Thursday, January 21, 2021

Wayne County distributes 3.5 million free masks

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is distributing 3.5 million free masks as part of the state Mask Up, Mask Right campaign. 

Free KN95 masks provided by MDHHS will be distributed by community organizations, including local MDHSS offices, health departments and Area Agency on Aging offices.

“We are urging Michiganders to Mask Up and Mask Right to protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities from COVID-19,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “Wearing the right kind of mask is important. Distribution of effective masks will help more Michiganders limit the spread of COVID to save lives and get back to normal sooner.”

Sweet surprise

Ice Festival set to return Feb. 12-14

The Plymouth Ice Festival this year will
 not feature the large sculptures in Kellogg Park.
Better late than never is the attitude in the City of Plymouth as plans for a scaled-down ice festival set for Feb. 12 through 14 were presented to the city commission for approval this week.

James Gietzen, owner of JAG Entertainment, which produces the annual event, said the event would be markedly different this year, but still an attraction sure to draw crowds into the city. Gietzen said the 39th annual event would include smaller ice sculptures set in front of local businesses and throughout downtown while the larger ice carvings usually installed in Kellogg Park would be absent this year. Gietzen said the changes were necessary due to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.

Plymouth Canton in-class learning may return March 1

After nearly a year of online and virtual learning, students in the Plymouth Canton Community Schools are expected to return to classrooms by March 1.

District officials presented a plan during a meeting last week which would return students to school buildings while maintaining strict COVID-19 safety practices including the wearing of masks and social distancing. The plan was announced by Superintendent of Schools Monica Merritt during a regular meeting of the members of the board of education.  

"We know that distance learning does not work for all of our kids,"  Merritt said. “There truly are students who are struggling to thrive during this pandemic while learning remotely. We've been working on agreed-upon ways to get them back into the schools as safely as possible.”

Staff wage increases receive OK from board of trustees

Julie Brown, Special Writer

Part-time, variable, and seasonal Canton Township employees have gained step pay hikes, effective Jan. 1 of this year, following a unanimous vote Jan. 12 of the Canton Township Board of Trustees.

The seasonal employees will receive step raises when and if they return to work in 2021, noted Township Clerk Michael Siegrist. Some eligibility will be based on total hours worked in 2020. The pay hike is 50 cents per hour for the employees.

Members of the Canton Board of Trustees also unanimously approved on Dec. 7 a 2.5 percent pay raise for merit non-union full-time employees, along with elected township officials.

Father is charged in boy’s shooting death

Nicholas A. Bennett
A Canton Township father has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of his 8-year-old son.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has charged Nicholas A. Bennett, 33, in connection with the fatal shooting of his son at their Canton mobile home on Dec. 15.  

Police were called to the home located in the 41020 block of Old Michigan Avenue at about 3:54 p.m. Dec. 15. According to police reports, Bennett was working on or cleaning a rifle when one round discharged and struck and killed his son who was with him in the room.

Forgotten harvest provides free food to area families

Van Buren Township and Forgotten Harvest (FH) will continue to host free pop-up food pantries every Tuesday from 2- 4:30 p.m., or while supplies last.

 Anyone in need can drive up to the distribution area outside of the Community Services entrance at Township Hall, 46425 Tyler Road. Volunteers will load fresh groceries into the vehicle of anyone in need.

 “We're really excited to be continuing the free food distribution partnership with Forgotten Harvest,” said Township Supervisor Kevin McNamara. “We know many of our residents and neighboring residents are in need of food and we hope this helps them during these challenging times.”

Amazon to refurbish former Spartan warehouse

The long-vacant Spartan warehouse and distribution center in Plymouth Township will soon become an Amazon facility.

The on-line retailer will convert the former grocery facility, located on Haggerty Road, across from the former Kmart center, into a sorting center. Amazon officials said there are plans to open five new such facilities in metro Detroit this year. The Plymouth Township center will sort and categorize smaller packages and is expected to begin operations this summer.

Remembering Dr. King


The Romulus Ministerial Alliance celebrated a community-wide march and vehicle procession on Monday to celebrate and remember the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The march began at Romulus Community Baptist Church and concluded at Pentecostal Baptist Church. Walkers remained at a  safe distance from others, while others remained in cars to help commemorate the accomplishments of Dr. King.

Northville officials mark School Board Recognition Month

Northville Public Schools is joining 544 local and 57 intermediate school districts across Michigan to celebrate January as School Board Recognition Month.  

“In a year full of challenges for public education not seen in recent history, our school board members persevered through the adversity of 2020, and have grappled with providing the best possible education for our students given the ongoing challenges of a global health crisis,” noted Superintendent of Northville Schools Mary Kay Gallagher in a prepared statement. “Celebrating School Board Recognition Month is one of the ways in which we can express appreciation for these dedicated public servants, who continue to devote hours of time to our district, students, families, staff and community, and who serve without monetary compensation,” she added.

30 township firefighters receive COVID-19 vaccinations

Thirty Northville Township firefighters received the first vaccination for COVID-19 in an effort expected to help control the disease and protect local residents. The firefighters are scheduled to receive the second dose this week, according to the township Facebook page.

The firefighters are in the Phase 1A designation of the vaccine rollout, set forth by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Phase 1A includes inoculating people serving in healthcare who have contact or indirect exposure to patients, as well as residents of long-term care facilities.

Special assignment

The Northville Township Police Department collaborated with Meijer, Northville Civic Concern and Northville Public Schools during the Hope for the Holidays initiative last month. The community donated more than $4,000 in gift cards to brighten the lives of those in need, according to a statement from the Northville Police Department. Officers delivered the gift cards, along with donations of food, hats and other winter items, to residents in need throughout the community to help brighten the holidays.

Garden Club members to meet

The Country Garden Club of Northville is offering free virtual attendance at upcoming monthly meetings in both February and March.

The business meeting will begin at 11 a.m. and the speakers are scheduled for 12:15. 

The Feb. 3 speaker is Chris Lapinski who will discuss “Mason Bees and Plants They are Attracted To”. Roy Prentice will speak on the “History and Gardening at Tollgate Farm” at the March 3 meeting.

Interested parties can attend these free virtual online presentations by contacting (734) 751-1156 or e-mail at BQSturtz@comcast.net.

Chick-fil-a opens next week

The highly anticipated opening of the new Chick-fil-A restaurant in Northville Township is set for Jan. 28, according to the company Principal Development Leader Justin Lurk.

The new location for the country-wide franchise is located at 20135 Haggerty Road according to comments from Lurk at a recent Livonia City Council Zoom meeting.

City now accepting applications for police force

The City of Westland is now accepting applications to join the police department.

The department recently exhausted the eligibility list from which new officers are hired. Department officials anticipate starting a new process this month to establish the next eligibility list and as part of the process, applicants will be required to take the written portion of their testing through EMPCO (http://empco.net/). 

Since testing dates could be limited due to the current health restrictions, officials are urging qualified candidates to take advantage of early registration to complete the testing in time to ensure a spot on the eligibility list. Officials urged potential candidates to meet all the requirements before paying for and taking the written test.  Applicants must be a citizen of the United States, not less than 21 years of age with a high school diploma or GED. Candidates must have a valid driver's license and be a graduate of a police academy and MCOLES certified (or certifiable at time of hire). Students at a law enforcement academy at time of application will be accepted. 

Wayne lieutenant celebrates graduation

Lt. Finley Carter
Wayne Police Lt. Finley Carter graduated from the 15th Michigan State University School of Staff and Command last week.

The MSU School of Staff and Command is a prestigious 10-week school for police executives that focuses on leadership, problem-based learning, and building partnerships with the community to respond to crime, according to the college website.  Being accepted into the program and successfully completing the rigorous course work is a significant accomplishment, police officials noted. In addition to successfully completing the program, Carter was selected by a vote of his peers to serve as president of the class. Carter addressed his classmates at graduation, encouraging them to tackle some of the tough issues facing policing today.

Teen could serve 15 years in prison for fatal shooting

The Wayne teen who shot and killed a youth last July has been sentenced to 2.5 to 15 years in prison following his guilty plea.

Robert Shoats, 19, told Third Circuit Court Judge Margaret Van Houten that he apologized for shooting “close friend”  Kaleb Parish and said that he prayed for the family every night. 

He entered a guilty plea in November to a single charge of manslaughter and a weapons charge. Four other homicide and weapons charges were dismissed.

Flying high

Blue Angels plane now

at Yankee Air Museum

The Blue Angels plane is delivered to the Yankee Air
Museum and unloaded from two heavy-duty trailers last week.
Last week, Yankee Air Museum officials welcomed a Blue Angel F/A-18C Hornet as the latest addition to the extensive historic aircraft collection at the museum. This particular jet was the lead aircraft for the Blue Angels in a performance at the Detroit 2017 Thunder Over Michigan air show  

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels have retired all of their F/A 18Cs and are now flying F/A-18E Super Hornets.  Yankee Air Museum is the last museum to receive a Blue Angel Legacy Hornet and it will be on static display indefinitely. 

Van Buren to mail masks to all township residents

Van Buren Township will spend $270,000 in hazard pay to reward the essential employees who worked the front-lines during the Corona virus pandemic.

In addition, the township will send protective face masks to every township resident in an effort to help curtail the spread of the virus which is at an all-time high across the country.

The decisions were made at the Dec. 15 meeting of the township board of trustees. 

COVID-19 vaccinations are urged for African Americans

N. Charles Anderson, president/CEO of the Detroit Urban League recently issued a statement regarding the concerns of many in the African American community regarding the Corona virus vaccine.

“When the corona virus first attacked us, African Americans were unwittingly at the front of the line of those disproportionately affected and more likely to be hospitalized and die as a result of complications. A focus on making testing available for the more affected populations and the consistent promotion of safety measures started making a dent in the disproportionate impacts being felt by people of color and saved many lives,” he said. 

“Now that there's a vaccine, questions are arising as to who's first in line and who is really going to take it. Clearly, health care workers are at the front of the line as they are hard at work providing care for those hospitalized as a result of complications from COVID-19. However, after that where will the other front-line workers appear on the list for vaccinations? Then the real question is how will the African American community respond to their opportunity to get the vaccine? 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Highway in the Sky plans start in Romulus

City of Romulus officials are among those crafting the future of an air-traffic route for drones as plans for the first highway for autonomous aircraft in the nation near completion.

The corridor, which could include sky taxis sometime in the future, will begin with a route between Ann Arbor and Detroit, is a concern of Aerotropolis Corporation leaders and aviation officials, along with Romulus Director of Fire Services and Emergency Management Chief Kevin Krause. While autonomous aircraft carrying passengers as well as freight may be in the future, the need for regulations, permissions and traffic management is being crafted now.

League of Women Voters condemns violence

Paula Bowman
Paula Bowman, president of the League of Women Voters (LWV) of Northwest Wayne County, is proud of the efforts or the organization to educate voters. Those include a print voter guide distributed last fall for the Nov. 3 general election along with the Vote411.org online site.

The Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol prompted the national League of Women voters to issue a statement specifically naming Donald Trump, an unusual move:

“Today the League of Women Voters of the United States president Dr. Deborah Turner, CEO Virginia Kase, and the full board of directors issued the following statement in response to the violent demonstrations at the U.S. Capitol:

“This is a dark day in the history of the United States of America. Today's activity on Capitol Hill should have been a procedural exercise to finalize the 2020 election. Instead, our nation's Capitol was attacked by domestic terrorists seeking to invalidate the will of the people.

City of Inkster and police sued for $160 million

The City of Inkster and two former Inkster Police Department detectives have been sued for $160 million by two men who were incarcerated for more than 20 years before being cleared of murder charges by a special unit of the Wayne County prosecutor' office. 

Attorney Wolf Mueller filed the federal civil rights lawsuit last week on behalf of Kevin Harrington and George Clark claiming their constitutional rights were violated by the misconduct two former Inkster detectives investigating a fatal shooting in 2002. Both men had steadfastly insisted on their innocence during their incarceration and in the lawsuit claim that they were “seized without probable cause, charged with crimes they did not commit, wrongfully convicted and deprived of their liberty.” They are each seeking $80 million in compensatory damages in the suit in addition to the state award of $850,000 or $50,000 for each month they spent in prison.

City wins 3rd consecutive development award

Mayor LeRoy Burcroff
The City of Romulus has again been recognized for dedication to entrepreneurial growth and economic development through the annual eCities study conducted by researchers at iLabs, the University of Michigan-Dearborn Center for Innovation Research. This marks the third consecutive year that Romulus has received five stars, the highest possible ranking.

“Receiving a five-star rating in the eCities report during a year of unforeseen challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic is a testament to our city's resiliency and continued dedication to making Romulus a home of opportunity,” said Romulus Mayor LeRoy Burcroff. “The future is bright in Romulus and we are looking forward to another successful year of economic and business growth in 2021.” 

Special salute

The first recipient of the Romulus Police Department Officer of the Quarter Award is Ofc. C. Reyna.  Reyna is a long- time resident of Romulus and has taken giving back to the next level, officials said in announcing his selection for the honor on the Romulus Police Facebook page.  In addition to his tenacity in protecting the citizens, he is equally involved in mentoring the youth of Romulus, one of his attributes which contributed to his selection for the honor, officials said.


Murder investigation continues

Alyssa Powell
The family of a murdered woman is appealing to the public for help in finding the person who took her life.

Alyssa Powell, 20, was found slumped over the wheel of her car the evening of Dec. 23 as it was parked near Beech and Manning in Inkster. She was killed by a gunshot wound to her head, according to Michigan State Police officials. 

Inkster police and Michigan State Police detectives say the investigation is in "early stages and have no motive for the killing. Powell was a resident of Redford but had a great many friends in Inkster, according to her family. A GoFundMe account has been established for the family to help defray the cost of retrieving her body from the Wayne County Morgue.