2015-06-11 / Front Page

County Projects Planned

By Paul Gingras

Projects expected to cost roughly $151,000 are planned for the Mackinac County Courthouse in St. Ignace in 2015. They are to be paid with proceeds from the sale of tax-foreclosed properties. Upgrades will include new carpeting and rewiring a generator. In addition to these projects, the county planning commission has gathered estimates for a county-wide capital improvement plan for 2016 through 2021. At this point, proposed projects for the plan amount to a wish list by county department heads. The largest is $10 million in 2019 for construction of a new jail. The proposals will be submitted to the county commission for consideration.

The county will seek bids for the largest courthouse improvement projects planned for 2015. The most expensive is carpet replacement, roughly estimated at $55,000. The lowest is rewiring a generator for up to $3,500.

The courthouse and grounds advisory committee estimates the need for up to $25,000 to paint the interior of the building. Commissioners rejected the only bid they received, of $32,600 by Bunker Construction of St. Ignace. The last interior painting job at the courthouse totaled about $23,000. Commissioners will revisit the painting project this fall.

The county will spend $6,000 to seal, repaint, and restripe the courthouse parking lot. Pitch Black Asphalt Seal Coating of Cheboygan will do the work. Commissioners are also considering a new sound system for the circuit courtroom because of complaints that proceedings are inaudible at the back. Owing to the disparity of estimates, at $5,000 for a basic system, more than $13,000 for an advanced system, commissioners will have Florida-based Sound Planning, which has a St. Ignacebased technician, set up the systems for a committee of the whole meeting at which they will evaluate the difference.

The county estimates the need for up to $25,000 for blinds, $5,000 for hallway seating, $4,175 for retiling courthouse entries, $4,000 for retiling bathrooms, $1,700 for lighting, and $2,000 to replace heat valves on the courthouse boiler. Commissioners have not received bids for these projects. The sheriff’s office estimates a maximum of $4,000 to rekey the courthouse and $2,000 to rekey the county annex building.

The planning commission has gathered rough estimates for the county’s six-year capital improvement plan to allow county commissioners ample time to consider expenses.

The estimated $10 million cost of the new jail is for construction only. Sheriff Scott Strait estimates from $6 million to $12 million to replace the county’s 28-bed facility, which opened in 1972. It is expected to be too small by 2023, when the average population is expected to reach 39 inmates.

To help the county get started on planning, Sheriff Strait timed the funding request for 2019. If approved, construction may take about three years and funding would be released over time, he told The St. Ignace News. A new facility is a priority for the sheriff’s office, he said, but financial decisions will be made by the county commission and, if a bonding proposal is put forth, it will be decided by voters.

Commissioners are considering purchasing an Art Huskey and Sons Excavating building in St. Ignace to serve longstanding storage needs for the sheriff’s office. No price has been set, but it would likely be cheaper and more practical than the sheriff’s request for $125,000 to create a substation on countyowned property in Brevort Township, as originally suggested, said Commissioner Calvin McPhee.

The Emergency Management department would like $10,000 in 2016 to pay for a hazardous material response trailer.

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