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Pontiac : In the News

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Oakland County surfs for new ideas via crowdsourcing site

Lots of politicians pay lip service to listening to their constituents' ideas and even implementing a few here and there. Oakland County is looking to take that a step further with its new online crowdsourcing initiative.

Excerpt:

Every city, county and state these days is faced with hard decisions about budget cuts and reorganization — and even harsher feedback from residents after the cuts are made. Oakland County, Mich., has found a way to use technology to spark that citizen-to-government communication during the decision-making process. County officials launched an online public forum so residents can be an integral part of making tough budget decisions.  

The website, http://oakgov.ideascale.com, gives citizens the opportunity to respond to questions, make suggestions and post comments. Citizens can also rank the county's proposals by voting for the ideas they like best on every issue, from technology to parks and recreation.

"Since we are using social media in so many different ways here, we thought … what is the next wave of how we engage our citizens in the process?" said Phil Bertolini, Oakland County's deputy county executive and CIO. "In a focus group, you put 20 people in a room, you ask the idea and you get 20 opinions. If you use crowdsourcing, you put out an idea and you get thousands of opinions. More minds and more ideas make for a better product."

Read the rest of the story here.

Soviet invasion in Pontiac!

In 1984, still a number of years from the end of the Cold War, the film Red Dawn hit theaters with the story of a group of kids fighting against the invading forces of the Soviets and Cubans. It starred a young Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Jennifer Grey, Lea Thompson, and C. Thomas Howell. Well, it's coming back... and it's in Pontiac. Except this time it's not the Cubans teaming up with the Soviets. It's the Chinese, and there's no Swayze.

Excerpt:

A southeastern Michigan community will be doing its best Spokane, Wash., impression next month.

That's when crews will be in Pontiac to shoot scenes for the upcoming remake of the classic 1980s film "Red Dawn." The city is about 20 miles north-northwest of Detroit.

Downtown Development Authority director Sandy McDonald tells The Oakland Press filmmakers will be in Pontiac for two weeks at the end of September and a few days in October.

Read the entire article here.

Life skills grow in Pontiac garden

Child gardeners in Pontiac are cultivating not only land, but life skills as well. The program is part of the Cities of Promise that is aimed to curb poverty in blighted areas with decreasing population.

Excerpt:

The project began this spring after the Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency and Lighthouse of Oakland County -- both based in Pontiac -- received a $10,000 grant from the Cities of Promise initiative.

Officials from both organizations also contributed a combined $6,000.

Employees of the human service agency supervise eight children taking care of a garden on North Johnson Street, and Lighthouse has 20 children maintaining a garden in the middle of the city's Unity Park neighborhood.

The children are receiving help from Michigan State University Extension volunteers to create 4-H clubs and business plans for how they will sell the produce. The children will use the proceeds to reinvest in their gardens.

Read the entire article here.

From one industry to another: Pontiac film studio purchases one of GM's Pontiac buildings

Michigan is in a bit of a transition, as you may have already noticed. But what better way to illustrate this than when Pontiac's new movie studio buys one of GM's Pontiac Centerpoint buildings for its new home. From one industry to another, right? Of course film won't replace autos, but it shows that there's something else... besides cars.

Excerpt:

The group of investors planning a $75 million movie production and training facility in Pontiac has closed on a land contract to purchase one of the Pontiac Centerpoint buildings from General Motors Corp.

It's a benchmark in a project that's been in the works for more than a year -- which started, oddly enough, when its driving force considered leaving Michigan.

Linden Nelson, an entrepreneur turned real estate developer, was ready to move out West, he said. What stopped him was a conversation with Alfred Taubman, founder of Bloomfield Hills-based Taubman Centers Inc.

"He said, 'You're not leaving Michigan,'" Nelson said. "He said 'Michigan's been good to you, you need to be a leader.'"

Read the entire article here.

Students skip the beach for spring break to help out metro Detroit

Not everyone goes to Cancun for spring break. Some people don't go anywhere. And some other people stick around and volunteer their time to improving metro Detroit. It's called Alternative Spring Break. And instead of sunscreen and sand in the shorts these kids have a hammer and nails and toolbelts.

Excerpt:

Alternative Spring Break participants not only give up potential time in the sun relaxing, they also forego trips to volunteer in hurricane-damaged areas along the Gulf Coast. Instead, they perform service projects to help those in need elsewhere. Detroit is one of several non-disaster locations.

About 50 students are working in metro Detroit, building wheelchair ramps in Detroit and Warren and performing service projects at Vista Maria in Dearborn, the Lighthouse Path in Pontiac and Franklin Wright Settlements in Detroit.

The student volunteers are from several different states. Many were here last year for the inaugural program and are returning this year as project site leaders.

Read the entire article here.

Pontiac resident moves into metro areas first eco-friendly home

A Pontiac resident just moved into the metro areas first "green" house. No, not where you grow tomatoes and tulips, that would be just too cold during the winter. Camisha Byrd now lives in a "green" built, eco-friendly, energy-efficient 1,200 sq.-ft. home.

Excerpt:

Earlier this year, Byrd and more than 200 volunteers built the single-story house, the first environmentally friendly home Habitat for Humanity has erected in southeastern Michigan.

With all the low-energy features, Byrd will cut her use of utilities 30 percent to 50 percent, saving her up to $1,000 a year.

"We are embracing greenness to the fullest of our capacity," said Sally LePla, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County. "We're demonstrating you can build attractive, affordable green homes."

With the help of the Clawson-based building and design firm Gontina, the 1,200-square-foot dwelling was constructed according to the strictest standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The building is awaiting LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the federal agency.

Read the entire article here.

Oakland County receives $26 million in neighborhood stabilization funds

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, through a new Neighborhood Stabilization Program, granted Oakland County more than $26 million in assistance.

Excerpt:

Oakland County and three Oakland County communities hit by a high rate of property foreclosure and delinquencies will receive more than $26 million in assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) new Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). The NSP will provide targeted emergency assistance to state and local governments to acquire and redevelop foreclosed properties that might otherwise become sources of abandonment and blight within their communities.

“In a county hard hit by foreclosures, coupled with a terribly strained budget, these funds are a welcome addition,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “Hopefully, we will soon get our hardest pressed residents back in affordable homes.”

The City of Pontiac will receive $3.5 million, Southfield will receive $3.2 million, Waterford will receive more than $2 million and Oakland County will receive almost $17.4 million.

Find more Oakland County info here.

Blog for a dollar at this year's Arts, Beats & Eats

Ten years ago saying the word 'blog' would have gotten snickers and rumors that maybe you had a few too many after lunch. Now everyone and their grandma is blogging.

In fact, you can catch this movement at this years Arts, Beats & Eats festival in Pontiac at the Blogin Café. There will be 50 computer stations up for festival goers to get in on this blogging and make a few bucks. Well, actually one buck. If you show up and blog at the Café you'll get $1 of Chrysler Arts, Beats & Eats food and beverage tickets.

Excerpt:

The Blogin Café will be located on Saginaw Street in front of and inside Oakland Community Colleges Downtown Pontiac Campus at 17 S. Saginaw, 48342.  Sign-up for a station and collect your tickets at the Oakland Community College Booth on Saginaw directly in front of their campus. 

Hours for the Blogin Café are as follows:

Friday         5pm-10pm
Saturday    11am-10pm
Sunday       11am-10pm
Monday       11am-6pm

For more information visit here.

Metro Times releases annual 'Best of Detroit'

As they wont to do each year, the Metro Times has released its annual "Best of Detroit" awards.

Check them out here.

Metrotimes publishes area-wide food guide

The Metrotimes annual restaurant guide runs the gamut: from coneys to caviar, from haute to simply hot.

Categories include eggs, buffets, steaks and vegetarian-friendly. Check it out here.

Go Solar headed to Oakland County

The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association is bringing its Go Solar program to Oakland County, utilizing bulk purchasing methods to lower to cost of solar products for homeowners.

Excerpts:

Program options include a solar domestic hot water system or a one-kilowatt photovoltaic solar electric system or both.

The systems in the Go Solar program are standardized. Therefore, as the contractor continues installing identical systems, they are able
to reduce labor costs. All of this translates into savings for the homeowner.

During 2007, federal tax credits are available to homeowners installing solar electric and solar water heating systems. In addition to savings, program participants get the satisfaction of working with a local business.

Read the entire article here.



High school robotics competition returns to Oakland County

The Oakland County Competitive Robotics Competition pits high schoolers against one another in the design and assembly of robots.

Excerpt:

OCCRA generates enthusiasm for technical and academic disciplines such as design, engineering, physics, and electronics. These competitions provide recognition and encouragement for students who devote their energies to these areas of studies. OCCRA participants will also have the opportunity to learn more about the diverse technical career options available in our county and state.

Read the entire article here.

Woodward Avenue's 200th birthday celebrations kicks off July 19

This year marks Woodward's 200th birthday -- and the party starts July 19 at Detroit Historical Museum at 10 am.

More events can be found at Woodward Avenue Action Association's website.



metromode publisher Brian Boyle talks about retaining the region's talent in the Detroit News

Brian Boyle, metromode's founder and co-publisher, talks about Detroit Renaissance's efforts to retain the region's creative talent in the Detroit News.

Excerpt:

Unfortunately, our creative community is scattered in pockets throughout the region, making it difficult to showcase the true depth of talent and "energy" evident dense creative hubs like Brooklyn, Austin or Seattle.

With creative density as a driving theme, the Road to Renaissance task force will work with the creative community to document and interactively map all creative-related assets in the region.

Visually showing the world the depth of advertising agencies, music venues, video production facilities, architectural wonders and more is an important tool in substantiating our claim as a creative hub.

Read the entire piece here.


"Dump the pump!" on June 21

Thursday, June 21 is the second annual "Dump the Pump" day that calls for the parking of cars and the riding of public transit as a way of calling attention to the environmental and economic benefits of using public transit.

A transit fact:

From 1995 through 2006, public transportation ridership increased by 30 percent, a growth rate higher than the 12 percent increase in US population and higher than the 24 percent growth in use of the nation's highways over the same period.

Find out more here.


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