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A look at challenges and opportunities facing Hillsdale County

A Report Prepared by Stakeholders

October, 1998

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

1     Forward

5     Demographics

18   Child Care Demographics

25   Volunteerism

28   Transportation

35   Economic Development

38   Agriculture

45   Natural Resources

60   Education

74   Health

81   Government Technology

85   Safety

92   Housing

104  Handicap Accessibility

108  Parks and Recreation

111  Public Utilities

 

FORWARD

"Hillsdale County, already a fine place to live, can have a very bright future indeed".

It’s Resources and Their Development (1962)

The above sentence was the closing statement in the Foreword chapter of the first of two publications titled, "It’s Resources and Their Development", written in 1962 and again in 1970, the latter being the last time Hillsdale County created a countywide report.

January 1997, Mr. Ken Lautzenheiser, of the Hillsdale County Board of Commissioners, formalized an idea to bring Hillsdale County Citizens together for identification of key issues and to create focus groups for discussion around these issues. Working with Mr. Mark Williams, County Extension Director, they convened the first meeting, "Facing the Challenges and Opportunities", of what has since become known as the Hillsdale County Stakeholders’ Committee.

Through the course of several meetings, 14 issues were identified as being important to the future of Hillsdale County. Several Focus Groups formed around issues identified to provide an in-depth evaluation of where Hillsdale County was 27 years ago, where the county is today, and where the county needs to be in the future. This report is a summary of their findings.

In addition, the MSU Extension Office conducted a Citizens’ Interest Survey in the Spring of 1997. The results are not published as a part of this report, but provide a supplement to the Focus Groups’ findings and are to be shared separately with local governmental boards.

Special thanks are given to the Hillsdale County Board of Commissioners for their participation and financial support of the Hillsdale County Stakeholders and to the MSU Extension Community Leadership Grant Committee for funding the survey.

A final thanks to all those citizens who participated in this activity, sharing their time, thoughts and efforts. The following lists are the names of these participants.

*Duke Anderson - Director, District Health Department

Greg Bailey - Mayor, Hillsdale City

*Elizabeth Batdorff - Reporter, Hillsdale Daily News

Franklin Beck - Involved citizen

Peter Beck - Principal, Hillsdale High School and Chair, Hillsdale Chamber of Commerce

William Berry - Board Member, Hillsdale County Farm Bureau

*Donald Bildner - Hillsdale City Council Member

Christina Brasher - Township Trustee, Wheatland Township

Amy Brown - Hillsdale County Commissioner

Judy Buzo - Hillsdale Dial-a-Ride

Stan Clingerman - Director, Hillsdale County Road Commission

Delores DeBacker - Involved citizen

John Dooley - Involved citizen

John Dove - Assistant City Manager, City of Hillsdale

*Gerry Dulmage - Asst. Superintendent/Interim Supt., Hillsdale Schools

Peg Dwyer - Equalization Department, Hillsdale County

Ann Fike - Executive Director, Hillsdale County Chamber of Commerce

Fred Fowler - Hillsdale County Builder

Shirley Fowler - Hillsdale County Realtor

Dot Gebhardt - Hillsdale County Red Cross

Kathryn Gervasi - Facilitator, Michigan Leadership Institute

Ardath Gillette - Involved citizen

Lee Gillette - Involved citizen

Janet Goering - Involved citizen/spouse of Supervisor, Pittsford Township

Julie Gordon - Indiana Northeastern Railroad Company

Dave Grassi - Retired Principal, Jonesville High School/Involved citizen

*Donna Guernsey - Director, Community Prevention Services

Dennis Haskins - USDA, Resource Conservationist-Natural Resources and Conservation Agency

Parke Hayes - WCSR Radio

Kara Hodorowski - Director, Provider Services - LifeWays

Tom Horn - Involved citizen

Margo Hubbell - Superintendent, Hillsdale Public Schools

Carman Kaiser - Involved citizen

Gertrude Kaiser - Involved citizen

John Kreucher - Regional Director, Human Resource Development

Marsha Kreucher - Executive Director, Community Action Agency

Ken Lautzenheiser - Hillsdale County Commission

Claire Leininger - Supervisor, Amboy Township

Linda Loomis - Treasury Department, Hillsdale County

*Connie Mann - MIX 102.5 Radio

Ken McCosh - Hillsdale County Parks Director

Claudia Mesarosh - Executive Director, Medical Care Facility

Delcy Miller - Board Member, Board of Education-Litchfield Community Schools

*Jennifer Mitchell - USDA, Resource Conservationist-Natural Resources & Conservation Agency

Thomas Mohr - Hillsdale County Clerk

*James T. Monaghan - Hillsdale County Road Commission Board

Gary Moore - Superintendent, Hillsdale County Intermediate School District

Mary Moore - Involved citizen

*Steve Murphy - Director, FIA

Linda Null - Involved citizen/Spouse of Board of Commissioner

Robert Null - Hillsdale County Commissioner

Charles Reisdorf - Executive Director, Region 2 Planning Commission

*Louis Rogers - Equalization Director, Hillsdale County

Doug Sanford - Director, Hillsdale County Emergency Services

James Scheiber, Hillsdale Aero, Inc.

Harold Spencer - Chair, Michigan Township Association-Hillsdale County/Supv., Scipio Twp.

Dave Steel - Hillsdale County Commission

*Bill Steger - Director, Community Action Agency-Hillsdale County

Janet Stevens - Involved citizen

Arthur Thomas - Involved citizen

Lynelle Thrasher - Director, District Health Department

Reb Turner - Executive Director, Hillsdale County Industrial Development Commission

Tom Warzecha - Hillsdale County Commissioner

Bill Watkins - Hillsdale County Road Commission Board

Roberta Weber - Dairy Area of Expertise Agent, MSU Extension, Hillsdale County

Mark Williams - County Extension Director, MSU Extension, Hillsdale County

Richard Wunsch - Involved citizen

*Paul Yarger - Supervisor, Jefferson Township

Rod Ziegel - Treasurer, Board of Education, Hillsdale Community Schools

 * Indicates no longer in that position

[Top of Page]

CHILD CARE DEMOGRAPHICS

Number of Sites and Current Vacancies

Type of Care

# Sites

Capacity

Vacancies

Infant Cap.

Infant Vac.

Centers

15

441

80

16

2

Group DCH

20

220

40

68

14

Family DCH

66

396

104

110

20

Total

101

1,057

224

194

36

* These are the sites that are open and actively giving care. Providers that are licensed but inactive are not included in these statistics.

 

Number of Children Needing Child Care + Potential Need of Low-Income Single-Parents

Approx. # of Children <6 in 1996 Approx. # of Children 6-12 in 1996 Est. Children <6 with Both/Single Parent Working & Need Child Care Est. Children <12 with Both/Single Paren Working & Need Child Care Est. Children <12 w/Single Parent Not Currently in L/F: Potential Need for Child Care

2,953

3,994

1,691

3,979

468

Total number of licensed child care spaces for all ages = 1,057

Number of Hillsdale County children needing child care (under age 12 years) = 3,994

 

Cost of Care and Family Income

Average cost annually for one full-time preschool space: $3,772 (current)

Mean Family Income for Married Couples = $39,396 (1990)

Cost of care as percent of income = 9.6%

Mean Income for Single Parents = $13,834

Cost of care as percent of income = 27.3%

Provider Training Levels

41% have Early Childhood training through conferences, Michigan Child Care Futures Courses, and/or college study (including Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees).

59% have no training

1 site (day care center) is Nationally Accredited.

75% of Center Directors have Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees.

 

SUPPLY OF LICENSED CHILD CARE

CITY

TYPE SITE

NUMBER SITE

CAPACITY

VACANCIES

INFANT CAP

INFANT VAC

Allen

FDCH

1

6

0

0

0

Cement City

FDCH

1

6

0

2

0

Hillsdale

CENTERS

CGDCH

FCDH

9

12

29

325

124

174

65

23

46

16

36

52

2

9

7

Hudson

GDCH

FDCH

3

1

36

6

11

0

12

2

3

0

Jerome

FDCH

3

18

5

4

0

Jonesville

CENTERS

FDCH

3

6

58

36

10

9

0

12

0

0

Litchfield

CENTERS

GDCH

FDCH

2

2

11

38

24

66

5

6

14

0

8

16

0

2

5

Montgomery

FDCH

2

12

4

4

2

Osseo

GDCH

FDCH

1

4

12

24

0

12

4

6

0

2

Pittsford

GDCH

FDCH

1

1

12

6

0

3

4

2

0

0

Prattville

FDCH

1

6

0

2

0

Quincy

GDCH

1

12

0

4

0

Reading

CENTER

FDCH

1

4

20

24

0

8

0

6

0

2

Somerset Ctr.

FDCH

1

6

0

0

0

Waldron

FDCH

1

6

3

2

2

County Totals

 

101

1,057

224

194

36

 

SPECIALIZED CHILD CARE SUPPLY

Special Needs Care

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, all licensed providers must be willing to care for special needs children. The intent of this law is for the providers to consider the child as a child first, with skills and needs, not to accept or deny placement based on the child’s diagnosis. Child Care Network refers parents of special needs children to an open, community-wide list of providers. The agency does, however, track individual providers’ training and experience with various special kinds of care, and will include these providers in the referral when appropriate. Seven group and family day care homes in Hillsdale County list training in various special needs ranging from asthma to ADHD to autism. Most sites list experience, rather than formal training. CCN does not track center training in special needs due to high staff turn over.

Part Day Care

Hillsdale County has 9 sites that offer part day programs. These program, such as co-ops and nursery schools, are scattered throughout the county, offering morning or afternoon care or a 9-3 p.m. schedule for up to 259 children between the ages of 2 1/2 and 5 years. Currently, these programs have 80 vacancies.

Hillsdale County also offers Head Start and School Readiness at seven locations that serve up to 165 children between the ages of 3-5 years.

The 1994 Kids Count report on Child Care and Early Childhood Education shows Hillsdale County with 724 total spaces through Head Start and 4-Year-Old At-Risk program. Estimated number of eligible children ages 3-5 in poverty is 1,796. At the time of the Kids County report, enrollment was serving 40.3% of eligible children.

 

SPECIALIZED CHILD CARE SUPPLY

Evening Care (closing time between 6:30-11:00 p.m      Capacity Vacancies

Jonesville 1 Family Day Care Home 6 0

Litchfield 1 Family Day Care Home 6 0

Totals 12 0

 

Second Shift Care (closing time >11:00 p.m.)        Capacity Vacancies

Hillsdale 6 Family Day Care Homes 36 18

3 Group Day Care Homes 36 11

Hudson 2 Group Day Care Homes 24 9

Jonesville 1 Family Day Care Home 6 6

Litchfield 2 Family Day Care Homes 12 3

Quincy 1 Group Day Care Home 12 0

Reading 1 Family Day Care Home 6 5

Totals 132 52

 

SPECIALIZED CHILD CARE SUPPLY

Overnight Care        Capacity Vacancies

Camden 1 Family Day Care Home 6 5

Hillsdale 3 Group Day Care Homes 36 5

5 Family Day Care Homes 30 18

Hudson 1 Group Day Care Home 12 3

Jonesville 2 Family Day Care Homes 12 3

Litchfield 2 Family Day Care Homes 12 6

Osseo 3 Family Day Care Homes 18 11

Quincy 1 Group Day Care Home 6 0

Reading 1 Family Day Care Home 6 0

Totals 138 46

 

Weekend Care (Saturday and/or Sunday)

Hillsdale 2 Family Day Care Homes 12 2

1 Group Day Care Home 12 5

Hudson 1 Group Day Care Home 12 2

Totals 36 9

 

Care for Mildly Ill Children

Some family providers will accommodate a mildly-ill, currently-enrolled child on an informal, case-by-case basis.

 

Transportation

Head Start and School Readiness programs provide transportation.

 

CHILD CARE PROVIDER TRAINING

Number of Providers 15 Centers

20 Group Day Care Homes

 

66 Family Day Care Homes

Total 101

 

Centers

Director Level of Education

DCIS minimum requirements 0

B.A., M.A. or more 12

 

Head Teacher Level of Education

High School Diploma/18 yr. degree 0

Associates of CDA 1

B.A., M.A. or more 7

B.A. and E.C.E. 5

 

Other Training

NAEYC Accreditation 1

Michigan Child Care Futures:

Basic 2

Advanced 1

Administrator 0

 

Family and Group Day Care Homes

Experience:

26 sites - more than 5 years experience

75 sites - experience as parents

Training:

Workshops/conferences 12

E.C.E. degree 0

CDA degree 0

NAFCC Accredited 0

Certified Teacher 2

Michigan Child Care Futures:

Basic 18

Advanced 7

Administrator 0

Associates degree 3

Bachelor’s degree 2

Master’s degree 1

 

* Some providers have multiple qualifications. The number of providers with NO TRAINING is 60; this represents 59% of all child care providers in Hillsdale County.

Source: Hillsdale County Child Care Report, June 1998.

[Top of Page]

VOLUNTEERISM

Current Status

There is a fragmentation of agencies needing volunteers and a need to match agencies with qualified volunteers. The current volunteer population has been decreasing as older people are tired of volunteering and younger people are not replacing them in adequate numbers.

 

Issues

There is an urgent need for collaboration between agencies so one central volunteer bank can be developed and accessed.

 

Recommendations

Short Term Solutions (to be addressed within 1 to 5 years):

1. Coordinate a "Volunteer Fair" with the annual countywide "Health Fair".

2. Better training and recruitment of volunteers.

3. Promote Volunteer month - April. Start work now.

4. Communicate/promote the urgent need for a County Volunteer Center for local agencies and service organizations.

a. Form a working board.

b. Actively recruit a director/promotional person.

c. Start collection of data for a Volunteer Bank.

Long Term Solutions (to be addressed within 5 to 10 years):

Creation of a County Volunteer Center that would recruit, monitor, train, and evaluate volunteer services and opportunities in one central location.

Address the need for people to give something back to their community. (For example, if people want something from the food bank, maybe they would be willing to give two hours of community service.

Future Ramifications (if solutions are not addressed):

 

Most urgent recommendation - the need for a Countywide Volunteer Center. Plans are being developed by the Hillsdale County Community Foundation to provide a building to house non-profit organizations. The several organizations interested in locating in this building have indicated that a Volunteer Center would be a logical part of this building and should be organized at the time such a building was completed. Contact with the Volunteer Centers of Michigan was made by this group for advice and assistance.

Discussions have taken place regarding the need for a position of director/promotional person. The major problem to be addressed is funding. Startup funds might be available, but matching funds will be required.

[Top of Page]

TRANSPORTATION - ROADS

Current Status

Hillsdale County is blessed with a variety of topographical and soils conditions. From the almost flat land in the Waldron area, to the extreme hills of the Somerset area. The soils range from pure sand, to clay, to muck and often in the same mile of road. These conditions not only effect the gravel roads, but the paved roads as well.

Most of the roads in Hillsdale County were built at a time when a two-ton truck loaded with grain was the heaviest load to be found. But over the years, the loads have increased to the point that many of the trucks today haul as much as, or more than rail cars did when the roads were built. To add to this problem with the cutback in the rail network, there are more of both large trucks and passenger cars using the roads.

 

Issues

We are currently in a situation where we have seen years of under-funding of our road programs. We are now playing "catch-up", when we should be building for the future. Growth can only occur as long as the road system is adequate and continues to improve with or ahead of that growth. A part of building for the future is predicting where growth is going to occur. North, South, East or West, a plan is needed to make sure that growth is not allowed to destroy the very things that make this county a desirable place to live. Growth needs to be in areas where the least damage will be done. It also should be in areas where roads can be built or improved with minimal cost.

In a recent survey prepared for the Hillsdale County Road Commission, the people said: 1) that paved road maintenance was the first priority, 2) gravel road maintenance was second, and 3) that new construction was of least importance. Their number one concern was that gas tax monies be used for funding these projects.

With the new gas tax increase, the roads should slowly start to improve. However, when major work is necessary, there should be a mechanism to raise the funds. Many of the roads that need improvement are cross-county roads (roads used by people in one part of the county to get to another area). These roads are through unpopulated areas. The elected officials in township B have a problem putting money into a road improvement that benefits townships A&C more than their own. This is where a countywide plan is needed. To see the roads that service the whole community can be planned for and funded. This plan should also include improvements to alter traffic and to lessen congestion on already over burdened roads.

 

Recommendations

The most important part of transportation improvements are planning and funding. The sooner we address these problems in an aggressive as well as acceptable manner, the sooner we will have the community we can all be proud of.

TRANSPORTATION - PUBLIC TRANSIT

Current Status

The City of Hillsdale Dial-A-Ride service has been in operation since February 10, 1975. It came into existence due to a void in public transportation with the cessation of the local taxi service. Dial-A-Ride saw a first-day ridership of 100 customers. It was the 13th such service to be formed in the state in 1975 and continues to be a growing part of the community

Currently, the service provides an average of 300 rides per day from points within the city limits. Five buses are available on a call-in basis with four of them wheel chair accessible. Attendants may ride free when with those who are wheel chair assisted. Rides are provided on a call-in basis during the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. No standard routes are established at the present time although attempts have been made in the past to do so. Students and senior citizens make up the largest groups of riders.

Expenses for the buses are heavily subsidized by federal and state funds. Those funds for the 1998-1999 budget are federal - $22,170 (9.6%), state - $138,000 (59.4%), use fees - $41,000 (17.6%), and city general fund - $31,655 (13.6%).

 

Issues

Efforts are being made to evaluate the current system with the goal of improving both ridership, times of the day, and routes. Funding has been an issue as the system is not self-supporting and, thus, requires monetary support from federal, state, and city. To be self-supporting based on the current ridership level would require rates to be greatly increased and that is very unlikely.

 

Recommendations

One possibility is to expand the routes to accommodate the expanding residential, and retail market that is coming to central Hillsdale County. Surrounding cities and villages, with a combined effort, might be able to establish a more comprehensive transportation system.

TRANSPORTATION - RAIL SERVICE

Current Status

Rail service in Hillsdale County is provided by the Indiana Northeastern Railroad, a short-line railroad that connects with and is considered an extension of the Norfolk Southern Railroad. The stations of Hillsdale, Reading, Jonesville, Litchfield, Bankers, Montgomery, Ray, and Allen have direct access to rail transportation. Freight service is provided to and from the Hillsdale County stations and the Norfolk Southern mainlines in Montpelier, Ohio approximately 2-3 times/week.

The Indiana Northeastern Railroad rail-line in Hillsdale County is owned by the State of Michigan, with the Indiana Northeastern serving as the designated operated.

The Indiana Northeastern railroad rail system crosses the county from Ray to Montgomery, to Reading to Bankers, to Hillsdale, to Jonesville, to Allen, to Quincy, and from Jonesville to Litchfield.

Ready-to-go rail served industrial sights are available in several Hillsdale County municipalities, including: Reading, Litchfield, and Jonesville.

Rail traffic from Hillsdale County can also travel westward through a secondary interchange with the Michigan Southern Railroad at Quincy, Michigan. This route leads to the Conrail System at White Pigeon, Michigan.

All rail customers in Hillsdale County have access to the national rail network and competitive freight rates through either Indiana Northeastern Railroad interchange point Montpelier, Ohio or Quincy, Michigan.

 

Issues

The county rail stem is in class II condition from Reading south, generally capable of handling heavy loadings at 25 miles per hour.

An on-going maintenance program is required to maintain a competitive service to rail users.

 

Recommendations

Plans are in the works to upgrade the line from Reading to Hillsdale to the same class II condition in 1999. The remaining rail system north and wets of Hillsdale is in good condition to provide dependable rail service to customers. The Indiana Northeastern Railroad Company plans to continue their aggressive maintenance program on the entire rail line.

Some of the highlights of major program work accomplished over the past four years, with the assistance of federal and state resources include: installation of 55,000+ crossings, distribution of 35,000+ tons of ballast over 40 miles of production surfacing. Six miles of rail upgrade, rebuilt over 45 grade crossings and replaced 7 trunkline grade crossings with new surfaces and signals, rebuilt 9 railroad bridges, and have performed countless other upgrade projects over the rail line.

TRANSPORTATION - AIR SERVICE

Current Status

Since 1963, the County of Hillsdale has enjoyed the benefits of the Hillsdale Municipal Airport at its current location on State Road. Owned and supported by the City of Hillsdale, the Hillsdale Municipal Airport has served as the Aviation Gateway to our communities. The airport is licensed by the State of Michigan as a General Utility Airport with one east/west runway 4,000 feet in length x 75 feet in width. Runway lengthening, pilot controlled lighting, approach path and runway identification lighting, automated weather observation station are the recent upgrades in facilities that help provide an increase in the level of safety and utilization of the airport. The last economic impact study done in 1993 estimated the activity at the Hillsdale Municipal Airport contributed in excess of $8000,000 annually to the local economy and should continue to increase as activity increases.

 

Issues

Facilities Improvement. With a diverse group of users, the demand for improved facilities has become the major issue for the Hillsdale Municipal Airport. Enhancing safety and utilization of the airport has been the focus of management. Runway length, navigational facilities and hangaring/ramp space are going to require improvement. These items were highlighted by pilots responding to the latest completed survey as being top priority for improvements. The airport has continued to maintain a current Airport Layout Plan that illustrates where and how these improvements can be made.

Funding for Facilities Improvement. Competition is tough for Federal and State dollars. The larger airports in this state grab up most of the money available for improvements and the application/qualification process also favors the larger airports in prioritization for what discretionary dollars are left. The realities of the system have led current management to approach the funding problem by incremental improvements. Chipping away at the big project to come up with several smaller (easier to fund) projects that fall in line with Airport Layout Plan. Management will continue to proceed this way to ensure continued improvements at the Hillsdale Municipal Airport.

 

Recommendations

Airport development and improvements should continue. Current leadership and management are committed to improving safety and enhancing utilization of the airport. A current and compliant Airport Layout Plan, committed leadership and management with action plans to institute improvements and the support of all our local communities and its citizens are critical to the future of the Hillsdale Municipal Airport. The mission of the airport is to secure and improve the local economy and quality of life for the citizens of Hillsdale.

[Top of Page]

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Current Status

Over the past two decades, various focus groups in the county have addressed the issue of economic development. An historical perspective provides a summary of Hillsdale County’s economy and efforts to support its economy.

1. From the early 80's through the early 90's, job creation was the primary goal. In 1980, the county unemployment rate was 11.9% with 2,450 out of work. 1990 showed 8.9% unemployment with 1,850 people out of work. The 1997 unemployment rate was down to 3.8% with only 850 people out of work.

2. A secondary goal was quality of jobs although this goal didn’t gain in importance until the 1990's.

3. A parallel interest in economic development was the quality of life that a steady salary could allow for the individual. Quality of job also impacts this interest.

4. A fourth theme was the increased tax base brought about by adding industrial, commercial, residential and personal properties. This tax base allows local government to provide desired or necessary services.

 

Issues

The early 90's saw these same themes being repeated, but with a different emphasis than before.

1. Job creation is still important, but now the idea that the quality of the job has become more important. As unemployment rates declined and the population reached full employment, it became evident that jobs requiring skilled or technologically qualified people provided salary levels necessary to support Hillsdale families and their quest for a higher quality of life.

2. Recognizing that a skilled technologically literate workforce is the key to the continual economic growth necessary for a good quality of life, the focus now is to determine how to ensure that the local workforce has access to the required training. Current efforts are directed to providing local access to training in different areas. These include Jackson Community College, Hillsdale Center; Hillsdale Workforce Development and Technology Center; HCISD sponsored Manufacturing Technology Program for high school students, and the K-12 public school School-to-Work program.

These programs are overlapping in many ways, but provide a method to meet the latest theme in economic development.

 

Recommendations

Where do we go from here?

1. Job creation is still important. The skill level and attendant pay levels are the development criteria, not just a job, but a quality job should be the focus of job creation efforts.

2. The quality of life is dependent upon pay-levels and tax base. These continually need to be priority in economic development strategies.

3. Education and training continues to be the method by which the economic development goals outlined above can be met. Continuing efforts need to be expended to ensure innovative and comprehensive education and training program are readily available.

[Top of Page]

AGRICULTURE

Current Status

Agriculture in Hillsdale County revolves around corn, soybeans and wheat as cash crops, dairy and swine, and livestock operations. The agricultural statistics as shown below portray the current trends of Hillsdale agriculture.

FARM INCOME AND EXPENSES

ITEM

1994

1990

1980

1970

Income

Livestock & Products

Crops

80,889

37,708

32,854

84,263

40,843

31,469

69,048

34,492

28,564

24,075

13,408

5,594

Government Payments

Other Income

4,231

6,096

5,915

6,036

425

5,567

2,145

2,928

Expenses

Feed Purchased

Livestock Purchased

Seed Purchased

81,282

9,222

7,978

3,889

72,654

7,281

7,717

2,910

58,611

5,947

5,291

2,218

17,954

2,535

1,902

457

Fertilizer, Lime & Chemicals1

Other Production expenses

11,387

48,806

8,803

45,943

8,109

37,046

1,706

11,354

NET INCOME

-393

11,609

10,437

6,121

 

FARMS AND FARM SIZE
 

Census

Year

Number of

Farms3

Number of

Farms Over

$10,000 in

Sales (acres)

Average

Farm

Size

(acres)

Land

in

Farms

(acres)

Total

Cropland

(years)

Average

Age of

Farmer

1992

1,018

532

227

231,557

187,622

51.8

1987

1,142

545

212

242,353

196,210

51.9

1982

1,354

690

195

264,630

204,267

48.8

  Change from 1982 to 1992
Net Change

-366

-158

32

-33,073

-16,645

3.0

% Change

-25

-23

16

-12

-8

6

 

1. Chemicals not included in 1970 2. Less than $50,000

3. A farm is any place from which $1.00 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, 4. Withheld to avoid disclosing data for individual farms. or normally would have been sold, during the census year.

 

FIELD CROPS
    Harvested Acres Production Value of Production
CROP 1995

Rank

1995

 

1990

1985

1995

1990

1985

1995

1990

1985

Barley, Bu

-

-

-

0.1

-

-

3

-

-

6

Corn for Grain, Bu

13

68.5

77.0

108.1

7,110

8,950

12,507

22,752

19,780

26,765

Corn for Silage, Tons

16

5.9

6.0

7.3

90

90

117

-

-

-

Hay, Tons

24

19.0

-

-

81

-

-

5,184

-

-

Oats, Bu

41

0.7

2.6

6.8

40

170

453

66

206

530

Soybeans, Bu

11

53.7

37.8

40.3

1,950

1,460

1,243

12,870

8,2220

6,128

Wheat for Grain, Bu

16

13.2

15.7

16.5

830

840

822

3,403

20,16

2,335

 

LIVESTOCK
    INVENTORY VALUE OF PRODUCTION
SPECIES 1995

RANK

 

1995

 

1990

 

1985

 

1995

 

1990

 

1985

   

1,000 head

$1,000

All cattle and calves, 1/1/96

14

25.0

27.0

34.5

12,500

19,170

22,770

Milk Cows, 1/1/96

11

8.6

7.5

9.5

9,890

7,950

8,692

Beef cattle, 1/1/96

27

1.9

2.3

3.1

--

--

--

Milk production, Mil Lbs.

12

144.0

120.0

137.0

18,720

16,800

17,440

All hogs and pigs, 12/1

9

33.0

44.0

42.0

2,574

4,048

2,898

Sows farrowed, 12/1

9

6.5

8.0

7.5

--

--

--

All sheep and lambs 1/1/96

16

1.5

2.6

3.5

141

200

240

Hens and pullets of laying age, 12/1

9

60.0

64.0

95.0

--

--

--

 

VEGETABLES, 1995
  TOTAL FRESH MARKET PROCESSING
 

PLANTED

PLANTED

PLANTED

 

FARMS

ACRES

FARMS

ACRES

FARMS

ACRES

Pumpkins

5

35

--

--

--

--

 

FRUIT, 1994
CROP FARMS ACRES
All fruit -- --

 

NURSERY AND CHRISTMAS TREES, 1993
ITEMS OPERATIONS ACRES
Nurseries -- --
Christmas Trees 6 200

Corn is the most important cash crop. There were 82,000 acres in 1996. The acreage of wheat has decreased from 305,00 to 13,500 since 1996. There are approximately 19,000 acres of hay harvested. The acreage of soybeans continues to grow from 5,805 acres in 1959 to 54,000 acres in 1996. Milk is marketed through Detroit, Cleveland, Toledo, Fort Wayne and Adrian retail outlets as well as the local markets. Livestock is sold through Archbold, Ohio, Battle Creek, Coldwater, Napoleon and Detroit. The grain moves through local elevators and directly from farms to markets at Ottawa Lake and Maumee Ohio.

The present agricultural land use is as follows:

 

1959

1964

1996

Cropland

177,059

168,901

158,800

Pasture

42,951

34,194

27,00

 

Issues

Census data shows that farms in Hillsdale County continue to decrease in number and are getting larger in size. In the 10 year period, 1982-1992.

farm numbers dropped from 1,354 to 1,018, a decrease of nearly 25%.

farm size increased from 195 acres to 227, a growth of 14%. Fewer producers are operating more acres.

land devoted to farms decreased from 264,630 acres to 231,557 acres, a decline of nearly 12%. (Development pressure on agricultural land continue to fragment tillable acreage primarily in the form of rural residences. Invasion of rural residences into farm communities increases assessed land values and the conflict between farm and non-farm).

all forms of livestock have decreased in numbers during the period 1985-1995.

- dairy cattle declined 9.5%, but total milk production increased

- beef cattle declined 39%

- swine declined 21%

- sheep declined 57%

- poultry declined 37%

Some of these livestock industry declines are a result of conversion of farm operations to cash crops, retirement of farms, conversion of livestock farms to non-agricultural uses and enrollment of some land in the United States Department of Agricultural Conservation Reserve Program (36.500 acres total in 1996). However, production increases in milk production more than offsets decreases in number of cattle. Total milk production is increasing.

Remaining livestock operations are becoming larger with greater potential for adverse water quality impacts.

With USDA price supports being phased out (they will end in 2002), agriculture will utilize more farmer driven marketing efforts. Farmers may continue to specialize or increase the scale of operations to be more competitive.

Other issues in agriculture include:

24,400 cropland acres have soil losses from water erosion that exceed levels for long term sustained crop production.

83,100 cropland acres have high runoff rates that continue to degrade the county’s surface waters.

Cropland is managed more intensively with higher chemical inputs.

 

Recommendations

1. Develop a land use plan that would protect prime farmland.

2. Explore opportunities to diversify agricultural operations.

3. Promote use of wetlands as natural filters and storm water storage areas.

4. Provide information and education to riparian landowners on nutrient management and increase the amount of green buffers along riparian corridors.

5. Promote/explore alternatives to pesticide usage in crop production.

6. Develop a surface water monitoring program.

7. Accelerate programs designed to reduce agri-chemical discharge into surface waters (particularly for the Maumee watershed).

8. Increase soil conservation protection on environmentally sensitive land.

9. Improve on-farm storage, handling and land application of agri-chemicals and fertilizers.

10. Locate and decommission abandoned wells.

11. Develop cost efficient storage and innovative handling methods for animal wastes.

12. Balance animal waste land application with targeted crop nutrient needs.

[Top of Page]

NATURAL RESOURCES

Much of the potential and current development that takes place within Hillsdale County is a direct result of the natural resources existing within the county. The following is a brief generalized description of land, mineral, vegetation, and water within Hillsdale County.

LAND RESOURCES

Current Status

The present land surface in Hillsdale County is the product of intermittent continental glaciation which began about one million years ago and ended about 14,000 years ago.

Glacial deposits range from 3 feet to 300 feet thick over most of the county. This glacial veneer is the result of at least four advances of continental glaciation. Only the deposits of the last stage, which was the Wisconsin stage, remain exposed at the surface. The surface features in the county are a result of this glacial action.

Hillsdale County was covered alternately by both the Saginaw Lobe and the Erie Lobe of the glacier. The contact zone between the two lobes runs diagonally from Somerset Township to Camden Township (Martin 1957). The major geographic landforms developed by this glaciation are till plains, moraines, glacial spillways, and interlobate moraine areas (Veatch and others, 1928).

In places where the glacial ice melted while stagnant, gently sloping till plains were formed. The till plains are small because of the activity of the two lobes advancing and retreating against each other. If the lobes had melted while advancing, they would have formed moraines or other similar steeper rolling and hilly areas. Moraines and similar land forms are common in the county.

The Saginaw Lobe carried material derived mainly from acid sandstone, and thus it produced soils that are generally sandy or sandy loam. The Erie Lobe carried material derived mainly from limestone. The soils that formed in this material are loamy and clayey and have a relatively high pH. The areas where the two lobes of the glacier met are called interlobate areas. The materials in these areas are side by side, overlapping, or mixed, and thus the texture of the resultant material is variable, both horizontally and vertically. The location of the interlobate areas helps to explain the relative consistency of soil materials in the southeastern and northwestern parts of the county and the diverse textures of the soil materials in the central part of the county.

The general topography of the county is characterized as gently rolling to moderately hilly with average elevations throughout the greater portion of the county from 1,000 to 1,200 feet above sea level. Extreme elevations range from 900 to 1,300 feet.

 

LAND

In the publication "An Inventory of Michigan Soil and Water Conservation Needs", published in 1959, none of the land in Hillsdale County was rated "Capability Class I". This is a type of land with very few limitations on its use. Artificial drainage and special practices are not necessary.

CAPABILITY CLASSES AND SUBCLASSES

 

 

 

 

 

MAJOR MANAGEMENT CONCERNS

(SUBCLASS)

CLASS

TOTAL

EROSION

(e)

WETNESS

(w)

SOIL PROBLEM

(s)

I

--

--

--

--

II

203,117

161,245

39,885

1,987

III

108,191

80,103

11,466

16,622

IV

23,815

17,889

--

5,926

V

27,462

--

27,462

--

VI

15,110

8,265

2,604

4,241

VII

820

--

--

820

VIII

--

--

--

--

Approximately 203,117 acres of Hillsdale County land is rated as "Capability Class II". Soils in this class require careful soil management, including conservation practices to prevent deterioration or to improve air and water relations when the soil is cultivated. The limitations are few and the practices are easy to apply. With good management, it is fairly easy to obtain high yields of adapted crops under fairly intensive cultivation. Many farmers secure yields of 110 to 125 bushels of corn; and 4 to 5 tons alfalfa on soils of Class II. These soils may be used for cultivated crops, pasture, woodland or wildlife. Soils in this capability class are considered prime farmland.

There are about 108,191 acres of county land classified "Capability Class III". Class III soils have more restrictions on their use than do Class II soils. Conservation practices are usually more difficult to apply and maintain. Permanent characteristics restrict the intensity with which Class III land can be cultivated. These lands are usually less productive and less profitable to farm. Yields of 85 to 100 bushels of corn, 30 to 40 bushels of wheat, 3 to 4 tons alfalfa are not uncommon with good practices. With good management, this land can be safely used for cultivated crops, pasture woodland and wildlife.

28,315 acres are classified as Capability Class IV. Soils in this class have characteristics and qualities which severely restrict the choice of crops that can be grown. When these soils are cultivated, more careful management is required and conservation practices are more difficult to apply and maintain. Yields of 60-80 bushels of corn and 3-4 tons alfalfa are not uncommon with good management. Class IV soil may be used for cultivated crops and are adapted to pasture, woodland and wildlife uses.

About 43,392 acres of land have pronounced limitations for cultivation such as steep slopes, severe erosion, stoniness or low water holding capacity. This land is best adapted to woodland, wildlife or recreation development. Much of these lands adjoin streams and rivers.

The balance of the 388,166 acres in the county is used in residential, commercial, and industrial land uses or are included in 388 bodies of water covering 4,275 acres.

 

Issues

Soil erosion is occurring in Hillsdale County. Streams cut and widen their channels. This process contributes substantial amounts of suspended sediment in the Lake Erie drainage system. Man induced soil erosion from agriculture and construction sites is also a major contributor of sediment and nutrients in surface water that Hillsdale County delivers to Ohio and Indiana.

Unplanned development is impacting the landscape of the County. Agriculture and wildlife lands are being converted to rural residential.

 

Recommendations

1. Developers, contractors, and farmers need to be educated in techniques to minimize soil erosion.

2. An inventory of critically eroding streambanks is needed to identify and prioritize the stabilization of these sites.

3. Search out funding sources through grants and existing programs to accelerate the protection of the County’s soil resources.

4. A land use plan is needed to assure that development is orderly and does not adversely impact the land resource base.

MINERALS

Current Status

The bedrock of Hillsdale County consists of the eroded edges of the bowl-like formation that makes up the Michigan basin. The oldest rock directly beneath the glacial drift veneer is the Coldwater Shale, which underlies the entire county and is the uppermost bedrock in the southern and eastern parts. It is overlapped in the central and northern half of the county by Marshall Sandstone. In some places, the Marshall Formation is exposed or is very near the surface (Martin, 1957).

Soils in the Hillsdale County vary. They include the lighter sands such as Coloma; the sandy loams, such as Hillsdale and Fox; the gently sloping to hilly loams of Miami, Conover, and Morley; and the level, dark colored loams, silt loams and clay loams of which Pewamo and Brookston are representative. There are some isolated areas of muck, these however, are small and not of general economic importance. There are numerous deposits of high quality marl in these low areas.

There are about 37 different kinds of soil in the county. The soils range widely in texture, natural drainage slope, and other characteristics. Well drained soils make up about 51 percent of the county; moderately well drained soils, 11 percent; somewhat poorly drained soils, 19 percent; poorly drained and very poorly drained, mineral soils, 9 percent; and very poorly drained, organic soils, 8 percent. The rest of the county includes miscellaneous areas and water areas.

The recently published soils information updates the soil surveys of Hillsdale County published in 1928 and 1977 (Veatch and others 1928; Laurin and Whiteside, 1977).

 

Issues

Where are key mineral deposits? What type, quantity, and quality?

Sand and gravel deposit areas are being developed for building sites.

Open sand/gravel pit operations pose a safety hazard.

 

Recommendations

1. Inventory key mineral deposit sites for type, quality, and quantity.

2. Encourage development of mineral deposits to aid in the County’s economic development.

3. Protect key mineral deposits from residential development.

4. Ensure open pit operations that pose a safety hazard are fenced.

VEGETATION

Current Status

Prior to European colonization, Hillsdale County was heavily forested with oaks, hickories and sugar maples growing on the County’s well drained soils and elm, ash, basswood, shag bark hickories and swamp white oaks growing on the poorly drained soils.

Today’s landscape is composed primarily of agricultural uses with many of the remaining woodlands being smaller broken wood lot pockets on poorly drained soils, and on the rolling hills.

Wetlands encompass approximately 34,000 acres. Vegetative cover ranges from red and silver maple to canary grass and cattails depending on duration and depth of water. Most wetland areas are fringed with willow and other water loving shrubs.

 

Issues

Invasion by exotic plant species (ie. Purple Loosestrife).

Loss of wetland plant communities.

Overgrown christmas tree plantations are a source of insects and diseases.

 

Recommendations

1. Keep County residents informed of the latest control techniques for exotic invading plants.

2. Protect wetlands through land use planning or tax breaks.

3. Educate County landowners that old christmas tree plantations are sources of insect and disease pests.

4. Explore economic opportunities for utilizing wood/fiber products from old christmas tree plantations.

WATER

Current Status

Hillsdale County has about 350 ponds and 42 inland lakes and reservoirs. Five of these are man- made. Many of these lakes have less than 3 acres of surface water, but 15 are more than 100 acres in size (Friedhoff, 1968). Among the larger lakes are Baw Beese Lake, Lake LeAnn, Lake Somerset, Long Lake, and Lake Diane. Each of these lakes is more than 200 acres in size.

Many of the lakes are a result of blocks of ice left behind as the glacier retreated. These iceblocks were subsequently buried by the material in the outwash. When the iceblocks melted, they left depressions that are now filled with water. Examples are Baw Beese Lake and the lakes along Hog Creek.

Hillsdale County has the highest elevation in south-central Michigan. It contains the headwaters of five of Michigan’s major rivers. The headwaters of the St. Joseph of the Maumee River , the Raisin River in the Lake Erie watershed, drains the southern and eastern parts of the county. The Lake Michigan watershed, which drains the northern part of the county, contains the Kalamazoo River and the Grand River. The St. Joseph River drains the western and southern parts of the county. Major creeks in the county include Sand Creek, Hog Creek, Bean Creek, Silver Creek, Laird Creek, and Bird Creek.

 

Issues

Overall, ground water quality in the County is good. In Litchfield, Scipio, Fayette and Moscow townships several water wells have high nitrate levels. Nitrate contamination in these areas is usually associated with livestock operations. It is highly likely that other agri-chemicals are also present although no testing has been done to prove or disapprove this.

Surface water quality is good to poor depending on the drainage systems.

High sediment loads and agri-chemicals are present in the Maumee and its feeder tributaries. Agri-chemicals are present in all surface waters during part of the year. This is particularly true after significant rainfall events.

Abandoned dug and driven water wells pose a serious threat to ground water supplies.

 

Recommendations

1. Complete a groundwater topographic map to locate groundwater recharge areas, draw down areas, and to gain an understanding of aquifer flow direction.

2. Initiate a ground and surface water testing program to identify and quantify areas of contamination.

3. For identified water quality problem areas, develop and implement corrective measures.

4. Location and properly close abandoned water wells.

LAKES AND STREAMS

Current Status

There are 5,900 acres of lake waters and 500 acres of stream waters in Hillsdale County. Hillsdale County is the origin point of five watersheds; the St. Joe, Grand, Raisin, Maumee, and Kalamazoo. Currently, the lakes of Bird Lake, Jefferson Township and Lake Diane and Lake Mary in Amboy Township have a residential sewer system. Lime Lake in Wright Township is in the planning process of constructing a system. There is a genuine concern for the water we drink, use for recreation purposes, and benefit from in other ways, as it affects our quality of life, especially the impact Hillsdale County’s waterheds have on communities in other regions.

 

Issues

Soil erosion is occurring in Hillsdale County. Streams cut and widen their channels. This process contributes substantial amounts of suspended sediment in the Lake Erie drainage system. Man induced soil erosion from agriculture and construction sites is also a major contributor of sediment and nutrients in surface water that Hillsdale County delivers to Ohio and Indiana.

1. Protect these lakes rivers/streams from contamination generated from residential, agriculture, and manufacturing sources.

2. Sandy soils in the county lead to the potential for pesticides, nutrients, and other harmful contaminants to enter surface and ground water.

3. Lack of recreation opportunities/access on larger rivers and streams.

 

Recommendations

1. Leadership, education, and resources are needed to provide positive steps towards improving the water quality for Hillsdale County residents and others beyond the county lines.

2. Best Management Practices (BMP) should be supported and implemented by the agricultural community to protect waterways from pesticide and soil runoff.

3. Initiate residential sewer systems around all major lakes supporting significant populations.

4. Consolidate sewer systems for small communities and lake areas.

5. Enhance recreation opportunities/access on larger river/streams.

WILDLIFE

Current Status

Hillsdale County is host to a wide variety of wildlife. Hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing opportunities about.

 

Issues

Several species have population numbers that are a nuisance. Racoon, white tail deer, Canada goose and woodchuck destroy crops and also generally conflict with man’s activities. Gypsy moths and zebra mussels have invaded the county also. Gypsy moths defoliate hardwood forests. The zebra mussels encrust on submerged vegetation, docks, boats, etc. These snails have so far only been confirmed in Baw Beese Lake. The long term impacts from the moth and mussel invaders are difficult to assess; however, other areas within the State have committed substantial economic resources to combat these pests.

Coyote are commonly sited in Hillsdale County. As this species build in numbers, additional conflicts with man will occur.

Wild turkey has been reintroduced in several areas of the county. These large birds add recreational opportunities for hunters and other wildlife enthusiasts.

 

Recommendations

1. Educate County residents on proper control techniques for targeted pests.

2. Educate county residents that what is a nuisance to man is "normal" behavior for wildlife species.

3. Work closely with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to minimize wildlife conflicts with County residents.

OIL & GAS

Current Status

There are 107 oil wells and 17 gas wells existing today in Hillsdale County. This does not mean the wells are producing at this time or have produced recently. In fact, some operators of these wells have filed bankruptcy, died or just walked away from their wells leaving them abandoned.

Hillsdale County produced 212,174.5 barrels of oil and 182,901.5 thousand cubic feet of gas in 1996. Compared to 4,227,511 barrels of oil and 3,489,613 thousand cubic feet of gas produced in 1963. Oil and gas production in Hillsdale County has declined greatly over the past 35 years.

Hillsdale County has nine brine disposal wells. 1,432,077.5 barrels of brine were produced in 1996 from oil and gas wells.

Most of the oil and gas well sites remain located in Scipio, Moscow and Adams Townships.

 

Issues

Several oil and gas wells have been abandoned leaving potential subsurface pathways for pollutants to travel.

There are 108 known or suspected oil and gas contamination sites which qualify under Act 61 located in Hillsdale County.

There are 29 sites known to be contaminated with any one or a combination of hazardous substances that either are or may be injurious to human health or the environment. These substances may include industrial or municipal wastes, pesticides, solvents, and other organic chemicals and heavy metals.

51 of the oil and gas wells in Hillsdale County also produce hydrogen sulfide (H2S).

 

Recommendations

Work with federal, state, and county agencies on the urgency of clean-up per site and the cost of clean-up per site by the year 2000.

FORESTRY

Current Status

In pre-settlement Hillsdale County the land was nearly 100% forested. The small percentage of land that did not support trees was covered in wetlands or by water. With the arrival of the Europeans, the land was systematically cleared and put into agricultural production. Areas that were not cleared to produce crops or graze livestock were either too wet or too sloping and remain in a forested state today. Currently approximately 52,100 acres are covered with trees. This is about 13% of the land area. An additional 22,000 acres is in brush/shrub cover that will turn into forestland in time.

In the past, timber was harvested mostly for farm use. Livestock were grazed in the forests. The woods on most farmsteads were not seen as having real value. With the 20th century came localized commercial sawmills. This created a ready market for saw timber. Most woodlots were over-harvested taking all the quality timber. What was left were low value and small trees. There was no thought to a scientific approach to managing the timber for long-term quality forest products.

 

Issues

Some of the same problems which have affected Hillsdale County forest decline in the past still exist today. Although pastured woodlots are not nearly as prevalent today, the practice still exists. Livestock in woodlots eliminate whole age classes of trees by browsing. They can also compact the soil around the roots of mature trees and can cause or contribute to that tree’s death.

The largest current problem facing local woodlots is the lack of sound forestry practices when harvesting timber. Woodlots are still being high graded and over harvested.

Hillsdale County produces some of the finest quality hardwoods in the world. There is value in local woodlots. Many county residents have no idea what their timber is worth. This has lead to considerable unscrupulous buying and cutting of timber that does not have the best interest of the forest or the landowner in mind. Unfair buying techniques and misleading information on the part of some timber buyers has lead to a bad reputation of timber buyers in general. This discourages many would-be timber sellers. Most landowners accept whatever the timber buyer offers without knowing how many board feet of what species is to be harvested and what the current market value is of each species.

Since the 1950's, there have been millions of trees planted in Hillsdale County. Most of the seeds were planted without thought to future use, not properly cared for to ensure survivability, and/or planted on a site where survival was marginal. Landowners need to use some forestry establishment techniques to ensure tree seedling survival.

Hillsdale County’s forestry resources will continue to see changes in the future. If current trends continue, the acres of mature forest stands will likely decline along with the overall quality and the diversity of timber species. Uncontrolled rural residential development will continue to fragment and invade the County’s woodlands.

On the asset side of the ledge, Hillsdale County is blessed with soils and a climate that favors high quality hardwood timber products. There are over 64,000 acres of land that is too steep or wet for agricultural use. More people are coming to Hillsdale County from surrounding urban areas. These people are purchasing parcels of land and entire farms and many are planting trees for future timber and wildlife habitat.

 

Recommendations

The landscape of Hillsdale County is changing and the forest component is not immune to this change. Rural residential development pressure, unscientific timber harvest and management will all impact county woodlots. To assure the best wise use of the timber resources, the following actions should be taken:

1. Educate landowners on the value of timber, it’s potential value and quality if properly managed.

2. Educate landowners into thinking long term in timber management.

3. Require bonding/licensing of timber buyers and cutters.

4. Educate landowners in proper tree planting and reforestation techniques.

5. Encourage landowners to utilize the services of non-biased forestry professionals.

6. Develop a specialty forestry products market.

7. Utilize more Red Pine plantings for future pressure-treated lumber products.

8. Acquire better information on establishing quality hardwoods.

9. Educate landowners to make them aware that brush land is worth something if planted and managed to a woodland use.

10. Encourage more woodlot diversity by expanding buffers of woodlot in cropland edge. (Width of buffer = height of tallest tree in woodlot edge).

11. Plan the development for urbanization of the countryside.

12. Be conscience of woodlots during new construction.

13. Encourage intergovernmental information network with consultant foresters.

SOURCES: Hillsdale County Agriculture Census 1995

Hillsdale County Soil Survey

Hillsdale County Natural Resources Inventory

Geologic History of Hillsdale County (MDNR 1957)

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

[Top of Page]

EDUCATION

Current Status

Education is the key to the future progress of Hillsdale County. Providing an outstanding education in the current generations link to the future progress and prosperity of the people and industries.

Pre-school opportunities are available in Hillsdale County.

Two of the pre-schools are available at no charge to families. These are:

Head Start where at least 90% of the families must meet the U.S. Health and Human Services Poverty guidelines.

Michigan School Readiness Program where 51% of the families must qualify for the free or reduced lunch program.

Pre-school opportunities are available on a fee basis at:

Karen Jenkins

Teaching Learning Center

Step By Step

Marilyn Reigle

Mary Randall

Kids Korner

Head Start sites are located in Hillsdale, Reading, Jonesville and Waldron. Michigan School Readiness sites are located in Hillsdale, Reading, Jonesville, Waldron and Camden.

The Marilyn Reigle Pre-School is located in Litchfield and Kids Korner is located in Jonesville. The other pre-schools are located in Hillsdale.

Currently, Hillsdale County has eight public school districts, one public school academy, and several private or denominational schools that are either K-12 of K-8 in configuration.

The eight public school districts are united through the Hillsdale County Intermediate School District, which acts as a liaison between the state and local school districts as well as a provider of some special education and vocational educational services. All of the public school districts are governed by an elected Board of Education and a superintendent of schools hired by the Board.

The public school districts are:

Hillsdale Community Schools K-12 and adult education

Jonesville Community Schools K-12 and alternative education

Reading Community Schools K-12

Camden Frontier Schools K-12

Litchfield Community Schools K-12

North Adams-Jerome Schools K-12

Pittsford Area Schools K-12

Waldron Area Schools K-12

These eight school districts participate in a "schools of choice" program that allows any student to attend any school district in the county.

The public school academy is:

Sauk Trail Academy K-8

An additional public school academy, the Will Carlton Academy is in the planning stage and should open in the fall of 1998.

The private schools or denominational schools are:

Hillsdale Academy K-8

Bird Lake Bible School K-12

Amish Schools K-8

Seventh Day Adventist School K-12

Manor Foundation K-12

Special Education services are offered by each public school district, the public school academy and through the Hillsdale County Intermediate School District.

Special education services includes programming for all children and include the following program descriptions.

Learning Disabled - Programs for children who have average intelligence but have some identifiable learning problem that requires adaptations in curriculum or teaching methodology.

Emotionally Handicapped -Students who possess the ability to learn, but must learn at a slower pace than usual.

Trainable Mentally Impaired - Students who can be trained to live and work in society, but may never acquire the more complex skills necessary for skilled work.

Multiply Impaired - Students who have more than one educational handicap.

Autistically Impaired - Students who meet the complex criteria for the label autism. These students have difficulty relating to others in real world situations. Autistic people range widely in abilities and achievement.

Physically and Otherwise Health Impaired - Students who have a physical handicapped, apparent or internal, that demands special services or curriculum adaptations.

Severely Mentally Impaired - Students whose mental impairment prohibits them from learning or being trained to perform successfully in society.

In addition to the K-8 or K-12 schools listed above, Hillsdale County also has opportunities available for the education of adults. First, the Hillsdale Community Schools offer an Adult Education program for people who have not finished High School or want enrichment courses. This program offers opportunities for:

High School Completion

Preparation for and taking the G.E.D.

Adult Basic Education (A.B.E.)

Post high school education classes are available through the Jackson Community College, Hillsdale Center; Spring Arbor College, either the Jackson Center or at Camp Michindoh Center; or Hillsdale College.

In addition to the school districts and other educational opportunities available within Hillsdale County, the following school districts, located outside Hillsdale County, offer programs to some Hillsdale County Residents.

Quincy Community Schools (Branch County)

Hanover-Horton Schools (Jackson County)

Hudson Area Schools (Lenawee County)

Morenci Schools (Lenawee County)

Addison Community Schools (Lenawee County)

Jackson Area Career Center (Jackson County)

Lenawee Area Career Center (Lenawee County)

Branch Area Career Center (Branch County)

 

Issues

Physical Plant

Twenty school buildings are presently being used by the eight public school districts in Hillsdale County. Only two of these buildings have been built within the last ten years. The remaining eighteen are all over twenty years old. Five buildings are over 50 years old. All of the districts have made good efforts to keep their facilities in good repair, but modernization is needed. Litchfield, Reading, North Adams, Camden Frontier, and Hillsdale have all been involved in remodeling projects within the past six years. See Table 1 for a comparison of the buildings by district.

All of the buildings in the county were built prior to the extensive use of technology in education. In addition, several changes have occurred and are occurring in vocational education across the state. There is a need for every student to become computer literate and to train students for team work in problem solving as well as training and retraining for several job specific skills. The increasing use of technology in the workplace has placed heavier demands on the math and science curriculums as well. The buildings within the county were not constructed with these changes in mind and need updated educational spaces to complete successfully in the 21st century. All curricular areas are using computers, television, various kinds of projection equipment as well as energy demanding administrative systems.

Many buildings have seen improvements in lighting, ventilation and heating systems. Some have remodeled exterior walls and windows to improve heating economy. Most need additional infrastructure work in electrical systems and mechanical systems.

In addition to the educational facilities, all districts must provide space and equipment for food service and transportation. Each district has a complete food service program offering breakfast and lunch to all students. Most of the buildings within the county have self contained kitchens, but some satellite kitchens are also used. Each district maintains a bus fleet and has facilities to maintain their buses in compliance with annual state inspections.

A complete spectrum of special education is offered within Hillsdale County. Most programs are offered within the eight public school districts. Specialized programs for more several challenged children are offered through the Hillsdale Intermediate School District at the Greenfield School.

Obsolescence of buildings continues to be a major problem for county school districts. The struggle to maintain and upgrade existing buildings is becoming more costly and more difficult.

In order to compete successfully in the future, the eight county school districts must come up with ways to improve or replace existing facilities with buildings that are designed for modern curriculums. The primary need, in Hillsdale County, is not for additional classrooms, at least not until the population grows, but rather for modern updated educational spaces designed to meet the specific needs of technology, school to work, job training and flexible scheduling.

 

Population and Enrollment

The growth in school population in Hillsdale County has been extremely slow, 2.27% over the past ten years. See Table 2.

Student mobility within the county has been somewhat more dramatic due to the increasing availability of rental housing, job changes, and open enrollment. The county schools have had an agreement since 1992 to allow any student in Hillsdale County to attend any school of their choice. In 1995, the state legislature included an open enrollment provision in law.

It is generally believed by the committee that the availability of housing is a major obstacle to student population growth in Hillsdale County. The job market has shown steady growth, in semi-skilled and unskilled jobs, but has been somewhat slower than it might be due to the limited availability of housing. When more housing becomes available we expect to see a sharper increase in the student population.

 

The Curriculum and its Operation

All the public school systems in the county offer a quality educational program in preparation for college or vocational schools. The staff in all the schools is well prepared and experienced. Table 3 shows the certification and preparation level of the teachers in the public school systems in the county. An average of 46% of the teachers have a masters degree or higher and 78% percent have either permanent or continuing certification. The average teacher in Hillsdale County has 15.3 years of experience. Table 4 shows that the average students teacher ratio in Hillsdale County is 17.84 to 1. The average range of students to teachers in Hillsdale County school districts is, less than 21 to 1, to 16.18 to 1. These are impressive statistics for any county in Michigan.

Some school districts offer more courses in math, science and foreign language than others. Hillsdale, because of its size and commitment to quality offers two foreign languages and higher level courses in math, science and English. All districts offer opportunities for exceptional students to excel at their own level of ability.

All districts offer classes in vocational education. In addition, all districts participate in cooperation programs with at least one intermediate school district to prepare students for immediate placement in jobs in industry. A new development is the Manufacturing Technology Center, a joint project between the public school districts in Hillsdale County, the Hillsdale Intermediate School District and county businesses. This program will focus on developing the skills necessary to train workers for local industry and retrain existing workers to make our work force the most competent in the state.

All school districts offer a good variety of extra curricular activities. Opportunities for participation in athletics is balanced in every public school district. The number of different opportunities varies per district, with the most offered by the Hillsdale Community Schools, but every student in every district has a chance to participate in athletics.

The county schools offer a complete opportunities for participation in music. Students can participate in band, orchestra, and choir. In addition, opportunities are available for participation in community bands and choirs.

Each public school district offers complete library services. The number of volumes differs per district according to the size of enrollment, but all public school districts have adequate libraries. In addition, public library facilities are available in most communities.

The public school districts in the county offer a complete range of educational opportunities for handicapped students. The program choices range from complete integration in the regular classroom, through pull out offerings in individual school districts to center programs through the Hillsdale County Intermediate School District. A description of the program areas appears in the introduction.

All public school districts are involved in the school improvement process through the involvement of staff and community on School Improvement Teams. These groups look at quality indicators such as test results on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program test, the High School Proficiency Test, and various standardized tests as well as research data to help plan changes in curriculum and teaching practices.

 

Finance

Schools are financed through three funding sources, the federal government, the state government and local tax payers.

Federal funding generally includes money to improve programming for disadvantaged children. The major federal programs are Head Start for preschool aged children and Title I for school aged children. Each public school district plans its own Title I program. Funding for these programs has risen gradually over the past several years. In addition to these federal programs, some money is available for vocational education and teacher in service in the math and science. Federal funding for the 1996-1997 school year was:

Title I Eisenhower Title VI

Camden Frontier $187,498 $ 5,128 $1,856

Hillsdale $376,956 $11,916 $5,267

County Youth Home $ 11,789

Jonesville $ 95,915 $ 4,902 $ 802

Litchfield $111,654 $ 2,867 $ 441

North Adams-Jerome $ 80,174 $ 2,896 $ 415

Pittsford $157,416 $ 4,607 $ 566

Reading $204,197 $ 6,451 $2,462

Waldron $106,189 $ 2,708 $2,507

Federal funding for vocational education is not included in the figures above.

There has been a dramatic change in the way school districts in the state of Michigan are financed. Beginning in 1994, Proposal "A" gave the state the majority of the responsibility for financing public education. Local property taxes were cut substantially and replaced with a higher sales tax. Before Proposal "A", an average of 80% of the financing for public schools came from local sources, after Proposal "A", 80% of the financing for public schools came from the state. The state guarantees a minimum funding level per pupil. Districts below that funding leveling had their funding increased at about twice the rate of districts above that level.

The districts in Hillsdale County are guaranteed the following foundation allowance per child for the 1997-1998 and the 1998-1999 school years:

Camden Frontier $5,071.04

Hillsdale $5,274.69

Jonesville $5,401.95

Litchfield $5,255.66

North Adams-Jerome $5,206.11

Pittsford $5,462.00

Reading $5,244.51

Waldron $5,308.00

In addition to operational monies, all public school districts in the county, except Hillsdale and Jonesville, have outstanding bonded indebtedness for school buildings. The amounts as of 6/30/96 are:

Camden Frontier $ 550,000

Hillsdale $0

Jonesville $0

Litchfield $4,000,000

North Adams-Jerome $3,262,845

Pittsford $1,700,000

Reading $4,145,000

Waldron $ 575,000

H.I.S.D. $ 54,000

Current legislation allows public school districts to vote to tax themselves for the purpose of maintaining buildings and ground and purchasing land through Building and Site Sinking Fund millages. Expenditures of these funds are controlled by the State Department of Treasury. Currently, the following public school districts in Hillsdale County have "Building and Site Sinking Funds":

Hillsdale 2 mills

Jonesville 1 mill

Growth in school financing is now in the hands of the state. The foundation allowance is reviewed annually by the legislature and final figures are part of the annual state aid act. School districts must seek ways to live within the foundation allowance and produce an annual balanced budget. Program improvements and additional programs are limited by the funds available. Individual school districts set priorities for expenditures.

 

Recommendations

The State of Michigan and our county school districts have focused a lot of attention on school improvement through parent involvement and the setting of district goals and objectives. Public Act 25 established the outline for school improvement and all publicly funded school districts have responded with enthusiasm and an eye toward improvement. Some of the outcomes of this legislation and local response has been to:

increase the input of parents through school improvement committees

establish mission statements and goals

evaluate progress on an annual basis

publish annual reports on progress

In addition to the locally developed goals of the eight public school districts, several common problems have been identified. They include the following:

solving the problems of increasing special education demands on local budgets?

increasing counseling services, especially at the elementary level?

improving and replacing our aging facilities in a cost-efficient manner?

serving the non-college bound students and preparing them for entrance into the work force of Hillsdale County.

improving the processes of education so that all children will learn to maximum potential?

providing up-to-date technology training for students at all levels of the curriculum?

TABLE 1

SCHOOL AGE OF BUILDINGS TOT.
 

5 YEARS OR

LESS

6-10

YEARS

11-15

YEARS

16-20

YEARS

21-25

YEARS

26-50

YEARS

OVER 50

YEARS

 

  ELEM. SEC. ELEM. SEC. ELEM. SEC. ELEM. SEC. ELEM. SEC. ELEM. SEC. ELEM. SEC.  
CAMDEN-FRONTIER                    

1

1

 

 

2

HILLSDALE

 

                 

1

1

2

1

5

JONESVILLE

 

1

 

             

1

 

 

1

3

LITCHFIELD

 

               

1

1

 

   

2

NORTH ADAMS

 

 

1

 

             

1

 

 

2

PITTSFORD

 

             

1

 

 

1

 

 

2

READING

 

             

1

 

     

1

2

WALDRON

 

             

1

1

 

     

2

ISD

 

             

1

 

       

1

SAUK TRAIL

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

           

1

 

NOTES:

Camden Frontier has remodeled some of its building within the last 5 years.

Hillsdale has built an addition to Gier Elementary within the last 7 years.

Jonesville has built a new alternative high school within the last 3 years.

Litchfield is in the process of remodeling at the High School.

North Adams has remodeled and added on to the High School building within the last 10 years.

Reading has remodeled the High School and Elementary School within the last 5 years.

The ISD also has a Business Technology Center located in the Hillsdale Industrial Park.

Most of the school buildings in Hillsdale County are quite old (over 25 years) and in need of remodeling. Some buildings, usually those over 50 years, are in need of replacement.

 

TABLE 2

HILLSDALE COUNTY SCHOOLS

10 YEAR ENROLLMENTS

 

DISTRICT

1987-88

1988-89

1989-90

1990-91

1991-92

1992-93

1993-94

1994-95

1995-96

1996-97

ADULT EDUCATION

181.00

129.77

130.54

180.63

194.03

195.72

197.98

99.00

67.60

19.60

CAMDEN FRONTIER

724.00

728.00

706.30

726.00

774.30

747.00

725.10

739.00

763.40

774.99

HILLSDALE COMM.

2404.00

2431.00

2459.30

2502.10

2425.20

2428.90

2446.00

2406.00

2316.48

2250.47

JONESVILLE

1188.00

1157.60

1161.50

1162.90

1194.60

1201.60

1202.80

1180.00

1179.83

1197.64

LITCHFIELD

595.00

595.30

536.70

567.00

579.50

578.00

588.10

631.20

646.62

660.16

NORTH ADAMS

631.00

639.50

643.50

586.00

612.00

598.00

584.40

608.12

622.97

620.97

PITTSFORD

723.00

763.00

790.00

820.00

852.00

888.40

867.60

851.80

831.27

845.00

READING

930.00

945.50

928.77

949.00

973.00

995.00

1004.00

1025.60

1044.36

1060.46

WALDRON

458.00

469.00

481.00

503.50

498.50

507.00

477.00

462.00

499.44

466.14

MANOR

72.00

79.00

83.00

82.00

94.00

95.00

90.00

92.00

93.00

93.00

NEW HOPE

86.00

98.00

106.00

93.00

90.00

76.00

88.00

99.00

103.00

108.00

AMISH

120.00

134.00

153.00

130.00

134.00

160.00

157.00

153.00

129.00

128.00

BIRD LAKE

36.00

29.00

27.00

40.00

36.00

31.00

39.00

35.00

40.00

40.00

FAITH MENNONITE

45.00

21.00

22.00

32.00

31.00

18.00

14.00

11.00

9.00

10.00

FREEDOM FARM

111.00

104.00

102.00

94.00

94.00

106.00

107.00

120.00

113.00

101.00

HILLSDALE ACADEMY

0.00

0.00

0.00

45.00

54.00

54.00

38.00

61.00

68.00

74.00

ISD PROGRAMS

141.00

162.90

145.30

156.80

171.70

188.10

183.40

194.30

189.66

197.60

ADVENTIST

16.00

11.00

9.00

9.00

8.00

7.00

9.00

8.00

4.00

6.00

CHRISTIAN

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

0.00

TOTAL

8461.00

8497.77

8484.91

8678.93

8815.83

8874.72

8818.38

8776.02

8720.63

8653.03

TABLE 3

HILLSDALE COUNTY SCHOOLS - PROFESSIONAL STAFF STATISTICS 1996-97

          CERTIFICATION DEGREE

DISTRICT

NUMBER OF PERSONNEL

MALE

FEMALE

AVERAGE AGE

PROV.

PERM.

CONT.

MA OR HIGHER

BA OR BS

Camden Frontier

39

14

25

43

12

10

17

14

25

15

Percent

 

35%

64%

 

31%

26%

44%

36%

56%

 

Hillsdale

127

46

81

45

17

34

76

84

43

18

Percent

 

36%

64%

 

13%

27%

60%

66%

34%

 

I.S.D.

40

10

30

45

12

3

25

18

22

14

Percent

 

25%

75%

 

30%

8%

63%

45%

55%

 

Jonesville

67

25

42

45

12

18

37

28

39

18

Percent

 

37%

63%

 

18%

27%

55%

42%

58%

 

Litchfield

44

16

28

41

17

5

22

15

29

16

Percent

 

36%

64%

 

39%

11%

50%

34%

64%

 

North Adams- Jerome

34

10

24

42

10

9

15

12

22

14

Percent

 

29%

71%

 

29%

26%

44%

35%

65%

 

Pittsford

52

19

33

44

7

11

34

20

32

15

Percent

 

37%

63%

 

13%

21%

65%

38%

62%

 

Reading

61

23

38

42

11

8

42

26

35

15

Percent

 

38%

62%

 

18%

13%

69%

43%

57%

 

Waldron

34

16

18

46

9

4

21

14

20

13

Percent

 

47%

53%

 

26%

12%

62%

41%

53%

 

Total

498

179

319

 

107

102

289

231

267

 

% Avg.

 

36%

64%

 

21%

20%

58%

46%

54%

 

 

TABLE 4

HILLSDALE COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT

STUDENT TEACHER AND STUDENT STAFF RATIOS

1996-97

DISTRICT

FOURTH FRIDAY COUNT

PROF. STAFF NO ADMIN.

STUDENT STAFF RATIO

TOTAL STAFF

STUDENT TOTAL STAFF RATIO

Camden Frontier

774.99

45

17.22

82

9.45

Hillsdale

2270.07

110

20.64

197

11.52

Jonesville

1197.64

74

16.18

123

9.74

Litchfield

660.16

40

16.5

70

9.43

North Adams-Jerome

620.97

30.5

20.36

61

10.18

Pittsford

845

48.5

17.42

89

9.49

Reading

1060.46

61.5

17.24

104

10.2

Waldron

466.14

33

14.13

50

9.32

Total or Average

7895.43

442.5

17.84

776

10.17

[Top of Page]

 

HEALTH

To understand the community’s health status, it is imperative to first identify a set of core indicators which impact health status or which can be used to describe fundamental health issues. An overview of these issues is presented below.

 

Socio-economic Considerations: The Michigan Department of Management and Budget estimates Hillsdale County’s population to be 45,400 (1995). This represents a 4% increase from 1990 Census population reports. Much of the county’s population growth over the past ten years can be attributed to natural increase. Of the total population, 98.9% are white, 0.2% are Black, 0.4% are American Indian, and the remaining are comprised of "other races." The population is evenly split between the sexes--51% are females and 49% are males. Comparisons with the state shows that Hillsdale County has a larger youth population (14 years and younger) and senior population (those over 55 years) that of the state.

The term "Amish" is used to refer to individuals belonging to a specific religious order, rather than a particular race or ethnic group. There is no census data items which identifies this group, but by using "German" or "Other West Germanic Language" as a proxy indicator, it is estimated that 521 people over the age of 5 years are living in homes where these languages are spoken as the primary language. From this, it is estimated that approximately 1.2% of the total county population may be Amish.

Income is one of many factors which can impact an individual’s health status. The median household income in 1993 for Hillsdale County was $29,788 which is 8.4% lower than the median household income reported for Michigan as a whole. While the number of persons in the civilian labor force remains constant, the unemployment rate is continually falling. Between 1987 and 1996, the county’s unemployment rate dropped dramatically from 9.2% of 4.4%. Yet in spite of this change, approximately one in eight people (12.8%) live at or below the poverty threshold. Children under the age of five and children living in single parent homes are more likely to live at or below the poverty thresholds than adults or seniors. More than one-third of the population (35.4%) are considered low income (living below 200% of poverty).

Educational attainment can also influence a person’s overall health. Higher levels of education completion are often associated with improved socioeconomic conditions, better health care utilization, and fewer risk behaviors. In Hillsdale County, 24.9% of residents 25 years and older do not possess a high school diploma; 43.5% are high school graduates, 16.5% have some college but no degree; and the remaining 16.6% possess some type of college degree. Between 1994-1995, approximately 5.6% of Hillsdale County high school students dropped out of school, while 76.2% of Hillsdale County ninth graders are projected to complete high school in four years.

The status of the family is another indicator which can impact the health of mothers and children. Over one-quarter (27%) of Hillsdale County’s children under the age of 18 years live in single-parent families. One-fifth (20%) live in single, female-headed households. Many children begin life at a disadvantage. According to the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), 31.5% of births to county residents were out-of-wedlock births (1993-1995). Additionally, divorce rates are growing. Between 1991 and 1995, divorce rates are growing. Between 1991 and 1995, divorce rates grew from 10.5 per 1,000 population to 11.8 per 1,000 population, making Hillsdale County the 4th highest among Michigan Counties for rates of divorce.

 

Issues

Maternal-Infant Health Considerations (Teen Pregnancy): The status of the county’s maternal and infant health is of paramount concern because of the long-term consequences associated with negative pregnancy outcomes. Between 1994 to 1996, 2,292 infants were born in Hillsdale County. Almost two-fifths (39.2%) were to first-time mothers and nearly one-fifth (17.5%) were born to mothers under the age of 20 years. The second percentage denotes a serious trend for the county in the area of teen pregnancy. Between 1990 and 1996, the fertility rates for females aged 15 to 19 years rose from 48.8 to 57.9 per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19 years. Correspondingly, teen pregnancy rates, which are calculated by combining the number of live births with the number of abortions and the estimated number of miscarriages, have also been on the rise. In 1990, Hillsdale County’s teen pregnancy rates were 67 per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19 years. By the end of 1996, this rate had increased to 88.2 per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19 years. In light of this information, it should come as no surprise that the percentage of mothers without a high school diploma has also increased.

 

Smoking and Pregnancy

In addition to the increasing number of younger mothers, Hillsdale County also saw some growth in both the percentage of pregnant women who smoked during their pregnancy and/or who did not gain an adequate amount of weight gain (less than 16 lbs.). These risk factors have been linked with low birth weight infants, for which Hillsdale County’s percentage has grown from 4.9% of all live births (1990-92) to 7.7% of all live births (1994-96). Yet, in spite of these negative trends, infant mortality has remained fairly constant, finishing at 8.8 per 1,000 live births by the end of 1994-96.

 

Prenatal Care

Real progress has been made in the area of prenatal care. The percentage of mothers who have received an adequate level of prenatal care (measured by the number of visits received and the weeks of gestation completed) has been increasing. During 1990-92, slightly more than one-half of all Hillsdale County mothers (56.6%) had received an adequate number of prenatal care visits. By the end of 1994-96, nearly two-thirds (64.2%) of all Hillsdale County mothers had received this level of care.

 

Cardiovascular Disease

Chronic diseases are a set of debilitating diseases which develop over a life span and often times are related to individual behavioral choices. For Hillsdale County, the leading chronic disease and cause of death is cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease refers to a wide variety of heart and blood vessel diseases, including coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke and rheumatic heart disease. Deaths from these disease constitute approximately 40% of all the county’s total deaths. Deaths from ischemic heart disease (otherwise known as coronary heart disease) comprised over half of these deaths (58.5%). Ischemic heart disease develops as plaque formations or fat deposits collect on the arterial walls, causing them to narrow and restrict blood flow. Heart attacks often ensue. During 1993-95, ischemic heart disease claimed the lives of 291 Hillsdale County residents. During the past six years, the county has seen an 8.6% increase in its ischemic heart disease crude death rate which has grown from 203.1 per 100,000 in 1990-92 to 217.2 per 100,000 in 1993-95. An even larger increase can be seen in hospital discharge rates related to ischemic heart disease which have grown from 8.2 per 1,000 in 1990-92 to 10.2 per 1,000 in 1992-94.

 

Cancer

Cancer, the second leading case of death for the county, is the diverse group of diseases characterized by uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. During 1993-95, Hillsdale County reported 476 new cancer cases among county residents and 401 deaths due to cancer. Leading sites for cancer occurrence are: prostate gland, breast, lung and bronchus and colon cancer. Lung and bronchus cancers are the leading cause of cancer deaths, followed by colon cancer.

 

Cerebrovascular Disease, Diabetes, and Chronic Obstruction Pulmonary Disease

Amongst other chronic disease, cerebrovascular disease, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are of special concern. Between 1993-95, the county reported an additional 152 deaths due to these causes. Fortunately, between 1990-92 and 1993-95, rates of death for all three of these chronic conditions have seen some reductions.

 

Motor Vehicle Crashes

Motor vehicle crashes are a major cause of death and long-term disability. In 1995, there were 2,461 reported motor vehicle crashes in Hillsdale County. Because of these crashes, 13 people died and 640 people were injured. Of those who were killed or injured, at least 22% were not properly restrained at the time of the crash. Alcohol and/or other drug use was an identified factor in 112 of all motor vehicle crashes and approximately 42% (1,031) of all crashes involved a deer.

 

Smoking

As stated above, individual behavioral choices impact the health status of both an individual and the community. Smoking status is of special importance because of its known relative risks to cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory problems and poor birth outcomes. According to the Gallup Risk Factor/Utilization Study (1995), approximately 26% of all adults reported they are at least occasional smokers--19.4% reported that they smoked every day and an additional 6.8% reported that they smoked some days. Current smokers were predominantly under age 55. Cigarette smoking was associated with lower educational levels and, to a lesser degree, was more prevalent in lower income households.

 

Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol consumption, when in excess, can also cause a series of health-related problems, ranging from mental health issues to death. The Center for Substance Abuse Services, MDCH, estimated that approximately 5,080 of Hillsdale County Residents abused alcohol or drugs during 1994. For many of these individuals, alcohol was the drug of choice. Heavy drinking defined as the consumption of sixty or more drinks during the past month, was reported by less than five percent (3.1%) of the population (Gallup, 1995). However, more than one in seven adults (13.6%) appeared to have had at least one drinking binge, defined as five or more drinks per occasion, during the month that the survey was conducted. In addition, 3.5% of the adult respondents reported driving while intoxicated during that month.

 

Communicable Disease-Immunization

A well-immunized population is the best defense against disease outbreaks. Nationally, only about one-half of all two year olds are properly immunized. The most recent statistics available regarding childhood immunizations for Hillsdale County (MDCH, 1996) shows that 9% of children between the ages of 19 to 35 months had incomplete immunization records. The District Health Department also reports that 8% of children attending daycare are not fully immunized (DHD, 1996).

Senior Citizens are also at risk for communicable diseases and their complications. For those 55 years and older, approximately 2 out of 5 were not properly vaccinated against flu. Only 1/3 of them had received pneumonia inoculations (Gallup, 1995). Between 1991-95, Hillsdale County age-adjusted pneumonia/influenza death rates were 14.2 per 100,000 population which was 5% higher than state age-adjusted death rates for the same period.

 

Health Care-Physician Shortage, Cost, Access

Hillsdale County has received both the Health Professional, Shortage Area and the medically Undeserved Area designations by the Bureau of Primary Care. Counties that meet specific criteria in the areas of population distribution, physician ratios, birth outcomes and poverty percentages are granted these special designations. According to the Michigan Primary Care Association, the population to primary care physician FTE ratio is 2,767 to 1. The problems caused by a lack of primary care providers are compounded by health insurance issues. In 1992, 8.9% of the population were estimated to be uninsured. In addition, approximately 10.5% of the population were eligible for Medicaid and 12.6% of the population were eligible for Medicare.

The cost of health care continues to consume a large portion of the community’s annual earnings. While not complete data is available, rough estimates have been prepared for planning purposes based upon Medicare and Medicaid data with extrapolations for the private sector based upon the other two data sets. In 1991, Health Management Associates estimated that Hillsdale County total health care services equaled $2,277.97 per person.

All of these factors describe an access problem which is demonstrated through the next data set. According to the Gallup survey (1995), 16.3% of the Hillsdale County adults to not have a usual source of care. Over one-quarter (28.5%) have not been in for a checkup within the last year. Of those who did identify a usual source of care, approximately one in five (18%) identified their source as an urgent care center or a hospital emergency room. Yet, those who stated that they had a usual source of care were satisfied with the care they received. Over two-thirds of the respondents (70.7%) were very satisfied and over one-quarter were somewhat satisfied (28.0).

 

Recommendations

1. Develop work group of educators, concerned citizens, and health professionals to address issue of teen pregnancy.

2. Monitor access to adequate prenatal and other health services of Medicaid population as the system moves to managed care.

3. Explore health needs of aging population in Hillsdale County, in particular adequate children who are responsible for aging parent’s care may require supportive services.

4. Continue preventive programs on cardiovascular disease, substance abuse, and smoking.

[Top of Page]

GOVERNMENT TECHNOLOGY

Current Status

Historical Context

In 1981, an agreement between Hillsdale Community Schools and the County of Hillsdale to provide hardware, telecommunications, and programming services on an IBM System/34 via 4800 Baud modems. The first office to use this agreement was the Equalization Office, in which files were converted from a Burroughs accounting machine to the school’s computer system.

Then, in 1983, hardware, telecommunications, and payroll programs were put in place in the Clerk’s Office.

During 1984, hardware, telecommunications, and accounting software was put in place in the Treasurer’s Office. Accounts payable was added to the Clerk’s Office as part of the accounting function.

In 1985, the Hillsdale Community School update from the IBM System/34 to the IBM System/36, also updated the modems to 9600 Baud rate. Also, an agreement was made to write a software program for Delinquent Tax Accounting and collection, which was then put into use.

By 1991, an agreement was made to install hardware on the System/36 at the Hillsdale Community Schools for the Register of Deeds.

A 1994 contract agreement was entered into with a computer consultant to create a data processing office at the County of Hillsdale and determine the hardware and software needs of the County. June of 1994, an IBM AS/400 model 9404 computer was installed as well as an 800 LPI printer, tape drive, modem, and UPS to round out the new Data Processing department. All peripheral previously connected to the Hillsdale Community Schools System/36 was connected to the AS/400 computer and the software was migrated from the System/36 to the AS/400, and data processing operations began in house.

In the 1994-1997 time period, all offices connected to the Data Processing office have upgraded their dumb terminals to personal computers and emulation to the AS/400. Also, printers have been updated in the Clerk’s Office as well as the Treasurer’s Office. Local area networks were put in place int eh Clerk’s Office and the Equalization Office. A major change in the programming for the Equalization Office was begun due to the implementation of Proposal A, and the legislative changes that have been put in place. The Equalization Office has installed, and is using, assessing software which allows tax units using this software or other electronic media to update their data at the County level or for County to update the tax units information electronically. The Building Inspection office was computerized and also is using the same software. The Probate Court Office was added as a connection to the AS/400 to provide counter receipting and the electronic transfer of receipts and a computer-generated transmittal to the Treasurer’s Office. The counter receipting also was put in place in the Clerk’s Office and Register of Deeds. A computer was added to the Maintenance Department to aid in the recording of expenditures and monthly reports. A computer was put in place in the secretary of the Commissioners office for word processing, the Internet software was added to the Commissioners, Clerk’s, Treasurer’s and Equalization Offices. The Circuit Court law library has been converted from manual books to CD/ROM system on computer. A file server now has been added to the Data Processing office and a Novell network has been installed to connect the Building Inspection, Mapping, Equalization, Clerk, and Treasurer’s offices. Resource Software was put in place of the file server for payroll and accounting to be implemented in January 1998.

 

Issues

The Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, and Probate Court need to install software from the Court Administrator’s Office, State of Michigan to be used on the AS/400 to implement the Court’s reorganization. The Register of Deeds and the Clerk’s Office plan to implement document imaging in the future. Technology will now allow for the County to establish an Internet Web page and make available information to the public in their homes.

Additional plans for technological improvements are under construction by the Hillsdale County Equalization Department. These plans include switching from the AS/400 system to the PC based Equalizer system. This would include all parcel records, the equalization functions, tax roll and tax billing, along with the delinquent tax system. These would all reside on the new file server.

One of the main reasons for switching is because the local units of government cannot afford the AS/400 environment. 20 of the 21 units of government are on the Equalizer Assessing software as are 16 of the 21 units are on the Equalizer Tax Administration software. The Treasurer’s Office recently purchased the county version of the Equalizer Tax Administration program. This will do everything that we currently do on the AS/400 and much more. We will go to standard copy paper to print tax bills, tax rolls, assessment rolls from our laser printers. The cost savings of copy paper vs. Multipart NCR forms will be significant in addition to being easier to read.

Currently, the transfer of data between the county and the local units of government is by diskette and this process works very well. There is a need for county intranet to allow access by the various units of government, title offices, lawyers, and the general public to the assessing, tax bills, and delinquent tax programs.

The Mapping Department has a need to move from paper copies of parcel cards to public view stations in the near future. Old parcel sketches could be scanned to eliminate dependence on the old file cabinets. Capability also exists to do computerized mapping, but because of the workload with switching from paper parcel cards to electronic records there has been no time to implement this system.

There is a need for voice mail, the ability for conference calls, and even, perhaps, video conference calling.

There is also a need in the future for a full-time data processing person because of the need to support various hardware, software, and operating systems as the county departments become more computerized.

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SAFETY

Current Status

Hillsdale County is served by a Central Dispatch/Enhanced 911 Center that is the primary answering point for all Public Safety Agencies. This center is staffed with 10 employees including: 3 full-time dispatchers, 3 part-time dispatchers, 3 supervisors and 1 director. The dispatchers are union members. They operate out of rented facilities at 6973 Hudson Road, which is also a switching center for Frontier Communications, a telephone company that serves several local communities. All critical electrical equipment is operated on an Uninterupptible Power Supply with two generators on standby. The sole funding source for the center is a telephone surcharge ($1.89 for 911 plus administrative fees for the telephone company) on each telephone in the county. Despite several incidents of equipment damage by lightning this year, they are currently working within their 1998 budget of $509,000. The director is responsible for day to day operations while reporting to a nine member Emergency Telephone Services Board. The board is comprised of representatives from local law enforcement agencies, emergency medical services and fire departments with members also from the public at large. All members and their alternates are appointed by the county board of commissioners.

 

Emergency medical services are provided by four ambulance services with the primary provider being Reading Emergency Unit. REU operates at the Advanced Life Support (ALS) level with nine transporting units out of five stations located in Reading (Central Office and Dispatch), Hillsdale, Litchfield, Somerset and Pittsford. Five nontransporting units run from the Montgomery, Hillsdale, Litchfield, Moscow, and Reading or Jonesville areas by staff living there. REU is a private non-profit organization that receives County funding from a special ambulance millage in addition to subscriptions, donations, and operating revenue. Personnel include 2 paramedic/RN’s, 1 EMT-Specialist/RN, 8 paramedics, 12 EMT specialists, 14 basic EMTs, 4 Medical First Responders, 14 Emergency Medical Dispatchers and 2 EMT Instructor/coordinators. Some personnel are paid while others work more as volunteers. The Reading office has a 30 kilowatt generator to operate during power emergencies. In addition to REU, the Waldron, Hudson, and Addison Fire Departments provide ambulance services from their stations with five additional units plus personnel. The Montgomery, Moscow, North Adams, Pittsford,, Woodbridge, and Somerset Fire Departments also provide Medical First Response Services in their coverage areas. Medical units are all allowed to communicate on REU’s main frequency and some have their own frequencies as well. Most transport units can also radio to a destination hospital to update the emergency room staff before arrival.

Fourteen fire departments are located in and provide a majority of the fire protection for the County. Thirteen of these are municipal departments (township, village, city or a combination of these) and one (Hillsdale Rural Fire) is a private, nonprofit association. The Hillsdale City Fire Department has a few full time staff members, but a large majority of the approximately 285 firefighters in the county are volunteers. Each department has their own chief and other officers, some of which receive a small salary for their services. The Hillsdale City department operates under a system where the former police chief is now the Public Safety Director in charge of the police and fire departments with an assistant in each reporting to him. The Addison, Hudson and Pioneer (Ohio) Fire Departments also provide fire coverage on the East and South county borders. All of these departments receive financial support from the areas they serve either from their home municipality or by contract with a neighbor (or both). In addition, most bill for services rendered when possible. Equipment in use varies widely with those departments located in larger or more expensive property tax areas having a sizable advantage over those located in the more rural areas. Many departments hold regular bingo games, raffles, dinners and other fund raising activities to supplement their income and help with the purchase of equipment. Several departments have specialized equipment such as the Jaws of Life, a Hovercraft, rescue boats, air bags, etc. for specialized use when needed. Some even run "rescue units" that specialize in extrication of victims from vehicles, structures and other difficult places. All agencies have access to a cascade air system of tanks on a trailer, maintained by the Hillsdale City Fire Department for the Hillsdale County Fire Fighters Association, for use in refilling their self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA’s) at the scene of a fire. All in-county fire departments are dispatched on the same radio frequency. Some have secondary "fire ground" frequencies used for local communication during operations at the fire scene.

 

Law enforcement is provided out-county by the Hillsdale County Sheriff’s Department and the Michigan State Police of the Jonesville Post. Six municipalities (Reading City, Litchfield City, Hillsdale City, Jonesville Village, Waldron Village and Somerset Township) provide their own police services. The sheriff’s department is staffed with 18 road deputies, 8 part-time deputies, 4 sergeants, the undersheriff and sheriff. The MSP post is staffed with 16 troopers, 1 motor carrier officer, 3 sergeants, one detective sergeant and the post commander. Sheriff’s deputies and sergeants as well as State Police troopers and sergeants are union members. The other departments have a total staff of approximately 35 officers, some of which belong to unions and many of which are part time. Some departments train and maintain auxiliary or reserve units and the Sheriff’s department has a volunteer posse and underwater dive team. The current animal control officer operates out of the sheriff’s department and is a certified full-time officer. Part-time marine patrol units also function in the summer months. In addition to these, the Sheriff’s department has noncertified dispatchers and corrections officers on staff. Communications for the police agencies is a complicated issue with agencies sharing the Sheriff department’s frequency, the Central Dispatch police frequency, and the Michigan 800 MHz system. Hillsdale City units operate mainly on their own frequency and many agencies are able to communicate on one ore more local municipal channel(s). Some older radios cannot be used on the Central Dispatch channel. The 800MHz system is unaccessible to most agencies because of cost. Training and equipment varies from department to department again depending somewhat on area covered and the property tax base. The availability of specialized teams and equipment from the State Police to assist in unusual situations is a valuable asset.

 

Emergency Management planning is the responsibility of the Hillsdale County Emergency Services Department. This office develops, plans and organizes programs to meet disasters and related emergencies in the county; coordinates disaster services of the county public safety forces; provides liaison activities with other local units of government and with the state and federal governments; and provides citizen education and information activities before, during, and after emergencies. Emergency Services also serves as the local conduit to the National Weather Service office in North Webster, Indiana. In this function, weather spotter training is provided to the county. During storms, local data is gathered from the spotter network, primarily made up of firefighters, but aided by all public safety agencies, and forwarded to the NWS and the local media. Information from the NWS is also passed back to the public safety agencies either directly from Emergency Services or often through Central Dispatch. The NWS also disseminates information through the news media, the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN), and directly via weather alert monitors. Emergency Services staff consists of: 12 volunteers, 1 part-time Administrative Clerk, 1 part-time Deputy Director, and 1 part-time Director. The office is open four hours per day (Monday-Friday), but staff are always available by pager through Central Dispatch or the Sheriff’s Department if needed. Emergency Services can communicate on most county emergency frequencies. The office is also equipped with a GTE weather wire, the Weather Channel, 2-meter and 440 MHz ham radio, and "packet" radio. The Sheriff’s office, which houses Emergency Services, is equipped with a standby generator that automatically switches on within seconds during power failures.

 

Issues and Recommendations

Central Dispatch

Short Term: The ability to find, train, and retain quality employees is the most pressing need at the present time. Replacing personnel requires greater effort by the current employees as everyone is expected to assist the training supervisor with new employees. Staff shortages also mean more stress from extra work shifts and overtime. Central needs at least three more part time employees as of this writing.

Long Term: If a new county government building is ever planned, consideration needs to be given to incorporating Central Dispatch and Emergency Services in one location, preferably in the Hillsdale City area. As the county grows and the communications needs of the public safety agencies increase, the dispatch center will require more space. There is no room for expansion at the present 911 quarters without adding on to the present structure which would be inadvisable in a rented facility. All equipment utilized by Central Dispatch is complicated and very expensive. While all of this is relatively new at present, future planning needs to involve setting aside funds to pay for the inevitable upgrades that will be necessary in the years to come. We need to improve existing communications with additional equipment to eliminate dead spots and guarantee reliable service to all agencies. When equipment at Central Dispatch malfunctions for any reason, gaps quickly develop in the communications grid that cannot be filled until repair technicians and spare parts can be brought in, often days or weeks later (especially for some parts). An official, fully functional, secondary Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) needs to be included in any long range plan. This would provide not only equipment back up, but also serve in case of fire, tornado, or other situation that could make the Hudson Road site unusable.

 

Emergency Medical Services

Short Term: Some urgent needs include: 1) The faster transfer of emergency medical calls to medical dispatchers; 2) Eliminate the strict adherence to political boundaries, mandated by local governmental units, which is causing delays in patient care, and 3) Not enough police officers available at certain times at emergency scenes which places all emergency personnel at higher risk.

Long Term: Eliminate all political boundaries and use the closest car or agency concept for medical and fire services (as law enforcement is using already). Continue working to implement the Incident Command System (ICS) county wide in all public safety agencies and dispatch operations. ICS utilizes the most effective and efficient way to resolve any emergency scene from very small to very large. Train all first response agencies to the American Heart Standards level for defibrillation on all pulse less, non-breathing patients (now recommended even before CPR). Train all county fire and police agency staff to at least the Medical First Responder level to maximize available life saving assistance when time is of the essence. Work with local, state, and federal governments to limit legislation that imposes new training and equipment requirements on all agencies beyond their financial limits to comply. Pursue public and private grants and develop other avenues of funding to meet increasing monetary needs.

 

Fire Services

Short Term: The most urgent need at the present time is a radio system that reliably covers the entire county for dispatching the fire departments via radio pagers. More stringent radio procedures need to be developed requiring every department to go to a fire ground frequency when they reach the scene. This makes the dispatch channel available to Central Dispatch if other departments need to be called out. A new, higher capacity, cascade air trailer is also needed. A relatively successful funding drive has been generating income, but the project needs a big push to see a successful conclusion.

Long Term: The day of the part time chief and possibly even the volunteer firefighter may be coming to an end. In the future, it may be necessary to work towards a county-wide fire administrator who could handle training issues, paperwork for compliance and reporting, purchase equipment and supplies at a volume price, coordinate mutual aid agreements and handle other duties to lighten the workload of the local chiefs without taking away any of their authority or control. The county needs to work towards the funding and creation of hazardous materials teams, arson investigation teams, heavy rescue teams, and other specialized units drawing firefighters from across the county that would be available to all with minimal impact on one department. Consideration needs to be given to the formation of a fire chief’s association to supplement the current firefighter’s association. The chiefs and assistant chiefs need to meet regularly to develop and maintain policies and procedures as well as to begin a dialogue for future planning in general to meet the ever increasing demands on their respective agencies.

 

Law Enforcement

Short Term: Some urgent needs for the Sheriff’s department include: 1) At least one additional supervisory officer (either a sergeant or a jail commander), and 2) A conference room able to accommodate a minimum of 25 persons for emergency planning and training sessions.

Long Term: The county jail facility, which at one time housed prisoners from other areas to make money for the county, is now constantly at or near capacity with local prisoners. An expansion of cell space is needed just to meet local demand. Additional departmental supervision is needed now, as previously mentioned, and there is no room for them to have a work space. Currently, all three sergeants utilize the same small office. Any construction needs to plan for additional office space for present and future needs. While planning for the long term, we also need to prepare for a migration to the 800 MHz radio trunking system for all communications. Through expensive, this makes for a more reliable and secure method of communications that greatly expands our capabilities and options.

 

Emergency Management

Short Term: Work with the National Weather Service to improve delivery time and accuracy of weather watches and warnings. Work with the Emergency Telephone Services Board (ETSB) and area Public Safety Agencies to develop a better protocol for Severe Weather alerts. Continue to support implementation of the ICS in all agencies in the county. Support current efforts among Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana bordering counties to develop and implement mutual aid agreements across the state lines. Under the present office structure where even the administrative clerk is part time, no progress is being made. Urgent consideration needs to be given to reinstating this position to full-time sot hat stalled projects can be continued and new ones started.

Long Term: As state and federal requirements increase, it will probably eventually be necessary to have a full time county emergency management director. Future planning needs to consider bringing Central Dispatch/911 and Emergency Services together into the same or at least adjacent facilities. This would greatly enhance joint operations without the need to revert to radio or telephone communications. This location should also be relatively close to the county buildings and services for coordination and cooperation purposes during times of emergency. Some staff savings might be realized with employees shared between the two. At the present time, most of the sirens around the county require local activation by someone actually at the siren. With the installation of the new Doppler radar at North Webster, Indiana, many more storms this year have triggered "warnings" with no advance notice or time to get someone to the siren site. IN the future, it would be very advantageous if all of these could be controlled, by radio, from a central location such as Central Dispatch with a back up at Emergency Services or the secondary PSAP. Another problem is lack of sirens in some of the populated areas of the county, especially around our many lakes. As more public safety agencies begin communications on the State 800 MHz system, it will be necessary for Emergency Services to have the same capability.

 

Summary of Recommendations

Short Term

Staff shortages at Central Dispatch/hard to find, train, and retain quality employees.

Eliminate political boundaries that cause delays in service to the public.

Develop a process to handle emergency medical calls faster.

Provide more police officers on emergency scenes for worker/victim safety.

Develop more reliable radio systems.

Encourage donation of funds to buy a larger cascade air trailer for the fire services.

Fund an additional supervisory officer for the county jail.

Locate a temporary conference room for planning and training for jail staff.

Encourage earlier notification of weather warnings from the National Weather Service.

Review protocols for notification of agencies during severe weather alerts.

Continue work with agencies in adjacent states to develop mutual aid agreements.

Return emergency management staff to full time.

 

Long Term

Consider planning for a county building to house Central Dispatch and Emergency Services located near other county offices.

Set aside funds annually for the inevitable replacement of radios and equipment.

Plan for and fund a secondary Public Safety Answering Point.

Eliminate political boundaries and implement the closest agency concept for all public safety agencies.

Train all public safety staff to the Medical First Responder level.

Train all first response agencies to the American Heart Standards level for defibrillation.

Investigate whether it would be beneficial to have a county-wide fire administrator.

Encourage the formation of a fire chief’s association that meets on a regular basis.

Encourage the development of specialized teams for the fire services and other agencies.

Look at the possibility of expanding both cell capacity and office space at the jail.

Work to provide funding to move county agencies to the 800 MHz system.

Work towards a full time emergency management program in the county.

Encourage radio activation for all sirens used for weather alerts and plan for additional sirens at populated sites in the county.

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HOUSING

Information for this report was gathered from a variety of Sources including:

The Hillsdale County Community Housing Assessment Team Report (CHAT) completed in July, 1998 (A Housing Assessment and Strategy for Hillsdale, Jonesville, Litchfield, Reading & Waldron, Michigan) conducted by Michigan Gas Utilities Community Assessment Team for the Hillsdale Industrial Development Commission; 1990 Census Data; a 1986 Community Action Agency Housing Study; Region 2 Planning Commission; and a public focus group held in February, 1998.

Recommendations from the Michigan Gas Utilities Assessment are current, well developed, and in accord with recommendations made by both the February Focus Group and the 1986 CAA Study.

 

Current Status

Housing Demographics/1986 Community Action Agency (CAA) Study

According to 1990 Census statistics, there are a total of 18,547 units within Hillsdale County with 16,733 being year round residences and 15,637 are occupied. 1,814 (9.8%) of our houses are considered seasonal or vacation homes and are generally located in and around the inland lakes in the County.

Hillsdale County's housing is mostly single family (74.4%) and owner occupied

22% of our housing units are renter occupied (3,566). The 1986 CAA study identified a shortage of rental property, especially of lower priced rental property. There are twice as many households with incomes below $10,000 (2,608) as there are rental unit available under $300 (1,211).

In general, renters have lower household incomes than homeowners, but spend a higher proportion of the income for housing costs. Although the median rent for the County is only $251, 27% of renters spend 35% or more of their income on rent. This is compared to only 1004 of homeowners who spend 35% or more of their income on a mortgage payment even though that median cost is $524.

The Hillsdale County homeowner vacancy rate is only 1.7%. The rental vacancy rate averages 5.6%. It is desirable to have a vacancy rate of approximately 10% to ensure adequate mobility.

Current vacancy rates of subsidized housing (which make up only 3.4% of our entire county housing stock) are attached along with 1990 Hillsdale County Census of township vacancy rates.

The average cost of a single-family home in November 1996 was $66,272 and in November 1997 was $88, 416 according to the Hillsdale County Board of Realtors.

The estimated population of Hillsdale County for 1996 was 45,887.

 

HILLSDALE COMPARED TO NATIONAL STATISTICS

Census data has found that in our county:

There are more single~family homes in Hillsdale than nationally

Residents are more likely to own their own homes

Homes are older and bigger, but only worth 48% of the national average

Homes are in need of repair

There is a higher percent of mobile homes in Hillsdale than the nation in general

The following data details some of these comparisons:

Substantially more County residents own their homes (77.2%) than is the case nationally (64.2%) or is the case in the state (71%).

Hillsdale County housing is aging. 36% of our homes were built before 1939, and 50% built prior to 1950. This compares to 29% built prior to 1950 nationally. Only 13% of the County housing units were built in the last decade compared to 21% nationally for the same time period.

In the 1990 Census, median value of a home in Hillsdale County is $41,400, only 48% of the national average of $86,529. Significantly, mobile homes or trailers make up 14% of the housing stock in Hillsdale, (2,584) compared to .06% nationally.

 

HOUSING DEVELOPMENT/GROWTH IN HILLSDALE

The following building permit information was obtained from the Region 2 Planning Commission. Note that most of the building that has taken place from 1990-1996 has taken place outside of the city limits of Hillsdale.

YEAR

SINGLE-FAMILY

MULTI-FAMILY

TOTAL FOR YEAR

1990

139

69

208

1991

232

1

233

1992

201

99

300

1993

181

9

190

1994

239

4

243

1995

219

0

219

1996

257

0

257

Recently, Hillsdale City has approved two new housing developments in response to the need for middle and higher income housing. A few condominium complex on Spring Street and a detached housing development slated for W. Bacon Road.

 

Issues

SUMMARY OF STRATEGIC ISSUES FOR SELECTED CITIES AND VILLAGE

STRATEGIC ISSUE

HILLSDALE

JONESVILLE

LITCHFIELD

READING

WALDRON

LACK OF SUBDIVISIONS

Community lacks buildable lots in subdivisions. Only available resources are infill lots.

x

x

 

x

x

HOUSING PRODUCTION

Community is not producing housing at levels consistent with projected demand

x

x

x

x

x

SHORTAGE OF HIGHER VALUE HOUSING

Community has an unmet demand for higher value housing for professional and managerial staff.

x

x

 

 

 

 

 

AFFORDABLE NEW HOUSING

Community is not producing housing that is affordable to production staff and low/ moderate income households.

x

x

x

x

x

PRESERVATION OF EXISTING HOUSING STOCK

Significant amount of housing requires some form of moderate rehabilitation.

x

x

x

x

x

LACK OF DEVELOPMENT CAPACITY

Community lacks adequate numbers of builders and developers involved in the housing market.

x

x

x

x

x

INTERGOVERNMENTAL COOPERATION

Community has disagreements or competition with townships on annexation and growth issues.

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRANSITIONAL HOUSING

Community has a need for transitional housing for new arrivals in the community arranging permanent housing.

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ECONOMIC CONSTRAINTS

Low values of rents make construction of higher cost housing economically unfeasible or difficult.

x

x

 

x

x

DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT

Community is addressing revitalization of town center districts.

x

x

x

x

 

LACK OF RENTAL HOUSING

Community has a significant lack of available rental housing. Available rentals are marginal in condition.

x

x

 

 

 

 

 

SENIOR HOUSING

Seniors who stay in town may desire alternative housing settings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMUNITY VALUE AND MARKETING

Other non-housing actions are needed to add value to community and attract economic and other growth. Marketing efforts may be needed to promote community as a place to live.

x

x

x

x

x

Although many of these issues were identified in the earlier 1986 study, a few additional issues that surfaced were (1) the high costs of home maintenance including heating costs. Only 40% of the county population use natural gas. Most use more expensive or less efficient fuels. (2) Lack of a County wide development plan.

A community-housing program must provide a strategic focus, as no effort can hope to operate on every front. The following issues and common themes emerge from this analysis:

Town versus country

Subdivision financing and outlying development

A range of housing types

- Affordable owner-occupied housing

- Rental housing

- Higher-cost market housing

Mobilization for affordable housing

Town centers

Preservation of existing housing stock

Intergovernmental relationships and joint development planning.

 

Affordability and Overall Demand

An important housing issue in Hillsdale County is the development of housing which is affordable to families. This analysis reviews the issue of "affordability" by considering price ranges that are affordable to different types of earners.

In order to determine the nature of the problem, it is necessary to define "affordability". Generally, an affordable housing unit is one that allows a household to pay 30% or less of its gross income for housing.

This factor is variable, depending on the fixed obligations of a household. For example, seniors without children to support often are willing to pay a larger percentage of their income for housing. On the other hand, a low-income household with children may need to spend a smaller amount. However, the 30% factor is generally accepted as a measure of affordability.

The "Housing Affordability Scenarios" table examines what affordability means for four possible household scenarios in the Hillsdale County market. These scenarios are based on typical situations and average wages within the region. They include:

A single-parent household, workings at an entry level hourly wage of $7.

A two-earner household, accounting for 1.5 FTE's working at an average wage of $9.50. This is consistent with the typical regional industrial wage of $8 to $10 per hour.

A two-earner household, accounting for 1.5 FTE's, working at a "mature" wage of$12.

A two-earner household, accounting for 2.0 FTE’s working at a "mature" wage of $12.

Table 3 then presents a summary of housing demands for the five communities, divided by price ranges and housing types.

 

HOUSING AFFORDABILITY SCENARIOS

SCENARIO

-SINGLE PARENT

-ENTRY LEVEL WAGE

-DUAL-EARNER

-AVERAGE WAGE

-DUAL-EARNER

-MATURE WAGE -1.5 FTE

-DUAL-EARNER

-MATURE WAGE -2.0 FTE

Gross Annual Income

$14,560

$29,640

$37,440

$49,920

Affordability Factor

.30

.30

.30

.30

Affordable Monthly Payment

364

741

936

1,248

Utilities Cost

80

120

130

100

Available for PITI

284

621

806

1,148

Taxes and Insurance

(25% of payment)

 

155

202

287

Available for PI

 

466

604

861

Affordable Housing Price

Rental Situation

 

   
Michigan State Housing Dev. Agency First Time Homebuyer (6.1%, 3% DP, 30-year fixed)

 

76,000

99,700

NA

FHA or Conventional (8.25%, 3% DP, 30-year fixed)

 

66,005

86,040

118,150

General Income Range

0-20,000

20,000-35,000

35,000-50,000

50,000-75,000

 

TEN-YEAR HOUSING DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

FIVE HILLSDALE COUNTY COMMUNITIES

 

HILLSDALE

JONESVILLE

LITCHFIELD

READING

WALDRON

TOTAL

Total Units Needed

355

198

77

63

30

723

Total Owner-Occupied Units

196

139

47

44

22

448

Affordable Units, $60,000-$80,000

50

34

14

13

10

121

Affordable Units, $80,000-$110,000

70

38

15

15

8

146

Moderate Market Rate Units, $110,000-$170,000

46

45

12

12

4

121

High Market Rate Units, $170,000 and Over

30

21

6

4

0

61

Total Rental Units

159

59

30

19

8

275

Tax Credit or Assisted Units, Rents less than $400

90

32

19

10

6

157

Affordable Rental or Market Rate Units, Rents over $450

69

27

11

9

2

118

Recommendations

The CHAT Reports recommends that a housing program for the five Hillsdale County communities should take the following strategic directions

1. Establish a cooperative framework for growth among governments, based on recognizing their individual and common objectives.

2. Establish an organizational Structure that creates partnerships between the private sector (lenders and major employers) and the public sector toward the development of affordable housing (Chart and outline attached)

3. Provide a supply of improved lots in subdivisions adequate to meet proportionate housing demands.

4. Develop a range of housing types that include:

- Affordable single-family housing that provides an attractive financial and physical product for buyers and provides incentives for builders. Develop needed rental housing directed toward new residents and people who either cannot afford or do not desire owner-occupied housing. Higher cost housing to meet demands of professional and managerial staff of county industries.

5. Develop effective rehabilitation and housing conservation programs

 

1998-1999

Establish the Hillsdale County Housing Partnership to coordinate housing effort

Create a Community Housing Development Organization through the Partners

Begin the process of development of one single family subdivision, focusing on Hillsdale

Begin a cooperative land use planning process involving Hillsdale City and Township, the Village of Jonesville and Fayette Township

Define a pilot downtown building for adaptive reuse and secure project financing

Establish a subdivision infrastructure finance policy

Complete a housing condition evaluation of area communities

 

1999-2000

Identify, Acquire, develop and market an affordable housing subdivision

Begin development of a 12 to 24 unit tax credit rental or rent to own development through the newly created CHDO.

Implement an expanded housing rehabilitation program.

Adopt and begin implementation of Housing Standards Code and code enforcement program

Implement a marketing program promoting the quality of residential life in the communities.

Recommendations of both the 1986 and a Community Focus Group convened in February, 1998 were consistent with those of the Chat Report. There was a great deal of interest in land use planning. The Focus group believes that local government should encourage a favorable climate for residential development. Soil surveys should be used and based on environmental land use plans. They also supported enforcement of a minimum housing code that could be applied whenever a property changes hands. Affordability as an issue is directly linked to family economics and community median income.

PARTNERSHIP CONCEPT

HILLSDALE COUNTY’S HOUSING DEMOGRAPHICS FROM 1990 CENSUS

LOCATION

HOMEOWNER VACANCY

RENTAL VACANCY

TOTAL HOUSING UNITS

Adams Township

1.4%

6.1%

938

Allen Township

2.3%

5.2%

621

Allen Village

3.8%

11.1%

94

Amboy Township

1.8%

5.7%

464

Cambria Township

1.9%

8.3%

1,200

Camden Township

2.5%

11.6%

831

Camden Village

2.2%

24.2%

204

Fayette Township

1.2%

6.2%

1,303

Hillsdale City

1.0%

5.4%

3,175

Hillsdale Township

2.1%

10.7%

767

Jefferson Township

2.2%

2.7%

1,416

Jonesville Village

1.2%

6.8%

947

Litchfield City

2.4%

3.1%

535

Litchfield Township

1.0%

1.7%

369

Montgomery Village

3.5%

4.3%

140

Moscow Township

0.8%

3.6%

509

North Adams Village

1.2%

3.0%

205

Pittsford Township

0.7%

0.0%

579

Ransom Township

0.0%

2.2%

337

Reading City

3.1%

8.6%

436

Reading Township

3.6%

1.2%

1,161

Scipio Township

0.7%

9.3%

553

Somerset Township

2.8%

4.2%

1,728

Waldron Village

0.0%

6.6%

234

Wheatland Township

1.4%

5.3%

444

Woodbridge Township

1.0%

9.5%

435

Wright Township

1.6%

6.4%

746

Hillsdale County

1.7%

5.6%

18,547

 

SUBSIDIZED APARTMENTS IN HILLSDALE COUNTY AS OF 10/97

HOW MANY UNITS

ACCEPT CHILDREN

VACANCIES

WAITING LIST

RENT

Hillsdale Garden 88 70 approx. units 0 50 30%
Spring Meadows 40 40 7   30%
Hillsdale Place 120 Only if grandparent is raising grandchild 3 0 30%
Beacon Hill 79 79 0 50 30%
Hilltop 60

Yes

2

Yes

30%

Friendship Village 40

No

0

Yes

30%

Meadowlands 36

36

7

Yes

30%

Parkwood 60

60

1

No

30%

Riverside 48

48

0

No

30%

Waldron Manor 24

24

4

Yes

30%

East Pointe Camden 20

20

4

Yes

30%

Walnut Junction 24

24

4

No

30%

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HANDICAP ACCESSIBILITY

Current Status

In April 1972, the Michigan Handicappers Civil Rights Act was passed. Section 504 of the document stated that those services which receive federal funds must not allow discriminatory practices to the handicapped. Then sometime later, was amended to provide that all public services either receiving or not receiving federal funds must not discriminate. Hillsdale County’s Courthouse was out of compliance.

In 1990, when the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was approved, public seminars, classes, conferences and fact sheets were provided to all attending area/regional meetings.

Hillsdale County hosted a conference largely attended by elected officials and employees of government entities. At this meeting, transition to ADA regulations was discussed, grant applications were made available and discussion of assignment of a "compliance director" was noted. Records are unclear to determine what, if any, progress was made toward their targeted date of January 26, 1992, to be in compliance. Financial records of the county indicated grave difficulty in obtaining funding support for retrofitting the courthouse to provide access to the historical facility. The Commissioners did change times of meetings to, in part, accommodate the disabled by holding one meeting in the District Court building in the evening. The other meeting was held in the Commission Chambers, 2nd floor of the courthouse.

On January 17, 1997, the County Commissioners adopted a Resolution authorizing a study committee that would create a strategic plan for the county to focus on, as we prepare for the 21st Century. Thus, the County Stakeholders Committee was created.

On April 4, 1997, representatives of the U.S. Department of Justice; the Michigan Protective and Advocacy Services and Federal Consultant on ADA Buildings, toured the Hillsdale Courthouse and Annex with County Commissioners and the County legal counsel. Subsequently, a meeting was held to discuss the retrofitting required to bring the courthouse in compliance.

Commissioners then decided to:

1. Create two large signs and place them outside the courthouse for directions to visitors.

2. Move thermostats in the Courthouse to wheelchair accessible level.

3. Move all Commissioner’s meetings to the County Extension Office.

4. Adopt a resolution prohibiting smoking in all county-owned buildings.

5. Hire an architect to study the Courthouse and Annex to determine the costs and timelines required to bring all county facilities in ADA compliance.

6. Visit several other counties where historic courthouses had been retrofitted.

7. Restripe the parking lot with specific handicapped parking areas designated.

8. Provide convenient telephone numbers for courthouse visitors so services could be brought to them.

It was recognized that all ADA requirements could not be implemented without considerable planning as costs to bring county buildings into compliance were well beyond the current means of the county.

Issues

Recommendations

There is no doubt that when ADA was signed into law by then President Bush in 1992, there were broad applications and it has brought many more people with disabilities into the mainstream of America. Hillsdale County Commissioners had searched and found a compendium of ADA reference material from various other states and counties. It has retained a virtual library of said resource data. One Commissioner represented the County at a national conference on refurbishment of historical courthouses, while bringing them into ADA compliance. Hillsdale Commissioners have sought successful and outstanding programs where cities and counties have worked together to insure full participation in the every day life for people with disabilities.

It is the recommendation of the Disabilities Committee that the County of Hillsdale:

1. Develop a Community Partnership Program. This program would recognize that the goal should be participation by the county, cities, townships and towns working together to insure full participation in everyday life for all people with disabilities.

2. Develop programs with the school systems of the county to assure that those students with disabilities are provided equal opportunity to explore career choices.

3. Emphasize the issue of employment for people with disabilities by establishing specific goals such as:

4. Promote the concept of working and living in an environment free of barriers. The goals of this project would include:

5. Develop/create a Disabilities Task Force program for the county, they could:

6. As the county continues to grow and public transportation systems respond to this development, all vehicles be provided with handicapped accessible equipment.

 

Though this committee originally directed its attention to county facilities, it soon became apparent that the issue was much more involved than our courthouse and annex. We trust the Disabilities Task Force could deal with the larger picture and fold in our business, industry, educators, and government officials into a meaningful county program that truly address the challenges of those in our midst with disabilities.

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PARKS & RECREATION

Current Status

The Hillsdale County Park system consists of three parks: Lewis Emery Park, Hemlock Lake Park, and Bird Lake Park.

Lewis Emery Park, being the largest of the county system, contains 98 acres, including 6 ponds ranging in size from 1 acre to 15 acres.

A new Community Center building, consisting of approximately 2,100 square feet, was completed in May, 1995, and opened for public use in June, 1995.

Two covered pavilions, several fishing docks, playground equipment, and two nature trails make this park highly versatile for persons of all ages.

Hemlock Lake Park is a 1.25 acre wooded area consisting of a small pavilion, picnic areas and playground equipment.

Bird Lake Park is a lakeside plat of land 60' x 120', used exclusively as a swimming beach. This is the only county park which allows swimming.

Issues

Improvements to Hillsdale County Parks are needed at the Bird Lake, Hemlock Lake, and Lewis Emery Parks. Over the longer term, additional development of the Lewis Emery Park si deemed necessary for parks system enhancement.

Recommendations

Current Recommendations

1. Pave parking area at Bird Lake Park.

2. Repair seawall at Bird Lake Park.

3. Install additional playground equipment at Hemlock Lake Park.

4. Rebuild bypass dam at State Street location in Lewis Emery Park.

5. Establish additional recreational facilities at Lewis Emery Park.

Future Recommendations

Lewis Emery Park

1. Additional paving of roads to include parking areas at pavilions.

2. Erect new entry at State Street entrance to park.

3. Clean and rebuild stone work on bypass channel.

4. Establish camping area. This would involve land acquisition and development.

5. Open road area between ponds 3 and 6, and erect a vehicular covered bridge approximately 150 feet in length. Such a structure, coupled with camping facilities, could possible become one of Hillsdale County’s premier attractions.

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PUBLIC UTILITIES

Current Status

Public utilities include sewer, water, and storm drain services, cable television, telephone, and electrical and gas service. Sewer, water, and storm drain services are provided municipalities. Each of Hillsdale County’s cities and villages provides sewer and water to its residences. The City of Hillsdale recently initiated construction of a water treatment plant to improve the quality of municipal water. The cost of this plant is $2.48 million. The average household will see little change in the cost of sewer and water services, however. Cable television is provided by Comcast Cablevision. Cablevision is available in the City of Hillsdale and the Village of Jonesville and much of the surrounding county. Telephone services are provided in Hillsdale and Jonesville and much of the rural area of Hillsdale County. Much of this area has fiber optic cable. Telephone service in Reading is provided by GTE where only rotary dial service is available. In Camden, Frontier provides fiber optic services. Fiber optic services are available in Waldron, through the Waldron telephone company, and in Litchfield through the Century telephone company. Electricity for Hillsdale is provided by the Hillsdale Board of Public Utilities. Consumers Energy services the balance of the community. Natural gas is available through Michigan Gas Utilities except for Litchfield, which is serviced be Southeast Michigan Gas Company. Natural gas is not available in the Waldron area.

Issues

In terms of needs for economic development, sewer, water, and storm drain services are adequate throughout Hillsdale County with two exceptions. The Village of Waldron which has both a sewer and water system, does not have adequate capacity in either system primarily because of the age of these systems. Storm drainage is adequate throughout the county except in the Camden area where some sewer separation is necessary to maintain treatment capability during storms. In the Reading area, an improvement to the telephone system to enable touch tone dialing would enhance economic development efforts. In addition, the availability of gas services in the Waldron area would benefit economic development efforts.

Discussions are underway between the City of Hillsdale and the Board of Public Utilities regarding the possible development of a city-wide fiber optic/coaxial hybrid communications system. The system would be modeled after a similar system in Coldwater, but with the benefit of knowledge gained from Coldwater’s experience. Several services would be available to city residences including cable television, high speed internet access, and enhanced services available to customers from the BPU, including the reading of meters, control of service, and monitoring of usage from a central location. Total cost is estimated to be $6.2 million. A public referendum is required by law prior to construction of such a system.

Recommendations

1. The Village of Waldron should continue to seek funding for improvements to its sewer and water system.

2. The problem of sewer separation needs in Camden is being addressed. The Village should continue to pursue the separation of its storm drain and sewage system.

3. The telephone service in the Reading area should be improved to accommodate touch tone dialing.

4. The City of Hillsdale and the Board of Public Utilities should resolve the issue of fiber optic service, advise residents of the value and its cost, and place the matter before the public in a referendum as required by law.

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