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Clock tower, roof repairs putting Hillsdale County Courthouse renovations at more than $5 million

Posted at 9:25 PM, Sep 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-27 21:25:29-04

HILLSDALE, Mich. — Hillsdale County’s Courthouse has been under renovation for several years. The price tag is now approaching more than $5 million.

County Commissioner Kathy Schmitt explains why.

“The plan was to move all the courts into this courthouse,” she said.

Right now, the 2B District Court is located in the nearby courthouse annex building.

By moving it over, they could have one centralized location.

“And sell the annex so that our footprint in the county would be lowered by one building,” Schmitt said.

Part of the project involves remodeling the inside of the courthouse. But, during that process, it was determined a wall couldn’t be torn down because it was the bones of the building.

“When that was determined that wall couldn’t come out, the feeling was of the judges, as I’m told, that you could not get the right size courtrooms, three of them in the current courthouse as it’s configured,” Schmitt said. “That’s part of the courthouse needs study is to determine how we solve that problem.”

Last year, severe weather ripped through Hillsdale, which caused leaks in the courthouse roof.

“And as a part of that process, we found out that the clock tower struct above the clay tile roof needed major renovations as well,” Schmitt said. “When those bids came in, they’ve come in at about $5.2 million.”

This project is eating up a lot of Hillsdale’s $8.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds.

“Having said all of that, for the $5.2 million we still haven’t solved the district court questions about whether they’re staying in the annex or putting an addition on to the courthouse,” Schmitt said. “We still have the blocking on the courthouse to determine what it’s going to take to make sure that’s fixed properly in addition to trying to put new windows in the courthouse. So, our concern is that the $8.8 million won’t be enough to solve the courthouse issues in its entirety, let alone some other projects we had on that list to complete.”

Schmitt says a decision will be made on how to best proceed with the courthouse and its nearby Annex once the board is more informed.

“The public needs to know the commissioners are trying to make the right decision for Hillsdale County, and the thought is to keep the current courthouse, which is in the center of Hillsdale, a operating building for the county, and what we’re just trying to find out is what is the best path,” Schmitt said.

Commissioners will wait until November for the results of a study before taking the next steps.

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