Students from the Lutz School for Work Experience, accompanied by teacher Vinny Giacona and Clinton Township Clerk Kim Meltzer, gather April 17 to celebrate the labeling of more than 400,000 absentee ballots.

Students from the Lutz School for Work Experience, accompanied by teacher Vinny Giacona and Clinton Township Clerk Kim Meltzer, gather April 17 to celebrate the labeling of more than 400,000 absentee ballots.

Photo by Nick Mordowanec


Students save Clinton Township taxpayers thousands

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published May 7, 2019

 The envelope changes saved township taxpayers approximately $22,000.

The envelope changes saved township taxpayers approximately $22,000.

Photo by Nick Mordowanec

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — A six-year project has culminated in the savings of thousands of Clinton Township residents’ tax dollars.

On April 17, Township Clerk Kim Meltzer met with about 15 students from the Lutz School for Work Experience, located between Heydenreich and Romeo Plank roads. It is a school for young adults ages 18-26 with disabilities, in the form of moderate cognitive impairments that include intellectual and sometimes physical debilities.

Over the past six years, Lutz students have assisted the Clinton Township Clerk’s Office in preparing more than 400,000 envelopes to be used as part of the absentee ballot voting process. Meltzer said that when she took office in 2013, she realized that the former clerk had ordered too many envelopes.

On what became pretty much a daily occurrence, Lutz students in the production and assembly classroom put new return address labels on the envelopes. In the end, it saved Clinton Township about $22,000.

Meltzer provided a group of students with a special certificate April 17, in a warehouse situated next to the Clinton Township Police Department.

“We made something good out of something that could have been very bad, and cost the taxpayers a lot of money. … We’re going to see a huge additional influx (of absentee ballots) because of Proposal 3, so we’ll be using up these envelopes and go forward and order as we need them with the proper language on them,” Meltzer said.

Vinny Giacona is in his third year as a Lutz teacher. He said the entire Lutz model revolves around work experience and giving the students the ability to work or volunteer in various facets, including at pizzerias, pet stores, restaurants, gyms, churches and greenhouse nurseries. Some even mow the lawn and pull weeds at the school.

Over the years, around 75-90 students have worked on the absentee ballot labels.

“(Adding labels is) a really difficult job, in that you have to put a label over a very specific part of the envelope that sometimes persons with or without disabilities may struggle with,” Giacona said. “We have some students that really thrived with these jobs, having the fine motor skills to be able to put it perfectly on the envelope. If we mismarked it, we basically would have to get rid of it.”

He said he wasn’t sure if all the students realized how their efforts would be impacting the community in terms of political process and saving money. To them, “it was just kind of going to work every day, doing their jobs.”

Lutz student Khalil Withers, 20, said he was “surprised” by how many ballots and labels needed to be taken care of. But for him, “it was nothing.”

Another student, Adam Lubowski, 22, said he recognized the benefits of his efforts. He did admit it was “a lot of work.”

“Putting the stickers on the envelopes was fun,” Lubowski said. “Putting the stickers in the boxes was my favorite thing.”

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