Hallmark of 2023 was Service to Residents

Hallmark of 2023 was Service to Residents

Coulter: With Sound Fiscal Stewardship, the Hallmark of 2023 was Service to Residents and Small Business

Post Date:12/28/2023 11:12 AM

Pontiac, Mich. – With balanced budgets as far as the eye can see, and a sterling AAA fiscal reputation, Oakland County continues to put residents and small businesses at the top of its forward-thinking agenda.

“County government stood squarely on the side of county residents and businesses this year,” said County Executive Dave Coulter. “Together, we sought to secure the jobs of the future through EV innovations and educational attainment, expanded access to health care and mental health services, and we supported quality of life issues like transit, housing, and recreation.”

In 2023, supporting law enforcement and first responders remained a top priority. Oakland County implemented the use of body-worn cameras for sheriff deputies and piloted a program supporting law enforcement with mental health professionals when they encounter individuals who may have mental health challenges at a scene. The county is also ahead of schedule replacing its countywide radio system for first responders. The $58 million investment in the new P25 radio system has resulted in 6,300 radios being programmed and 20 dispatch centers being upgraded by December of 2023. All police and fire agencies are scheduled to be operating on the new system by mid-January, which will enable them to communicate with each other and other agencies on the State of Michigan radio system.

Mental health programs continue to have a broad impact in our communities. Through the end of 2023, Oakland County’s more than $40 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds dedicated to increasing the reach of mental health services for children and adults continued to serve thousands of residents. From the Jewish Family Service and Black Family Development Inc.’s suicide prevention training program for mental health providers to the Centro Multicultural La Familia Inc. initiative to combat racial and ethnic disparities in mental health care, 41 organizations reached more than 55,000 individuals across Oakland County over 18 months.

Children and teenagers also benefited from ARPA. Through the Out of School grant, Oakland County and United Way For Southeastern Michigan awarded $4.8 million to 30 youth programs that support social-emotional learning and academic tutoring in the summer months and give students additional enrichment to offset the pandemic’s negative effects.

Oakland County invested its remaining ARPA Funds in 2023 as some programs get underway in the new year. Oakland County’s emphasis has been on investing its $244 million in ARPA funds to make transformational improvements for residents, businesses, municipalities, and nonprofits. Under federal rules, local governments are required to obligate all ARPA funds by the end of 2024, and all funds must be spent by the end of 2026.

Medical debt burdens many Oakland County residents. Coulter and the Board of Commissioners are collaborating with RIP Medical Debt to erase medical debt for up to 80,000 residents. The county will leverage $2 million of its ARPA funds to purchase up to $200 million in medical debt for a fraction of its cost. In 2024, RIP Medical Debt will notify individuals that some or all their medical debt has been eliminated and cleared from their credit reports.
Homeowners can also apply for funding beginning in January of 2024 if they are making energy efficiency improvements to their homes. Coulter and the Board of Commissioners announced a partnership with Michigan Saves on Nov. 20, 2023 to administer a grant program called Oakland SAVES, which will be funded by $5 million ARPA dollars. The goal of Oakland SAVES is to make at least 1,000 households energy-efficient through home improvements.

As the county’s population ages, Oakland County is supporting improvements for their quality of life by using $5 million in ARPA funds to improve services and upgrade facilities at 29 senior centers. These centers are essential to the mental and physical well-being of older adults. Not only do they provide ways for older adults to connect through social events, but senior centers also offer essential services such as transportation to doctor visits.

Public transit is making strides in Oakland County a year after voters approved a public transportation millage in November of 2022. Multi-year agreements are in place with SMART, Western Oakland Transportation Authority (WOTA), North Oakland Transportation Authority (NOTA), OPC Social and Activity Center, and People’s Express, while route and service planning continues with input from communities, businesses, and residents. In 2024, SMART will extend fixed routes from Troy into Rochester and from Pontiac into Waterford and White Lake along M-59, among other improvements.
Oakland County and transportation service providers did not wait for the planning process to be complete before filling gaps in public transit. Some highlights from 2023 include:
● SMART has expanded fixed routes to Novi and Wixom.
● SMART has a fixed route stop at Woodward and Long Lake in Bloomfield Hills.
● Ridership is up more than 20 percent for WOTA, NOTA, OPC, and People’s Express just this year as they expanded their service areas and hours of operation and standardized fees to $2 per ride.
● The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan is facilitating a regional federal grant application for Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne counties and SMART to attract federal investment in transit, including for Woodward Bus Rapid Transit. This would not have been possible if Oakland County did not have county-wide public transportation.

In response to the strategic goals outlined by Coulter in his 2022 State of the County address, the Board of Commissioners created the Oakland Together Housing Trust Fund as a powerful tool to increase the availability of affordable and attainable housing throughout the county. The initiative provides gap funding to build new housing for working families. The fund will assist affordable housing developers in identifying sites in neighborhoods while offsetting land prices. Plus, it will serve as a catalyst for investment in targeted redevelopment which, when combined with private sector funds and infrastructure improvements, can help revitalize a community.

In 2023, the board appropriated an additional $13 million to the Housing Trust Fund that will increase access to rental and/or home ownership for families living below the federal poverty level. Coulter appointed the county’s first housing and neighborhood development officer, Khadija Walker-Fobbs, to lead the Neighborhood & Housing Development Division, and the first housing trust fund manager Kyle Hines earlier in 2023.

Beginning in 2023, Oakland County launched a hybrid model for indigent defense consisting of a public defender’s office, staffed by Oakland County employees, and the current roster of independent contractor attorneys, for Sixth Circuit Court and 52nd District Court indigent defense appointments. Coulter appointed Paulette Loftin as the county’s first public defender.

The Oakland County Board of Commissioners approved the county’s purchase of the Ottawa Towers, former General Motors Building, and four adjacent parcels in downtown Pontiac. Oakland County intends to move up to 600 public-facing employees from yet to be determined departments to create a significant county presence in downtown Pontiac. The last time the county had a substantial presence in the historic downtown of Pontiac was the early 1960s. The State of Michigan approved a $50 million investment for the project to help with building renovations, blight removal, redeveloping commercial and green spaces and streetscaping, reconnecting city streets, and developing safe parking options.

Oakland County dedicated a historical plaque honoring Elizabeth Denison Forth, the first woman of color to own property in Oakland County and the territory of Michigan, in front of the Sixth Circuit Court Building in Pontiac during its first celebration of Juneteenth, a holiday that commemorates the official end of slavery in the United States. During the ceremony Wednesday, participants also raised the Juneteenth flag at the courthouse.
Finally, additional ARPA investments include:
● Oakland Thrive which is helping to diversify the county’s economic landscape. The non-profit opened in 2023 to support Oakland County’s 36,000-plus small businesses with a focus on minority-, woman- and veteran-owned companies. Through its services, residents can get help building their own businesses from finding consumers to hiring employees. Oakland Thrive’s lead program, Business Forward, was previously a county government initiative, created from an $18 million ARPA grant.
● $15 million in additional appropriations for Coulter’s Oakland 80 initiative to have 80 percent of Oakland County adults attain a post-secondary degree or certification by 2030.
● $15 million assigned to Project Diamond Phase II to build on the successful distribution of 3-D printers to local manufacturers and build a network of Industry 4.0 companies.
● $15 million reserved for critical investments in the county parks system and enhance opportunities in underserved areas.

Oakland County Encourages Home Radon Testing

Oakland County Encourages Home Radon Testing

news release

Oakland County Encourages Home Radon Testing During National Radon Action Month

Pontiac, Mich., Dec. 27, 2023 – Radon test kits are available for half price at Oakland County Health Division during National Radon Action Month in January. For $5, Oakland County homeowners can protect their health by testing their homes for radon.

“Exposure to radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer overall,” said Leigh-Anne Stafford, Oakland County health officer. “Since you cannot see, smell, or taste radon, testing your home is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk of radon exposure.”

Radon is a naturally occurring, invisible, and odorless gas. It can sometimes get into homes through cracks in floors or walls and can accumulate, becoming a health hazard. According to Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), approximately 30 percent of homes tested in Oakland County have had elevated levels of radon. The only way to know if a home has high radon levels is to test.

The Health Division recommends testing homes for radon gas during the winter months when windows and doors typically remain closed, allowing radon gas to collect inside and be more easily detected. EGLE encourages testing every two years as homes settle and new cracks form in the foundation that may cause radon levels to change.

If high levels of radon are found, contact the Health Division’s Environmental Health Services at 248-858-1312 in Pontiac or 248-424-7191 in Southfield for more information about radon mitigation and service providers.

Radon test kits are available for purchase at Health Division offices in Pontiac and Southfield:

  • North Oakland Health Center, 1200 N. Telegraph, Building 34E, Pontiac
  • South Oakland Health Center, 27725 Greenfield Road, Southfield

Health Division offices are open 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday. To purchase more than 15 radon kits, please call 248-858-1312 to pre-order. Note that Health Division offices will be closed on Monday, Jan. 1 for the New Year’s Day holiday and Monday, Jan. 15 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. After January, the cost of a radon test kit will return to $10.

For more information, visit https://www.michigan.gov/egle/about/organization/materials-management/indoor-radonwww.oakgov.com/health, or contact Nurse on Call (8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday) at 800-848-5533 or [email protected]. For up-to-date public health information, follow @publichealthOC on Facebook and X (formerly known as Twitter).

For media inquiries only please contact Bill Mullan, Oakland County media and communications officer, at 248-858-1048.

Open Hearts to Help Students Leaving Foster Care attend college

Open Hearts to Help Students Leaving Foster Care attend college

Treasury Logo

December 26, 2023

Contact: Ron Leix, Treasury, 517-335-2167

Consider Opening Hearts (and Wallets) to Help Students Leaving the Foster Care System Attend College

Fostering Futures Scholarships Provide Meaningful Gifts of Education that will Last a Lifetime for Recipients

LANSING — As the end of the year draws near, the Michigan Department of Treasury is encouraging Michiganders to consider giving the gift of education through a tax-deductible donation to help youth who have experienced foster care.

“A growing number of our youth are reaching adult age and leaving the foster care system with inadequate resources to attend college,” said Robin Lott, executive director of Treasury’s Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning. “We know that Michiganders have big hearts that will grow even bigger as we raise funds for Michigan’s foster youth.”

Students who receive this scholarship can use the money for tuition, housing, books and other college expenses.

Funds raised through the Fostering Futures Scholarship Trust Fund provide scholarships to young adults who have experienced foster care and are enrolled at a Michigan degree-granting college or university. Awards are paid to the students’ college or university for expenses.

More than 10,000 youth are in the Michigan foster care system run by Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Fewer than 10% of former foster youth nationally enroll in school after high school and fewer than 3% eventually earn a degree.

Since 2012, fundraising efforts have totaled approximately $1.3 million, all of which has been awarded as scholarships. This was accomplished through individual donations, group donations, sponsorships, ticket sales, auctions and many volunteer-based fundraising events.

Contributing online is quick, easy and secure and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

AG Wraps Up Holiday Consumer Scam Campaign

AG Wraps Up Holiday Consumer Scam Campaign

Nessel Email Header

December 26, 2023

Media Contact:
Danny Wimmer

AG Nessel Wraps Up Holiday Consumer Scam Campaign

Encourages Michigan residents to take advantage of free credit reports

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is wrapping up her 2023 Holiday Consumer Scam Campaign with a reminder that residents can now access free weekly credit reports from each of the three main credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

The free weekly credit report program was initiated in 2020 after the pandemic put many people’s finances in dire straits and the program became permanent earlier this year.

“While the Holidays are known as the ‘Season of Giving,’ that doesn’t stop bad actors from attempting to steal your identity,” said Nessel. “I encourage every Michigan resident to take advantage of the free weekly credit report program. Staying alert is the best way to protect yourself so that you can take action quickly when fraud is suspected.”

Credit reports contain the financial and personal data used by businesses and potential creditors to assess an individual’s financial fitness for rentals, house and vehicle financing, insurance, or even a job. The approval of your application could be impacted by inaccurate information, and it benefits residents to be knowledgeable about what is in their credit report and affecting their overall credit score.

The free weekly credit report can be accessed from Annual Credit Report’s website, the only official site for free credit reports authorized by federal law. Other sites offer free credit reports, though residents should exercise caution and watch for sites that have been spoofed, or fraudulent sites designed to steal your money or your personal information.

Holiday Scams Campaign

The Department of Attorney General kicked off the annual campaign with the launch of a new standalone consumer protection website to make it easier than ever for Michigan residents to access common scam alerts, research charities, learn about renter’s rights, and more.

“My Consumer Protection Team stands ready to assist Michiganders who may have fallen victim to a scam, but our ultimate goal is to educate consumers and prevent it from happening in the first place,” Nessel said during the website launch. “By focusing on the user experience, we made the Consumer Protection site more accessible, simpler to navigate, and easier to read. We hope residents will bookmark the page on both their computers and phones so that the information they need to stay armed against bad actors is always right at their fingertips.”

In addition to a new look and logo, the website now includes:

  • a new search tool to make finding consumer alerts and charities faster and easier;
  • a page dedicated to common scams;
  • the Michigan Identity Theft Support page and resources to detect and report identity theft for consumers and businesses alike; and
  • educational videos from Attorney General Nessel, the Federal Trade Commission, and other trusted resources.

The Holiday Alerts are relevant all year long and the list is as follows:

December 8: Puppy Scams

December 12: Payment Apps and Scams

December 14: Website Spoofing

December 19: Avoiding Unhappy Returns

December 21: Paying With a Gift Card

A library of consumer alerts created by the Department of Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Team is available online and organized by a number of categories.

To file a complaint with the Department of Attorney General, residents are encouraged to contact:

Consumer Protection Team
P.O. Box 30213
Lansing, MI 48909
Fax: 517-241-3771
Toll-free: 877-765-8388
Online complaint form

Basketball Holiday Tournaments and Games

Basketball Holiday Tournaments and Games

Basketball Holiday Tournaments and Games.

Written Monday December 25th at 7:00 PM

This column will recap the classic games heading into the holidays. If there are any other games that are added between December 27th and December 30th please let me know. Coaches if you want to have comments on these games feel free to ask on X (Twitter.)

This blog will be frequently updated and will also be recapped on OAA Now.

All times are Approx Times, most of them will start later than scheduled.


Michigan Hardwood Classic @ Romulus


December 28th

FERNDALE vs Ann Arbor Pioneer-9:20 AM

The Eagles continue their tough stretch but the Pioneers have not been battle tested only playing three games but they have a tough loss to Livonia Stevenson. Ferndale has had a strong start for Coach Keith Paris. This should be a very interesting matchup to watch.


CLARKSTON vs Birmingham Detroit Country Day-4 PM

This is a rematch of a 58-47 Yellow Jackets win over the Wolves last season. Clarkston has been off to a strong start for Coach Aaron Goodnough with the play of Elliana Robak, Brooklyn Covert, and Emily Valencia and company. Birmingham Detroit Country has lost two straight games after a 4-0 start. This should be a very interesting game to watch that is for sure.


WEST BLOOMFIELD vs Chicago Wendell Phillips Academy, Illinois-7:20 PM

The Lakers haven’t played in a week after beating Chicago Butler Prep. Chicago Wendell Phillips Academy has been very tough and is one of the top schools in Illinois. West Bloomfield has a ton of proven experience with the Davis sisters, Destiny Washington, Sheridan Beal, and Kendall Hendrix and they are well coached under Coach Dareylle McAllister. This should be a very interesting game.

December 30th

WEST BLOOMFIELD vs Utica Ford II-5:40 PM

The Lakers will have their second in state opponent in this matchup against the Falcons of Utica Ford II after playing Chicago Wendell Phillips Academy, Illlinos. They are well coached under Coach Matt Joseph but this is going to be a very difficult matchup for them with West Bloomfield playing at a high level heading into this matchup.

LBI Basketball Insider Winter Hoopfest at Wayne Memorial

FERNDALE vs Tecumseh-4 PM

The Eagles have played a game against Ann Arbor Pioneer but going up against Tecumseh could be very interesting. The Indians have been battle tested but not like Ferndale. The Eagles have played a very tough non conference. It should be a very interesting matchup to watch at Wayne Memorial.



Motor City Roundball at Ferndale


December 27th

ADAMS vs Grosse Pointe South-12:15 PM

The Highlanders will have their hands full with the Blue Devils. Grosse Pointe South already has wins over Pontiac Notre Dame Prep and Roseville. Their only two losses were to Detroit University-Detroit Jesuit and Warren Lincoln. Adams will need to be on if they want to win this game for Coach Isiah Novak.


OAK PARK vs Flint Hamady-3:20 PM

The Knights have been reeling losing two straight games. Flint Hamady is not an easy team with their two losses to Warren DeLaSalle and Flint Carman Ainsworth. The Hawks are solid despite their record, it’s going to be a tough matchup for Coach Durrand Sheppard and Oak Park.

FERNDALE vs Detroit University-Detroit Jesuit-7:55 PM

The Eagles have been reeling a little bit falling to West Bloomfield but they are still the defending Division Two State Champs. They have the Cubs who is coming off a win over Orchard Lake St. Marys. This will be a tough home contest for Coach Juan Rickman and Ferndale.

December 28th


This is an OAA matchup in the Roundball between two teams that are similar. Both teams are very young and have star players with the Falcons in Greg Greys and the Yellow Jackets Justin Greer-Sykes. The coaching matchup between Jaret Thomas and Byron Johnson is very interesting as well. This should be a fun matchup between two young teams.


The Warriors have really been struggling this season under Coach Terrance Porter. They play a Dreadnoughts team that has been up and down with a win over Walled Lake Northern but have lost three straight games. This is a big game for Southfield Arts and Tech to see if they can get some momentum heading into next season.

WEST BLOOMFIELD vs Grand Rapids South Christian-6:25 PM

The Lakers are going to have a major test with the Sailors of Grand Rapids South Christian. Grand Rapids South Christian has several returners who played in the Division Four State Finals against Harper Woods and they fell to Ferndale in the Division Two State Finals last season. The Sailors want to use this game as a chance to get back at the OAA for two losses in the State Finals in football and boys basketball. Coach Arnette Jordan is going to have his hands full.

December 30th

PONTIAC vs Pontiac Notre Dame Prep-10:45 AM

This is a rivalry that is separated by a mile but they will be playing this game in Ferndale. The Fighting Irish have wins over Lake Orion, Detroit Loyola, and Walled Lake Central. They had a tough loss to Grosse Pointe South. The Phoenix are 1-4 in their last five games. This is going to be a rough matchup for Coach Andrew Myers and Pontiac.

HARPER WOODS vs Adrian-12:15 PM

The Pioneers have started to turn things around a little bit for Coach TaJuan Porter but they have a really difficult matchup with Adrian looming. The Maples are 6-1 and has scored 60 points as their lowest score with their only loss coming against Parma Western. Harper Woods is going to have their hands full that is for sure.

WEST BLOOMFIELD vs Detroit Renaissance-1:50 PM

The Lakers would be heading back to Ferndale after their game against Grand Rapids South Christian. Detroit Renaissance would also had played Roseville prior to this game. The Phoenix have scored over 80 four times this season. This should be a very interesting matchup for Coach Arnette Jordan going up against a team he knows quite well.

GROVES vs Detroit Cass Tech-7:55 PM

The Falcons have been reeling losing four of their last five games but they still have Josh Gibson and Jon Simpson for Coach Marc West. Detroit Cass Tech has been rolling to a 5-0 start. The Technicians had a seven point win over Lansing Holt but they have gone over 60 points since and 80 points twice. This will be a tough matchup for Groves.


North Farmington Holiday Extravaganza at North Farmington


December 28th

TROY vs Detroit Edison- 2 PM

The Colts have been rolling since their loss to Berkley by winning five straight. Detroit Edison has been hot and cold lately. This should be a very interesting matchup for the Big Three of Mason Parker, Jon Whiteside, and Chase Kuiper for Coach Gary Fralick. Detroit Edison beat Oak Park and Harper Woods but Troy is a much different animal.


December 30th

AVONDALE vs Walled Lake Northern-2 PM

Ryan Negoshian is North Farmington Coach Todd Negoshian’s brother and he coaches at Walled Lake Northern. The Knights have been a proven program in the Lakes Valley Conference. The Yellow Jackets are getting there and improving under Coach Jaret Thomas. It will be a tough matchup for Avondale against a good Walled Lake Northern squad at North Farmington but Thomas has coached at that gym when he was at Adams. This should be a very interesting matchup to say the least.



This should be a very interesting matchup of two teams that are on the rise with a team that is unbeaten while the other has one loss. The Raiders have been rolling and is getting better. The Rams have been off to a good start and was battle tested by Carleton Airport and their only loss being to River Rouge by three points. It will be a tough matchup in the final game of the Holiday Extravaganza and North Farmington has experience playing at 8:30 PM. It will be tough as mentioned.


St. Clair Community Classic Showcase at Port Huron


December 29th

TROY ATHENS vs St. Clair Shores Lakeview-12 PM

This should be a very interesting game between two teams that have winning records. The Huskies are 5-1 with their only loss being to St. Clair Shores Lake Shore. The Red Hawks have been up and down with losses to Howell and Lake Orion but they played well against Southfield Arts and Tech. This should be a fun matchup in Port Huron.


New Baltimore Anchor Bay Tournament @ New Baltimore Anchor Bay

December 27th

ROCHESTER vs Grosse Pointe North-5 PM

New Baltimore Anchor Bay vs Lakeland-6:30 PM


December 28th

Consolation Game-5 PM

Championship Game-6:30 PM

This should be a very interesting tournament in New Baltimore. Lakeland is the favorite along with Grosse Pointe North. The Falcons and the Tars are teams that could make some noise. Rochester is coming off a win over Pontiac. New Baltimore Anchor Bay does have a win over Stoney Creek. This should be very interesting but the Eagles stand as the early favorite to win this tournament.


Detroit Public School League Holiday Classic at Detroit Cass Tech


December 27th

BLOOMFIELD HILLS vs Detroit Central-12:45 PM

The Blackhawks have really struggled this season. They have scored over 55 or more points twice this season. The Trailblazers are off to a 4-3 start but have lost three straight and have allowed over 60 points. It should be a really big game for Bloomfield Hills and Coach Brian Canfield going up against a Detroit Central team that is reeling.

Other Games (All games at OAA sites)

December 28th

STONEY CREEK vs Sterling Heights-7 PM

The Cougars need a win in the worst way possible. They need to keep Tre Walker on the court. Sterling Heights has struggled this season but are 2-4 in their last six games. This is a perfect opportunity for Stoney Creek to get a win in the win column.

December 29th

ROYAL OAK vs Novi-7 PM

This is the Wildcats third OAA opponent this season going 1-1 after beating Berkley and falling to Troy. The Ravens has had a strong season but so has Novi. The Wildcats are a solid team and should test Coach Aaron Smith’s team.

FARMINGTON vs Redford Union-3 PM

The Falcons will be fresh off playing Avondale. Farmington has a good Redford Union team coming in for an afternoon tip off. The Panthers would have played Detroit Western the day before. Redford Union has won four of their last five games which should test the Falcons and Greg Greys.