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Message from Mark

 

Thanks for subscribing to Focus Macomb. I appreciate the opportunity to catch you up on a few of the great things happening in Macomb County and hope that you enjoy (and share) the articles that follow.

In this issue, we feature an end-of-summer update from the Roads Department, information on tomorrow’s National Day of Service volunteer fair, news around the October 4 celebration of Manufacturing Day and a feature on how we are working to control invasive phragmites in our communities.

This edition also includes a piece on the Clinton River and the first-ever River Runs Wild event, an 8-mile kayaking excursion which began at Heritage Park in Utica and ended at Rotary Park in Sterling Heights. More than 50 people participated and experienced the river’s transformation from a body of water once called the most polluted in the state, to one that is now clean, clear, connected and ready for recreation. All told, the Clinton is an incredible resource right in our backyard, so if you’re interested in exploring the waterway, read the article here.

Finally, I’d like to highlight an upcoming event that will feature my deputy county executive, John Paul Rea. Rea will be a part of a ‘fireside chat’ hosted by the Sterling Heights Regional Chamber of Commerce YoPros. It should be a fantastic evening. Get your tickets now here.

In closing, thanks for allowing us to check in. If my office can be of assistance to you, please call 586-469-7001 or write at executive@macombgov.org. My team is here to help.

 

 

Executive Hackel highlights progress made on Clinton River at kayaking event 

 

County Executive Mark A. Hackel recently hosted the first-ever “The River Runs Wild” event on the Clinton River, an 8-mile kayaking excursion which began at Heritage Park in Utica and ended at Rotary Park in Sterling Heights. More than 50 guests took part in the event, which highlighted restoration efforts on the waterway.

“Thanks to grant funds, the efforts of many local organizations and the Blue Economy Program, the river has transformed from one that had very high levels of pollution and blockages to one that is beautiful and increasingly restored,” said Hackel. “It is a now a destination for our community and an area accessible for recreation.”

Prior to launching the kayaks for the event, Hackel emphasized that the Clinton River is now clean, clear and connected by sharing the following details:

Clean

  • In the 1970s, a fish survey identified no substantial fish resources in the Clinton River.

  • In 1972, the river was identified as an Area of Concern under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. This led to the creation of the Clinton River Remedial Action Plan, which directed elimination of combined sewer overflows and sanitary sewer overflows, storm water runoff, superfund waste sites and contaminated sediments. It also put plans in place for spill notification, habitat restoration and elimination of illicit connections and failing septic systems.

  • Clinton Township, Fraser, Warren and Mount Clemens have since made substantial improvements to sanitary sewer systems that will reduce or eliminate sewage discharges. Additional work began in 2011, when Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding became available for watershed cleanup and restoration. To date, $30 million has been spent on related projects.

Clear

  • A 2008 assessment of the Clinton River stated that the waterway would never be a valuable recreational resource. This was due to large amounts of debris, garbage and log jams. In fact, in 2010, more than 100 large log jams were identified along the river.

  • Since 2014, Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding totaling more than $14 million has enabled 8 projects around habitat and water quality improvements. This includes the removal of 30 log jams and the restoration of riverbanks in the Utica and Sterling Heights section of the river during the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

  • The cleanup and ongoing efforts to keep the river clear opened the waterway for recreation. The Clinton is now a paddling destination – with both challenging and family-friendly routes along the 32-miles of waterway in Macomb County.

Connected

  • The Clinton River was once inaccessible for residents and visitors interested in kayaking and canoeing. There are now nine access points connecting six communities, including Ryan Road in Shelby Township, downtown Utica, Heritage Park in Utica, North Clinton River Park in Sterling Heights, Rotary Park in Sterling Heights, Budd Park in Clinton Township, Shadyside Park in Mount Clemens, MacArthur Park in Mount Clemens and Harley Ensign in Harrison Township.

  • Four of these points are universally accessible - launches designed to be used independently by people of all ages and all abilities. Notably, $500,000 has so far been spent to purchase, install and maintain these points.

  • This has boosted two local companies that rent kayaks and canoes and guide individuals down the river --- Simple Adventures and Clinton River Canoe and Kayak. In the last three years alone, Clinton River Canoe and Kayak has had more than 10,000 rentals.

 

Plans to increase this capacity were then unveiled by Executive Hackel. 

“As far as we know, Macomb County’s Clinton River is one of the first water trails in the state to be completely and universally accessible,” he said. “But we hope to add more launches. So in the coming weeks, you’ll be hearing more about a competitive grant for our local communities. This will be an extension of our bicentennial and FCA legacy gift and we’re thrilled to share more details soon.”

For more information on the Clinton River, including resources that will allow you to experience the waterway yourself, click here.

 

 

Macomb County works to expose young people to careers in manufacturing

 

Macomb County has long been a manufacturing powerhouse. For close to a century, our region has designed and produced countless products, parts and materials for the auto industry and military – which makes continuing the steady flow of talent into our workforce a top issue for local leaders.

One major component of producing this next generation workforce involves exposing young people to the variety of careers and opportunities available in the manufacturing industry. For the last several years, a major event has helped accomplish this -- the countywide celebration of Manufacturing Day, which is put on by the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development (MCPED) and the Macomb Intermediate School District (MISD).  This event provides an opportunity for high school students to visit area advanced manufacturing facilities to see the industry in action and meet people who make things. Since 2014, more than 10,000 students have participated. And this year’s event is expected to be the biggest yet, with 58 companies providing 73 tours for 2,400 students on Friday, October 4.

“The future of manufacturing in Macomb County and the greater Detroit area is strong, so it is a great time for young people to begin thinking about entering the field,” said Vicky Rad, director of the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development. “The annual Manufacturing Day event offers a unique opportunity for these students to connect with local businesses and learn about the profession. At the same time, it gives local organizations the chance to interact with the next generation of talent and to promote their companies. It’s a positive experience for everyone involved.”

If your child is thinking about attending Manufacturing Day with their school, please encourage them to do so. Feedback from previous attendees has been very positive, so participating in this experience is something you and your student should consider.

To learn more about Manufacturing Day in Macomb County, check out this video produced by L’Anse Creuse students in 2018 or visit the Macomb Business website.

 

 

Department of Roads remains committed to safety, service and community

 

There are more than 4,400 miles of roads within Macomb County, and the Department of Roads (MCDR) is responsible for maintaining 1,773 miles of them. Each year comes with a hefty list of maintenance, rehabilitation and construction projects along with fresh asphalt and concrete, orange barrels, maintenance crews and inevitable but necessary lane closures.

The condition of Michigan’s roads and infrastructure is widely recognized as the state’s most pressing challenge. MCDR is committed to improving Macomb County's road and bridge system for the convenience and safety of our residents and visitors.

2019 was another active year for the department. MCDR reconstructed eight lane miles of primary and local roads, resurfaced and rehabilitated 74 lane miles of primary and local roads, replaced 33,000-square-yards of concrete pavement, replaced one bridge, completed a bridge deck replacement and replaced critical drainage infrastructure.

To help improve safety on rural roads, the Department of Roads received a grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to install nearly 100 miles of sinusoidal rumble strips, known as mumble strips, on two-lane roads to reduce head-on crashes and limit noise pollution. The outside noise created by mumble strips is almost half as loud as traditional rumble strips, while still providing effective feedback for the driver. This summer, MCDR installed 40 miles of mumble strips throughout the county.

 

In addition to the department’s annual construction and road improvement work, MCDR receives thousands of maintenance and traffic service requests every year. MCDR’s Maintenance Department, which manages requests for pothole repair, gravel road maintenance, snow plowing, litter pick up, tree removal and mowing, received 8,865 maintenance service requests through August. The Traffic Department, which oversees the installation and maintenance of the more than 60,000 traffic signs and 1,000 traffic control signals on Macomb County roads, received 1,577 service requests.

The Department of Roads works relentlessly with a goal to respond to each service request within 10 days and in many cases, within 24 hours. Work is scheduled based on the condition and severity of each service request. If a request is a safety concern, the department will respond and schedule work immediately. MCDR is dedicated to providing the public with a quality county road system, with a focus on safety and convenience for motorists and the community.

As part of the department’s commitment to service, equipment purchases were approved in this year’s budget, including the addition of a new John Deere grader at the Washington Service Center, a new Elgin street sweeper at the Shelby Service Center and several new tandem and single axle salt trucks, which will be delivered to the service centers ahead of the winter season. MCDR is also building a new 30,000-square-foot, 12-bay vehicle maintenance center in Clinton Township scheduled to be completed in March 2020. Once open, the new facility will allow the department to provide maintenance and repair services for all county vehicles, providing the department and county with additional cost savings. 

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.

 

Why controlling and removing phragmites in Macomb County matters

 

If you’re familiar with phragmites, you’ve likely seen them all over Macomb County. Drainage ditches, retention ponds, shorelines, along the side of the road – they’re everywhere! On first glance, you might think: “Oh, what a pretty reed. That would surely provide some privacy on my property.” But phragmites are a problem. One that needs to be addressed. Why you ask? According to government sources:

“Phragmites can rapidly form dense stands of stems which crowd out or shade native vegetation in inland and estuary wetland areas. Phragmites turns rich habitats into monocultures devoid of the diversity needed to support a thriving ecosystem. Non-native Phragmites can alter habitats by changing marsh hydrology; decreasing salinity in brackish wetlands; changing local topography; increasing fire potential; and outcompeting plants, both above and belowground. These habitat changes threaten the wildlife that depend on those wetland areas for survival.”

But removal of the plant, which can grow to 20 feet in height, is not that easy. You cannot simply chop it down or pull it from the ground because phragmites have a dense root network. In fact, their roots can go down up to two meters in depth, while spreading horizontally 10 or more feet. Simply put, this plant is a pest that requires serious attention.

Which leads us to the work of the Six Rivers Land Conservancy, an organization that was just awarded a United States Forestry Service grant to assist in phragmites control and removal. The grant, which totals $37,865, will support the conservancy and its work with the Lake St. Clair (LSC) Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA), the Macomb County Public Works Office and Oakland University. Together, the group aims to reduce the impact of the invasive reed in the region.  

“I’m excited to implement a project that will help better guide future phragmites control efforts in water courses,” said McKenzi Waliczek, the LSC CISMA coordinator. “There are multiple treatment options for controlling invasive phragmites and it is important we explore each methods’ effectiveness and efficiency.”

The federal grant, which was awarded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Cooperative Weed Management Area, has allowed the Six Rivers Land Conservancy and the CISMA to coordinate a 2019-2021 project that will explore various control methods in three Macomb County townships. In Harrison Township, the Murdock Ballard Relief Drain will have phragmites treated and monitored.  Portions of the Disco Drain near 25 Mile in Shelby Township and a detention pond close to the Clinton Township Fire Station will also be included in phragmites management.

All told, this will certainly be a process – one that takes time. But residents of Macomb County can rest easy knowing that the grant team has already begun work on control and removal of the reed.

 

 

How you can participate in the National Day of Service

 

The National Day of Service is a federally-recognized day of unity and charitable service on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. It is a day where we can honor and remember those who perished on 9/11 by giving our time and our resources to help our community.

Macomb County will mark the day with the second annual Volunteer Recruitment Fair put on by the Macomb Community Action Office of Senior Services. The event is free to the public and will be held from 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at the Macomb Intermediate School District, 44001 Garfield Rd, Clinton Township.  Light refreshments will be served.

The event is free to the public and will be held from 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at the Macomb Intermediate School District, 44001 Garfield Rd, Clinton Township.  Light refreshments will be served.

 

The volunteer recruitment fair is designed to bring together local organizations and nonprofits looking to share their volunteering opportunities with individuals, groups and businesses that want to give back to the community.

“We're excited to offer this event for potential volunteers to come out and learn about the wide variety of volunteer opportunities available in Macomb County,” said Nicole Urban, program manager for the Office of Senior Services. “Volunteering in itself is very rewarding and fulfilling.”

“Volunteers are often a valued asset and contributor to the success of many programs and organizations in Macomb County, including the Meals on Wheels program. These special individuals are truly appreciated,” added Michelle Davidson, volunteer coordinator for Macomb Community Action.

September 11 was designated a National Day of Service by Congress in 2009. The Corporation for National and Community Service leads the annual event, working with 911Day.org and hundreds of businesses, nonprofit groups, faith-based organizations and schools nationwide to encourage residents to volunteer starting the weekend before September 11.

For more information about the recruitment fair or to learn how to become a participating organization, please contact the Macomb Community Action Office of Senior Services at (569) 469-5228 or visit https://mca.macombgov.org/MCA-VolunteerRecruitmentFair.

 

 

Macomb County oversees full-scale active assailant training exercise at three local high schools

 

Macomb County Emergency Management, Clinton Township Emergency Management and the City of Warren Emergency Management recently executed a full-scale mock disaster training exercise with the support of more than 200 police, fire, EMS and hospital personnel and 250 school staff and students. The exercise, which officials have been planning for over a year, aimed to increase readiness capabilities for an active assailant incident. 

The mass training exercise program was developed by Macomb County Emergency Management and Communications using guidance and materials from various government and nongovernment organizations. The drill took place at three local high schools, including Clintondale High School, Clinton Township; Fitzgerald High School, Warren; and L’Anse Creuse High School, Harrison Township. Additional exercise elements were performed at COMTEC, where the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office Centralized Dispatch took calls, gave commands and provided oversight by connecting with the schools’ security cameras.

“Having COMTEC involved was a crucial component for the exercise,” said Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel. “In a real-life situation, they would need to move quickly and efficiently to ensure an adequate response to an active assailant. So practicing today with calls and live video feeds was certainly beneficial for everyone involved.”

According to Macomb County officials, active assailant incidents are dynamic, quick-paced events that require a certain amount of specialized and coordinated planning by emergency management and public safety entities. The events themselves are usually short in duration and response efforts need to be quick and efficient in order to protect and save as many people as possible.

 

“There is an urgent need to be prepared for these types of incidents,” said Brandon Lewis, director of Macomb County Emergency Management. “This makes training exercises like those performed today profoundly important for our first responders. By taking part in the mock drill, they can all react and respond accordingly in an active assailant situation.”

The exercise was also important for students and school staff – including school administration and safety officers who escorted students out of the building and directed first responders.

“We’re very appreciative of the support of COMTEC, the county and local law enforcement in holding today’s exercise. Our parents, students and staff did a great job making it as realistic as possible,” said Erik Edoff, superintendent of L’Anse Creuse Public Schools. “Our primary job is to educate students and focus on education, but student safety is also a top priority. Engaging in exercises of this nature help us learn and become better prepared for our student’s safety so that we can provide the best education possible on a daily basis.”

 

 

Shoutout: Cadillac Products named GM Supplier of the Year

 

Cadillac Products was founded in 1942 when M.P. Williams set out to meet the urgent needs of the U.S. government during World War II. More than 75 years and four generations of family leadership later, the automotive supplier is thriving – having just been named a Supplier of the Year by General Motors. This is the second time the company, which produces exterior and interior acoustical parts and watershields, has received the award. 

“We are honored and humbled to be recognized along with all the great suppliers to General Motors,” said Jim Williams, marketing manager at Cadillac Products. “This is a true testament to our commitment to continuous improvement in all we do in the automotive space.”

GM awards the Supplier of the Year title to companies that exceed its expectations, create outstanding value and introduce innovations. This year, 133 companies from 15 different countries received the recognition. 

 

 

Business Calendar

Going Pro Talent Fund Information Session for Employers - Wednesday, September 11; 9 a.m.

Introduction to Federal Government Contracting - 101 - Thursday, September 12; 9 a.m. to 12:30

Starting a Business - Thursday, September 19; 9:30 a.m. to noon

Super Prepared Business Conference 2019 - Wednesday, September 25; 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

To find more business events in Macomb County, visit Macomb County’s Planning and Economic Development calendar here.

Point of Pride

Planning and Economic Development’s first ever Coffee with the County was a success! If you’re interested in meeting with the business development team, stay tuned. A future event date will be announced soon.

Coming Soon

Save the date for Executive Mark A. Hackel’s State of the County. This year, the annual event will be held on the evening of Wednesday, December 4. More details will be released in the coming weeks.