Thursday, November 26, 2020

Wayne property taxes hiked by 13 mills

Property owners in the City of Wayne are going to receive an unpleasant surprise when their winter tax bills arrive in a few weeks.

A tax increase of 13.1399 mills will be included on the Dec. 1 property tax bills which are due no later than Feb. 15. The average home in Wayne, valued at $118,000 according to Zillow, with a State Equalized Value (SEV) of $59,000 will see an increase of $787. The hefty addition to the current property tax rate was agreed to by a consent judgment filed Nov. 12 between the city and the Municipal Employees Retirement System (MERS) which manages pensions due retired city employees. 

MERS had filed suit Aug. 7 against the City of Wayne which is currently $4,753,409 in arrears in payments into the retirement fund and is facing an additional 7.2 million contribution in 2022. Municipal contributions to the pension fund are required by state law. In March, the city made the bare minimum payments into MERS, remitting only the contributions made by current city employees and sending nothing from the general fund budget toward the arrears. 

Success stories

Bestselling Amazon author Robert Thomas, a former
Westland mayor, relaxes at his home state of Mississippi
as he prepares for another day of writing his popular
Western series. 

Former Westland mayor is bestselling Amazon author

Thousands of eager fans begin to get a bit edgy at the end of every month, awaiting the next adventure of their favorite Western hero, Jess Williams.

They haven't been disappointed in five years as former Westland Mayor Robert J. Thomas releases one more 200-page epic tale of the late 19th century bounty hunter who lives by his own, distinct moral code. This month marked the publication of the 100th book in the series, a milestone achievement for any author in any genre.

If that weren't accomplishment enough, Thomas is the number-one bestselling author in Westerns on Amazon Kindle and his series about the nomadic bounty hunter with a mysterious, futuristic firearm has inspired the devotion of a multitude fans across the country.   

Romulus clerk dispels election ‘false narrative’

Ellen Craig-Bragg  
Romulus City Clerk Ellen Craig-Bragg took time during a recent city council meeting to assure all Romulus voters that their ballots were counted and handled properly.

“Despite that false narrative out there, and it is a false narrative, I want to assure all our residents that every ballot was counted and handled properly. Every ballot counted,” she said.

Craig-Bragg also formally thanked all the volunteers and workers who helped during the election which saw 12,740 registered voters in Romulus participate Nov. 3.

“Our election inspectors, workers from all over, the receiving board the AV (absentee ballot) counting board, they hung in here until 4:30 in the morning to make sure that every ballot was counted. Kudos to them,” Craig-Bragg said.

Seasonal splendor

This house on Winifred Street in Wayne boasted an elaborate Halloween display last month followed by a this massive tribute to the Christmas holidays. Neighbors have been making extra trips down the street at night just to view the bright, happy display.  Photo by Sean Rhaesa. 

Township board members take oaths of office

Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Thomas C. Cameron 
and 52-1 Novi District Judge Travis Reeds visited 
Northville Township last week to administer the 
oath of office to newly-elected members of the 
board of trustees including Scott Frush, Cynthia Jankowski,
 Mindy Herrmann and Jason Rhines. 
Four new members were welcomed to the board of trustees in Northville Township last week.

Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Thomas C. Cameron and 52-1 Novi District Judge Travis Reeds administered the oaths of office to new Supervisor Mark Abbo, who previously held the post from 2000-2012. Prior to that time, Abbo served as a township trustee for eight years. Since then, he has worked as the chief financial officer for Wayne County and as fiscal director for the Wayne County Commission.  Abbo, a certified public accountant, also has more than 30 years of private sector experience. 

Also sworn into office was new Township Clerk Roger Lundberg. He spent 35 years as an engineer in product development and as a director at Chrysler/DaimlerChrysler. He also serves as president of the Northville Hills Golf Club Homeowners Association and earned an engineering degree and a master's degree in business administration from the University of Michigan. 

Heat in the Street already under way in downtown

Visitors to Northville will experience a hint of Europe this winter as several downtown Northville restaurant and café owners will be serving customers from contemporary vendor stands in Town Square similar to European winter markets. Patrons will be able to enjoy specialty food and drinks at open-air pods that allow fresh air to circulate yet have radiant heat to keep them warm and cozy. 

The effort is part of “Heat in the Street,” a concept developed by the Northville Downtown Development Authority and Manfred Schon, a native of Germany and co-owner of Up2Go. Live music and other activities will be scheduled that allow for social distancing. 

 “We are so thankful to be collaborating with Up2Go and numerous community sponsors on bringing Heat in the Street to Downtown Northville,” said Lori Ward, director of the Northville Downtown Development Authority. 

Canton trustees OK demolition of properties

Julie Brown, Special Writer

Three dangerous buildings will be demolished in Canton Township, within 60 days of the Nov. 17 unanimous vote of the Canton Board of Trustees. 

The structures at 43415 Michigan Ave., as well as 880 Lotz Road and 890 Lotz Road, have been cited for structural deficiencies and involved in litigation.

Building Official Robert Creamer said that communication with the Michigan Avenue commercial property owner had been unsuccessful.

Health and safety concerns prompt library closure

Carol Souchock
The Plymouth District Library Board of Trustees has closed the building, in light of the newly-issued pandemic warnings from the State of Michigan Department of Health.

“Along with many other local libraries we made this decision to protect our patrons and staff, and to do our part to flatten the ever-rising curve of the coronavirus,” explained Library Director Carol Souchock.

Though the building is closed temporarily, contactless services will be available including the expansion of curbside service; reference assistance by phone, text or email; technology services including limited public computer access by appointment, and print services; downloadable books, movies, TV shows, music; virtual programming for adults, teens and children - live and repeated on the library YouTube channel; bedtime stories on Facebook Live and book bundles for children.

Annual Greens Sale Saturday

A Holiday Green's Market will is planned from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28 in downtown Plymouth at The Gathering, located off Penniman Avenue directly across from Kellogg Park. 

The Green's Market will include some of the favorite Plymouth Farmers Market vendors, providing opportunities to shop for a variety of holiday greens, crafts, baked goods and seasonal treats.  

The Walk of Trees display in Kellogg Park will also be complete for visitors and Nov. 28 is also Small Business Saturday, to help encourage holiday shopping at local merchants throughout the downtown area.                          

Romulus City Hall offering contact-free services

The City of Romulus is adhering to state and local health guidelines and  all essential city buildings are staffed and able to provide residents access to critical city transactions, according to Mayor LeRoy Burcroff.

“The health and safety of our residents is our number one priority, and we remain committed to providing the high-quality customer service our residents depend on during the ongoing pandemic,” he said in a prepared statement. 

While the city buildings are staffed, residents can reach departments directly by phone for contact-free service. For the most efficient service, he suggested, call the department needed directly at http://romulusgov.com/departments/ index.php.

Retiring supervisor’s leadership praised by trustees

Sumpter Township Supervisor John Morgan was thanked and lauded by several members of the board of trustees at one his final meeting earlier this month.

Morgan was defeated in his bid for reelection to the post by Tim Bowman, who was sworn into office Nov. 22, along with the other elected board members.

Township Clerk Esther Hurst told the crowded board chambers that she wanted to thank Morgan for his years of service. She noted that Morgan has spent 42 years in public service in the township and was first appointed to serve as a trustee in 1978 before being appointed and then elected as supervisor. 

Sumpter Township Hall is closed

Township Hall and the Community Center in Sumpter Township have been closed until Dec. 31 by members of the Sumpter Township Board of Trustees.

Board members took the action in response to the recent surge of coronavirus cases during the Nov. 17 meeting. The closures could be extended, officials cautioned, depending on the public health threat.

Sumpter Township Hall is still fully staffed and will be providing services to residents.

Wayne County Lightfest display opens for season

Nearly a quarter of a million cars are expected to tour the Wayne County Lightfest which opened yesterday.

For the 27th year, workers from the Wayne County Parks Division worked for about eight weeks installing the nearly 5-mile long lighted holiday display which decorates Hines Park.

The annual display was set to open yesterday and even more visitors than usual are expected as the in-person holiday options will be limited due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Inkster City Hall is closed

All city offices in Inkster have been closed and will reopen when the latest orders have been lifted by the Michigan Department of Health.

City Clerk Felicia Rutledge posted the officials notice last week notifying residents of the closure "in response to the rise in COVID-19 cases and per Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services order."

Inkster residents are encouraged to use the outside drop box for water or tax payments and can continue to mail in any payments due the city. Information is posted on the city website, www.cityofinkster.co.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

New diversity, equity commission members named

There is a new, seven-member Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission (DEI) in the City of Westland.

Mayor William R. Wild named the members of the new commission last week, created as a result of a resolution approved by members of the city council in August which declared racism is a public health crisis.

Terms on the commission will be staggered for the initial appointees. The first three appointed will serve for three years, three others for two years and one for one year. The alternates will serve for one year. Members must reside in  Westland and current city officials or employees are not eligible for appointment.  

The make up of the commission will be representative of the diverse population of the community, Wild said. The DEI Commission will meet quarterly as necessary and is charged with the promotion, support and advocacy of the vision and values around diversity, equity and inclusion at all levels.  

Thursday, November 19, 2020

No thanks

New state pandemic rules restrict holiday gatherings

Thanksgiving gatherings next week will be limited to two households according to new restrictions announced by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

Health department officials issued a new emergency order Sunday that became effective yesterday. There is now a three-week pause targeting indoor social gatherings and other group activities in an effort to curb rapidly rising COVID-19 infection rates. In addition, bars and restaurants have been limited to outdoor dining, carry-out and delivery only.

Gyms will remain open for individual exercise with strict safety measures in place. Casinos, movie theaters and group exercise classes will be closed. Professional and college sports meeting extraordinary standards for risk mitigation may continue without spectators, however all other organized sports must stop. Colleges and high schools may proceed with remote learning, but must end in-person classes, according to the new orders.

Clerk’s proposal prompts heated board discussion

An exceptionally heated discussion of a proposal for approval of an employment contract ended with withdrawal of the motion in Sumpter Township last week.

During a board of trustees workshop preceding the regular meeting Nov. 10, Township Clerk Esther Hurst proposed an agreement to employ current Deputy Supervisor Karen Armatis as a contract employee in the clerk's office for 16 to 20 hours per week, or as needed, at a rate of $27 per hour. The agreement would be for six months, according to Hurst's request.

The proposal was strongly criticized by Treasurer Kenneth Bednark, who appeared at his first official meeting in more than a year and union employees Anna Winter and Roxanne Riddell. Winter questioned the legitimacy of the proposal and said she was concerned that the agreement would be in violation of the current union contract which clearly specifies the status of  employee “floaters” and cross training of employees. She noted that a previous auditor's report noted that the clerk's office was operated with two employees.

Northville, Plymouth set Holiday Greens markets

The highly anticipated Northville Holiday Greens and Winter Market will take place this year, despite the current pandemic.

The annual event, sponsored by the Northville Chamber of Commerce, will be slightly revamped and moved to a new location this year, organizers said. This year, the sale will take place from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 21 and from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 22

The market will move to the corner of Seven Mile Road and Center Street, across from Northville Downs. Organizers said this larger space will allow more local farmers, growers and vendors to participate. Greens vendors will be selling traditional holiday wreaths, roping, décor, centerpieces, and porch pots while the “Best of the Best” Northville Farmers Market Vendors will also be on hand. Vendors will be selling sweets including cookies, cakes and breads, mushrooms, dog treats, coffee and hot chocolate, French breads, Polish items and food, beef, Kettle Corn, and much more.

Salute

Veterans’ banner program flying high in Northville

Veterans are being honored with banners on light poles throughout downtown Northville for the month of November.

The Northville Chamber of Commerce instituted the tribute in an effort to allow the community to recognize the service and sacrifices veterans made as members of the United States Armed Forces during wars and conflicts. 

In tandem with the banners, stories of the veterans can be found on the chamber website. Veterans fought on battlefields and assisted in other ways during the war effort - from the Civil War and World War I, World War II through Vietnam and recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. A total of 137 veterans are listed on the website. 

City hall is open but health restrictions continue in effect

While Northville City Hall is open, residents and citizens are encouraged to conduct business online and by phone, email, regular mail and by using the drop box in the vestibule or circular drive. These actions will help minimize the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19 in an indoor building, officials said. Inside city hall, masks must be worn; a mask will be provided to anyone who does not have one. Plexiglas now surrounds the reception desk and visitors are advised to keep 6 feet apart from others.

Planning commissioners OK 2-story structure

Canton Township may soon have something more to smile about following unanimous planning commission approval of a new building at the site of a former United Auto Workers office space.

The new structure, proposed by Aaron Havens, owner of Havens Ortohodontics, would be two stories and include other businesses. Havens told the commissioners his practice would anchor the site but that he had no other specific businesses in the other spaces as yet, although there were ongoing negotiations with potential tenants.

The new building would be larger than the current structure at Canton Center and Joy Road on the border of Canton and Plymouth. The union building will be demolished and the new structure will also offer office space for businesses on the second floor with possible food service locations like bakeries, coffee shops or restaurants on the first floor.

Not so fast

Annual Canton Thanksgiving Turkey Trot goes virtual for 2020

The Thanksgiving holiday tradition in Canton Township will not be deterred but a bit altered by the ongoing pandemic.

Runners and walkers can keep the township family Thanksgiving tradition alive by participating in the 18th Annual Turkey Trot For a Cause virtual event.  Registration is now open and runners/walkers can take to their neighborhoods, parks, and trails any time from Nov. 19-26 to support the Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan. 

All ages are encouraged to join in the fight against epilepsy by registering for the 5K race or 1-mile fun run that will benefit the Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan, an organization dedicated to empowering individuals with seizure disorders. 

NAACP honors Westland police

Chief Jeff Jedrusik
The Westland Police Department was recently honored by the NAACP with a Community Partner Award.

Officials from the organization said during the presentation that the NAACP award was in recognition of the community service, commitment to diversity and outreach demonstrated by the Westland Police Department.

“They are standing as a vanguard and an example to the other departments in the area,” said John Hearn, local NAACP branch second vice president.

“On behalf of the City of Westland Police Department, I am truly honored to have accepted this award,” Police Chief Jeff Jedrusik said in a statement. “Our police department has come a long way. We have developed a strong partnership with the (Western Wayne) NAACP and both local and regional community organizations.

It's the fuzz

Again this year, Wayne Police Department officers will be participating in Movember, an effort to raise awareness and funding to support men's health. During the month of  November, men are encouraged to grow mustaches (and beards as some have chosen) to raise awareness for the effort. The Movember Foundation focuses on issues such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, suicide prevention, and mental health. The Movember campaign helps remind police officers that as they have a duty to protect the community, they also have a duty to protect their own health, according to a prepared statement.

Tribute

Romulus cemetery to join Wreaths Across America

Members of the Romulus VFW will once again participate in the national Wreaths Across America project set for noon Dec. 19 at Romulus Memorial Cemetery. 

The national effort is a formal remembrance and tribute to the men and women who sacrificed their lives in service to their country. Volunteers will place remembrance wreaths on veteran's graves during the ceremony.

Funding is still needed for the project and wreaths can be purchased at https://bit.ly/2TTs4Hy and donations for the project, which aims to place 350 wreaths next month, are being sought. There are more than 1,500 participating locations across the country participating in the event this year.

Homicide at restaurant investigation continues

The shooting death outside a popular Inkster restaurant last week has left city residents shaken and remains under investigation by state police detectives.  

Michigan State Police troopers and officers from several police departments were called to Moe's Fish & Chicken at about 7:20 p.m. last Friday following a report of a shooting. The restaurant, a mainstay in the community, is located at Middlebelt and Rosewood in Inkster.

Officers from the Inkster, Garden City, Dearborn Heights and Westland police departments responded to the scene along with State Police Troopers. 

Crime ratings show Sumpter as safest small town

Sumpter Township has received a top rating for safety from AdviserSmith, a site which ranks communities according to both violent and property crime.

The ratings, published earlier this year were reprinted on the Sumpter Township Police Facebook page noting that several different sites publish a “safest” cities/ towns lists based on the FBI annual crime reporting. 

These lists are based on the rate of  violent crimes  such as murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault and property crimes like burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson, per 1,000 residents. Each site has a slightly different methodology, giving different weights to the two categories to compile their lists. The most recent rankings from AdviserSmith also categorized the ratings by population; large cities, midsize cities, and small towns. Sumpter Township is evaluated in the small town rating. The AdviserSmith “crime score” is based on that methodology with a lower score equating to less crime in the community. 

Sumpter ranked as the safest small town in the area based on a compilation of the violent crime rate, the property crime rate, and the overall crime score from the site. Ranked from best to worst were: Sumpter Township: 9.7 / 6.7 = 21.1; Augusta Township: 3.3 / 17.7 = 28.0; Canton Township: 9.4 / 10.8 = 28.9; Huron Township: 10.9 / 7.5 = 31.4; Brownstown Township: 10.4 / 8.8 = 32.7; Pittsfield Township: 7.1 / 14.8 = 35.1; City of Belleville: 13.3 / 15.0 = 46.7; Van Buren Township: 16.3 / 19.3 = 53.9 and the City of Romulus: 28.6 / 22.9 = 96.6

The complete list is available at: https://advisorsmith.com/ data/safest-cities-in-michigan/

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Mayor honors city victims of coronavirus

Mayor William R. Wild
When Westland Mayor William R. Wild began his State of the City address last month, he dedicated his presentation to the then 107 residents of the community who lost their lives to the coronavirus.

Wild noted that city officials took the pandemic threat seriously and worked with labor groups and employees to curb the spread of the epidemic and said that the city was one of the first communities to be able to resume full operations.

He noted the 50-point neighborhood makeover plan was ahead of schedule with progress in 36 of the districts. The installation of more than 200 new LED streetlights and road repairs, along with new sidewalks and a major water main completion were also on his list of infrastructure improvements in the city.

Special salute

The VFW Myron H. Beals American Legion Post 32 Honor Guard helped World War II Navy veteran Gordon Macorkindale celebrate his 100th birthday last week and honored his military service. Photo by Don Howard

100-year-old veteran celebrates with medals, memories

Don Howard, Staff Writer

Gordon Macorkindale
was 22 when he joined
the U.S. Navy.
World War II veteran Gordon Macorkindale is a brand-new centenarian, who celebrated his 100th birthday in grand style just before Veterans Day.

Macorkindale, whose birthday was Oct. 26, is known as “Corky” by his friends. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1942 to 1946 in war-torn Guam; a U.S. territory in the Mariana Islands captured by the Japanese from the U.S. in 1941, and remembered for the fierce fighting and more than 7,000 American casualties. 

As he reminisced about his military service, Macorkindale said his first assignment was at the Naval general store on the Pacific tropical island where he served as clerk and took care of personnel matters.  Macorkindale said he joined the Navy because the recruiting station “was right there in Grosse Ile and because it offered a bowling alley on-site…I loved bowling and my scores were always in the 200s.

“I organized all the tournaments between different branches of the Army, Navy and Air Force,” he recalled about those first years in the military.  

Take a hike

Naturalist to guide walk Saturday

The Fellows Creek Wetland Nature Trail will be the 
site of a Hike With A Naturalist on Saturday.
Area residents looking to explore the great outdoors and discover the beauty that nature has to offer are invited to join Canton Leisure Services on the Fellows Creek Wetland Nature Trail during a special “Hike With a Naturalist” from 10 a.m. until noon on Saturday.

This free, family- and pet-friendly community event will include a walk-through of approximately 0.75 miles of wetland areas with information and commentary provided by Justin Smith, a community outreach interpreter from Huron-Clinton Metroparks.  

“Staying physically active is one of the best ways to keep your mind and body healthy, especially in these stressful times,” said Canton Township Special Events Coordinator Gary Marks. 

2 veteran Canton firefighters retire from department


Mark Price 
Steven Borgelt
Battalion Chief Steven Borgelt and Batallion Chief Mark Price who have a combined 56 years seniority in the department retired last month.

Both Borgelt and Price started with the department as firefighters in 1992 and earned their paramedic licenses in 2000, when the department converted from basic to an Advanced Life Support medical provider. 

As firefighter/paramedics, both Borgelt and Price were assigned to an ambulance, providing emergency medical treatment to thousands of patients with varying injuries and illnesses. They were each later trained as an operator, running the multi-faceted fire engines and pumper trucks on fire scenes. 

Bank robbery suspect being sought by police

Robbery suspect
Chase Bank at Michigan Avenue and Old Canton Center Road was robbed of an undisclosed amount of cash last week.

According to police reports, Canton police were called to the bank at about 3:31 p.m. last Thursday, Nov. 5 to investigate the reported robbery. Witnesses told the responding officers that a man presented a note demanding money to a teller. After receiving an unknown amount of cash he immediately left the building. No vehicle was reported as seen by police.

The suspect was described by witnesses at a black male, about 6-feet, 2-inches to 6-feet,4-inches tall with a thick build. He was wearing a black knit hat, a gray and camo-colored hooded jacket, gray shirt and dark-colored pants.

Ho, Ho, Ho

Pandemic changes Santa’s arrival plans

Santa will visit children in several local parks
 in Plymouth when he arrives this year rather than entertain large crowds in Kellogg Park. 


Santa Claus will make his annual visit to the City of Plymouth the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, Nov. 27.

While Santa's arrival on a fire truck is usually greeted by hundreds of Plymouth families in Kellogg Park as he accepts the key to the city, this year he will observing social distancing and taking precautions against the coronavirus by greeting children in their neighborhood parks.

Voters favor incumbents in township vote

In Plymouth Township balloting Nov. 3, voters returned incumbent Kurt Heise to the office of supervisor.

Heise, completing his first term as supervisor after winning a grassroots write-in campaign four years ago, received a total of 10,911 votes or 58.26 percent of the total cast. Of those, 7,207 were by absentee ballot for the republican candidate. His opponent, Democrat Mary Starr received 7,809 votes, and 6,429 of her votes were cast by absentee ballot. She received 41.68 percent of the vote totals.

Former Township Clerk Nancy Conzelman, a democrat, was defeated by incumbent Jerry Vorva, a Republican. Conzelman received 7,687 votes in her bid to return to the office Vorva captured from her four years ago.

Tulip time?

An annual tradition in downtown Plymouth continued last weekend despite the pandemic when members of the Noon Rotary Club and their families planted hundreds of tulip bulbs set to bloom next spring. As usual, the color of the anticipated flowers will remain a secret until the first buds appear. Photo by Dave Willett 

Troopers search Inkster site

Michigan State Police Troopers executed a search warrant at an Inkster location last Thursday, leading to several arrests on drug charges.

According to police reports, several people in Wayne County were taken into custody in connection with an investigation of alleged fentanyl trafficking.

Four search warrants were executed at locations in Detroit, Hamtramck, Taylor and Inkster, according to the prepared statement.

Record number of votes is cast in Northville

A record number of voters cast ballots in the city of Northville last week,
although the wait in line wasn’t as long as anticipated when the 
majority took advantage of absentee voting.

A record number of 4,394 voters cast ballots in the 2020 presidential election in the city of Northville. The majority (3,092) voted by absentee ballot while 1,302 went to the polls on Nov. 3, according to an official posting on the city website.

The elections was a very close contest in many races  - locally as well as nationally. Voters in the City of Northville selected Joe Biden as president over Donald Trump (2,378 to 1,906 votes); Sen. Gary Peters (incumbent) over John James by a thin margin of 2,180 to 2,106; U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (incumbent) over Eric Esshaki (by 2,169 to 2,045); Kelly Breen as State representative over Chase Turner (1,145 to 1,056) and State Rep. Matthew Koleszar (incumbent) over John Lacny by 1,061 to 940 votes. 

Write-in incumbents defeated by township voters

Mark J. Abbo, a Republican, was elected to serve as the supervisor of Northville Township with 80.99 percent of the votes cast last week defeating incumbent Robert Nix who sought to return to the office as a write-in.

Abbo garnered a total of 11,285 votes while Nix write in total 2,649 or 19.01 percent of the votes cast.

Abbo previously served as township supervisor from 2000 until 2012 and served as a township trustee for eight years prior to that time.

Incumbent is returned to Northville Board of Education

Northville Public Schools district voters returned incumbent Sarah Prescott to the board of education during the election last week.

This will be Prescott's second four-year term on the board. She received a total of 11,377 votes according to preliminary reports.

She will be joined by Lisa McIntyre who received 8,830 votes; Lindsey Wilson who garnered 7,951 votes and James Mazurek who was the choice of 7,856 voters. Mazurek previously served on the board of education from 2012 through 2018.  Mazurek was only one vote ahead of Kimberly Campbell-Voytal who had a total of 7,855 votes in the balloting.

Annual Northville Art House exhibit features ‘Small Wonders’

The Northville Art House is currently featuring more than 150 works on a diminutive scale created by 67 national and international artists.

The Small Works: Juried All-Media Exhibition will continue through Dec. 12 and includes works limited to16 inches in any direction. The artwork ranges from two-dimensional drawings, paintings, photography, and traditional prints to three-dimensional ceramics, fused glass, metalwork, and textiles. All works are for sale and priced to be perfect holiday gifts that will have everyone feeling festive,” according to Art House Creative Director Ryan Kaltenbach.

 “Whether you're starting a collection, adding to one, or giving art as a gift, small works can bring countless hours of intimate pleasure,” he said.

Champions movie screening will include ‘star power’

Antoine McKay
Gregory Jbara
The Champions program will get a boost of star power Saturday with the virtual screening of Unclaimed, a movie starring a Wayne High School graduate.

The film, the story of a crusty old black guy and a lonely white kid and a reluctant friendship built on cremating dead folks nobody wants, was written, produced and directed by TW Miller who spent 20 years around Hollywood honing his craft.  

Starring in the film is Antoine McKay, a alumni of Wayne Memorial High School, who has appeared in television shows such as ER on NBC, Prison Break and Empire on FOX. 

The virtual screening of the movie and the Champions of Wayne documentary is set for 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14. The screening is a benefit for the Champions of Wayne program and will include special guest appearances from Westland native and emcee for the evening, Gregory Jbara.  Jbara is currently staring as “DCPI Garrett Moore” on the CBS hit police drama, Blue Bloods.  He will be joined by Willie Horton and Dave Coulier.

Wayne ward proposals OK’d; incumbent mayor reelected

Incumbent Mayor John P. Rhaesa is sworn into office by Wayne 
City Clerk Tina M. Stanke on Monday after winning reelection Nov. 3. 
Photo by Sean Rhaesa 

Wayne voters reelected incumbent Mayor John P. Rhaesa by a narrow margin giving him another term in office during voting last week.

Rhaesa received 3,275 votes to defeat opponent Anthony Wayne Miller who received 3,131 votes.

Rhaesa took 51 percent of the votes while Miller was favored by 49 percent of the electorate.

Cruelty charges against zoo owner are dismissed

Javon Stacks 
Javon Stacks will have another 300 or so mouths to feed this month.

More than 300 of about 600 animals seized by Romulus Police in a raid on a storefront last August will be returned to Stacks after a judge dismissed all charges against him. Stacks was originally charged with animal cruelty, abandonment and neglect of the animals which police found in the storefront following an anonymous tip.

Stacks was facing charges when more than 600 animals were found and confiscated by police, including six Flemish giant rabbits, three large iguanas, two kangaroos, a peacock, an Arctic fox and a 16-foot, 200-pound reticulated python along with more than 300 hedgehogs. The kangaroos, placed in the custody of the Detroit Zoo following the raid did not survive, along with about 300 of the other seized animals.

Voters in Sumpter Township choose incumbents for board

Sumpter Township voters elected a new supervisor and treasurer last week and reelected incumbents to the board of trustees.

Tim Bowman, a Republican, received a total of 2,709 votes for supervisor while incumbent John W. Morgan, a Democrat, received 2,291 votes.

There were 5,033 votes cast, with 2,537 cast by absentee ballot and 2,496 cast on election day. There were 33 unresolved ballots, according to township officials.

Suspect is arraigned in murder of Van Buren Township woman

Michigan State Police said last week that an Ohio man has been charged in the 2017 death of Egypt Covington who was found dead in her Van Buren Township home. In an earlier statement, police said that two suspects had been arrested in connection with the killing.

Police said that Timothy Eugene Moore, 34, of Toledo, Ohio, was arraigned on one count of first degree murder, felony murder, first-degree home invasion, felon in possession of a firearm and four counts of felony firearm in the 34th District Court in Romulus late last week. The court denied  bond.

A second suspect in the killing was released, according to police, who did not provide any other information.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Schools coping with spike in infections

School administrators from throughout the area are awaiting the impact of the latest spike in COVID-19 cases on educational procedures.

While the more stringent guidelines issued by the Wayne County Health Department last week have not changed the rules for in-person or distance learning offered by the schools, Northville Public Schools Superintendent Mary Kay Gallagher wrote to parents last week, advising them of the quarantine of 75 district students following homecoming parties and other off-campus social events and, in one case, a party bus. The Northville schools also faced a shortage of bus drivers at least one day last week due to required quarantine after exposure to the virus.

Michigan Philharmonic wins community honors

The Michigan Philharmonic orchestra has received special local recognition in honor of National Arts & Humanities Month. 

October has been designated by the National Endowment for the Arts and Americans for the Arts as the month to celebrate the arts and humanities programs in local communities. Joining in presenting tributes to the Michigan Philharmonic, were local leaders from the City of Plymouth, Plymouth Township and Canton Township who each gave special recognition to the orchestra for their artistic endeavors in the community. 

Recognizing the Michigan Philharmonic as a cultural anchor with performances and educational programs which have enhanced the cultural life of the of the area for the past 75 years, the leaders acknowledged the orchestra for reaching more than 20,000 adults and students annually. 

Pandemic forces Artisan Market to reschedule

Due to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) newly-imposed regulations regarding gatherings, the Third Annual Holiday Artisan Market has been rescheduled.

The popular event, originally scheduled for last Sunday, will now take place from noon until 4 p.m.  Sunday, Nov. 8 in the parking lot of the Summit on the Park,

Presented by the Canton Farmers Market, this special event will feature handmade gifts created by some of the areas top artisans and crafters. Participating vendors include: Boblin Honey - honey; Cathy V - knitted toys, baby booties, knitted rattles; Candle Heaven - candles and wax melts; Designs by Della - Christmas pillows/blankets, travel accessories, masks; Golden Wheat - French bread and pastries;

Gift of Life

Donations impacted by virus surge

There are secondary threats to life during the current coronavirus pandemic as organ donation is impacted by infectious disease procedures at hospitals.

As the COVID-19 pandemic enters a new month, organ transplant recipients need to take extra precautions to protect themselves and Gift of Life Michigan is still working with hospital transplant centers to provide life-saving organs to patients in need.

“We're still here and we're still doing the work that we always do,” said Dorrie Dils, CEO of Gift of Life Michigan. “We're doing everything we can to engage people and make sure that people who are waiting for an organ transplant, or donors or donor families that still want to donate, that we're still here, and we're still making every effort to make that happen.”

Robbery suspect is charged

Michael Smith
A Canton Township man is facing several criminal charges in connection to burglaries and home invasions reported last week.

Michael Smith, 46 of Canton, was arraigned in 35th District Court Oct. 28 and is facing two counts of first degree home invasion, a 20-year felony; two counts of larceny over $1,000, a 5-year felony and two counts of habitual offender fourth, a sentence enhancer.  Smith was arrested following a complaint from a resident on the 50000 block of Hesperus at about 10 p.m. Oct. 23. The resident told the responding officers that he had noticed multiple items missing from the attached garage.

A little ‘ReLeaf’

Volunteers plant trees at local parks

ReLeaf Michigan, a statewide non-profit tree organization, in partnership with the City of Romulus, Medline Industries and the DTE Foundation, joined forces with local volunteers to plant 15 trees at Romulus Historical Park and Mary Ann Banks Parks Oct. 24.  The trees were planted to increase the overall tree canopy in the parks and to provide environmental and health benefits.

Covid protocols were in place and were followed and masks were required of the volunteers who watched a tree planting demonstration from experts.  

Couple is charged with imprisonment, torture

An Inkster couple has been arraigned on charges of torture, unlawful imprisonment and assault after a man allegedly escaped their home and was found by police.

The victim was allegedly held against his will and tortured by the Inkster couple who used a dog shock collar, boiling water, a towel soaked in dog urine, extension cords and a wooden board to torment him.

The victim escaped his captors' home on the 4000 block of Burton Oct. 22 and was found by Inkster police officers who took him to a hospital, according to WXYZ Detroit. He was wearing only underwear and was covered in bruises and injuries when he was found by police.

Westland man sent to trial in Northville death

Gustavo Godinez
A Westland man has beenbound over for trial in the hit-and-run death of a Northville Township college student.

During a court hearing last week, 35th District Court Judge Michael Gerou determined there was enough evidence to send Gustavo Godinez, 20, to trial in the death of Dominic Duhn. Duhn, 20, was skateboarding on Sheldon Road the night of Sept. 3 when he was struck and killed by moving vehicle. The driver did not stop at the scene.

During the hearing, Northville Township Det. Jon Huerta testified that he had connected paint chips at the scene with the 2012 Ford Escape that Godinez was driving. Godinez will face 10 years in prison if convicted of the felony charge of failing to stop at the scene of an accident, resulting in death.

Fire grant will fund replacement of defibrillators

Hearts beat a little faster in Westland last week with the announcement of a grant to fund the upgrade and replacement of 10 new cardiac monitor/defibrillators and 15 automated external defibrillators. 

The $396,695 grant was awarded to the Westland Fire Department as part of an Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) program. The grant was awarded through a regional effort and inter-departmental collaboration and includes a city match funding portion of 10 percent or $36,066.03.  

The new devices will replace and update the monitors Westland purchased several years ago, and will replace and update all the city building automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to new Wi-Fi capable devices where issues will be monitored from the Office of Fire Administration. The additional five monitors will be used to outfit Advanced Life Support engines, officials said.

Street lighting ‘enhancement’ OK’d for Norwayne

Things are about to get much brighter in the Historic Norwayne District in Westland.

Last week, members of the city council approved a $27,642 contract with DTE Energy for a street lighting enhancement project in the area.

Funding for the improvements will come through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) allocation.

The project is designed to enhance safety and visibility along Dorsey Road and Grand Traverse and will consist of the addition of six light poles at Jefferson Barns Community Vitality Center and the upgrading 18 light fixtures along Grand Traverse. Additionally, two new light poles at Venoy and Grand Traverse and Lincoln-Johnson Field will be installed, according to city officials. 

Board member is reappointed

Robert Kelly
Robert Kelly has been reappointed to the Westland Downtown Development Authority Board.

Members of the city council approved the reappointment of the small business owner at the Oct. 19 meeting. Kelly has served on the authority board since 2016 and currently serves as chairperson.

The DDA is governed by an 11 member board appointed by the mayor subject to the approval of the members of the city council. The Downtown Development Authority implements an improvement and business development plan in a commercial district along Ford Road and Wayne Road south of Ford and provides design assistance for redevelopment of commercial properties.

New air cleaner OK’d

Visitors to the Westland Senior Center will be able to take a deep breath of fresh air beginning early next year.

Members of the Westland City Council recently awarded a bid for a state-of-the-art heating, cooling, ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HCVAC) Pathogen Mitigation project which will eliminate airborne viruses at the senior center on Newburgh Road.

This is the same technology used in hospitals for many years to address swine flu, SARS, MERS and other infectious diseases, officials noted.

Making strides

Bottle and can returns help fund cancer drive 

 

Jill Lezotte-Kates, of Wayne, right, and
Miranda Freed, bag and sort the mountains of cans
and bottles they have collected to help Making
Strides Against Breast Cancer. Lezotte-Kates and
Freed also support the effort through their Avon sales.
Jill Lezotte-Kates has a unique approach to help fund Making Strides Against Breast Cancer through Avon.

“My mother is a survivor. I want there to be a cure,” said Lezotte-Kates, a Westland Rotarian and Wayne resident. In addition to helping the cause through her Avon sales, she has returned a small mountain of cans and bottles as part of her fundraising too.

Avon is the National Presenting Sponsor for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. Lezotte-Kates' mother lost her mother and a sister to breast cancer, and also has two additional sisters, while a brother and a niece  are survivors.

Lezotte-Kates said her fervent wish is for a cure “when and if me, my daughter or my granddaughter get breast cancer.” She took action as a fundraiser, including collecting the returnable cans and bottles.

Fire hydrants to be flushed and winterized

Plymouth residents may experience some intermittent low water pressure for the next week or so as city workers continue to flush and winterize lower all fire hydrants.

The work began Oct. 12 and will continue into the middle of November, according to officials. The Plymouth Department of Municipal Services crews will be flushing and winterizing all fire hydrants throughout the city over the next few weeks.

COVID-19 strikes police and city hall employees

Three officers from the Wayne Police Department have tested positive for COVID-19, according to an official posting from the department. The officers who tested positive last worked Oct. 29 and anyone who had direct contact with a Wayne Police Department officer recently should consider getting tested for the virus, police officials said.

Last week, officials said that two employees at Wayne City Hall had recently also tested positive for COVID-19, necessitating the closure of the building. 

Only election matters will be handled at the building until further notice according to city officials. The other 18 employees at city hall have all been tested for the virus and all those results were negative, according to an official notice from the city.

Board continues to probe false claims

The election may be over, but members of the Sumpter Township Board of Trustees still have some concerns about inaccurate and misleading political claims made during the campaign.

At the meeting of the board members Oct. 27, Trustee Tim Rush asked township attorney Rob Young about the status of his investigation into false allegations made by Jim Clark, a candidate for township treasurer. In published claims, Clark had incorrectly stated that there was a large amount of money missing from township bank accounts. Clark offered no proof of the claim and the township recently completed two independent audits of the finances which determined there was no impropriety or any discrepancy in any of the accounts.

The claims, however, were taken seriously by the administration and Supervisor John Morgan suggested that Young determine where Clark might have gotten such misinformation.

Firefighters seniority, experience recognized

While the pandemic has delayed an official recognition, Sumpter Township firefighters can expect a formal board tribute marking  their exemplary service as soon as it is safe.

Members of the board of trustees accepted a large framed photo tribute to the firefighters and acknowledged the long seniority and years of service many of the members of the department had already completed.

Trustees said they will formally recognize members of the department with more than 10 years of service including Chief Joseph Januszyk - 43 years; Lt. Rick Sliwa - 43 years; Battalion Chief John Krushlin - 35 years; Deputy Chief Rick Brown - 35 years; Battalion Chief Timothy Armstrong - 22 years; Captain Michael McHenry - 20 years; Lt. Michael Wisniewski - 18 years; Firefighter Donald LaPorte - 14 years; Captain Walter Thompson - 10 years.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Super scary stuff

A display of Halloween spirit is evident at a home on Winifred Street, upper left, in Wayne where owners have decorated the front yard with all manner of spooky figures and colored lights, all for the entertainment of neighbors and visitors. Several more decorations have been added as the holiday approaches on Saturday. Also in the spirit of Halloween are Brooke Wess and her daughters whose entry, above right, was chosen as the Facebook Favorite of the Scarecrow display in downtown Wayne. Wess participates in the event every year and her entries are always favorites of the crowd. Not to be outdone, left, is a home on Pierce Street in Wayne where three Halloween skeletons enjoy the warmth of a campfire while awaiting any brave trick or treaters willing to walk past them Saturday evening to celebrate the holiday. Wayne photo by Sean Rhaesa


State files pollution lawsuit against landfill

Plymouth Township Supervisor Kurt Heise, left, Northville
 Township Supervisor Robert Nix, Northville Mayor Brian 
Turnbull and State Attorney General Dana Nessel
discuss the lawsuit against Arbor Hills Landfill
 filed last week. Photo by Don Howard
Attorney General Dana Nessel, on behalf of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), filed a civil lawsuit last Friday claiming the operator of the Arbor Hills Landfill in Salem Township is failing to comply with state and federal regulations and endangering the public health, safety and welfare.

Nessel and EGLE are seeking injunctive relief in Ingham County 30th Circuit Court to require Advanced Disposal Services Arbor Hills Landfill Inc. to operate the landfill in compliance with state and federal law for air quality and solid waste management.

“The operator of the Arbor Hills Landfill has continually demonstrated a blatant disregard for the serious concerns raised by community members and the state,” Nessel said. “This site has been a nuisance for years and the potential threat to the health of nearby residents is significant. At this juncture, legal action is clearly a necessity and my office will support EGLE's enforcement efforts so that our residents' health and our natural resources are not subjected to the hazardous pollution created by this landfill.” 

The suit alleges that Advanced Disposal Services has consistently failed to install an adequate collection and control system to capture gas generated from both active and non-active areas of the landfill and failed to address leachate issues at its landfill. The operator indicated it would fix these problems but has failed to act. 

Leachate is the liquid that gathers along the bottom double-liner of a landfill and can include liquid from the waste itself, rainwater and other outside sources. If not properly managed and removed, it can build up and potentially contaminate groundwater and other water resources.

“Our goal is to ensure Arbor Hills Landfill is not a nuisance to neighbors, and that the facility operates safely in compliance with state and federal laws for air quality and waste management,” said EGLE Director Liesl Clark.

Northville Township Supervisor Robert Nix was gratified, he said, by the legal action. 

“For over five years, Northville Township residents have been exposed to noxious and offensive odors from the Arbor Hills landfill. This lawsuit is the most effective way to eliminate the odor nuisance caused by the landfill. A special thanks to our coalition partners; The Conservancy Initiative, the City of Northville, Northville School Board, Plymouth Township, Sen. Dayna Polehanki and State Rep. Matt Koleszar for their continued support in our battle with the landfill and our ongoing effort to stop the expansion of this landfill. I also want to thank and recognize the hours and hours that our township team of Clerk Marjorie Banner, Treasurer Fred Shadko, Trustee Symantha Heath and Trustee Christopher Roosen have spent working on this issue with me,” Nix said. 

“There were 30 violations issued by EGLE to Advance over the last five years. In December of 2018 I requested the EGLE commence enforcement actions. After EGLE's enforcement actions failed and was not able to negotiate a consent order with ADS I said it was time to take action. As a result, Northville Township was joined by Brian Turnbull, mayor of the City of Northville and Kurt Heise, supervisor of Plymouth Township in requesting Attorney General Nessel to file an enforcement lawsuit against ADS.”

Koleszar and Polehanki, whose districts include the Arbor Hills Landfill, have also been fielding resident calls about the site.

“This progress is due to the tireless work of advocates in our community,” said Koleszar. “Our friends and neighbors stood up to say corporate polluters who willingly contaminate Michigan's air, water and land for the sake of profit must be held accountable - and I stand with you. I want to thank the Attorney General for joining us in this fight to protect our home.”

Koleszar was critical of those he characterized as attempting to use the situation as a political gambit.

“Sadly, a lot of people in Western Wayne County are taking credit for yesterday's lawsuit; ironically, it's the very same people who ignored the residents of Northville when they could have acted. That's politics as usual,” Koleszar said. “I want you to remember that the real heroes of the week are the parents and citizens of Northville who organized and kept up the hope, despite being ignored by their electeds for years.”

“Northville Township residents have suffered far too long due to the negligence of the operators of the Arbor Hills Landfill,” said Polehanki. “Their blatant disregard for air quality has been a nuisance to our community for years without meaningful improvement. Our community members and leaders persistently sounded the alarm about the landfill's continuous violations, and I am grateful for their fierce advocacy

Following investigations by EGLE and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, fugitive emissions were found to be the primary source of the odors. The state department issued multiple violation notices to the operator for its failures to properly operate the landfill and the gas collection and control system. 

However, Advanced Disposal Services' failure to address the concerns has resulted in the state filing this lawsuit.

Plymouth Township Supervisor Kurt Heise was also supportive of the legal action.  

“The negative impact of this landfill is one of the most important quality of life issues in Western Wayne County. We must be unified in controlling this hazard and make sure it never expands,” he said.

Mark Abbo, candidate for Northville Township Supervisor, issued an immediate press release following the announcement.

“I have relentlessly called for a lawsuit to address these concerns, and have focused attention on the continuing problems with the landfill as a top issue in Northville Township,” Abbo stated. “It is gratifying that the AG's office is finally responding to this demand and the will of our long-suffering residents,” Abbo explained.

“This lawsuit provides our residents with the most effective vehicle for obtaining corrective actions to eliminate the odor nuisance,” Nix said.

General Motors to invest $17 million in Romulus

The General Motors plant in Romulus will see $17 million in renovations as the automaker begins plans to “move production to the next level.”

General Motors officials said the company will invest more than $100 million in several Michigan plants along with the transition of the Spring Hill TN plant to electric-vehicle manufacturing of the Cadillac LYRIQ.

In the Romulus propulsion plant, the investment will fund enhance automation and increased capacity of the 10-speed truck transmissions produced there.

Canton plans traditional holiday gift market

Participating vendors in the 2019 Holiday Artisan Market pose
for photos at their booths. Photo courtesy of Canton Leisure Services.
Area residents can get started on holiday shopping this Sunday in Canton Township.

Unique gift and holiday items will be featured at The Third Annual Holiday Artisan Market set for noon until 4 p.m. Nov. 1 at the Summit on the Park Banquet Center.

Presented by the Canton Farmers Market, the special market will feature handmade gifts created by some of the top artisans and crafters in the area. Participating vendors include: Boblin Honey - Honey; Cathy V - Knitted Toys, Baby Booties, Knitted Rattles; Candle Heaven - Candles & Wax Melts; Designs by Della - Christmas Pillows/Blankets, Travel Accessories, Masks; Golden Wheat - French Bread & Pastries;

Historical Society board seeking new volunteers

The Canton Historical Society, a volunteer organization dedicated to the preservation of local historical information and resources in the township, is currently accepting letters of interest to fill three board member positions.   

The Canton Historical Society offers valuable opportunities for individuals interested in helping keep the history of Canton alive, organizers said. Once appointed, these volunteer board members will begin a three-year term starting in 2021.  

Combined bond sales to save township $130,000

Two bond sales for Canton Township were combined, and received a favorable 1.7 percent interest rate earlier this month.

The township Capital Improvement budget will save some $130,000 a year each year, over the life of that bond, officials said during a recent meeting.

“So it's basically free money,” said township Supervisor Pat Williams, following an Oct. 6 township board of trustees approval vote. Trustee Sommer Foster was absent.

At that meeting, Williams said the revote was “on an issue that we voted on previously,” a bond authorizing resolution. The vote means $16 million for the Capital Improvement plan for 2019  through 2023.

Fire department awarded $300,000 in grant funding

The Canton Township Fire Department was awarded a $300,000 federal Assistance to Firefighter Grant recently. 

The grant was part of a regional application submitted earlier this year by several neighboring communities. The Canton portion of the grant award will require a 10 percent match from the township for the purchase of 10 ECK monitors, officials said.  

Inkster High alumni wins prestigious award

Calvin Stevens
A 1965 graduate of Inkster High School has been awarded the highest honor of the Blacks in Government Association (BIG).

During the National Delegates Assembly of the organization earlier this year, Calvin Stevens, a former Inkster resident, was awarded the Distinguished Service Hall of Fame Award. He is one of only 43 members worldwide to have achieved the honor and is now referred to as “the honorable” in his title. Stevens, who has worked with the organization since joining in 1996, is  the Region IV Council president, and has worked at the local, regional and national levels. He is a resident of South DeKalb, GA.

When he joined BIG, he was working with the U.S. General Services Administration but retired in 2009 as Supervisor Marketing Specialist.

City officials offer traffic detour advice to voters

As construction continues on Wick Road, the City of Romulus is working to provide information to voters, particularly as it relates to traffic flow on Election Day. The Wick Middle School polling location will remain accessible to the three precincts it serves via alternate routes that are available.

Construction is currently in the process to replace water mains underneath 3.5 miles of pavement on Wick Road. The project began in April 2020 and is expected to be completed in August 2021, with most of the road open to vehicles by the end of November 2020. As a result of the construction project, the City of Romulus will receive 3.5 miles of new pavement estimated at $7 million in value-at no additional cost to the city or taxpayers-for a road that was in poor condition and in need of repairs.

“We want to ensure all residents have the information they need to avoid the construction areas and have a seamless Election Day experience,” said Roberto Scappaticci, director of the Public Works Department. “We are thankful for residents' continued patience as work is under way to complete this construction project, which will secure miles of brand-new pavement at no cost to taxpayers.”