COVID-19 Update: $8.6M Oakman Blvd. Stormwater Project Nears Completion, Detroit Zoological Society Honored for Environmental Impact, and More

Here is a roundup of the latest news concerning the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to announcements from local, state, and federal governments, as well as international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
graph of Michigan coronavirus cases
Courtesy of Bridge

Here is a roundup of the latest news concerning the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to announcements from local, state, and federal governments, as well as international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

$8.6M Oakman Blvd. Stormwater Project Nears Completion
The $8.6-million Detroit Water and Sewerage Department green stormwater infrastructure project on Oakman Boulevard to reduce neighborhood flooding and basement backups is nearing completion ahead of schedule despite a two-month delayed start due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project in the Aviation Subdivision on the city’s west side is transforming the medians on nearly one mile of Oakman between Joy Road and Tireman Avenue into bioretention gardens to capture millions of gallons of stormwater annually that otherwise would flow into storm sewers and potentially back up into area basements.

Although it is not near the river, the Aviation neighborhood has experienced significant street flooding and basement backups – most notably during rainstorms in 2014 and 2016. Mayor Mike Duggan and other city officials made a commitment to the residents that the city would take measures to help protect their homes.

“Today, we are nearing completion on that project, which can be a model for others like it,” says Duggan. “I’m especially proud of the fact that this is an example of Detroiters rebuilding Detroit, with a black-owned, Detroit-based business as the prime contractor, which has nearly 50 Detroit residents working on this project.”

The Oakman project has been designed to take advantage of the medians on the boulevard between Joy and Tireman to manage 37.3 million gallons of stormwater annually.

Bioretention features look similar to rain gardens on the surface, but underneath are designed and engineered to slowly soak up stormwater. DWSD has and is installing underground boxed-shaped chambers beneath eight of the bioretention areas in the median to temporarily store stormwater and slowly release it to the combined sewer system. In some locations, DWSD is re-routing catch basin connections to the combined sewer lines to new storm sewer pipes that will flow into the GSI practices in the Oakman Boulevard median.

To view maps of and videos about DWSD projects, visit here and here.

Detroit Zoological Society Honored for Environmental Impact
The Detroit Zoological Society has been recognized by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums with the its 2020 Environmental Sustainability Award.

“We are so appreciative of this wonderful recognition by our peers,” says Ron Kagan, executive director and CEO for the Detroit Zoological Society. “The entire organization has committed to this journey toward environmental sustainability.”

The Greenprint Program is at the heart of the DZS’s efforts; a sustainability roadmap that invites organizations and individuals to actively help the planet.

“The DZS strives to be a green leader and uses Greenprint to refine and improve facilities, business practices and educational initiatives,” says Rachel Handbury, manager of sustainability for the Detroit Zoological Society.

The discontinuation of single-use water bottle sales at the Detroit Zoo in 2015 is just one of the many major sustainability initiatives led by the Detroit Zoological Society. This effort has kept more than 60,000 plastic bottles out of the waste stream annually.

To further reduce waste, the DZS built an anaerobic digester in 2016 to compost 1 million pounds of manure and food waste annually. Every year, the digester allows the organization to divert more than 500 tons of animal manure, bedding, and food waste away from landfills, instead creating nutrient-rich compost and renewable energy.

“From community cleanup projects to recycling programs to green education events, helping people understand and care about the planet is at the forefront of our efforts,” says Kagan. “We’re always looking for ways to involve the community and inspire them to join us on this green journey.”

Officials Break Ground on Osi Art Apartments in Woodbridge
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and other officials today broke ground on a new mixed-use project designed to bring affordable and market-rate housing to the city’s Woodbridge neighborhood.

The development is the first to tap the mayor’s new $48 million Detroit Housing for the Future Fund that bridges the financing gap on affordable housing projects in the city.

The Osi Art Apartments @ West End will rise at 3820 Grand River Ave., just west of Trumbull Avenue. Half of its 30 units will be designated as affordable housing for those residents making 80 percent of the area median income. The four-story building will feature three studio, 25 one-bedroom and two two-bedroom apartments. The 25,000-square-foot development also will feature more than 5,000 square feet of rentable commercial space. It is slated for completion in early 2022.

“The Osi Apartments is not only the first new building in the West End Gallery District, but a visually striking gateway that will welcome residents and visitors to what will soon become a local and regional destination,” says developer George N’Namdi said. “This project highlights Detroit’s artistic jewels that have always existed throughout the city. Our development acknowledges the rich art and cultural history, bright future and entrepreneurial culture of the city.”

Duggan says, “Just two weeks ago, we launched the Detroit Housing for the Future Fund, and today we’re already celebrating the first project to take advantage of this unprecedented commitment from our generous financial partners. The fund is already doing much of what we had hoped it would: bringing affordable housing to desirable neighborhoods and helping developers of color close the funding gap that previously made such projects unattainable.”

The building was designed by Quinn Evans and VolumeOne Design Studio. Lewand Building is the general contractor.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Lowers Medicare Rates, Offers New $0 Premium Plans
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan in Detroit says it will provide more value for Medicare members in 2021 with lower rates, new $0 premium HMO-POS and PPO options, and a variety of no-cost benefits including medical and behavioral telehealth visits for the 2021 annual enrollment period.

Premiums for many of Blue Cross and Blue Care Network’s 10 available Medicare Advantage plans will be maintained or reduced and feature expanded benefits to meet the needs of all eligible members.

For the first time, the Blue Essential PPO plan will be offered at a $0 premium in most counties statewide and includes a $0 medical deductible and $0 in-network primary care doctor visits. Features include supplemental benefits including preventive dental services and routine hearing and vision coverage.

Blue Cross also is introducing a new benefit program, “Advantage Dollars,” which offers members in select plans an allowance they can spend on over-the-counter supplies for health and hygiene, in addition to healthy foods. Members can use their Advantage Dollars card to purchase eligible products at over 1,600 retail locations in Michigan alone.

“We at Blue Cross understand there’s been a lot of uncertainty and concern this year for seniors regarding their health and safety amid the pandemic, but reliable, affordable coverage options shouldn’t be one more thing for them to worry about,” says Krischa Winright, executive vice president of senior health services at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “We’re confident the new plans and extensive benefit enhancements for 2021 enrollment will provide even more value for our members while continuing to deliver the high quality and broad access to care that’s expected from Blue Cross.”

For more information, visit here or call 1-888-563-3307 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Mopar Introduces New Factory-backed Trailer Brake Controller for Jeep Gladiator
Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s Mopar parts and customer-care brand, says it is enhancing the towing experience of the Jeep Gladiator with the release of a new trailer brake controller.

The new Mopar trailer brake controller will give Gladiator owners the ability to activate the electronic brakes on properly equipped trailers. Independent from the truck’s brakes, the additional trailer brake control allows for greater stopping power when needed, such as on downhill grades, while helping to minimize wear and tear on both the trailer and vehicle. The amount of brake force on the trailer may be customized depending on load requirements.

“At Mopar, we continue to expand our comprehensive Jeep portfolio, which includes more than 500 factory-backed, quality-tested parts and accessories,” says Mark Bosanac, head of Mopar service, parts, and customer care at FCA. “Our new trailer brake controller improves Jeep Gladiator’s braking efficiency and maximizes safety when towing.”

The new trailer brake controller is easily integrated into the Jeep Gladiator’s instrument panel. Installed in front of the transmission shift lever, the round controller knob provides a consistent look and feel with the vehicle’s interior. The new controller may also be retrofitted into Jeep Gladiators that are already on the road.

Available for purchase as a stand-alone part in the U.S. and Canada, the new Mopar trailer brake controller has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $299. The standard Mopar factory-backed warranty coverage includes two years/unlimited miles from date of purchase or up to the remainder of the new-vehicle’s warranty of three years/36,000 miles.

Air Lift Co. Releases New Kits for 2020 Ford F-250 and F-350 Models
Lansing-based aftermarket air suspension manufacturer Air Lift Co. has expanded its line of products available for the 2020 Ford F-250 and F-350 four-wheel-drive models, debuting six new kits specifically designed for single-rear-wheel models.

Air Lift air springs are designed to work with the vehicle’s existing suspension to eliminate squat, poor headlight aim, unresponsive steering, body roll, and bottoming out, which properly levels the vehicle, allowing users to tow and haul with safety and comfort.

The entire LoadLifter Series and new Air Lift ProSeries product lines now are available for 2020 F-250/350 single-rear-wheel models.

For more information, visit here.

Salvation Army Names Former Lion Herman Moore Red Kettle Campaign Chairperson
The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit has named former Detroit Lions wide receiver Herman Moore as the nonprofit’s 2020 Red Kettle Campaign corporate chairperson.

Moore – president and CEO of Team 84 and president of the Herman Moore Tackle Life Foundation, a Michigan-based nonprofit committed to preparing adolescents for the future – will act as the Salvation Army’s public face for the campaign by raising awareness and encouraging the public to Rescue Christmas and reach the $8 million Red Kettle fundraising goal.

“I am honored to be working alongside The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit during the 2020 Red Kettle Campaign,” says Moore. “I’ve spent so much of my life in Detroit, and I’ve experienced firsthand the generosity of our community. I also know how great the need is for our most vulnerable citizens, and The Salvation Army is always there to support anyone who needs it.

“My team and I are excited to partner with The Salvation Army to help Rescue Christmas. In a year filled with uncertainty, it’s our goal to make sure metro Detroiters know they can always turn to The Salvation Army.”

Moore is playing a critical role in The Salvation Army’s virtual fundraising efforts this year as well. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers and supporters can virtually bell ring or choose to host a virtual Red Kettle, and Moore is leading that effort by hosting his own virtual kettle and encouraging the community to do the same. Salvation Army advocates can support Moore’s virtual kettle or create their own by visiting here.

Individuals can contribute to The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit’s Red Kettle Campaign by:

  • Texting GIFT to 24365.
  • Visiting
  • Calling 877-SAL-MICH.
  • Sending a check, made payable to The Salvation Army, to; 16130 Northland Dr., Southfield, MI 48075.

The 104-day fundraising campaign began on Sept. 14 and concludes on Jan. 31, 2021.

Grand Rapids’ ShowSpan and EventsPass Enter Long-term Partnership
EventsPass of Tacoma, Wash. has signed a multi-year agreement to be the ticketing partner for ShowSpan, a Michigan-based consumer show organizer based in Grand Rapids.

EventsPass will provide contactless visitor ticketing and registration services to all ShowSpan events, as well as offering LeadGen, the real-time lead data capture tool, to exhibitors at select expos.

The EventsPass platform and tools were introduced to the U.S. events market in early 2020, expanding its reach in March with the ShowSpan’s West Michigan Home and Garden Show and Lansing Home and Garden Show, the second of which was cancelled on opening day due to COVID-19.

“EventsPass technology offers us and our vendors and sponsors results that we have never been able to see before,” said Mike Wilbraham, vice president and show producer at ShowSpan. “Not only that, but the service and support offered by the team at EventsPass was second to none, and we cannot wait to have them on site with us in the coming years.”

Under the partnership, EventsPass will provide ShowSpan with:

  • Flexible and contactless online ticketing, utilizing promo codes and real-time reporting to drive higher sales volumes and insights.
  • CheckIn, the EventsPass app to scan and validate tickets at entry and to secure specific show areas based on ticket types.
  • LeadGen, an on-site data-capture system that is fully integrated with EventsPass ticketing, driving more data to organizers, exhibitors, and sponsors.
  • Automated communications, sending emails or SMS to visitors based on their behavior and needs.

DAV, RecruitMilitary to Host Virtual Veteran Career Fair for Detroit Oct. 22
DAV (Disabled American Veterans) and RecruitMilitary will co-host the Detroit Veterans Virtual Career Fair Oct. 22 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The event is free to veterans, their spouses, active-duty military personnel, and members of the National Guard and Reserve.

“Whether you’re transitioning out of the military and looking for a new career or you’ve been out of the military and are looking for something new, it’s always a very daunting and stressful task,” says Jeff Hall, national employment director at DAV. “This mission is made much, much more difficult in the face of a national pandemic.”

Employers who are actively seeking the talents of America’s veterans will be representing a range of industries, from construction to medical to administrative and logistics, with career opportunities from entry level to senior management. DAV benefits advocates will be available during the event to answer questions and assist veterans who may have service-connected disabilities that could make them eligible for compensation through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

To register for the Detroit All Veterans Virtual Career Fair and access additional no-cost resources for veterans and their families, visit here.