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Former school superintendent dies in accident

Former Tecumseh resident, civic volunteer and superintendent of Tecumseh Public Schools (TPS), H. Eugene (Gene) Cooley, 74, died Monday morning in an off-road vehicle (ORV) accident near Kenton in Michigan’s upper peninsula.

Cooley was with friend Howard Osterling, also a former superintendent at Clinton Community Schools, preparing deer blinds for hunting off a two-track Federal Forest Road when he was operating the ORV. He lost control of the vehicle on a snow-covered hillside, where the ORV rolled over, resulting in fatal injuries, according to the Houghton County Sheriff Department.

Cooley grew up in Charlotte, Michigan, and attended Western Michigan University. He played college baseball and was signed to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1962-63. Before coming to Tecumseh, he had worked as a teacher, coach, principal and superintendent at Hanover-Horton Schools.

In 1971, he was hired by Tecumseh Public Schools as assistant to Supt. Robert Duhan, who he succeeded in 1984. He served as superintendent until his retirement in June 1992.

Gene is survived by his wife Joann and four children, Daniel, Ann, Matthew and Christopher, and four grandchildren, Kristine, Jon, Samantha and Chloe.

Under his leadership, Cooley was credited for overseeing a major improvement plan for curriculum and facilities, as well as gaining public support for construction of the Tecumseh Community Pool. He was equally involved in community service having been a long-standing member of the Tecumseh Rotary Club and Kiwanis Club of Tecumseh, which he had served as president. His family attended the Tecumseh United Methodist Church.

He and Jo moved to Mackinac City following his retirement from TPS where they operated Tee Pee Campground on the Straits of Mackinac just east of the Mackinac Bridge. Cooley continued his public service in Mackinac City where he was a member of the Lion’s Club and active member with the Chamber of Commerce.

Raisin Township Board votes to keep Wade Highway open

In a 5-1 vote, the Raisin Township Board of Trustees voted to keep Wade Hwy. open at the double railroad crossing and reject a $182,500 offer from Michigan Dept. of Transportation (MDOT) to do close it.

Raisin Township Supervisor Jay Cavanaugh was the dissenting vote, with trustee Dale Mitchell absent.

Six residents from the Wade Hwy. area spoke during public comment, none of which were in support of such a closure.

“It’s my understanding that there’s never been an accident at that crossing,” said Chad Burtless-Creps, a township resident. “I view this as the state inappropriately sticking their nose in what should be a local decision.”

Many residents said Academy Road can be impassable in the winter. Wade Hwy. connects Academy to Oakwood and is the only available exit for many residents.

Trustee Debra Brousseau made a motion to keep Wade Hwy. open, which was seconded by trustee Tom Hawkins.

Cavanaugh felt the board should call a public hearing, inviting MDOT and the Lenawee County Road Commission to provide more information about the proposition.

“We haven’t even looked at this,” said Cavanaugh, “I understand the board gets intimidated when people come here when they’re angry. But we haven’t even looked at this. We should have a public hearing. There’s a process. I think we need to dive into this. Whether the board decides to close it or keep it open, there’s been nothing really brought in front of you to make a decision.”

Hawkins countered saying plenty of information had already been provided. At an October 27 special meeting, board members were made aware of the state’s offer. Documentation then said they had 90 days to make a decision on what to do about Wade Hwy.

“To me, it seems to be a no- brainer,” Hawkins added. “There is nothing that benefits the township residents on Wade Highway. There is no reason whatsoever based on all the information that I’ve looked at to support putting cul-de-sacs on Wade Highway.

TPS board ratifies new teacher contract

At the Monday Tecumseh School Board meeting, the board approved the three-year Tecumseh Education Association (TEA) contract ratification. The previous contract expired on June 30.

The new contract is different from what teacher’s previously had in the district. Teacher pay increases are now solely reliant upon teacher performance, with each receiving an individual wage base and additional income based on teacher education level. Previously, teachers would receive pay increases based on years of service and their own educational gains in continuing education and degrees earned.

“We’re really happy to have a contract,” said Tecumseh Supt. Kelly Coffin.

The district is required to annually evaluate teachers and give one of four ratings: ineffective, minimally effective, effective and highly effective. The school is using the Charlotte Danielson evaluation model, which will soon be approved by the state but is sitting in the legislature, according to Coffin.

“It’s a huge shift,” the superintendent added. “I am proud of the teachers for that. It’s a shift in mindset. It’s not that they disagreed with it, it’s just different.

“The association understands that there is some integrity in the process and that the way we do the evaluation is a fair process. I think that’s the key to jumping over to all performance based because if you don’t feel like the evaluation process has integrity, you are putting a lot of your eggs in one basket.”

A goal of the board was to increase starting pay for new teachers, which was part of the TEA contract ratification. Starting pay for teachers with a bachelor degree was increased from $34,170 to $36,000.

“We increased that a couple thousand dollars to stay competitive with what’s happening in the county,” Coffin said. “I think it is a great thing for the district. I am just very pleased with how it ended up.“

Teens charged with Threat of Terrorism awaiting pretrial

According to Lenawee County Juvenile Probate Court Administrator John Drahuschak, the two teens formally charged with Threat of Terrorism, who remain unidentified by officials, after being arrested for allegedly plotting to cause a threat of violence against Tecumseh High School (THS) students and staff are still awaiting pretrial, which should take place at the end of this month.

Currently, Drahuschak added, one of two boys remains in lockup at Maurice Spear Campus while the other has been released.

“They will stay as minors,” said Drahuschak in regards to the question of whether they would be tried as adults.

The threat was thwarted after two anonymous phone calls were made to THS Assistant Principal Angel Mensing on September 11, regarding two students who were planning to cause harm at the school.

Over the course of two days, September 11 and 12, the two students were identified and removed from school. On September 12, the Tecumseh Police Department took over the investigation, executing two search warrants within the City of Tecumseh.

The details of the evidence found during those two searches have not been released so far.

Artists moving into Carnegie

After countless fundraisers, donations, raffles, and years of hard work and dedication, the Carnegie building, located at 304 W. Chicago Blvd., has some new, artistic tenants.

The building was dedicated on February 10, 1905, after the Tecumseh School District applied for and received a $10,000 Carnegie Foundation grant in 1903.

One hundred years later, the building sat vacant after being purchased by local attorney Gary Baldwin in 2002. Up until 1962, the building housed the library when it then became home for the administrative offices for Tecumseh Public Schools, which eventually moved to the former Tecumseh Middle School.

In April 2010, the historic building was purchased by the then newly formed Tecumseh Carnegie Preservation League (TCPL), which was started by former Mayor and owner of Evans Street Station Richard Johnson.

While the first floor of the building is now fully occupied, seven artists operating in the seven available studios, plans to finish the entryway gallery and lower level continue.

“We’ll, at some point, plan a community open house, or maybe a gallery crawl type event as we get more settled in and the gallery space is more underway,” said Paula Holtz, Tecumseh Economic Development Director. “We would expect plans for the lower level to develop in the near future.”

Susan Amstutz of the Black Door Gallery and one of the artists renting space at the Carnegie said she hoped to see more studio space on the lower level.

“I know many people who want studio space,” Amstutz added. “I know that there will be other artists waiting to get in there.”

The artists will determine usage of the entryway gallery space, which is currently bare. Track lighting throughout the first floor was designed to give the space a feeling of being a gallery, and that style of lighting is used throughout the studio spaces as well.

Dam gate installed on Red Mill Pond

Two weeks after Evans Street was closed at Tecumseh’s Red Mill Pond dam, the road was closed again on Wednesday, Nov. 5, for just a few hours, but this time it was to reinstall the refurbished steel gate, which will allow the repair process at the dam to continue.

Now that the steel gate at the dam is repaired and replaced, work will be ongoing on repairing the security fence and steel catwalk as the pond is slowly refilled over the next few weeks.

Replacing the gate went “smoothly,” according to Stephen May, Lenawee County Drain Commissioner.

Concrete repair work along with rehabbing the gate winch has been completed as well. May noted that the gate, which is bare metal, has been treated to protect it.

The remaining work is expected to be completed by early December.

The pond will be refilled up to six inches per day, starting Thursday, Nov. 6, said May, until it reaches the winter water level, which will add about four feet to the pond level. On October 1, lowering of the pond began, with about five feet of water being removed.

The drain commission took on most of the repairs to the dam once the only bid for the project was rejected after it asked for almost double the $315,000 estimated cost.

“It’s not something we do everyday,” said May. “We’re glad we got to use local people.”

On Monday, Nov 10. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., one lane of Evans Street will be closed at the dam as the catwalk is removed. At a later date, when the catwalk is replaced, a lane will be closed then as well.

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