L'ANSE - It's been a long time coming, but later this week Baraga County officials will move several offices from the 133-year-old Baraga County Courthouse to a recently purchased building downtown.
County officials and staff, and work crews from the county jail and tribal community corrections have been busy moving county records to the basement of the former L'Anse Pharmacy building on 2 South Main St. in downtown L'Anse. The following offices will be on a three-day shutdown starting Thursday to complete the move: County clerk/register of deeds, treasury, equalization, veterans' affairs, Michigan State University Extension and 911 director.
"It's been going smoothly," county clerk Wendy Goodreau said. "We're going to move as quickly as we can. I expect to be working through the weekend myself. We're trying to make this as efficient of a move as possible and interrupt services as little as possible, but it's something we have to do."
Stephen Anderson/Daily Mining Gazette
Baraga County officials will start moving several county offices and records into the former L’Anse Pharmacy building on 2 South Main Street in downtown L’Anse, shown here recently with new front signage.
While Goodreau said the county is calling it a shutdown and resources will be limited Thursday and Friday, she said staff will be available and on-site going between the buildings.
County records had been overflowing in the hallways at the courthouse, and those are being moved first to the basement of the downtown building, which was purchased for $410,000 in June, with $225,000 in financing through Superior National Bank.
"The basement will be for the records. We'll fill it up," Goodreau said. "We're trying to do it in a slow, methodical way so things are in order as we go."
The first wave of records will be followed by records that have been kept in off-site storage. Those records, which were previously housed in the courthouse attic, were already moved off-site after officials were warned the weight of the records could lead to a ceiling collapse in the courthouse.
County officials had hoped to move all courthouse functions to the former Baraga County Memorial Hospital facility, but voters twice shot down ballot proposals to allow that move. Issues have continued to surface at the courthouse, from a malfunctioning boiler to required elevator repairs.
Now, some of the issues will be alleviated by the office move, which will start with Baraga Telephone transferring the county's phone system and network server to the downtown office building tonight.
After the three-day move is complete, some minor renovations will then need to be done in the courthouse to accommodate moving the county prosecutor's office from the courthouse annex to the courthouse building.
"I believe we can make these functions work seamlessly with the offices remaining at the courthouse," Goodreau said.
The annex, which was previously condemned as the county jail, will eventually be demolished, but since the boiler for both buildings is in the annex, the county will need to replace the boiler first. A timeline on demolition and boiler replacement has not been set.
"We just want people to be patient with us," Goodreau said. "My office is looking to put in a little more effort to make it a very efficient transition to help the public get adjusted to it."