by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor

   What does 2020 look like for the Owosso area? As another year concludes and plans begin to build for a new year, instead of reflecting on all that happened in 2019, it might be more productive to glance at stories that are on the threshold for 2020. What follows are just a few projects or issues that will likely play out in upcoming months.

    As of the Monday, Dec. 16 regular Owosso City Council meeting, the council voted to have citizens vote on whether the city should move with another $10 million in bonds to help repair or reconstruct city streets. The item will be on the March 10, 2020 ballot.

   In 2016, the city of Owosso passed a $10 million streets bond aimed at declining street infrastructure and based on a 2012 study that had confirmed the continuing decline. That proposal passed. The city followed through with a street reconstruction plan, often including water main replacement projects. However, by 2020/2021, the city will have exhausted the 2016 bond funding. More information on the street bond can be found at – and will also certainly be addressed in upcoming city meetings.

   After kicking-off construction on the school’s new secondary campus on North Street, Owosso Public Schools (OPS) celebrated with a ceremonial groundbreaking last March. Crews have been endlessly working on the project, having also now completed related work at the elementary schools. As of November, some of the construction highlights included partially finishing the new fitness center (the previous auditorium), completing foundation work for the performing arts center with some walls now nearing completion (stage area), ongoing work on the new middle school gymnasium and much more. The estimated time of completion was set for early 2021, though much depends on bidding and construction processes.

   As for 2020, the community should witness the OPS campus project start to come together – a positive representation of the $45-plus million bond passed in November 2017. Architecturally, the additions appear to be seamless, with even the brickwork matching perfectly since the school was able to find and utilize the exact original-style brick.

    Also on the horizon, the city of Owosso will probably see more results on the four medical marijuana provisioning center licensing locations. The first provisioning center is set to open on N. Washington Street in early January. Now, however, recreational marijuana facility licensing has been added into the mix after 58 percent of Owosso voters approved passing it in November 2018. LARA released the emergency rules for recreational marijuana facility licensing in July. In October, the city approved scheduling a discussion at the upcoming Monday, Jan. 6 meeting. Meetings are held in the basement at the city hall building.

   The Owosso Middle School (OMS) could have a very positive future. The OPS board authorized Superintendent Dr. Andrea Tuttle to negotiate a bid proposal selling the Owosso Middle School in November. Early in December, the Consumers Energy Foundation provided a $150,000 grant toward transforming OMS into a residential and professional community for artists. The grant supports the Shiawassee Regional Chamber of Commerce foundation in serving as a potential developer incentive. In short, the school district has received a bid by Community Housing Network (CHN). The school board will likely vote on a contract for purchase agreement soon – possibly this January.

   Other areas for change in 2020 will see the historic move from St. Paul Catholic School on W. Main Street moving to the St. Joseph School site on E. Oliver Street. Also, Memorial Healthcare held a ceremonial groundbreaking last May for a new state-of-the-art facility that will be home to the Memorial Healthcare Institute for Neurosciences and Multiple Sclerosis, along with orthopedic practice, therapy and rehabilitation services. The site is just north of the Medical Arts Building on the Memorial Healthcare campus in Owosso, and work so far has included prep work and tree removal. The Owosso Historical Commission is still seeking a new executive director, so any applications that have been submitted, should likely be addressed soon.

   Covenant Eyes on W. King Street was approved for a 12-year tax abatement in October as the accountability software company has plans to add 3,500-square-feet and as many as 40 new employees – a story that should have significant potential in 2020.

   Significantly, the first PFAS contaminated site found in Shiawassee County, identified on W. Main Street in Owosso as the former Partz Corporation property last November, remains on the watch-list for EGLE (formerly the DEQ) and the Shiawassee Environmental Health Division of the Shiawassee Health Department.

What to Look For in 2020 – Owosso Area was last modified: January 6th, 2020 by Karen Elford