County to host informational meetings on vintage courthouse project

Published 8:00 am Friday, December 4, 2015

As the initial phase of work on the 1899 courthouse draws to a close, Cass County leaders are again seeking guidance from the public as they plot out the future of the historic structure.

The county’s Historic Courthouse Committee is hosting a series of public informational sessions about the progress of the ongoing restoration project and how residents can get involved throughout the next several months. The meeting dates are:

• Monday, Dec. 7, 2015, Ontwa Township Hall, Edwardsburg, 7 p.m.

• Jan. 4, 2015, Marcellus Library, Marcellus, 7 pm.

• Feb. 1, 2016, Southwest Michigan College, Dowagiac, 7 p.m.

• March 7, 2016, Cass County Road Commission, Cassopolis, 7 p.m.

• April 4, 2016, Vandalia Village Hall, Vandalia, 7 p.m.

At each of the sessions, members of the courthouse committee will give a short presentation of the work done over the last two years to stabilize the mothballed county building. After that, they will present the results from the countywide survey they sent out several years ago. Finally, the leaders will answer questions from the audience and brainstorm potential uses for the structure.

These meetings provide a chance for residents across all of Cass County the opportunity to go some where within a short drive of their home, to learn more about the project and give the committee their feedback or suggestions about how the county should proceed, said Bernie Williamson, chairperson of the Cass County Board of Commissioners and a member of the Historic Courthouse Committee.

“The most important reason we’re hosting these is so that people need to know they have input, and they are being heard,” Williamson said.

Suggestions given by participants at these meetings will be compiled with those already received from residents who have participated in the survey or earlier meetings, Williamson said. The top ideas will be explored further next year, when the committee begins researching possible sources for funding a potential restoration of courthouse.

“By early spring, we should have a significant number of responses,” she said. “The pattern should be clear then with what people want us to do with the building.”

Whether they support the restoration project or have objections, residents are encouraged to attend whichever of the sessions they can participate in.

“We don’t want anyone to feel like they are not a part of this,” Williamson said.

Additional information about the courthouse project is available on the Cass County website,