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Pontiac : Development News

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Metro Detroit's Habitats for Humanities join forces to share resources

Even non-profits with practically the same name can learn how to share. That's what the Detroit and Oakland chapters of Habitats for Humanity are doing more of these days.

For years the two non-profits that rehabilitated and built new affordable housing did pretty much the same thing, but on different sides of 8 Mile Road. That includes everything from organizing volunteers to running their respective ReStore shop.

Today the two aren't merging but they are becoming much more regionally focused. The two decided to make the one-year pilot program of running each ReStore (one in Northwest Detroit and the other in Pontiac) as one business permanent. They are also sharing a centralized calling center.

"It makes so much sense," says Sally LePla, executive director of Oakland Habitat for Humanity. We can run them much more efficiently now."

The non-profits are investigating other ways they can share resources and work with a more regional focus.

Now if only our local governments would follow their lead.

Source: Sally LePla, executive director of Oakland Habitat for Humanity
Writer: Jon Zemke

Oakland renovates technical schools and curriculum

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday. That's when the doors open on the newly renovated Oakland Schools Technical Campuses in Royal Oak, Pontiac, Wixom and Clarkston.

The new state-of-the-art facilities and an updated curriculum will provide advanced educational opportunities for high school juniors and seniors. They will focus on such high-tech disciplines as engineering, emerging technologies, biotech, transportation technology, health sciences and environmental sciences.

The students attend classes at the campuses for about half a day before returning to their home districts to finish the school day at their local high school.

An open house will be held between 2-5 p.m. Sunday. For information, click here or call (248) 209-2194.

Source: Automation Alley
Writer: Jon Zemke

Oakland County using $26 million grant to rehab, preserve foreclosed homes

Details are starting to trickle in about how Oakland County plans to put its $26 million in foreclosure funds to work.

The County recently received that money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s new Neighborhood Stabilization Program to deal with bad mortgages. It then released a plan on how to put those funds to use, which can be found here.

The largest slices are heading to Pontiac ($3.5 million), Southfield ($3.2 million) and Waterford (a little more than $2 million). Oakland County will now spread around nearly $10 million to Hazel Park, Oak Park, Madison Heights, Royal Oak Township, Ferndale, Keego Harbor, Rose Township, Ortonville, Holly Township, Lathrup and Lake Orion.

The biggest slices of that $17.4 million pie will go to Oak Park and Hazel Park ($1.6 million each) while the smallest ($400,000) will go toward Lake Orion and Lathrup.

The rest will be focused on getting people into foreclosed homes throughout the rest of Oakland County. That includes help with securing down payments, lining up financing and helping the new occupants rehab the homes.

"The county is reserving some of it to help anyone who wants to purchase a foreclosed home in any of our communities," says Karry Rieth, manager of the community and home improvement division of Oakland County.

That idea is to help local communities acquire and redevelop foreclosed properties in danger of becoming (or remaining) blight. Some of the money can be used to raze structures redevelop vacant properties.

Oakland County Community & Home Improvement division will release guidelines and application procedures in the near future. For information, click here or call (248) 858-0493.

Source: Karry Rieth, manager of the community and home improvement division of Oakland County
Writer: Jon Zemke

Oakland County International Airport New 'Green' Terminal to Open in 2010

PONTIAC, MICH. - October 29, 2008 - Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson today announced that a new "Green" terminal will be constructed at Oakland County International Airport, replacing the existing building which has been in service for nearly half a century.

Construction of the environmentally friendly building is expected to begin in the spring of 2009 and should be completed by summer 2010. The entire project will cost $5.5 million and is completely funded. It is being paid for by the Airport Fund, which has been saving for several years to pay for the terminal and other capital improvements. The Airport Fund is supported by fees collected by airport users, not from county property tax.

"With Oakland International being the aviation gateway to our county as we attract high-tech firms from all over the world to do business here, it makes perfect sense for this portal to be technologically advanced and environmentally friendly," Patterson said. "The terminal will tell first-time visitors to our county as well as our old friends that they have come to the right place - Oakland County, Michigan."

The terminal will be one of the first of its kind in the country for a general aviation airport. Oakland International is the 16th busiest general aviation airport in the United States and the second busiest airport in the state behind Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

The new terminal will incorporate wind power generating technology to offset electrical power, geothermal power and rain water for landscape irrigation. The county will seek LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) through the United States Green Building Council. Neumann Smith Architecture of Southfield is designing the building. Frank Rewold and Sons will serve as general contractor for the project.

The new terminal will be constructed on the same site as the existing building. Upon completion, it will actually be smaller in terms of square footage (approx. 13,500 vs. 17,000) but the space will be used more efficiently. The new building will include airport offices, a U.S. Customs Service office and have a private meeting room that can accommodate 80 people.

Materials used in the building construction will contain recycled content and be friendly to the indoor environment. Materials from the demolished building will be recycled when possible.

More than 500,000 passengers and pilots pass through Oakland International each year. More than 800 private and corporate aircraft are based there.

"This is the final step in the completion of our master plan which began nearly 10 years ago," said J. David VanderVeen, director of central services for Oakland County who oversees the airport. "The master plan and our capital program stressed safety and security first. In the last few years we have resurfaced and improved the entire runway network. The main runway extension will be complete next summer and so will the noise abatement program. This is an exciting time for us."

Patterson also announced that the county is sponsoring a "Green" summit in cooperation with Lawrence Technological University and Leadership Oakland. The summit will be held in the spring on the campus of LTU. It will recognize the "Green" achievements of Oakland County businesses, communities and schools as well publicizing "Green" resources available to local businesses and business opportunities.


Pontiac installs LED streetlights, expects big savings

It's getting cheaper to keep the lights on in Pontiac, at least since the city has finished installing its first LED streetlights.

The LEDs are part of the $2 million reconstruction that took place this summer. The project rebuilt 1 mile of Baldwin Avenue between Cesar Chavez Avenue and Montcalm Street, just northwest of downtown. That includes replacing the road, sidewalks and 36 light polls.

LED lights are going in all of the new cobra-head street lamps. The LEDs cost $21,000 and are partially funded by federal and state grants.

The 36 lights are expected to significantly cut expenses because LEDs are more energy-efficient and longer-lasting. LEDs typically cut electric bills in half because they use less energy. They mostly produce light that is visible to the human eye. Normal incandescent lights produce a significant amount of ambient light that isn't. They also last much longer.

"It really cuts down on the maintenance cost," says Allan E Schneck, director of the department of public works for the city of Pontiac.

Oxford-based Relume Technologies and its distributor Lumeco provided the LEDs. The company also provided the LEDs for Ann Arbor's downtown.

The technology is already widely used in traffic lights, TVs and brake lights for cars; as well as those expensive flashlights you find at REI. Ann Arbor is in the process of installing them in all its downtown streetlights. Those lights are expected to pay for themselves through energy savings within 4.2 years.

Ann Arbor is also looking to eventually install LEDs in all of its streetlights within the next few years. Other cities like Ferndale, Wyandotte and Ypsilanti are seriously considering similar options.

Source: Allan E Schneck, director of the department of public works for the city of Pontiac
Writer: Jon Zemke
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