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Pics of the Parks entries capture true nature

Stunning sunsets, glimpses of nature and a ton of fun in the parks were all captured in images submitted for the Oakland County Parks’ Pic of the Parks Photo Contest.

Forty-six photographers entered 146 images in the annual competition’s five categories: Parks; Artistic; Recreation; Kids; and Dogs. All photos were judged by members of the Oakland Camera Club.

Photographer and radio personality Spike, of Channel 955’s Mojo in the Morning Show, chose the Best of Show Photo, “Sunset on the Lake,” taken at Independence Oaks County Park by Wai Nguyen of Troy.  “This year's entries reflected so many great recreational uses of the parks, showing park visitors enjoying the vast array of activities and events offered by the parks system,” Spike said. “The image I chose, Sunset on the Lake, highlights the real star attraction – nature. This photo perfectly captures the serene lake, a beautiful sunset and the peaceful surroundings. The photographer used the leading lines of the stairs to pave an easy path to guide the eye upwards and inwards to the beckoning picnic bench on the dock. It makes me want to visit this park.”

This photo will be featured on the cover of the 2017 Oakland County Parks Annual Report. 

All contest entries are available for viewing at OaklandCountyParks.SmugMug.com. The Best of Show and First Place winners in each category receive mounted prints of their entries, which are on display at the Oakland County Executive Office Building through Oct. 20, Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. The Executive Office Building is located at 2100 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford. Other honorees will receive a certificate featuring their photo.

“This year the rules allowed for only one honor per category for each participant, in order to allow more participants to win recognition. As a result, 24 photographers earned honors in this year’s competition,” Executive Officer Dan Stencil said. “We are grateful to these photographers for sharing the faces and places that are the Oakland County Parks.”

Other winners include:

Parks Category
1st Place – Eastern Kingbird, taken at Independence Oaks, Rob Craig of Berkley
2nd Place – Dock Entrance, taken at Independence Oaks, Vickie Johnson of Pontiac
3rd Place – Peaceful Reflections, taken at White Lake Oaks, Emily Barberi of Waterford
Honorable Mention – Deux, taken at Independence Oaks, Gloria Boddy of Clarkston
Honorable Mention – Barred Owl, taken at Independence Oaks, Mary Ann Kennedy of Waterford
Honorable Mention – The Dock, taken at Orion Oaks, Carole Baier of Pontiac

Artistic Category
1st Place – Cowboys, taken at Springfield Oaks, Kathy Rollins of Davisburg
2nd Place – Exploring, taken at Orion Oaks, Nancy Henahan of Farmington Hills
3rd Place – Flown in Fresh, taken at Waterford Oaks, Martha Myers of Oxford
Honorable Mention – Clouds, taken at Highland Oaks, Nichole Hortick of Waterford
Honorable Mention – Fall at Independence, taken at Independence Oaks, Diane Kish of Clarkston
Honorable Mention – Purple Haze, taken at Independence Oaks, Diane Wilks of Rochester Hills

Recreation Category
1st Place – Focus, taken at Independence Oaks, Martha Myers of Oxford
2nd Place – Fun in the Sunset, taken at Orion Oaks, Carole Baier of Pontiac
3rd Place – Into the Fog, taken at Independence Oaks, Allie Werner of Clarkston
Honorable Mention – Buhl Lake Kayaker, taken at Addison Oaks, William Spengler of Warren
Honorable Mention – Straight Away, taken at Addison Oaks, Frank Leone of Shelby Twp
Honorable Mention – Ele-fun Ears, taken at Addison Oaks, Toni Rose Arceno of Southfield

Kids Category
1st Place – Little Barrel Racer, taken at Springfield Oaks, Kathy Rollins of Davisburg
2nd Place – Let’s Race, taken at Springfield Oaks, Nichole Hortick of Waterford
3rd Place – Ryan Jumping, taken at Independence Oaks, Riley Kisser of Clarkston
Honorable Mention – Kallie with Flowers, taken at Lyon Oaks, Tina Gray of Commerce
Honorable Mention – The Cousin Catch, taken at Independence Oaks, Martha Myers of Oxford
Honorable Mention – Sharing Brownies, taken at Groveland Oaks, Jennifer Smith of White Lake

Dogs Category
1st Place – Smile, taken at Highland Oaks, Nichole Hortick of Waterford
2nd Place – Mr. Belvedere’s Big Smile, taken at Orion Oaks, Jon Olszowy of Ferndale
3rd Place – I Can Do Anything, taken at Orion Oaks, Linda Harms of Orion Twp
Honorable Mention – Harley Contest, taken at Orion Oaks, Lindsay Kotlarz of Commerce
Honorable Mention – Tug of War, taken at Lyon Oaks, Nancy Henahan of Farmington Hills
Honorable Mention – Gotta Get the Fishy, taken at Orion Oaks, Beth Champagne of Clarkston

Photographers are encouraged to keep shooting throughout the year at the 13 Oakland County parks. Entries will again be accepted between Memorial Day and Labor Day, 2018. The 2018 Rules and entry form will be available at OaklandCountyParks.com in April.

For details on upcoming events and activities, visit OaklandCountyParks.com. Get social with Oakland County Parks and Recreation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Five charities receive $50,000

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and local philanthropist Rick Frazier, founder of Others First, awarded five charitable organizations a total of $50,000 to help veterans and children. Others First, a car donation charity, raised the funds. Frazier then asked Patterson to identify the organizations to each receive $10,000.

“Others First is a phenomenal program that helps members of our community who are in need, such as veterans and children,” Patterson said. “I was delighted to work with my staff to name the recipient organizations.”

Those organizations are Fisher House Michigan, Great Lakes National Cemetery Advisory Council, Oakland County Veterans’ Services, The Rainbow Connection, and Yellow Ribbon Fund Inc.

“Others First is pleased to support these five outstanding charities as well as hundreds of other worthy organizations and are grateful to our generous car donors who make donations like this possible,” Frazier said.

About the recipient organizations
  • Fisher House Michigan in Ann Arbor: Fisher House is a network of comfort homes where military and veterans’ families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment. These homes are located at major military and VA medical centers nationwide, close to the medical center or hospital they serve. Fisher Houses have up to 21 suites, with private bedrooms and baths. Families share a common kitchen, laundry facilities, a warm dining room and an inviting living room. Fisher House Foundation ensures that there is never a lodging fee. Since inception, the program has saved military and veterans’ families an estimated $320 million in out of pocket costs for lodging and transportation. www.fisherhousemichigan.org/
  • Great Lakes National Cemetery Advisory Council in Holly: The Great Lakes National Cemetery Advisory Council supports volunteer veteran service organization units that provide the rifle volleys in support of the Department of Defense funeral honors team. www.cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/greatlakes.asp
  • Oakland County Veterans Services in Pontiac and Troy: Oakland County Veterans Services has been providing Oakland County’s 70,000+ veterans and their families with professional veterans’ benefits advocacy and assistance for over 60 years. It has a staff of highly trained and accredited veterans' benefits counselors who are dedicated to ensuring that the sacrifices of veterans are recognized, and that they and their families receive all veterans’ benefits to which they are entitled. www.oakgov.com/veterans/
  • The Rainbow Connection in Rochester: The Rainbow Connection, founded by Patterson, has fulfilled the dreams of thousands of Michigan children diagnosed with life threatening illnesses. The Rainbow Connection has never turned a child away and depends on the generosity of the Michigan community to make dreams come true for these brave children. The Rainbow Connection also addresses the special needs of its wish families. The Special Response Program assists families with financial difficulties such as rent, utilities and even funeral expenses brought on by having a child with a catastrophic illness.www.rainbowconnection.org/
  • Yellow Ribbon Fund Inc.: The Yellow Ribbon Fund Inc. provides practical support to injured service members and their families while they’re at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, and after they return to their hometowns. Since its beginning, more than 80 cents of every dollar spent has gone directly to programs and services, thanks in part to its small staff and a volunteer force that has grown to more than 1,300.www.yellowribbonfund.org/
About Others First
Others First is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to making a difference in the community by providing funding and support to a wide range of charitable causes. It supports various veterans’ organizations, children's programs, cancer research, animal groups, and many other worthwhile programs. Through its vehicle donation programs, Others First has raised millions of dollars to provide much needed services to the less fortunate. Its mission is to make a difference in as many lives as physically and financially possible. www.othersfirst.org/

Arts, Beats & Eats raises over $275,000 for charitable groups


Gate admissions, sponsors and beverage sales at this year’s Ford Arts, Beats & Eats festival in Royal Oak raised more than $275,000 for local charities.

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Oakland County Executive's Elite 40 Under 40 program in search of 'best of the best' for 2018

If you know a young entrepreneur, community leader, teacher or any person who has made significant contributions to their chosen field and the quality of life in the region and you want them recognized for their good work, don’t keep it a secret.

Nominations are being accepted for the Oakland County Executive’s Elite 40 Under 40 Class of 2018. County Executive L. Brooks Patterson started the program in 2012 to honor young professionals and thought leaders who excel in their field and have demonstrated dynamic leadership.

“The first six classes of Elite 40 members are comprised of incredibly talented men and women – some in their early 20s – who are passionate leaders who are making a difference in their communities, at their jobs and in people’s lives every day,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “The problem won’t be finding 40 exceptional people for the Class of 2018. The challenge will be limiting the class to only 40 people. I encourage you to submit a name for consideration or even enter yourself.”

Nominees must live or work in Oakland County to be eligible. To submit a candidate, go to www.AdvantageOakland.com/Elite40 where two entry buttons can be found – one for those who want to nominate someone else and one for those who want to enter themselves. Nominations must be completed by noon, Oct. 30. If you enter yourself, you have until Nov. 3 at noon to submit a completed entry.

A panel of former Elite 40 class members will review and score all completed applications from Nov. 13 – Nov. 28 and reduce the number to the top 60 entrants. An independent panel of judges will choose the top 40 from Jan. 8 – Jan. 12, 2018. Of that group, three candidates who scored the highest will be placed before the public from Jan. 22 to Jan. 26, 2018 for an online vote to determine the winner.

The winner will be announced in February. All class members will be invited to participate in a host of county events. Past members have joined the Oakland County Business Roundtable and other advisory committees within the county.

Oakland County seeks public input for disaster plan

Oakland County residents and businesses can help the county update its emergency preparedness plan by attending a voluntary public meeting, County Executive L. Brooks Patterson announced today.

There will be two informational and planning sessions open to members of the public who wish to inform the county about their emergency preparedness needs in the event of a natural or manmade disaster:
  • Tuesday, Oct. 17 from 6-8 p.m. at Oakland County International Airport Main Terminal, J. David VanderVeen Conference Center, 6500 Patterson Parkway, Waterford
  • Monday, Oct. 23 from 6-8 p.m. at Farmington Hills Fire Station No. 5, 21455 W. 11 Mile Road, Farmington Hills
“With the public’s involvement, we will work together to identify ways to improve our emergency preparedness,” Patterson said. “That is why we encourage residents and business owners to attend.”

Oakland County updates its hazard mitigation plans every five years to keep residents, businesses, and organizations well prepared and vigilant in compliance with federal requirements.

“Emergency preparedness planning helps to identify policies and actions that can be implemented over the long term to reduce risk and mitigate future losses,” said Thomas Hardesty, manager of Oakland County Homeland Security Division.

About Oakland County Homeland Security Division
The Oakland County Homeland Security Division is dedicated to supporting Oakland County cities, villages, and townships through a coordination of effort for logistical support during emergency operations by enhancing all-hazard preparedness along with comprehensive homeland security initiatives and first responder training. It develops and coordinates programs for natural, technological, national security, and nuclear/chemical/biological emergencies/disasters affecting Oakland County. For more information, go to OakGov.com/HomelandSecurity.

Hundreds celebrate opening of Flanders Park


Nearly 200 people turned out recently to celebrate the official opening of Flanders Park.

The park sits on a portion of the lot where Flanders Elementary School used to be. The school was opened in 1962 and was officially closed in 2010. The original principal, Frank Delewsky, was one of many former staff members and alumni in attendance at the party.

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Industrial design: decor with an edge


Detroit may be the Motor City but Detroit Metal City may be just as apt.

The birthplace of Henry Ford’s assembly line and the automobile, our industrial roots run deep. Factories didn’t just churn out the products that helped define this region, they helped define us.

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These 7 scary-looking Michigan craft brews aren't waiting for Halloween


There’s no need to wait until Halloween to get your scare on. 

Some craft beverage makers add a little anxiety to their ales, some horror to their honey mead, and screams to their stout.  At least that’s the impression you get looking at some of the labels on a few Michigan brews.

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Tradition meets modern conveniences at The Lyon theater


There was a time when most  towns had a downtown movie theater — a place with one large screen where you'd walk up to get your ticket without going through the lobby of a multi-plex.

A fixture on E. Lake Street since the 1945, The Lyon is still that kind of theater. It reopened last month after  remodeling that includes new seats.

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Make campground reservations 11 months in advance

Oakland County Parks and Recreation’s campgrounds are nearing the end of their season but now is the time for campers to make plans for next year as reservations can be made 11 months in advance.

Reservations are now open for summer 2018 including the major holiday weekends – Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day.  In addition to campsites, Oakland County Parks’ two campgrounds, Addison Oaks near Oxford and Groveland Oaks in Holly, have four, four-person cabins each. Both also offer six-person cabins and yurts featuring two bunks and a queen bed. Pavilions are also available for rental.

There’s always plenty to do at OCPR campgrounds including foot and hand-pedal boat rentals and sand volleyball courts. Entertainment includes music, arts and crafts, games and contests. Campers also receive visits from the Oakland County Parks dunk tank, climbing wall and other mobile recreation units.

Addison Oaks is a 1,140-acre park with a "North woods" atmosphere, featuring two lakes, bicycle, kayak and canoe rentals, disc golf course, more than 20 miles of trail including a 2.5 mile paved loop, an inflatable waterslide and more. Groveland Oaks is a family camping park featuring a swimming beach with spiraling waterslide, large playscape, 18-hole mini golf course, skateboard park, paved hiking trails, specialty bike rental, bike skills course, arcade and big screen movies.

To reserve a spot, call 248-858-1400. Campsites, cabins and yurts with accessible features are available. All sizes of recreational vehicles can be accommodated.

For details on upcoming events and activities, visit OaklandCountyParks.com. Get social with Oakland County Parks and Recreation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Oakland County wins statewide IT security award

Oakland County captured the 2017 IT Security Project of the Year award from Michigan Government Management Information Sciences (MI-GMIS) at its annual conference, County Executive L. Brooks Patterson announced. The award recognizes the county's implementation of a process to identify information security vulnerabilities in its systems before new applications are deployed.

"Once again, Oakland County's IT Department demonstrates it is full of outstanding individuals who advance and support the use of technology within government to improve efficiency and customer service," Patterson said.

The Oakland County information security team, led by Chief Information Security Officer Chris Burrows, instituted processes that test the security integrity of the county's system. Some of the steps include:
  • Penetration tests conducted both internally and externally
  • A security scan on Oakland County's system before production release for internally developed applications.
  • A risk assessment framework to help system owners determine a risk treatment plan for the vulnerabilities identified in the internal and external penetration tests.
  • Application build guidelines were developed for use in the application development phase to reduce security vulnerabilities that may be introduced in the system, and much more.
"Implementing security and risk management lowers application rework costs, lowers security assessment costs, and results in fewer application security incidents which results in cost savings for the taxpayers of Oakland County," Burrows said.
Deputy Oakland County Executive and CIO Phil Bertolini agrees that these new steps to bolster information security at the county will save taxpayers money.

"It's just common sense - identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities when developing or adding new applications is a whole lot less expensive than discovering them after launching when it could be as much as 23 times costlier to resolve," Bertolini said.

For more information about MI-GMIS and the 2017 IT Security Project of the Year award, go to MI-GMIS.org.

Polk Penguin Conservation Center named 2017 exhibit award winner

The Detroit Zoo’s Polk Penguin Conservation Center received the 2017 Exhibit Award from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) on September 12 during its annual conference, held this year in Indianapolis. The award is the top honor bestowed annually upon accredited institutions for excellence in exhibit design.

“This award is the highest honor in exhibit design, and recognizes the Detroit Zoo for their dedication and expertise in designing a novel, immersive habitat that provides the best in animal care and welfare as well as a superior educational experience for visitors,” said Dan Ashe, AZA president and CEO.

The penguin center opened in April 2016 and led the Detroit Zoo to record-breaking attendance last year. Among the most spectacular features of the $31-million, 33,000-square-foot facility is a 326,000-gallon, 25-foot-deep aquatic area where visitors can watch more than 80 penguins of four species – king, gentoo, macaroni and rockhopper – explore their habitat. An underwater gallery with a vast acrylic window and two acrylic tunnels provides breathtaking views of the birds below water and allows guests to get nose to beak with the charismatic birds in aquatic “flight”.

“An incredible amount of creativity, ingenuity and research went into the development of the Polk Penguin Conservation Center’s unique design, including crossing the Drake Passage to Antarctica and observing thousands of penguins in the wild,” said Ron Kagan, executive director and CEO for the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS). “We wanted first and foremost to create an experience that allowed the penguins to thrive and that was also thrilling for our visitors. The result is the most extraordinary conservation center for penguins in the world that redefines ‘state of the art’ for zoo penguin habitats.”

While the facility provides a remarkable experience for people, the penguin habitat itself is designed to ensure an optimal atmosphere for the welfare of the birds. Their air temperature is set to a near-freezing 37 degrees Fahrenheit and the water at 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The environment encourages wild behavior, from diving and porpoising to nesting and rearing young.

Inspired by Sir Ernest Shackleton’s legendary Antarctic expedition and epic crossing of the Drake Passage, the Polk Penguin Conservation Center evokes the harsh and visceral ice world of the southern continent, recreated in a 360-degree 4-D entry experience on the deck of Shackleton’s ship that includes blasts of polar air, sea mist and snow. Reminiscent of a tabular iceberg with a crevasse and waterfall, the striking exterior conjures the stark and beautiful Antarctic icescape.

The Polk Penguin Conservation Center was designed by Jones & Jones, architects of the Detroit Zoo’s Arctic Ring of Life and National Amphibian Conservation Center, and by Albert Kahn Associates, architects of the Zoo’s Ruth Roby Glancy Animal Health Complex. World-renowned polar ecologist and penguin expert Dr. Bill Fraser, director of the Polar Oceans Research Group, was a key consultant on the project.

The AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the U.S. and seven other countries; there are currently 231 accredited institutions, including the Detroit Zoo, which has been continuously accredited since 1985. The AZA is dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science and recreation.

Huntington Woods named one of the top communities for runners in U.S.


Huntington Woods was one of eight cities nationwide named a Runner Friendly Community by the largest running club in the U.S. for 2017.

The city was designated for the honor by the Road Runners Club of America, which was founded in 1958 and represents 1,500 running clubs with 200,000 members.

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Top five artists chosen from 232 as 2017 MI Great Artist online competition gets down to business

Five artists will vie for the top spot in the 2017 MI Great Artist online competition and a share of more than $16,000 in cash and prizes.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson announced the finalists.

“These are supremely talented individuals,” Patterson said. “Their skill and passion is evident in the incredible works they’ve created. I encourage everyone to go to Park West Gallery and see these wonderful pieces in person.”

The finalists listed alphabetically are:
  • Meredith Lea Bailey, watercolor on paper – Rochester Hills
  • Michael Bollerud, graphite pencil on paper – Taylor
  • Margret Grace McDermott, oil on panel and linen – Clarkston
  • Thomas Tunney, oil on panel – Commerce Township
  • Jennifer M. Whaley, graphite on paper – Rochester Hills
Patterson and Albert Scaglione, founder and CEO of Park West Gallery in Southfield, launched the contest in 2012 as a quality of life initiative to identify and support up-and-coming artists. They will announce the winner during an Oct. 25 reception at Park West. It begins at 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public. The work of the five finalists will be on display at the gallery from Oct. 26 – Nov. 2.

The finalists were among 232 artists from Genesee, Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair and Wayne counties who entered the online competition in September in hopes their entries would catch the discerning eye of the public.

After more than 34,500 votes were cast, the field was whittled down to 22 artists and presented to the judges: Scaglione; Elliott W. Broom, vice president of museum operations at the Detroit Institute of Arts; Dominic Pangborn, founder of Pangborn Design Collection and a former professor at the College of Creative Studies; artist and sculptor Don Tocco; and Kristie Everett Zamora, coordinator of arts and culture for Oakland County's Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs.

The MI Great Artist winner will receive a $1,500 cash prize; five submitted artworks framed by Park West Gallery; a group exhibition at Park West Oct. 26– Nov. 2, with an award ceremony and reception; a scholarship to attend three Business Basics workshops at the Oakland County One Stop Shop Business Center; a one-hour consultation with an Oakland County business development representative; their artwork featured on a poster to promote one of Oakland County’s signature quality of life events; a solo exhibition at Park West; and a two-month solo exhibition at the Oakland County Galleria in the Executive Office Building in Waterford.

Four runners-up will each receive a $375 cash prize and other services. MI Great Artist partners include Oakland County, Park West Gallery, the Economic Growth Alliance, AdvantageOakland.com and Oakland County Prosper® magazine.

Detroit's Guardian Building gets high-end glass store


Shopping in downtown Detroit just got more intriguing.

Epiphany Studios of Pontiac, which sells fine-art glass, has opened a handsome pop-up store in the Guardian Building that will be around at least through the holiday season.

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