Even though the board appointed Palmer as an “interim,” according to Raisin Township attorney David Lacasse, the Michigan Township Association doesn’t recognize “interim.”

“When a position is filled, the position is filled,” said Lacasse.

Also at the Monday meeting, trustees unanimously accepted the 2015 draft budget from the budget committee.

One recommendation that was made was separating the fire and police budgets, which would not change the command structure of the departments.

“We recommend the budgets be segregated again to add transparency,” said budget committee member Russ Mead.

The draft budget also moves police and fire funding into the general fund. Mead said that no statutory requirements were found to keep them separated from the general fund.

Bilby’s to celebrate 50th wedding anniversary

Earl and Marge Bilby are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.

Earl D. Bilby was married to Marjorie A. Linden October 17, 1964 by Pastor K. Koeplin at Grace Lutheran Church in Tecumseh, Mich.

Marge is retired from United Savings Bank after serving 45 years while Earl is retired as a renowned carpenter from the area.

A cake and ice cream celebration is planned for October 18, from 4-6 p.m. at Raisin Charter Township Community Center, 3262 Gady Rd. The couple requests no gifts.

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