Successes celebrated during annual State of the City address

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published March 22, 2017

 Clawson Mayor Penny Luebs presents the annual State of the City address March 15 at Clawson City Hall.

Clawson Mayor Penny Luebs presents the annual State of the City address March 15 at Clawson City Hall.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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CLAWSON — The city with a can-do attitude is how Mayor Penny Luebs summed up the prior year in the community.

“Last year’s State of the City address was on celebration and collaboration in Clawson,” Luebs said. “This year, I am going to add the words ‘can do it.’ Clawson can do it. So we celebrate and we collaborate, and we can do it.”

The mayor discussed the community’s growth and successes before a crowd of about 45 people during the annual Clawson State of the City address, State of the Schools address, and the Chamber and Volunteer Awards March 15 at Clawson City Hall.

“The State of the City address is an opportunity to give ourselves credit for what we do really well, and to share our accomplishments and goals in the city we work, live, play and learn in,” Luebs said. “Clawson is no ordinary city. We really are extraordinary.”

The mayor said highlights that happened in 2016 included a flourishing residential community, strong city services and business growth.

Luebs read the names of 21 new businesses that came to Clawson in 2016, including Sinclair Antiques, 54 West, Hart & Harlow, Self Esteem Shop, Montage Grill and the Show.

Other established businesses, like Julian Brothers and Earl Cleaners, reached milestones of being in the community for 40 years or more.

“When you make Clawson your home, you become part of the history in our community,” Luebs said.

Other markers showing continuous business growth included the Clawson Building Department issuing 638 building permits in the last year — an increase of 25 percent from the previous year — and the completion of a new master plan by the Downtown Development Authority.

“I guess it is no secret that Clawson is thriving in the business community and the residential community,” said Char Larson, Clawson Chamber of Commerce president.

The chamber added 45 new members since the 2016 State of the City address, and although membership is about 200, Larson said the chamber has more than 800 signed up for its email list.

“The city is very, very strong,” she said.

The mayor said infrastructure remains a priority for Clawson.

Last year, the Engineering Department received a $653,000 grant for a crack- and joint-sealing program, and the sidewalk repair program remains at the forefront of discussions.

The City Council also agreed last week that it would prioritize setting up an infrastructure reserve fund to maintain roads, sidewalks and sewers.

During the past year, the Department of Public Works handled 12 water main breaks along with handling leaf and snow removal. The department also purchased new camera equipment to look inside the city’s sewer system.

Other items from 2016 that were highlighted in the speech included the Treasurer’s Office adding a new software program to allow online payments; two new prosecutors being welcomed; and the Fire Department responding to 74 fire runs, including five house fires, two garage fires, four apartment fires, two business fires and one vehicle fire.

“We experienced a 20 percent reduction in fire responses from the previous year,” Luebs said.

The mayor said the Police Department, under the direction of Chief Harry Anderson, also does an excellent job, and the city hopes to welcome a police-school liaison officer who would be paid for with grant money.

Luebs said that when she was elected in 2003, her goal was to ensure that Clawson was a kind and gentle city that is family-friendly with fun events, safe streets, and good services and roads.

The mayor said these goals have led to plenty of people wanting to call Clawson home, as evidenced by being named third in the state for the healthiest housing market and 10th overall in the Unites States, according to Realtor Magazine SmartAsset’s list for 2017. Luebs said Clawson also was named the fifth-safest mid-sized city in Michigan for 2016 by ValuePenguin; the 16th-safest city in the state by the SafeWise Report; and the 20th city in the 2017 Best Place to Raise a Family in Michigan by wallethub.com.

The mayor said residents can be assured they will be supported, as evidenced by the community rallying around Doug McKnight, Carrie Chambers and Maddy Brewster during their times of need.

“We take care of each other because that is who we are,” she said.

Other highlights mentioned during the annual address included a successful Arbor Day celebration as part of Clawson’s Tree City USA distinction; hiring three park attendants; hosting events like the Crop Walk and Run Drugs Out of Town; and the designation as a Community for a Lifetime city.

“You can age in place in Clawson,” Luebs said.

The mayor said the community does continue to face challenges, and in the next few years, city officials will need to tighten the financial belt because of increasing pension costs.

Along with creating an infrastructure reserve fund, other city goals for the year include creating a Community Emergency Response Team, increasing social media usage, employing a full-time police officer, adding greenery to Rochester Road, supporting 14 Mile Road improvements from Washington Avenue to Crooks Road, and continuing a recycling plan for businesses and in the parks.

“You may agree with some of council’s goals and question others,” she said. “Pro, con, for or against, your voice is important to us as we move forward.”

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