Sgt. Aaron Susalla stands at the control panel to the Sterling Heights Police Department’s jail area, which can turn off lights and lock and unlock cell doors, among other things.

Sgt. Aaron Susalla stands at the control panel to the Sterling Heights Police Department’s jail area, which can turn off lights and lock and unlock cell doors, among other things.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


City, school officials to adapt, plan around 2022 in Sterling Heights

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published January 12, 2022

  The Sterling Heights Public Library’s teen area contains shelves of young adult materials and plenty of gathering space.

The Sterling Heights Public Library’s teen area contains shelves of young adult materials and plenty of gathering space.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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STERLING HEIGHTS — The new year is a time for both reflection and progression. And the occasion is giving local officials a chance to make predictions and announce priorities.

 

The mayor
Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor expressed a mixture of hope and adaptiveness when looking toward the new year.

“I think that the last two years have taught me to not really predict too much,” he said. “I expect that 2022 is going to be another year where we’re going to be dealing with COVID and different variations of COVID.”

Taylor said the city will “do everything in our power to keep employees safe and also provide services that people enjoy.” For instance, he said he expects the summer Sterlingfest Art & Music Fair to return, as well as the Music in the Park summer concert series, the latter of which returned in 2021. 

Taylor also said he hopes to see the Cultural Exchange back in a more normal state. Last year, that event was held outside at the Dodge Park Farmers Market Pavilion. 

“We’re hopefully going to be back to a much more normal year — hopefully, the first normal year since 2019,” he said.

 

The police
Sterling Heights Police Chief Dale Dwojakowski said his department is positioned to offer innovative programs and outstanding public service in 2022. He said the department will use the city’s 2021 resident survey as a guide, adding that the police got excellent satisfaction scores but still have places to improve.  

“Although Sterling Heights consistently ranks as one of the safest big cities in Michigan, there is still more that we can do in order to provide outstanding public safety and crime prevention,” the chief said in an email.

“Visibility in neighborhoods, commercial areas and traffic enforcement scored well but not as high as other categories. We are addressing all these concerns with the addition of seven police officers to the force in 2022.” 

Dwojakowski said the SHPD was fully accredited by the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police in 2021, and the department’ headquarters jail closed in December because they now send prisoners to the Macomb County Jail. 

“By closing the jail, we saved enough money to hire seven additional officers,” the chief said, adding that these officers will be visible in residential and commercial areas, and they will handle traffic issues.  

“We will also have two additional officers assigned to the Community Services Bureau. These new community officers will be assigned outreach programming in Utica Community Schools and Warren Consolidated Schools, as well as increased park patrols and classes with parks and recreation.”

 

The library
When looking back on the prior year, Sterling Heights Public Library Public Relations and Programs Coordinator Amanda Itria highlighted the library’s completion of building renovations in June, followed by its 50th anniversary in October. 

“Overall, we are thankful for our community support and can’t wait to introduce them to new things like our Maker Space, Beanstack online reading challenge platform and a lineup of engaging programs and services,” she said in an email.

Looking ahead, the Sterling Heights Public Library announced that it will be part of Beanstack’s Fifth Annual Winter Reading Challenge throughout January. The challenge, sponsored by Lerner Publishing Group, has the theme of “Read for a Better World” and encourages participants of all ages to read for 600 minutes this month. 

They added that the theme will “focus on exploring diversity and empathy through reading,” and people who track their reading and meet the goal will earn a tote bag or water bottle prize. 

 

Utica Community Schools
At Utica Community Schools, Superintendent Robert Monroe sees a “unique opportunity” in 2022. In an emailed statement, he said an environment of constant changes can redefine the district and elevate its practices for learning.

One example is a strategic planning campaign called AccelerateUCS!. Monroe said he has met with school personnel, and the district is getting ready to survey students and parents after already surveying staff.

“This continuous improvement process will support our focus that every student has what he or she needs to fully engage academically and accelerate for success at their own level,” Monroe explained. “AccelerateUCS! involves our community in assessing our needs, developing an action plan to address those needs, tracking our progress and evaluating how we are meeting our goals.”

Learn more about the Sterling Heights Public Library by visiting www.shpl.net or by calling (586) 446-2665. Utica Community Schools can be reached by visiting www.uticak12.org.

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