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New Funding Announced for Continued COVID-19 Wastewater Monitoring

by Colleen Paveglio
Thursday, June 24, 2021

June 24, 2021 - The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recently announced nearly $49 million in grant funding to support 19 local projects that will continue conducting COVID-19 wastewater surveillance and implement COVID-19 variant strain testing of wastewater.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding will reinitiate COVID-19 wastewater monitoring established during a Fall 2020 pilot project. The state’s SARS-CoV-2 Epidemiology – Wastewater Evaluation and Reporting Network uses locally coordinated projects to conduct wastewater surveillance for COVID-19. Wastewater is tested for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19 disease, that is shed in feces into Michigan public sewer systems. Partners include local health departments, tribal nations, wastewater treatment and environmental engineering agencies, colleges and universities, and public, private and academic laboratories.

Funding for the project will continue through July 31, 2023. As COVID-19 cases decrease across the state, wastewater monitoring can provide useful information regarding disease detection and spread on a larger community level. This can be especially important as clinical testing rates decrease.

“Wastewater surveillance is so important to identifying COVID-19 infections and community transmission early, and is especially important as we move to a new phase of fighting this pandemic,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “If our rates of infection start to increase, this network may provide an early warning sign and help communities target public health actions to prevent further spread.”

It is also one of the few surveillance methods that can provide information on the virus within populations that are not showing signs of illness or who do not seek health care.

In the pilot project, participating local health departments and universities were able to focus clinical testing recommendations and communication efforts when increased levels of the virus were detected in wastewater. Specific examples of successful outcomes from the pilot project, including how the data was used, are available in the COVID-19 Wastewater Surveillance Feasibility Pilot Project Success Stories.

Continued monitoring will provide timely and consistent wastewater data to support COVID-19 public health responses within 33 local health jurisdictions with project sampling sites. This data will include information on SARS-CoV-2 presence, trends and preliminary detections of variant strains found in wastewater.

The funding expands the reach of the established monitoring system to cover a large geographic portion of Michigan. Local projects have proposed over 460 sample sites across a total of 55 counties and the City of Detroit. Over the course of the project, it is estimated that more than 87,000 wastewater samples will be collected and analyzed.

These funds will support sample collection, transportation and testing of wastewater samples; analysis and reporting of results; coordination and communication within local projects and with state agencies; and submission of results to MDHHS and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).

Nineteen local projects were funded for the following amounts:

  • $1,750,886 - Dr. Michael Conway’s lab at Central Michigan University.
  • $1,979,848 - City of Traverse City.
  • $1,831,851 - Shimadzu Core Lab at Ferris State University.
  • $1,732,225 - Dr. Richard Rediske’s lab at Grand Valley State University’s Annis Water Resources Institute.
  • $1,910,023 - Health Department of Northwest Michigan.
  • $7,543,073 - Global Water Research Institute at Hope College.
  • $3,278,054 - Kent County Health Department.
  • $2,182,037 - Professor Benjamin Southwell’s lab at Lake Superior State University.
  • $2,673,806 - Macomb County Public Works Office.
  • $3,223,635 - Dr. Joan Rose’s lab at Michigan State University.
  • $2,713,176 - Dr. Irene Xagoraraki’s lab at Michigan State University.
  • $628,935 - Dr. Josh Sharp’s lab at Northern Michigan University.
  • $2,500,000 - Oakland County Health Division.
  • $2,483,851 - Dr. David Szlag’s lab at Oakland University.
  • $2,009,639 - Dr. Tami Sivy’s lab at Saginaw Valley State University.
  • $2,596,012 - Dr. Kevin Bakker and Dr. Krista Wigginton’s lab at University of Michigan. $2,716,317 - Dr. Chuanwu Xi’s lab at University of Michigan.
  • $3,129,407 - Dr. Jeffrey Ram’s lab at Wayne State University.
  • $2,032,102 - White Water Associates Inc.

For this communications. EGLE will provide scientific expertise and data management capacity for the network. Dr. Rose’s lab at Michigan State University will serve as the lead laboratory, responsible for standardizing lab testing and providing technical assistance.

To view data from the pilot project, visit the Michigan COVID-19 Wastewater Dashboard. This dashboard will be updated in the near future to reflect the new data that results from this funding. For more information on wastewater monitoring, visit the Wastewater Surveillance for COVID-19 website

For more information, contact Lynn Sutfin, (517) 241-2112, SutfinL1@michigan.gov

Pavement Preservation Project, Cape Sealing, Authorized

by Colleen Paveglio
Tuesday, June 22, 2021

June 22, 2021 - The Traverse City City Commission authorized a contract with for the 2021 Cape Sealing Project at their June 21, 2021 meeting. The contract with Pavement Maintenance Systems, for $1,493,280, will extend the life of 12.85 miles of city streets by approximately 7 – 10 year.

A cape seal is a two-step pavement preservation process that combines two roadway surface treatments designed to extend the life of pavements in fair to good condition, consisting of a chip seal treatment, which is then covered by a slurry seal (a cold mix paving treatment) or micro surfacing treatment.  The City’s Streets Department initiated the use of the alternate pavement maintenance technique known as cape seal in 2011. The cape seal application improved the useful life of nearly 3.5 miles of streets.

“The City uses a number of proven methodologies of repairing streets.  Cape sealing has proven to be a useful technique that extends the life of pavement for nearly 10 years.  Our professional engineering staff and streets department work on developing an overarching plan to best utilize available funding to extend or replace the life of our street surfaces,” stated City Manager Martin Colburn.

The City’s Streets Department identified 12.85 miles of streets that would benefit from the technique.  Cape sealing is completed more rapidly than other pavement preservation techniques.  Thus, the inconvenience to the public will be minimized.

CAPE SEAL PROJECT MAP

2021 Sara Hardy Humanitarian Award Recipients

by Colleen Paveglio
Wednesday, June 16, 2021

June 15, 2021 - The Traverse City Human Rights Commission has announced the recipients of the Sara Hardy Humanitarian awards this year.

Ryan Hannon, Outreach Coordinator at Goodwill Industries, and Bill and Michelle White, creators of the nonprofit "5 Loaves, 2 Fish," are this year's recipients of the 26-year-old award. Hannon was chosen for his long-time service in championing the area homelessness. The Whites are recognized for their work in this difficult year of food insecurity. 

Hannon has a long history of working with the homeless population in Traverse City. He helped establish 86th District Court's Outreach program in 2007 and has long been an advocate for the homeless. Last year's Humanitarian award winner, Tom Bousamra said, in nominating Hannon, "I have witnessed his passionate advocacy for those experiencing homelessness."

Both Bill and Michelle White spent many hours each week planning, preparing and serving meals to those in the area experiencing food insecurity. While others also helped the Whites, the retired couple set the example of getting to know the recipients and making them feel welcome, according to several of the volunteers who nominated them.

“The Traverse City Human Rights Commission appreciates all of the nominations we received for several different nominees. Our local community is fortunate that many people are working on behalf of human rights,” said Susan Odgers, Chair of the Traverse City Human Rights Commission.

The award is given annually in honor of Sara Hardy, a longtime resident, who exemplified the philosophies and ideals of the Human Rights Commission to promote mutual understanding and respect among all people and to discourage discriminatory practices. This award recognizes Hardy’s contributions to the community by honoring an individual who exemplifies the Human Rights Commission’s ideals.

The recipients will be publicly recognized later this year when Traverse City governmental groups meet in person. To learn more about the Human Rights Commission visit https://www.traversecitymi.gov/humanrights.asp.

Cass Street Bridge Incident

by Colleen Paveglio
Monday, June 14, 2021

June 14, 2021 - In connection with the South Cass Street Bridge project, two skyjacks were overturned this afternoon. The units were lowering a floating barge work platform in connection with bridgework onto river and tipped over. No injuries occurred with the operators or those working on scene.

As a result of the incident, a small amount of fluid leaked and has been contained.  The appropriate local and county agencies have responded and the State of Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy are en route to the scene. Emergency responders continue to be onsite.

“We are grateful that no injuries were sustained due to this incident. Thanks to the crews on the scene and our emergency responders for their quick response time,” says Acting City Manager/City Clerk Benjamin Marentette.

The South Cass Street Bridge is anticipated to be closed until November 2021 in connection with the bridge rehabilitation work. 

City Establishes Communications Specialist position

by Colleen Paveglio
Monday, June 14, 2021

June 14, 2021 - To further their goal of inspiring more engagement and driving up awareness of city initiatives, projects and services, the City Commission approved the establishment of a Communications Specialist position as recommended by City Manager Marty Colburn, City Clerk Benjamin Marentette and Human Resources Director Kristine Bosley.  City Clerk Benjamin Marentette has named Colleen Paveglio to serve as the Communications Specialist for the City of Traverse City.      Ms. Paveglio begins her new position on Monday, June 14, 2021, and will report directly to the City Clerk.

The City Clerk’s Office serves as the city’s public information office and every year, has thousands of interactions with citizens and stakeholder groups.   The office touches all city departments, with nearly every piece of information and business related to city government flowing through it in one shape or another; however, there has never before been a professional position focused and dedicated to engagement, communications and education to serve the entire organization.  

In her role, Ms. Paveglio will be responsible for overseeing the city’s official communications platforms, including website, social media, and other digital communication tools.   She will lead the city’s public information and communication efforts, nurturing community relations and engagement and public awareness of the city’s programs, initiatives and services.   Ms. Paveglio will be building relationships with neighborhood associations, stakeholder groups and the general public, proactively identifying strategies and plans for engagement.   One of the first projects that will be led by Paveglio is a complete overhaul of the city website.   She will also be developing new outreach methods, and developing a communications and media plan for the organization in order to better connect and reach a wide audience. 

Ms. Paveglio has a Bachelor of Arts & Science in Communications from Michigan State University and has served as a communications and marketing professional for over 16 years, serving in that capacity most recently for the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority.

Marentette indicated, “Colleen Paveglio loves Traverse City and engagement and transparency in government is at the core of her DNA.    She is the perfect person for this important professional role and we are excited to see the benefits of her work, which will be seen throughout the community.   Having the benefit of more minds at the table when tackling issues addressed by city government is invaluable and Colleen’s history and relationships within this community and her passion for community involvement will do just that: bring more minds to the table and we’ll all be better for it.”

Ms. Paveglio is responsible for several projects and programs that were specifically geared toward Traverse City residents such as Shop Your Community Day, the Downtown Light Parade, and Traverse City Restaurant Week. She has developed a number of engagement programs that focus on municipal endeavors. In 2014, Ms. Paveglio worked with the City of Traverse City to create the Public Art ordinance and the Traverse City Arts Commission. Since then, she has been instrumental in a number of public art installations throughout the City. Most recently, she developed the city’s 2020 annual report, The Performance.

“I am thrilled to serve in this new role and grow the city’s communication landscape to increase civic engagement and identify opportunities to share the city’s message in an open and inclusive manner. As a resident of the city, I have a deep passion for our community and I am honored to have the opportunity to work together to build civic pride,” says Colleen Paveglio.

 

City Clerk Marentette Receives Making Democracy Work Award

by Colleen Paveglio
Thursday, June 3, 2021

June 3, 2021 - The League of Women Voters of the Grand Traverse Area has honored City Clerk Benjamin Marentette with the Making Democracy Work Award!  "I appreciate the recognition given to Traverse City for our excellence in running elections.   Powering democracy, whether it be through elections, best practices in governance, is at the center of my professional heart.  It is an honor to lead the election team in Traverse City and this award is a credit to the entire team, from the colleagues in my office to team leads in our polling places and absent voter counting boards to the poll workers who are here, for you, for the right reasons," says City Clerk Benjamin Marentette.

"Benjamin's commitment to democracy spans far beyond the City of Traverse City. He has contributed his knowledge statewide and his dedication to fair and just elections for all is admirable," says City Manager Marty Colburn.

The City Clerk's Office serves as the legislative and corporate office for the City of Traverse City, with many operational responsibilities, serving in accordance with and upholding the Michigan Constitution. In addition to elections, the department is responsible for areas including licensing, communications, governance, risk management, and financial oversight. 

"City voters benefit from having a Clerk's Office that is dedicated to democracy. Under Benjamin's leadership, voting responsibilities are handled with careful diligence. This award is a well deserved testament to our team at the City," says Mayor Jim Carruthers.

 To learn more about the City Clerk’s Office, visit https://www.traversecitymi.gov/clerk.asp