Pledging to remember the victims of the June 5 tornado and rebuild the community, Lake Township officials broke ground for a new township administration building with a gathering of about 80 persons looking on.
“Brick by brick we will rebuild this township,” Mark Hummer, township administrator and police chief said. “June 5th seems like a lifetime ago for a lot of us. Unfortunately it was a lifetime for seven of us.”
Melanie Bowen, a township trustee, asked the gathering for a moment of silence for the victims and their families.
“We will never forget them, never,” she said.
She thanked the many agencies and departments that assisted the township in the aftermath of the storm.
“Northwest Ohio wrapped their arms around us and helped us. There were 58 fire departments,” Bowen said. “Some trucks were here within a half hour.”
She thanked Walbridge Mayor Dan Wilczynski and councilmember Maureen Jacobsen who organized volunteers from the village’s employees to clean Friendship Park, which sits next to the destroyed administration building.
Ron Sims, a trustee, held up a shovel he used on May 27, 1993 to break ground for the building which is being replaced, noting it was about a week shy of 17 years to the day the tornado hit.
Township officials are preparing design plans for a memorial in front of the new building. It will feature a sculpture, pillars and trees.
“It will be a quiet place,” said Ron Hanely, the township parks supervisor.
The trustees have retained Normand and Associates, Inc., Perrysburg, as the architect for the new building at a cost of $105,000. Rudolph Libbe, Inc., Walbridge, was retained as the general contractor for $1.7 million.
The former building housed the police department and dispatching center, trustees’ offices, emergency medical service personnel living quarters, and the offices of the zoning inspector and fiscal officer.
The new building will be constructed at the same location at 27975 Cummings Road but will be larger, covering 14,183 square feet plus a porch area of 720 square feet.
A completion date of May 15, 2011 is included in the resolution to hire Rudolph Libbe.
The area in the old building used by the trustees for meetings will become the garage for the emergency medical service vehicles in the new building and will be ringed by living quarters and office space for EMS personnel.
The new meeting room of the trustees will be at the western end of the building and will be about 60 percent larger than the old room and an adjacent galley-style kitchen will be nearly double the size of the former kitchen.
The dispatching center will remain at the former Ohio Highway Patrol building on Lemoyne Road where the trustees are temporarily housing the police department after the tornado.
A portion of the new administration building, primarily around the police department offices, will be constructed with reinforced concrete to create a storm shelter.
The Black Swamp Humanitarian Awards Committee will recognize all the residents of Lake Township for their response to the tornado.
The award will be presented to the trustees Nov. 12 during a reception/dinner at Nazareth Hall, 21212 W. River Road, Grand Rapids.
“The committee is inviting you and your fellow trustees to the dinner so the three of you can accept the award on behalf of the residents of your township,” a letter from Joseph Frederick, committee chairperson, to Melanie Bowen says.
The committee was formed in 1988 to bring recognition to those persons in the Wood County area who take extraordinary action to help others.