Navy Ship Named in Honor of Local Korean War Veteran

Navy Ship Named in Honor of Local Korean War Veteran

New Navy Ship Named in Honor of Local Korean War Veteran and Medal of Honor Recipient

Robert Simanek wearing medal​Farmington Hills, Michigan – Farmington Hills resident, Korean War veteran and Marine Corps Medal of Honor recipient Robert Simanek, 90, is being further recognized for his bravery in combat by having a new U.S. Navy ship named in his honor.

Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite recently announced the Expeditionary Sea Base USS Robert E. Simanek, has been ordered, noting it will carry on the Navy’s sacred mission to secure the sea lanes, stand by our allies, and protect the United States against all adversaries.

“Mr. Simanek, a long-time Oakland County resident, is the epitome of an American hero,” said Oakland County Executive David Coulter.  “I’m in awe of his selfless act of bravery nearly 70 years ago and so happy for him and his family today.  Not only did he receive the Medal of Honor for his valor, but now a Navy vessel with his namesake will be supporting Marines across the globe.”

This ship is currently scheduled to be completed in 2024. Weighing 100,000 tons when fully loaded, the USS Robert E. Simanek will perform a variety of missions, including launching helicopters, small boats, unmanned surface vehicles, special operations, troop transportation and maintenance services.

“I didn’t think having a ship named after me would happen,” Simanek said. “I was tickled to death when I found out about it.”

Simanek was a 22-year old Private 1st Class in 1952, when his squad was ambushed by Chinese troops.  Already wounded by shrapnel, he threw himself onto a grenade to absorb the blast and save his fellow soldiers from injury or death. Somehow, he survived while sustaining serious leg wounds.  After a nearly year-long recovery, he was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Simanek enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1951.  He joined Company F, 2d Battalion, 5th Marines in 1952 as a rifleman and radioman when needed.  The honor of having a ship named after him this year is but the latest recognition for service to his country.  In addition to the Medal of Honor and Purple Heart, he also was awarded the Korean Service Medal with two bronze stars.

Expansion of MI Classroom Heroes COVID-19 Grants 

Expansion of MI Classroom Heroes COVID-19 Grants 

Governor Gretchen Whitmer Banner - headshot with bridge graphic

March 1, 2021
Contact: Ron Leix, Treasury, 517-335-2167

Gov. Whitmer Announces Expansion of MI Classroom Heroes COVID-19 Grants 
New Grant Program Provides $2.5 Million for Specific Program Teachers

LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks today announced the expansion of the MI Classroom Heroes COVID-19 Grants to include a new grant program for Great Start Readiness Program (GRSP), Head Start, adult education and young adult (ages 18-26) special education classroom teachers.

“The MI Classroom Heroes COVID-19 Grants are just a small token of our gratitude to educators for going above and beyond during the pandemic,” Governor Whitmer said. “When COVID-19 hit, teachers worked around the clock to quickly transform from in-person teaching to remote instruction to ensure that their students could continue learning. It is simply the right thing to do to expand these grants to include all specific program teachers across the state.”

The GRSP, Head Start, Adult Education and Young Adult Special Education Teacher COVID-19 Grant Program enables these specific program teachers to receive up to $500 for extra hours worked and costs incurred during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring.

A state budget appropriation signed by Governor Whitmer at the end of 2020 provides $2.5 million to make specific program teachers eligible to receive a MI Classroom Heroes COVID-19 Grant, who were not eligible under previous programs.

“The Classroom Heroes COVID-19 Grants provide funds that our educators so richly deserve for their outstanding work during the pandemic,” said David Hecker, President of the American Federation of Teachers Michigan. “In addition to the money, these grants are a sincere showing of respect for our teachers and support staff, and what they do for Michigan’s students.”


Full-time and part-time GRSP, Head Start, adult education and young adult special education teachers in a school district or nonprofit nonpublic school classrooms during the 2019-2020 school year prior to moving to remote learning are eligible.


To receive up to $500, specific program teachers must have performed at least of 75% of their standard instruction workload in brick-and-mortar classrooms to moving to remote instruction on April 2, 2020.


“My staff has been working with school districts and other stakeholders to help ensure that all eligible teachers and support staff receive the MI Classroom Heroes Grants,” State Treasurer Eubanks said. “We will work urgently to ensure these specific program teachers receive their much-deserved grant payments.”


The state Treasury Department is working with the Michigan Department of Education, school entities and other education partners to implement MI Classroom Heroes COVID-19 Grants. Eligible specific program teachers should consult the school entity where they worked during the 2019-2020 school year to ensure they receive a grant.


Grant funding checks for the GRSP, Head Start, Adult Education and Young Adult Special Education Teacher COVID-19 Grant Program are anticipated to be sent directly from the state Treasury Department to teachers in June.


“Expanding the MI Classroom Heroes Grant to GSRP staff is a tremendous acknowledgement of the value of the work that they do every day,” said Scott Koenigsknecht, Deputy Superintendent of the Michigan Department of Education. “These educators are committed to helping our earliest learners develop the social emotional and academic skills that will help them be prepared to successfully enter kindergarten.  We appreciate them being recognized for the heroes that they are.”


Under the Teacher and Support Staff COVID-19 Grant Programs – the first two grant programs under the MI Classroom Heroes COVID-19 Grants umbrella – more than 138,000 K-12 teachers and support staff payments were sent MI Classroom Heroes Grants checks. More than $51 million is being distributed to eligible K-12 public school teachers and support staff and nonpublic school teachers.


For more information about MI Classroom Heroes COVID-19 Grants, go to

MPSC to tackle issues of customer engagement

MPSC to tackle issues of customer engagement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   February 18, 2021

Media Contact: Matt Helms 517-284-8300
Customer Assistance: 800-292-9555

The Michigan Public Service Commission today launched new efforts focused on educating and engaging utility customers amid sweeping changes in the energy industry and ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Michigan is in the midst of a significant transition from large, central power plants to clean, distributed sources of energy, and active customer involvement will be critical to taking full advantage of the benefits of that shift,” said MPSC Commissioner Tremaine Phillips. “Today’s actions take the next steps in exploring how to best engage and educate customers, and ensure we do so equitably, so that all Michiganders benefit from the energy transition, while also considering the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on access and affordability for so many residents and businesses.”

In Case No. U-20959, the Commission established a Customer Education and Participation workgroup as part of Phase III of MI Power Grid, the MPSC’s multiyear initiative supported by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to maximize the benefits of the energy transition for residents and businesses. The workgroup will wrap in the customer data access section of the existing Data Access and Privacy workgroup. The goal of the workgroup is to examine the evolving role of utility customers as active and effective participants in Michigan’s energy system amid the transition and best practices for customer education and outreach.

That includes exploring the adoption of energy waste reduction and demand response programs, time-of-use rates and distributed energy resources that will be essential to ensuring the energy transition maximizes the benefits for all ratepayers while also ensuring the reliability of service. The workgroup will also address equitable access to energy programs and services, customer data access and privacy issues and ways to improve outreach. The order directs MPSC staff to file a report by Feb. 25, 2022, summarizing the workgroup’s efforts and providing recommendations for the Commission to consider.

In Case No. U-20757, the MPSC directed staff to convene an Energy Affordability and Accessibility Collaborative in coordination with the MPSC’s Energy Waste Reduction and Low-Income Workgroup to address recommendations in the Commission’s ongoing work on its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, affordable energy bills, and issues related to data collection and communication and engagement. The order directed Staff to file an interim report on progress and recommendations by Dec. 17, 2021.

To look up cases from today’s meeting, access the MPSC’s E-Dockets filing system.

Watch recordings of MPSC meetings on its YouTube channel.

For information about the MPSC, visit, sign up for its monthly newsletter or other listservs, or follow the Commission on Twitter.

DISCLAIMER: This document was prepared to aid the public’s understanding of certain matters before the Commission and is not intended to modify, supplement, or be a substitute for the Commission’s orders. The Commission’s orders are the official action of the Commission.

DNR: News Digest – Week of Feb. 15, 2021

DNR: News Digest – Week of Feb. 15, 2021

Centennial banner

News Digest – Week of Feb. 15, 2021


Wondering what the founding fathers ate? Check out the historic small game recipe below.

Some of this week’s stories may reflect the impact of COVID-19 and how the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has adapted to meet customers’ needs and protect public health and safety. We will continue to share news and information about the best ways to enjoy our state’s natural and cultural resources.

Follow our COVID-19 response page for FAQs and updates on access to facilities and programs. For public health guidelines and news, visit and

Here’s a look at some of this week’s stories from the Department of Natural Resources:

See other news releases, Showcasing the DNR stories, photos and other resources at

PHOTO FOLDER: Larger, higher-res versions of the images used below, and additional ones, are available in this folder.

Eat like it’s 1742

hare & pheasantHave you ever wanted to eat like a founding father? Small game was common in the diet of early European colonists in North America and likely was something these early settlers were quite familiar with. A common recipe of the time was “jugged hare.” Jugging referred to the way the meat was cooked: sealed in a jug or pot that was placed in a pot of simmering water, usually for a long time – basically a low-tech crock pot!

So how would such a meal have been prepared? Most likely with some bacon, butter and seasonal spices. Adding a little fat helped with the cooking of these lean meats and fresh sprigs of spices like thyme, parsley, marjoram and rosemary added flavor. Want to make this tasty fare? Here’s a jugged hare recipe from the 1700s you can re-create in a 21st-century kitchen with rabbit, snowshoe hare or squirrel. If you don’t have a shilling coin, don’t worry; a quarter is about the same size.

Cut a Hare in pieces, but do not wash it; season it with half an onion shred very fine, a sprig of thyme, and a little parsley all shred, and beaten pepper and salt, as much as will lie on a shilling, half a nutmeg, and a little lemon-peel; strew all these over your hare, and slice half a pound of bacon into thin slices; then put your hare into a jug, a layer of hare, and the slices of bacon on it; so do till all is in the jug; stop the jug close that not any steam can go out; then put it in a pot of cold water, lay a tile on the top, and let it boil three hours; take the jug out of the kettle, and put half a pound of butter in it, and shake it together till the butter is melted; then pour it in your dish. Garnish with lemon. [from “The Compleat Housewife” by Eliza Smith, circa 1742].

What do you think? Does it take you back in time? Use your base hunting license this winter and try your hand at making jugged hare, rabbit or squirrel. We’d love to see your results! Share with us at

Looking to learn more about small game hunting? Visit or contact the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453.

Traveling soon? Don’t forget your recreation safety certificate

jet skiTaking an out-of-state hunting trip? Planning to rent a personal watercraft (such as a Jet Ski) on spring break? Don’t forget to take along a copy of your Michigan safety certificate, demonstrating your completion of an appropriate safety program.

Many states require this documentation before you can rent equipment or participate in a season. Misplaced your certificate? Don’t worry. If you’ve previously completed a Michigan hunter, bow, marine, ORV, snowmobile or trapper education course, you can request a duplicate safety certificate.

Requests can take seven to 10 business days to process and mail. These certificates cannot be emailed or faxed, and the DNR cannot provide certificate numbers over the phone. Recreation safety education courses are available to complete online from the comfort of your home and at your own pace at

Questions? Contact the DNR Recreational Safety Section.

Join the DNR wildlife team this summer

duck releaseIf you or someone you know is seeking valuable experience working in wildlife conservation – or just looking for an interesting job that gets you outdoors – consider applying for one of the 55 open summer positions with the DNR Wildlife Division.

“These positions are a great opportunity for college students, those looking to re-enter the workforce and seniors or retirees who want to be involved in the outdoors,” said Jennifer Schafer, DNR Wildlife Division human resources liaison.

The division regularly hires additional staff to work at DNR state field offices, customer service centers and state game areas. Seasonal staff helps in several areas, such as:

  • Assisting with wildlife habitat maintenance and improvement, which may include cutting clearings and adjusting water levels.
  • Mowing, landscaping and facility maintenance.
  • Handling tasks related to wildlife surveys, nuisance animal control and equipment operation and maintenance.

Learn more about these positions – and other openings throughout the department – at; scroll to the seasonal and temporary positions section.

Questions? Contact Jennifer Schafer at 517-284-6163.

Dive into the story of Tuskegee airmen in Michigan

tuskegeeOn April 11, 1944, Tuskegee Airman Lt. Frank H. Moody was killed when his Bell P-39Q Airacobra crashed in Lake Huron near Port Huron. He was one of 15 Tuskegee Airmen killed while training in Michigan during World War II.

Divers discovered Lt. Moody’s aircraft in 2014, and the National Museum of the Tuskegee Airmen in Detroit was issued a recovery permit to help DNR State Maritime Archaeologist Wayne Lusardi document, recover, conserve and exhibit the aircraft.

Watch Lusardi’s presentation on the Tuskegee Airmen in this new video (part of the DNR’s Black History Month commemoration); it covers the history of the airmen training in Michigan, the artifacts recovered from Lt. Moody’s aircraft and an in-depth look at the airmen killed while training here.

On Aug. 28, 2021, a memorial will be dedicated along the St. Clair River at Flag Plaza in Port Huron to recognize the bravery, conviction, patriotism and sacrifice of the Tuskegee Airmen who died in service to their country. Artifacts found from Lt. Moody’s aircraft currently are being conserved at the state of Michigan’s archaeological conservation facility at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center in Alpena. The remainder of the aircraft will be recovered this summer.

For more information on projects like this and on underwater preserves, including Michigan shipwrecks, visit the Michigan History Center’s underwater preserves page.

Questions? Contact Wayne Lusardi at 989-766-3294.

ICYMI: The sea shanties of Black Great Lakes sailors

john v moran shipThanks to a recent viral Tik Tok cover of The Wellerman, a whole new generation is interested in these maritime work songs and discovering lyrics like:

Before the boat had hit the water,

The whale’s tail came up and caught her.

All hands to the side, harpooned and fought her,

When she dived down below.

The Great Lakes were an important trade route, and in case you missed it, Michigan has its own rich history of shanties to explore – including those sung by Black sailors, like The Ward Line. Check out these sea shanties and get a glimpse (or a listen) into the seafaring life of these hearty souls.


Michigan has some of the best fat-tire biking trails in the country, and now’s a perfect time to get out and ride. Brush up on trail etiquette and find rentals and a trail near you on our fat-tire biking page.


Free Fishing Weekend may be over, but you can enjoy world-class fishing year-round. Just make sure you have a fishing license, review ice fishing basics and know the rules and regs.


Want to know more about underwater preserves and marine archaeology? Check out the upcoming Underwater Salvage and Preserves Committee meeting on Feb. 24.

Enjoy responsible recreationStay informed, stay safe: Mask up MichiganDNR COVID-19 response
Two weeks remain for essential workers to apply for tuition-free college

Two weeks remain for essential workers to apply for tuition-free college

Governor Gretchen Whitmer Banner - headshot with bridge graphic


December 15, 2020



Two weeks remain to join more than 100,000 essential workers applying for tuition-free college 

Futures for Frontliners application deadline is Dec. 31, state touts new regional career data and numerous opportunities for free education leading to high-demand, high-wage careers


LANSING, Mich. – With the Futures for Frontliners application deadline approaching, frontline workers are encouraged to take the next step in their educational journey and apply for free college tuition towards an associate degree or industry-recognized certificate at community college by Dec. 31 – even if they have not completed their high school diploma.


“Our frontline workers put their lives on the line every day to provide crucial support to our families during this pandemic, and they deserve support long after this crisis is over. That’s what the Futures for Frontliners program is all about. I encourage everyone who is eligible to take advantage of this free path to a degree or skills certificate they’ve been dreaming about,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. “This initiative is not only a way to say, ‘thank you,’ it’s an opportunity to provide a pathway to better paying jobs. Remember, Michiganders: mask up, practice safe social distancing, and wash your hands frequently. We will get through this together.”


Since the program launch in early September, 100,000 essential workers have applied and will soon be on their way to completing a tuition-free degree or skills certificate – putting them on a path to fill one of the state’s most in-demand careers.


“By closely following the labor trends in our state we’ve learned that prioritizing the talent needs is essential to economic growth and prosperity for all,” Kerry Ebersole, Office of Sixty by 30 director said. “Creating equal access to education opens doors to develop skills that put hardworking Michiganders in a high-demand career, increase pay and fulfill dreams for those seeking a better quality of life for themselves and their families.”


The state has released new regional career data that outlines in-demand occupations by education and training requirements. Commonly across the state there is job growth in a broad range of sectors, including healthcare, information technology and professional trades among others, with salaries for the majority of these in-demand careers coming in well above area averages. No matter where you are in the state or on your career path, state officials encourage Michiganders to explore in-demand careers and the free or low-cost programs to make those career goals a reality.


Michiganders who may not qualify for free tuition through Futures for Frontliners are encouraged to explore other opportunities to earn college credit or a certificate free of charge through the states Sixty by 30 efforts aimed at ensuring 60% of working-age Michiganders have a degree or certificate beyond high school by 2030.


Whether you’re just starting your career exploration or considering a change in profession, those interested in education beyond high school are encouraged to explore free education and training resources at Skills to Work, including opportunities to take College Board’s College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests for free through In early 2021, Michiganders age 25 and older will be able to apply for free college tuition through Michigan Reconnect – providing the tools necessary for every Michigander to find a rewarding career.


“With more and more jobs requiring a highly-skilled workforce, we want to make sure people are looking at the top, growing career paths and getting linked up with free-opportunities to learn the skills needed to succeed,” Ebersole added.


Interested frontline workers should visit to explore statewide and regional in-demand career opportunities and get started on their application.


To view application data, visit the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives (LMI) Futures for Frontliners data map where you can track applicant submissions by county, House and Senate districts.


Stuff a Truck toy donation sites open in Detroit

Stuff a Truck toy donation sites open in Detroit

Contact: Lt. Todd Szyska (Detroit), 313-396-6868 or Lt. Brandon Kieft (Roscommon), 989-275-5151, ext. 272-7100
Agency: Natural Resources

Dec. 7, 2020

Stuff a TruckHow many toys can fit in the back of a Michigan Department of Natural Resource conservation officer’s patrol truck? Officers are working with local organizations to collect toys at three socially distanced drop-off locations in Clare, Detroit and Gaylord. All toys – which will be given to local children before Christmas Day – should be new, in original packaging and free of any wrapping or decorations.


  • Belle Isle Park, 99 Pleasure Drive – Accepting toys 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, now through Dec. 18. The donation bin is located just outside the park office.
  • DNR Outdoor Adventure Center, 1801 Atwater St. – Accepting toys 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12 and Dec. 19.

Anyone bringing toys to the OAC will receive a courtesy family four pack for admission to the center, which can be used once it reopens. Additionally, donors will automatically be entered in a drawing to win a free, exclusive family experience – a group of up to 10 people, with a guide to assist them, will have the Outdoor Adventure Center to themselves for 90 minutes. To receive the courtesy admission tickets and a chance at the exclusive family experience, donated toys should be securely tagged with the donor’s name, phone number and email address.

Toys collected at the Detroit locations will be donated to the Detroit Police Department’s Sergeant Santa Program. Last year, conservation officers doubled the number of families that received donations in 2018.

“We are honored to work with our brothers and sisters in the Detroit Police Department for this noble cause,” said Lt. Todd Szyska, DNR law enforcement supervisor in Detroit. “Last year was very successful and we hope to see the same contributions. This year has been exceptionally difficult for our community and we want to do everything we can to make sure that every child in Detroit has a wonderful Christmas.”


Jay’s Sporting Goods will accept toy donations during normal business hours now through Sunday, Dec. 13, at the Clare store (8800 S. Clare Ave.) and the Gaylord store (1151 S. Otsego Ave.). Although donations can be dropped off anytime during store hours, conservation officers also will be in the parking lots with patrol trucks at both locations as follows:

  • 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12.
  • Noon-4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13.

Toys dropped off at the Jay’s Sporting Goods locations will be donated to the local Toys for Tots programs in Clare and Gaylord.

“Working with Jay’s Sporting Goods is an excellent partnership, making it easy for holiday shoppers to also pick up some gifts that help kids connect with the outdoors,” said Lt. Brandon Kieft, DNR law enforcement supervisor in Roscommon. “We are excited to work with our northern Michigan community to help local children have the Christmas they deserve.”

Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety, and protect citizens by providing general law enforcement services and conducting lifesaving operations in the communities they serve.

Note to editors: An accompanying Stuff a Truck graphic is available below for download.