Attention Readers: Find Us in Your Mailbox Soon
With the coronavirus stats going in the right direction, all of us at C&G Newspapers look forward to resuming publication of the St. Clair Shores Sentinel and Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle on May 27th. All other C&G newspapers will begin publishing on June 10th (Advertiser-Times on June 24th). In the meantime, continue to find local news on our website and look for us on Facebook and Twitter.

Madison Heights Citizens Academy returns for second year

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published June 14, 2019

MADISON HEIGHTS — Those curious about the inner workings of city government and how they can get involved will have an opportunity to go behind the scenes and learn about it firsthand during the upcoming Madison Heights Citizens Academy.

The program will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. every Wednesday for eight weeks: Aug. 14, Aug. 21, Aug. 28, Sept. 4, Sept. 11 (ends at 7 p.m.), Sept. 18, Sept. 25 and Oct. 2. It culminates in a certificate presentation at the Monday, Oct. 14, City Council meeting.

The program is free and open to Madison Heights residents ages 18 and older, but space is limited to just 25 participants, with applications due by July 26. Applicants are chosen on a first-come, first served-basis.

Madison Heights City Clerk Cheryl Printz said that the program is an interactive way to learn how your tax dollars are spent.

“I enjoyed interacting with our residents about the role of the City Clerk’s Office on topics like maintaining transparency, licensing, record retention and the election process,” Printz said. “I think quite a few participants were amazed at the massive undertaking it is to administer an election.”

Greg Lelito, the chief of the Madison Heights Fire Department, said last year’s inaugural Citizens Academy was a “tremendous success” in which staff and residents learned from each other.

“Not only did I have the pleasure of showing the great service the Fire Department provides to the community, but the Citizens Academy also gave me the opportunity to show a behind-the-scenes look at how the Fire Department operates on a daily basis,” Lelito said. “We wanted the group to leave with an understanding of where their tax dollars are used to maintain fire and EMS services.”

This year’s program includes the following:

• Week 1: Wednesday, Aug. 14, “Government 101” at the Civic Center Park Jaycee Building, 300 W. 13 Mile Road, featuring speakers Mayor Brian Hartwell and City Manager Melissa Marsh, outlining the goals of the academy, introducing staff members, and educating guests on the levels of government — federal, state, county and municipal — and the differences between council/manager and council/mayor forms of government, as well as how Madison Heights is structured and the services it provides.

• Week 2: Wednesday, Aug. 21, “Keeping Citizens Safe — Police,” in the training room at the Madison Heights Police Department, 280 W. 13 Mile Road, featuring Corey Haines, the chief of police, and Keith Hunt, the judge of the 43rd District Court, talking about police operations, traffic laws and stops, and crime scene investigations complete with a tour of the station.

• Week 3: Wednesday, Aug. 28, “Community Voices and Visions,” in the Breckenridge Room of the Madison Heights Public Library, 240 W. 13 Mile Road, featuring Printz and the library director, Roslyn Yerman, speaking on topics such as library services, clerk services, and the difference between ordinances and resolutions, as well as a look at the election process and boards and commissions.

• Week 4: Wednesday, Sept. 4, “Community Development,” at a location yet to be determined, featuring Barry Hicks, the community and economic development director, and Linda Williams, the economic and community engagement supervisor, speaking on land use, city planning, building safety and code enforcement.

• Week 5: Wednesday, Sept. 11, ends at 7 p.m., “Keeping Citizens Safe — Fire,” in the training room at Madison Heights Fire Station No. 1, 31313 Brush St., featuring Lelito speaking on the topic of the city’s fire and EMS services, including a tour of the station and its apparatus, discussing emergency response and programs that the department offers, such as CPR training.

• Week 6: Wednesday, Sept. 18, “Keep the City Moving,” at the Active Adult Center, 29448 John R Road, featuring Corey Almas, the interim director of the Department of Public Services (DPS), and Jennifer Cowan, the coordinator of the Active Adult Center, talking about park trails and amenities, parks and recreation programs, and DPS programs including solid waste, as well as water and sewer management, how the water and sewer rate is set, and programs for those who need assistance.

• Week 7: Wednesday, Sept. 25, “Dollars and Sense,” in the City Council chambers at Madison Heights City Hall, 300 W. 13 Mile Road, featuring Marsh and Linda Kunath, the finance director, speaking on financial issues and the city’s annual process, including forecasting, setting goals, planning capital improvements, budgeting, millage rates and taxes, and more.

• Week 8: Wednesday, Oct. 2, “Opportunities to Serve and Millage Election Education,” in the council chambers at Madison Heights City Hall, including a dinner and featuring the mayor and city manager concluding the academy and discussing ways for people to get involved by serving on the city’s boards and commissions, and by creating neighborhood groups. There will also be an open forum during the dinner with members of the council and city staff.

The academy started last year when Marsh was looking for ways to get citizens involved and to solicit their input on city services, projects, budgeting and other matters.

“The Citizens Academy has been one solution. It provides encouragement for residents that are interested in serving on boards and commissions, as well as encouraging citizens to give their input. The academy became a great way to connect residents with the city, and to allow citizens an easy way to gain a better understanding of how their city departments work, as well as to become aware of the problems facing the city,” Marsh said. “Staff and I are very excited to be hosting this again.”    

For more information on the Citizens Academy or to acquire an application form to register, visit or call the City Manager’s Office at (248) 583-0829.