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Focus Macomb - February 2024

Message from Mark 

Mark Hackel

Hello and welcome to Focus Macomb. While spring has not officially arrived, the sunny days and warmer temps are signs that it is just around the corner. With our 27 municipalities and the many parks, trails and natural spaces that make Macomb a great place to call home, it's never too early to get out and explore the many great things the County has to offer. Don't know where to start? Visit to find inspiration for your next outing and our Make Macomb Your Home Events Facebook page for all the latest on local events. 

And if you're looking for something to warm your heart, keeping a connection with your local community can be a great start. From volunteering with County programs like Meals on Wheels to donating to the Macomb Food Program and Animal Control, there are many ways for you to get involved. 

On another note, this month I had the pleasure of speaking at two very important events in Macomb County, and I’d like to share more on those opportunities. First, the premiere for a documentary produced by our Department of Planning and Economic Development - The Hidden History of Lake St. Clair. This grant-funded film provided an in-depth look at the lake, and the event was attended by more than 1,000 individuals who share a passion for this natural resource. Find more details and watch the film for yourself via the story later in this newsletter. More recently, I joined the National Association of Manufacturers, who held its annual State of Manufacturing Address right here in Macomb County. The address championed the unrivaled achievements of our 1,600 manufacturers in Macomb, and illustrated how manufacturing is the heartbeat of our economy. All told, I am incredibly optimistic about the future of manufacturing.  Not just here in Macomb County, but across the country, because from concept to consumer, no one does it better than how we do it right here in America. 

So here's to the final weeks of winter. Spring will be here before we know it. Thank you and take care,


Free tax preparation available for Macomb County veterans, income qualified individuals

a calculator and pen on top of tax forms

Macomb County Veterans Services has partnered with Macomb Community Action and the Accounting Aid Society to offer free tax help for local veterans and low-income individuals and families through its IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Services will be available at a variety of locations across the County through appointments, drop off, and walk-in opportunities from January 27 through April 15.

The tax program is offered annually and typically serves over 3,000 people. The following individuals can qualify for help: 

  • People who generally make $63,000 or less
  • Persons with disabilities
  • Limited English-speaking taxpayers
  • All military veterans

“We hope to help as many individuals as possible in navigating the complexities of the system and getting the returns they deserve,” said County Executive Mark Hackel. “This year we will accomplish this goal through a variety of options. From in-person to drop off, we’re here to help.”

In-person appointments can be made through the County’s online scheduler or by calling 586-463-2537. Walk-in opportunities where no appointment is required are also available at the following locations:

  • VerKuilen Building (21885 Dunham Road, Door F, Clinton Township) on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursdays from Noon to 6 p.m. 
  • VVA Chapter 154 (18025 E. 15 Mile Rd. Clinton Township) Mondays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (veterans only)

Individuals must have several items with them for service. More specific details can be found here. For those unable to meet these timeframes, extended tax services will be available from April 16 through September 30 by appointment only. Call 586-463-2537 for more information.

Hidden History documentary now available

The Hidden History of Lake St. Clair

Macomb County Planning and Economic Development (MCPED) recently unveiled the new grant-funded documentary film, ‘Hidden History of Lake St. Clair,’ at a special fundraiser event on Thursday, Feb. 15 at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts. The event, which benefited the Noble Odyssey Foundation and the Macomb Chamber’s new Blue Economy Committee, was open to the public and saw more than 1,000 attendees. 

“We’ve been working on this project for several years and the film for an entire year now, and I am so pleased with the results,” said Gerard Santoro, program director, parks and natural resources, MCPED. “Our filmmakers and historians have done a phenomenal job uncovering information and documents that relate to Lake St. Clair and local settlers from the 1800s. We’re focused on some stories that have truly never been told before. So attendees walked away with new knowledge of, and hopefully new appreciation for, our lake and gateway to the Great Lakes.”

“Lake St. Clair is one of Macomb County’s greatest assets, so it’s incredible to have the opportunity to create this film and document why the waterway matters so much for our region and state,” said County Executive Mark Hackel.”

The film focuses on the search for the remains of the Village of Belvidere and the Church of St. Felicity, two early settlements believed to have been consumed by the rising waters of Lake St. Clair around 1855. Researchers, historians and archeologists have worked for decades to find artifacts and supporting documentation regarding the sites, but water levels and other factors have made this challenging. Hidden History filmmaker Robert Krepke showcases this in the documentary.

“This documentary video was exciting to create,” said Krepke, a noted film director, Ford Motor Company’s corporate historian emeritus and an award winning documentary filmmaker. “Lake St. Clair is very unique, it boasts the largest freshwater delta in the world. Great imagery depicts this fabulous freshwater treasure in the underwater search for the lost town of Belvidere and the Saint Felicity Church. This film takes the audience on an adventure through aerial photography, underwater photography, and much more as it highlights the remarkable features of Lake St. Clair.” 

The film serves to educate viewers about the settlements, but also the larger story of Lake St. Clair and its ongoing significance. Notably, it is now available for viewing online at Additional information and education tools are listed on this page as well. 

Macomb County Health Department announces 2024-2028 Community Health Improvement Plan

community health planning underway

The Healthy Macomb Advisory Committee, a group of over 25 partner organizations that is led by the Macomb County Health Department recently completed the 2024 -2028 Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). The CHIP is a community-driven workplan that provides guidance to the Health Department, community partners, stakeholders, and residents on improving the health of the population within Macomb County. 

The CHIP is based on the 2022-2023 Community Health Assessment (CHA). The CHA, which was started in late 2020 and completed during the summer of 2023, is a systematic process used to identify key health needs and issues through a comprehensive review of existing resources, administration of community surveys and analysis of health data that affects the health of Macomb County residents. Priority areas identified through the assessment process and incorporated in the CHIP include Behavioral Health and Substance Use, Social Determinants and Built Environment, and Chronic Disease and Healthy Lifestyles.

“Being able to do an extensive examination of community health in Macomb County allows Healthy Macomb to develop community-driven health improvement plans and strategies that specifically address the needs of our residents and families,” said Andrew Cox, Director of Macomb County Health and Community Services. “This process is vital in helping us and our partners take a proactive and equitable approach to health in the communities we serve.”

The CHA-CHIP process underscores the Macomb County Health Department’s status and recognition as a Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) accredited health department and its ongoing commitment to quality improvement and forward-thinking approach to delivery of public health services.

Green Macomb tree and plant sale returns

newly planted trees in a field

Green Macomb and the Blue Water Conservation District have announced the return of their annual tree and plant sale, an opportunity for the public to purchase young trees, fruit trees, flowering shrubs, wildflower seed and other fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices. The sale is now open and will run through Friday, April 5.

“Our goal is to increase the tree canopy in Macomb County and the Green Macomb Tree and Plant sale helps us do just that,” said Gerard Santoro, program director for Macomb County Parks and Natural Resources. “We created the sale seven years ago and so far the response from residents has been amazing. It’s a privilege to be able to provide homeowners the affordable means to spruce up their gardens this year, as well.”

Items available for order include arbor vitae, douglas fir, norway spruce, paper birch, redbud, red osier and much more. Prices range from $7 to $55 while supplies last.

“Once again, we are proud to partner with the Blue Water Conservation District in promoting this tree sale,” Santoro said. “When buyers make their purchases, they’re benefitting not just their yards, but their communities, as well. Plant life helps to increase property value, decrease pollution and reduce home energy usage.”

All items purchased can be picked up in person or shipped to your home. There will be two pick-up locations in Macomb County:

  • April 22 and 23 - Armada Fairgrounds
  • April 25 and 26 - Clinton Township Civic Center

 A limited stock of trees and plants will be available for purchase on site.

Since the sale began seven years ago, more than 100,000 trees and plants have been purchased by residents, businesses and communities throughout Macomb County. For more information on the tree and plant sale, visit the Green Macomb website.

12th annual Macomb Business Awards seeking nominations and sponsors

Macomb Business Awards - Nominations

Macomb County Planning and Economic Development is happy to announce that the Macomb Business Awards is back for 2024! This 12th annual event will recognize local organizations who strive to embrace diversity, expand their market, be good neighbors or build their workforce with the following categories:

  • Best Place to Work: A company making a conscious effort to create a welcoming culture where all employees feel valued.
  • Fueling the Talent Pipeline: A company creating opportunities for the next generation of our workforce through meaningful career exploration experiences.
  • Hidden Gem: A commercial business offering a unique Macomb County product, service or experience that deserves more recognition.
  • Hometown Hero: An organization that goes above and beyond to make our community a better place through employee volunteerism or giving programs.
  • Manufacturer of the Year (presented by Macomb Next): A manufacturer achieving success through its use of modern, smart technology to adapt to industry demands and diversify its customer base.
  • Nonprofit of the Year: An organization that addresses an important need and plays a vital role in our local community, by contributing significantly to the well-being, vitality and growth of Macomb County. Must be a 501(C) organization. Please include a copy of your tax-exempt status letter from the IRS.
  • Startup of the Year: A company, in operation for three years or less, providing products or services that have the most promising potential for success. Please include a copy of your business registration with the state of Michigan (LARA), or the Macomb County Clerk.

The nomination period remains open through 11:59 p.m. on March 1, and while self nominations are preferred, those from a friend, colleague or customer are welcome, as well. Nominated organizations will then have their innovations, resilience and generosity celebrated on May 9 at Andiamo’s in Warren, starting at 8:30 a.m. where the winners of each category will be presented.

To support this event, MCPED is also seeking sponsorship. To become a sponsor, please visit the Macomb Business Awards sponsorship form, or learn more by contacting Project Manager Lauri Morley at or 586-612-8427.

The birth of a pothole

How a pothole is created

With a relatively mild winter, warmer than usual weather, and heavy precipitation, we have received a higher than normal volume of road maintenance requests and concerns related to potholes.

While the Department of Roads performs maintenance on our roadways throughout the year, all roads are subject to the freezing and thawing process, which has been amplified by the mount of precipitation we’ve received this winter. Our maintenance teams are working diligently to fill potholes and respond to as many service requests as possible.

The quickest and most efficient way to report a pothole is to submit a service request for road maintenance.

  • Select “road maintenance” from the drop-down menu and include as much information regarding the pothole location and cross streets.
  • If you're contacting the Department of Roads regarding an emergency road condition or immediate safety concern, please call 586-463-8671.
  • If you’re calling regarding an emergency, please dial 911.

Save the date

12th annual Macomb Business Awards logo
Macomb Business Awards

Nominations open: Feb. 7 - March 1
Event: May 9, 2024



For more happenings throughout the county, visit Make Macomb Your Home events and stay up to date with the Make Macomb Your Home official Facebook page.

Department:Planning and Economic Development