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Training/Events Blue Arrows

Region 5 Education Seminar Highlights 

Dan Maliniak welcomed more than 50 elected and appointed officials from the Thumb to a day of learning and networking hosted by the village of Lexington.  Rep. John Espinoza (83rd District) led off with a discussion of the budget issues facing the Legislature, including problems created by short-sighted decisions of previous legislatures and the structural deficit the state is now facing.  In spite of Michigan’s problems, Espinoza believes that Michigan will survive—it will look different, but it will survive.

Peggy Stencil, president of the Lexington Business Association, and Jamie McCombs, chair of the Lexington Environment Committee, outlined the village’s activities to maintain a strong business environment while protecting the natural assets of the area.

Harbor Beach was first up during the Community Excellence Award presentations.  Mandated by DEQ to construct a storm water retention tank, the city was forced to build a “big ugly cement tank” on its prime waterfront area.  However, always looking to make lemonade out of lemons, the city transformed this potential eyesore into an area for winter and summer recreational activities.

Lexington’s presentation was a cooperative effort between the village and the Lexington Arts Council.  The Bach Festival, originally initiated to meet the cultural needs and interests in a rural part of Michigan, has been an important part of life in the Thumb for a number of years.  This festival is held each September and is little known inside Michigan, but attracts musicians and fans from around the world. Moving from Cass City to Lexington a number of years ago, it has grown to a three-day event with five public concerts and additional performances at a number of local venues in Lexington during the weekend. 

Dene Westbrook, systems architect at the League, introduced the new aspects of the League’s website, emphasizing the Prosperity Agenda, the 21c3 project, and the ability to register online for League activities.

League President Robin Beltramini congratulated both Harbor Beach and Lexington on their projects, noting that both had devised creative, innovative solutions that met the needs of their residents.  Both demonstrated the ability to solve problems using large doses of common sense and cooperation.  Now if we could just get that same ability across to our legislators!  This message was seconded by League Executive Director & CEO Dan Gilmartin stated that the League is actively working to assure that the Legislature “gets the message.”  Dan Maliniak, president of the village of Lexington and Region 5 Chair; Charles Zampick, councilmember in Marlette and Region 5 vice chair; and John Gabor, city manager in Marine City and Region 5 secretary were presented with plaques in appreciation of their service to the region and to the League.

Jeff Spencer, Green Communities coordinator for the Michigan Bureau of Energy Systems, presented the Michigan Green Communities Challenge
co-sponsored by the League and the Bureau.  Check it out.

Arnold Weinfeld, director of Public Policy and Federal Affairs for the League, and Andy Schor, assistant director for State Affairs, brought members up-to-date on both federal and state issues they are currently facing, including transportation, revenue sharing, the Build Michigan First legislation, and the possibility of a federal equivalent to Michigan’s Act 312.

Dan Brown, director of community outreach for Representative Candice Miller
(10th Congressional District) closed the day by outlining Rep. Miller’s positions and efforts to support both the auto industry as well as other medium and small manufacturers in the state.  In addition, several million dollars have been awarded to Region 5 communities for port improvements.

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