Voting guidelines altered for state's 2016 primary and general elections

When voters go to the polls for primary elections, they have to declare whether they want a Democratic or Republican ballot. 

Some voters might say that it's nobody else's business which party they support, but it's part of the process of primary elections in Michigan.  Voters had to declare their party affiliation during the March 8 presidential primary and will have to declare again during the Aug. 2 primary for the Nov. 8 general election.

During the Nov. 8 general election, though, voters can choose whoeverthey like, regardless of party - including in the race for a new president.

The purpose of the Aug. 2 primary is to reduce the number of candidates from each party and in each race to one for the general election. In nonpartisan races, like for judges, the field will be narrowed to double the number for the total number of spots available (six candidates for three spots, for example).

Once the field for the primary, then the general election, is set, it will be posted on the Wayne County Clerk's Election Division website.

For those who aren't registered to vote but want to, the deadlines are July 5 for the Aug. 2 primary and Oct. 11 for the Nov. 8 general election. Voters can register at county or city clerk's offices, a Secretary of State office or at Voters must be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen, and the home address at which they register must match their driver's license.

Voters in one of the 3rd District cities, Hamtramck, voted on May 3 in favor of renewing the school district's recreational millage. The 10-year millage is for 4.3980 mills (or $4.3980 for each $1,000 of a property's taxable value).

Martha G. Scott
Wayne County Commissioner

County addresses hazardous waste concerns

Commissioner Martha G. Scott showed her support for a call by Wayne County Executive Warren C.
Evans to address hazardous waste pollution concerns throughout the county.

They were joined at a press conference Feb. 10 by several county officials, including fellow  commissioners and Dr. Mouhanad Hammami, county health officer and director of the Department of Health, Veterans and Community Wellness.

One issue of major concern to county officials is US Ecology's Detroit North waste processing facility
at 6520 Georgia St.,just east of the Detroit-Hamtramck boundary and in Commissioner Scott's 3rd District. The company wants to increase its hazardous waste storage from 64,000 gallons to nearly 666,000 gallons, according to Crain's Detroit Business. County officials oppose the permit request to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality from US Ecology, and a separate request to the DEQ from the Marathon Petroleum Co. for its refinery in southwest Detroit. 

"I am very concerned about the requests by US Ecology and Marathon," Commissioner Scott said.
"Both neighborhoods have suffered enough. They shouldn't be dumping grounds just because they're in
low-income areas. Enough is enough - let's show some respect to those residents."

At its Detroit North facility, US Ecology disposes of hazardous byproducts, mostly from the automotive industry, Crain's reported, adding that if the permit was granted by the state, it would accept more out-ofstate waste, including TENORM - or technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive materials - which is produced by oil and gas drilling.

US Ecology also is storing TENORM at its landfill in Van Buren Township in western Wayne County.

At the Marathon refinery, near 1-75 and the Fort Street/Schaefer exit, additional sulfur dioxide would be discharged into the air if the state grants the permit. During a public hearing, Wayne County Commissioner Ilona Varga, whose 4th District includes the refinery, and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan expressed their opposition to the permit request.

Commissioner Varga is chairing the Commission's newly formed Task Force on Environmental Quality, which met for the first time Feb. 17 and plans to address several issues countywide.

"It is important that we keep addressing these environmental issues," Commissioner Scott said. "I urge the state to do the right thing and remember the residents of those areas, including the 3rd District."

Programs slow foreclosures

Programs offered by Wayne County and the state have helped reduce the number of properties
being foreclosed upon by the county Treasurer's Office.

Eric Sabree, who was appointed county treasurer April 4 after serving as chief deputy treasurer, credited a lower-interest repayment plan offered by Wayne County, along with the Step Forward Michigan plan, which offers assistance. 

The Treasurer's Office is offering a backproperty tax payment plan at a reduced interest rate of 6 percent for those in owner-occupied houses. June 30 is the application deadline. In addition to paying the back taxes, the resident also must pay their current taxes on time.

Properties generally go into foreclosure when taxes haven't been paid for three years. Visit or call 313-224-5990. The Treasurer's Office is on the fifth floor of the
International Center Building, 400 Monroe.

Commission approves $1 million for rape kits

Wayne County has pledged $1 million from its general fund to test and investigate more than 11,000
rape kits that had been discovered in 2009 after being abandoned in a Detroit Police Department storage unit. 

County commissioners joined Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans, Prosecutor Kym Worthy and other county officials in November to make the announcement. The Commission later approved adding the $1 million to Worthy's 2015-16 budget. 

The county also gave about 5,000 square feet of space in the Guardian Building for investigators,
prosecutors and task force members to use. 

In February, Evans and Worthy teamed with the First Ladies of Wayne County to launch the Bringing
Justice Initiative, which is aiming to raise $50,000 from houses of worship to help the cause. The First
Ladies of Wayne County pledged $10,000.

Residents encouraged to take advantage of new health programs

The Wayne County Department of Health, Veterans & Community Wellness will be holding  Wellness@the Community on May 11 and June 15 at itsHamtramck site located at 9021 Joseph

Residents are encouraged to take advantage of such services being offered as wellness promotion, health education, WIC enrollment, immunizations, health care enrollment, juvenile prevention services, Healthchoice program, Head Start enrollment and veteran services.

Medical personnel will be present to provide care for residents seeking assistance. As Dr. Mouhanad Hammami, director of Wayne County's Department of Health, Veterans & Community Wellness indicates, such a service will significantly improve access to care for those who need it most.

DIA's "Senior Thursdays"

The Detroit Institute of Arts works with thousands of area seniors annually and, this year, in an effort to expand the array of tri-county senior programs, the DIA, with input from community senior centers, has developed "Senior Thursdays." 

"Senior Thursdays" provides seniors an opportunity to visit the museum, free of charge, and enjoy programs exclusively planned for them. The first Thursday of each month will feature a guided gallery tour, the second a lecture, the third an art-making class and the fourth a film.

All programs begin at l p.m. No reservations are necessary for individuals and free transportation is available for groups.

For more information, call 313-833-1292.

Donation helps unveil sports complex

Galilee Missionary Baptist Church, under the leadership of Pastor Tellis Chapman, recently unveiled its Jackie Robinson Sports Complex to provide a safe and healthy environment for youth. Galilee is at 5251 E. Outer Drive, one block north of Seven Mile Road, Detroit.

The complex - which received a $ 100,000 donation from UAW-Ford - is nearly 5,400 square feet and includes baseball, softball and golf simulators; a half-size basketball court; a fitness area; and an arcade . Mentoring and tutoring will be offered. It's open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Contact Brian Brunson at 313-926-9412 or for more information.