Building for our Little-Big Downtown

As construction occurs downtown we optimistically look forward to what lies on the other side of the dirt, dust, noise, and inconvenience that is associated with these kinds of projects. As I’m sure most of you know at this point, the construction in our downtown was necessary to replace and upsize an aging water main, and to remove and replace the deteriorated road surface throughout our downtown. When completed, we will have a narrower road section on Auburn Road between South Squirrel and North Squirrel Road which will create a more appropriate downtown environment.

In addition, we will also be installing a functional roundabout at the current faux traffic circle at the intersection of N. Squirrel and Squirrel Court. Lastly, we just completed the ground breaking for our new amphitheater and splash pad in Riverside Park which is scheduled to be completed this fall. Additional details regarding these projects can be found at our Department of Public Works page.

In conjunction with our projects, there are also a lot of private investments that are scheduled to happen in our downtown this year.

  • Midwest Innovation Lofts (The MiL)– a four-story 25,243 square foot mixed-use building on a 0.16 acre parcel located at the southeast corner of S. Squirrel and Auburn
  • Riverside Townes Condominiums– 14 townhouse units on a 1.08 acre site located at 3321 Squirrel Court, just east of Riverside Park
  • Residences at Thirty-Two 50– a four-story mixed-use building on the southwest corner of S. Squirrel and Auburn
  • Primary Place– six new townhome buildings on the southwest corner of Primary Street and Grey Road.

As we move into the future I couldn’t help but think of some of the downtown businesses of yesteryear. I still remember the Bowling Alley, Patrick’s (before the fire), Pontiac State Bank, and the True Value Hardware to name a few. However, if I had to pick a favorite, I’d pick Tony’s Donuts!

As you can tell there is a lot happening in our downtown this year, so we ask for your patience as we remember the past and build our future.

Anyone else have fond memories of our little downtown?


Downtown Auburn Hills
Downtown Auburn Hills in the early 1980s


Don Grice, Assistant City Manager of Auburn Hills

Building for our Little-Big Downtown

The Men behind the Auburn Hills Sign

Here in Auburn Hills, the Department of Public Works (DPW) is made up of just over 40 full-time positions, 4 part-time positions, and 20 seasonal positions. Core services provided include management and maintenance of fleet, water and sewer, municipal properties, public utilities, and roads.

In honor of National Public Works week, we sat down with few of our DPW staff to learn more about what they do, as well as, learn about the work that went into the development of the new Auburn Hills sign.

Amidst all of the construction happening in our city, you may have noticed a new charcoal brick sign sporting our new Auburn Hills logo on Hamlin Road. While a sign may not seem like a big deal, it has been quite a journey with the development of it and many of us would have not thought that would have fallen under the wheel house of public works. This sketch idea on a paper napkin was brought to life by a team of amazing people. Below we share a little about the men behind the Auburn Hills sign.

Steven DeVos, your Friendly Neighborhood Electrician
Steven maintains all of the electrical here in the city. He oversees 35 buildings and around 900 street lights. Everything that uses electricity within the city, Steven and his trusty side-kick, Terry, handles. From fallen down light poles to handling the electrical communications, it’s done by them. When things fail, they are the first to respond. Steven shared that he actually got into this line of work by accident but has enjoyed being able to work with his hands, be outside, and that each day is different from the next. He was brought in to the new sign project to work with Don Grice, our Assistant City Manager, to conceptualize the design and different ways we could have it illuminated as residents drove by. He shared with us that their goal is to have 4 out of the 5 new signs be solar powered at the end of the project.

Terry Barnett, the Jack of All Trades
Father of a custom home building contractor, Terry started working for the city in grounds maintenance and has worked his way up to electrical work as Steven’s apprentice. He is currently finishing up online electrical school at Penn Foster College. “I like being able to create something,” Barnett said. He shared that whether it was concrete, masonry, carpentry, or electrical work, he wanted to work with his hands. Prior to working with the city, he worked in the private sector until his brother-in-law Tim, who also works for DPW, influenced him to come work with the city. Some of Terry’s work can be seen around the city such as, the Arrowhead Grill sign, the wall of the DPW conference room, and now the crisp, clean brick laid down for the new Auburn Hills sign.

Tim Wisser, Facilities Crew Leader
Known as “the man who wears a superhero cape” by his DPW buddies, Tim has been with the city for about 11 years. Similar to Steven, Tim handles and maintains the cities 35 buildings. Work can range from moving office equipment to updating roofing, and much more. Anything you need done, Tim’s on it. While this goes for all of our DPW staff, it holds very true for Tim. “What’s most important to me is serving others and being able to leave my mark on the community,” Tim said. With the Auburn Hills sign project, he handled the painting of the stone pieces.

Dave Slater, Road Supervisor
A veteran at DPW, Dave has been with the city for about 23 years. He started out at the Fire Department in 1991 and while there, started working with public works because he enjoyed the variety of things he could do while also serving the public. He currently maintains 180 lane miles within Auburn Hills. From pot holes, snow removal, patch filling, street sweeping, and traffic control, Dave manages. He also maintains around 3,000 sign posts in the city which includes reflective testing. His influence with the sign starts at the beginning. Dave worked closely with Don to understand the look and feel of the sign, as well as the material to create it.

Jason Beckman, Sign Master/ “Liquid Chef” or Chemist
Another veteran at DPW, Jason started with the city 22 years ago at the Fire Department and in custodial work. From there, he worked on roads, grounds maintenance, and fleet. Now he holds two very popular titles: The “Liquid Chef” or Chemist for making the paint for roads and parking lots, and the Sign Master where he makes any unique sign a department may need. Jason also worked on the new sign concepts, specifically the aluminum outline of the “AH”.


This was a huge team effort and a lot of work went into what looks to be an ordinary sign (approximately 105 hours). We are very grateful to have a team that is passionate about the work that they do and we at the city want to celebrate their incredible work.

Want to learn more about what our Department of Public Works does? Subscribe to Inside Auburn Hills to follow our DPW series!



Torri Mathes, Media Communications Specialist

The Men behind the Auburn Hills Sign

Adult Daycare Center gives their residents a purpose

Earlier this week, Mayor McDaniel attended a painting project at The Quality of Life Adult Daycare Center in Auburn Hills which works with seniors who have experienced a stroke or have some form of dementia and cannot be left alone during the day.

We were introduced to Jacquelyn K. Smiertka, R.N. and Owner of The Quality of Life Adult Daycare Center to work with the seniors on their latest project, as well as learn more about the facilty and the services they offer for those in need. From the moment you walk in, Jackie brings an upbeat and sprightly presence which permeates down to the staff and daycare residents.

This energy has created what Smiertka calls a Working Model at the daycare. She expressed that the best lesson she ever learned was from her very first participant who made her realize, “Everyone needs a purpose and everyone needs to be needed no matter what stage of life they are in.”

From that day on, she established the Our Hope Projects where all the participants at the daycare have painting projects they work on. Once finished, the projects are donated to a variety of charities such as, the American Heart Association or Juvenile Diabetes. This year and in partnership with the Auburn Hills Costco location, they will be selling approximately 200 birdhouses for Mother’s Day at a $5 minimum. All proceeds will go to the Children’s Miracle Network.


Smiertka also shared with us that the daycare was focused on not only assisting the patients that come in, but their families and caregivers as well. The facility provides activities and amenities for seniors that keep them active, and gives them access to certain medical services such as podiatry, internal medicine, physical therapy, and more. Smiertka explained that by being able to provide both supervisional programs and medical services, it truly puts the caregivers mind at ease about their loved ones.


You can check out more photos of the seniors and their work here on our Auburn Hills Flickr page.

For more information about The Quality of Life Center Adult Day Health Care, give them a call at: 248.364.4064 or visit:

Torri Mathes, Media Communications Specialist

Adult Daycare Center gives their residents a purpose

A Month Full of Giving

The City of Auburn Hills and Rochester Neighborhood House partnered together to host a community food drive for our sponsor the Auburn Hills Food Cupboard. Throughout the month of April, each of the city’s buildings on campus had a collection box where our staff and citizens could drop off any canned or dry goods. In total, we as a community were able to collect a total of 727 pounds of food!


In addition to the food drive, and thanks to an anonymous donor, we were also able to deliver over 300 cases of household and personal care items to the food pantry at the Neighborhood House. This included items such as, laundry soap, dish soap, cleanser, and much more.


All of these donations are given back to our residents and the surrounding communities in need that are served by Neighborhood House. We would like to thank all those that have donated.


Torri Mathes, Media Communications Specialist

A Month Full of Giving

Auburn Hills residents receive the 2018 Governor’s Service Award

Two Auburn Hills residents have received the 2018 Governor’s Service Award. On June 5th, a special ceremony will be hosted by the Community Service Commission for both Doris McCutcheon and Lee Ellen Kerr. They will be receiving an award for their outstanding community service.

Doris McCutcheon, Senior Volunteer of the Year
Photo Credit: Michigan Community Service Commission

Doris McCutcheon was named Senior Volunteer of the Year. She has spent more than 50 years helping young women reach their potential. Doris started a nonprofit program called Girls First. This program emphasizes the importance of young girls taking care of themselves and prepares them for many life experiences they might face.


Lee Ellen Kerr, Mentor of the Year Photo Credit: Michigan Community Service Commission

Lee Ellen Kerr was named Mentor of the Year. She has mentored over 20 young women and has helped them identify a path for their future. Kerr has helped these young women create a five year plan for college and a career path for success. She also created the GLAD program at DOW Automotive. This program provides training for allies as they support the LGBTQ community at DOW.

We are proud to have these outstanding women a part of our Auburn Hills Community.



Alanna Weber, Executive Assistant to the City Manager

Auburn Hills residents receive the 2018 Governor’s Service Award

Auburn Hills Chamber of Commerce “Drop the Mic” Charity Lip Sync Battle

It was Tuesday evening at Meadow Brook Theatre and as the spotlight turned on, so did nine acts at the Chamber’s first Drop the Mic Charity Lip Sync Battle.


IMG_9457_1Each team competed on behalf of a charity in hopes that they could deliver a performance that would wow the audience and the judges in order to bring home a win and a check for their charity.  The teams were made up of representatives sponsored by various companies or educational institutions and included:  Oakland University, Genisys Credit Union, Baker College of Auburn Hills, Lucerne International, Inc., American House, Great Lakes Crossing Outlets, Gardner-White, Faurecia North America, and Mahindra Automotive.


Local celebrity judges carefully evaluated each performance in four categories: Lip Sync Abilities, Appearance & Stage Presence, Overall Creativity, and Crowd Appeal/Audience Response.  With all of the judges votes tallied, the top prize went to Shoppertainers of Great Lakes Crossing Outlets, who received a check in the amount of $1,750 for their selected charity, the Boys & Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan.  Each and every act was fun to watch and applause goes out to all of them for getting up on stage and performing their best for a great cause.


Shoppertainers of Great Lakes Crossing Outlet hold their first place check!


From left to right: Cheryl Marshall, Managing Director, Meadow Brook Theatre Tom Tanghe, City Manager, City of Auburn Hills Aaron Smith, Manager, Fan Development / Pistons Academy Kevin McDaniel, Mayor, City of Auburn Hills Natalie Miramontes, Director, Detroit Pistons Dancers


Thomas A. Tanghe, City Manager

Auburn Hills Chamber of Commerce “Drop the Mic” Charity Lip Sync Battle

Earth Week Celebration

We had quite the week outdoors here at the City of Auburn Hills. In honor of Earth day and week, Hawk Woods Nature Center offered a slew of events to celebrate nature and just being outside.

IMG_2611Mike Mansour, the City of Auburn Hills Parks & Recreation Naturalist, worked with Will Rogers Elementary School students, Ronald Brown Academy middle school students, and the Boy Scouts to plant over 300 flower bulbs along with tree plantings at the Nature Center.

In addition to the plantings, students had the opportunity to learn about native Michigan animals and other types of wildlife such as, snakes, lizards, and tarantulas. Students also ventured through Hawk Woods many trails to learn about Michigan’s forest scenery and to enjoy the fresh air. For lunch, kids were able to hang out at the Lodge around a campfire.


Our  Parks & Recreation team also commemorated Earth Week by producing our 19th Annual Arbor Day Celebration and worked with Will Rogers Elementary 5th grade students in planting a Red Point Maple tree right in front of the school.

The City of Auburn Hills is a proud member of the Tree City USA community since 1999.


Brian Marzolf, Parks & Recreation Director
Torri Mathes, Media Communication Specialist

Earth Week Celebration