AFTER BREAKING GROUND on an 8,000-square-foot, two story addition to the James P. Capitan Center on July 24, 2018, the Shiawassee County Health Department (SCHD) hosted a ribbon cutting and building tours on Tuesday, June 4 to unveil the new county facility to the public. The building, which actually opened in mid-March, was built by Perrin Construction, of Durand, and houses the SCHD’s WIC, Immunization, STI and Communicable Disease offices, which were previously located in the basement of the 66th District Court building.
As previously reported, the $1.2 million project was funded by the SCHD, with no county General Fund dollars. Most of the Health Department’s $3 million annual budget is comprised of Medicaid and grant funding, with only 10 percent coming from the county. While local governments throughout Michigan have struggled financially since 2008, Shiawassee County Health Director Larry Johnson and the Health Board saved and planned for years to put themselves in a position to expand the Health Department at no additional expense to county taxpayers.
“We have scrimped and saved for years to be able to afford this on our own,” Johnson said. “Our public health division has been stuck in that basement for 40 years, so this been a long time coming. We made it a priority years ago to expand the Health Department, and it is nice to see our hard work finally come to fruition. This is a first-class facility and is really something special for our community. This building will benefit the residents of Shiawassee County for years to come.”
Health Board chairperson Mary Buginsky addressed an audience on Tuesday that included fellow Health Board members; Health Department staff; commissioners Dan McMaster, Gary Holzhausen and John Plowman; the Honorable Ward Clarkson; representatives from Perrin Construction; and, of course, the Shiawassee Regional Chamber of Commerce, which helped coordinate the ribbon cutting.
Buginsky thanked former Health Director George Pichette, current Health Director Larry Johnson, project financial officer Rex Pierce, Perrin Construction, the Board of Commissioners and her fellow Health Board members, Gene Paez, John Pajtas, Patricia Cords and the deceased James Capitan, for whom the building is named.
“We may not be the Fab Five,” began Buginsky, in reference to the University of Michigan basketball team’s famed 1991 recruiting class, “but we are the fabulous over 55 that made this happen. Our memories may be in the past, but we know it is the future that counts. We all saw the need and just worked together to get this done.”
(Independent Photo/Graham Sturgeon)