Clinton Township officials optimistic about year ahead

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published January 11, 2021

 Cannon

Cannon

 Gieleghem

Gieleghem

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — The future is uncertain with the COVID-19 pandemic, though Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon is hopeful based on the response of his community.

“What stood out to me is the cooperation and the positive attitude of not only the younger people in our community, but also the older people,” he said. “I do feel badly that there are a number of businesses that have been hurt that will not recover. I hope the state or federal government will help them financially to get them back on their feet and back to work.”

Cannon ascertained that a “vast majority” of residents and business owners are thankful for imploring safety standards and offering different ways to cope with the uncertainties, such as offering outdoor seating at dining establishments.

“We all miss that face-to-face contact, there’s no question about that,” he said. “That’s just our nature.”

He acknowledged that “none of us like having restrictions put upon us,” citing mask wearing as an example. However, he remains “cautiously optimistic” that everyone gets a vaccine and gets life on a path back to normality.

“The minute I can get a vaccine, I’m going to get a vaccine,” Cannon said.

Conducting meetings virtually and increasing technological efficiency are bright spots in a dark year, he added. The township has taken an approach to relax standards in many areas, such as signs for business promotion or processing applications on the fly.

“From a wider perspective, you can really characterize 2020 as confronting the new realities of the pandemic,” said Treasurer Paul Gieleghem. “My hope is that 2021 is overcoming and recovering from the pandemic.”

Gieleghem said there are a litany of unknowns this calendar year. He said he has increasingly received calls from people who are unemployed, or businesses on the verge of closing their doors for good.

“They’re looking for help in two ways: one, hoping that we can squash the virus and get back to normal,” he said. “But two, they’re also trying to figure out how to pivot to operate in the meantime.”

He described his mentality as “optimistic but realistic.” Safety measures have been utilized at the township’s Civic Center, including a kiosk upon entry that requires temperature checks. Online payments have been encouraged, as well as utilizing drop boxes due to postal delays.

Gieleghem echoed Cannon when it comes to aid, saying, “I think we need more tools from the state to be able to help people at the local level.” He mentioned relief on property taxes, waiving interest fees, granting extended time for payments and reducing fees for delinquency.

“When someone is paying interest on their delinquent taxes … we can get by with a delay,” he said. “We can’t really get by with a lot less money. We need a bridge to this recovery year I’m hoping we can get to.”

The township hired its first economic development director, Brandon Jonas, in 2020. Gieleghem said that he, Jonas and the rest of the Board of Trustees are continuing with the task of developing a fully-formed community — including continual development of main corridors in a “mostly residential” community that does not possess as large an industrial footprint as cities like Warren and Sterling Heights.

“Our residents are kind of the ones paying the freight here,” he said.

Other aspects of quality of life include finalizing the spillway property on the Clinton River, and further developing programs like the senior center and parks and recreation.

He, too, “absolutely encourages” vaccinations. For him, it is also a personal matter. His mother contracted polio and faced numerous physical challenges as a result.

“We need to make sure we protect ourselves from this virus, and the best way to do this is to vaccinate ourselves from it,” Gieleghem said. “Vaccines throughout history have been proven to be safe and effective and given us tremendous increase in quality of life.”

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