Presque Isle board revisits need for renovations of courthouse

ROGERS CITY — The Presque Isle County Board of Commissioners passed a motion to again discuss the need for the courthouse to be remodeled. The vote was unanimous to start the discussion.

“Regarding the condition of the old courthouse, we all agree the problems still exist and the need exists. If we’re going to revisit this issue we want the board to be unanimous in our discussion,” Vice Chairman Bob Schell said.

Commissioner Stephen Lang said this motion does not mean the board will move forward with a plan.

“We’re just moving forward to listen to a plan,” Lang said.

Michigan State University Extension District Coordinator Lisa Anderson and community engagement consultant Anne Chastain said the extension can facilitate the discussion for the county.

“That’s what we can offer. We can’t really advocate for one decision or another. That’s not our place. We can get the conversation started, get the community ideas on the table,” Anderson said.

What they proposed is a partnership, Chastain said.

“What we’re proposing is a partnership between the MSU Extension and the county board to show the need and document the validity. We do have a lot of experience putting together educational materials, flyers, identifying organizations to network with,” Chastain said.

She said there are a lot of opportunities out there.

“We would be looking for the county board to identify people in each jurisdiction and have them identify other people in the community and get the ball rolling. We’ll also talk to people to know what resident are saying now as well; hoping to address those concerns,” Chastain said.

Commissioner Michael Darga said the board needs to educate the community on the reasons why they want to move forward with possible renovations.

County Clerk Anne Marie Main said as a start officials can revisit the study done about three years ago when renovations were first discussed.

Board Chairman Carl Altman also wanted to make it clear any consultation with Chastain would not be paid for by the county.

“It is not part of the yearly contract, MSU would pay her. We can’t guarantee that what you want would be successful. That’s not for us to decide. It’s for facilitation, and you know, public engagement,” Anderson said.

Chastain said they could put a timeline together and propose anywhere from 10 to 12 hours a month.

“We would need to work with key people in Presque Isle County. It’s your issue. We’re offering to get the information out,” Chastain said.

Jordan Spence can be reached via email at jspence@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687.