THE FERNDALE GARDEN CLUB (FGC), founded in 1931, continues to be vibrant and active.

Fall activities included the annual mum sale, a scholarship fundraiser. FGC has offered a scholarship to a graduating Ferndale High School senior since 1998!

In September, the FGC held their annual zinnia bloom contest (Ferndale’s city flower). Everyone votes on the best bloom and the winner takes home a blue ribbon. The contest is open to all and is a fun way for local gardeners to meet in person.

A big highlight of 2021 was the special field trip to the Piet Oudolf Garden on Belle Isle.

And free zinnia seeds were handed out at the annual Seed swap at the Ferndale Library in February.

The FGC maintains the Memorial Mall, a public garden on Oakridge at Livernois “as a place of respite and contemplation” for the community. Garden club volunteers also helped rejuvenate the plants around the Hilton Convalescent home.

MONTHLY MEETINGS INCLUDE PRESENTATIONS on a variety of gardening topics includeing intentional meadows, planting native plants and trees, supporting pollinators (including monarch and black swallowtail butterflies), restoring native bird habitats with healthy nesting materials, rooting houseplant cuttings, hydroponic seed starting, growing aquatic plants, and more. Meeting dates are May 12, June 9, July 14, Sept. 9; 7:00 P.M. at Harding Park Pavillion.

The club also hosts garden workdays at Oakridge and Livernois the first Saturday of each month at 10:00 A.M. Feel free to bring your own tools and help out! April 2 / May 7 / June 4 / July 2 / Aug. 6 / Sept. 3 / Oct. 1 / Nov. 5.

FGC membership includes residents of Ferndale, Oak Park, Detroit, Royal Oak and more. Garden lovers of all skills and abilities are invited from beginners to master gardeners to “folks that just enjoy looking at gardens.”

• @theferndalegardenclub

Photos ©2021 by Bennie White

THE Oak Park Water Tower Social District, on 11 Mile Rd., opened to the public in August and continues to offer opportunities for patrons to enjoy local businesses, both inside and out. The Social District welcomes those ages 21 and above to purchase from participating businesses to-go alcoholic beverages and enjoy them in the Commons Area.


• Monday through Saturday: Noon-10:00 P.M.

• Sunday: Noon-6:00 P.M.

• Closed on holidays recognized by the City of Oak Park


• Oak Park Social

• Dog & Pony Show Brewing

• Unexpected Craft Brewing Company

• Berkley Coffee

Social districts were created through a state initiative in 2020 with the hopes of spurring social and economic involvement in local communities. As the Water Tower Social District in Oak Park continues to experience its rebirth, this initiative will surely only help the businesses in that corridor grow while also helping to foster a deeper sense of community.

By Sara E. Teller

THE BERKLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT IS KNOWN FOR PREPARING STUDENTS FOR SUCCESS from early elementary to beyond high school. The District is highly-ranked in the State of Michigan as well as nationwide, and there are plenty of diverse opportunities for students to excel both academically and in extracurricular activities.

“In the Berkley School District, students are prepared to be creative, curious, confident, well-rounded critical thinkers,” said Jessica Stilger, Director of Communications. “They are kind and caring and have a global perspective while understanding their communities.” She added that the District “is known for [presenting] pathways for students to achieve their individual best, whatever that looks like for each student.”

One of the main reasons Berkley has one of the top districts has to do with the tremendous support from residents. Since its inception in 1840, the District has enjoyed support from everyone, including businesses and families without children attending school. Stilger said, “Berkley’s students enjoy the multitude of experiences and successes because of the overwhelming community support, the fantastic work of their great teachers and administrators, and the rich and vibrant environments that families create. The incredible successes Berkley students experience are possible, in part, because of the support provided at every level.”


IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, STUDENTS ARE ENCOURAGED to think critically and reach their full potential through out-of-the-box courses in the Cultures of Thinking & Reading program as well as writing workshop models designed to enhance literacy skills and increase comprehension in all subjects.

There are a number of Advanced Placement (AP) courses available in higher grades – 26, in fact. These allow students to extend their knowledge beyond a traditional curriculum. Students also have an opportunity to take classes at the Oakland Schools Technical Centers as well as the Center for Creative Studies & the Arts (CASA). These partnerships allow for additional career exploration that is invaluable post-graduation.

“Classes like zoology, forensics, Encore! show choir, creative writing, film studies, history of the Holocaust, marketing, African-American literature, computer programming and more challenge and engage students,” Stilger explained. “Students can explore robotics, foreign languages, student newspaper opportunities and various music options in middle school. In addition, many middle school students complete high school credits while attending Norup and Anderson.”

Berkley offers a plethora of sports, including softball, baseball, football, basketball, track and field, cross-country, wrestling, swimming, volleyball, golf and tennis. Students can also join clubs like the yearbook team, Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA), Black Perspectives Club, Dungeons & Dragons, gaming club, robotics, and art and drama. The high school, specifically, offers soccer, cheerleading, hockey, figure skating, dance and rugby. Stilger explained, “At the high school level, students are able to join over 50 clubs of varying interests, like Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA), GSA, drama club, future teachers and more.”


BERKLEY HAS ACHIEVED MANY AWARDS, including being named Best Community for Music Education for the last ten years by the NAMM Foundation (2012-2021). The District is also among the top 25 school districts in Michigan, according to the 2022 Niche rankings, and Berkley High School was named Best High School by the U.S. News & World Report in 2021, as well as being among the top six percent of high schools in the nation.

In recent years, students have been named All-State and Academic All-State for swimming, baseball, tennis, volleyball, and soccer. Twenty student athletes signed with colleges and universities in the 2020-2021 academic year. The Berkley High School (BHS) Orchestra was one of three high school orchestras nationwide invited to play at Carnegie Hall in 2019 for the World Stride Music Festival. “This was the second trip to Carnegie Hall in four years,” explained Stilger.

The BHS Drama Department produced a musical in Spring 2021 and performed outside to ensure the show would go on despite the Coronavirus pandemic. BHS was also the first school in the state to adopt Sources of Strength, a peer-led wellness program.

“The Berkey School District is incredibly proud of all of its students and the paths they are forging for themselves,” said Stilger, adding, “Families are encouraged to join their school’s support groups to stay involved with their child’s school and education.”

In fact, each school has its own Parent Teacher Association parents can join to have a say in the opportunities offered. Choir, Orchestra, and Instrumental Booster groups support grades 6 through 12, and the Athletic Boosters support high school athletics. The Berkley Education Foundation helps all students in all buildings through teacher innovation grants, student scholarships, elementary enrichment programs, and sending students in eighth grade on college tours.


THE BERKLEY COMMUNITY PASSED A SINKING FUND INITIATIVE IN 2018 that was meant to expand upon a 2015 bond initiative to provide funding for school roofing and concrete replacement projects, technology infrastructure improvements, energy and security developments, technology device purchases and more. Most recently, the District has focused this funding on building an addition at Anderson Middle School for a multipurpose and cafeteria space. Construction is slated to be completed soon.

A draft of a new strategic plan is also ready for community feedback. The plan will guide the District’s work for the next three to five years, setting stretch goals for the District as a whole and creating a plan for the administrative team to report on to the Board of Education. “The words inspire, empower, lead, will guide the team through this process,” Stilger explained.

Berkley is continuing to ensure that diversity is at the center of its commitment to students and families. Stilger said, “The School District is committed to keeping diversity, equity and inclusion at the forefront of its goals by creating an environment where all staff, students and community members feel a sense of belonging. Many diversity, equity and inclusion goals and strategies are embedded in the new strategic plan proposal.” This focus ensures that the District’s core values of lifting up, encouraging, and supporting each and every child is upheld.

“All are welcome in the Berkley schools no matter the color of their skin, who they love, how they identify, if or how they worship, their family income, where they live, what they look like, their abilities or what language they speak,” Stilger said.

Berkley also has a new superintendent, Scott Francis, who was the District’s Director of Teaching, Learning & Technology for four years prior to moving into his most current position in May 2021. Francis was also the principal of Pattengill Elementary from 2014 to 2017.

“Superintendent Francis will spend the first months of his new position building relationships with staff, families, and community members,” Stilger said. “The goal of the conversations and work will be centered around what is best for students and staff, and how the community – along with Superintendent Francis can create a shared vision for the future of Berkley Schools.”

For more information on the Berkley School District, please contact the administrative office at 248-837-8000 or visit

By William Good

THE PANDEMIC HAS BEEN CHALLENGING FOR OUR COMMUNITIES, and Ferndale Schools are no exception. High-quality instruction continues safely in our schools, and we are progressing swiftly to heal all of the difficulties of the recent cultural challenges while continuing our commitment to positive improvements.


FERNDALE TEACHERS HAVE LONG UNDERSTOOD THAT NOT EVERY STUDENT enters the classroom the same. Some start with the skills and knowledge to exceed expectations, and some have to be taught these prerequisite skills first. These challenges can be academic or behavioral. Still other students are eager to accelerate their learning journey.

And this level of preparedness may vary for an individual student every year, or every day. In many ways, addressing the needs of students returning from Distance Learning is familiar territory. However, social changes and a pandemic are showing their impact.

Fortunately for our students, Ferndale Schools are prepared with a robust system of supports that adapts to each child. Achieving this includes:

• Fostering a Culture of Support.

• Identifying Needs.

• Deploying and Adapting Support as Needed.

Learn more about the process and see support examples at


STUDENTS SPEND A LOT OF TIME IN SCHOOL. In classes, clubs, cafeterias and common spaces, students develop complex relationships with classmates as well as adults and other peers at different stages of development than their own. All of these interactions amount to a very dynamic set of variables influencing each child while at school.

Guiding these relationships in a positive direction requires a school culture with well defined principles and clearly communicated expectations of behavior, attitudes, and procedures for seeking support. At Ferndale Schools, we guide our culture with empathy by putting Restorative Practices at the forefront of everything we do.


RESTORATIVE PRACTICES include appealing to relationships and proactively encouraging empathy for others. By emphasizing pro-active culture building, we reduce the need for responsive behaviors such as punishment that may instill shame in students and isolate them from classmates and support networks. Making poor decisions is most often the result of situational effect or mood. By encouraging peer to peer interactions in the classroom, we strengthen those connections that provide a vital support network for our students.

Cultivating our school culture improves our schools by:

• Increasing sense of community and belonging.

• Reducing instances of interpersonal conflict.

• Reducing the need for punitive discipline.


SHOWING EMPATHY TO OTHERS REQUIRES SOME UNDERSTANDING of their experiences, and connecting ourselves to those experiences. Our school culture is not simply a reflection of or a response to the world we live in, it is a connection with it. Connection is forged by developing an understanding in our students, staff, and community that includes all aspects of cultural strengths and cultural inequities. With understanding comes the opportunity to include the methods communities have developed to reduce stress and build resilience which fit their unique culture.

Learn more about our Restorative Practice strategies in Ferndale Schools and the core principles that you can practice at home at


We have been making major improvements to our facilities, paving the way for 21st century learning and play. You can view more photos and details at

STEVE GAMBURD IS AN IMPRESSIVE AND ACCOMPLISHED LOCAL ARTIST/MUSICIAN. His career path and achievements have covered a broad range over the years: Art exhibition; picture framing; landscaping, gardening and beautification; murals; house painting; restoration; art curating; watercolor and drawing instruction; event coordination and design, and venue booking and management.

Gamburd’s popularity and obvious charisma most likely come from a combination of his overall enthusiasm, talent, upbeat energy, and his outgoing nature: “I am very thankful for my experiences, and I also appreciate the work that others put in. I am always looking for inspiration, and I have always figured out a way to integrate my art into my life. It’s part of my spirit!”

In Gamburd’s early days of art, he greatly enjoyed comic books – especially the superhero characters – and particularly those with independent or adult themes. Then he began creating his own comics, which became an ongoing pursuit. In his college days, he found the art of abstraction and expressionists highly influential. Gamburd’s continual inspiration has stemmed from working with life themes over the years, such as the figure, nature, still life, or sketching random people/settings.

Regarding music, he was influenced by quite a few experimental sounds, but, “I did not consider myself to be a musician until I realized that music is also art. I had no idea when I was younger that I would ever play the drums!” At around age 28, Gamburd discovered his new love of the drums. He wrote a number of songs over a period of five years, with a new-wave, indie-rock quartet called The Nerve. From then on, Gamburd has gigged and recorded studio albums with a number of bands, of various genres. These have included: Polar Opposite (folk-rock); Black Lodge (postpunk); Bastion (indie-pop/rock); Steffie & The Dirty Virgins (glam-rock); New Centaur (jazz-rock), Superbomb (grunge & space-rock); Abul On Fire (psych-rock) and 8th Chakra (sludge-punk). His current band, Origami Phase, is shoegaze/dream pop. Gamburd commented, “I’ve had the fortune of playing with great musicians over the years. These bandmates played a major role in my development as a drummer and songwriter.”

BY WAY OF EDUCATION, Gamburd majored in studio art at MSU in 1993, illustration at LCC from ’94-’95, liberal arts at OCC in ’96, and then dropped out of college to focus on art exclusively. In 2011, Gamburd returned to OCC for an Associates in Liberal Arts. In 1994,  Jim Ferguson became a huge influence on Gamburd’s passion for watercolor: “I took his watercolor classes until I could no longer receive credit from them.” Watercolor subsequently became a ‘true love’ for Gamburd, and one that he knew would endure for a lifetime: “This is the most awesome media. Instead of seeing it as the stereotypical ‘watered-down’ medium, I see it as being explosive and bold, with various ways to approach it. There are so many levels that I am still trying to figure out!”

Gamburd mentioned the importance of setting goals and completing them! On this subject, he is busy writing a comprehensive, full-color watercolor manual, where the final goal is a 125-page book. Drawing from some previous teaching experience, he is well on the way into lesson plans which form a ‘step by step’ guide on how a beginner can complete a watercolor painting.

Gamburd has an ongoing exhibition at the Dovetail Cafe in Warren (29200 Hoover Rd.) until the end of February 2022. This show is named “The Poster Show” and it features over 100 event posters created over the last two decades by Gamburd and his friend, Steven Czapiewski. His band Origami Phase performs at Bowlero in Royal Oak on Thursday December 30th, at 9:00 P.M.

I HAD TO ASK: “HOW DO YOU STAY SO ORGANIZED?” Gamburd’s response, “Someone has to make it all happen – make the calls and follow up with contacts. It all starts with a big plan or idea, then people just want to get involved.” The Phoenix Cafe was a classic example of his skills in show-casing diverse talent. “I love providing shows of different kinds, where we are all on the same page, and where a passion for creativity is the driving force. Hosting as a venue really opened up my interests a lot. It opened my mind to other genres of music. I have to look into things as I am not easily pleased!”

Gamburd feels the Phoenix years were like an open canvas of possibilities. Pianist Hans Barbe and the late steampunk creator Michael Wiggins opened a space that was a place for growing, healing and community. Gamburd was gallery coordinator and created special events, including fundraisers and art exhibits from 2009-2012. Then he went on to renovate the space, with the help of the existing Phoenix family, and became co-owner/general manager for the venue from 2013-2017. Gamburd developed music festivals at the Phoenix and abroad with co-owner Ben Frank, plus he curated themed art shows with Czapiewski. He also hosted Lewandowski’s “See What Stacey Started” figure-drawing class. (This non-instructed class and art community continued to gather after the closing of the venue).

Over these years, many good networking relationships formed between bands, which led to a number of collaborations. However, at this point, Gamburd described having less time to be a visual artist as it is a hugely time-consuming venture. Even though it had multiple positive outcomes, and was a powerful way for people to connect, Gamburd added that the Phoenix Cafe was “not profitable.”

Once the venue closed its doors in December of 2017, Gamburd was able to gig with his bands, present a long-awaited solo art show based on his ‘dream’ art, and shift into more gardening/house painting jobs. Now – following a busy season of those pursuits – he is excited to focus on comic book illustration, and more watercolor lessons.

Photo ©2021 by Bennie White

FOR TIFFANY PUGMIRE, HER ARTWORK IS HER MEDIATION, her cathartic release. For others, Pugmire’s artwork invokes joy, cheer, inspiration and more.

“WHEN CREATING,I AM CONSISTENTLY sifting my way through transitions and emotion; thus the extra play time with this medium lends to the remedy or healing process,” Pugmire said of her work. “For me, there is a magnetic sensation when looking at the reflection of light, and the contrast of the hidden colors in shadows. It keeps me interested in a subject as I attempt to capture this quality in my efforts.”

Pugmire gained local fame last Spring when she put her talent to work through sidewalk art. In exchange for chalk to perform her skills, Pugmire would take requests of what individuals wanted displayed on their sidewalk. Mayor Marian McClellan requested Vincent Van Gogh’sSunflowers,” and others requested birthday messages, recreations of other well-known art pieces and more.

While, the rain has since washed away the sidewalk art that brought smiles to Oak Park residents in the height of the COVID pandemic, Pugmire’s artwork can now be viewed in City Hall. This artwork won’t be found on the floors of City Hall, though; rather her oil paintings are displayed on canvas throughout the art gallery near the main entrance.

PUGMIRE’S ARTWORK DISPLAY IN CITY HALL IS PART OF Oak Park’s Public Art Exhibition Program, which is administered through the City’s Arts & Cultural Diversity Committee. Her artwork can be viewed now through the end of December.

The use of light and shadow in Pugmire’s paintings is quick to catch a viewer’s eye. The way in which she brings life to a simple bowl of eggs or a cabbage on a string is something only someone with true, raw talent can accomplish. Pair Pugmire’s inherent artistry with her training and still life art becomes anything but.

WHEN PUGMIRE IS NOT DELVING IN HER ARTISTIC SIDE she can also be found teaching yoga, practicing Reiki and working for the Oak Park Public Safety Department’s Records Bureau. She is a woman of many talents, and the City of Oak Park is thrilled to serve as a conduit between her artwork and the public.

For the Park’s Public Art Exhibition Program administered by the Arts & Cultural Diversity Program, local artists are encouraged to apply on a rolling basis. The Committee regularly seeks two-dimensional artwork for the lobby of City Hall for the duration of a quarterly exhibition period, and seeks art that represents the diversity of our community. Varied artistic styles and mediums are welcomed. All artists are encouraged to apply; however priority is given to Oak Park resident artists. Artwork should reflect positively on our community and must be suitable for public display.

By Sara E. Teller
Photos ©2021 by Bennie White


THE FRIENDS OF THE OAK PARK LIBRARY (FOPL) WAS FOUNDED IN THE MID-1950S, just prior to the opening of the Library itself in June 1958.

The purpose of the group is to provide support for the Library by offering a broader understanding of what it offers, as well as soliciting a wider use of it services. In its earliest days, FOPL volunteers went door-to-door asking residents to join or donate funds and materials to help establish the facility that patrons enjoy today.

In 2012, the Oak Park Public Library (OPPL) underwent a remodel and expanded its space, offering residents an even wider selection of products and services in a larger space. The Library currently houses nearly 75,000 books and other materials, and provides the community with enrichment programs including classes, seminars, presentations, and other efforts to promote literacy and reading. It also offers a wide range of technology services, including courses designed to teach web-based skills. The diverse selection of materials available at OPPL represents that of Oak Park’s community-at-large, according to Library Director Kimberly Schaaf.

“The Oak Park Public Library [serves] an amazingly diverse community, and our material collections reflect that,” she said. “We have everything from urban fiction to a Russian language collection. Our setting also makes us unique, as we are located adjacent to a beautiful neighborhood park and our community recreation center.”

Adapting with the times, OPPL now offers patrons quick and simple ways to access the Internet on the go, which is particularly important to residents who are in need of free services that support their busy lives.

“The Library recently started circulating Internet hotspots so people can access the Internet at home or on the go,” said Schaaf. This allows the Library to continue partnering with residents during a time at which many individuals would rather be at home.

She added, “In addition to these hotspots, we also subscribe to Libby, giving residents access to thousands of downloadable e-books and audiobooks.” Patrons looking to attain continuing education credits (CEUs) can access Universal Class through Libby, which offers over 500 courses.

“We also recently purchased a variety of children’s picture books that read out loud to kids,” Schaaf said, speaking to the library’s commitment to offering products and services to all populations. She added, “The Library offers notary service, test proctoring, technology assistance, remote printing, resume review, and study rooms. We have a computer lab and regular events, including author talks, concerts, book clubs, and school readiness” options.

THE OAK PARK PUBLIC LIBRARY IS AN INTEGRAL PART of the community, Schaaf says, because “the goal of all the services and materials we offer is to impact our patrons’ lives in a positive way. Whether it’s helping a person scan a document, find their next favorite book, providing study space, providing access to online resources, or a place for their child to get ready for school, we are here to help people.”

As far as COVID-19 is concerned, while it has negatively impacted the library’s budget, Schaaf prefers to look at the positives. “We are currently operating in a fairly normal capacity with our normal services being offered,” she explained. “COVID-19 did impact our budget in a negative way. [Our overall] revenue has been reduced by COVID due to the many restrictions that were in place last year.” But, she added, “despite the loss of revenue, the Library has and will continue to offer the same level of support, service, and materials.”

FOPL continues to raise funds and attain other support for OPPL and is actively looking for volunteers for educational programs, physical improvements, and to encourage the overall enjoyment of reading. The group now has provided more than $50,000 to maintain operation of the library.

Schaaf said, “The Oak Park Public Library is blessed to have an amazing Friends of the Library organization who supports events, equipment, and material purchases. If anyone is interested in helping the Library, becoming a Friend of the Library member is a great way to do that. In addition, we are always looking for community partners and ways we work together with other organizations to accomplish common goals.”

FOPL meets the second Thursday of each month at 7:00 P.M. in Room 4 of the community center. Anyone hoping to join should download a copy of the membership application online, fill it out, and drop it off at the Library during regular business hours. There are also numerous upcoming and ongoing events in which residents can get involved.

FROM DECEMBER 1, 2021, TO JANUARY 5, 2022, THOSE WHO ARE A PART OF THE OPPL BOOK CLUB will read A Promised Land by former U.S. President Barack Obama, the first of two volumes, and meet to discuss their experiences. Meetings take place from the safety of readers’ homes via a video call on first Wednesday of every month at 6:00 P.M. The Promised Land will include in-depth discussions during a minimum of two sessions.

Patrons can also look forward to Storytime with Mr. Stuart, an ongoing, fun reading program for toddlers through age 6 that occurs on Wednesdays from 10:15 A.M. to 11:00 A.M.

The Library is partnering with local businesses in Oak Park and the surrounding communities and encourages residents to shop at Kroger, which donates a percentage of its profits to FOPL. Residents can also shop online at and the company will donate a very small percentage of any Amazon Smile purchase to a charitable organization. Library patrons can select FOPL to support the library at no additional cost.

In general, the OPPL is a small library which fits perfectly with the close-knit feel of Oak Park. Schaaf says, “Readers should know that although we are a small library, we have a very dedicated staff that enjoys providing public service. We look forward to welcoming new members.”

For more information regarding the Friends of the Oak Park Library or the Oak Park Public Library itself, visit OPPL’s page on the City of Oak Park’s website at, stop by in person, or call 248.691.7480.

Photos ©2021 by Bennie White

Detective Dwaine Green

DWAINE GREEN WAS RECENTLY PROMOTED TO THE POSITION OF DETECTIVE IN THE OAK PARK PUBLIC SAFETY DEPARTMENT. This promotion became effective on March 8, 2021 for the six-year Oak Park Public Safety Department veteran. Detective Green is a highly decorated and respected officer, as is highlighted by the numerous citations he has throughout his career.

He also serves as a Field Training Officer for newly-hired recruits and is a select member of the Comeback Quick Response Team, which supports “Hope Not Handcuffs” and the “Families Against Narcotics Program.” Both programs assist citizens who are challenged by a substance-use disorder.

The decision to promote Green to detective was based not only on his successes as an officer, but also on his personality traits. Detective Green is intelligent, knowledgeable and possess a keen sense of awareness, all valuable skills for a detective. He also has a natural ability to relate with all citizens. Detective Green is a key asset to the Investigation Bureau and the Public Safety Department is proud to have him.

Parking Officer Michael Foster & Public Safety Officer Steve Arbenowske

In addition to promoting Det. Green, the Public Safety Department also welcomed Michael Foster as a new Parking Enforcement Officer in July of 2021. Foster is an Oak Park resident and has several years of parking enforcement experience with the City of Ferndale. He has strong communication skills, which are further enhanced by his great personality.

Director Steve Cooper & Safety Officer Evan Beauchamp

Oak Park Public Safety Officer Evan Beauchamp was presented with a Director’s Commendation by Public Safety Director Steve Cooper at the Monday, Aug. 23 Council Meeting. Officer Beauchamp is one of the Department’s newest officers and completed the Fire Academy as the number one Academic Recruit amongst 23 fellow graduates.

Photo ©2021 by Bennie White

HELLO FROM YOUR OAKLAND COUNTY COMMISSIONERS! We, Commissioners Charlie Cavell (representing Ferndale, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods and Royal Oak Twp., and part of Oak Park) and Yolanda Charles (representing Lathrup Village and parts of Oak Park and Southfield), would like to take a moment to say that it has been an honor to serve the residents of Oak Park throughout 2021.

And it brings us both great pride to continue representing you on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners into 2022. As we adapt and move forward through this challenging time, we are committed to supporting our residents of all ages and backgrounds, in addition to our diverse businesses and organizations.

The Board of Commissioners recently adopted the 2022-2024 County Budget, which includes funds for a number of programs that will directly assist the residents of Oak Park. In the first year of the pandemic, Oak Park small businesses were awarded $2.3 million in grant funding from the County, and local government, educational institutions, non-profits, seniors, individuals, veterans, and libraries and community centers were awarded $3.9 million.

We look forward to bringing you more information about relief and support programs made possible through Oakland County’s American Rescue Plan Act funds as the Board works with County administration to find meaningful ways to get help to those who need it most.

IN ADDITION TO THOSE DIRECTLY RELATED TO THE PANDEMIC, the Board has spearheaded projects that impact all areas of life for Oakland County residents. Early in 2021, we both participated in a press conference at the Ferndale Housing Commission to launch the Fair Housing Initiative, aimed at ending source of income housing discrimination. We have also brought environmental sustainability initiatives to our communities, stood for County-wide equality initiatives and made efforts to make County government more accessible to the constituents we serve.

We thank you for your engagement and commitment to making your community a rewarding place for us all. As two commissioners serving their first terms on the Board, it’s been extremely gratifying to get to know Oak Park. From community groups to cultural events, every nook of the city has something to offer its residents and the county.

Please remember that the Board of Commissioners is here for all of you, so do not hesitate to reach out to your commissioner for any reason at all. For more information about the Board, visit For the most up-to-date information, sign up for our newsletters from our commissioner pages, which can also be found on the website.

Commissioners Charlie Cavell (District 18) and Yolanda Charles (District 17)

HELLO, THIS IS REGINA WEISS, YOUR STATE REPRESENTATIVE. I am a proud resident of Oak Park, and I serve the communities of Berkley, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Oak Park, Pleasant Ridge, and Royal Oak Township in the State House.

I was elected to serve in 2020 and am a member of the House Appropriations Committee. I have been enjoying working for you in Lansing over the past year. Before I was elected, I was a teacher in the Detroit Public Schools system, and a member of the Oak Park City Council.

This year in Lansing, I have been fighting for the people of Oak Park to ensure that your needs are being met. One of my main priorities when advocating for you was securing the necessary funds in the 2022 fiscal year state budget to support public safety, community health, infrastructure, and parks and recreation projects. I voted yes on our budget that did this and much more.

Some of the budget highlights include an allocation of $15 million dollars for lead removal and home repair grants and approximately $2.7 billion in federal supplemental relief funds, including mortgage assistance and home repairs. In addition, there was a five percent increase in higher education and community college operations payments, and the Michigan Reconnect & Futures for Frontliners tuition scholarship programs were fully funded to create opportunities for Michiganders seeking educational advancement. I passionately believe that investing in these programs will benefit all members of our community.

As Minority Vice Chair of the School Aid & Department of Education Subcommittee on Appropriations, I was particularly proud of the K-12 budget that we passed for fiscal year 2022. This budget was historic in many ways it marked the most funding ever allocated for teachers and students in our state’s history and closed the funding gap for the first time ever. The budget also included a large expansion of the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP), ensuring that all eligible four-year-olds can attend a pre-K program, and increased the funding per-pupil for GSRP to match K-12 at $8,700 per-pupil for the first time.

FOR OUR DISTRICT SPECIFICALLY, I was able to secure funding for Kids Kicking Cancer, a student healing-and-wellness initiative piloted in Oak Park Public Schools. This program will significantly help our children and give them the resources needed to be successful in their everyday lives. I also secured grant funding for the Royal Oak Township Recreation Center.

Another project I have been working on in Lansing is House Bill 5270, which provides districts who have experienced declining enrollment with funding to stabilize their budgets. Many schools have struggled to get kids back in the classroom since the pandemic started, and this has caused less funding to go to those schools, leading to budgetary and staffing uncertainties.

I hope that as an increased number of people are vaccinated and other safety measures are followed, students and parents will feel more comfortable coming back to the classroom. I believe our students are more successful when learning in-person. As a teacher who taught through the pandemic, I did my best and so did my students, but the hours of Zoom instruction do not compare to having students in classrooms. I will make sure to continue fighting for the passage of this bill to ensure schools have the resources needed throughout the duration of the pandemic.

As always, I will continue fighting for you in Lansing. My office phone number is 517-373-0478 and my email is Please reach out to my office with any thoughts you have on legislation or any issues that come up.