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Get out of the house for fun at Oakland County parks


You can stop looking for an island resort to take in some zip lining or climbing. Opportunities are right in your back yard at Oakland County's 13 public parks.

While offering some of the region's most pristine land, Oakland County parks provide recreation choices galore, from geocaching to field sports, hunting, fishing, bicycle motocrossing, water and winter sports and, of course, picnicking.

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More than $157,000 raised by walkers and sponsors of OLHSA's 27th annual Walk for Warmth

OLHSA, A Community Action Agency, hosted its 27th annual Walk for Warmth events, sponsored by Genisys Credit Union, on Feb. 4, 2017 at Great Lakes Crossing Outlets and Feb. 18, 2017 at the Hartland Educational Support Service Center. More than 1,000 participants, in the form of walkers, sponsors and volunteers, came together to raise funds for the Emergency Utility Assistance Program that keeps Oakland and Livingston county families safe and warm in their homes.

So far the total amount raised through Walk for Warmth is at $157,648 with $75,422 from the Oakland Walk for Warmth and $80,206 from the Livingston County Walk for Warmth. To reach the $180,000 goal, $24,352 is needed.

"People who seek our assistance struggle every day to stretch their limited resources to meet all their basic needs,” said Susan Harding, OLHSA CEO. “Funds raised at the Walk for Warmth events help them make their resources go a bit further and improve the quality of their life.”

Every dollar raised goes to heating homes in Oakland and Livingston counties, including many with young children and elderly, who are most vulnerable to cold and illness. Donations stay in the county where they are raised.

At both events this year participants of all ages enjoyed exercising indoors, giveaways, children’s activities, a free commemorative t-shirt and interacting with various mascots, including those from the  Detroit Zoo, Rainforest Café and SEA LIFE Michigan. In Oakland County, PK from 89X kicked things off and walkers received goodie bags, blood pressure screenings and massages. In Livingston County, KSI was honored as Team of the Year, receiving tributes from state legislators, and walkers enjoyed a photo booth, life-size penguin balloon display, refreshments and more.

There’s still time to help OLHSA reach its goal of raising $180,000 for the emergency utility assistance program. To donate visit, www.crowdrise.com/WalkforWarmthOakland2017 for Oakland County and
www.crowdrise.com/WalkforWarmthLivingston2017 for Livingston County.

Walk for Warmth is Oakland County and Livingston County’s premier walk-a-thon event, giving back 100 percent of proceeds to the Emergency Utility Assistance Program at OLHSA, A Community Action Agency.

OLHSA is a Community Action Agency improving the quality of life for people facing crisis while strengthening families, communities, seniors and youth since 1964. Over 209,000 services were provided in 2016 in the pursuit of helping people and changing lives. www.olhsa.org

Last call to register for Oakland County's 32nd annual Economic Outlook Luncheon set for April 27

Online registration closes Friday for the 32nd annual Oakland County Economic Outlook Forecast luncheon, which is set for April 27 at the Detroit Marriott Troy.

University of Michigan economists Dr. Gabriel Ehrlich and Donald Grimes will present a three-year projection on employment prospects in private manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors with breakdowns for all industry categories for Oakland County. The outlook report is a main component for Oakland County’s long-term planning and promotion activities. Every attendee receives a copy of the summary report.

“Their perspective on the county’s economic health is both insightful and helpful,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “The event is always sold out and these seats will go fast.”

Tickets are $50 per person can be purchased online at www.AdvantageOakland.Eventbrite.com. Registration closes Friday or when capacity is reached. More than 600 people attended the event in 2016. The Detroit Marriott Troy is at 200 W. Big Beaver Road, east of Interstate 75, in Troy. The luncheon begins promptly at 11:30 a.m.

The luncheon is hosted by Chase, Oakland Community College and the Oakland County Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs. 

Patterson: Make emergency plan for severe weather

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson urges families to download and fill out an emergency plan during Severe Weather Awareness Week in Oakland County which takes place April 16 - 22, 20??17. Just go to OakGov.com/HomelandSecurity? and click on the link for the Family Emergency Plan.
“When families, schools and businesses are prepared for severe weather, it saves lives and property,” Patterson said. “In fact, we’ve made it easy for every family to have an emergency plan. Just go to our website, print the severe weather plan, and fill in your family’s vital information. It just takes a few minutes.”
Patterson declared the week of April 16 - 22, 2017 as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Oakland County. The county’s Homeland Security Division will engage in various public education activities that week. Plus, it will conduct a countywide test of the Oakland County Outdoor Warning System on Wednesday, April 19 at 1:00 p.m.
During the 2016 severe weather season, there were 42 storm-based warnings issued for Michigan and two recorded tornadoes (the average is five). The warning lead time average was 14.9 minutes for all severe weather events.
“Homeland Security puts a lot of effort into educating individuals about severe weather safety and the Outdoor Warning System,” said George Miller, director of the Oakland County Health and Human Services Department, who oversees Homeland Security Division. “The April 19 siren test will be an opportunity for individuals, schools and businesses to test their emergency preparedness plans.”
For more information about emergency preparedness or Severe Weather Awareness Week, go to 
OakGov.com/Homela?ndSecurity. To reach Oakland County Homeland Security Division by phone, call 248-858-5300.

Oakland County rises to one of the top 10 healthiest counties in Michigan

Oakland County is the 10th healthiest county in Michigan, ranking ahead of neighboring Wayne and Macomb counties in health outcomes, according to the County Health Rankings Report released today. Oakland enters the top 10 for the first time since the rankings began in 2003, while maintaining the number two ranking in health behaviors for the fourth year in a row and significantly improving in the quality of life measure, moving to the top five.

County Executive L. Brooks Patterson credits this achievement to his administration’s focus on quality of life initiatives, including Energizing Connections for a Healthier Oakland (ECHO), a countywide health improvement initiative focused on achieving a community where every person that lives, works, attends school, worships, or plays in Oakland County is a healthy person.

“Promoting active and healthy lifestyles is at the heart of our public health programs and quality of life initiatives,” Patterson said. “ECHO is one among several programs where we work with community partners to find shared solutions and innovative ways to make Oakland County a healthier place to live, work, and play.”

Oakland County has improved or maintained its position in 32 areas of measure in the County Health Rankings Report produced by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. Those areas include quality of life, health behaviors, access to exercise opportunities, adult obesity, teen birth rate, unemployment, and violent crime rate.

“These results reflect the hard work and commitment of the Oakland County Health Division’s numerous community collaborative efforts, work of our partners, and our dedication to improve the overall health and quality of life for residents,” said Kathy Forzley, health officer for Oakland County. “We are pleased with the rankings and are encouraged to continue to work to advance the well-being of our residents.”

The report is the only tool of its kind that measures the overall health of the nation’s more than 3,100 counties. It highlights key health factors that affect health, including health behaviors, access to and quality of clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment. For more information about the rankings or to review the report, go to oakgov.com/health.

Oakland County Health Division has a variety of programs and services that support healthy lifestyles by promoting and encouraging healthy behaviors, improving infant health, increasing accessibility of health services, ensuring a safe and clean environment, preparing for emergencies, and reducing the threat and preventing the spread of diseases.

For up-to-date public health information, visit www.oakgov.com/health, follow the Health Division on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter @publichealthOC, or call Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533.

Patterson appoints first woman to lead Health and Human Services

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has appointed Kathleen Forzley to be the next director of the Department of Health and Human Services. Forzley will be the first woman to lead the department which oversees the county’s Health Division, Homeland Security Division, and Children’s Village. She will replace George Miller who retires April 28.

“Kathy Forzley will do an outstanding job as director of the Health and Human Services Department,” Patterson said. “Her leadership overseeing more than 40 public health programs as the county’s health officer has not only garnered many national and statewide awards but also has bolstered Oakland County’s reputation for excellence in public health.”

Forzley said she welcomes the challenges that go with being director of the Department of Health and Human Services.
“I’m grateful Brooks has confidence in my experience to take the reins of his largest department,” Forzley said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunities that come with the additional responsibilities.”

Forzley is the first woman to take the top spot in Health and Human Services, but she is not the first woman to break such barriers in Oakland County government. Patterson also appointed the first women to be directors of other major county departments. They are:
  • Management and Budget (Laurie Van Pelt, director)
  • Human Resources (Judith Eaton, retired)
  • Corporation Council (Judith Cunningham, retired)
  • Risk Management (Julie Secontine, currently Michigan fire marshal)
  • Economic Development & Community Affairs (Maureen Donohue Krauss, currently chief economic development officer for the Indy Chamber).
With a focus on population health improvement, Forzley has worked to align community partners and resources to address complex health issues through numerous collaborative efforts, including the creation of Oakland County’s health improvement initiative known as Energizing Connections for Healthier Oakland (ECHO). She also has served in leadership roles for health initiatives on a regional and statewide level through her participation on the Michigan Public Health Advisory Commission, Michigan Local Public Health Accreditation Commission, Southeastern Michigan Health Association Board, and is the current President of the Michigan Association of Local Public Health.

“Kathy was the visionary for the Energizing Connections for a Healthier Oakland (ECHO) initiative which is redefining public health,” said George Miller, the retiring director. “She has the knowledge and the work ethic to take on such a large department. I am extremely pleased that Mr. Patterson has chosen her to be my successor.”

Forzley, a Troy resident, has been the county’s health officer and manager of the Oakland County Health Division since 2008. She served as the administrator for Oakland County Environmental Health Services from 2003-2008. Prior to that, she was an environmental health services supervisor from 2001-2003. She joined Oakland County in 1992 as a public health sanitarian. Forzley holds a master of public administration degree and dual Bachelor of Arts in biology and Bachelor of Science in environmental health degrees, all from Oakland University. Forzley and her husband, Murray, have three daughters and one grandson.

It's Spring - Let's hike an Oakland County trail

Now that spring is finally here, there’s no better time to get outside and take in the sounds and sights of spring. Did you know that Oakland County and its surrounding areas offer miles and miles of trails for your enjoyment? Whether you want to jog through a park, stroll through to check out spring flowers, take a family bike ride, or saddle up on a horse, there’s a perfect trail for you.

View a partial list below to find a trail in your area and visit our Trails Page for an interactive trail viewer map. The map will allow you to sort by parks and trails and take note of a trail’s surface area. You can even view a trail’s elevation by clicking on it.

Read more here

Health Division seeks nominees for Breastfeeding-Friendly Place Award

The Oakland County Health Division Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program is seeking nominations for its 3rd Annual Breastfeeding-Friendly Place Award. Awards will honor Oakland County pediatrician offices, employers, and businesses that are taking extra steps to support breastfeeding mothers.

Complete an online nomination form at www.oakgov.com/health. Award nomination entries are due Friday, April 28, 2017 at 5:00 p.m.

"Businesses, employers, and pediatrician offices that support breastfeeding mothers by providing a comfortable, welcoming environment send a clear message that breastfeeding is a normal and accepted way to feed babies," said Kathy Forzley, Health Division manager/health officer. "They are helping to develop healthy children."
Breastmilk helps keep babies healthy by:
  • Supplying all necessary nutrients in proper proportions
  • Protecting against diseases, infections, allergies, and obesity
  • Being easily digested - no constipation, diarrhea, or upset stomach
Mothers who breastfeed have a reduced risk of Type 2 Diabetes and certain cancers such as breast cancer, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. They may find it easier to return to their pre-pregnancy weight. Plus, breastfeeding strengthens the bond between mother and child. Mothers who are able to pump while at work and continue to breastfeed their infants miss fewer days of work on average than those who are formula feeding.

Award winners will be announced during National Breastfeeding Month at the Breastfeeding-Friendly Place Awards event on August 9.

Prior award winners include:
  • The Mind Body Collective of Waterford – Business Category
  • Southfield Pediatric Physicians, PC of Bingham Farms – Pediatrician Office Category
  • City of Novi Police Department of Novi – Employer Category
  • Mom & Baby Shop, Novi – Business Category
  • Pediatric Care Corner of West Bloomfield – Pediatrician Office Category
  • St. Joseph Mercy Hospital of Pontiac – Employer Category
For more information, visit www.oakgov.com/health or call Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533.

Leadership Oakland celebrates the tenth year of high school leadership program

Leadership Oakland will once again take an active approach to get young people to explore their own potential and contribute to their communities with its tenth Junior Leadership Oakland (Junior LO) program this summer.  Junior LO is a three-day leadership program for students who will be entering their senior year of high school in the fall and wish to build upon their leadership abilities.  With no cost to students, the program seeks to generate opportunities that will ignite leadership potential, create exposure to a wide variety of career paths, and provide interaction with a network of business professionals and community leaders.
“There is a lot of bright, young talent in our area looking for ways to develop and channel their skills and passion. Leadership Oakland is honored to offer a program that helps them define and chart their future.  In return, our region grows stronger through their vision and action,” comments Leadership Oakland Executive Director, Nancy Maurer.
More than 250 high school students have participated in the Junior LO program since its inception.  Over the course of three days, participants will explore leadership on three levels; personal, professional, and public.  Students will be challenged to define their own sense of leadership, creating goals that will align their desired image as a leader and their future choices.  
Junior LO will take place on June 19-21 at Oakland Community College’s Auburn Hills campus.  The application deadline is May 1, 2017.  Students can find the application and learn more about the program by visiting www.leadershipoakland.com and clicking on the Junior LO tab under programs. This year’s Junior LO sponsors are Genisys Credit Union, Oakland Community College, Crossroads for Youth and Oakland County Planning & Economic Development Services.
About Leadership Oakland
Established in 1990, Leadership Oakland is a 501 (c)(3) organization focused on business and community leadership development. The organization provides a nine-month Cornerstone Program to participants from businesses, organizations and governmental agencies that are selected based on an application process. Leadership Oakland graduates are key business and community leaders serving as catalysts on boards of various organizations throughout the region.

Oakland NEXT bringing "A Future You Didnít Know Existed" pilot program to area schools


Oakland NEXT, one of five Oakland County business roundtable committees, created the program, “A Future You Didn’t Know Existed”, as a way to give students career advice based on the experiences of committee members.

Oakland NEXT is a committee created to focus on the next generation of leaders in Oakland County through a branding campaign designed to highlight and retain the human capital within Oakland County.

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Oakland County's high-tech prowess on display in 2017

Oakland County’s best accomplishments lay ahead especially in high-tech investment, County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said during his annual State of the County address before an audience of more than 600 guests at the Auburn Hills Marriot Pontiac at Centerpoint. He began by spotlighting the new $40 million Proton Therapy Center at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak slated to open this spring.

“It is a giant leap forward in cancer treatment – one that Oakland County’s Medical Main Street played a significant role in supporting,” Patterson said. “We personally lobbied Lansing so that Beaumont could receive state approval for its Certificate of Need for the Proton Therapy Center. We did so because we recognized the value of having advanced cancer treatment in the heart of Oakland County, both from a quality of life and business attraction standpoint.”

The Proton Therapy Center, which will be one of only 36 in the world, is a high-tech alternative to standard radiation treatment. Proton therapy’s greater precision destroys cancer cells but spares adjacent healthy tissue and reduces side effects.

Medical Main Street, Oakland County’s initiative to drive medical tourism to the region, continues to evolve. In 2017, it will have an additional focus on commercializing medical technologies. Medical Main Street’s Advisory Roundtable will partner with Oakland County’s One Stop Shop to provide key services to help academia, hospitals, and private businesses take that next step after researching and developing their medical advancements.

“Oakland County will become a pipeline for delivering 21st Century medical innovations to market,” Patterson said. “That, my friends, is 21st Century progress.”

Oakland County is also becoming the premier location in the United States for developing advanced vehicle technology. Patterson cited Uber’s announcement in January that it has selected a site in the city of Wixom where it will test autonomous driving technology as well as Google’s opting last year to locate its 53,000-square-foot research and development center for self-driving cars in Novi.

“Why are leading Silicon Valley companies turning their eyes toward Oakland County as the place to develop advanced vehicle technology? Certainly, it’s the fact that 75 of the top 100 global tier one automotive suppliers in advanced vehicle technology have locations in Oakland County,” Patterson said.

“In addition, we have the Oakland County Connected Vehicle Task Force which we launched back in 2014,” Patterson said. “In three short years we already have a couple dozen companies working in this space.”

To continue to attract these companies to Oakland County, the Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs recently conducted a skills needs assessment in the connected mobility sector. The report uncovered a new job classification that was previously unknown to workforce development professionals. The position is a hybrid of electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and software developer. Plus, it provided insight into the greatest challenges faced by hiring managers in advanced automotive technology. One that stands out is that some engineering degrees outdated because the complexity of connected mobility requires a hybrid of engineering, computer, and technical skills.

“Information is power,” Patterson said. “Rest assured now that Oakland County has these survey results, we will be sharing them with industry leaders, colleges and universities, high schools, and workforce development professionals. And if the previous three skills needs assessments are an indication, there will be a strong response from our educational and training institutions to modify and create curriculum that will feed a new generation of highly skilled young people into the advanced automotive technology sector.”

Oakland County is making strides to attract the next generation of thinkers, doers, and dreamers in its Oakland Next initiative. Oakland Next is the county’s branding effort to harness young talent in Oakland County - to introduce high school and college students to the fact that so much of what they are looking for both in terms of quality of life and careers they will find right here in Oakland County.

One example is Manufacturing Day. For two years in a row, hundreds of Oakland County high school students the opportunity to tour dozens of advanced manufacturing plants at companies such as BASF, DENSO International, Hirotec America, Lear Corporation, Magneti Marelli, and more.

“You should really see how the faces of these students light up the first time they walk into one of these advanced manufacturing plants,” Patterson said. “They are in awe when they walk in and see robotics and advanced engineering hard at work. Many experience a moment when they realize that they don’t need to leave Michigan to pursue a high-tech career. It certainly is not their grandfather’s manufacturing plant.”

Manufacturing Day tours have been so effective that this year, using it as a model, Oakland County will launch “Info Tech Day,” when hundreds of high school students from around Oakland County will tour numerous Information Technology companies to see that their aspirations to pursue that high tech career can be fulfilled right here at home.

Patterson said the knowledge-based economy jobs are not just in private industry. Some are right here in Oakland County government. For example, the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s office is now a teaching facility after it signed a contract with Wayne State Medical School and the Detroit Medical Center to instruct their medical students who are studying pathology. In addition to those students, 25 to 30 medical students from all over the United States come to our Medical Examiner’s Office every year for weeks at a time in order to complete their pathology rotation in medical school. “Though it is a handful of students, we think it is a tremendous opportunity to highlight both the availability of knowledge-based careers and the quality of life here in Oakland County to young talent from other parts of the country,” Patterson said.

The city of Pontiac is making a comeback.

“Pontiac has come to represent an often told America story: An urban center in America’s heartland falls on hard times, at least in part because of the changes in U.S. manufacturing, in particular the auto industry. But like so many urban centers, Pontiac is seeing a renewal because of private investment by individuals with vision. Individuals who see the potential, the future,” Patterson said.

Patterson recognized and thanked a number of entrepreneurs who are helping Pontiac rebound. Among them was Pete Karmanos, Jr., whose MadDog Technology subsidiary Lenderful, an online mortgage buying experience, is investing $1.75 million in downtown Pontiac and creating 52 jobs. Patterson quoted Karmanos’ words about investing in Pontiac in his speech:
"Establishing a core technology hub in Pontiac will draw many more technology-centric companies in the near term. For employees this represents a close, convenient place to work. This competitive location will draw people from all around the region.”

Patterson said he can make assurances of technology growth in downtown Pontiac in the future because it has plentiful underground fiber optic infrastructure – a necessity to attract and retain tech companies.

Other Pontiac investors he praised:
  • Vince Deleonardis and Auch Construction for building its new 20,000-square-foot corporate headquarters in Pontiac
  • Brad Oleshansky and partners for investing $50 million in the M1 Concourse project at South Boulevard and Woodward
  • Kyle Westburg and partners for investing in and restoring the Flagstar Strand Theatre and Performing Arts Center
  • Ed Lee of Lee Contracting who has been investing in the Pontiac area for over 25-years, bringing much-needed jobs to help revitalize the city and has purchased the old Wisner School, Wisner Stadium, and the former Pontiac Central High School to turn those buildings into usable space for a variety of purposes.
  • And Southfield-based REDICO and Pacific Coast Capital Partners who are investing $180 million to transform the defunct Bloomfield Park project on Telegraph near Square Lake.
A significant sign that Oakland County continues a significant recovery from the Great Recession is significant private investment at Oakland County International Airport. Corporate Eagle is investing $8 million for a new 80,000-square-foot hangar facility. Edsel Ford’s Pentastar Aviation is exploring building lifestyle hangars – the aviation equivalent of M1 Concourse for cars. Kirt Kostich of Royal Air expanded by 43,200 square feet with the completion of two passenger buildings and a third to store aircraft with a total price tag of $3.2 million. Plus, the airport itself will invest $8 million in the coming year to rebuild taxiway Charlie or taxiway C, the busiest taxiway in all of Michigan.

“Dave VanderVeen, Oakland County’s director of central services who oversees the airport, often opines that aviation is the first sector into a recession and the last out of one. So, when I report to you tonight that Oakland County International Airport is expanding its footprint for corporate business development projects this year - projects worth millions of dollars in private investment - you get the sense that Oakland County’s economy continues to strengthen from the days of the Great Recession,” Patterson said.

Finally, Oakland County will see a number of improvements in public safety in 2017. The county has begun to replace the county’s 911 infrastructure from a copper network which has reached the end of its useful life as it dates back to 1963. A new regional fiber optic network called Emergency Services Internet-protocol Network or ESINet will prepare the way for the Next Generation 911 system in Oakland County. ESINet 911 calls will be routed using geographic information system coordinates. It will enable 911 callers to not only make voice calls to emergency dispatchers, but also they will be able to send photographs, videos, in-car crash system data, and texts from emergency scenes.

Oakland County continues to prepare for active shooters. Over the past five years, Sheriff Mike Bouchard and Oakland County Homeland Security Division, under the leadership of Ted Quisenberry, have leveraged federal grants to help equip and train our local police departments to neutralize an active shooter. Across nearly the entire county in virtually every department are police officers who are part of “OakTac” response teams. OakTac stands for Oakland County Tactical Response Coordinating Group. They are trained and equipped to enter a building and contend with an active shooter.

OakTac is comprised of 36 agencies and serves over 96 percent of the population in Oakland County. There are over 2,100 Oakland County law enforcement officers who have received this training.

In 2017, we are going to implement additional training which could increase the likelihood of survivability for victims of an active shooter. Oakland County Homeland Security Division will begin to train firefighters and emergency medical personnel to strap on bullet-resistant vests and enter an active shooter scene not far behind an OakTac team, even as that OakTac team continues to locate the threat to neutralize it. In these “warm zones,” firefighters and EMS personnel will triage, treat, and evacuate victims. In recent active shooter scenes, it has been found that victims who were alive when firefighters and emergency medical personnel were able to enter the building ultimately survived.

Oakland County Children’s Village is playing a key role in our region in the fight against human trafficking. As law enforcement on all levels continues to fight human trafficking and rescue local children from forced prostitution, Children’s Village is providing services and a safe haven for these rescued underage victims.

Royal Oak entrepreneur is youngest winner of Oakland County Executive's 2017 Elite 40 Under 40 class

Brooke Wilson Vitale, the owner of specialty bakeries in Royal Oak and Birmingham, was selected by a public online vote as the winner of the Oakland County Executive’s Elite 40 Under 40 Class of 2017.

The announcement was made at Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s State of the County address held at the Auburn Hills Marriott Pontiac at Centerpoint. As the winner, Vitale was given the honor of introducing Patterson to the crowd of more than 600 people.

“It’s a really big honor,” Vitale said. “I was really surprised and very flattered.”

At 29, Vitale is the youngest winner in the six years of the contest. She is the owner of Love & Buttercream, a bakery she opened in 2012 after turning a hobby into her passion. An Oakland County native and Michigan State University graduate, she worked for a time in Chicago but the allure of returning home was too strong to ignore.

“There’s something about this area that I can’t quite put into words,” she said. “It’s a set of values, a culture, a feeling of support and a feeling of home. It’s something magical and unique that you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the nation. It was the perfect place to let my dreams fly.”

Patterson was effusive in his praise for Vitale.

“Brooke is an excellent choice,” Patterson said. “She is creative, thoughtful, has an incredible business sense and is precisely the kind of young leader we want to keep in Oakland County.”

The bakery idea was hatched in a kitchen in her parent’s basement and took flight. Her business, which began with three employees, has expanded to 29 women – all under age 35. She credits her team with her success.

“They’re the ones that make me look good,” said Vitale, who is married and has a 1-year-old son. “They are the ones committed to this business. I’ve been lucky beyond what I can comprehend.”

The bakery’s cookies were named HOUR Detroit’s “Best Cookie” in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Love & Buttercream was also named Eater’s “Top 5 Bakeries in Metro Detroit.” The bakery provided wedding cakes and desserts for 600 couples in 2016 and is the exclusive provider for wedding cakes for the Infinity and Ovation Yacht Charters on the Detroit River.

Nearly 400 applications and nominations were reviewed by a panel of judges, looking for the top 40 young professionals and thought leaders who live or work in Oakland County. The 40 honorees have achieved excellence in their field and contributed to the quality of life in their communities. Of that group, the three candidates who scored the highest are placed before the public vote to determine a 2017 winner. This is the sixth year of the Elite 40 program.

"I am continually amazed at the caliber of young leaders we have,” Patterson said. “We think the whole class is superb and the top three are outstanding. The future of our county is very bright.”

More than 2,900 votes were cast for the three finalists. The other finalists were:
  • Richard J. Chalmers, D.O., 36, Director of Family Medicine Residency, McLaren Macomb Hospital
    Chalmers, of Rochester Hills, began his family practice in 2010 with the McLaren Medical Group and was named director of the family medicine residence program at McLaren Macomb Hospital in 2015. He is an assistant clinical professor at the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine. He is director of the hospital’s Medical Outreach Clinic, which treats uninsured patients at no cost. Chalmers has been to Guatemala three times as part of a team of doctors, nurses and volunteers through DOCARE International, providing care to more than 3,000 patients. Chalmers is married and has two sons.
  • Carrie Schochet, 37, CEO/Founder, Purple Squirrel Advisors
    Schochet, of Rochester Hills, heads a Troy-based boutique executive search firm that connects unique C-level and senior executives with leadership positions. She is also founder of CFO Next, a group she launched in 2013 when she discovered a lack of resources and networking opportunities for transitioning or unemployed senior financial executives. The group placed 60 people into new career opportunities in the first two years and assisting another 20. She is a passionate philanthropist, raising funds for a number of non-profits, including ALS research, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Power Company Kids Club. In 2016, she co-founded 100 Businesses Who Care to connect executives who want to make an impact in metropolitan Detroit. The group is set to give a $50,000 donation to a local non-profit twice a year starting in 2017. Schochet is married and has three children.
The remaining members of the 2017 Oakland County Executive’s Elite 40 Under 40 class are:
  • Hallie Armstrong, 37, Senior Naturopathic Doctor, Beaumont Health
  • Matthew Baumgarten, 32, Berkley City Manager
  • Andrea Carollo, 37, Realtor, Max Broock Realtors
  • Alicia Chandler, 37, General Counsel – Continuing Care, Trinity Health
  • Nathan Clinton-Barnett, 32, Vice President of Clinical Services, Safe Balance LLC
  • Alex Delavan, 34, Director of Sponsored Programs, Oakland University
  • David DeLind, 30, Marketing Program Manager, 1986
  • Derek Dickow, 37, Founder, Steward Media
  • Matt Einheuser, 31, Watershed Ecologist, Clinton River Watershed Council
  • Joanne Forbes, 34, Department Chair of Art, Design/Humanities, Oakland Community College
  • Sean Forbes, 35, Co-Founder, DPAN.TV The Sign Language Channel
  • Kristin Griffith, 30, 2nd Grade Teacher & Elementary Technology Educator, Auburn Hills Christian School
  • Anthony Grupido, 21, CEO, Handsleight LLC
  • Sherikia Hawkins, 35, City Clerk, City of Pontiac
  • Michael Hohf, 31, Sr. Vice President & Financial Advisor, Advance Capital Management
  • Adam Jahnke, 33, Principal and Co-Founder, Vault Equity Partners
  • Yasser Khan, 37, Executive Vice President & Chief Sales Officer, IBM Miraclesoft
  • Jessica Knapik, 38, Program Analyst, Walsh College
  • Anjan Kumar, 38, Assistant Director of Medical ICU, Pulmonary & Critical Care Associates – St. John Hospital & Medical Center
  • Andrew Kurecka, 29, Manager of Outcomes Research, MedNetOne Health Solutions
  • Samantha Mariuz, 25, Director of Authorities, City of Auburn Hills
  • Sam Marzban, 34, Detective Sergeant, Oakland County Sheriff’s Office
  • Tylar Masters, 37, President, Tylar & Company
  • Dustin McClellan, 26, Pontiac Director, The Power Company Kids Club
  • Maureen McGinnis, 38, Judge, 52-4 District Court
  • Shaun Moore, 38, Director of e-Learning, Oakland University
  • Tany Nagy, 37, Owner, Pulse Design Studio
  • Jeena Patel, 37, Partner, Warner Norcross & Judd LLP
  • Emily Paula, 26, Human Resources Business Partner, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
  • Katya Pruett, 37, Manager Public Relations and Communications, BorgWarner Inc.
  • Katheryn Rohrhoff, 34, Staff Nurse, Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital
  • Pratheep Sevanthinathan, 36, Owner, Seva Law Firm
  • Kayla Smith, Executive Director, 26, Hazel Park Promise Zone Authority
  • David Tessler, 34, VP & Co-Owner, Rain Marketing Inc.
  • Leyanna Torres, 32, Principal Product Engineer NAOSS Packaging Manager, ZF TRW
  • Kathryn Tuck, 37, Director of Foundation Giving, Leader Dogs for the Blind
  • Danielle Zuccaro, 34, Director Human Resources, Common Ground

Oakland County offers free severe weather spotter training

Registration is now open for Skywarn severe weather spotter training classes coordinated by Oakland County Homeland Security Division which begins in March. Skywarn is an effort to save lives during severe weather by having a network of well-trained spotters who can accurately observe weather phenomena and identify cloud features that lead to tornadoes and those that do not.

“Only one instrument can detect a tornado or funnel cloud with complete certainty - the human eye,” said Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson. “While new technological and scientific tools have advanced the capability of meteorologists to predict severe weather, the trained spotter remains essential to the National Weather Service warning process. Trained spotters save lives.”

The Skywarn classes cover what kinds of weather phenomenon to report, how to report it, and severe weather safety. Classes are free and last 1.5 hours.

“The more trained eyes we have in the field during a severe weather event, the better our service to the public will be,” Patterson said.

To register, go to www.OakGov.com/homelandsecurity and click on the Skywarn logo to register or call 248-858-5300. Space is limited.

Upcoming Skywarn spotter training classes:

Saturday, March 18 from 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.
Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road, Waterford

Tuesday, March 21 from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Commerce Township Offices, 2009 Township Drive, Commerce Township

Thursday, April 6 from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Karl Richter Campus Community Center, 300 East St., Holly

Monday, April 10 from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Orion Center, 1335 Joslyn Road, Lake Orion

Wednesday, April 12 from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Southfield Public Library, 26300 Evergreen Road, Southfield

Oakland County Parks and Recreation wins two state awards

Oakland County Parks and Recreation has won two mParks’ (Michigan Recreation and Park Association) state-wide awards for enhancing accessibility for all visitors. One award lauded OCPR’s efforts to increase water and trail access and the other praised uniquely designed hay wagons providing access to people of all abilities.
The hay wagons were awarded the Golden Wrench Award which recognizes resourceful staff members who have designed an inventive or resourceful cost or labor saving device. The new increased accessibility projects in the park were selected for mParks Park Design award.
The Park Design award was given to a collection of projects at Addison Oaks, Groveland Oaks and Independence Oaks county parks that included the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) parking spaces and accessible routes constructed to ADA guidelines. These improvements provided universal access to recreation opportunities such as kayaking, fishing, boating and nature hikes.
This focus on providing more access to trails and water came as a result of a recent public survey that showed residents’ top priorities for parks was maintenance and trails. New universally accessible trails now lead to universally accessible recreation opportunities.
“Accessibility for all of our park users is a top priority for Oakland County Parks and Recreation,” Executive Officer Dan Stencil said.  “Our ADA Transition Plans guide our park improvements to ensure that we’re meeting patrons’ needs within the parks and families and friends can enjoy the parks together.”
OCPR staff members were successful in obtaining grants to offset the cost of these projects. A fishing dock and a kayak launch were added to Addison Oaks with funding provided by the Michigan Recreation Passport Grant. The fishing dock was completed in spring 2016 and the kayak launch the previous fall.
Natural Resources Trust Fund Grants were used to construct a fishing dock at Groveland Oaks County Park and a kayak launch at Independence Oaks County Park.  The fishing dock was recently completed and the kayak launch was completed last fall.
OCPR staff managed and installed the projects. They created a boardwalk leading up to the docks and built a special foundation to compensate for soft ground near the water.
OCPR also saw the need to provide visitors of all abilities with the pleasure of a hayride through the parks. However, when searching for an adaptive wagon to purchase, none were found that met the proposed uses for the wagon.  The solution was to build one.
The two new wagons were created using car trailers. The back door folds down becoming a ramp for wheelchair access and many seniors who find steps difficult.  A hand rail gives added support to those walking up the ramp. As 2016 was the first season for the wagons, additional enhancements are continuing to be made. A second handrail is planned for each wagon so that a caregiver walking a rider up the ramp will also have a handrail for support.
Sand was mixed with paint on the ramp of the wagon to provide a non-slick surface for caregivers providing assistance and those with walkers. 
Special latches were built to lock the wheelchairs in place. The two benches on either side are open on one end to allow someone in a wheelchair to transfer onto the bench if they prefer.
Each wagon holds 20 people including two wheelchairs. The new wagons have been added to the parks system’s fleet, providing additional recreational opportunities for park visitors.
Oakland County Parks Supervisor and Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist Sandy Dorey has used the wagons for several events including adaptive and senior programs.
“The seniors at the Buhl Estate historical tours at Addison Oaks County Park gave us many rave reviews,” she said.  “Many of them had not been on a wagon ride in years.  The design of the new wagons made it easy for them to walk right up the ramp.  Most wagons have steps that are difficult to maneuver.”
Dorey said at a parks campground program, a grandparent was able to join the family for a ride because of the wagon’s accessibility.
For information on Oakland County Parks and Recreation, visit OaklandCountyParks.com. Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

ACHC launches the Youth Connections Magazine

The Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities (ACHC) announces the inaugural edition of the Youth Connections Magazine. The magazine provides helpful information for parents to navigate the transitional and sometimes difficult stages of adolescence. Today’s teens face challenges unforeseen even just a few years ago, parents need all the help they can get to guide children to succeed in school and life. 
The quarterly publication focuses on the prevention and reduction of substance misuse and violence, while enhancing social, emotional, and mental health support for youth. With the support of the Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority (OCCMHA) and the combined efforts of coalitions, parents, educators, youth-serving organizations, church and business leaders, the ACHC is working to build a better community. Through these partnerships ACHC is able to provide valuable, evidence-based programs, services, and activities to help youth and families thrive.
“The Youth Connections magazine is another example of the important work ACHC is doing in our communities,” said Christina Nicholas, OCCMHA Administrator of Substance Abuse Services. “This publication is an opportunity to engage and empower youth and families to make positive choices.” 
There is a great amount of activity and excitement that is creating a positive impact. Part of these efforts is this magazine, the ACHC’s inaugural edition of Youth Connections Magazine!  
“With all doing their part to keep youth safe and healthy in Oakland County, our focus is to drive prevention, support, and recovery efforts that make a positive impact,” said Julie Brenner, ACHC Executive Director. “ACHC continually strives to meet the needs of our youth and their family.”
The magazine is published quarterly by the Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities. To obtain a hard copy, contact the ACHC at (248) 221-7101. 

The e-edition of the inaugural publication can be found online here: https://issuu.com/edgemarketing/docs/ycmag_achcmi_dec2016_issuu
Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities, founded in 2004, is a 17+ coalition prevention partnership based in Oakland County and is funded by Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority. ACHC also represents the Oakland County chapter of Families Against Narcotics (FAN). Together, the members mobilize a diverse group of persons and organizations from all community sectors to take coordinated action in building healthier communities. For more information call (248) 221-7101 or visit www.achcmi.org
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