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Oakland County launches website for safe disposal of prescriptions

In honor of National Prescription Take Back Day, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, and the Oakland County Prescription Drug Abuse Partnership launched a new website, www.OakGov.com/PrescriptionDrugs that hosts an interactive map identifying disposal programs locations throughout the county.

“The opioid epidemic is one of the most pressing public health issues today. Ninety-one Americans die every day from an opioid overdose,” Patterson said. “The Oakland County Prescription Drug Abuse Partnership is working diligently to address this issue at a county-wide level and collaborate with those working on the front line of this epidemic every day.”

Disposal locations include Oakland County Sheriff’s Operation Medicine Cabinet, local police and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) locations, as well as pharmacies throughout Oakland County. The map will be updated continuously as new programs are implemented.

“The Sheriff’s Office is committed to educating and participating in programming which? combats prescription drug abuse,” said Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard. “We launched Operation Medicine Cabinet in 2009 and as of today, offer 36 drop-off locations around the county where residents can safely dispose of unwanted or unused prescription medications. This ensures these drugs are not getting into our waterways and drinking water, but also keeps prescription medications out of the hands of any one who may be battling addiction.”

The website also hosts educational materials about how to monitor, dispose, and secure prescription medications to prevent prescription drug abuse. Medical professionals can also use the site to find online trainings for continuing medical education credits and community resources for patients.

“Drug overdose and opioid-involved deaths continue to increase everywhere, including Oakland County, and prescription opioids are a driving factor in this increase,” said Kathy Forzley, health officer of the Oakland County Health Division. “Medical professionals can help prevent abuse and stop addiction by safely prescribing opioid medications and actively using the Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS).”

On Saturday, April 29, the DEA will host its 13th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day in seven years. This initiative aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the public about the potential for abuse and medications. For more information about the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, go to the DEA Diversion website?.

“America is experiencing an epidemic of addiction, overdose, and death due to the abuse of prescription drugs. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States, eclipsing deaths from motor vehicle crashes or firearms,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Timothy J. Plancon. “The most common way that prescription drug abusers obtain their pills, is from their own friends and family. Please do your part to reduce substance abuse by participating in DEA’s Prescription Drug Take Back Day, and removing unwanted prescription drugs from the home.”

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

About Oakland County Prescription Drug Abuse Partnership

In March of 2015, the Oakland County Health Division formed the Oakland County Prescription Drug Abuse Partnership to create a coordinated strategic action plan for reducing prescription drug abuse and overdoses in Oakland County. The partnership has a strong coalition of partners who have an active interest in preventing prescription overdose deaths. For more information on the Partnership, visit www.OakGov.com/PrescriptionDrugs?.

Report: Oakland County's economy reaches "cruising altitude," add 44K jobs


An economic outlook report compiled by economists at the University of Michigan released today indicates that following a job growth rate of 2.4 percent from 2009-2016, Oakland County is projected to see job growth of an average of 2 percent for the next three years, and the addition of 44,000 jobs by 2020.

In their annual forecast of the Oakland County economy, Gabriel Ehrlich, director of the U-M Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics, and colleague Don Grimes of the U-M Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy, predict that the county will add about 15,000 jobs this year, 14,000 next year, and 15,300 in 2019.

Oakland’s unemployment rate of 4.2 percent in 2016 was below the national average of 4.9 percent, and is expected to drop to 4 percent this year, 3.7 percent in 2018, and 3.5 percent in 2019.

The largest job gains forecast through 2019 are in professional and business services, private education and health services, and leisure and hospitality. While manufacturing saw a boost in 2016, adding 2,232 jobs, the forecast shows slower growth in the next three years.

In particular, motor vehicle manufacturing, which led the early stages of the economic recovery in 2011 and 2012 before slowing more recently, will see fewer new jobs over the next three years.

"Oakland County's economy appears to have reached a comfortable cruising altitude after a turbulent start to the millennium," says Ehrlich. "If our forecast proves to be correct, the span of Oakland's current recovery will extend to at least 10 years."

With a population of 1.2 million, the county tied for 10th place on a prosperity ranking when compared with 38 other counties of similar size nationwide.

Erlich and Grimes add that employment in higher-wage industries (average annual wages of $75,000 or more) will increase by 6.6 percent (16,000 jobs) in Oakland County over the next three years, and middle-wage jobs paying between $35,000 and $74,999 are expected to grow 5.7 percent (nearly 18,000 jobs). Together, these wage tiers comprise more than 75 percent of the net new jobs created countywide through 2019.

"The growth in Oakland County continues to skew toward the better-compensated end of the wage scale, although not quite as tilted toward the higher end as in the past six years," says Grimes. "This growth pattern bodes well for Oakland's sustained economic prosperity."

A full copy of the report will be made available online in May. 

Read more.

Serenity Pediatrics presents 'Doctor for the Day' family health and safety celebration

Dr. Hannan Alsahlani and the Serenity Pediatrics team are hosting the Serenity Pediatrics "Doctor for the Day" Health and Safety Celebration on Saturday, May 6th from 4 p.m. ­ 7 p.m.  The event is free to attend and open to the community and public.  The event will feature food, fun, an outdoor train, princesses and superheroes, and interactive 'kid doctor' stations manned by Oakland University Medical School Students where children will learn how pediatric checkups are done and about the tools used for conducting checkups. The event will also feature participation with the Bloomfield Hills Fire and Safety Department and Stan The Fireman will also be on-hand to talk about fire safety and perform a magic show.
"As both a pediatrician and the mother of four, I have found that an excellent way to ease anxieties about the doctors office is to create a fun experience that educates children and makes them feel comfortable with the check up process. Doctor for a Day will teach children about the tools that are used during doctors office visits such as a stethoscopeotoscope as well as performing blood pressure checks on each other and stuffed animals," states Dr. Alsahlani.
Dr. Alsahlani recently opened Serenity Pediatrics in the building that formerly housed the Bloomfield Hills post office. The building underwent a 36-month redesign and build-out with a goal of preserving the existing structure of the former post office, featuring state-of-the-art energy efficiency and green-building materials. The building has no gas line and is heated and cooled by a heat exchange pumps that circulates water and antifreeze 400 feet deep into the parking lot. The building has energy efficient glass windows with heavily insulated envelope to minimize waste and heating and cooling the building. The building has LED lights and solar tubes that bring in natural light into the building and to minimize electricity use. Next year, the building will have 20 kw solar panels installed that will save the time electricity into batteries that will be used when the sun is not shining. 
To help ease any anxieties young patients may feel about going to the doctor, Serenity Pediatrics features a toy clinic where children can get check-ups on their toys before visits, and a saltwater aquarium with Dory¹s and Neemo¹s. Serenity Pediatrics features a concept new to Metro Detroit ­ a newborn waiting room. The practice is currently accepting new patients and accepts Medicaid and other insurance plans to ensure everyone has access to Dr. Alsahlani as their pediatrician.
In addition to founding Serenity Pediatrics, Dr. Alsahlani, DO is Assistant Professor at OUWB Medical School and a member of the Pediatric Resident Faculty at William Beaumont Children's Hospital in Royal Oak. She is a frequent blogger for the William Beaumont Parenting Blog.  In addition to general pediatric medicine, Dr. Alsahlani is regularly sought as a specialist for infant sleep training, preventative pediatrics, young adult and adolescent mentoring, among many of her specialties.
The practice will be offering monthly community programs. Up-coming programs include an Adolescent Mentoring Program; CPR Classes; an Anti-Bullying Program; as well as Girl and Boy Empowerment Programs.
Serenity Pediatrics is located at 71 E Long Lake Rd in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. For more information about Serenity Pediatrics "Doctor for the Day" Health and Safety Celebration on Saturday, May 6th or the practice, please contact 248-533-0000 or visit https://www.facebook.com/serenitypediatrics/.

OCCMHA is now Oakland Community Health Network

Beginning May 1, 2017 Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority (OCCMHA) is officially being renamed Oakland Community Health Network (OCHN), and is utilizing the tagline: developmental disabilities, mental health, and substance recovery in its updated logo design.
The name change is inspired by ongoing concerns that the agency’s previous name did not accurately identify what services are available to Oakland County residents.  
Another noticeable addition to the agency’s name is the word “network.” This change was made to better describe the agency’s operating infrastructure, which includes contract relations with more than 30 healthcare organizations and approximately 300 service sites across the county.
Additionally, in late summer, OCHN is moving its administrative offices from Auburn Hills to the office building it recently acquired at 5505 Corporate Dr. in Troy, near the I-75 and Crooks exit. OCHN’s Access services will continue to be located at the Resource & Crisis Center in Pontiac.
More information about OCHN’s name change and relocation will be communicated to the community through a variety of strategies. Information is also available on the agency’s website at www.oaklandchn.org or by contacting Customer Services at (800) 341-2003.
Oakland Community Health Network is the public mental health system responsible for identifying, influencing, and delivering services and supports to approximately 25,000 Oakland County residents, including individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities, adults with mental illness, children with serious emotional disturbance, and persons with substance use disorders. Most of these individuals have Medicaid.
OCHN’s current network of service providers include: Common Ground, Community Housing Network, Community Living Services, Community Network Services, Easterseals Michigan, Macomb-Oakland Regional Center, Oakland Family Services, Inc., and Training and Treatment Innovations. A complete list of substance use service providers is available on OCCMHA’s website. For more information about OCCMHA call (800) 341-2003 or visit www.occmha.org.  

Seventh Annual Tulip Festival and Photo Contest hosted by White Chapel Memorial Park Cemetery

Sunny days, warmer weather and flowers in bloom are signs that spring has arrived in Michigan. At the same time, the Seventh Annual Tulip Festival and Photo Contest at White Chapel Memorial Park Cemetery in Troy, is underway now through May 31, 2017 featuring a spectacular palette of blooms with all the dazzle of Holland’s best, without the cross-state drive.
The 2017 Tulip Festival promises to be the best showing ever. White Chapel has planted more than 50,000 tulips across its walkable acres, in more than 30 different varieties, including numerous rare blooms. Rich and colorful combinations will blossom into a vivid sea of petals. This year, the gardens of White Chapel will feature favorites like Red Impressions, White Triumphators, and Orange Emperors as well as rare blooms such as hot pink Barcelonas, yellow and red La Courtines and double pink Capetowns.
“Our annual tulip display is a tradition and celebration of spring,” said David R. Krall, Vice President, White Chapel Memorial Park Cemetery. “We have a colorful display of tulips, imported directly from the Netherlands, including new and unique varieties rarely found anywhere else in the world.”
White Chapel has made it easier for everyone to participate in its Seventh Annual Tulip Festival Photo Contest with the addition of a “Selfie” prize category along with its traditional photo awards. White Chapel is offering gift cards to photo contest award winners.
Criteria for the photography contest include:
  • Photos must be taken in the White Chapel Memorial Park Cemetery tulip gardens. 
  • Individuals can enter the photo contest by uploading photos to its website located at (www.whitechapelcemetery.com).  
  • People can vote for the best photos on the White Chapel Memorial Park Cemetery website. Visitors also will find a tulip garden guide and map on the website. 
Photo contest prizes include:
  • First Prize – a $500 gift card and a $500 White Chapel credit voucher;
  • Second Prize – a $200 gift card and a $200 White Chapel credit voucher;
  • Third Prize – a $100 gift card and a $100 White Chapel credit voucher;
  • “Selfie” category – a $200 app gift card (such as Apple store or Google Play). 
For a complete list of photo contest details, visit www.whitechapelcemetery.com.
Southeast Michigan residents can see the tulips in bloom at White Chapel Memorial Park Cemetery from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday and Holidays. For bloom times, call White Chapel at (248) 362-7670 or visit www.whitechapelcemetery.com to receive an exclusive Bloom Alert! email notice with the latest information describing when the colors are at their peak. The Tulip Garden Guide & Map is available from the White Chapel website and can be used to help visitors plan their individual flower tour. White Chapel encourages local tulip aficionados, garden and photo clubs, church groups and families to come and enjoy this wonderful right of Spring.
“Each year, we plan new tulip bulbs because we want to expand and enhance our variety of flowers,” added Krall. “We invite the community to stop by to see our wide variety of tulips.”
Once tulip season ends, a mix of flowers will be planted in the White Chapel Memorial Park Cemetery gardens for everyone to enjoy throughout the summer.
White Chapel Memorial Park Cemetery is located at 621 W. Long Lake Rd. (just West of I-75) in Troy.  For more information, visit www.whitechapelcemetery.com.

Commerce Township to combat invasive species through county partnership program


Officials in Commerce Township have had enough of an invasive weed that is choking area wetlands, sucking water away from native plants and robbing species of their natural habitat. The township will participate in a countywide cooperative invasive species management program to primarily combat phragmites, invasive, feather-topped reeds.

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Polk Penguin Conservation Center helps boost Detroit Zoo visitors by 200,000 in 2016


One year after moving and adding penguins at the Detroit Zoo into their new home at the 33,000-square-foot Polk Penguin Conservation Center, attendance has increased to 1,698,053 visitors, a 200,000-person increase from the previous year.

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Chaldean Cultural Center to open at Shenandoah Country Club on May 2


After more than a decade of curating artifacts and replicas, the Chaldean Cultural Center Museum at the Shenandoah Country Club in West Bloomfield Township will open its doors on May 2.

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Four Story Burger gets a starring role


It’s a winning combination: an appealing menu featuring well-prepared classics, and a creative design firm that provided the personality of the decor. That’s the backdrop at Four Story Burger, the new restaurant on the fourth floor of Birmingham’s Emagine Palladium Theatre.

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Detroit Soup micro-granting concept coming to Pontiac

A micro-granting and community dinner concept pioneered in Detroit is making its debut in Pontiac this month with the first Detroit Soup community potluck. Organizers are now taking submissions for projects to be funded from a community pot at the event.


Organizer Scott Stewart moved to Pontiac last year to take his first job out of college at Central Michigan at the Oakland Integrated Healthcare Network, where he serves as marketing and development manager. The Troy native chose to call Pontiac home to be close to his job and is now actively discovering the community.


"If I'm going to be working in a community, I might as well live in it," says Stewart. He first pitched the idea for Pontiac Soup after speaking with groups of entrepreneurs in the city. "They all said 'That's something that we would want, something that will get people started, and get ideas out there.' I said, 'Well, perfect!'."


Detroit Soup launched in 2010. The concept helps lift grassroots projects by providing seed funding contributed by the community. For a small door fee, attendees participate in a community potluck dinner while receiving project pitches from a preselected group of community leaders. After pitches are complete, attendees vote, and a winner is selected, receiving the total amount collected at the door.


Since its inception, Detroit Soup has $132,687 over 151 dinners, according to its website. Projects have run the gamut from urban agriculture to community radio to the construction of benches for city bus stops.


Submissions to Pontiac Soup can be made here.

Pontiac Soup will take place on May 20, 2017 from 6-8 pm at the Pontiac Creative Arts Center, located at 47 Williams St, Pontiac, Michigan 48341. Doors will open at 5 p.m. Suggested donation is $5. Find out more at Pontiac Soup's website.

Patterson names new manager of Homeland Security Division

County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has appointed Thomas G. Hardesty as manager of the county’s Homeland Security Division, a position he begins today. Hardesty will be responsible for ensuring the county’s preparedness for natural or manmade hazards.

“Thom’s extensive background in law enforcement will be an asset to our Homeland Security Division,” Patterson said. “I have confidence in his 30 years of experience, education, and training.”

Hardesty, who retired in 2014 as deputy director of the Auburn Hills Emergency Services Police Division, has served as the administrator for the Oakland County Medical Examiner since October of 2015. He is looking forward to his new responsibilities as he transitions into the county’s emergency manager position.

“I’m grateful to Mr. Patterson for the opportunity to serve the county in such an important role,” Hardesty said. “As manager of the Homeland Security Division, I will work with our communities to keep our residents and visitors safe.”

Hardesty, 52, joined the Auburn Hills Police Department as a patrolman in 1989. He rose through the ranks serving as detective from 1992-1998, road patrol sergeant from 1998-2001, lieutenant of the Technical Services Division from 2001-2003, lieutenant of the Patrol Operations Division from 2003-2006, and lieutenant of the Criminal Investigations Division from 2006-2012 when he became deputy director of the Emergency Services Police Division. He began his law enforcement career as a Beverly Hills public safety officer in 1987.

Hardesty earned a bachelor of arts in management and organizational development from Spring Arbor University (2001) and a master of public administration in criminal justice administration from the University of Michigan in Flint (2008). He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy (2008), Northwestern School of Police Staff and Command (2002), and the Washtenaw Community College Police Academy (1987). He belongs to the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police and the Oakland County Chiefs of Police.

A Davison resident, Hardesty and his wife Stephanie have five children. 

Drive in, drop off hazardous household waste at NoHaz collections set for Oakland County communities

With nearly 5 million pounds of household hazardous waste properly disposed of since its inception in 2003, the NoHaz Consortium is providing Oakland County residents with an opportunity to do the safe and responsible thing with their household waste.

NoHaz collection events are scheduled from April through October, giving residents convenient opportunities to get rid of everything from outdated computers and dead batteries to paints, pesticides and more. Last year, nearly 4,600 residents loaded up their vehicles, drove to collection events and dropped off more than 633,140 pounds of household hazardous waste

“Oakland County residents have embraced the NoHaz program and responsibly and properly disposed of almost 5 million pounds of hazardous household waste since the program began in 2003,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “I encourage them to take advantage of one of the upcoming collection events and thank them for their participation.”

All 2017 NoHaz collection events run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays as follows:
  • June 24, Oakland University, 2200 N. Squirrel Road., Rochester
  • July  22, North Sashabaw Elementary School, 5290 Maybee Road., Clarkston
  • Sept.16, Oakland Community College, Highland Lakes Campus, 7350 Cooley Lake Road, Waterford
  • Oct.  28, Wildwood Amphitheater, 2700 Joslyn Court, Orion Township
Residents of the 16 NoHaz Consortium communities may dispose of their HHW for a nominal fee of $10, $15 or at no charge, depending on their community. Any Oakland County resident who does not reside in a NoHaz community may dispose of acceptable materials at any collection event, for a fee of $50.

NoHaz communities are Addison Township, Groveland Township, Independence Township, Lake Angelus, Lake Orion Village, Leonard Village, Oakland Township, Orion Township, Oxford Township, Oxford Village, Pontiac, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Rose Township, Springfield Township and Waterford Township.

Dozens of different household waste products are accepted including: household paints, stains, driveway sealer, asphalt roofing tar, computers, televisions, laptops, DVD/VCR players, cables, accessories, game systems, electronic games, motor oil, gasoline, antifreeze, batteries, pesticides, fungicides, pool chemicals, muriatic acid, aerosols, cleaners, polishes, needles, syringes, inhalers, EpiPens, medication (excluding controlled substances), propane cylinders and tanks, fluorescent lamps and mercury. A complete list of accepted materials can be found at www.nohaz.com.

The NoHaz Consortium is a group of communities that provide residents a safe, reliable and environmentally responsible way to dispose of household hazardous waste. Collection events are coordinated and administered by the Planning Division of the Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs. The Planning Division makes arrangements for the safe and responsible disposal of the materials received.

NoHaz also sponsored a poster contest to educate and engage elementary students about the importance of recycling and proper disposal of household hazardous waste.

The winners are:
  • First place – Nicole Schroeder, fifth grade, Deerfield Elementary School, Avondale Schools,Rochester Hills
  • Second place – Adriana Dimovski, fourth grade, Holy Family Regional School, Rochester Hills
  • Third place – Claire Varzaru, fifth grade, Orion Oaks Elementary, Lake Orion
They will each receive a certificate, a gift card and their artwork is featured on 2017 NoHaz posters.

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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OCC partners with Secretary of State for motorcycle safety courses

Ready to experience the open road on two wheels? Oakland Community College (OCC) and Michigan Secretary of State are offering three Motorcycle Safety programs through June.  A motorcycle endorsement is required to drive on public roads; the motorcycle safety course is required for teens.

Basic Rider Course- Web Enhanced: Designed for someone who has minimal experience operating a motorcycle, this course focuses on the development of basic riding skills. 3 hours of online preparation is to be completed prior to class start date. This course is offered Apr. 22-23; Apr. 29-May 1; May13-15; June 3-5; June 10-12 and June 24-26.

Basic Rider Course- Traditional: Same content and course duration as the Basic Rider Course-Web Enhanced, however this is all in-person instruction. Available May 20 –May 22.

Returning Rider Course: A one-day course designed for the experienced but unlicensed rider to become licensed and legal. Many experienced, licensed riders use this course as a refresher and skills tune up. This session takes place May 7 or June 18.

Courses will be held at OCC's Auburn Hills campus at 2900 Featherstone Road. Full details on each course are available here or contact the office at (248) 232-4167.

To obtain an endorsement, drivers must successfully pass a motorcycle safety course, OR pass a written and vision test at a Secretary of State office, obtain a motorcycle temporary instruction permit which allows drivers to practice riding legally on the streets, pass a motorcycle skills test at a third-party testing organization like OCC, and present your skills test certificate at a branch office.

Michigan has 488,765 residents with a motorcycle endorsement on their driver's license and 249,547 registered motorcycles.

Detroit-area chefs explore magical part of Italy


Luciano DelSignore, one of metro Detroit’s most celebrated chefs, traces his love of food back to Italy’s Abruzzo region.

There, he spent summers on his grandparents’ farm, learning and helping them tend to livestock, harvest fruits and vegetables. Food in Abruzzo, he says, is rarely mucked up with too many ingredients, remembering how he gathered eggs for his grandmother and how those eggs ended up an breakfast dish.

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