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Downtown heritage attracts conference



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Oakland County Development and Community Affairs held its 16th Annual Heritage Conference In Clarkston. Bret Rasegan, planning supervisor for Oakland County spoke with attendees at the Clarkston Union. Photo by A.Beaudoin (click for larger version)
September 18, 2013 - Community leaders from throughout Oakland County converged on Clarkston, Sept. 13, to learn from the city's downtown success.

"Downtown Clarkston is a great place," said Bret Rasegan, Oakland County planning supervisor. "The community is what we feel is important to maintain quality of life in Oakland County."

Rasegan said Clarkston was chosen for the Oakland County Heritage Conference on Managing Success due to its great downtown area.

Longtime Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson kicked off the 16th annual event and welcomed visitors to Clarkston after registration and a continental breakfast at The Clarkston Union.

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After breakfast, several speakers took to the podium to address attendees including Scott Day from Urban Development Services who gave a keynote speech called "Too Successful to Succeed."

City Manager Carol Eberhardt also addressed a room full of participates at the Clarkston Union and spoke about what makes Clarkston successful.

"I'd guess you'd say out history. Perhaps it's our architecture, our streets of beautifully maintained homes and downtown shopping district. Add to the mix our Mill Pond and park, the gardens the planters. Visually we are beautiful."

"Literally 100's of volunteers work year-round to ensure the quality of life is vital and thriving," said Eberhardt.

Several educational and informative sessions and tours took place throughout the day.

Sessions included managing traffic congestion, trout streams in southern Michigan, Woodward Dream Cruise, and Flint Farmers Market.

Before a noon lunch at the Clarkston Woodshop, visitors chose between a haunted history tour of Clarkston or learning about the many historic buildings in the community.

Cara Catallo of the Clarkston's Historic District Commission spoke about several downtown buildings included in the tour. One of those buildings included the Union, which was the oldest church building in town.

It always brought the community together, and that's why the restaurant and bar it is now is called "The Union," said Catallo.

Attendee Bruce Parkinson from the Oakland Township Historic District Commission said he came to the conference to learn how he can create a sense of place in his community.

"I also came to look for new ideas and to help bring people into the community," he said.

Elizabeth Iszler, who works as design manager for Wayne County Parks, said she was interested in the historic topics featured during the conference. "I am also hoping to learn how to attract people," said Iszler.

An "Afterglow" party after the conference, catered by Essence on Main, was at Clarkston Mayor Joe Luginski's house.

The event was sponsored by the Oakland County Historical Commission, Clarkston Community Historical Society, Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce, Essence on Main and Oakland County Economic Development and Community Affairs.

Staff writer
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