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Snap into summer with the annual Pics of the Parks Photo Contest

Oakland County Parks and Recreation invites park visitors to capture and share their park experiences in the annual Pics of the Parks Photo Contest.

Submitted photos must fall into a PARK’D category: Parks, Artistic, Recreation, Kids, Dogs. All photos must be taken within the 13 Oakland County Parks with a limit of two entries per category. Entries must be submitted via email per the official rules.  An entry form is required. The entry form and official rules can be found on OaklandCountyParks.com/Get Involved. Photos can be taken in any season but can only be submitted between May 28 and Sept. 3

Photos will be judged by members of the Oakland Camera Club with the winners announced by Oct. 13. A Best of Show will be awarded, along with first, second, third and honorable mention winners in each PARKS category. The Best of Show photo will appear on the cover of the 2018 Oakland County Parks Annual Report

The top six entries (Best of Show and first place in each category) receive a mounted print of their entry. The print will be displayed at Wint Nature Center in Independence Oaks County Park in Clarkston from mid-October through mid-December. All entries and winners will be displayed on OaklandCountyParks.SmugMug.com

“Pics of the Parks Photo Contest is a celebration of the faces and places that make up Oakland County Parks,” Executive Officer Dan Stencil said. “This contest gives us the opportunity to see our parks through the eyes of our visitors and provides guests a way to visually share their experiences. Last year, 46 photographers entered 146 images in the contest. The photos get better and better each year.”

Information about the 13 Oakland County Parks locations, special events and recreation opportunities are available at OaklandCountyParks.com. Normal park entry and admission fees to access the parks are required.

For information on other events, visit OaklandCountyParks.com. Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Foreign investment is focus as economic development teams head to Washington D.C. and Germany

Oakland County economic developers are hoping to give the county’s sizable international business presence a boost as they head to the 2018 SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington D.C. and Germany in search of new businesses.


Irene Spanos, the county’s director of economic development, leads a team that is attending SelectUSA, a three-day event that promotes foreign direct investment in the United States beginning Tuesday. While Spanos and her team are in Washington, business development representative Charlene Page will be in Germany at Global Connect Stuttgart 2018 and later in Frankfort, selling auto suppliers and others on the benefits of landing in Oakland County.


“Oakland County has made a name for itself globally as a preferred business destination,” County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “We’ve had direct foreign investment of more than $56 million from our relationship with SelectUSA and we’re working on 25 more leads. These are companies headquartered outside the United States and so far, this year, we’ve attracted nearly $47 million of foreign investment from eight countries, bringing more than 900 jobs. We truly have an international business community.”


Oakland County continues to be among the top destinations in the United States for foreign direct investment. More than $1.2 billion of foreign direct investment has been made in the county in the past four years, including $305 million in 2017. The hope is that more international firms will soon be coming, joining the 1,100 international firms from 39 countries having business locations here.


Spanos has 16 meetings scheduled with automakers; aerospace, medical device and robotics companies who have expressed an interest in meeting with Oakland County. The companies are from France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan and Switzerland.


SelectUSA attracts more than 2,000 attendees from economic development organizations as well as domestic and international firms from 42 countries, service providers, media and senior administration and government officials, including U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross as well as other cabinet members.

President Barack Obama attended the summit in 2015 and 2016. President Donald Trump may attend this year, Spanos said.


More than 40 countries are expected at SelectUSA, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Oakland County is focusing on automotive, aerospace, information technology, medical devices and industrial machining/robotics. The Summit is described as the highest profile event in the country dedicated to promoting foreign investment in the U.S.


Spanos is a member of the U.S. Investment Advisory Council, which offers counsel to the secretary on ways to make the country more attractive for foreign direct investment.


In 2015, Spanos was appointed to the Foreign Direct Investment Frontlines Coalition – an economic development steering committee created by the Washington, D.C.-based Organization for International Investment.


Oakland County has gained national attention because of its foreign business footprint. About two foreign firms a month – on average – opened new business locations or expanded existing facilities in Oakland County in 2017.


On June 27, Patterson will be hosting a delegation from the Torino (Italy) Chamber of Commerce.


Goodwill Industries expands reach in Oakland County managing Michigan Works! office in Pontiac

The Oakland County Workforce Development Board today approved the selection of Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit as the new service provider for the Oakland County Michigan Works! center in Pontiac.

The announcement gives Goodwill Industries its third Michigan Works! service center in the county. It also manages locations in Highland Township and Novi.

“We are excited to expand our relationship with Goodwill Industries,” said Irene Spanos, the county’s director of economic development, which oversees workforce development. “Oakland County Michigan Works! remains fully committed to the citizens of Pontiac and the surrounding communities. We expect a smooth transition and this move will significantly enhance the breadth and quality of services offered to job seekers and businesses in the area.”

Goodwill Industries will begin operating the Pontiac center July 1 and the transition should be completed early this fall. The building location is expected to be announced by early summer. Goodwill Industries replaces Oakland Schools, which did not bid to renew its contract.

“Goodwill Industries is pleased to further expand its work into Oakland County as operator of the MI Works! Service Center office within the city of Pontiac,” said Dan Varner, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit. “We’d like to thank the Oakland County Workforce Development Board for this opportunity and look forward to deepening our partnership.”

Oakland County Michigan Works!, a partner of the American Job Center Network, helps more than 45,000 job seekers prepare for careers and conduct job searches each year. The agency provides services to businesses, including talent recruiting and training support. Other centers are in Ferndale, Oak Park, Southfield, Troy and Waterford.

“We’re excited to welcome Goodwill Industries to Pontiac,” said Jennifer Llewellyn, workforce development manager for Oakland County. “We expect this transition to be seamless and we’re committed to offering quality services to Pontiac and the surrounding communities.”

Discover Michigan's parks and waterways with SEMCOG's ParkFinder app and Water Resources Plan

SEMCOG, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, wants southeast Michigan--and everyone else, for that matter--to know just how special its natural resources are. The regional planning partnership is championing two recent developments that work to inform people of our parks and waterways systems.

Released March 22nd, the Water Resources Plan for Southeast Michigan emphasizes that not only are issues like water cleanliness and stormwater management vital to our region, but that water is also a powerful economic driver, as well. The report champions the Blue Economy, connecting quality of life issues to waterfront accessibility.

"We know that for our region, the Great Lakes, rivers, and streams are important to our quality of life, to retain residents and to attract new ones," says Kevin Vettraino, Manager of Plan Implementation at SEMCOG. "What is the main selling point for southeast Michigan? Our water."

Vettraino points to waterfront reclamation projects in places like Detroit and Port Huron, where once inaccessible industrial sites were replaced with popular riverwalks that attract people and help reinvigorate local economies.

SEMCOG also recently released the Southeast Michigan ParkFinder app, available for Apple and Android smart phones. The app is free to download.

The app provides information on 2,600 of the region’s parks, including lists of amenities. Users can pull up a map and drop a pin, and the app shows the different parks nearby.

Users can also search for park by amenities desired, whether they’re looking for a quick visit to a playground or dog park, or an overnight trip with camping facilities and more.

"The state is already doing a good job with tourism programs like Pure Michigan. It’s time for southeast Michigan to promote its wonderful amenities," Vettraino says.

"It shouldn’t be a secret that we have really robust park systems."

The ParkFinder map is also available online.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.


Oakland County's economy continues to grow

Excerpt

The tempo of Oakland County's job growth moderated in 2017, but that slow down appears to represent a "temporary hiccup" before it picks up to a more robust pace similar to 2015 and 2016.

Job growth for the next three years is forecast to average 1.9 percent per year or an increase of more than 42,000 jobs from 2018 to 2020, said University of Michigan economists.

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66 Michigan shelters and rescues to participate Empty the Shelters free adoption day

After successfully placing nearly 10,000 cats and dogs in loving homes through nine free adoption events in the last 24 months, BISSELL Pet Foundation (BPF) announced its next Empty the Shelters (ETS) event will take place in 13 states, including Michigan, on May 5, 2018. The Grand Rapids, Michigan-based nonprofit will pay all adoption fees at 66 shelters and rescue organizations across Michigan, including the Oakland County Animal Shelter and Pet Adoption Center. BPF will thank families for choosing adoption by giving them an AdoptBox filled with: a 5lb bag of pet food donated by Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food, treats, toys, valuable wellness information and coupons for new pet owners, where available while supplies last.
 
“We are a small organization doing our best to give every pet a loving home,” said Cathy Bissell, founder of BISSELL Pet Foundation. “Getting animals out of shelters and into homes is critical. Empty the Shelters does just that by encouraging people to choose adoption first.”
 
Nationwide, approximately 2.7 million pets are euthanized each year because they can’t find homes. Currently, only 23% of dogs and 31% of cats in family homes come from an animal shelter or humane society. BPF’s events have demonstrated that waiving fees motivates quality adopters, with more than 6,000 pets adopted in the state of Michigan alone in the last 2 years. Surveys from previous ETS events found 99.4% of adopters have already, or plan to, recommend adoption to family and friends; 52% of adopters were first-time adopters.
 
“This event will give national attention to the importance of adoption,” continued Bissell. “May 5 will be our largest Empty the Shelters event to date and we expect it to have a significant impact beyond the states participating.”
 
Shelters and rescues taking part in ETS are required to partner with other animal welfare organizations to help fill the empty spaces once pets have been adopted. Families adopting at ETS will be required to pay licensing fees for their pet – costs may vary by county.Standard adoption requirements will apply. Adopters are encouraged to review those requirements prior to May 5.
 
This year, BPF is appealing to people to choose adoption and find the pet of their dreams or to help give the gift of a family to a pet through a donation. 100% of donations for the event will fund adoption fees for homeless pets in the 13 participating states. For more information about Empty the Shelters, including a list of participating shelters and rescue organizations, and to donate, please visit www.bissellpetfoundation.org/ets.
 
About BISSELL Pet Foundation:
BISSELL Pet Foundation is a charitable 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission to help reduce the number of animals in shelters through pet adoption, spay/neuter programs, microchipping and foster care. Founded in 2011 by Cathy Bissell, BPF is an extension of her long-standing love for animals and commitment to their welfare. The foundation is supported by generous donors and BISSELL Homecare, Inc. Up to $10 for every pet product purchased helps fund the foundation’s mission.
 
About BISSELL Homecare, Inc.
For more than 140 years, BISSELL Homecare, Inc. has developed innovative floor care solutions that make cleaning up after families and pets easier. BISSELL supplies households across the globe with many products that are specifically engineered with pet families in mind; offering solutions for stains, odors, pet shedding and accidents for those who love their pets, but not the mess. For more on the complete line of BISSELL products, visit www.bissell.com.

Spring has sprung at Oakland County Parks and Recreation

The signs of spring are everywhere at Oakland County Parks and Recreation. Hike the trails to watch as birds happily prepare for warmer weather, learn tips for planning a vegetable garden and check out the spring produce making an appearance at the Oakland County Farmers Market.

 

Spring is also the time to start making your summer plans. Oakland County Parks and Recreation has a full slate of summer activities scheduled, including the popular Come Out and Play series, Sink or Sail Cardboard Regatta, Cosmic Connection Perseids Meteor Shower event, Feather Fest and Make a Splash series. New this year is Camp Oak Ventures, weekly adventure day camps for children ages 6-12 years old. Check out information about these events at OaklandCountyParks.com.

 

Events planned in April include:

 

April 21

  • A educational series at the Oakland County Farmers Market is 10-11 a.m. April 21. Held in collaboration with Farver Creek Food & Fiber Farm i Oakland Twp., this moth’s topic will be “Planting Produce: A Vegetable Epic.” Learn simple tips ad tricks to get started on your vegetable garden. Oakland County Farmers Market is located at 2350 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford. For more information, call 248-858-5495 or visit OaklandCountyParks.com.

 

  • A Pirate’s Life for Me! is 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. April 21 at Wit Nature Center in Independence Oaks County Park, 9501 Sashabaw Road, Clarkston. Learn about the piracy that took place o the Great Lakes, then head out onto the trail and put pirate skills to the test during a pirate scavenger hunt. Inside, enjoy a snack and make a craft. Come in pirate wear, if you would like. Cost is $7/perso and pre-registration with payment is required by calling 248-858-0916 weekdays or 248-625-6473 Saturdays. Visit OaklandCountyParks.com for more information.

 

  • Nature Fit: “Hearty” River Hike is 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. April 21 at Wit Nature Center in Independence Oaks County Park, 9501 Sashabaw Road, Clarkston. Bring the family out for a heart-healthy, naturalist-led hike rain or shine. Exercise your body and celebrate Earth Day weekend. Trail snacks and water will be provided. Wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather. Cost is $4/person and pre-registration with payment is required by calling 248-858-0916 weekdays or 248-625-6473 Saturdays. Visit OaklandCountyParks.com for more information.

 

  • Caring for Planet Earth is 1:30-3:30 p.m. April 21 at Red Oaks Nature Center, 30300 Hales St., Madison Heights. Continue the legacy of Earth Day by learning how you can help the environment in your backyard. Drop in for a compost demonstration and make “seed bombs” for pollinators. Take a hike to learn about stewardship activities at Friendship Woods. Dress for the weather. This free event is sponsored by Pure Oakland Water. Details: 248-858-0916 weekdays or 248-585-0100 Saturdays.

 

April 28

  • Tiger Cub Scouts: Backyard Jungle is set from 10 a.m.-noon or 2-4 p.m. April 28 at Wit Nature Center in Independence Oaks County Park, 9501 Sashabaw Road, Clarkston. Naturalists will help scouts complete the necessary requirements to achieve a badge. Snacks and materials are provided, but badges are not supplied by the nature center. Cost is $7/scout and $3/adult. Pre-registration is required by calling 248-858-0916 weekdays or registration forms are available at OaklandCountyParks.com.

 

April 29

  • Nature Fit – Sprig Photography Hike is 2-3:30 p.m. April 29 at Wint Nature Center in Independence Oaks County Park, 9501 Sashabaw Road, Clarkston. Grab your smartphone or DSLR and explore elements of photography including perspective and composition. Capture the color, beauty and texture provided by nature during a hike. A Facebook group will be created to share your best shots. Trail snacks and water are provided. Cost is $5/person and pre-registration with payment is required by calling 248-858-0916 weekdays or 248-625-6473 Saturdays. Visit OaklandCountyParks.com for more information.

 

For information on other events, visit OaklandCountyParks.com. Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


First Oakland Schools Scripps Regional Spelling Bee worthy of n-o-t-a-b-i-l-i-a

Rahul Reddy, an eighth-grader at Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy in Pontiac, is the winner of the first Oakland Schools Scripps Regional Spelling Bee. After nine rounds, he correctly spelled notabilia, which, according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, means "things worthy of note."

Annabella Evangelist, a seventh-grader at Our Lady of Sorrows School in Farmington, was the runner up. 
 
This year's event, which was held at Oakland Schools Main Campus, was sponsored by Oakland Schools, the Oakland Schools Education Foundation, Bank of Ann Arbor and Ehlert Charitable Fund.
 
A total of 79 fifth- through eighth-graders from all over Oakland County competed in the Bee. The winner receives many prizes, including a trophy and an automatic invite to the Scripps National Spelling Bee May 27-June 1, 2018 in Maryland.

Patterson appoints former OCC Chancellor as Deputy Executive

The former chancellor of Oakland Community College (OCC) will serve as Oakland County’s top economic development official beginning March 5. County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has appointed Dr. Timothy R. Meyer as deputy county executive for the Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs. Patterson selected Meyer because of his invaluable experience preparing an educated and talented workforce for the 21st Century.

“Because of the continuing low unemployment rate in Oakland County, we face the challenge of maintaining a well-qualified workforce that has the education and skills for 21st Century jobs,” Patterson said. “While serving as chancellor of OCC, Tim worked closely with Oakland County’s economic development staff to create curricula and programs that fed graduates into the high tech jobs available at our Emerging Sectors companies.”

Patterson launched Oakland County’s Emerging Sectors initiative in 2004 to identify the top 10 growth sectors of the knowledge-based economy and attract companies in those sectors. Since inception, Emerging Sectors has had over 470 successes investing more than $4.6 billion creating 48,000 jobs and retaining 33,300. Meyer said he’s looking forward to the challenge of continuing to support the talent pipeline for Oakland County businesses.

“In my role as OCC chancellor, I developed a vision for ensuring today’s graduates have training and skills that are aligned with the requirements of 21st Century jobs,” Meyer said. “I’m grateful to Brooks for the opportunity to incorporate my experience into an already successful program at the county.”

Meyer was the longest-serving chancellor at OCC from January of 2008 to May of 2017. As the chief executive of Michigan’s largest community college, he developed an innovative strategic plan focused on student success; provided fiscally-sound leadership by initiating a three-year budget process; initiated a $25 million expansion of the Southfield Campus medical training facilities; launched the innovative Michigan Advanced Technician Training Program, an advanced manufacturing apprenticeship program with the state; and much more. Prior to OCC, he was president of Sault College in Sault St. Marie, Ont.

Meyer is the founding chair for the Pontiac Promise Zone Authority Board which underwrites tuition for students who graduate from Pontiac Schools and go to college. He also is a board member for Oakland Family Services whose mission is to provide individuals and families the opportunity to build brighter futures.

Meyer has a Ph.D. from the University of Florida, a master's degree from North Dakota State University, a master of business administration degree from Lake Superior University, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota. He lives in Oakland County with his wife and three adult children.

Downtown leaders across Oakland Co. gather to learn the value of trails

Excerpt

Bikes, snowmobiles and boats are all popular ways for people to connect with the great outdoors. And communities throughout the country have learned how to capitalize on trailways to bring recreation users into their Downtowns. Lessons from those successful communities could help others attract new visitors and businesses, and Oakland County Main Street provided the perfect opportunity to share them at their two-day conference in Ferndale last month.

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Celebrate the first signs of spring at Oakland County Parks and Recreation

With daylight savings time and the official start of spring just around the corner, it’s time to head outdoors and watch nature awaken from its winter slumber. Hike the trails to watch as birds fly back home, learn to identify maple trees as maple syrup season gets under way and explore spring constellations in the nighttime sky.

Make plans to attend Oakland County Parks and Recreation’s signature spring event, the Great Marshmallow Drop, on March 30 at Catalpa Oaks County Park. More than 15,000 marshmallows will drop from a helicopter to a field below where children, divided into age groups, will collect a marshmallow to exchange for a prize. Other upcoming events include:

March 4
  • Nest Box Monitoring Training is 1-3 p.m. March 4 at Wint Nature Center in Independence Oaks County Park, 9501 Sashabaw Road, Clarkston. Oakland County Parks and Recreation manages 167 nest boxes at seven parks for Eastern Bluebirds and other native bird species. Nest boxes are monitored by trained volunteers through Oakland County Parks and Recreation's Citizen Science Program. This training session will provide information about the birds, monitoring techniques and other volunteer requirements. Volunteers are asked to check assigned nest boxes at least weekly March through August. Nest data is tracked in NestWatch through Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This program is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is required by calling 248-858-0916.
March 8
  • Join in the fun of Pop In & Play from 6-9 p.m. March 8 at Springfield Oaks County Park, 12450 Andersonville Road, Davisburg. Meet i the Grand Hall Room for an evening of jumbo-sized games and crafts. This free, family-friendly game night will feature larger than life favorites like Jumbo Jenga, Colossal Connect Four, Towering Tic Tac Toe and Significantly-sized Scrabble. Light carnival snacks will be provided; pizza available for purchase. Some games require socks and closed-toe shoes. Details: OaklandCountyParks.com.
March 9
  • Gather up a group of friends and head out to Glow on the Road. This free, indoor cosmic event is scheduled from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Friday, March 9 at White Lake Oaks Banquet Center, 991 Williams Lake Road in White Lake. Enjoy a variety of activities, including indoor cosmic putt-putt, glow-in-the-dark face painting and music. Wearing neon clothing is encouraged. No pre-registration is necessary. Details: NawrockiM@oakgov,com, 248-858-5267 or OakladCountyParks.com.
March 10
  • Youth Abilities – Saturday Sports Special will be held from 9:30-11 a.m. March 10 at the Boys & Girls Clubs, 1545 East Lincoln Road in Royal Oak. Designed for children with disabilities ages 6-18, activities include parachute games, floor hockey, kickball, scooters, basketball and more. Individuals must pre-register by calling 248-424-7077. This program is limited to 20 participants. Visit OaklandCountyParks.com or email Adaptive@oakgov.com for details.
  • Discover cooking secrets from local chefs and sample dishes using produce available from Oakland County Farmers Market vendors during a free cooking demonstration held in cooperation with edibleWOW from 10-11 a.m. March 10. Presentations will be given by Chef Jeff Rose from C.A.Y.A. Smokehouse Grill ad Michael Metevia from Slows Bar-B-Q. Oakland County Farmers Market is located at 2350 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford. For more information, call 248-858-5495 or visit OaklandCountyParks.com.
  • A Pirate’s Life for Me! is 1-2:30 p.m. March 10 at Wit Nature Center in Independence Oaks County Park, 9501 Sashabaw Road, Clarkston. Learn about the piracy that took place o the Great Lakes, then head out onto the trail and put pirate skills to the test during a pirate scavenger hunt. Inside, enjoy a snack and make a craft. Come in pirate wear, if you would like. Cost is $7/perso and pre-registration with payment is required by calling 248-858-0916 weekdays or 248-625-6473 Saturdays. Visit OaklandCountyParks.com for more information.
  • Maple Magic is 2-4 p.m. March 10 at Red Oaks Nature Center, 30300 Hales St., Madison Heights. Learn to identify maple trees, take a hike to tap a tree and taste the sap. Learn the tools, tips and methods needed to make your own batch of maple syrup at home. Taste sweet maple treats and take home maple-based recipes. Cost is $5/person. Pre-registration with payment required by calling 248-858-0916 weekdays or 248-585-0100 Saturdays.
March 16
  • A St. Patrick’s Day Social will be held from 6-8 p.m. March 16 at Oak Park Parks ad Recreation: 14300 Oak Park Blvd. in Oak Park. Designed for individuals with disabilities ages 18 and older, activities include music, dancing and pizza. Cost is $10/participant; $5/caregiver and pre-registration with payment is required by calling 248-424-7081. Register by March 8. Visit OaklandCountyParks.com for a registration form or email Adaptive@oakgov.com for details.
  • Astro Evening is 8-10 p.m. March 16 at Red Oaks Nature Center, 30300 Hales St., Madison Heights. Locate late winter constellations inside StarLab, a portable planetarium. Gaze at deep sky wonders through telescopes provided by the Oakland Astronomy Club (weather permitting). A star-studded craft and snack are included. This program is suitable for school-aged children and adults and does fulfill some astronomy merit requirements for scouts. Cost is $4/person. Pre-registration with payment required by calling 248-858-0916 weekdays or 248-585-0100 Saturdays.

March 17
  • Youth Abilities – Saturday Sports Special will be held from 9:30-11 a.m. March 17 at the Boys & Girls Clubs, 1545 East Lincoln Road in Royal Oak. Designed for children with disabilities ages 6-18, activities include parachute games, floor hockey, kickball, scooters, basketball and more. Individuals must pre-register by calling 248-424-7077. This program is limited to 20 participants. Visit OaklandCountyParks.com or email Adaptive@oakgov.com for details.
  • Wolf Cub Scouts: Paws on the Path is set from 10 a.m.-noon or 2-4 p.m. March 17 at Wit Nature Center in Independence Oaks County Park, 9501 Sashabaw Road, Clarkston. Naturalists will help scouts complete the necessary requirements to achieve a badge. Snacks and materials are provided, but badges are not supplied by the nature center. Cost is $7/scout and $3/adult. Pre-registration is required by calling 248-858-0916 weekdays or registration forms are available at OaklandCountyParks.com.
  • A educational series at the Oakland County Farmers Market is 10-11 a.m. March 17. Held in collaboration with Farver Creek Food & Fiber Farm i Oakland Twp., this moth’s topic will be “Flowers: From Seed to Floral.” Learn how to create vibrant colors throughout your home and garden with flowers. The educational series will be held the third Saturday of the month through April. Oakland County Farmers Market is located at 2350 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford. For more information, call 248-858-5495 or visit OaklandCountyParks.com.
  • X Marks the Spot is 2-3:30 p.m. March 17 at Red Oaks Nature Center, 30300 Hales St., Madison Heights. Find leprechauns at the nature center while enjoying an afternoon of trickery and treasure hunting as participants explore the activity of letterboxing. Program includes a snack, craft and outdoor excursion. Sport St. Patty’s Day green if you wish. Cost is $5/person. Pre-registration with payment required by calling 248-858-0916 weekdays or 248-585-0100 Saturdays.
March 20
  • Swing Into Spring will be held from 6-8 p.m. March 20 at White Lake Oaks Banquet Center, 991 Williams Lake Road in White Lake. Designed for individuals with disabilities ages 18 and older, activities include music, dancing and dinner. Cost is $10/participant; $5/caregiver and pre-registration with payment is required by calling 248-424-7081. Register by March 13. Visit OaklandCountyParks.com for a registration form or email Adaptive@oakgov.com for details.

March 24
  • Youth Abilities – Saturday Sports Special will be held from 9:30-11 a.m. March 24 at the Boys & Girls Clubs, 1545 East Lincoln Road in Royal Oak. Designed for children with disabilities ages 6-18, activities include parachute games, floor hockey, kickball, scooters, basketball and more. Individuals must pre-register by calling 248-424-7077. This program is limited to 20 participants. Visit OaklandCountyParks.com or email Adaptive@oakgov.com for details.
  • Discover cooking secrets from local chefs and sample dishes using produce available from Oakland County Farmers Market vendors during a free cooking demonstration held in cooperation with edibleWOW from 10-11 a.m. March 24. The presenting chefs will be Laura Romito from High 5 Salts with Benefits and Chef Kelli Lewton from Pure Food 2 U. Oakland County Farmers Market is located at 2350 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford. For more information, call 248-858-5495 or visit OaklandCountyParks.com.

March 30
  • There will be marshmallow fun for everyone during the Great Marshmallow Drop beginning at 10 a.m. March 30 at Catalpa Oaks County Park, 27705 Greenfield Road, Southfield. During this free event, 15,000 marshmallows will be dropped from a helicopter to be turned in for a prize. Children only need one marshmallow to exchange for a prize. There will be three age groups: 4 years and younger and individuals with disabilities; children ages 5-7; and children ages 8-12. The helicopter will fly over three times, once for each age group. Details: 248-424-7081 or OaklandCountyParks.com.

March 31
  • Webelos: Walkabout is set from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. or 2-4:30 p.m. March 31 at Wit Nature Center in Independence Oaks County Park, 9501 Sashabaw Road, Clarkston. Naturalists will help scouts complete the necessary requirements to achieve a badge. Snacks and materials are provided, but badges are not supplied by the nature center. Cost is $7/scout and $3/adult. Pre-registration is required by calling 248-858-0916 weekdays or registration forms are available at OaklandCountyParks.com.
For information on other events, visit OaklandCountyParks.com. Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

10 members of 2018 JA Leadership Delegation to Japan announced

Excerpt: 

Laurie Van Pelt of Waterford, Mich., and director of management and budget for Oakland County, will be one of 10 Japanese American leaders from across the U.S. chosen as part of the 2018 Japanese American Leadership Delegation to engage with Japanese leaders in the business, government, academic, nonprofit and cultural sectors. 

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VIDEO: Art & Soul Dreams captures the soul of a child

In 2017, approximately 13,000 children resided in Michigan's foster care system. Of those, around 800 have little prospect of being returned to their homes. These children are in need of a "forever family." Art & Soul Dreams aims to make a difference in the lives of some of them.


Oakland County improves IT security assessment tool

Oakland County has launched an updated version of CySAFE, a free information technology security assessment tool to help small and mid-sized organizations assess, understand and prioritize their basic IT security needs, Deputy County Executive and CIO Phil Bertolini announced today. CySAFE 2.0 has five new controls: email and web protections, monitoring and review of third party services, physical and environmental security, penetration tests and red team exercises, and compliance.

“IT security threats are always evolving,” Bertolini said. “We’ve updated CySAFE so businesses and governments will have the latest from three well-known IT security frameworks when evaluating the security status of the apps they use to conduct business internally and externally.”

CySAFE 2.0 condenses and removes redundancies from three well-known IT security frameworks: NIST, CIS 20, and ISO 27001.

“CySAFE combines the 400-plus controls from all three frameworks into one condensed list, removing any redundant controls and assesses the controls against the organization's current IT security capabilities,” said Chris Burrows, Oakland County’s chief information security officer.

After downloading and completing an IT security evaluation form online, which takes 60-90 minutes, CySAFE 2.0 generates a priority list and trending graphs for an organization’s IT security needs. The most critical updates will be in red.

“The data an organization enters is private and only stored in Excel format,” Burrows said.

For more information about CySAFE 2.0, go to G2GMarket.com. CySAFE is a collaborative effort of five Michigan counties – Oakland, Livingston, Monroe, Washtenaw, and Wayne - and the state of Michigan.

Register for severe weather spotter classes

Registration is now open for Skywarn severe weather spotter training classes coordinated by Oakland County Homeland Security Division which begin 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,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “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 90 minutes.

“The more trained eyes we have in the field during a severe weather event, the better our service to the public will be,” Oakland County Homeland Security Division Manager Thomas Hardesty 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:

Wednesday, March 7 from 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road, Waterford

Saturday, March 24 from 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road, Waterford

Monday, March 26 from 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Southfield Public Library, 26300 Evergreen Road, Southfield

Thursday, April 12 from 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
City of Rochester Hills City Hall, 1000 Rochester Hills Dr., Rochester Hills

Wednesday, April 18 from 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Charter Township of Commerce Township Hall, 2009 Township Drive, Commerce Township

Thursday, May 10 from 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Ortonville Old Town Hall, 476 Mill Street, Ortonville
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