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Court orders owner of former Tecumseh Products Co. property to cut grass

Lenawee County District Court Judge Jonathan Poer granted a default judgment Tuesday on behalf of the City of Tecumseh against Tecumseh Food Machinery & Equipment, LLC., which owns the former Tecumseh Products Property.

Poer granted Tecumseh Attorney Scott Baker’s request to order Tecumseh Food Machinery & Equipment, LLC. to cut the grass at the property and come into compliance with the city’s Weeds and Noxious Plants ordinance.

Tecumseh Food Machinery & Equipment, LLC. has 10 days once the order is signed to cut the grass and Baker said he would have the order ready for Judge Poer to sign Wednesday morning.

Tecumseh Food Machinery & Equipment, LLC. owner Dave Roberts or any legal representative on his behalf failed to appear at the Tuesday hearing.

Baker said the property is a “nuisance,” “eyesore” and “hazard.” He added that the tall weeds cause a line-of-sight issue for motorists.

Baker also asked Judge Poer to issue a contempt of court charge against Roberts if the grass was not cut in 10 days. Poer said he would address that if the property was not brought into compliance.

Tecumseh Food Machinery & Equipment, LLC. was assessed $125 in court costs on the default judgment. A citation to the property owner regarding the uncut grass and weeds was sent by certified mail around May 28, Baker said.

Tecumseh’s Weeds and Noxious Plants ordinance states grass and weeds must be under six inches for properties to be in compliance.

At the June 1 Tecumseh City Council meeting, Tecumseh City Manager Kevin Welch reported to council the city would be taking Tecumseh Food Machinery & Equipment, LLC. to court over the unkept property.

“Since the taxes have not been paid for two years and the cost to mow the grass is likely to be $2,000 or more, it is unlikely the city would recover the cost unless the property transferred to new ownership,” Welch said in his report then.


TCA hires new marketing director

With 15 years of communication and marketing experience in the financial and higher education arenas, Kelly Jo Gilmore is now enjoying the non-profit world of the arts with Tecumseh Center for the Arts (TCA). The Blissfield resident is the new sales and marketing manager for the TCA.

“I’m excited to bring my commercial marketing expertise to a non-profit setting,” Gilmore said.

She earned her bachelor’s degree at Adrian College, and was active behind the scenes with the arts on campus. “It feels like home to be back in an arts and cultural setting,” said Gilmore.

One of her goals is to utilize social media to spread the word about the offerings at TCA. Gilmore has experienced first-hand the way news travels to different communities through Facebook. Although she lives in Blissfield, she learns regularly what is going on in Tecumseh through Facebook friendships.

“Tecumseh does a great job bringing people to the community,” said Gilmore.

Social media communication could benefit the TCA and make it easier to reach out to Jackson, Monroe and Northwest Ohio communities.

“I would like to see the TCA help bring more people here to Tecumseh.”

“It’s amazing the caliber of shows and acts TCA brings to Tecumseh,” Gilmore said.

The ongoing synergy between the TCA and Tecumseh Youth Theater (TYT) is another big benefit for Tecumseh, from the standpoint of the participants and the local audience. “It’s neat to see how the TCA collaborates with TYT,” Gilmore said.

She gets her first experience with TYT next week when the drama camp for elementary students begins. It’s also the first week for the Black Box series.

“We will be busy,” said Gilmore.

Although the shows for the 2015-2016 season have been selected, Gilmore is excited about using her marketing skills to promote the shows and the season at TCA. “It’s a good time to come aboard,” she said.


Thieves prey during funeral services

After the death of a loved one, family and friends traditionally come together to mourn their loss. During this time of sadness the last thing families think about is being robbed, yet the timing for thieves is perfect.

The last year-and-a-half has seen a rash of robberies occur in southern Michigan while families are occupied at funeral homes or during funerals. In March, the thief or thieves moved into Lenawee County.

Crimestoppers of Lenawee County asked the public for help with a breaking and entering of two houses in Palmyra Township on March 26, which occurred during the funeral of a family member. On June 8, a Britton family was also victim of a breaking and entering during the funeral of their family member.

The break-ins are not obvious at first. The items taken are jewelry, cash and possibly medication.

“It’s not the typical kind of break in. They don’t ransack the house,” said Detective Gary Ward, of the Lenawee County Sheriff Department. “They try to make it look like nobody has ever been there.”

The Britton family was alerted to theft by the different position of the locking mechanism on a jewelry box. This small detail made the family look closer for missing items.

“Without the husband noticing the locking mechanism, it might have been days before they realized their home was broken into,” Ward said.

The subtle nature of the crime may also be keeping the true number low of those affected. “There could be a whole lot more break-ins, and people don’t even realize it,” said Ward.

There have been similar break-ins in Washtenaw, Oakland, Wayne and Hillsdale Counties. Hillsdale had a break-in during a funeral in March at the same time as the family in Blissfield.

Law enforcement believes all the break-ins are perpetrated by one or two people. “We don’t know who’s doing it, but we do have a person of interest,” said Ward.


Township admits FOIA, OMA violation in court documents

Judge Anna Marie Anzalone has ordered the Charter Township of Raisin and township resident Paul Smoke to meet with a facilitator in an attempt for both parties to reach a settlement in an ongoing lawsuit.

On April 30, 2014, Smoke — plaintiff — filed a lawsuit against the township — defendant — alleging the township violated the Open Meetings Act (OMA) on March 7 and 17 and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) on four different occasions in April and September 2014 and May 2015.

“Over the course of a two month period in March and April 2014, defendants repeatedly stymied the idea of open government when they hid their action from public scrutiny,” Wrote the plaintiff in the Plaintiff’s Response to Defendants’ Motion for Summary Disposition filed June 5. “Defendants failed to post notices of meetings where important decisions were made and failed to responded and process documents following Mr. Smoke’s FOIA requests.”

At the March 7 meeting, three assistant chief positions were created in the Raisin Township Public Safety Department. On March 17, the board approved the purchase of a new fire truck for the price of $408,982.

“Defendants have admitted violating the Open Meetings Act and the Freedom of Information Act, yet they believe this Court should commit reversible error and grant them summary disposition on Mr. Smoke’s claims because the violations were limited in frequency, technical in nature, and eventually cured,” the plaintiffs wrote in their June 5 filing. “Defendants are wrong on the facts and the law.”

On May 5, 2014, Raisin Township held a special meeting to revote on the purchase of the fire truck. Smoke received documents requested through the FOIA 13 months later regarding the township’s military surplus program, the plaintiffs claiming, “The months-late production of documents was a direct result of Mr. Smokes lawsuit.”


Reunion at Fielder House brings memories, new beginnings

When Jeff and Amy Grupp bought the historic Fielder home, located on 217 N. Pearl St. in Tecumseh, they were curious to learn more about the residence and those who had lived there previously. On Saturday, June 13, they invited Betty Roumell (formerly Betty Fielder) and her relatives inside to discuss Roumell’s wedding to Thomas Johnson, whom she married in front of the Fielder House fireplace over 60 years ago.

The Grupps’ have been living in Tecumseh for two years. They moved here after growing up in Kalamazoo and moving to various locations around the United States such as New Mexico and Indiana before settling in Southeast Michigan. After they discovered their home was over 100 years old, the Grupps’ desired to find the previous home owners in order to discuss the history of the property, but weren’t sure where to begin. “My dad suggested to put an ad in the paper, and then we looked online. We found an article on Betty and her marriage from an Adrian paper in 1943,” Jeff said.

Roumell, who is now 91, remembers making doughnut holes for children in the kitchen of the home. “The house looks smaller to me now, but it was the warmest place I ever lived in,” she stated as she observed the various rooms, interested in the renovations the Grupps’ had done.

Roumell grew up on a farm in Clinton before moving to Tecumseh. She decided to marry Thomas Johnson in front of the Fielder House fireplace when he was on a short reprieve from the armed forces slightly before World War II. They were married for 10 years before he passed away. She went on to marry Louis Roumell.

Betty remembers her first wedding being small and cozy, with the fireplace serving as the backdrop for the ceremony. “Well, you know how that was a focal point back then,” Roumell said. “My first husband was stationed up near Alaska at the time, but he was on a 30-day furlough. That’s when we got married. It took me a while to make up my mind, I guess.”


Council votes to seek outside candidates for city manager position

Tecumseh city council voted Monday to not only look outside city staff for possible city manager candidates but also procure the assistance of the Michigan Municipal League (MML) for an estimated $15,000 to $18,000 to assist in the search. Tecumseh City Manager Kevin Welch, who is resigning next month, said he would have a contract from the MML ready for a vote at council’s next regular meeting on July 6.

Council voted on two motions Monday evening. The first was to open up applications to outside candidates, made by councilmember Gary Naugle and seconded by Gary Fox. The motion passed 5-2 with council members Stephanie Harmon and Vicki Philo dissenting.

“I believe we have one excellent candidate right now,” said Fox. “To feel confident in my decision — to feel I’d made the right decision — I would like to see what else is out there.”

On June 8, Tecumseh Economic Development Director Paula Holtz and Tecumseh Police Chief Troy Stern were both interviewed for the city manager position after council decided to open the position to internal candidates. The decision was made at the May 18 regular city council meeting after returning from closed session.

Philo said she looked over the city’s strategic plan, highlighting one name multiple times, to help make her decision on the direction council should take with the position.

“It was one of the candidates that already has the vision and is working on these things,” Philo said. “That kind of told me this is the strategic plan council approved and planned, and that kind of tells me we have that person already here. The vision and route that we’re on is already here.”

Harmon agreed with Philo, adding, she doesn’t want to lose Holtz or Stern as candidates.

“I don’t want them to pull away,” she said. “I agree with Vicki [Philo] that we do have someone already trained — already up to speed with what the city needs.”

Naugle said it would be a service to the city to seek outside candidates.


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