Cannon’s virtual State of Clinton Township address centers around pandemic

By: Nick Mordowanec | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published March 6, 2021

 Bob Cannon

Bob Cannon

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon enjoys being immersed in a group of people, making this year’s State of Clinton Township address quite out of the ordinary.

Cannon’s address debuted on the township’s YouTube page, along with local cable channels, on Feb. 19. Normally, he delivers his annual speech at the Clinton-Macomb Public Library Main Branch on Romeo Plank Road.

It was no surprise that this year’s address primarily focused on COVID-19 and its wide-ranging effects. As he stated, “It was like watching the lights of a large stadium or arena shut down, one panel at a time, until it was pitch black, marking the time to go home — and stay home.”

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic were immediate and are still impacting people and communities locally and nationally. In Clinton Township, that meant the closing of schools, dining establishments, bars and retail stores.

Cannon described his role during the onset of the pandemic as that of a “conductor,” with his staff representing “excellent musicians” who iterated thoughts, plans and ideas to protect and serve the township’s residents.

“We are in the service business,” he said, adding that the township must follow safety measures issued by the state, even if disagreements exist. “And when we’re closed, that’s not good for anybody.”

He said his biggest concerns involved making sure as many township employees as possible receive their coronavirus vaccinations. Continuing the wearing of masks is also important.

The township has already canceled its summer fireworks event outside the Civic Center, citing the gathering of thousands of people in smaller spaces as antithetical to the safety measures currently in place.

However, events like the Gratiot Cruise, concerts, The Wall That Heals and a Gold Star monument dedication are slated to take place in what Cannon described as “a very safe manner.”

He credited the Parks and Recreation Department, as well as the Senior Center, for finding new ways to entertain and give residents something to look forward to.

“I believe vaccination is very important, and I will speak to that issue every time I can, both privately and publicly. … I can’t make anyone get that shot,” said Cannon, who has already received two shots. “I wish I could, but I won’t. I will encourage, I will promote and I will talk about the benefits for not only yourself but your families. I will become a salesman of sorts.”

The pandemic’s beginnings coincided with the rollout of the township’s enthusiastic strategic plan, which was many months in the making and gave residents a glimpse as to what they can expect in years to come.

Major areas of focus as dictated through the plan include improving the way the township communicates, addressing roads, economic development, walking and biking paths, and caring for the Clinton River.  

A new website is expected to debut soon. Various committees have met regarding other facets, with Deputy Supervisor Liz Vogel working on a presentation set to take place in March.

Other points of pride Cannon alluded to include increases in the township’s census results, a township staff diversity and inclusion seminar that “helped us recognize how implicit bias affects our perception of people and the decisions we make,” and boosting recreational opportunities by way of an inclusive playground and a splash pad.

Cannon said he and fellow staffers always took advantage of supporting local businesses before the pandemic. When changes started to occur in real-time, there was a lost sense of comradery — even during township board meetings, which went virtual and may return to in-person sessions this April.

“The major lesson (of the past year) is don’t take anything for granted. … It is a new reality: do what you’re doing today and enjoy it, because you may not be able to do it tomorrow,” Cannon said.

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