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March 21, 2013

Clawson’s State of the City focuses on volunteers, economic upturn

By Chris Jackett
C & G Staff Writer

The “little city with a big heart” idea was evident March 20 as Mayor Penny Luebs gave her State of the City address.

About 65 community leaders and businesspeople gathered in City Hall’s community room Wednesday as Luebs spoke for 21 minutes on a variety of accomplishments, hurdles and goals.

“We’re a community of partnership and generosity, a community of character and charm, of neighbors working together,” Luebs said. “I’m continually inspired by the number of people who give their time and money to make Clawson the place people want to live, work, raise their families, and invest now and in the future.”

Luebs said both police and fire calls for service saw improvements from 2011 to 2012, suggesting residents are more careful about fire hazards and avoiding situations that could lead to crimes.

“Our Police Department was able to utilize bike patrol during the warmer months. Our crime to property decreased from previous years,” Luebs said. “The Fire Department calls decreased by a total of 88 calls last year.”

She also noted that property taxes are slowly growing.

Residents have had no shortage of activities to participate in. Luebs said 199 senior programs brought out 13,184 participants, 1,398 parks and recreation programs had more than 18,000 participants and Blair Memorial Library had more than 9,000 library patrons, an increase from the previous year.

From a business standpoint, Luebs rattled off a list of new businesses in town since the start of 2012, which includes one restaurant, eight commercial businesses and six new retailers. Two more businesses relocated to larger buildings within the city’s small boundaries. She said residents could expect to see one of the Taco Bell restaurants remodeled and a new 7-Eleven open on Rochester Road this year.

“Our economy grew in 2012. More businesses are either reopening or building in Clawson,” Luebs said. “With the right strategy, we are marketing ourselves. We are an engaging and friendly place that businesses are attracted to and will invest in. Clawson is a place that people want to live because of the amenities and quality of life we have to offer.

“Economic development took the form of dedicated volunteers meeting to determine other strengths and needs in our business arena. After months of study, the recommendation was to hire an economic development coordinator; that is still under review.”

Luebs also noted that the $4.5 million in sewer repairs — funded through a state loan program — would be completed by early summer. Over the summer, some sidewalks enclosed by the boundaries of Maple to Elmwood and Main to Bywood will also be replaced.

The Clawson Chamber of Commerce, the City of Clawson, the Oakland County Board of Commissioners and representatives of Gov. Rick Snyder, State Sen. John Papageorge and State Rep. Martin Howrylak also presented a series of awards at the breakfast gathering. Award recipients included Tracey Borg as Business Person of the Year, Carol Mason and Bill Kelly as Volunteers of the Year, and Iole LeTissier and Luebs, in her role with Clawson Youth Assistance, for Business Community Involvement.

“Volunteers are our core in this city and work alongside city employees,” Luebs said.

Luebs said LeTissier’s volunteer legacy would be her work with the library board and her church.

“Clawson is such a wonderful community and I feel fortunate to be considered among the (best) volunteers in this community,” LeTissier said.

“The work that has been done to showcase Clawson is just wonderful,” Chamber of Commerce President Cheryl Lawson added.

Moving forward, the city’s next goal-setting workshop is open to the public at 6:30 p.m. March 27 at City Hall, 425 N. Main.

“Each year, we develop goals, prioritize goals and then find ways to pay for our goals,” Luebs said. “An informed community is an engaged community.”