State of the State and community awards

Leadership Award winners CJ Carnacchio, left and Peter Scholz, right.  Photo by D. Rush

Carnacchio and Scholz recognized

By Don Rush

About 100 people attended Oxford Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual State of the Community and Community Awards breakfast March 8, at Independence Village of Oxford. Those in attendance heard special guests Joe Madore (Oxford Village Manager), Jack Curtis (Oxford Township Supervisor), Isaac Wolf and Brian Becker (from Oakland County) and watched two community members, CJ Carannachio and Pete Scholz receive Leadership Awards.

After opening remarks from the chamber’s Executive Director Amy Desotell, Sarah Umscheid and President Jeff Roe, Village Manager Madore told the audience of what’s happening in Oxford Village.

Oxford Chamber Executive Director Amy Desotell

The first time I came here was in 2019,” he said. “And on everyone’s mind was the M-24 project. We were all trying to wrap our heads around that and how it would affect businesses, the downtown. Once that project was over, we were all happy with how great it turned out. But, none of us saw what was coming down the pike in 2020 with the pandemic and then in 2021, the tragedy. It’s amazing how life changes in the course of a few years.

And, here we are. Hopefully 2023 will continue to be a great year. You probably saw in the Oxford Leader about our plans for the old fire hall. The council wants to bring it back up to snuff. It’s a very valuable resource to the community. The Polly Ann Trail uses it, the DDA uses it. The Chamber uses it. The police department uses it and last fall the group Oxford Open-Handed, a 503-C non profit that gathers clothes for families in need utilizes it. A few years ago, there was talk about redoing our parking lot and getting rid of that building. I don’t think that was the best plan. Our plan now is to redo that parking lot, leave the building in place and getting it back up to snuff, sooner rather than later.

Oxford Village Manager Joe Madore

“I mentioned the parking lot, we are going to do it in the next couple of years at a cost of about $800,000, so we’re going to spread it out over a couple of years. I am looking forward to not having the worst parking lot in town! Give us a little time and we’ll get there.”

He reported the village hopes to complete crosswalks on Pontiac Street by Oxford Elementary and another on W. Burdick Street by Pleasant, “before the start of the new school year in the fall.”

He said the village is applying for grant monies from Oakland County which will help fund constructing a new pavilion for Scripter Park, as well as repair the retaining wall there. He also said there will be work in both the northeast and southeast parking quads this year.

Jack Curtis, from Oxford Township was next to speak. His theme was a “township in transition.” He noted this year the fire department hired a new fire chief, Matt Majestic and new assistant fire chief Randy Vesper. He said the fire department had 2,250 calls for service in 2022. He said this past year the Oxford Parks and Recreation had a new director for the first time in 26 years, Phil Castonia.

Oxford is served by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office,” Curtis said. “And, in 2022 we received a new detective sergeant, Ric Mezza. He’s really a great guy. His children attend school in our community, he’s a member of our community and he knows our community, he works for Lt. Scott Patterson. These guys are really approachable. Under their leadership, they had a 79.6 percent clearance rate. That’s the highest of the county’s 12 substations. Of the 231 criminal cases handled by the substation, 184 were closed.

Oxford Township Supervisor Jack Curtis

Oxford Township is preparing to install 6,500 feet of sanitary sewer pipe along the east side of M-24, from Gateway up to Dunlap Road. This will be paid for by the landowners through a Special Assessment District, and it will bring the 18-inch line in.”

He said the reason the township is doing that project was to protect the local environment and to spur economic growth for the northern corridor, “by creating jobs from industrial and commercial properties north of town.”

He reported the township is also adding 2,500 feet of 16-inch water main to loop M-24 to the main which ends at E. Drahner Road.

Oxford is a growing community, in 2022 Oxford had 1,822 building permits issued,” he said. “Not all were for new homes, there were roughly 50 new homes, but what we’re seeing is Oxford residents are making huge investments in their residences. We’re growing and growing and growing. We are now over one billion dollars in assessed value on homes and businesses in Oxford Township and it’s increasing daily.”

He also noted the township is still trying to convince the state to allow a hospital to be built in Oxford and the township is moving forward with having just one waste hauler. He said the township’s Communications and Grant Manager CJ Carnacchio was able to garner over $677,000 in grants and donations in 2022 for township projects.

He ended his comments with, “I want to work closely with the village and the schools and DDA and the Chamber. We’re all one community. Not just the village or the township. We are all one community, the 48371 community. That’s our ZIP code, whether you’re in the village or the township.”

Next Isaac Wolf and Brian Becker from Oakland County’s economic development office told the audience of what to expect this year in regards to inflation and how the county can help small businesses.

Chamber Board Trustee Teri Stiles, station manager for Oxford Community Television presented one of two Leadership awards at the breakfast. She presented Carnacchio with his award stating, “He tenacious defender of the people, his neighbors . . . the speaker of harsh truth” and “a champion for our students.”

Chamber Board Secretary Aaron Drenikowski, of NES Plumbing Heating & Cooling, presented retired Oxford Fire Chief Pete Scholz with the other Leadership Award, stating, “He lives, breathes and cares for this community more than anyone I’ve ever known.”

Isaac Wolf, right, and Brian Becker from Oakland County’s economic development office


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