Pinora Township hears assessments on Stowe School

PINORA TWP. — During the Pinora Township meeting on Monday, board members heard assessments on repairs to the historic Stowe school building, located three miles north of U.S. 10 on Deer Lake Road.

Contractor Dwight Gingrich, who was hired by the township board for $100 to give a second opinion about repairs to the building, addressed the board.

"The school was built about 1881. The condition of the foundation is severely deteriorated, especially on the south side of the building," Gingrich said. "Field stones were used to set the building's foundation, and a 12-by-12 foot beam was placed on the stones to hold the building. On the south side, the beam is gone. The concrete would need to be replaced and the building will need to be picked up about 12 inches. The rafters in the roof would need to be replaced. There is no electricity or water and no insulation in the walls. The wood siding is still good. You could put vinyl siding on it.

"I did not assess the costs because I am not sure of the township's intended use. If it's to be used for public access, it will need to be brought up to code, have water and electricity and be made handicap accessible. Then, the township would also have to deal with upkeep and maintenance. My recommendation is it isn't worth the time or money to make the repairs. The building is in a rural area with little traffic. If it were in the village of Chase or on U.S. 10, then maybe it would be worthwhile. The building is not costing the township money right now, but if you make improvements, it will cost money for repairs and upkeep."

Trustee Rob Visner expressed his concerns.

"Personally, I like the school building, but as a taxpayer, I feel it is a waste of money to repair it. The main reason we took the parcel was for the property. I don't think it is worth taxpayer money," he said.

Don Dvorek said the board needs to figure out a way of dealing with the building, and suggested putting the issue out to taxpayers in this year's tax statements and see what the response is.

"There is a possibility of raising funds on a GoFundMe page to place a metal roof on the building, and this should keep it standing for a long time. The township is considering using the property as a filling station for fire trucks and we would need some kind of building for the electrical system on the site," he said.

Also during the meeting, Reed City Fire Chief Jeff Stein came to see if there was interest in the township joining a fire board.

Pinora Township Trustee Rob Visner recently took part in a fire meeting with Stein, Chase Township Supervisor Ken Pollaski and Norman Blood, of Richmond Township.

"What I took away from the meeting is if we form a fire board, control of the fire department will be transferred from the Reed City Council to the fire board," Visner said.

Stein explained the positives of forming a fire board.

"When laid out, the plan is to put the fire department in control of people who pay the bills, not just Reed City Council members, he said, noting fire funds currently go into the city's general budget. "Chase, Pinora, Richmond Township and Reed City would need a representative on the board. My goal is to have this plan in place by 2020."

Supervisor Victoria Dennett and treasurer Don Dvorek said they wanted to hear more about the figures involved before they make a decision.