Macomb Matters October 2022 Issue 84
- Message from Mark
- Employee Focus
- Employee Accolades
- New Hires/Retirees
- MSU-E offers financial and homeownership education
- Welcome Back, HealthStyles!
- National Transportation Safety Board officials visit Department of Roads, COMTEC
- ‘Tell Me Something Good’ section to share good news, employee stories
- A message from Andy McKinnon
- Open enrollment period starting soon
- Providing support by keeping it casual
- Macomb County Animal Control Adoption of the Month
- Shop Local Macomb returns in time for holiday season
- MMYH Ambassadors
- IT Download
- Paw Print
- Recipe Corner
- Blog Log
- News Nook
Click for a pdf of Macomb Matters
Message from Mark
Hello and welcome to Macomb Matters! We’ve got another great newsletter for you, but before you dive in, I wanted to share my appreciation for the countless individuals who are working diligently to build our new website. If you haven’t heard, the site, which is still under construction, has been a massive undertaking. Starting earlier this year, teams of people from every department and office joined together to develop a new strategy and plan for MacombGov.org - a website that is nearly 10 years old. The goal? To build a platform that serves all of our residents, no matter their ability. We’re well on the way to finishing this major project, so in the meantime, I’d just like to say thank you to everyone involved in this effort. I’m proud of the work we’re doing and excited to soon launch the final product. Stay tuned!
Now, we’re heading into November, which means it’s time to turn our collective attention to the election. The residents of Macomb County will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of our nation, state and local communities. So it’s important that our voice is heard throughout this election cycle. There are many candidates who have stepped up to represent our community, and a number of ballot measures that could help us invest in critical services. As political ads and mailings have started to hit the airwaves and mailboxes, the whole process can get rather confusing. I wanted to take a moment to highlight a few millage proposals that could have a positive impact for Macomb County.
This past year Macomb County was named the most veteran friendly county in the state of Michigan. With more than 47,000 veterans across our community, our Office of Veterans Services does an exceptional job of providing services and programs that protect those who have protected us. This upcoming election, Veterans Services is seeking a millage renewal to continue the exceptional work that they do.
Our friends at the Macomb Intermediate School District are asking the voters of Macomb County to consider a proposal to construct, renovate, and update facilities where more than 19,000 Macomb County special education students from all 21 public school districts receive specialized support.
Finally, Macomb County is being asked to renew its investment in the SMART transportation system. SMART has been an exceptional community transit provider for decades. From providing a lifeline to our seniors, to creating inventive on-demand service, SMART has continually developed community driven mobility solutions. This election cycle they have put forth a millage renewal that is a reduction in cost yet modernizes services.
In closing, I’d like to touch on the fall season in Macomb County - one of the best times to experience all our community has to offer. Our apple orchards and cider mills are great places to spend an afternoon with the kids. Our parks and trails are fantastic resources for getting outdoors and getting active. And our local events range from spooky and scary, to family-friendly. There’s truly something for everyone. So visit MakeMacombYourHome.com for more information and inspiration. We’ve got everything you need to fill up your calendar this month and beyond!
Take care and thank you for everything you do to make our community a great place to live, work and play.
Meet Denotra Morris, Shift Supervisor at the Macomb County Juvenile Justice Center.
Denotra was born and raised in Ypsilanti and is the oldest of her siblings. Her parents, George and Lewellyn Morris, have two other children: Denotra’s sister Nikia, who is an RN at Veterans’ Hospital, and her brother Darius, who is now deceased. The family is close, often celebrating birthdays and holidays together. Her mother and father instilled good morals and values in the family, and emphasized treating people kindly. It was modeled for them over and over, and that is the way they live their lives. She is very proud to come from a good family that's close knit, rich in traditions and cares about others. Denotra is the proud mother of a 27-year-old daughter named Emajae, who graduated cum laude from Central Michigan University. Emajae has received her paralegal certification from Oakland University and currently works for a top law firm in Southfield. She is applying for law school.
Outside of work, Denotra enjoys any uplifting activities in the community as well as spending time with family and friends. She loves to ride her bike and engage in all outdoor activities. Denotra finds engaging with nature and being outdoors revitalizing.
When you speak to Denotra, it is obvious that she is passionate about humanity and her hope for it. She commented: “It starts with you as an individual and how you treat others. It can be as simple as the way you answer your phone or when you first greet someone. Simple things mean a lot sometimes, please and thank you mean a lot! Holding the door for someone you don't know, buying someone's coffee behind you in the drive through, shoveling your elderly neighbor’s sidewalk after a snow storm. It makes all the difference in the world! I just really try to be the best person I can be every day!”
It comes through in her work as well. Rhonda Westphal, director of the Macomb County Juvenile Justice Center had this to say about Denotra: “Denotra’s background and experience working with troubled youth was invaluable in helping the Center transition to trauma-informed services in 2016. She was promoted to a supervisory position in 2016 and continues to work in this leadership role. Denotra routinely goes above and beyond promoting a positive and healthful environment for both residents and staff. We are lucky to have her as part of the Macomb County team!”
Thank you for your service and commitment to the community, Denotra.
Dispatcher Dylan Jones selected as Michigan APCO Telecommunicator of the Year
In September, the Macomb County Sheriff's Office announced that Dispatcher Dylan Jones was selected as the Michigan APCO Telecommunicator of the Year. According to the MCSO: “Dylan is able to balance emotion with reason, prioritize effectively, clearly understands purposes, objectives, practices and procedures of the department. He keeps alert to current practices and demonstrates a tremendous knowledge of resources. He excels in retaining knowledge of new procedures, enhancements or implementations. This is demonstrated daily through his excellent decision making and confidence in his ability to do the job. Recently, a homicide suspect was spotted by undercover units in our service area which resulted in a cross-county police pursuit and Dylan was the primary radio dispatcher. He did a phenomenal job of managing resources, while maintaining control and clear communication. Dylan has exceptional multi-tasking abilities.” Congratulations to Dylan from the Macomb Matters team!
Macomb County Sheriff's Office Emergency Dispatch team selected as the Michigan APCO Team of the Year
In addition to the announcement of Dispatcher Jones being named Telecommunicator of the Year, the Sheriff’s Office also shared that their Emergency Dispatch team was selected as the APCO Team of the Year. From the MCSO: “Office Dispatch center is a consolidated center with intergovernmental agreements with multiple agencies for full time dispatch services. The center is responsible for approximately 450,000 of the County’s 885,000 residents; serving four police agencies, 12 fire departments, and two EMS companies. The center has 54 full time dispatchers, five supervisors, one deputy director and one director. In 2021, MCSO Dispatch received 488,649 calls (both emergency and non-emergency). The center is staffed with 12 telecommunicators 16 hours a day, and nine telecommunicators the remaining eight hours in a day.” An incredible recognition for a great team. Congratulations from the Macomb Matters team!
Planning and Economic Development receives award from Michigan State University
The Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development was recently awarded a major recognition from Michigan State University, traveling to East Lansing to accept a Key Partner Award from MSU Extension. The department partners with MSUE on a number of programs and initiatives, including Citizen Planner, a six week program that offers education to locally appointed and elected planning officials and interested residents throughout Michigan. They were honored to receive the recognition and they’re thrilled to continue their partnership for many years to come. Go MCPED!
Is there someone in your office who deserves a “pat on the back” for an outstanding achievement? If so, please let the Macomb Matters committee know about it! Email Maria.email@example.com with the details.
The Macomb Matters Committee would like to congratulate James Ahee on his retirement after 15 years of service! James retired in September. He last served as the program director for economic development in the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.
What will you miss most about working for Macomb County?
Basically, two things. The first is working with the companies and their employees across the County to help them with what they need to continue being successful. The second is working with the folks at the County and doing what we need to do internally to help the companies with their needs.
What are you most proud of in your career with Macomb County?
One thing I'm most proud of is the people who have worked in the economic development group during my tenure. They are without a doubt one of the hardest working groups in the County. They are extremely dedicated and passionate about the companies and their success. The other item I am extremely proud of is the amount of investment we have assisted companies with (over $4 billion) and the jobs we helped create and retain.
Play with my five grandsons, watch their baseball and football games and start playing golf again in the spring, hopefully better than when I played before. Also catch up on my ‘honey do’ list and probably some travel.
Any words of advice?
Work hard and stay focused on your goals. Also, be adaptable. Everything continues to change faster and faster each day. If you do not remain flexible and adapt to the new environment, you will be left behind.
Click here for a list of New Hires/Retirees
MSU-E offers financial and homeownership education
Macomb County MSU Extension offers a variety of helpful housing and financial education programs and services to residents. They include:
Michigan Homeowner Assistance Fund (MIHAF): Do you know a homeowner who has been financially impacted by COVID due to a loss or decrease in income and/or an increase in expenses? Or perhaps you are one of those homeowners. Help is available. The State of Michigan offers financial assistance through its MIHAF program. The program may assist homeowners with delinquent mortgage payments, property taxes, utilities, condominium /homeowners’ association fees, and other expenses. MSU Extension can walk consumers through the application process and make it easier for people to apply for this assistance.
Homebuyer Education: MSU Extension offers education classes to individuals who are interested in buying their first home. We do this by connecting potential homebuyers with the State of Michigan programs that offer down payment assistance to qualifying first-time homebuyers. These programs require participants to take a four-hour homebuyer class from a HUD certified housing counselor. Our Homebuyer Education classes are offered remotely and multiple times every month.
Other programs and services: You can also sign up for webinars on credit, budgeting, identity theft, tax foreclosure basics, and other helpful topics.
For more information about housing and financial education programs and services offered by MSU Extension, contact us at 586-469-7609 or visit www.mimoneyhealth.org.
Submitted by Nancy Latham, MSU Extension Program Instructor
Welcome Back, HealthStyles!
The HealthStyles team is excited to announce the return of Macomb County’s wellness program! In an effort to better understand what employees want from this program, the team sent out a survey recently. Over 350 employees responded. The feedback showed the employees enjoyed the lunch and learn programs, walking challenges, exercise classes and the annual health fair. The majority of respondents preferred to participate in-person as opposed to remotely. The most popular areas of interest were healthy habits such as eating, sleeping and exercise, work-life balance, healthy relationships, mental and financial wellness and overall mindfulness. And 81 percent of the respondents indicated they had utilized the free resources offered by Ulliance, the County’s employee assistance program. A welcome back event for the Healthstyles wellness program was held in the Administration building on Wednesday, October 19th. Attendees were able to participate in a guided walk, meet with vendors and enjoy a light snack. Information about additional events will be announced soon, so keep an eye on your emails.
National Transportation Safety Board officials visit Department of Roads, COMTEC
Leaders from Macomb County and the Department of Roads (MCDR), recently hosted Michael Graham, member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and national transportation officials, who visited the Communications and Technology Center (COMTEC) to learn more about the county’s transportation technology and mobility initiatives. Joined by colleagues from the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC), Macomb County officials showcased MCDR’s use of state-of-the-art communication networks, vehicle and mobility detection, traffic monitoring, and connected vehicle technology to deliver a safe and reliable County road system.
Pictured: Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and MCDR personnel meet with officials from NTSB at COMTEC. Macomb County’s use of technology is critical to monitoring real-time traffic, signal operations and managing emergency responses to incidents on the roadways. COMTEC is a 25,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility at MCDR that monitors road conditions for the department, residents, motorists and first responders. The facility is equipped to monitor, manage and respond to everything from a routine traffic crash to an escalating emergency event – allowing the Department of Roads to deliver a safe, efficient, informative, and reliable traveling experience to the motoring public.
Pictured: MCDR Director of Traffic John Abraham (left) and NTSB Member Michael Graham (right) stand in front of a vehicle that was used to demonstrate traffic and connected vehicle technology. To match the level of innovation of businesses operating in the region, the Department of Roads has made significant investments in transportation infrastructure, including Innovate Mound, while incorporating state-of-the-art technology to support the long-term needs of Macomb County’s residents, businesses and communities.
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 roads.macombgov.org.
‘Tell Me Something Good’ section to share good news, employee stories
Macomb County Office of Senior Services hosts 31st annual Senior Fun Festival
Hundreds of local senior citizens recently attended the 31st annual Macomb County Senior Fun Festival at Macomb Community College. This was the first time the Macomb County Office of Senior Services was able to host the gathering since 2019 and it was a success. Featuring giveaways, health screenings, entertainment and more, the event was a hit with attendees.
“Here in Macomb County, we value our senior citizens,” said Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel. “Our Senior Fun Festival is the perfect setting to connect with our seniors and ensure they are aware of all the programs and partners that are here to help them thrive in Macomb.”
To learn more about programs and initiatives available through the Macomb County Office of Senior Services, visit macombgov.org/seniors.
Macomb County Parks and Natural Resources team volunteers at Lake St. Clair Metropark
Several weeks ago the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development’s Parks and Natural Resources team organized a Poplar Pull at Lake St. Clair Metropark to remove cottonwood tree saplings from the beach area. The goal? To protect recently planted native vegetation which prevent beach erosion and discourage the presence of Canadian geese and seagulls. All told the event was a success -- with about 12 volunteers, including staff from Faurecia, pitching in to fill an entire dumpster. The department would like to thank all involved for taking part in the opportunity.
Do you have something to share for an upcoming newsletter? Submit your good news here. Questions or looking for additional information? Email the Macomb Matters editorial team at Maria.firstname.lastname@example.org.
A message from Andy McKinnon
As mentioned in this edition of Macomb Matters, it’s that time again – open enrollment. While the article detailing open enrollment is outstanding, I wanted to focus on one particular item: Health Care Flexible Spending Accounts. I am hoping to do this briefly as I am sure this isn’t as exciting for all of you as it is for me. Some background is necessary due to all of the changes COVID has created over the past two years.
A Flexible Spending Account/Arrangement (FSA) is an arrangement through an employer that allows employees to pay for many out-of-pocket medical expenses with tax-free dollars. Allowed expenses include insurance copayments and deductibles, qualified prescription drugs, eyeglasses, contacts and medical devices, among other items. (There’s also an FSA for dependent care, but that’s not the focus of this article.)
- Employees can have 2.5 additional months to spend the leftover money. (Grace Period)
- Employees can carry over up to $500 to spend the next plan year. (Carryover)
Once the time for spending the set aside has expired, the money does revert back to the employer for administrative expenses.
As you may be aware, the County has historically chosen the first option (2.5 additional months) as the way that employees can spend down their balances. However, legislation due to COVID created a situation where the entire balance from the year prior was carried forward and there was no 2.5 month restriction. The legislation allowed for this in 2020, 2021 and 2022. That option has now expired.
For the 2023 plan year, the County will return to the Grace Period method for expending leftover funds. Therefore, all funds from 2022, or prior years due to COVID legislation, must be spent by mid-March 2023.
The County did switch its FSA plan administrator from BASIC to Health Equity for the 2022 plan year. During the last year BASIC was our provider, we had a myriad of administrative obstacles and overall poor customer service. Health Equity seems to have addressed this. While BASIC asked for unbelievable specificity in its documentation, Health Equity is much more user friendly and less cumbersome in its requirements. If you had exited our FSA due to the administrative hassles, I would recommend you give Health Equity a chance. The benefit of being able to put up to $3,050 away for health care expenses and never have that money taxed is a pretty nice benefit.
Because I have always been told that people read the first paragraph and the last paragraph of what you write, I want to close with one plea. Please spend all of your FSA money before March 15, 2023. Please do this as the County does not want to have any employee forfeit funds they have set aside.
I hope you are all having a nice fall and a great transition into winter.
Open enrollment period starting soon
The time to consider and select your benefits for 2023 is upon us! Open enrollment begins October 31 and ends November 14, 2022. Macomb County has what is known as “passive enrollment.” This means that if you do not want to make changes to your medical, dental, vision or supplemental life insurance benefits, you do not need to do anything. Your benefits package for 2023 will continue exactly as it is now. There is one exception to this: If you want to enroll in the flexible spending accounts (FSA) for medical or dependent expenses, you must re-enroll every year.
Flexible spending accounts are financial vehicles to reduce the costs of paying for health care or dependent care products and services. FSAs for medical expenses are no interest loans you make to yourself. You can select an amount to have deposited into the account, and the full amount is available for you to use on the first day of the year. For 2023, you can choose to deposit up to $3,050. Over the coming 12 months, payments are automatically deducted from your check on a pre-tax basis, which might also reduce your yearly income tax obligation. FSAs for dependent care services are different. The maximum amount that can be deposited into Dependent Care FSAs is $5,000. There is no debit card issued, and funds are not deposited up front. The money can only be used after it is deducted from your check. But these deductions are also done on a pre-tax basis, which may result in tax reduction for you. Because these contributions are made on a pre-tax basis, the IRS has regulations in place, and the funds must be used in compliance with their rules.
If you would like to evaluate what insurance plans the County offers, please visit https://hrlr.macombgov.org/HRLR-CountyBenefits. You will find all of the plan summaries there, as well as links to the various provider websites. If you would like more information about the flexible spending accounts, please visit https://hrlr.macombgov.org/HRLR-VoluntaryBenefits. You will find information about the medical and dependent care accounts, as well as links to Health Equity, the administrator of our flexible spending accounts.
Once you’ve done your research, if you decide to enroll in the flexible spending accounts, or change your benefits, you will need to log into Employee Navigator and follow the prompts to make your selections. And of course, if you have any questions or need assistance, please feel free to contact the Human Resources and Labor Relations benefits team at the number or email address listed above.
If you still have questions regarding which benefits would be best for you, you can speak to someone from the Human Resources and Labor Relations benefits team. Contact them at 586-469-469-5650, or send an email to email@example.com. You can also speak remotely with a Benefit Counselor from TMR & Associates, our plan administrator. Appointments can be made any day of the week from 10 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. by accessing this link: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/macombcounty
You can also call (313) 963-1135 for assistance with scheduling an appointment. Once you have added your information to the sign-up you will receive a reminder one day prior to your appointment, and will be able to make any changes if needed. If no changes are necessary, you will receive a call from a TMR Benefit Counselor on the date/time that you had selected.
Providing support by keeping it casual
The Board of Commissioners has announced the continuation of the Macomb County Casual Day Charitable Collections Program. Participating employees (with department leader permission) may wear casual clothing to work on Fridays (or other designated day), if they donate at least a dollar. Participating departments will be monitored, and donations are sent in a timely fashion. Collected donations are then sent by the Board Office to the assigned charities.
The BOC earlier this year announced the full list of programs it will support in 2022. Stay tuned for additional announcements on the topic, and in the meantime, if you are able, please participate in the upcoming Casual Days that will help:
November 4, 10, 18, 23
Charity: Vision Hope
Services: Supports important experiences to the children in the foster community.
December 2, 9, 16, 22
Charity: Marty’s Place
Services: A non-profit animal preserve/ sanctuary in Bruce Twp. They provide fun and educational interactions between humans and animals, great volunteer opportunities for the community and a tranquil place for visitors to enjoy.
Special – December 29
Charity: Supporting Kids in Pain (SKIP)
Services: A children’s charity for the benefit of sick children in hospitals, and under-privileged children.
Macomb County Animal Control Adoption of the Month - October
Pictured are just a few of the many animals who found a home with the help of Macomb County Animal Control! Is your companion waiting for you? Pay a visit to the shelter and find out! Visit the website for more information about pets available for adoption, information about the adoption process and hours of operation.
Shop Local Macomb returns in time for holiday season
While the holidays are weeks away, now is the time to start your seasonal shopping! And the Shop Local Macomb contest is back to make the hustle and bustle even more exciting.
If you’re not familiar with Shop Local Macomb, here’s a quick backgrounder. For the last several years, the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development has hosted the initiative to encourage the public to shop small during the holidays. And here in Macomb County, there is plenty of opportunity to do just that. From boutiques to gift shops, our County is home to more than 1,600 small businesses. So when we shop small, we are supporting our local economy.
Which brings us back to the contest. This year, participants have a chance to win one of ten $150 gift cards, donated by First State Bank, and an extra opportunity to help businesses receive a $1,000 grant. Businesses highlighted by consumers through photos will be automatically entered to win a grant.
To enter, patrons can:
- Snap a photo shopping with a local retailer
- Submit an entry on MakeMacombYourHome.com
- Share on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #ShopLocalMacomb
The fun kicks off November 17 and runs through December 4, with winners announced on December 5. So mark your calendars and get ready to support small businesses this holiday season. You might just be one of our Shop Local Macomb winners!
Learn more about the contest here.
MMYH Ambassador - Take a quiz, win a prize!
Welcome back to the MMYH Ambassadors column! This edition will feature an important program offered through Macomb County: Free career training at Macomb Community College.
Funded by a $515,000 “Regional Talent Innovation Grant” from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and $906,000 of Community Development Block Grant - CARES Act funds, Macomb County and its partners is offering free career training to individuals in specific, high-demand occupations.
Eligible students will be low- to moderate-income individuals who have experienced a COVID-related hardship with an interest in increasing their earning potential by obtaining industry-recognized credentials in a variety of fields. Coursework will be provided by Macomb Community College and focused on two key sectors with several credentialing options:
- Health Care: Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Dental Assistant, Phlebotomy
- Engineering & Advanced Technology: Controls Technician, Robot Technician, Marine Maintenance Technician
The ability to earn a credential in each of the offered programs ranges from 4-17 weeks. Tuition assistance also covers the costs of any needed books, supplies and/or testing fees. For more information about the program and access to an application, visit www.macombgov.org/careertraining.
Now - think you’re ready to complete the ambassador quiz and win some great County swag? Click here to get started and stay tuned for the next issue, where we’ll cover a new topic.
A message from Jako van Blerk: How the role of IT has changed over the past decade
I started my career at the County 19 years ago, and at that time, the main role of IT was to make sure your Desktop Computer, printers, the network and Application servers were working so that you could login and retrieve & manipulate information needed to do your job.
That has changed significantly over the past decade and it continues to change at a significant pace. Equipment has become more of a commodity, a consumable, that is replaced through contracts/agreements to keep them running. What has become more evident is that IT has now become a problem solver in business. It’s not so much about devices anymore as it is about ways and means to improve productivity, processes, etc.
Standard items that make your life easier today are text messages, emails, social media, virtual meetings, online banking and other means of interacting electronically. On the contrary, this can be frustrating too, because others have more access to you than they had before. Employees have to be more deliberate in balancing work life and home life to ensure that they spend quality private time. Everything I’ve said so far you already know. The point I’m making is that IT has become a vital part of our private lives and how we do business – it has blurred the lines between the two.
IT’s role in Macomb County Government is significantly different today as well. At IT, we are very aware of these changes and are adapting and steering our efforts towards change so that we don’t lag in quality service. Our job descriptions are changing in IT; if we don’t do it ourselves, the industry will do it for us. This transformation takes time and effort, but we are making the changes while at the same time keeping these transformational goals in line with the Executive Office’s guidance and direction, as well as our department’s needs.
Over the next few years our focus is to continue operating in a Cyber Safe environment, to provide solutions for our departments that will improve the way business is being done and to embark on data driven decision making. Please join us in this very exciting journey of discovery and change.
Greetings from Chief Randazzo!
Hurricane Ian dominated the news a couple of weeks ago, and clean up, rescue and recovery efforts remain urgent. There are many stories of families who found it difficult to find shelters that would accommodate them and their pets. And now, in the aftermath, people are returning to homes that may no longer exist. They are faced with urgent needs demanding immediate attention. It is an unfortunate fact that in the wake of disasters, there is an uptick in the number of lost animals, and animals who are surrendered. It’s tragic. Disasters are sometimes unavoidable. But separation from family doesn’t have to be.
While we don’t have hurricanes in Michigan, we do have flash floods, tornadoes and forest fires. There may be environmental issues that cause mandatory evacuations. We just never know. But there are some things all pet owners can do to better the odds of being able to protect and retain their pets before and after a disaster.
First, create and maintain an emergency kit in case you need to leave your home quickly, or if you are forced out and can’t return. This should include three to seven days’ worth of food and water (choose those pop-top cans, you might not have a can-opener). You’ll want to have your pet’s prescription medications as well, a two week supply if you can swing it. A first aid kit (including anti-diarrheal meds, antibiotic ointment, flea and tick meds, tweezers etc.), sanitation supplies (kitty litter, scoops), and important documents should be included. You’ll need travel supplies – a leash and crate, for example. Keep in mind that pets may experience the same anxiety their parents have during an emergency, so if they have comfort items, pack a couple of those as well. Keep your pet up to date with shots and get them microchipped. It’s critical when an animal can end up miles – even hundreds of miles – away from home.
That is the “before” work. After the emergency, you’ll want to give everyone the best chance to come out of this together. Don’t let your pets wander – they can be disoriented and get lost. This is where the leash and crate are handy, and why chipping is essential. There may be all sorts of debris and broken glass, so if you need that first aid kit, use it. Be patient with your pets and yourself, and reach out to your local animal shelter for post-disaster help.
Hopefully you’ll never need to make use of a disaster kit, for yourself or your pets. But just in case, with some pre-planning, you can increase the odds your family and pets will be intact before and after the disaster.
I can’t sign off without telling you about our Saturday and Sunday pet adoption events at Pet Supplies Plus located at 42241 Garfield Road, in Clinton Township. Adoptions are from noon to 3 p.m. We would love to see you there! And I also want to remind you about our great behind the scenes program, Animal Control on Patrol. Please keep in mind that some of our videos do capture animals in distressed situations, which can be difficult to watch. But you’ll get a much better understanding of what we do, day in and day out, to serve the families and pets of Macomb County. Take care and stay safe.
Pumpkin Ricotta Stuffed Shells
• 12 jumbo pasta shells (about 6 ounces)
• 1 1/4 cups nonfat ricotta cheese
• 3/4 cup pumpkin
• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 Tablespoons basil
• 1/4 teaspoon sage
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon pepper
• 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
• 1 cup pasta sauce
Serving size: 2 Shells
Servings per container: 6
Wash hands and all food preparation surfaces.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cook pasta shells according to package directions. Drain and place each on a baking sheet to cool.
- In a medium bowl, stir together ricotta, pumpkin, spices, and all but 1 Tablespoon of parmesan cheese. Reserve this for the topping.
- Spread pasta sauce in the bottom of a baking dish that holds all the shells in a single layer. Fill each shell with about 3 Tablespoons of pumpkin mixture and place shells together on top of the sauce.
- Cover pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese and bake for 15 minutes more.
- Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.
- Freeze unused pumpkin and add to soup, chili or pancake recipes
Recipe provided by: Food Hero, Oregon State University Extension, foodhero.org
Download a PDF version
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