Peter Auger, Auburn Hills City Manager
Thoughts on running a city, daily musings, and everything in between.
City Manager, Auburn Hills, MI
Ever have one of those moments when you are back in time?
Last night I did. I was invited to the Auburn Hills Boy’s and Girl’s Club to see their Leadership Awards ceremony. I was able to take two of my daughters and walk the halls of my childhood. So many memories. I remember walking the railroad tracks to get over I-75 for the 2 mile walk to the club. I remember the ruckus about letting “girls” into the club.
Ah yes, the basketball, flag football and floor hockey seasons where we thought we were on top of the world. Actually, we were. A great place where boys (and girls) could be boys. We could try different sports, learn how to fail and then how to succeed. Learn to set goals, both as an individual and as a team.
It was a place that no one cared what home you came from, we were just kids. It was also the only place I could get a glimpse of cartoons.
The Club is so much more now. It was great to see kids still learning to grow, taking on responsibility and getting recognized for it. Now there is a focus on academics too. Do you know that 95% (maybe higher now) of club members graduate High School? And…they still have bumper pool, air hockey, ping pong etc…
I think my kids thought I was weird (well, I know they know that) about how excited I was telling about all the great things that happen with the Club. Then to top it off, near the end the ceremony they recognized me as volunteer of the year. What a surprise and honor. I was humbled as I walked up and I could remember those “old men” who use to get awards when I was in the club.
Do you remember those old guys? Some were dads, business owners, worked in the area…but all knew how important it was for our youth to have a solid foundation. If you are in my generation, this is a gentle reminder it’s not too late to be that guy (or gal). You can volunteer, you can participate in fund raising, sponsor something or even just participate in the annual golf outing. I know last year we added other kids that are now men to the golf outing from our time, and boy did the stories flow.
Come on, be that guy/gal to help create a future…
No, not traveling, but another blog about roads.
We have been planning, saving and coordinating in order to improve the infrastructure of the city. With roads, there are actually three different jurisdictions that have responsibility for roads. The State of Michigan has responsibilities for the highways (such as M-59, I-75 and M-24). The Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) has responsibility for other roads (such as Opdyke, Walton Boulevard, Brown, Joslyn and Baldwin Roads). The city has responsibility for all the other streets. We have saved up funding in order to work on several of our major roads within the city. At the same time, the RCOC and the State have been acquiring the funding for the roads they are responsible for.
Over the next three years you will see an awful lot of orange barrels around the community. One of the exciting projects looks like it will be the State of Michigan’s first DDI (Diverging Diamond Interchange). This will be a challenge due to its unique configuration that will ease and enhance the flow of traffic in a safer mode (there are no conflicting turns).
This project will also be half the cost of the original configuration and the goal is one construction season versus the three originally planned. We are still a couple million shy of total funding but closer than we have been in the last six years.
We will also be holding an open house style meeting on Wednesday, May 7th at our Community Center to discuss, explain and answer any questions you may have with this new improvement. Two different times are offered that day to attend. Either 2:00pm-4:00pm or 6:00pm-8:00pm. Here is a YouTube demo of the DDI.
There are lots of things to do to get these projects off the ground.
By Karrie Marsh, Executive Assistant and Guest Blogger
Tomorrow, Saturday, March 22nd, Oakland University will be hosting a recruitment event, Go for the Gold, for high school students and their families. Want to meet the OU faculty? They will be there! Tour the campus and learn about all that OU has to offer from the programs to transferring from high school to college.
Representatives from the City of Auburn Hills will be there as well. Meet us in the Oakland Center from 9:00am until 2:00pm. For more information call 248.370.3360.
By Karrie Marsh, Executive Assistant and Guest Blogger
Wanted: Spring Bug Hunters! You just know it is the first day of spring when you are asked to help hunt for bugs.
Friends of the Rouge need volunteers to help look for insects such as mayflies and stoneflies on April 12th. The number and type of bugs found is used to assess each site and data are submitted to the state and Rouge communities. This initiative began in 1998 to train people to collect information about the health of Rouge streams.
For more information or to sign up, visit www.therouge.org. Bug Hunt Team Leaders will be able to attend training on March 29th.
All you have to do is register by March 28th. Bring your kids too!
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no it’s Mayor McDaniel…
Okay, now for the rest of the story. The Mayor sent me a quick note about an incident that he not only witnessed but partook in.
I wanted to send you a quick note regarding the Rosetta structure fire from last night. If you haven’t heard, I actually got to experience firsthand what it’s like to be on the other side, as the caller of a true emergency. Yesterday at about 11:30pm, our neighbor’s house caught on fire and my wife fortunately saw the flames from our bathroom window. She immediately yelled for me to look. I then called 911 and that is when our team stepped into action. What a coincidence to experience this from a resident’s standpoint, right after we just approved the purchase of the new public safety software that helps with responding to these types of calls.
I want you to know that PSO Thomas did an outstanding job gathering the appropriate information. She made sure that each critical piece of information was seamlessly handed off to the other dispatcher who was in charge of radioing the FD for response. This was very much like the example that Lt. Gagnon gave during the presentation at our last council meeting. While I realize that our team already does a lot of the steps that the software will help with. As circumstances such as attrition require us to train and hire new dispatchers, I am very glad that staff recommended this software purchase and even more proud that council saw the value in it. I want to reiterate that I think the live training portion of this software purchase was huge in the differentiation for me. Technology that in essence will provide the ability to elevate new dispatchers, to the level of an experienced dispatcher is a great investment for our residents!
While I personally know that PSO Thomas is a very experienced dispatcher and I was very fortunate to have her on the other side of the phone, I would be remiss not mention that her quick and calm handling of an irate Mayor was simply exceptional. ? In all seriousness my hat goes off to her and her partner in the dispatch center last night. I believe someone told me the other dispatchers name was Monica. They both represented our community very well!
Speaking of representing our community well, I felt our PD and FD response times were outstanding. I don’t know the exact response times, but this house could have easily been a total loss had the initial response and attack not been speedy. The Spitzen’s called me today and made it a point to say, “If the fire department did not get there when they did, we could have lost our entire home.” From my perspective and since I had been on the scene from the start, I personally felt the response times seemed excellent. While out there I also got to see our PD and FD in action.
Our PD was first to arrive and verified that everyone was out of the home and safe. Officers Raskin, Hesse, Willour, Miller and Sgt. Groehn all responded to the scene. Many may not know, but there is also a lot to be done on the PD side of a structure fire. Handling traffic, obtaining witness statements, clearing the area, accounting for many items, communicating directly with FD, etc). Sgt. Groehn managed the scene extremely well and all did an outstanding job!
I did not get an opportunity to get all the Firefighter’s names (FF Toss & Waldrep), but those that responded on the Engine worked quickly and were able to knock down the fire. In essence saving it from a total loss and not to mention all of the family’s personal contents. I can assure you that the homeowners are truly appreciative of this. The flames were well into the roof and trust me when I say; we were very fortunate that the fire was contained in the kitchen area. All in all it was a good night, considering. Nobody got hurt and all of the family pets got out safe too!
Pete, I want to make sure that all know how appreciative this council and community are for each and everyone one of them. Everyone stepped up, excelled in their roles and worked great together. Not that I am surprised, I just want to acknowledge and extend appreciation to those that are deserving! Please help make sure our appreciation is clear. I am truly thankful that my family and I live in Auburn Hills.
Thank you Mayor for the nice note that we now shared with everyone. We do have a great team, we know we are not perfect, but when push comes to shove our folks are sure to respond. Now Mayor, about those tights and cape…
Here we grow again. The Marines use to have a slogan “By land, by air and sea”… well, I think we just added the sea to our resume in Auburn Hills as Great Lakes Crossing Outlets gave us some great news over the weekend that SEA LIFE Michigan Aquarium is coming to Auburn Hills.
This is going to be another anchor attraction at one of our region’s most fun malls. We all know about the diversity of shopping and entertainment venues at Great Lakes Crossing (GLC), this will just continue to build on that. From what I understand, this is a cross between entertainment and education, a hands on experience that exposes people to that exciting life under the seas.
We’ve been meeting with London-based Merlin Entertainments Group and GLC for a while now and we are excited that they have handpicked the City of Auburn Hills and Great Lakes Crossing Outlets to build this $10 million world class attraction. Merlin is the second-largest visitor attraction operator in world, behind only Disney operations in size. This was no easy decision, but after detailed market studies and our location’s economic stability, adding to the fact and the ability to draw thousands of people from across Michigan and Canada, the relationship is able to move forward.
The facility will be located in the former GameWorks space across from the Rainforest Café. The building renovation will begin this June and is expected to be complete by Spring 2015. So all you school folks or PTA members, start putting this on the list of places to go for field trips.
Our community development department tells me that they are already hearing the “buzz” about hotels, restaurants, retailers, and attractions that want to locate nearby SEA LIFE and capitalize on its popularity. Jobs too! When you fill 35,000 square feet that could attract thousands of people, guess what? Yes, they have to hire and train local talent. So if you are in the market be sure to be on the lookout when they start recruiting employees.
Last night I was able to attend the 47th annual Avondale Youth Assistance award night. This was a really neat event for several reasons. It is always energizing to see youth gathered with their parents, grandparents or other supportive adults.
The volunteers of the youth assistance team are also always awesome and inspiring for their passion and dedicated effort to help lift these kids up and reward and or recognize these youth for bettering themselves and others around them. I believe there were about 75 children last night, I lost count as they walked across the stage and we shook their hands. Some very proud kids they were.
I was also happy to see not only our local elected officials, but people from our House of Representatives and from our Senate were also on hand to congratulate these folks. I hope the recognition of this event inspire these folks on to even greater achievements.
…and talk about achievements, the keynote speaker was Peter Vanderkaay. You might recognize the name from the record books. Peter was an All American swimmer at the University of Michigan and also won several gold medals at different Olympic swimming competition (remember when they upset the Australians in the freestyle relay for the gold?).
One I hope sank in with the kids (adults too) is Peter’s story. He started swimming in the Avondale High School natatorium for a local swim club. He admitted he wasn’t any good, but he loved hanging out with the team, the comradely and horse play. It took him awhile to get truly passionate about swimming. How many times do we overlook exposing our children to different activities, just so they can be kids and horse play? Of course this story had the neat twist where Peter began to set small goals, which lead to larger goals and then the world’s stage of the Olympic Games. But…Mr. Vanderkaay made sure the kids new the rest of the story. Passion was key, but the hard work and persistence is what help him excel.
Very good event and I hope the kids left as inspired as I did.
Today was the annual Auburn Hills Morning Optimist Club Oratorical Contest. Six young men did very well speaking about their passions. These are some of the best meetings as these young men (I think the women are next week) have such a positive outlook and such potential.
This event gives these folks public speaking experience in a competitive way and a chance for scholarship money at the state level. I believe 3 of the 4 we have sent to the state competition have won scholarship money over the past several years.
What I also enjoy is seeing the parents that can make it to this breakfast meeting supporting their kids. When you see parental involvement like that you just know these people have a real shot at a dream. We heard an entire range of what they have passion for from religion to sports, helping others and even public speaking.
Men, a job well done today, you keep raising the bar. And you who wonder about what it is we do at Optimist Club, come be my guest for a breakfast and meet a great group of people. Or, just show up Thursday mornings at the Auburn Hills Boys and Girls Club at 7:30am for a homemade breakfast. You will be out the door by 8:30am.
Well, not as a patient. We had the honor to visit with Nancy Susick, President of Beaumont Hospital in Troy, MI. This was a part of their community outreach program to inform their communities of the programs and services that are provided by the Beaumont Hospital system.
It was very neat to see the upgrades they have done to the facilities and how hospital care has changed with time. I loved the attention to details from the rehabilitation rooms to the sliding doors for the in room bathrooms. You can tell all aspects of care are being thought of to ensure great care.
We spoke about other items that we were both excited about. Things like the OU/WB Medical School in Auburn Hills and the ability to attract top talent. We also spoke about emergency services training and trading of information to ensure high quality service from in field treatment, transport and hospital legs of treatment process.
Being located right next to M-59 highway also made it convenient to get to. Even more convenient is Beaumont helicopter (that we did not get a ride in). This is just another example of a regional asset that we can count on, and some of us don’t take advantage of. I think it is great when these community partners reach out and tell their stories, then again, we get to tell ours as well.
Part of my day today was doing a windshield survey of some of our roads. As mentioned on the blog before, we have many projects scheduled in 2014, 2015 and 2016. These have been planned and budgeted for to maximize other streams of revenue to stretch our road dollars.
There have been many discussions about how Michigan lags in funding for roads per capita and we need to raise more money. How much more do we need?
I don’t know.
We face a challenge because we have messed up on how we collect funding. Take our cost of gasoline, and the taxes we pay. If it was $4 per gallon, 18 cents gets sent to Washington D.C. (Highway Trust fund) to be given out by those who know better. Nineteen cents goes to Lansing as a State Road Tax and spread across the state. An additional 22 cents of the $4 is a State Sales Tax that goes to the schools.
Want to have fun, check out where all the fees, licenses and fines go from across the state…
We don’t have a user fee system that most think we have. Even with the taxes paid on gasoline, a third goes to something that has nothing to do with roads.
I think the question that we should ask is what are we paying for now and how are we paying for it? We think we are paying for roads with gas tax or license fees, but what if those funds are siphoned off for other things, maybe we are not paying what we think for roads…
Talk about transparency, how about a dashboard for all taxes and fees so we know where the money we are currently paying is going.