Category: News Briefs Written by By Meron Moges-Gerbi, CNN
By Meron Moges-Gerbi, CNN
(CNN) - On a rainy afternoon this spring when President Barack Obama gave the commencement speech at Morehouse College in Atlanta, he called valedictorian Betsegaw Tadele the “skinny guy with a funny name” – a nickname Obama has often called himself.
So, who is that other “skinny guy?”
Tadele’s journey to sharing a stage with the president began in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the youngest of Tadele Alemu and Almaz Ayalew’s two children. Tadele’s first name, Betsegaw, means "by God's grace" in Amharic, his native language.
In the summer of 2009, Tadele came to the United States in pursuit of a higher education.
Morehouse College, a historically black college, was not Tadele’s first choice; he was initially interested in more technical schools. Morehouse only awarded him enough scholarship funds to pay for tuition, not room and board. But Tadele’s brother happened to be living and working in Atlanta. Tadele saw this as an opportunity to spend time with his brother while taking advantage of what the university had to offer. Morehouse became his new destination.
After four years at Morehouse, Tadele had a 3.99 GPA. He graduated with a degree in computer science and a minor in mathematics. He won departmental awards in math and the school’s computer science leadership and scholarship award, led Morehouse’s Computer Science Club and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
"There is no impossible. There is no unbelievable. There is no unachievable, if you have the audacity to hope," Tadele said during his speech, paraphrasing the name of the president's 2006 book, "The Audacity of Hope."
President Obama and Betsegaw Tadele speak at the Morehouse graduation.
The next stop in Tadele’s journey is Seattle, where he'll work for Microsoft.
Here’s what Tadele had to say about meeting the president and finishing college:
CNN: First thing first, what was it like to meet President Obama?
Betsegaw Tadele: I didn’t really get to meet him except on stage. There were a lot of Secret Service (agents) around him. Many were suggesting I go and hug him, but I couldn’t do that. But it was great; after my speech, he got up gave me a hug and told me he was proud of me. That was a great honor.
CNN: What was the greatest part of being a Morehouse valedictorian?
Tadele: It was great to be able to mark that moment and summarize our journey at Morehouse. I wasn't nervous at all. I could feel the energy of the crowd, everyone was happy to be there. It was an honor to be able to acknowledge all these parents who sacrificed so much for their kids to be there. Acknowledging them and our hard work and the energy of that moment was unforgettable.
CNN: How did it feel to have President Obama talk about you during his commencement speech, and later receiving a standing ovation from him?
Tadele: That was really great! I heard him call me "the skinny guy with a funny name," and I knew I heard it somewhere and I later found out that he was comparing me to himself, which was great. Some people in the Ethiopian community who had not heard him use the phrase on himself before found it offensive. They thought that "skinny" was a reference to the Western image of Ethiopia as poverty-stricken country and "funny name" as a trivial jab at my Amharic name. In fact, it was getting so out of hand, that I actually had to clarify on Facebook where the reference came from.
CNN: Quoting President Obama, "As Morehouse men, many of you know what it's like to be an outsider; know what it's like to be marginalized; know what it's like to feel the sting of discrimination. And that's an experience that a lot of Americans share." What has been your experience during your educational journey in the United States as an Ethiopian? Do you relate to his statement or was he aiming this only at the black community as some critics have stated?
Tadele: I do think the president was making a particular reference to the African-American experience, which is appropriate considering that he was the commencement speaker at a (historically black college or university.) However, more than that, he was speaking of the human experience. The struggle of fitting in a place that is new and strange is a common experience. As human beings, we fear the unknown. As long as there are people who deviate from the norm, there will always be people who discriminate against them. And thus discrimination is a universal experience.
When I first came to Morehouse, people thought I was not smart because of my strong English accent. As a native of Ethiopia, I have a very noticeable accent when I speak English, which leads a lot of Americans I meet to assume that I am not very smart. The cause for this assumption is simply the fact that experience and norm say that smart people's English sounds good. I had to prove myself. I can associate with a Morehouse man who might be stereotyped because of his color of skin.
CNN: Is it all work? What do you do for fun?
Tadele: Like most Ethiopians, I like to sit in Starbucks and have coffee, hang out with my friends. I was pretty involved in my church youth group until about a year ago. I spent a lot of time with them and that is a big part of who I am. I do spend a lot of time on computers. To me, computers are not work. I enjoy working on them. I don't see it as work at all, so that is fun for me.
CNN: Who or what inspires you?
Tadele: I have had many people who have served as my role-models, but none more than Jesus. Though I am a technically inclined person, I don't believe that I can have a meaningful life through my technical skills. I think, more importantly, my character and who I am as a person has a lot more to do with how meaningful my life is. And for this, the best example I have is Jesus.
He inspires me to work harder every day to prioritize people over my work. I try every day to shape my character like him. It is this attitude that enabled him to change the world.
||Posted by Meron Moges-Gerbi -- CNN|
Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 May 2013 08:31
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Cathy Nedd
Although the State of Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) will be closed on Monday, May 27, to observe the Memorial Day holiday, unemployed workers can still contact the Michigan Automated Response Voice Interactive Network (MARVIN) system to claim their eligibility for unemployment benefits.
Unemployed workers claiming benefits in Michigan must contact MARVIN by telephone or online once every two weeks to certify that they are unemployed and meet the eligibility requirements for unemployment benefits.
Individuals who contact MARVIN by telephone must do so during specific times according to a Monday through Wednesday schedule based on the last two digits of their Social Security numbers or anytime on Thursday or Friday between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. MARVIN can be reached toll-free at 1-866-638-3993.
MARVIN is also available online to those with free online web accounts at www.michigan.gov/uia and is available to users anytime during their reporting week from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday throughFriday.
Bi-weekly certification through MARVIN Online is just one of many services available to users through the Claim Web Account Manager (CWAM), UIA’s online portal that gives users direct access to their account. Using CWAM, claimants can access account information and get answers to questions using the Virtual Problem Resolution (ViPR) team – where claimants can send an online inquiry and receive the reply directly by email.
Because of the upcoming holiday, there may be a one or two day delay before the benefits are either directly deposited into the bank accounts or loaded onto the debit cards of unemployed workers. The Memorial Day holiday is observed by Michigan state government and most financial institutions.
Last Updated on Friday, 24 May 2013 10:09
Category: News Briefs Written by Huffington Post
The head of a pro-life group in Michigan made a controversial comparison on Wednesday, arguing that women in the state should be forced to pay extra for health insurance that covers abortions, even in cases of rape or incest.
"It's simply, like, nobody plans to have an accident in a car accident, nobody plans to have their homes flooded. You have...
Last Updated on Friday, 24 May 2013 08:23
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
Despite ballot certification, Duggan foes vow challenge
Despite the 2-1 vote of the Detroit Election Commission, whose decision was anchored on the city’s new charter to retain mayoral candidate Mike Duggan on the ballot, his challengers are vowing to take the issue straight to court.
Candidate Tom Barrow, who raised Duggan’s residency as a technical flap that shouldn’t allow him on the August primary ballot, is promising to campaign against Duggan’s candidacy, which he calls “Aanother suburban transplant taking over the reigns of the city. We already had a failed experiment with Dave Bing and the parachuting in of a Livonia mayor only works for Republican money interests, not everyday Detroiters.”
Robert Davis, a labor activist, said he is going to court to fight the issue. Duggan campaign lawyer Melvin “Butch” Hollowell, in an interview with the Michigan Chronicle, said the issue is “not really a close legal question,” because Duggan has met the requirements of the new charter. “I think the election commission did the right thing,” Hollowell said. “This was about having access to the ballot which is an important part of election law all around the country.”
According to Hollowell, with today’s ruling the campaign now shifts away from what he describes as “small issues like technicality and allows us to focus on the larger issues such as when you call a police, will they come?” Detroit Election Commission members Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey and interim corporation counsel Edward Keelean voted for Duggan to remain on the ballot while the third member, City Council President Charles Pugh, opposed.
Last Updated on Friday, 24 May 2013 09:46
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Amber L. Bogins
As AARP works to support Medicaid expansion in Michigan, a recent report by the Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows that more than 25,000 currently uninsured Michigan veterans and spouses would receive health coverage if Medicaid is expanded under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Currently, Michigan legislators are debating the merits of Medicaid expansion, with a decision expected in the coming weeks. Gov. Rick Snyder supports extending Medicaid to 470,000 uninsured Michigan residents.
“As we honor our veterans on this Memorial Day, we can provide much-needed help to those who have served our nation by expanding affordable health care coverage to veterans currently without health insurance,” said Jacqueline Morrison, AARP Michigan State Director. “AARP is fighting for affordable health coverage in Michigan to help veterans, as well as the 75,000 hard-working 50 to 64 year olds who are struggling without health insurance.”
The report, “Uninsured Veterans and Family Members: Who Are They and Where Do They Live?”, says there are 1.3 million veterans under age 65 uninsured in the United States, and about 40 percent of those could qualify for health coverage through Medicaid expansion.
“Our uninsured veterans’ health care coverage depends upon Medicaid expansion, and they deserve our support so they get it,” Morrison said.
Many assume that all veterans receive Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care coverage, but that’s not the case. VA care is out of reach for low-income veterans who do not live near VA facilities or are unaware that VA care is available. In addition, VA eligibility is determined by other factors including service-related disabilities and income, and many veterans make too much money to qualify for VA assistance, but not enough to afford insurance on their own. Most spouses of veterans do not qualify for VA assistance or for Medicaid under current requirements.
The need for care is particularly great for veterans who often have chronic health problems that may go untreated because they lack insurance coverage. According to the report, one-third of uninsured veterans nationally have at least one chronic health problem, over 40 percent have unmet medical needs and more than a third have delayed getting needed care because of high costs. Uninsured veterans’ families would also benefit from Medicaid expansion – the report says that more than half of those family members have unmet medical needs.
Medicaid expansion under the ACA allows states to extend coverage to individuals with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level – about $15,000 for an individual and $32,000 for a family of four. In Michigan, about 20,100 veterans are at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, and would be eligible for Medicaid coverage if Michigan lawmakers choose expansion. Additionally, 5,700 spouses of veterans could qualify for coverage if Michigan approves Medicaid expansion.
The federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost of Medicaid expansion in Michigan for the first three years and that figure gradually moves to 90 percent thereafter, pumping significant money into the state’s economy. It will also generate significant cost savings, providing access to preventive care that veterans and their families need while reducing the need for expensive emergency room care and related overcrowding.
“Medicaid expansion would benefit many in our state, but our veterans and their families in particular deserve to get the health care they need,” Morrison said. “The truth is we’re not doing enough for our veterans, and we can help fix that by supporting Medicaid expansion in Michigan.”
In addition to supporting state veterans and their families, AARP is also fighting for Medicaid expansion in Michigan by joining a coalition that supports expansion; sending letters of support to key legislators and testifying before legislative committees; meeting with lawmakers and administration officials; sending volunteers to legislative offices; running newspaper ads; supporting Medicaid expansion on social media; sending direct mail and email to legislators and AARP activists; and working with volunteers to make calls, send emails and letters to the editor on the issue.
Last Updated on Thursday, 23 May 2013 14:26
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Amber L. Bogins
The oldest woman in the U.S. is pushing off questions about her longevity to a higher power.
When Jeralean Talley (pictured) was asked why she thinks she has lived so long, the 113-year-old from suburban Detroit lifted her arm and pointed to the sky.
“Don’t ask me,” she said. “Ask Him.”
Talley, who was born May 23, 1899, in Montrose, Ga., is the third-oldest person in the world, according to the Gerontology Research Group, which verifies age information for Guinness World Records.
She earned the title of oldest American when Elsie Thompson of Clearwater, Fla., died March 21, just weeks before her 114th birthday.
“I feel all right,” Talley told the Detroit Free Press on Tuesday in the Inkster home in which she has lived for decades.
Several of Talley’s 11 siblings lived well into their 90s, said 75-year-old Thelma Holloway, Talley’s only child.
Talley, who gave up bowling at age 104, uses a walker to get around and still plans to attend her annual fishing outing with Michael Kinloch, a friend from Wayne County’s Canton Township whom she met at church.
“Her memory is phenomenal,” he said.
Talley moved to Michigan in 1935, and her husband, Alfred, died in 1988.
Her friend, Mary Kennedy, said Talley remains alert and has a sense of humor.
“She is original,” Kennedy said. “There is nobody else like her.”
The Gerontology Research Group said the world’s two oldest people are 115 and live in Japan.
Last Updated on Thursday, 23 May 2013 14:30
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Amber L. Bogins
A majority of people on government food programs get their food from large grocery stores according to a new report, which means they have a wide variety of foods available. More than 82 percent of SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps) are redeemed at supermarkets and superstores according to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Retailer Policy and Management Division 2012 Annual Report.
$74 billion in client benefits were redeemed in the more than 246,000 participating stores, farmers’ markets, direct marketing farmers, homeless meal providers, treatment centers, group homes, and others authorized to accept SNAP. Supermarkets and superstores made up about 15 percent of the firms allowed to redeem SNAP benefits but continue to redeem the majority of them. In 2012, Michigan had 10,060 authorized firms to redeem SNAP benefits, those firms redeemed nearly $3 billion dollars worth of benefits.
But despite recent criticisms by people saying the SNAP recipients waste their food stamps on high-sugar foods and drinks, The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that most food expenditures by people on SNAP are of the healthy variety. A 2005 study found that 35 percent of SNAP benefits went toward meats and meat alternatives, 20 percent went to grains, another 20 percent to fruits and vegetables, 12 percent to dairy, while only 13 percent went toward other foods. Not unlike the foods purchased by people not on the SNAP program.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 May 2013 10:13
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
Emergency manager takes on critics in candid interview about city’s future
KEVYN ORR, Detroit’s emergency financial manager, discusses the challenges facing Detroit while admonishing his critics to look at the facts on the city’s books. — Andre Smith photos
Kevyn Orr, Detroit’s emergency financial manager, unfazed by criticisms and mounting opposition, opens up to Michigan Chronicle editor Bankole Thompson in this exclusive sit-down interview about the difficult choices ahead for the city while sharing some of the city’s debt numbers. Orr said he is not an elected official bound to public opinion and that it is time to change course if the city is expected to make any progress. The future of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing’s comments about Orr are two of the hot button issues discussed in the interview. Orr applauded Detroit’s private sector for what he calls their commitment to the city.
MICHIGAN CHRONICLE: When you came on board you talked about the fact that you have faith that good parties can come together. Do you still believe that?
KEVYN ORR: I still do. I really do and this is why I mentioned the financial operating plan. I’m going to be fully open with everything. That includes labor, debt holders, citizens, elected officials, the press. Let’s just get it all out there the best we can. Nobody really can debate the numbers. They are what they are. The math is the math. So now the next step becomes what we are going to do about it. I’m assuming rational behavior, that everybody wants to get the city to a position that is both on a sustainable path. a path for growth and a healthier going forward financial practice.
MC: Do you get a sense of a rational behavior within the various apparatus that make up city government? Because I’m sure you’ve had background conversations with all of these interested parties.
KO: I have. I think given the tools that the city’s administration and legislative body has they are trying to do the best they can with what they can do. The emergency manager statute gives me significant additional powers and tools in my toolbox that aren’t held in ordinary course by either the mayor or the city council. So looking at what the city has tried to do in the past, they are trying to run a city on a……if we continue on those lines the city just wouldn’t be functioning.
MC: Mayor Bing said recently you need to speak more to Detroiters. Was there something missing there?
KO: No, I don’t think so. I’ve tried to be open, communicative to Detroiters. As you know, the mayor’s office is seven feet from mine. I talk to him. I talk to city council. I probably talk to city council more than some other people have in this building. The mayor’s certainly welcomed to have his opinion and what he wants to say. I don’t think it’s reflective of what I try to do.
MC: What do you see as the role of the private sector in light of the Mackinac Policy Conference and Detroit’s financial crisis?
KO: This is one of the bright points in my opinion. The private sector in the city is remarkably committed to helping the city do better. And it’s not just Dan Gilbert, Roger Penske or the Fords or the Illitches; there are many others like The Skillman Foundation, Kresge and all the other groups. They have over the past (10 years) at a minimum put over a billion dollars just in foundation money into the city. That’s our entire budget. They have made commitments in a very real sense. They put their money where their mouths are. Some of these private sector individuals could take their money to Miami, Florida, New York and make a much higher return than they can here in the city. They decided against their immediate financial interest to help the city. I’m very impressed and very thankful for this amount of support and commitment to the city.
MC: Do you now feel the weight of this office in terms of the challenges that lie ahead?
KO: No, not really. I’ve actually felt more comfortable in the office as I’ve got more information, got more data. Let me put it this way: I didn’t do this. I don’t feel any responsibility for where we are.
MC: But you are the one in charge at this point.
KO: This has been coming for 40 years. From my perspective anything I do is better than where we were. Even if I tell the people the truth, just how bad the situation is. I was telling somebody the other day your water department gets 80 percent of its revenue from the suburbs. If the suburbs like Flint and Genesee who felt they are paying excessive amounts left, you wouldn’t have a water department. Is that what you want? No, I don’t think so. So I think what you want is to be responsive to your customer base, make sure you can monetize the assets so it provides revenue to the city. So if we think as in Judge Cox’s ruling about an authority, that’s a better deal for you. Maybe better than you thought you would have because you still keep the lines, the switches and valves and you get a revenue stream.
MC: What about those who are protesting claiming a water department takeover?
KO: So to the people who want to protest, I say unless you come here with a leprechaun and a pot of gold in your arm, what are you adding to the process? This is serious business.
MC: Some believe that the city is authority-fatigued. Do you think the water department needs an authority?
KO: I’m going to examine it because as I said when I first came here before I was in this office I said everything is on the table. But people maybe authority-fatigued but the reality is what we’ve been doing as a city isn’t working. So clearly we have to do something different and maintaining the course….we’ve got to change course. We don’t have a choice.
MC: What’s been the biggest surprise so far?
KO: Probably one of the biggest surprises is how little actual information I think the city population has. Once you sit down because most people want to see a better city and have a factual discussion with people, the light goes off. Rational people of good faith have that and they stand down from the emotional position because if you maintain an emotional position in the face of the truth, you’ve got something else at work other than dealing with reality. And I can’t change that.
MC: In that light are you walking a tight rope?
KO: No. As you may have noticed despite what some people may see in the press I don’t really pay attention to it. I could care less because most opinions are either informed, under-informed or have another purpose. I’m dealing with the facts and that’s what’s going to drive decision-making. Opinions and elbows everybody’s got. I’m free. I’m not a politician. Opinions matter to politicians because it translates into votes. I’m not running for anything. I don’t have any political ambitions.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 May 2013 09:47
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by C.L. Price
2013 Mackinac Policy Conference will align diverse groups in statewide conversation
Emerging from its troubled state, Michigan is poised for a seismic economic turnaround that may be right around the corner.
While some critics and pundits predicted that it would take decades to turn Detroit around and years to address Michigan’s languishing economy, there is growing optimism that the biggest issues blocking the city’s financial recovery will be addressed soon — perhaps within the next 365 days.
Timing is everything, and in a city like Detroit, time is money.
“Detroit’s biggest problems will not all be resolved overnight, but the process to get the city on the right track is on the horizon,” according to Sandy K. Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber.
With Baruah at the helm, the Chamber, which sits squarely in the center of economic recovery efforts in Detroit, is gaining recognition for its role in helping spur an increase in regional collaboration in economic development.
There may be no better opportunity to measure the relative success of this effort than the Detroit Regional Chamber’s 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference, which draws on a diverse audience of more than 1,500 of the state’s leading political, business and community leaders annually.
This year’s conference will address cultural change, education and the 21st century global market, amidst a very diverse group of panelists and participants.
Baruah and ITC Holdings Corp. CEO and conference chair Joseph Welch plan to use the Mackinac Policy Conference as a platform to accelerate collaborative efforts statewide.
“Once isolated, our stakeholders no longer clearly identify themselves by geographic, racial or economic boundaries,” said Baruah, who has introduced innovative programs to bridge divides between Michigan leaders over the last several years.
Together, the two aim to further advance global thinking among conference participants, who they hope will emerge with a better understanding of Michigan’s role as an international player in the world marketplace, which is much “flatter,” more competitive and ever-reliant on a global consumer base.
Economic interests —employed as both a carrot and a binding agent — will serve to attract and keep conference participants aligned.
While Michigan is already home to many international automotive, furnishings and pharmaceutical manufacturers, until recently its hyper-competitive stakeholders often did not collaborate effectively or position their respective interests collectively, according to Baruah.
“Michigan is the eighth largest export state in the U.S.,” he said. “Although we hold an incredible market position, we’ve yet to fully leverage it.”
The Chamber’s MICHauto program, celebrating its second year as part of the Chamber’s economic development portfolio, is helping to change that. The successful public-private strategy is helping align automotive players to better compete and to leverage Michigan as a global epicenter of automotive and manufacturing competency.
The effort requires increased participation among Tier 1 automotive suppliers and associated businesses, which is why this year’s conference will include first-time representatives from these often silent business sectors and forums to address their unique business needs.
Immigration and education will also be on the discussion table.
Welch believes there is a need to continue to attract and retain international businesses and workers. This will be a key factor in maintaining our position in today’s global marketplace. He also supports equally, if not more aggressive, efforts to educate, train and employ Michigan residents for jobs in high growth business sectors
Logically, Detroit will be at the center of many informal conversations on the island and will be the focus of two of the scheduled conference events.
The “Detroit: On the Path to Turnaround” session features panelists Matt Cullen, president and CEO, Rock Ventures, LLC; Andy Dillon, treasurer, State of Michigan; Robert Kurnick Jr., president, Penske Corp.; and will be moderated by Sandra E. Pierce, vice chairman, FirstMerit Corporation.
The “Detroit: Legacy Leaders” panel will feature Dennis W. Archer, chairman and CEO, Dennis W. Archer PLLC, former mayor, City of Detroit; Dennis W. Archer, Jr., founding principal and president, Archer Corporate Services; Shelia Cockrel, president, Crossroads Consulting Group, former councilwoman, City of Detroit; Katy Cockrel, director, strategic communications, Ignition Media Group; John Rakolta Jr,. chairman and CEO, Walbridge; and John Rakolta III, business development manager, Walbridge. WXYZ-TV news anchor Stephen Clark will moderate the past-present-future perspectives among a multi-generational group of participants.
The city focus in these sessions, as part of a larger statewide conversation of the conference, offers an incredible opportunity to redefine our future, according to Baruah.
“Gov. Rick Snyder stepped up, despite great political risk, to tackle Detroit’s problems in a very meaningful way,” said Baruah.
The EFM appointment has helped put Detroit’s issues further into focus and will result in the opportunity to make change quickly, according to the Chamber president who commented:
“The entire state, and certainly Detroit, has suffered over the last 30 years as a consequence of being run in a process-oriented manner. Today, the EFM has the opportunity to change that and put results first.”
Results are the cornerstone of Sandy Baruah’s leadership style and, indeed, the Mackinac Policy Conference agenda.
Editor’s Note: To learn more about the 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference, gain insight on participant activity and panel discussions, visit www.michiganchronicle.com.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 May 2013 09:37
MAYOR BING, WAYNE COUNTY EXECUTIVE FICANO ANNOUNCE $600,000 EPA GRANT FOR BROWNFIELD ASSESSMENTS IN SOUTHWEST DETROIT
Category: News Briefs - Original Written by Amber L. Bogins
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano announced today that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded the Wayne County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority a 2013 Brownfields Assessment Grant of $600,000. The grant will pay for approximately 32 brownfield environmental site assessments (ESA) in the city of Detroit. These brownfield sites have been impacted by contaminants from
commercial or industrial uses, but have redevelopment potential after cleanup. The EPA’s Brownfield Assessment Grant was awarded in response to a joint proposal submitted by the City of Detroit’s Building, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department (BSEED); Wayne County; and the Detroit / Wayne County Port Authority.
“This grant is the first step toward reclaiming land that has been overused and neglected,” Mayor
Bing said. “Once brownfields are properly assessed, they can be cleaned up and redeveloped as
part of a neighborhood’s revival.”
“I’m very happy the EPA has recognized the outstanding work of the Wayne County Brownfield
Redevelopment Authority,” said Wayne County Executive Ficano. “The grant will assist in the
cleanup and revitalization of Southwest Detroit brownfield sites as well as the revitalization of
the local economy, turning properties into potentially usable, profitable assets.” Wayne County
was awarded a similar $400,000 assessments grant in 2007.
“This grant award is the perfect example of what intergovernmental collaboration can produce
for the City of Detroit and the surrounding region,” said John Jamian, Executive Director of the
Detroit / Wayne County Port Authority. “The DWCPA has enjoyed a great relationship with the
EPA since 2004 and we are excited that this latest grant will allow us to work with our partners
at the City and County to help promote the kind of growth and new investment our communities
All of the brownfield sites identified for assessment are in Southwest Detroit, the site of significant industrial development in past decades. The grant makes $450,000 available for 19 hazardous substance-related ESAs and $150,000 for 13 petroleum-related ESAs. A portion of the funds will be used for community outreach activities.
The three-agency coalition’s grant proposal identified brownfield sites such as the following for
evaluation: 5800 Michigan Ave. – a one-acre lot with an abandoned industrial building that has been
identified by Southwest Housing Solutions for expansion of a day care center. 9400 McGraw – the former site of an automaker and a glass plating company that sits on 39 acres. Streamco has identified the site for potential expansion and job creation.
Nine lots on Military Street – Peerless Metals has identified five acres for expansion.1801 S. Fort St. – an abandoned gas station on a half-acre lot at Ford and Schaefer Historic Murray Building, 4004-4030 Porter Street – Southwest Housing Solutions plans to redevelop this vacant apartment building into seven townhomes for low-to-middle
income residents. Historic Broderick Building, 1516 Vinewood – another vacant apartment building to be
redeveloped for low-to middle-income residents.
The ESAs will be conducted by environmental consulting companies that will be contracted and managed by the coalition of grant partners. The consultants have not yet been determined. Assessment work is expected to begin this fall and is required by the EPA to be completed
within a three-year period. The ESAs will determine existing health and safety risks to communities that surround each brownfield site, as well as costs of cleaning up the sites. The Brownfield Assessment Grant does
not pay for site cleanup or redevelopment.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 May 2013 16:23
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