Start off your summer with a great Macomb County event – Sprint and Splash!
Department Highlight – Equalization
Macomb’s Memories – Signs of the Times
For Your Benefit
Did You Know?
March 2017 Renovation Report
April/May Event Calendar
Save the Dates
February New Hires/Retirees
The Macomb Food Program received great news in late March. Art Van Furniture has selected the Macomb Food Program as one of the charities for the Art Van Charity Challenge. Our goal is to raise $20,000 in the month of April. Just think of all the food we could provide to the hungry in Macomb County!
Here’s how it works: The challenge began on Tuesday, April 4 and runs until April 25. The Art Van Charity Challenge is a fundraising promotion sponsored by Art Van Furniture, LLC for eligible women’s, children’s or human service charities located and providing service within the Art Van Furniture market (Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois). Charities keep 100 percent of the funds they raise through the online donation page. The top five eligible charities who raise the most monetary donations online through their fundraising page are the potential winners of one of three grand prizes: first place - $100,000 (one winner); second place - $50,000 (one winner); and third place - $10,000 (three winners). Also feel free to promote the challenge on social media through #artvancharitychallenge.
Another way to donate to the Macomb Food Program is through our Hotcakes for Hunger event, which I already mentioned in the last issue. Hotcakes for Hunger will be held from 8 a.m.to 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 7 at Freedom Hill County Park in Sterling Heights.
Hotcakes for Hunger will feature:
- pancake breakfast – with celebrity flippers – for $5. All proceeds from the breakfast will go directly to the Macomb Food Program.
- classic car show and parade.
- bounce houses for children.
- emergency vehicles on display from area first responders, including the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office, Sterling Heights Fire Department and others.
- music performed by local jazz and marching bands.
- and other fun surprises.
The event will act as a pre-event rally for National Association of Letter Carriers’ (NALC) 25th annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, which begins the week after Hotcakes for Hunger, on Saturday, May 13. On this day, residents are encouraged to stuff a bag full of nonperishable food and leave it out on their porch. United States Postal Service carriers and a league of volunteers collect the food. All food left out on porches in the bags provided by the NALC is given to the Macomb Food Program. From there, it is distributed to more than 50 pantries throughout the county.
Let's work together to feed the hungry in Macomb County.
Start off your summer with a great Macomb County event – Sprint and Splash!
Discount offered exclusively to Macomb County employees
By Amanda Minaudo, Macomb County Planning and Economic Development
The 6th Annual Sprint and Splash Festival of Races will be held on Saturday, June 17 at Lake St. Clair Metropark in Harrison Township. Sprint and Splash is a great way to kick off your summer as it includes a variety of competitive events, as well as music, food, craft beer and a multitude of vendors.
Sprint and Splash starts off the day with a 6-mile sanctioned stand-up paddleboard (SUP) race. Following the SUP race is the duathlon, which combines a 5K run and a 2-mile paddle (kayak or SUP). Sprint and Splash also offers a 5K Fun Run and Walk (for those who want to stay dry) and a 2-mile recreational SUP race. The Sprint and Splash Beach Village is open throughout the day, giving participants and spectators the option to visit local vendors before or after their race. Additionally, all racers receive a complimentary breakfast and will have the option to purchase a variety of delicious craft beer from Kuhnhenn Brewing Co., an event sponsor with locations in Warren and Clinton Township.
All participants receive a finisher’s medal, a race shirt and a swag bag! We are also excited to announce that all Macomb County employees and their family members receive a 15 percent discount. Simply use the code MacombEmployee at check out.
Sprint and Splash is a fundraising event with the unique purpose of promoting and celebrating Lake St. Clair, which is truly the heart of the Great Lakes. Sponsorship or participation in this event supports organizations that are working to improve the regional economy by increasing tourism to Lake St. Clair and its coastal communities while also striving to protect and restore Lake St. Clair, the Clinton River and surrounding natural areas.
Henry Ford Macomb Hospitals is the event’s presenting sponsor.
Please visit www.SprintandSplash.com for more information or to register online.
By Sarah Cormier, Macomb County Executive Office
In Charge: Kristen Sieloff, director since August 2015.
Location: Macomb County Administration Building
1 South Main Street, 6th floor
Number of employees: 10
Description of department: The primary purpose of county Equalization is to ensure assessments determined at the local unit of government are fair and equitable for each property class (meaning agricultural, commercial, industrial, residential and personal property) and that they are at the appropriate level which, in Michigan, is 50 percent of true cash (market) value. If necessary, corrections are made to the values as a result of under or over assessment to the property class.
How the department fulfills its objective: Each year the Equalization Department compiles current sales information and performs property appraisals to determine the true cash values of a sampling of properties in each property class within the local units of government. These findings are used in sales and appraisal studies to measure the ratio level of previous year assessments made at the local level to the true cash values determined by Equalization Department staff. The Equalization Department prepares reports in December showing the resulting level of assessments to true cash value, and the multipliers needed to correct any deviance from the required 50 percent on their current year assessment roll. The local units determine their assessed values and send out notices of assessment to property owners at the end of February. Property owners then have an opportunity to contest their property values at the March Board of Review. Once the March Board of Review has concluded, the local unit of government reports their final values to the Equalization Department to begin the process of county equalization. The final ratios of assessed values to true cash value per property class are reviewed to ensure they fall between the required 49 percent and 50 percent.
Required by law: County Equalization is mandated by state law under The General Property Tax Act, Act 206 of 1893. The county Board of Commissioners are charged with the duty of county equalization as stated in Michigan Compiled Laws, Section 211.34(1-2), and Section 209.5. Section 211.34(3) requires the county Board of Commissioners to establish and maintain a department to assist with the duties of equalization of assessments, and to appoint a director of the department.
Goals of the program: The primary goal each year is to complete a sufficient number of appraisals for every property class within the county and to review as many sold properties as possible to ensure valuation methods are providing good indications of current market values and trends. Because there is such a large number of “good sales,” or arm’s length transactions throughout the county each year, this can be a somewhat daunting task. Last year there were over 15,800 sales which fell into the good sale category. The department works with the local units of government in determining what sales are used in our sales studies, which is the primary source for determining the direction of residential values each year.
Accomplishments: For the first time, the department has created a countywide database of all properties within the county. What this means is, the department has a single database which compiles all of the local unit information, or in essence, the complete assessment roll of every city, township and village in a computerized form. Included in this database would be the assessed, capped and taxable values for every property and the detail on how those values were determined, pictures taken during their field inspections, itemized breakdown of their property appraisals, property sketches prepared by their appraisal staff and sales/transfer documents.
Why is this an achievement? For years, the state-required forms and reports prepared by the Equalization Department have all been prepared essentially by hand. As the March boards of review adjourn, the local units would bring in their final values. The values would then be hand-entered into many different Excel spreadsheet files in order to compile the information to be used in the county equalization process and to prepare the annual Equalization Report and required state forms. However, preparing all of the required documents proved to be somewhat burdensome when balancing due to rounding differences in the various files and the process of linking the different spreadsheets together.
The software program we have been using for the Equalization side of things has the ability to create most, if not all, of the required reports. Having all of the local unit values contained within one database allows the software program to pull the correct values needed to prepare these same reports and forms with a much higher degree of accuracy, consistency and confidence in the numbers.
Fatme Nassar – Friend of the Court
By Sarah Cormier, Macomb County Executive Office
Sometimes a job here in Macomb County can provide an unexpected opportunity.
Fatme Nassar, a data entry clerk for Friend of the Court (FOC), discovered those possibilities soon after she began working for the county in August 2014.
Originally from Lebanon, Nassar moved to Warren with her family when she was 10 years old. She quickly picked up English, in fact, perfecting her study of it, as she later earned her bachelor’s degree from Oakland University in English and Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL). Nassar said she has always had an interest in law and, for a while, considered going to law school. She had a daughter, Celena, who is now 5 ½ and in kindergarten, during this time and decided instead to pursue a master’s degree in criminal justice from Wayne State University.
“I said, ‘No matter what happens, I’m going and getting a degree,’” she said.
She was originally hired by FOC as a typist clerk where she said she acted as a “floater” going from department to department: imaging, medical, parenting – wherever her skills were needed. FOC serves Macomb County Circuit Court by enforcing the support, alimony and parenting time orders given by the circuit court. The office also conducts investigations and prepares recommendations for the court in family-related matters.
“They provide great services to families,” said Nassar. “When you look at it, if we didn’t exist, what would happen?”
And this is where not only Nassar’s education proves useful at her job, but also her background. By the nature of FOC, families of all different backgrounds find themselves using the court’s services. Some of them speak Arabic, which is the first language used in Lebanon (French is the second; Nassar used to be fluent in it.). Nassar said she has now been used on a few occasions to help interpret for those in need of assistance at FOC. In fact, in one instance, she was even called to be a translator for a family in the courtroom.
“I enjoyed it a lot, and I would do it at any time,” she said. “It was a great experience, and I learned more about the support process, where it all begins and how it makes it to Friend of the Court.”
Nassar said she would like to see Macomb County courts offer translation as a regular service to clients, especially since Macomb County has a sizeable Middle Eastern population.
“Sometimes, if litigants come in and they don't speak the language and don't have an interpreter, the court would have to reschedule appointments because of the language barriers. Sometimes, litigants come in with birth certificates in a different language, and you have to reschedule appointments for them to come back with either an interpreter or with the document translated,” she said. “I think it would be great to have that kind of service.”
Thomas Blohm, director of FOC, said Nassar has been an asset to the department since the day she was hired.
"Fatme is a very conscientious and hardworking employee. She always goes above and beyond to help her co-workers, other court personnel and the clients who visit our office,” he said. “Whether volunteering to help or being asked to help in different areas around the office, she always does so with a positive attitude and a smile. She is truly an asset to our office."
Nassar is grateful to work at FOC.
“I want to thank the FOC for this opportunity and for always being so supportive,” she said.
In her spare time, Nassar enjoys exercising, taking walks in nature, swimming, shopping and playing makeup with her daughter (Nassar also possesses a certification in makeup application.)
“My family is my priority,” she said. “I love spending as much time as I can with them.”
By Cynthia Donahue, Macomb County Facilities and Operations
The Township of Orange, one of Macomb’s original townships, was changed to Erin Township in 1843. It has been said this change took place owing to the great number of Irish Catholics settled in the area. They presumably found the name “Orange” distasteful, as the Orangemen of Ireland, named after King William of Orange, were traditionally Protestants from Northern Ireland.
In October of 1897, the name Halfway was coined for the post office and stagecoach stop established there by Herman Hummrich at the Fort Gratiot Turnpike and 9 Mile Road. The village was so named as it was halfway between Detroit and Mount Clemens.
The incorporation of the Village of Halfway was officially changed to the city of East Detroit on Jan. 7, 1929 by a vote of the people.
Beginning in the 1980s, George Lawroski was the leader of a movement to change the suburb's name, stating the name’s association with Detroit lowered property values in the city.
On July 1, 1992, the city of East Detroit became the city of Eastpointe by charter amendment subsequent to a majority vote of the electorate. They adopted the slogan “An old city with a new name.”
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month
By Macomb County Human Resources and Labor Relations
Distracted driving continues to be the primary reason for motor vehicle crashes in the United States. Distracted driving is more than texting. It is any activity that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off your primary task of driving safely which potentially endangers the driver, passenger and bystander safety. Some forms of distracted driving include:
- using a cell phone or smartphone.
- eating and drinking.
- talking to passengers.
- reading, including maps.
- using a navigation system.
- watching a video.
- adjusting a radio, CD player or MP3 player.
Here’s how you can avoid distracted driving:
- Use an automated response app to let callers know you are driving.
- Use shared calendars to block off times you will be on the road.
- Remove the temptation of using your device by keeping it out of reach while driving or turned off.
- Pull over to a safe location to take a call.
- Be conscious of distracting activities such as applying makeup, putting on a necktie, personal grooming or eating.
Key facts from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- In 2014, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.
- Ten percent of all drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the crashes.
- Those in their 20s accounted for 23 percent of drivers in all fatal crashes, but are 27 percent of the distracted drivers and 38 percent of the distracted drivers using cell phones in fatal crashes.
- At any given day across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010.
- Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55 miles per hour, that's enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.
Make good decisions while driving so you and your fellow motorists can arrive home safely.
For more information regarding distracted driving, please visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website at www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving.
In March, the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office launched Smart911.
Smart911 is a free service available across the state of Michigan that allows individuals and families to sign up online to provide key information to 911 call takers during an emergency.
Smart911 allows citizens to create a Safety Profile at www.smart911.com for their household that includes any information they want 911 and response teams to have in the event of an emergency. When a citizen makes an emergency call, their Safety Profile is automatically displayed to the 911 call taker, allowing them to send the right response teams to the right location with the right information.
Smart911saves critical time in an emergency, as the additional information provided in a Smart911 Safety Profile enables sheriff deputies to know where they are going and who they are looking for, Those details will help personnel to respond faster and more efficiently.
With Smart911, citizens can link both home and work addresses to mobile phones, which can be passed on to responders in the field for a more detailed, rapid response. Additional information including pets in the home, vehicle details in the event of an accident, and even emergency contacts can all be included in a Safety Profile. All information is optional and the citizen has the ability to choose what details they would like to include.
Smart911 is currently available in 40 states and more than 1,500 municipalities across the country. Citizens are encouraged to create their Safety Profiles with Smart911 today to have their information immediately available to 911 and to receive emergency notifications. Smart911 is private and secure, is only used for emergency responses, and only made available to the 911 system in the event of an emergency call.
Kids in the Kitchen -Healthstyles is pleased to have Dr. Kurtis Kieleszewski, DO, from McLaren Macomb Hospital, to present on healthy living, food and balancing a busy lifestyle. He will focus specifically on healthy-snacking options, prepping for college, importance of balanced meals, kiddie recipes and planning for meals ahead of time. The Lunch and Learn is from noon to 1 p.m. on April 25 on the ninth floor of the Macomb County Administration Building.