- Message from Mark
- County budget approved by Board of Commissioners
- Macomb County Department of Roads ready for ice and snow
- Macomb County wins top award for green infrastructure project
- Vicki Wolber named chair of SMART board
- Macomb named Veteran Friendly County of the Year by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency
- Green Macomb spearheads tree plantings in Armada and Clinton Township
- Business Shoutout: DCS Corporation
- MCDR shake your mailbox
- Health Department offers vaccinations
- Macomb in the News, Macomb Business Blog
Message from Mark
Hello and welcome to Focus Macomb, a newsletter from the Office of the County Executive and the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.
First I’d like to share that this communication will be changing from a quarterly release to monthly. This means that county news will be coming directly to your inbox once a month, every month. From new programs and initiatives, to department updates, you’ll have the latest information right at your fingertips.
So stay tuned for future editions and keep reading this issue for some timely updates, including one that is both exciting and seasonal: The return of Shop Local Macomb! I am thrilled to share that our fifth annual campaign is back just in time for the holidays. As always, participants that shop at one of our nearly 1,600 independently owned and operated retailers will have the opportunity to enter our contest at MakeMacombYourHome.com and a chance to win one of 10 $150 gift cards provided by First State Bank. And like last year, businesses highlighted by consumers through entries will be automatically eligible to win a $1,000 grant! But don’t wait! The contest ends December 5 - so get out there and get shopping! Because everyone benefits when we buy local.
Thank you. Here’s to a happy and healthy holiday season.
County budget approved by Board of Commissioners
On Thursday, November 18, the Macomb County Board of Commissioners passed its first-ever $1 billion budget. Funding priorities include enhancing public health and public safety, mental health services, community action programs, road construction and maintenance, investments in capital infrastructure and redesigning county services to better align with the changing social conditions caused by COVID-19.
“The county’s sound budgetary practices have put us in an exceptional financial position,” said Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel. “Our department leaders, countywide electeds and employees have helped create an efficient and economical spending plan that expands service networks, exceeds all regulatory obligations and adds to our fund balance.”
This is the 11th consecutive year that the Macomb County Finance Team has prepared a structurally balanced county budget.
“It is our top priority to develop a financially sound budget that exceeds all statutory requirements,” said Macomb County Finance Director Stephen Smigiel. “We’ve again achieved that goal, which will allow us to strategically invest in our future, efficiently manage our resources and respond to whatever challenges arise over the next year.”
The county’s financial best-practices and history of balanced budgets has allowed Macomb to preserve its fund balances and maintain its highly coveted AA+ bond rating. The 2022 budget can be found here.
Macomb County Department of Roads ready for ice and snow
The Macomb County Department of Roads (MCDR) is gearing up for ice and snow with the addition of new winter maintenance equipment and getting trucks and plows prepared for winter.
“Michigan’s unpredictable weather impacts our roads, residents and community. Road safety and winter readiness are top priorities for Macomb County,” said MCDR Director Bryan Santo. “We work relentlessly to ensure our winter operations maintain a safe and drivable road system for all Macomb County motorists and visitors.”
In advance of winter operations, the Department of Roads purchased several tandem axle, single axle, and semi-trucks for Macomb County’s service centers in Washington Township, New Haven, Clinton Township, and Shelby Township. MCDR has a winter maintenance fleet of more than 100 snowplows, salt trucks and graders. The department has an annual average budget of $4 million to keep the fleet on the road and up to date with technology and equipment. In 2020, MCDR spent more than $6 million on winter maintenance for primary, local and state roads.
With the support of the motoring public, MCDR’s goal is to keep the roads as safe as possible. The Department of Roads cautions drivers to remain alert during and immediately following winter weather and reminds motorists to drive appropriately for conditions and to give snowplows plenty of room to safely clear the roads. MCDR also urges drivers to follow these safety tips on the roadways:
- Remove all snow and ice from your vehicle, including the hood, roof, truck, 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 roads.macombgov.org.
Macomb County wins top award for green infrastructure project
A project by the Macomb County Public Works Office that uses green infrastructure to improve water quality has earned the top award from the Michigan chapter of the American Public Works Association.
The “daylighting and green infrastructure retrofit” of the Sterling Relief Drain in Sterling Heights was awarded Project of the Year in the category of Quality of Life/$1 Million to $5 Million, by the Michigan chapter of the APWA.
“We’re proud and honored to receive this award from the APWA,” Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice S. Miller said. “Like we always say, ‘Water quality equals quality of life,’ and this project has been a notable and innovative effort to improve both.”
The Sterling Relief Drain – located south of Metropolitan Parkway, from west of Ryan Road to east of Schoenherr Road -- was built in the 1960s and drains the stormwater from 20% of Sterling Heights. It outlets to the Red Run Drain to the east, and the flow eventually reaches Lake St. Clair.
The project’s primary goal was to improve water quality by redesigning and retrofitting two miles of open channel drain by forcing the flow into a naturalized green corridor after “daylighting” – or exposing – two lateral storm drains and removing a 300-foot stretch of pipe to make it appear more like an intermittent stream. The ground then acts as a sponge, soaking up harmful nutrients and sediment before they have a chance to reach the Red Run Drain during normal rain events.
Approximately 135,000 native perennial plant plugs were planted on the slope and bottom of the open channel including native pollinator plants to create a 2.5-mile-long butterfly flyway. Additionally, more than 1,000 shrubs were planted in the bio-retention areas. Hundreds of 1- to 2-inch caliper native species trees were planted to establish a tree canopy.
The project started in 2018, with most of the work performed in 2019. It was funded by grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.
“This project is all about water quality and improving our environment, which improves our quality of life,” said Miller.
Vicki Wolber named chair of SMART board
In October, Deputy County Executive Vicki Wolber was elected chair of the SMART Board of Directors. SMART, also known as the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation, is southeast Michigan's regional bus system helping people connect to work, school, medical appointments, shopping centers, entertainment and cultural events. Wolber joined the SMART board as one of two Macomb County representatives in May 2019. The chair serves for a one-year term and is reappointed annually.
Wolber was appointed deputy county executive by County Executive Mark Hackel in 2018. She started with the county in 2000 as assistant director of Macomb’s Emergency Management and Communications Department and became director in 2007, a role where she was entrusted with preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation activities as they pertain to large-scale emergencies or disasters. She was also responsible for the coordination, oversight and maintenance of the county’s 800 MHz Public Safety Radio Communications System, which provides voice communications for all of the public safety agencies in the county.
Notably, Wolber also oversaw the creation of the Communications & Technology Center (COMTEC) for Macomb County, a state-of-the-art facility which houses the Sheriff’s Office Dispatch, the Road Department Traffic Operations Center, the Information Technology Department and their Data Center and the Emergency Management Office.
Prior to this work with Macomb County, Wolber was employed with the city of Fraser, where she progressed from a part-time secretary in the Fraser Department of Public Works to emergency management coordinator and then finally, to deputy city clerk. She is a certified Professional Emergency Manager (PEM) in the State of Michigan and is a graduate of Walsh College and Macomb Community College.
Macomb named Veteran Friendly County of the Year by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency
Macomb County has been selected by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) as its “Veteran Friendly County of the Year.” The award recognizes counties that demonstrate noteworthy impact on its veteran population through the use of a County Veterans Service Fund Grant and other resources in the areas of benefit connectivity, employment, education, health care, quality of life and/or innovative programming.
"When it comes to our veterans, we take pride in serving those who have served us,'' said Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel. "It is not only our duty to provide support to our veterans, it's our honor. The Macomb County Office of Veterans Services focuses on helping them receive the benefits they deserve. They are on the ground every day connecting individuals with resources and guiding people through complex processes. It's because of these efforts that Macomb County has the distinction of being the number one veteran friendly county in the state."
Macomb County’s Veterans Service Fund Grant from the MVAA has been used for a variety of advertising campaigns that have increased website traffic and contacts with veterans. The grant has also been used for doctor opinion letters for PTSD and hearing loss, financial coaches and a site coordinator for tax assistance programs. Outside of the grant, the county has a veterans mileage to provide additional support for those that have served our country. These additional funds have made it possible for veterans to receive assistance above and beyond what is offered as a benefit for service from the federal government.
Ultimately, Macomb County Office of Veterans Services Director Laura Rios attributes the MVAA honor to the active and responsive coalition of agencies who stand ready to offer whatever assistance a veteran may need.
“Through the Macomb Veterans Action Collaborative, we take a person-centered approach to every veteran who asks for our help,” Rios said. “We are able to provide individualized assistance to veterans based on their specific needs. With the help of many organizations, we are able to provide job assistance, veteran specific emergent need food, health care transportation, housing assistance, financial counseling, homecare, women veterans support groups, readjustment counseling and education assistance.”
County officials accepted the Veteran Friendly County of the Year honor at the MVAA’s first-ever Michigan Military & Veterans Gala on November 6. Katie Carroll, an employee within Macomb County Veterans Services, also accepted an individual award for Trust Fund Agent of the Year, an honor that recognizes the various projects and programs this position manages. The formal event, which was held at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, was designed to celebrate Michigan's National Guard members, state veterans and advocates who support both groups.
For more information on Macomb County Veterans Services, visit vets.macombgov.org.
Green Macomb spearheads tree plantings in Armada and Clinton Township
The Macomb County Planning and Economic Development Green Macomb initiative led two major tree plantings this fall with the support of Second Nature Brands. The events, which took place in Armada and Clinton Township, saw more than 75 trees planted by volunteers.
“Our Green Macomb effort aims to double the tree canopy in Macomb County,” said Gerard Santoro, program director for parks and natural resources, MCPED. “There are many proven benefits associated with this - including reducing pollution, reducing home energy costs, increasing home values and improving overall health and wellness. So these plantings, and our overall work increasing green canopy, will truly make an impact for every resident of our community.”
The planting in Armada took place on October 7 in areas of downtown damaged by this summer’s EF1 tornado. The November 5 planting in Clinton Township focused on Joy Park, an area with a significant lack of green canopy. Second Nature Brands employees joined residents at both events, planting red maples, serviceberry trees, black gum trees, red oaks, linden trees, beech trees, oak trees, cherry trees and tree lilacs.
“Our vision is to make things better by nourishing people and nature,” said Victor Mehren, CEO of Second Nature Brands. “We can impact both by planting trees locally which will beautify a neighborhood park and contribute to the health and well-being of our community. We believe this is essential to Second Nature Brands' success as a local company and employer.”
Currently Macomb’s tree cover is 26 percent, which falls short of the USDA recommendation of a 40 percent cover or better in urban areas. However, along with residents increasing tree plantings on their properties, promotion and education will help the county reach that goal.
More information on green canopy in Macomb County can be found green.macombgov.org.
Business Shoutout: DCS Corporation
DCS Corporation, a provider of engineering and technical support services to the U.S. Department of Defense and other national security customers, is establishing a new Center of Excellence in Sterling Heights with support from the Michigan Strategic Fund. The project is expected to generate a total private investment of $4.3 million and create 92 well-paying jobs. Michigan was chosen over a competing site in Massachusetts.
“Another anchor for Macomb County's mighty defense corridor is planted and we could not be more pleased,” said Vicky Rowinski, director of Macomb County Planning and Economic Development. “This expansion is a testament to our region's capabilities and expertise in creating technologies and tools that advance national security. We are proud that DCS Corporation made the decision to invest in our community and thrilled that new, high-paying jobs will be created for our residents.”
DCS Corporation, established in 1977, creates innovative technology solutions include artificial intelligence and machine learning; human systems engineering, modeling, and simulation; and mission planning. DCS currently has approximately 215 employees in Michigan.
Shake your mailbox ahead of winter months
To prevent damage from snow thrown by passing plow trucks, residents are encouraged to prepare mailboxes for winter by tightening screws and ensuring the post and mailbox are secure enough to withstand large amounts of thrown snow. Mailbox damage caused by snow being pushed to the side of the road is the homeowner’s responsibility to repair. The Department of Roads is not liable for damage done while maintaining the roadway. Proper routine maintenance can prevent issues with posts and receptacles.
If you have questions regarding mailbox maintenance, please contact the Department of Roads at 586-463-8671 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Health Department offers vaccinations
The Macomb County Health Department is currently taking appointments for individuals who are eligible for booster doses of the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. For those who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, all individuals aged 18 and older are eligible for a booster at six months or more after their initial series. For individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for those who are 18 and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago. To make an appointment for a booster dose, or for your first series of COVID-19 vaccinations, click here. Individuals who need help making an appointment can call the Macomb County Helpline at 586-463-3750. Although not encouraged, walk-up appointments are also welcome.
The Health Department is also taking appointments for flu vaccination. It is recommended that all persons aged 6 months and older receive a yearly flu shot. If you would like to schedule an appointment online, click here. Please also call the Flu Vaccine Hotline: 586-466-7923 for more information.
Macomb in the News
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