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Office of County Executive
Mark A. Hackel

Macomb Matters November 2017 Issue 55

Click for a pdf of Macomb Matters



Message from Mark


I can’t believe it’s that time already, but our seventh annual State of the County Address is only a few weeks away. I would like to personally extend my thanks to each of you as you all have played an instrumental role in Macomb County’s successes. Please join me at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 6 at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts. Following the speech, the much anticipated Taste of Macomb will feature complimentary hors d’oeuvres and refreshments from more than 30 local restaurants. To register, click here.

It’s official. The holiday season is upon us, which means many of us will be gathering for family dinners and celebrations in honor of our unique traditions and customs. Many of you share a family tradition of baking cookies and making holiday treats. In celebration of the season, I invite you to bring a batch of your favorite cookie or treat to share at our Holiday Gathering from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 11 in the lobby of the Administration Building. I hope to see you there! 

If shopping for gifts is in your near future, please support “Shop Local Macomb” this season. Our independently owned and operated retail establishments are important members of our community, and they are depending on you to visit them soon. With the support of the Macomb and Sterling Heights chambers and First State Bank, we are hosting a contest. Shoppers can enter to win one of five $500 gift cards by snapping a photo and posting it to social media between Nov. 24 and Dec. 3. Visit for details and official rules.

From my family to yours, best wishes for a wonderful holiday!



Employee Focus - Jako van Blerk


Jako van Blerk, Chief Information Officer for Macomb County, participated in a special ceremony in the Macomb County Administration Building recently. The event, hosted by OneMacomb, was a naturalization ceremony for 24 people from 17 countries across the globe. Officiated by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Honorable George Caram Steeh, United States District Court, lead the Oath of Allegiance, the final step for becoming a citizen of the United States.

Jako, a county employee since 2003, was the keynote speaker.  His message?

“The journey to become a Citizen of the United States is challenging because of the history and people you are leaving behind as well as the fear of the unknown; it is profound because you are giving up loyalty to your Country of Origin, and it’s exciting at the same time because it is the culmination of a long, arduous journey that brought you to this day of your Naturalization Ceremony.

Today is a once in a lifetime experience for all of you. This is your day - live in this moment and enjoy it.”

Jako spoke from experience. Born in Karasburg, Namibia, a small town in South Africa, he was raised on a sheep farm with his sister and two brothers. He attended college at the University of Stellenbosch near Cape Town in South Africa and earned a degree in Botany & Zoology, as well as Business Administration.

He then served two years for South African Defense Force and married his high school sweetheart, Martha. They settled in the Western Cape in the Cape Town area. His careers included a stint as a Vegetation Ecologist and then in business.

At the age of 34, Martha received a job offer to take a physical therapy job in southeastern Michigan. The family – which now included three young children – made the big move to the United States.

One of Jako’s first adjustments in his new home? Resigning to the fact that his name would be forever mispronounced! As he explained, his name sounds like Ya-hoo with a K, “Yay-Koo” but he gave up explaining it a long time ago.

Jako – whose visa did not allow him to work in the US – took advantage of the opportunity to make a career change to the IT field, a passion he had developed in business. He enrolled in information technology classes and earned valuable certifications. With in-demand skills, his citizenship was sponsored by a company based in Detroit and provided the window he needed to begin the naturalization process.

He joined Macomb County in 2003 and, after a series of promotions, was appointed Chief Information Officer of the IT Department in 2016. In July of 2017, Jako officially became a naturalized citizen.

The event also included a flag ceremony by the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard.  Other speakers included Deputy County Executive Pam Lavers, Director of Health and Community Services Rhonda Powell and Acting Field Office Director for USCIS Daniel Broughton.

Do you have a suggestion for our next Employee Focus column? Please reach out to Jennifer Bruzzese from Human Resources and Labor Relations and tell us who and why!



For Your Benefit

Oral health is an important but sometimes overlooked part of overall health.  As such, the American Dental Association (ADA) has established a list of healthy habits for various life stages.


Pregnancy may actually worsen some dental problems, therefore the ADA recommends that pregnant women do the following:

  • Continue to see a dentist during pregnancy for checkups and cleanings
  • Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Clean between teeth/floss once a day

Babies and Kids

The ADA recommends that parents take children to a dentist no later than their first birthday. It also recommends building a foundation for oral health at home by taking the following steps:

  • Clean baby’s mouth during the first few days after birth by wiping the gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth. As soon as teeth appear, decay can occur.
  • Until a child can brush on his or her own, continue to brush child's teeth twice a day with a child-size toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. When a child has two teeth that touch, begin flossing teeth daily.
  • For children younger than 3 years, begin brushing the child’s teeth as soon as they begin to come into the mouth by using fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a smear or the size of a grain of rice. Brush teeth thoroughly twice per day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist or physician. Supervise children’s brushing to ensure that they use of the appropriate amount of toothpaste.
  • For children 3 to 6 years of age, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Brush teeth thoroughly twice per day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist or physician. Supervise brushing and remind children not to swallow the toothpaste.


  • Brush teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes
  • Floss between teeth daily
  • Avoid sugary and starchy snacks
  • Wear a mouth guard when active
  • Don’t smoke
  • Don’t pierce lips or any part of your mouth
  • See a dentist for regular checkups

Adults Under 40

Adults are at risk for tooth decay. If left untreated, dental disease can lead to serious health problems like infection, damage to bone or nerve and tooth loss. When left untreated, dental infections can spread to other parts of the body and, in very rare cases, can be life threatening.

To prevent dental disease, remember to:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day
  • Floss between teeth daily
  • Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks
  • See your dentist for regular checkups

Adults 40-60

At this stage, it is important to continue making oral health a priority. Just like younger adults, untreated dental disease can lead to serious health problems such as infection, damage to bone or nerve, tooth loss and/or additional complications when left undetected.

Keep up the following routine to maintain a healthy mouth:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day
  • Floss between teeth daily
  • Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks
  • See your dentist for regular checkups

In addition, missing teeth are common in adults between 20 and 64 years of age. Solutions are available, so it is important to discuss options with a dentist.

Adults Over 60

According to the ADA, maintaining oral health is especially important for adults over 60.  Otherwise, unhealthy bacteria in the mouth may harm teeth and gums. It is also associated with serious medical conditions.

The ADA indicates that research has shown that infections in the mouth may be associated with heart disease, stroke, diabetes, pneumonia and other health problems that are common in older adults.

Sticking to the following simple steps will help adults over 60 maintain a healthy mouth:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day
  • Floss between teeth daily
  • Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks
  • See your dentist for regular checkups

In order to help you improve and maintain oral health, Macomb County offers full-time employees the option of either Golden or Delta Dental insurance upon hire and annually during open enrollment. To view more information about employee benefits, visit:

To learn more about oral health during the above life stages or to find a dentist, visit:



Macomb County launches Shop Local Macomb campaign

Interactive map and a chance for shoppers to win $500


In an effort to support independently owned and operated retailers this holiday season, the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development is partnering with the Sterling Heights Regional and Macomb County chambers to launch the #ShopLocalMacomb campaign.

“We know that there are many ways to buy gifts,” said Grace Shore, CEO of the Macomb County Chamber.  “We want to encourage people to visit the stores that enhance our Main Streets and check out the unique merchandise they have in stock for us.” 

According to the American Independent Business Alliance, there are many benefits to shopping locally. Owners of small businesses are more than twice as likely to donate to local causes and organizations. Other benefits include:

  • Helping to infuse more dollars into the local economy. Small business owners are three times more likely to buy needed supplies from other local retailers.
  • Creating vibrant communities. Independent retailers help to define our communities as well as attract visitors and new residents.
  • Creating local jobs and tax revenue.

The department created an interactive Shop Local Macomb map which features more than 1,600 locally owned stores. The map is searchable by type of merchandise sold or location. New this year, the county will also enter information provided by merchants about sales and specials during the campaign. 

Shoppers will have a chance to enter a contest to win one of five $500 gift cards, donated by First State Bank. To enter, snap a photo of yourself shopping and complete an online entry between Nov. 24 and Dec. 3. Winners will be randomly selected during a live Facebook drawing at noon on Monday, Dec. 4.

“All businesses are important in Macomb County,” said County Executive Mark A. Hackel. “This campaign provides great incentive to shop locally this holiday season.”  

More details about the campaign — including information about how shop owners can share updates about sales and giveaway rules — can be found at



Pajama Drive


The holidays will be here before we know it. Let's be thankful for all that we have and help those who are less fortunate. The Macomb County Sheriff's Office is holding a "Pajama Drive" for the next several weeks to help foster kids in Macomb County. 

The Foster Closet of Michigan - Macomb County is a nonprofit organization providing local foster children with new clothing, undergarments, toys, baby gear, hygiene items, bedding furniture, books and other necessities to ease their transition into foster homes. 

These children frequently face difficult and sometimes tragic family circumstances. They often leave suddenly, with little to no clothing or personal items, as they are placed with foster families. Foster families receive few funds from the state, so help is essential. 

The Foster Closet is 100 percent supported by volunteers and community partners. Children "shop" at the closet free of charge, choosing clothing and other items that wrap them in comfort to ease their transition into a new home. These items are what the Foster Closet needs most. Let's do what we can to make a difference. Every little bit helps! Thank you in advance, and please feel free to share!

The Macomb County Sheriff's Office is located at 43565 Elizabeth Rd, Mount Clemens. You can take any donations to the front desk at any time.



Macomb Memories


Formed in 1818, Macomb County turns 200 years old in 2018.  As a county, we are working with many organizations and communities to celebrate throughout the year. Highlights will include:

  • An interactive website, built by our IT department:  The website will be updated regularly with new stories and events surrounding this milestone year.  The website will provide a unique opportunity for history buffs and residents to contribute their stories about history as well as photographs.
  • Additional storytelling resources to be developed by publishers The Macomb Daily, Macomb Now magazine and C& G Newspapers.
  • The Suburban Library Cooperative is assembling a book about Macomb’s history geared for elementary students.
  • The theme for a number of planned events throughout the year.
  • The Lorenzo Cultural Center at Macomb Community College will feature a special bicentennial exhibit.
  • Macomb County will participate in a number of community parades with a special commemorative float.
  • A torch relay through all of Macomb County’s 27 municipalities will take place in June with the last leg ending at the annual Mount Clemens Fireworks Show.

Aside from the support of more than 100 committee members, Macomb’s bicentennial will be celebrated with the support of many sponsors. Special thanks to our Legacy Leader FCA. Visit for more information and visit regularly to review new stories and events about Macomb’s 200th celebration!



Make Macomb Your Home Ambassadors!

As an organization, we offer many services that benefit all residents – including our families, friends and neighbors.

Do you know someone contemplating who needs to enroll in Medicare Part D before the December 7 deadline? The Office of Senior Services can help!

Macomb County residents age 60 and older are eligible for this free program. Trained counselors help seniors navigate the different options and assist in registering them for a plan of their choosing.

Appointments are available Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at four locations. To schedule an appointment, call 586- 469-5228.

Seniors should bring their Medicare card as well as a list of all prescribed medications – including dosage and frequency - to their appointment.  Locations:

Macomb County Family Resource Center
196 N. Rose Street, Mount Clemens

Recreation Authority of Roseville & Eastpointe
18185 Sycamore Street, Roseville

New Haven Schools-Administration Building
30375 Clark Street (Door 19), New Haven

Max Thompson Family Resource Center
11370 Hupp Avenue, Warren



Perks at Work

Macomb County Government Perks at Work is a free employee perks and discount program available to all Macomb County Government employees and their families. Whether you’re booking a weekend getaway, buying a laptop, or shopping for the holiday season Perks at Work has negotiated with thousands of merchants to offer value and pricing advantages. Discounts are available online and in-store.

To create an account, visit If you are a first time user, click “Register for Free” and follow the instructions on screen.

If prompted for the company code, enter macombgov78. Once registered employees can invite up to five family members and friends to join and benefit from the same discounts. Some offers may only be redeemed online, and are accessible by a link to the merchant website. In some cases you will need to enter a discount code (listed on the offer detail page) as you check out. If there is no discount code listed, the discount will be calculated automatically when you check out. When a discount is offered in store, there will be a coupon available on the offer detail page. Follow the instructions and click on ‘print coupon’.

Another benefit of the site, in addition to merchant discounts, employees are able to earn WOWPoints. WOWPoints act like rewards currency of the site can be used for future purchases.

In addition to the discounts provided with national retailers, Macomb County Government Perks at Work offers discounts available at local retailers such as the Detroit Zoo and Sea Life Aquarium. To “shop local” visit the Exclusives Offers page.

Since its launch in November 2015, Macomb County Government Perks at Work has over 2,000 registered users. Check the site often as new retailers are continuously added.

For assistance with the site, visit the Macomb County Government Perks at Work Help Center.



Recipe Corner - Heart Healthy Chilli


  • ½ pound ground beef or turkey
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 8oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 can sweet corn, drained
  • 3 cans beans, low-sodium, undrained (can choose any bean variety – pinto, kidney, black, northern or any of your favorite beans)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 TBSP chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp crush red pepper flakes
  • 1½ tsp oregano
  • Optional: 1 tsp cayenne pepper (if you desire more a spicier chili)


    1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, brown meat with onion and green pepper.
    2. Add remaining ingredients. Stir and let mixture come to a simmer.
    3. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for at least one hour, stirring occasionally. Simmering on low for 1 ½ to 2 hours will yield more flavor.
    4. Remove bay leaf before serving.

    Chef Notes:

    • To top off your chili, you can add a nonfat plain greek yogurt as a “sour cream,” jalepenos, chopped green onion and/or shredded cheese.
    • Serve with cornbread.
    • Use leftover chili on top of a salad or top a baked potato with it.
    • Chili can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
    • Chili can be frozen and used for a meal months down the road. Just place in a large pot and heat up on a low temperature or microwave.



    Event Calendar

    Make Macomb Your Home maintains a comprehensive calendar of community events. Be sure to check it when you are looking for ways to enjoy Macomb with friends and family:


    SOC 2017

    Please plan to join with County Executive Mark A. Hackel for his 7th Annual State of the County Address, presented by St. John Providence-Ascension Click here to RSVP.


    Meals on Wheels

    Saturday, December 2nd, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
    130 Volunteers Needed to help deliver food to home bound seniors! Click here for more information.



    Monday, December 11th, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    Click here for more information.



    Monday, December 11th, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    Click here for more information.


    Holiday Gathering

    Monday, December 11th, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    Employees are encouraged to bring their favorite cookies or treats to share.
    Click here for more information.



    Blog Log

    Anton Art Center Holiday Market

    Macomb County touted at Montreal ITS World Congress

    One Guy Making a Pizza Pie – With a Little Help

    The wineries of Macomb County

    Lincoln HS unveils enhanced CTE program

    Now is the time to start preparing your garden for spring



    News Nook

    11/03 - New citizens take the Oath of Allegiance in Macomb County

    11/03 - Michigan Works! Registered Apprenticeship information session for employers

    11/01 - Hon. James M. Biernat, Jr. Re-appointed Chief Judge

    11/01 - 16th Judicial Circuit Court to Celebrate Adoption Day on November 17, 2017

    11/01 - MSU Extension to offer Greening the Holidays

    10/26 - Macomb County leads effort to develop talent pipeline for cybersecurity

    10/26 - Work Begins on Stephens Relief Drain in St. Clair Shores, Eastpointe

    10/25 - BoC Seeking Charities for Casual Day Donations

    10/23 - Lincoln High School unveils enhanced CAD/CAM program

    10/16 - MCCMH Crossroads Clubhouse Earns Triennial Certification

    10/11 - Wayne and Macomb Friends of the Court Joint Bench Warrant Amnesty Program

    10/06 - Macomb County celebrates MFG Day in a BIG Way

    10/05 - Macomb County Community Mental Health Expands Specialized Services for Children

    10/04 - Medicare Part D open enrollment counseling assistance available through Macomb Community Action

    10/02 - Macomb County Community Mental Health Receives Grant to Bolster Kevin’s Law Services