What Are Southwest Michigan’s Best Assets? [from 269 Magazine]

269-Magazine-March-April-2016-issueAs a contributor to the March/April issue of 269 Magazine, I was asked to share my answer to “What Are Southwest Michigan’s Best Assets?”

Kathy-Sue Dunn

Commissioner, Calhoun County

I was born and raised in Battle Creek. I’m
still here. Why? For me, there’s no place
like home! I love that within our region
are parts that feel big city without hustle,
bustle, traffic, and lines.

The accessibility of I-69 and I-94 offers
access to many gems. Families can stand
eye-to-eye with giraffes at the Binder Park
Zoo. A few hours at FireKeepers Casino
are a Vegas-style escape. Baseball games
happen most summer days at Bailey
Park. Our wineries and craft breweries,
anchored by Bell’s and Arcadia Ales,
are nationally cheered. Places like
Kellogg Community College’s Regional
Manufacturing Technology Center deliver
phenomenal training to get people good
jobs. Our contribution to the aviation
industry takes off at Western Michigan
University’s Aviation School and lands
at Duncan Aviation. The International
Food Protection Training Institute and
the W.K. Kellogg Foundation have
global impact. And, the region’s hospital
network is so collaborative — I’ll point
to Borgess, Bronson and Oaklawn —
bringing healthcare expertise right into
our communities.

While I do enjoy traveling, the best part
is coming home to my little corner of the
world. Southwest Michigan. My Mitten.
My Home.

→ Read the full issue of 269 Magazine at http://269mag.com/downloads/

Calhoun County Updates – March 2016

Calhoun County CommissionersThe County is demonstrating strong fiscal stewardship. Last week Standard & Poor’s (S&P) Rating Services affirmed the County’s bond credit rating of ‘AA’, with a stable outlook. S&P cited in their rating report factors including our diverse employer base, strong financial policies and management, positive budget performance, liquidity and flexibility, and rapid debt repayment.

The County’s Public Health Department, led by Health Officer Jim Rutherford, has been involved with many recent conversations about water quality and lead levels, in response to the Flint water crisis. We are fortunate that all communities within Calhoun County report safe drinking water, but there is work to be done to address lead-based materials found primarily in older homes throughout the County.

This Thursday, the County Board of Commissioners, led by Chair Derek King, will approve an amendment to the staffing agreement within the lease for the Marshall Regional Law Enforcement Center. One of the shared positions within the building—the property room manager—is now employed by the City of Marshall and reports to the Michigan State Police for oversight. This shared position is just one example of how this collaborative arrangement is reducing operating costs and fostering better communication between public safety officials to solve crimes.

The County is offering security training next week for all employees within the County Building in Marshall. As such, the County Building will be closed to the public on Tuesday, March 22, from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., and on Friday, March 25, from 8:00 a.m. to noon.

Calhoun County continues to value our seniors and veterans through designated voter-approved millages. On April 7 our Senior Services Office, along with many community partners and sponsors, will host our annual Senior Fair at Marshall Middle School. And last week our Veterans Affairs Committee approved revisions to the County’s Veterans Relief Fund, removing the “wartime service” eligibility requirement so that more veterans who experience one-time hardships can apply for emergency funds.

This Friday the FireKeepers Local Revenue Sharing Board (FLRSB) will meet to hear requests for Tier 2 allocations, designed to reimburse local governments for cost increases due to the operations of the casino and the Tribal reservation. The FLRSB, chaired by Marshall City Mayor Jack Reed, will distribute this year nearly $5.3 million in net win from the casino’s 2015 operations. This year’s Tribal payment is up 5% over last year’s , and is the highest ever for the FLRSB since its inception in 2010.

Upcoming County facility improvement projects include the demolition of the old jail building in Marshall, scheduled for May and June. The County will expand parking and add a storage/maintenance building as part of this project. Through a Phase III guaranteed energy savings contract with Honeywell, the County will also invest approximately $2 million in water conservation equipment and upgrades to building controls and lighting, generating positive cash flow over 20 years from operating cost avoidance and utility savings.

The County’s Road Department has greatly increased its capacity over the past year, with new management, $6.5 million in new equipment in the works, and a recently signed agreement with Enbridge to repair more than 35 stretches of roads that were damaged from the company’s Line 6B pipeline replacement project. These repairs are slated for this summer and possibly into next summer.

Finally, leadership matters! We are entering a very busy election season for County officials, with all 7 County Commissioners, all 5 County elected officials and 7 of our 9 judges on the ballot this year.

Free Workshop – Talking To Teens About Abstinence and Sexuality

On Wednesday, March 9, 2016, the Calhoun County Public Health Department (CCPHD) will be hosting the nationally recognized Talk Early & Talk Often parent workshop at the Calhoun Area Career Center. The two-hour workshop, sponsored by the CCPHD’s Teen Outreach Program® (TOP®), is free of charge and will help parents and caregivers of high and middle school youth recognize and use opportunities to open the door for conversation and to listen and respond with greater confidence and skill.

Parents are the prime educators of their children. Continued communication at home is vital in helping unprepared youth avoid serious consequences of pregnancy, HIV, and sexually transmitted diseases.

For nearly a decade, Talk Early & Talk Often has consistently received high praises from parents, educators, and community leaders. The workshop was developed with support from several state agencies working in the area of teen pregnancy prevention.

It’s never too late to improve a relationship with a child or teenager.  Don’t underestimate the great need that children feel – at all ages – for close relationships with their parents AND for their parents’ guidance, approval, and support.

The Talk Early & Talk Often workshop is supported in part by funding from the CCPHD and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ Taking Pride in Prevention Program, as well as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families’ Personal Responsibility Education Program.

Talk Early & Talk Often

Calhoun County Road Department: Seasonal Weight Restrictions in Effect

In accordance with Public Act 300 of 1949, the Michigan Vehicle Code, the Calhoun County Road Department is enacting seasonal weight restrictions again this year to begin at 6am Friday, February 19, 2016, and will remain in effect until further notice, as determined by monitoring frost levels.

Weight restrictions in effect

These weight restrictions are commonly put in place each year by counties across Michigan, and are intended to help preserve and protect our local roads when they are most vulnerable from freeze thaw cycles that cause road damage.

While our local road agencies work throughout the year to improve roads to accommodate commercial vehicles and foster a business-friendly environment, heavy weights during the spring season make the road surfaces more prone to breakage than they are during other times of the year.

According to the County Road Association (CRA), the enforcement of seasonal weight restrictions, commonly known as frost laws, is vital to minimizing damage to Michigan’s road system. Seasonal weight restrictions are a good indicator that spring – pothole season – is here.

During the seasonal weight restrictions period, trucks traveling on “restricted” roads must carry 35% lighter loads and travel at slower speeds.

Local and state law enforcement agencies may enforce seasonal weight and speed reductions during Seasonal Weight Restrictions.

For details on Calhoun County’s seasonal weight restrictions and permitting, please visit our website. CRA also offers convenient information on all county seasonal weight restrictions at http://www.micountyroads.org/weight.php.

If you are travelling on roads under MDOT jurisdiction (I, M and U.S. Routes for example), you can obtain permit information by calling 517-241-8999 or visiting MDOT’s MiTRIP permits website.

An update on the County Employee Recognition Committee

Led by HR/Relations Director Kim Archambault and Employment Specialist Megan Sharkey, the County’s newly reinstated Employee Recognition Committee met on January 27 to review the results of our baseline survey to get input from employees on what types of recognition and appreciation they value most.

We are enthusiastic about the potential this group of employees, including Commissioner Kathy-Sue Dunn, has to create more formal ways we can value and engage our employees.

The committee will be working on ideas for Employee Appreciation Day on March 4, and National County Government Month in April, which will have the theme of “Safe and Secure Counties” according to the National Association of Counties (NACo).

from the Bi-Weekly Update from County Administrator/Controller Kelli Scott, 1/29/16

“WIC” Offers Food Options in Calhoun County

The WIC program, a food and nutrition education program has been around for more than 40 years.  The Calhoun County Public Health department is encouraging local families to get the word about about WIC.

The WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program of the Calhoun County Public Health Department (CCPHD) not only saves families approximately $50 to several hundred dollars on groceries every month, but also offers mini health/nutrition screenings, personalized education and support, Registered Dietitian services, breast pumps and breastfeeding assistance, and connections to other needed services in the community in a caring and respectful manner.

YOU OR FAMILY MEMBERS MAY QUALIFY IF:

  • you have children under age five
  • you are pregnant
  • you had a baby (or miscarriage) less than 6 months ago
  • you are breastfeeding a baby under a year old

You DON’T have to be unemployed or receiving Medicaid or other State Assistance to qualify for WIC:

WIC PROGRAM INCOME GUIDELINES (Gross Household Income)

Effective Date: 05/15/15 (An unborn baby also counts as a family member)

Family Size* Hourly# Weekly Bi-Weekly Semi-Monthly Monthly Annually
1 $10.46 $419 $838 $908 $1,815 $21,775
2 $14.16 $567 $1,134 $1,228 $2,456 $29,471
3 $17.86 $715 $1,430 $1,549 $3,098 $37,167
4 $21.56 $863 $1,726 $1,870 $3,739 $44,863
5 $25.26 $1,011 $2,022 $2,190 $4,380 $52,559
6 $28.96 $1,159 $2,318 $2,511 $5,022 $60,255

 

WIC is better and easier:

  • Foods are now received via an easy to use EBT card (no more paper coupons)
  • Bigger and better variety of foods are offered (besides the milk, cereal, eggs, peanut butter, cheese, infant foods, etc., WIC now also includes bread/tortillas/rice options, canned beans, a wider variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, soy milk options, and much more)
  • Breast pumps and breastfeeding support are available from specialty staff
  • Specialized nutrition counseling available from a Registered Dietitian, as needed
  • Other helpful information and community connections are tailored to your needs
  • Fewer office visits and faster service given by friendly and caring staff

OTHER GOOD THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT CCPHD WIC:

  • You do not need to be a US Citizen to qualify for WIC
  • WIC has offices located in Battle Creek, Marshall, and Albion, with expanded CCPHD services in a new downtown Albion location (214 E. Michigan Ave.)
  • WIC offers evening hours and has Spanish/Burmese interpreters on staff
  • WIC offers additional fresh fruits and vegetables in the summer through the Project FRESH Farmers Market program (starting in July)
  • Foster children and individuals residing in group homes, shelters or other institutions can also be eligible for WIC services

 More information available at calhouncountymi.gov/publichealth

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Dunn and Scott Appointed to Summit Pointe Board

I look forward to serving on the Summit Pointe board.

An excerpt from the Battle Creek Enquirer:

There will be county representatives on Summit Pointe’s governing board after the Calhoun County Board of Commissioners makes appointments to two vacancies this week.

Dunn-Scott-boardThe board is expected to appoint Administrator Kelli Scott and Commissioner Kathy-Sue Dunn during its regular meeting Thursday night. It also will reappoint current members Trae Allman, Brenda Minter, Craig Owens, George Strander and Eusebio Solis

Scott’s and Dunn’s appointments will make for a total of 12 board members. It’s unclear when the Calhoun County Community Mental Health Authority board last had a county board representative; Solis, a former county commissioner, was appointed while serving as assistant prosecutor.

“Kelli has a very strong accounting background, which will help maybe with a fresh-eyes approach,” county board Chairman Derek King said Wednesday. “And Kathy-Sue has deep ties to the community, and she’s always getting feedback from residents. We thought it was a good opportunity to get with Summit Pointe and have county representation on the board.”

Click here to read the full article

Health Grants Awarded to Serve our Adolescents

I am proud to have worked on this grant process as a board member for Calhoun County Board of Health.

health-screening_clinicThe Calhoun County Public Health Department (CCPHD) is pleased to announce that the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) granted nearly $300,000 annually to improve the health of our youngest citizens throughout Calhoun County. The first award, $195,000, was awarded to open a child & adolescent school-based health center within Lakeview School District.

The CCPHD currently operates two child & adolescent school-based health centers, the Student Health Center located at Battle Creek Central High School and the Healing Hands Health Center located at Springfield Middle School. These programs, along with the School Wellness Program, serve school-aged children by providing comprehensive health care during the day to improve chronic disease rates and promote healthy lifestyles.

The upcoming, MDCH-funded Lakeview Health Center (LHC) is also based on the same clinical model offering primary and preventive health care services including assessment and treatment of minor illnesses and accidents, co-management of chronic illnesses, Early Prevention, Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT), immunizations, mental health assessment and counseling, wellness promotion, minor lab testing, alcohol and substance abuse prevention and awareness education, and referrals for other needed services.

The LHC intends to improve access to health care for students. By providing access to care, improved student health leads to increased school attendance and higher academic achievement. The LHC also proposes to collaborate with the WMU Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine (WMed) to provide a pediatric chronic disease (i.e., asthma and diabetes) clinic available to all Calhoun County chronically ill students, to, initially, evaluate and treat asthma (expected a minimum of two days per month) and diabetes maintenance (expected a minimum of one day per month). Chronic illnesses, such as uncontrolled diabetes and asthma, greatly impact students’ ability to learn.

While the LHC is proposed to be located at Lakeview Middle School, it will primarily serve the approximate 2,500 Lakeview Middle and High School students. We will keep you updated on the opening day and specific days and hours of operation once the LHC opens.

Jim Rutherford, CCPHD Health Officer, stated that “we are excited at the opportunity awarded to us by the MDCH to continue serving adolescents. This is just one more significant tool in our toolbox to be able to assure that our children are healthy, ready to learn, and can be successful academically. Unfortunately, for some of the kids in our community, this may be the only health care that they receive. Health and wellness are two of the most important things that we can give our children and this center will help to provide both.”

The second award from the MDCH is $185,000 to improve the educational, health, and social outcomes for pregnant and parenting teens. This grant will provide linkages to support services for pregnant and parenting adolescents 15-19 years of age, the fathers, and their families. The goal of this program is to reduce repeat pregnancies; strengthen access to and completion of secondary education; improve maternal and child health outcomes; and strengthen familial connections between adolescents and their support networks.

According to the MDCH, “The Michigan Pregnancy and Parenting Program (MI-APPP) will utilize a Positive Youth Development (PYD) framework in creating and providing services, supports, and opportunities to pregnant and parenting youth in order to strengthen ties to families and communities, bolster self-esteem, facilitate the transition into adulthood, and instill hope for the future. Kristin Roux, CCPHD Health Education Manager, stated that, “PYD is a prevention-based approach to working with youth that aims to develop their resiliency by strengthening developmental assets such as social competence, problem solving, autonomy, and sense of purpose.”

Through these grants, the CCPHD plans to continue improving Calhoun County health indicators and socioeconomic conditions. “We, again, thank the Michigan Department of Community Health for their support continued support of the work we do here in Calhoun County. We look forward to continuing this coordinated effort to keep our students healthy and ready to learn,” said Rutherford.

Ebola: What You Need to Know in Calhoun County

As word about an increase in Ebola cases spreads across the country, the Calhoun County Public Health Department (CCPHD) is sharing the following information with you.

Ebola is a communicable disease, such as Tuberculosis, Strep Throat, Whooping Cough, etc. Communicable disease monitoring and investigation, when needed, is standard procedure by local health departments, including the CCPHD. At this time, there are no cases of Ebola in Calhoun County or Michigan. We will notify the public if a communicable disease outbreak, including any case of Ebola, is present in Calhoun County.

EBOLA: The Ebola virus is spread through direct contact with the blood or body fluids (including but not limited to feces, saliva, sweat, urine, vomit, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola. The virus in blood and body fluids can enter another person’s body through broken skin or unprotected mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth.

  • The virus also can be spread through contact with objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus, or with infected animals.
  • Ebola is not spread through the air or by water or, in general, by food; however, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats.
  • There is no evidence that mosquitos or other insects can transmit Ebola virus. Only mammals (for example, humans, bats, monkeys and apes) have shown the ability to become infected with and spread Ebola virus.
  • Although Ebola virus has been detected in breast milk, it is not known if the virus can be transmitted from mothers to their infants through breastfeeding. When safe alternatives to breastfeeding and infant care exist, mothers with probable or confirmed Ebola should not have close contact with their infants (including breastfeeding).

Even if not exposed to Ebola, travelers returning from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are advised to take the following steps:

  • Monitor your health for 21 days.
  • During the time that you are monitoring your health, you can continue your normal activities, including work.
  • Seek medical care immediately if you develop fever and additional Ebola symptoms like severe headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, or unexplained bleeding or bruising.
  • Call in advance to tell the doctor about recent travel and symptoms before going to the office or emergency room. Advance notice will help the doctor provide care and protect other people who may be in the office.
  • If you get symptoms of Ebola, it is important to stay away from other people and to call your doctor right away.
  • Limit your contact with other people when you go to the doctor. Do not travel anywhere else.

The Calhoun County Public Health Department continues to work with local emergency response agencies including City of Battle Creek, Calhoun County Emergency Management, and other first responders in response to Ebola.

Scrap Tire Collections Announced

Calhoun County received funding from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Scrap Tire Cleanup Program to hold three scrap tire collections in 2014 through a grant submitted by the Southwest Michigan Solid Waste Consortium.

The grant of $18,000 will be split among the counties represented by the Southwest Michigan Solid Waste Consortium. Calhoun County will receive $3,000 which covers the collection of three trailer loads of tires.

The free Calhoun County tire collections are open to Calhoun County residents only. No tires will be accepted from businesses. All rims must be removed from the tires. Once the tire trailer is filled at each collection, the collection will end. We are unable, due to cost, to collect more than one trailer full of tires from each of the collection sites. NOTE: Hauling more than seven tires per vehicle requires a tire hauling license.

Tire collections will be held at the following locations:

Village of Tekonsha

537 North Church Street, Tekonsha

Date of event: June 28, 2014

Tires may be dropped off in the Village Offices parking lot designated area beginning Monday June 23. Staff will be loading tires on the trailer from 9 AM to 12 PM on June 28, 2014. Collection will end at 12 PM June 28.

City of Albion

At the intersection of North Clark Street and East North Street, Albion

Date of event: July 26, 2014

Tire collection will be part of the City of Albion Residential Clean-up collection held at Ketchum Field from 9 AM to 3 PM. Tires can be dropped off in the designated area in the parking lot beginning Wednesday July 23. Collection ends at 3 PM on July 26.

Pennfield Township

20260 Capital Avenue Northeast, Battle Creek

Date of event: August 2, 2014

Staff will load tires on the trailer from 9 AM to 12 PM. Event will be held behind the Township Office building. Tires will only be accepted on August 2 and the collection will end at 12 PM.

For more information contact the Calhoun County Environmental Health Department (269) 969-6341 or visit our website www.calhouncountyrecycling.com and Facebook: Calhoun County Recycling for more information.