- Message from Mark
- Macomb County officially opens new facility for its Office of the Public Defender
- Public input wanted as Macomb County updates Hazard Mitigation Plan
- Michigan’s unpredictable weather effects our roads, residents, and community
- Macomb County officials provide update on Macomb County Central Intake and Assessment Jail project
- 12th annual Macomb Business Awards seeking nominations and sponsors
- Help needed: Baby Resource Network of Macomb seeks input to help mothers
- Save the Date(s)
- Macomb in the news, Macomb blogs
Message from Mark
Hello and welcome to the first Focus Macomb for 2024. We’re only a few weeks into the new year, but there’s already exciting news to share. Earlier this month, we learned that Selfridge Air National Guard Base was selected as the home of a new squadron of refueling tankers. This means that SANG has a mission that ensures its future - which is not only important for our region and state, but for the country as a whole as the base is an essential asset for national security. I’m proud to continue advocating for Selfridge and will continue to find ways to support our hometown airbase and the individuals who work there.
I’d also like to share a reminder with you all, as tax season is upon us. Macomb County Veterans Services has officially launched the appointment portal for tax preparation assistance. Every year, this team coordinates a group of volunteers who help veterans and low-income individuals during tax season. In 2023, this support helped in the preparation of more than 2,700 returns - an incredible achievement. So reach out and schedule your time today, or visit macombgov.org/veterans for more information.
Finally, I want to remind you that this newsletter and our new County website, which launched in December, can be your number one source for news and information. From programs and resources, to local events, places to visit and more, you can count on us for all the latest and greatest.
Thank you and take care,
Macomb County officially opens new facility for its Office of the Public Defender
Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel officially opened the new Office of the Public Defender facility in downtown Mount Clemens on Jan. 12. The office, which is located at 22 Market Street, provides 9,640-square-feet of space dedicated to providing indigent defense services in the County.
“It’s incredible to see the growth of this office, and the expansion of the important services it provides in our community for those in need,” said Hackel. “Under the leadership of Public Defender Thomas Tomko, this team has grown in terms of staff, relationships with local courts, and the types of services it can offer residents. All of this ensures that every defendant receives legal counsel and representation, even if they cannot afford it.”
Since its inception, the Macomb County Charter has included a provision for an Office of the Public Defender. Over the past few years, the County, based on recommended standards and guidance from the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC), has worked towards the goal of creating this office. County leaders officially opened one with the assistance of grant funding in March 2020 and named Thomas Tomko its public defender in October of that year. The office, which was located at 16 Market Street in Mount Clemens, was 1,650-square-feet and included space for two staff members and five attorneys.
“The goal of the Office of Public Defender is to provide quality criminal defense services to indigent defendants facing criminal charges,” said Tomko. “As our office has grown, there was a real need for additional space to meet our overall administrative and representation missions. The grant funded expansion of the office allows us to better achieve these goals both now and in the future.”
Today, the mission of the Office of the Public Defender is twofold:
To operate, supervise and manage the Macomb County system of providing assigned counsel for indigent criminal defendants; and
To competently, effectively and vigorously protect and defend the constitutional rights of indigent clients represented by attorneys in the Macomb County Office of Public Defender.
To accomplish this, the team has grown to nine attorneys and six staff. In its new office, there is space to grow that number to 38 total employees.
“With full staff, the Office of the Public Defender is targeted to handle 25-30% of the felony indigent defense cases in Macomb County,” Tomko said. “It will also continue to assign cases to the over 200 roster attorneys who handle the remainder of local felony cases.”
In addition to extra space for staff, the facility, which was completed with grant funding from the MIDC, provides a design that meets all state standards. It features confidential meeting places and a multi-media training room that can accommodate 20 participants.
There are also facilities for an investigator, interns and a social worker, a position which can assist clients needing treatment, housing or employment. This new role demonstrates the County’s commitment to providing cutting-edge indigent defense services, something which will further expand later this year.
“This summer, Macomb County will be one of five counties in the state to participate in a newly developed fellowship program facilitated by Wayne State Law School and the MIDC,” said Tomko. “The program will work with students studying to be social workers and students studying to be attorneys, teaching them to take a broader holistic approach to indigent defense. This will ultimately improve the quality of defense, it will level the playing field when it comes to sentence recommendations, and it will reduce recidivism of indigent clients. The newly renovated Office space allows us to practice holistic defense and to be part of innovative new programs like the summer fellowship program.”
Public input wanted as Macomb County updates Hazard Mitigation Plan
Macomb County Emergency Management and Communications announced Jan. 19 that they are working with 25 Macomb County communities to update the County’s Hazard Mitigation Plan for the period of 2025-2030. The County’s Hazard Mitigation Plan identifies natural and human-caused hazards; the threats those hazards cause to the population, property, and the economy; and measures that can be taken to reduce the risks associated with those threats.
A current Hazard Mitigation Plan is required to access multiple sources of federal disaster relief funding under the Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program. The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 requires a plan to be updated every five years in order to remain current.
In order to develop a comprehensive plan, Macomb County will seek input from residents, community leaders, business owners, and other organizations into the planning process. The County will host a series of presentations to introduce the public to the plan and highlight areas where the community can get involved. Three community educational meetings will be held at various locations around the County:
- Thursday, January 25, 2024, 7 p.m. at Washington Township Hall, 57900 Van Dyke Ave, Washington Township
- Thursday, February 22, 2024, 7 p.m. at New Haven Village Hall, 57775 Main St, New Haven
- Tuesday, March 19, 2024, 7 p.m. at the Maybelle Burnette Library, 23345 Van Dyke Ave, Warren
Residents will have the opportunity to hear from County experts about the following topics:
- What hazards pose the greatest risk to the community
- The community’s perception of the hazards that may impact them the most
- Practical emergency preparedness tips individuals and families can use
- Avenues that the County and local communities will be taking to incorporate public input into the process
Examples of hazard mitigation measures identified through best practices include:
- Installation of emergency backup generators at critical facilities
- Construction of walls and barriers to protect flood-prone areas
- Construction of community storm shelters in high-density residential areas that are disproportionately impacted by severe weather.
A draft of the plan will be made available for public review prior to submission to the State of Michigan for approval. Questions regarding the hazard mitigation plan can be directed to Macomb County Emergency Management at 586-469-5270 or email@example.com.
Michigan’s unpredictable weather effects our roads, residents, and community
With a relatively mild winter, warmer than usual weather, and heavy precipitation, pothole season has started early in Macomb County. The Macomb County Department of Roads (MCDR) has received a higher than normal volume of calls related to road maintenance requests and concerns related to potholes.
MCDR takes a comprehensive approach to managing Macomb County’s roadways and crews perform maintenance year-round. The quickest and most efficient way to report a pothole is to submit a service request for road maintenance at macombgov.org/roads.
To submit a maintenance request, click on the “submit a service request” button and include the road and cross streets to provide our crews with the most accurate location possible. Requests are sent to the nearest maintenance service center to review and manage the issue. MCDR has four service centers located throughout the county in Clinton Township, New Haven, Shelby Township, and Washington Township.
Although we’ve experienced a mild winter to date, MCDR equipment and crews remain ready. With the support of the motoring public, MCDR’s goal is to keep the roads as safe as possible. MCDR cautions drivers to remain alert during and immediately following winter weather and reminds motorists to drive appropriately for the conditions. MCDR also urges drivers to follow these safety tips on the roadways:
- Give snowplows plenty of room to safely operate.
- Remove all snow and ice from your vehicle, including the hood, roof, trunk, headlights, taillights, windows, and mirrors.
- Buckle up.
- Start your drive early allowing extra time for slow driving conditions.
- Keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.
- Drive defensively and brake early. Stopping on icy roads requires three to nine times the distance to come to a complete stop.
For the latest news from the Department of Roads, follow MCDR on Facebook and sign up to receive email and text alerts for construction and traffic updates at macombgov.org/roads.
Macomb County officials provide update on Macomb County Central Intake and Assessment Jail project
Macomb County officials gathered on Jan. 18 at the Information Command Center in Mount Clemens to provide an update on the progress of the transformational Central Intake and Assessment Center (CIAC) Jail Project, a groundbreaking initiative aimed at addressing a national issue in corrections. The CIAC is poised to revolutionize the County's approach to inmate care, particularly for those with mental health needs, by replacing an aging jail system with modern facilities.
"We are extremely pleased with the progress being made by the entire team involved with this project,” said Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel. “This project demonstrates Macomb County's dedication to prioritizing the mental health needs of those who come in contact with law enforcement, providing a safer environment for our community”
The CIAC is designed to provide comprehensive intake and assessment services, focusing on the specific needs of inmates with mental health concerns. Construction of the new 177,000-square-foot center remains on track for completion in 2027 and will include space for a public lobby and secure passage, staff support, intake and release, court intake housing, medical and mental health, community corrections and general population housing. This initiative will mark a significant milestone in the County's commitment to modernize its correctional facilities.
Approximately 78,000-square-feet of existing facilities, including annex, max security, D block and rehab areas are scheduled for demolition later this year to make room for the new facility.
"The Central Intake and Assessment Center is a critical step forward in the County’s efforts to provide effective care for individuals in our custody,” said Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham. “We are committed to making sure the facilities align with the highest standards, setting a high standard for correctional facilities in Macomb County and across the region."
With an estimated project cost of $228 million, Macomb County is demonstrating its commitment to the well-being of its community by utilizing a combination of federal, state and County funding. The County is committed to advocating for improved mental health care for individuals in the community and will continue to partner with stakeholders to achieve this goal.
12th annual Macomb Business Awards seeking nominations and sponsors
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 will be Feb. 7 through 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 586-612-8427.
Help needed: Baby Resource Network of Macomb seeks input to help mothers
The Baby Resource Network of Macomb (BRN) is a local Community Action Team (CAT) with a diverse team of community partners and health professionals who are working together to decrease infant mortality in Macomb County. Led by the Macomb County Health Department, the team develops action plans for community outreach, education, and support to promote healthy pregnancies and infant safety and health.
Your help is needed.
The BRN is currently conducting a very brief (1-2 minute) survey on how mothers and other individuals get information about mother, infant, and child health. Survey responses will help provide valuable guidance on how to improve interactions with BRN clients. Your feedback would be greatly appreciated!
You can access the brief survey here.
Learn more about the Baby Resource Network of Macomb by visiting their web page.
Save the date
Feb. 15 from 5:30 - 8 p.m.
Nominations open: Feb. 7 - March 1
Event: May 9, 2024
Macomb in the news