Making a move

ESCANABA – Michigan Works! is finding a new home at the Delta County Service Center.

Members of the Delta County Board of Commissioners Finance Committee met Friday morning where they announced that Michigan Works! has agreed to enter into a contract with the county to relocate to the Delta County Service Center located along College Avenue in Escanaba.

Michigan Works! would occupy approximately 15,000 square feet of space that formerly housed the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) which has since relocated to the State Office Building on Ludington Street.

Along with the agreement between Michigan Works! and Delta County comes a request to design a meeting room within the space they would occupy.

“That’ll become the county board meeting room as well as the Michigan Works! meeting room,” said Board Chairman Tom Elegeert. “It’ll probably be used by the health department, too, since it’ll be multi-purpose. Our intentions together will be to make it a state-of-the-art room.”

The committee made a recommendation for the county to spend an estimated $59,000 to construct the multi-purpose room at the service center, which includes installation of carpeting and four doors, as well as deconstruction of one adjoining office. The multi-purpose room would also be wired to serve as a base for an Emergency Operation Center in the event of a county disaster or emergency.

Elegeert said both Michigan Works! and the county would be responsible for furnishing the room.

Michigan Works! would then pay rent, heat and electricity in its new space.

In addition, the front entrance area to what used to be DHS would serve as an office area for administration. There has also been discussion of the Central Upper Peninsula Planning & Development Regional Commission (CUPPAD) relocating within the space as well due to their tight-working relationship with Michigan Works!, noted Delta County Administrator Nora Viau.

Joel Schultz, business services director for Michigan Works!, noted relocating to the Delta County Service Center would mean both the Michigan Works! Service Center and Michigan Works! administration office would be housed under the same roof; currently they are housed in two separate buildings.

“We have to evaluate all the options and make the best cost for the best location. It became apparent that was the best opportunity for us,” he said of relocating to the Delta County Service Center in a phone call Friday. He added the move would take a lot of work, but Michigan Works! and the county will work well together.

The agency’s lease at the current Michigan Works! Service Center ends in July, with Schultz noting the goal is to be ready in their new space Aug. 1.

In other business, the finance committee discussed moving forward on engineering plans for the separation of utilities at the Delta County Service Center.

Though Viau said splitting water utilities would be too complicated, the hope is to have three separate metered areas for gas and electrical for the building’s three tenants: Public Health – Delta & Menominee Counties, Michigan State University Extension, and Michigan Works!.

Water utilities would then be averaged among the three parties.

The committee made a recommendation to accept a $12,000 contract with the architectural and engineering firm Integrated Designs, Inc. of Marquette for engineering work related to utilities separation.

Both recommendations will come before the board for approval at their next board meeting Feb. 18.