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LTU hosts Girls in Future Technologies (GIFT) Day

Lawrence Technological University, in partnership with the Women of AT&T, hosted the second annual Girls in Future Technologies (GIFT) Day Saturday, Sept. 22. 

This year’s event in the Marburger STEM Center marked the first time the occasion was hosted on campus. More than 30 girls, mostly hailing from area middle and high schools, engaged in programs aimed at sparking their interest in a STEM career. 
“Our goal today is to break down barriers and let the girls to know that you can do this,” said event organizer Denisha Williams, who also serves as a board member and vice president of membership for Women of AT&T.

“Girls need to know that STEM and the evolution of technology does not have to be a male-dominated field,” agreed Shawn Caggins, vice president of programs for Women of AT&T and GIFT Day chair.  “The event is designed to educate, inspire and empower young girls to think about how they would like to have an impact on society through STEM.”

After a motivating welcome from Sibrina Collins, executive director of LTU’s Marburger STEM Center, the girls dove into various science and technology-themed activities. They started with a computer coding workshop, which challenged each girl to test their skills in the C programming language. Next, a mother-daughter law enforcement team led a candid talk with the girls about cybersecurity and safety. The dialogue was followed by more hands-on activities such as “Cards to the Sky” – a group engineering exercise which involved building the most effective structure out of playing cards and tape – and an interactive robotics demonstration, featuring a remote-controlled robot from LTU’s own Robofest.

The day ended with a fireside chat led by female professionals in STEM. Crystal Young, Mashia Tate, Angel Turner, and Yakita Turner shared their personal journeys, struggles, career advice, and encouragement with the eager youngsters. Girls of all ages took the opportunity to ask them many questions about career pathways, especially in STEM.

Said one attendee, Shelby, a student at Middle School North in Macomb Township: “I wanted to be a biomedical engineer before coming here today, and after today, I feel more confident” about a career in STEM. Added Nylah, a student at Berkley High School: “The workshops helped me know that I can do different things, and if do go into STEM, I can take some of what I learned today into it.”

Williams said she hopes that next year’s event will draw even more girls from more Detroit-area schools, adding to the momentum and interest towards girls in STEM careers.

Maple Lane Florist in Clawson: Serving customers for five generations


Anna Frost, from Clawson, was sending flowers to a funeral home. Her oldest friend’s mother had passed away at the age of 96 after a brief illness.

“I was sad for my friend, of course, but I wanted a flower arrangement that wasn’t ‘funeral-ish,’” Anna says. “I called Maple Lane Florist on Crooks Road in Clawson and was helped by a man that I believe was the owner’s son.”

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Record number of students and companies participated in Manufacturing Day


Nearly 1,000 local high school students took part in a national program geared towards showcasing careers in advanced manufacturing.

Manufacturing Day, an annual celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers, was celebrated locally, once again, at over 40 companies across Oakland County on Oct. 5. Since 2012, over 265,000 students have participated in Manufacturing Day events nationwide. 

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27 top-rated pizza places in Michigan


Whatever your favorite pizza style, there's probably a restaurant in Michigan that serves it. But how do you know which pizza is the worth the money?

We compiled a list of some of Michigan's popular top-rated pizza places based on Yelp, TripAdvisor and Google reviews and ratings.

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Follow the trail through the woods and collect treats at Trick or Trees

Costumed children are invited to trick or treat through Suarez Friendship Woods Saturday, Oct. 27 from 5-7:30 p.m. at Red Oaks Nature Center in Madison Heights at the annual Trick or Trees.

Hosted by Oakland County Parks and Recreation, the event will feature popular costumed characters along the trick-or-treat trail, cider, donuts, face painting and the discovery of nature’s nocturnal wonders. Cost is $5/child if registered before 5 p.m. Oct. 24. After the deadline, cost will be $7/child. Adults are $1.

To register, call 248-858-0916 during business hours. For more information, contact NawrockiM@oakgov.com.

Red Oaks Nature Center is located at 30300 Hales St. in Madison Heights. Parking is available for Trick or Trees at Red Oaks Waterpark with a free shuttle to the nature center.

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

STEM Quest at OCC to offer hands-on learning, robots and rockets

Sure, making pancakes with a 3D printer and assembling Snap Circuits kits into electronics sounds like fun, but wouldn’t it be cool to know the mechanics behind making those pancakes or how those kits come to life from parts and pieces?

A daylong STEM QUEST event November 10 at Oakland Community College’s Auburn Hills Campus, 2900 Featherstone Road, will provide answers to these questions and a more.  The event, open to Scouts and non-Scouts, will let young people interact with staff from businesses and organizations such as Legoland, Magformers and the Michigan Science Center.

Kevin M. Bratton, Ph.D., dean of social sciences and human services at OCC, said the college’s collaboration with the Boy Scouts was driven by the need to expose more young people to fields in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In addition, Magformers will demonstrate principles of conceptual geometry using materials other than paper, pens and calculators.

Participants will get hands-on training in STEM areas such as building cars for a Lego Pinewood Derby, using pieces of fruit to learn how parts of coding communicate with each other, and seeing what underwater robotics is all about.

“With the economy growing at one of the fastest rates of all time, employers are lacking highly skilled workers,” Bratton said.  “OCC and the Scouts are partnering together to produce an event that introduces students to STEM disciplines as well as to the college’s high-tech programs, where  students can develop their skills and earn a degree or certificate for successful entry into the workforce.”

Said Eric Suender, STEM executive with the Michigan Crossroads Council of the Boy Scouts of America, “We were very intentional in making sure that each activity offered will give our participants hands-on learning under the direction of experts in their fields.”

The activities will begin at 8:30 a.m. and conclude at 3:30 p.m.  Suender said participants should bring a sack lunch or snacks and water if they plan to stay for the entire day.

The cost of STEM QUEST is $10 per person. To register, visit the Michigan Crossroads Council website.

For additional information, contact Suender at Eric.Suender@scouting.org or call (517) 885-3618.

The Kroger Co. and The Kroger Co. Foundation supports Forgotten Harvest with $139,000 grant

Nonprofit food rescue organization Forgotten Harvest recently received a $139,000 grant from The Kroger Co. Foundation at the request of The Kroger Co. of Michigan. Michigan Kroger has proudly partnered with Forgotten Harvest since 2004.

The Kroger Co. Foundation’s grant is part of Zero Hunger | Zero Waste, Kroger’s plan to end hunger in local communities and eliminate waste across the company by 2025.

During 2017, Forgotten Harvest partnered with Michigan Kroger to collect over 4.15 million pounds of surplus nutritious food donated from 93 southeast Michigan Kroger stores and distribution facilities. According to USDA calculations, Kroger’s food donations gift will help provide enough food for 3.4 million meals to help those in need. Current U.S. Census data indicates that one in six people (589,000) and one in four children in metro Detroit face hunger and food insecurity.

Since 2010, Forgotten Harvest’s capacity has grown from rescuing 19.3 million pounds of food each year to 45.8 million pounds in 2017, a 135 percent increase.

“Forgotten Harvest stands proudly with corporate partners like The Kroger Co. of Michigan and its visionary Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiative to end hunger and food insecurity while delivering healthy, nutritious food,” said Kirk Mayes, CEO of Forgotten Harvest. “Forgotten Harvest would not be able to help so many in need within our community without Kroger’s partnership and support.”

“The Kroger Co. of Michigan is pleased to endorse this generous grant to help end hunger and food waste in southeast Michigan,” said Rachel Hurst, corporate affairs manager for Michigan Kroger. “Everyone benefits from our ongoing ability to boost the nutrition level for hungry neighbors while diverting food from area landfills.”

About Forgotten Harvest

Oak Park, Michigan-based Forgotten Harvest was formed in 1990 to fight two problems: hunger and waste. Forgotten Harvest “rescued” over 45.8 million pounds of food last year by collecting surplus prepared and perishable food from over 800 locations, including grocery stores, fruit and vegetable markets, restaurants, caterers, dairies, farmers, wholesale food distributors and other Health Department-approved sources. This donated food, which would otherwise go to waste, is delivered free-of-charge to over 250 emergency food providers in the metro Detroit area.

Learn more about Forgotten Harvest and how to help drive hunger from our community at www.forgottenharvest.org.

About The Kroger Co. of Michigan
Incorporated in Michigan in 1909 and headquartered in Novi, The Kroger Co. of Michigan includes 19,000 associates, 125 Kroger stores, 75 fuel centers, 104 pharmacies and the Michigan Dairy. Purpose: to FEED the Human Spirit, by serving the region through food, inspiration and uplift, and creating #ZeroHungerZeroWaste communities by 2025.

Kroger, one of the world's largest retailers, employs more than 375,000 associates who serve customers in 2,640 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 34 states and the District of Columbia under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry's, Harris Teeter, Jay C, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith's. The company also operates 786 convenience stores, 320 fine jewelry stores, 1,240 supermarket fuel centers and 38 food processing plants in the U.S. Recognized by Forbes as the most generous company in America, Kroger supports hunger relief, breast cancer awareness, the military and their families, and more than 30,000 schools and grassroots organizations. Kroger contributes food and funds equal to 200 million meals a year through more than 80 Feeding America food bank partners. A leader in supplier diversity, Kroger is a proud member of the Billion Dollar Roundtable and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber's Million Dollar Club.

Approved budget invests in improving customer experience

Oakland County will invest in both its employees and government campus to improve customer service and safety after the Board of Commissioners (BOC) approved County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s three-year, balanced budget today in a unanimous bi-partisan vote.

The county will continue to invest in infrastructure improvements on the government campus which include technology enhancements, security upgrades, and building renovations all of which are aimed at furthering efficiency and customer service. County employees will also see a general salary increase of 2.0% beginning October 1.

“Oakland County wants to remain an employer of choice in a booming economy and a highly-competitive talent market,” Patterson said. “Therefore, we’re continuing to invest in our employees after we asked them to make sacrifices during the Great Recession.”

Patterson also acknowledged the BOC and other county elected officials for their bipartisan cooperation in passing the three-year, balanced budget for fiscal years 2019 – 2021.

“If I had to identify the primary factor responsible for our financial management successes, it would be our committed adherence to long range planning and budgeting practices,” Patterson said. “It is forward planning coupled with action that separates Oakland County from other governments around the country.”

The general fund budgets for fiscal years 2019, 2020 and 2021 are $466,382,128; $467,444,492; and $476,224,907, respectively. The total budgets are $893,513,720; $893,953,685; and $901,630,539, respectively.

To see Patterson’s approved budget, go to OakGov.com, scroll to the bottom of the page to select the “County Budget” button, then click on the link for the “FY2019 - FY2021 Adopted Budget and General Appropriations Act.”

The Oakland County Executive's Elite 40 Under 40 Program now open in search of "best of the best"

?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, here is your chance.

Nominations are being accepted for the Oakland County Executive’s Elite 40 Under 40 Class of 2019. 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.

“We are blessed to have so many talented young people who are vital to Oakland County and the region and committed to improving their communities,” Patterson said. “If you know of one or more individuals – or you want to nominate yourself – I encourage you to submit a name for consideration.”

Nominees must live or work in Oakland County to be eligible. To submit a candidate, go to Elite40.com where two entry buttons can be found – one for those who want to nominate someone and one for those who want to enter themselves. Nominations must be completed by Oct. 29. If you enter yourself, you have until Nov. 2 at 5 p.m. to submit a completed entry.

A panel of former Elite 40 class members will review and score all completed applications and reduce the number to the top 60 entrants. An independent panel of judges will choose the top 40. Of that group, the three candidates who scored the highest will be placed before the public from Jan. 18 to Jan. 25, 2019, for an online vote to determine the winner.

The class will be announced Jan. 16, 2019.

The winner will be revealed in February 2019 at Patterson’s State of County address. 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 awarded for excellence in popular financial reporting

Oakland County has won the Award of Excellence for its 2017 Popular Annual Financial Report (PAFR) from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) for the 21st year in a row. The PAFR summarizes for taxpayers how the county spends their money. It is one of the ways County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s administration works to make county government more transparent and accessible to residents.

"Oakland County’s fiscal services team is terrific,” Patterson said. “Their outstanding performance, evidenced by these awards, is indicative of the culture of excellence at Oakland County.”

The GFOA gives the PAFR award based on reader appeal, understandability, creativity, and overall quality and usefulness of the report, among others. The GFOA established it to encourage local governments to produce a high quality PAFR based on their comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR) for individuals without a background in public finance.

The PAFR award comes on the heels of the GFOA bestowing the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting upon Oakland County for its CAFR for the 27th year in a row. Fiscal Services Officer Lynn Sonkiss praised the team that put the PAFR together, particularly Gaia Piir, who coordinated the project; Dave Nelson and Carol Morin, both of fiscal services; and Pam Tremble, graphic artist.

“I am very honored and grateful to work with such dedicated staff that continue to make this GFOA award possible,” Sonkiss said.

To view the Fiscal 2017 PAFR, go to oakgov.com/mgtbud/fiscal, click on the “Oakland County 2017 Financial Summary.”

Royal Oak's Tania's Pizza celebrates 31 years


Talking to Amos Sheena, his energy is palpable.

“I get enjoyment from so many parts of it. It’s the challenge of seeing the next level,” Sheena said. “I don’t want to be 1,000 stores across the country, at least not today. The vision is there, but I want to focus on a true feeling of accomplishment I get when I can help the youth understand more than they did yesterday.”

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Have a ball during Youth Abilities Saturday Sports Special program

As the weather gets cooler, keep youth active by registering them for the Youth Abilities Saturday Sports Special program from October through November.

The program, designed for youth with disabilities ages 6-18, features activities such as parachute games, floor hockey, kickball, scooters and basketball. It is held in conjunction with Oakland County Parks and Recreation and the Boys & Girls Club.

Saturday Sports Special events are scheduled from 9:30-11 a.m. on Oct. 6, 13, 20 and 27 and Nov. 3 and 17 at the Boys & Girls Club, 1545 East Lincoln Road in Royal Oak.

“Children get together with their friends, play games and have a ball,” Recreation Therapist Sandy Dorey said. “I suggest that those interested register early. This is a popular program and registration is limited to 20 participants. Individuals must pre-register for each week they plan to attend.”

For more information, contact Oakland County Parks and Recreation at 248-424-7081 or Adaptive@oakgov.com.

Visit OaklandCountyParks.com for more information. Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

CHN and OCHN develop new housing locator link

Community Housing Network (CHN) and Oakland Community Health Network (OCHN) have collaborated to create a new, online Oakland Housing Link (OHL) tool. Oakland County residents who receive public mental health services and live within a specialized residential setting will have improved choices in locations and homes with OHL.
“We’re thankful for CHN’s expertise in developing this valuable online tool to help the people we serve make informed decisions about where and with whom they want to live,” explains OCHN Executive Director and CEO Annette Downey. “It furthers our mission to empower people and strengthen communities, while promoting inclusion and self-determination for all.”  
OHL, which is guided by person-centered planning, showcases available housing options within OCHN’s provider network. These options are available for individuals already receiving specialized residential services, as well as for future service participants. Assistance with all housing searches is being led by network provider case managers and support coordinators. 
“We’re very excited about offering complete, accurate and timely housing information for people looking for a home that suits their needs and desires,” said CHN’s President Marc Craig. “This project aligns well with our goal as an agency to help people find a home in an area of their choosing.”
Examples of community amenities shared through OHL include information on nearby restaurants, parks, transportation, shopping centers, as well as home photos. OHL features were established with the assistance of focus groups who met to discuss and share thoughts about the wants and needs of individuals for whom the tool was being built.
The projected launch date for the Oakland Housing Link to be available on both CHN’s and OCHN’s websites is October 1, 2018, however ongoing design enhancement will continue as needed.  

Oakland County is best In U.S. for digital experience

Oakland County, Michigan was ranked the best digital experience for customers among all county governments in the United States. That’s according to the Center for Digital Government (CDG) which bestowed first-place upon Oakland County in its 2nd annual Government Experience Awards.

“Oakland County’s CIO Phil Bertolini and his team in the Information Technology Department continually innovate in order to better serve our residents and businesses,” County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “That’s among the reasons Oakland County has a national reputation for excellence which includes how we deploy technology to improve our operations.”

Bertolini, who was inducted into the CIO Hall of Fame and named Public Official of the Year by Governing magazine in 2017, said that the IT Department is carrying out Patterson’s vision for county government.

“The IT Department is able to perform at such a high level and capture award after award because we have the unwavering support of County Executive Patterson,” Bertolini said. “We apply his vision for having the best-run county in America into everything we do.”

The CDG’s Government Experience Awards recognize the achievements and best practices of states, cities and counties that have gone to the web and beyond to radically improve the experience of government and push the boundaries of how they deliver services.

“State and local governments are responding to citizen wants and needs with increasingly sophisticated online experiences,” said Dustin Haisler, chief innovation officer for the Center for Digital Government. “This year’s Government Experience Awards winners have well-designed websites and innovative channels that provide citizens meaningful information and services, robust data integration and an exceptional user experience.”

Back in July the Digital Counties Survey, conducted in partnership with the CDG and the National Association of Counties, named Oakland County among the most digitally-advanced counties in the U.S. for the 14th year in a row. It identifies the best technology practices among U.S. counties, including initiatives that streamline delivery of government services, encourage open data, collaboration and shared services, enhance cybersecurity and contribute to disaster response and recovery efforts.

Among Oakland County’s IT achievements is collaborating with other governments in the cloud. The county launched G2G Cloud Solutions (G2Gcloud.com) to improve government services by sharing technology with other government agencies at little or no cost, thereby reducing the cost of government. The county also developed G2G Marketplace (www.G2Gmarket.com) to offer solutions from government partners and approved vendors to government agencies through an online store experience.

To learn more about the CDG’s Government Experience Awards, click on http://ow.ly/LbHr30lO2gD.

Molten Sensuality: The Crystalline Creations of April Wagner

The new glass exhibit entitled Molten Sensuality:  The Crystalline Creations of April Wagnerat the Saginaw Art Museum brings the fire of epiphany glass studio to mid-Michigan, October 5, 2018 through January 2019.  

The 6,000 sq. ft. exhibit by award-winning glass artist April Wagner serves as a retrospective of her work at epiphany glass studio over more than two decades.  Featuring more than 100 pieces, the exhibit includes a chronological overview of Wagner’s glass artwork from the early Volcano and Splash series, to sculptures and wall pieces, showcasing the evolution of custom installations including chandeliers, wall sculptures and iconic freestanding pieces.  Wagner will create a custom hanging installation for the show, as well as a freestanding sculpture to be revealed.  Collectors will lend their pieces to the exhibit to provide a full overview of the evolution of the glass work. 
The show will also include a video component, focused on the glassmaking process.  Here Wagner explores the many ways in which glass can be manipulated through its various phases, using 2,000 degree furnaces, applied pressure, gravity and force to create elegant shapes and vibrant colors. Many of Wagner’s pieces are inspired by her love of nature, and she notes, “Everything in nature is beautifully designed and that design serves a function, color, scale and form.” 
“April Wagner is a world-class glass artist and widely recognized for her incredible talent,” said Stacey Gannon, executive director of the Saginaw Art Museum.  “Her exhibition, “Molten Sensuality:  The Crystalline Creations of April Wagner,” is one of the most interesting exhibitions we’ve curated at the museum.  Full of color, texture and illumination – it is not a show to be missed.  I know that visitors will be taken by the beauty and awesomeness of the display.”
Wagner studied art and glass at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit; New York Experimental Glass Workshop in Brooklyn; Alfred University in Alfred, New York; and  Interlochen Arts Academy in northwestern Michigan. As an artist, she has been committed to this elegant material since attending college. She opened epiphany studio in Pontiac, Michigan in 1993, where she makes both functional and sculpture works in glass – bridging both fine and decorative art.
“In college I discovered molten glass as a material,” said Wagner. “It was love at first sight and in the 24 years since, nothing has changed. Glass captivates me with its seductive allure. In my work I try to capture the fluidity and grace of the glass without over-tooling and marring it. The physical act of creating glass, taking raw material and breathing life into it, defines my place in the universe. Using this material requires skills that take years to master and I am somewhere in the middle of my journey,” shares Wagner.
Her work has been featured in Detroit Home Magazine, HOUR Detroit and more, and she made the 40 Under 40 list of the most talented, driven and dynamic professionals under the age of 40 in Crain’s Detroit Business.
In her artwork, the vibrant colors, hues and shades of glass combined with the fluidity and flexibility of the medium, come together to provide limitless interpretation of the natural world through glass art.
“I am intrigued by the process of blowing glass into linear and organic shapes,” said Wagner.  “Then I play with them in space. By turning, twisting, or repeating the shapes I investigate their relationship to floor, wall, or tabletop. In creating multiples and assembling the shapes together, almost like found objects, I create large scale pieces. I use color to push and pull the eye around or up and down the piece.
“My intention is to create objects that are captivating to look at in their environment. Whether a private, public, or corporate space I choose the colors, shapes, and scale of the work in direct response to that specific environment and that viewer. Ultimately the viewer must consider the fragility, strength, and beauty of this material.”
A public question and answer session with glass artist April Wagner, owner of epiphany glass studio, will be held on Wed., Oct. 17, from 6 – 8 p.m. at the Saginaw Art Museum.  The public is invited to this free event, and no reservations are required.
epiphany glass, www.epiphanyglass.com, is a state-of-the-art, 4,000 sq. ft. glassblowing studio and gallery located in Pontiac, Michigan.  Since 1997, epiphany’s distinctive look has been created by artist and owner April Wagner.  Wagner adds a contemporary twist to the traditional fazzoletto technique, which originated in the Venini factory of Murano, Italy, during the 1930s and was later popularized by Seattle glass artists. Her work is found in many public and private collections, including those of GM, Pfizer, Cobo Center, Strategic Staffing Solutions, Vladimir Putin, Goldie Hawn and Kate Hudson.
The Saginaw Art Museum is a vibrant arts and cultural resource for Saginaw and the Great Lakes Bay Region. Since 1947, the Museum has brought more than 4,500 years of creativity to the area through visual, auditory and performance arts from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Housed in an historical 1904 Georgian-Revival mansion with Italianate gardens and two award-winning modern wings, the Museum has a permanent collection of art in excess of 2,000 objects, a dynamic exhibition program, a major art reference library, collaborative education programs, and special events. Various levels of membership offer access to the Saginaw Art Museum and its historic gardens as well as reciprocal benefits to more than 800 museums and 300 gardens throughout North America.
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