State of the Township highlights cultural and neighborly assimilation

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published January 28, 2015

 Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon speaks to a large crowd at Clinton-Macomb Public Library.

Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon speaks to a large crowd at Clinton-Macomb Public Library.

Photo by Deb Jacques

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — In his annual speech at Clinton-Macomb Public Library to Clinton Township and Macomb County constituents, Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon focused on bringing everyone together.

The speech, titled “Building a community of good neighbors,” described what makes Clinton Township a mecca in not only Macomb County, but across the state and the country.

By using examples of different racial and cultural backgrounds, Cannon made it his mission to show that people of all ethnicities and different heritages can and do call the township home.

After discussing how property values will rise at a “modest rate over the next several years,” he touched more intimately on how properties and neighborhoods are only defined by the people who inhabit them.

“So why is it that as a society we have been to the moon and back, but sometimes as individuals we have trouble crossing the street to meet our neighbors?” Cannon said. “In my opinion, we need to look out for not only ourselves, but also our neighbors. It is in all of our best interest. There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about or should care about — and that is each other.”

Cannon then described positive moments of interaction, which included postal carrier Debbie Sowa discovering that an elderly woman named Elaine Shinnaberry had fallen and couldn’t get up in her Clinton Township home for seven days. Sowa called the township’s fire and police departments,  and Shinnaberry is now OK.

Cannon then talked about his family’s own battle with criminals, discussing how his house was robbed of money and jewelry in November of last year. He publicly credited his neighbors, the Morgan family, for taking photos and video of the alleged criminals, and for keeping their neighborhood safe and sound.

Staying with the community theme, Cannon expressed exuberance at Clinton Township being designated as the nation’s first “Welcoming Township” in conjunction with the Welcoming Michigan initiative — the sixth community in the state and the second community in Macomb County to participate with the other being Sterling Heights.

The statewide endeavor was designed to unite immigrants and their U.S.-born counterparts in a matter of solidarity that is meant to further localize what Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel started as a countywide initiative with “One Macomb.”

As for the township’s financial standing, the township’s general fund grew by more than $2.5 million in 2014 — including a bond rating improvement from AA to AA+ that will translate into lower interests should the township borrow funds for major capital projects.

The township’s police department was among those mentioned for its vigilance and care in serious matters.

Along with the arrest of violent criminals who held a homeowner at knife point for a few hundred dollars, township officers and detectives also made arrests stemming from the brutal slaying of party store owner Basim Sulaka almost one year ago. Those men charged are facing upcoming trials in Macomb County Circuit Court.

Macomb County representatives, like Marilyn Lane and Fred Miller, also spoke about how working together — from Lansing to Macomb County — is integral to improving not only relationships but also statewide and national appeal.

Lane and Hackel specifically mentioned the impending road repair bill that will be voted on by Michigan residents later this year, and how there is just not enough dollars in the county that can be infused to fix our current system.

All in all, Cannon expressed pride over the community in which he presides.

From the hosting of one of the nation’s leading blood drives, to various war memorial services that take place at Resurrection Cemetery every year, to township employees donating more than $157,000 to charity since 2002, there is no shortage of friendly acts going on in Clinton Township.

Even as the financial standing of the township is always fluctuating, some things only get better, according to Cannon.

“We are proud to provide services to our residents and businesses of this most vibrant community,” Cannon said. “The loss of millions of dollars in state revenue sharing and property taxes will never return to help provide services to our residents, nor will the township be able to restore all the staff we had only a few years ago.

“I believe that what defines a community is how government and neighbors come together after experiencing difficult times, how we mend and how we move forward. Who we are is defined by what happens after those challenges occur.”