Thursday, September 24, 2020

COVID safety complaint dismissed in Sumpter

© 2020Google
Allegations of hazardous COVID-19 conditions at Sumpter Township Hall have been dismissed as without basis and inaccurate by a state investigator.

The allegations, in a complaint filed by Treasurer Kenneth Bednark, claimed that township meetings were not in compliance with the executive orders issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and made inaccurate claims regarding the safety procedures implemented by township officials.  

Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) Safety Officer Jerry Zacharczuk interviewed Township Supervisor John Morgan and Deputy Supervisor Karen Armatis Sept. 16 regarding the allegations.

Scary stuff

Nearly 100 displays of  creativity by local businesses and families will soon be on display in Kellogg Park in downtown Plymouth as the annual exhibit of unique scarecrows is completed. Sponsored this year by Community Financial, the entries include everything from a skeleton horse and rider to super heroes and a very busy bee. The annual display, organized by the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, has become a tradition in the community and the artistic efforts of the entrants escalates each year, drawing huge crowds to the park to admire the straw-based creations. The display will continue through the end of October and entries are currently being added daily.


Former council member charged in plot against city manager

Christopher Sanders
Former Wayne City Councilman Christopher Sanders has been arraigned on charges he paid a fellow defendant to plant a starter pistol and fake drugs in the car of City Manager Lisa Nocerini two years ago.

Sanders, 51, is accused of paying defendant Jimmie Lee Chandler, 28, of Van Buren Township, to break into Nocerini's car while it was parked in the city hall lot on Oct. 12, 2017 and place the starter pistol and fake drugs in the glove compartment. Prosecutors allege that Chandler then watched Nocerini leave in her vehicle and subsequently placed a 911 call to police identifying her vehicle and alleging she had been involved in a road rage incident.

New clerk/treasurer is hired in City of Belleville

Members of the Belleville City Council approved the hiring of Vera Chapman as the new city clerk/treasurer, just in time to manage the Nov. 3 general election.

Chapman, who is expected to begin her new job in Belleville in about a week, is currently employed in Birmingham. She will replace Sheri Scharf who resigned from the dual city position effective Sept. 1.  Scharf did stay on with the city through Sept. 4 in an effort to complete some of the work required by the upcoming election.

Chapman's hiring followed a report earlier this month from Interim City Manager Tracey Schultz Kobylarz who told council members that without Scharf the city was without staff to register voters, send absentee ballots or manage the upcoming election.

Next chapter

New director is welcomed at Leanna Hicks Public Library

Betty Adams took over Aug. 31 as
Leanna Hicks Public Library of Inkster director.
Julie Brown, Special Writer

Betty Adams is happy she made the decision to head the Leanna Hicks Public Library of Inkster.

“The whole building is new,” Inkster resident Adams said of the structure at 2500 Hamlin Blvd. in Inkster. The construction entailed a temporary relocation to an Inkster Road site, with the late March of this year grand reopening delayed by the pandemic.

“I'm a firm believer the sky's the limit. The only thing that's impossible is the thing you don't want to put time into,” she said.

Suspended district judge faces court hearing tomorrow

Former 34th District Court Judge David Parrott is scheduled to  appear for a pretrial hearing tomorrow, Sept. 25, in 35th District Court before Judge James A. Plakas.

Parrott, who was unsuccessful in his bid for reelection to the bench Aug. 4, is facing a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence. He is accused of assaulting his live-in girlfriend Feb. 8 in the Van Buren Township condominium they shared.

Van Buren police were called to the residence on a disturbance call, according to police reports and arrested Parrott based on the evidence at the scene and the accounts of the victim.

Woman arrested twice on child pornography charges

Chelsea Nicole Dunbar
A 32-year-old Romulus woman is facing multiple felony charges for production and distribution of child sexually abusive material.

Chelsea Nicole Dunbar was arrested by the Michigan State Police (MSP) Computer Crimes Unit (CCU), Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force and arraigned on multiple counts of production, distribution, and aggravated possession of child sexually abusive material, and criminal sexual conduct 1st degree.

According to police reports, the investigation began in June when law enforcement became aware of Dunbar possessing computer files of child pornography.  Police said that a further investigation revealed a child victim in the case and a search warrant was executed in Romulus where Dunbar was taken into custody. The child victim was accounted for at the time of arrest, according to police accounts.

Westland police launch new crime reporting system

The City of Westland has once again invested in cutting-edge technology to keep the community safe and promote police department accountability. 

Police Chief Jeff Jedrusik said the department has entered into a partnership with  Altovista Technology, a leader in law enforcement intelligence, to provide the Westland Police Department with a new intelligence risk management software program named Arx Alert.  

Arx Alert is designed to help prevent problems from occurring within a police agency. The program allows for two configurable user dashboards, Jedrusik said.

The first is an internal dashboard which will provide data directly to the chief of police to help analyze department risk on factors such as police pursuits, use of force, officers' productivity and officers' behavior patterns. 

Stepping up

Two officers in the Wayne Police department were recently promoted to new ranks and duties. Newly promoted were Lt. Terrance Springer who was formerly a sergeant on the day shift and Sgt. Nicholas Boruta, who was a detective in the investigations bureau with the department. Springer has been with the City of Wayne Police Department for 17 years, with seven of those years as a sergeant. He has served in various roles during his career, including School Resource Officer, Defensive Tactics / Taser Instructor, Field Training Program Coordinator, Peer Support Team Leader, and Use of Force Review Board.

Oils on glass exhibit at city hall art gallery ends Oct. 2

J. Susan Aitken
 J. Susan Aitken's oil paintings on glass will be showcased at the Westland City Hall in her exhibit, Fusion of Light & Color: A Stained Glass Inspiration, through Oct. 2.  Her entire collection of color infused stained glass paintings will be on display. Her work provides the illusion of stained glass on canvas, she said.

“During a wonderful journey I made with my children years ago, we experienced stained glass masterpieces in France and Italy that took my breath away. The light and the color were unforgettable,” Aitken said, prompting her current work.

Most of the exhibited paintings are inspired by Aitken's imagination or experiences rather than existing stained glass windows.  Instead of the reflective light of glass, there is a constant luminescent quality created through the painting technique which is not dependent on outside light. 

Canton clerk prepares for Nov. 3 General Election

Michael Siegrist
Canton Township Clerk Michael Siegrist, like other municipal clerks throughout the area, is prepared for a large turnout during the upcoming Nov. 3 presidential election.

“Canton is able to staff the precincts using the inspectors from August, along with additional recruits who have expressed interest after reading our call for help in the Canton Focus. Additionally, we increased the pay to $200 for Precinct Inspectors and $300 for Co-Chairs,” Siegrist said.

 Individuals interested in becoming Canton precinct inspectors can visit www.canton-mi.org/vote and click on the Inspector link. An individual can fill out an “Election Inspector Interest Form” indicating interest and availability, he advised.  Siegrist's office provides step-by-step instructions on the website about how to finish the process.

Local restaurant awards 2 culinary arts scholarships

Yelim Park
Sydney Smith
Two aspiring young chefs were recently helped along with their career goals by awards from the Karl's Culinary Scholarship.

This year, Sydney Smith and Yelim Park were each awarded the scholarships.

Smith is a second year student at Schoolcraft College and a second year recipient of the award. She is a 2019 graduate of the Plymouth Canton Education Park. Smith said she loves hospitality, loves food service and hope to someday become a food director at a resort.

Park graduated in 2020 from Plymouth Canton Educational Park and is in her first year at Schoolcraft College. She is currently employed at Rocky's of Northville and her career goal is to be an executive chef at her own restaurant.

On their own

Northville Art House is now independent

The official Dreams and Nightmares exhibit at the Northville Art House is set to close Sept. 26, while the title may aptly describe the ongoing efforts at the facility.

While the Art House has achieved the dream of independence from the city, the COVID 19 effects have added some nightmare elements to the evolution of the facility into an autonomous non-profit organization after operating under the wing of the City of Northville for more than 15 years.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Help wanted


Local clerks seeking poll workers for Nov. 3 election

Julie Brown, Staff Writer
Local municipal clerks are expecting a huge voter turnout for the Nov. 3 presidential election, with heavy voting both in-person at the polls and by absentee ballot.
That presents a special need, they agreed, for more and better trained poll workers this year.
“It is my opinion residents should consider working at least once to learn what it's like on the other side of the table. Personal involvement can be inspirational when one considers the overall process and how it comes together on Election Day,” said Westland City Clerk Richard LeBlanc.

Congresswomens’ visit prompts call to police

Debbie Dingell 
Rashida Tlaib
Two visitors invited to visit the Amazon fulfillment center in Romulus last week were surprised to be described as trespassers to local police.
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib said Friday that police were called while she and fellow Congresswoman Debbie Dingell attempted to visit the facility to observe working conditions.
Tlaib and Dingell called for a federal investigation into Amazon coronavirus mitigation protocols in May after receiving complaints from employees at the Romulus center. The visit Friday was, the elected officials said, at the request of workers and an invitation from Amazon officials.
Tlaib said that she and Dingell waited for an hour and a half at the Romulus warehouse but were admitted only after police were called.

Art smart


Rotary Club of Belleville members gather behind the more than 50 packages of art supplies they assembled at the Fraternal Order of Eagles pavilion to donate to Van Buren Public Schools including Haggerty, Tyler, Savage, Rawsonville, Edgemont and Owen elementary.

Van Buren plans 2 giveaways Saturday

Van Buren Township officials have two events this Saturday to help families cope with the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first free giveaway is set from 10 a.m. until noon or while supplies last. Parents can drive children up to the Parks and Recreation office entrance on the east side of the building at 46425 Tyler Road to pick up a free Insect Adventure Kit.
“Our hope is to get kids to be more active and get outside,” said Deputy Parks and Recreation Director Jennifer Zaenglein. “We want all kids to explore the micro-world around them.”
The kits are recommended for ages 4-10 and limited to the first 100 participants. Inside each kit, children will find a butterfly net, insect glasses, information about the insects in Michigan, and much more, Zaenglein said. This event is sponsored by a grant from Michigan Recreation and Parks Association (mParks) and Taste The Local Difference Michigan.

Comcast opens Inkster store

Inkster residents welcomed a new neighbor last week with the opening of a new retail Comcast store in the city.
The new 3,024-square-foot facility is part of the Comcast multi-million-dollar nationwide commitment to improve customer service, according to a company spokesman.
The new store is located at 27195 Cherry Hill Road, just east of Inkster Road and features contemporary hands-on displays and seating areas where customers can interact with all Xfinity products from internet, video and connected home solutions to Xfinity Mobile. Patrons can learn from trained technology specialists how to get more value from these products.

‘Diversity’ prompts company move to Romulus

 LeRoy Burcroff 
Calling the City of Romulus “the perfect fit” a premier provider of business process solutions will be moving to the community.
FCR will move the company contact center operations into the city. The proposed expansion is part of an FCR pledge to continue bringing opportunity and jobs to smaller communities across the United States while strengthening its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, corporate officials said. 
“I've always believed that the best way to make an impact is through investment in our communities,” said FCR President and Founder Matthew Achak. “After doing substantial research into cities and towns for our next expansion, we decided that the city of Romulus presented us with many new opportunities. Romulus fits perfectly into our business model of offering customer service and technical support jobs to those living in small to mid-size communities.

GriefShare program is now under way at 5 Points Church

A grief-recovery seminar and support group will meet at 5 Points Church in Romulus from 6 until 8 p.m. each Thursday beginning Sept. 17. The church is located at 37300 Goddard at Huron River Dr.
GriefShare offers help and encouragement after the death of a family member or friend in a warm, caring environment, organizers said.

Death of renowned artist Kay Masini is mourned

Kay Masini
The death of well-known artist Kay Masini is being mourned throughout the Plymouth community and on Beaver Island, her second home.
Mrs. Masini, who celebrated her 84th birthday July 31, died Sept. 19. She and her husband, Don, celebrated 70 years of marriage this year and he described her as “the love of my life.” The couple shared many memories of their family times on Beaver Island and their travels. “I miss her more than anyone can imagine,” her husband said.
Mrs. Masini's career as an artist was renowned. Her depth of art knowledge, techniques, experimentation, and dedication to learning and improving her skills was exceptional and remarkable, her family said. Her work was featured in many shows and she had a one-woman exhibition of her work in Canton Township last year.

Former district band director named to new school post

While students at Workman Elementary School in Canton returned to classes in a virtual world last week, they will have plenty of support in their studies.
Marc Whitlock, a 17-year veteran of the Plymouth Canton Community Schools district has been named the new Student Support Coordinator at Workman. Whitlock, who has been an educator for 28 years, was most recently a teacher at the Plymouth-Canton Educational Park and Discovery Middle School while also leading the world-renown Plymouth-Canton Marching Band.

City OK's purchase of solar speed signs

Motorists in Westland will be graphically reminded to slow down in several areas by solar powered radar signs.
Members of the city council approved the purchase of 10 of the solar-powered radar signs at a cost of $27,285 at a recent meeting.  The purchase will be funded through the city Metro Act budget.  The city utilizes state Metro Act funds for public improvements within city right of ways. 
In 2019, Westland received a traffic grant which allowed for the strategic placement of similar solar radar signs throughout the community.  Existing signs have shown to significantly reduce speeding in those locations, noted Police Chief Jeff Jedrusik.
“Reduced speeds help protect our pedestrians and bicyclists,” Jedrusik said.

Public service director awarded national honor

Ramzi El Gharib
Ramzi El-Gharib has been presented a life membership award by the American Public Works Association (APWA). El-Gharib, the public services director for the City of Westland, was selected for the honor in recognition of his 30 years of continuous membership with the APWA. 
The American Public Works Association is a national organization with memberships in all 50 states and Canada. It promotes professional excellence through education, advocacy, and the exchange of knowledge, according to the official website. The APWA strives to increase competence, credibility, and influence of a growing community of diverse and committed public works leaders who serve as a centerpiece of every community to enhance health, productivity, and quality of life.

Former Wayne judge named to national post

Milton Mack, Jr.

State Court Administrator Emeritus, Milton Mack, Jr., has been appointed to serve on a national task force to assist state courts in more effectively responding to the needs of court-involved individuals with serious mental illness. The 40-member group includes four state supreme court chief justices, four state court administrators, and wide range of experts from across the nation. 

Mack, a Wayne resident and former judge at the 29th District Court, has long been an advocate for mental health reform, promoting early intervention and treatment instead of incarceration.

“Given that our justice system is all too often the default mental health system, the work of this task force is timely, essential, and lifesaving,” said Chief Justice Bridget M. McCormack. “Milt's incredible experience and knowledge on this challenging issue will help courts become the catalyst for diverting individuals to treatment instead of jail or prison.” 

Northville financial report is honored for 7th year

Northville Township Treasurer Fred Shadko accepts the
Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA)
Distinguished Budget Presentation Award.
For the seventh consecutive year, the Charter Township of Northville has been awarded the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Distinguished Budget Presentation Award.
Northville Township received the award for satisfying nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation which assess how well the township budget serves as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide, and a communications device.  The award represents a significant achievement by Northville Township and reflects the commitment of the board of trustees and staff to meeting the highest principles in governmental budgeting.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Census workers begin face-to-face interviews


Several area residents can expect some official visitors this month.

Official census takers are in local neighborhoods going door-to-door throughout the area attempting to count those who have not completed the 2020 Census. 

Residents who have not responded to the census can do so by phone, online or by mail, officials said. Those who have already completed the form are far less likely to be visited by the workers. 

Last week, the national response was at 76.5 percent, while local participation differed. In our area, Inkster had the lowest response with 61.2 percent while in Plymouth Township, 87.6 percent of households had responded. Only 12.1 percent of census data was collected by personal visits nationwide with 64.4 percent responding online, by phone or mail.

Annual Maybury Farm Corn Maze set to open

If it is September, the Maybury Farm corn maze must be open.

The traditional 10-acre corn maze will open at the community farm tomorrow and continue through Oct. 25. 

Organizers said the annual maze will have a little different look this season as farm personnel and visitors will be following social distancing directives and will be wearing masks. This year, too, the number of guests in the maze will be restricted and tickets will be by reservation only. The advance ticket sales will allow farm officials to control the number of people in the maze per half hour.  Tickets can be purchased on the website www.mayburyfarm.org.

Clerk advises caution with absentee ballots

Ellen Craig-Bragg
Romulus City Clerk Ellen Craig-Bragg had some strong advice for those planning to use absentee ballots in the upcoming November election.

“Do not turn your ballot over to one of these groups to bring to city hall for you,” she advised voters. “I strongly recommend against this. These groups have good intentions, but this has to do with protecting your ballot and accountability.” 

Craig-Bragg's comments came at a recent meeting of the members of the city council when she reminded residents that requests for absentee ballots need to be made only once. She said her office was receiving phone calls from some voters who were confused by several mass mailings suggesting they request an absentee ballot when they may have already done so.

Detroit Metro Airport to receive federal COVID funding

Officials at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus received some good news last week.

According to U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, the Department of Transportation (DOT) will be awarding $1,957,480 to Detroit Metro Airport. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grant is supplemented by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act - which Stabenow and Peters helped enact - to support airports affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

City controller selected for leadership academy

Devin Adams

City of Westland Controller Devin Adams has been selected to attend the prestigious 2020 Crain's Leadership Academy.

Adams has served as the Westland controller/purchasing director since December of 2012. He holds a bachelor's degree in finance from Western Michigan University and is currently pursuing his master's degree in business administration at Wayne State University.  

Crain's Leadership Academy offers the best of personal development, professional growth, leadership exposure and civic outreach through discovery sessions and guest CEO speakers, according to a prepared statement from the city.

Wayne to welcome Scarecrow Show to downtown

 While scarecrows were originally designed to discourage visitors, those coming to downtown Wayne this month are expected to draw crowds to the area.


Wayne Main Street will again sponsor the Scarecrow Show throughout the downtown area this month. Community members will be able to register to participate in the event this year until Sept. 21. Those interested in participating can register by downloading an entry form online at downtownwayne.org/scarecrows or by registering in person at the Wayne Historical Museum at One Town Square during business hours. The entry fee for the Scarecrow Show is $20 or $15 for returning participants who already have a scarecrow frame. 

Scarecrows will be on display throughout downtown from Sept. 26 through Nov. 6 and community members are encouraged to visit each of the installations, while exploring  historic downtown.  Residents and visitors will also have the opportunity to vote on their favorite scarecrows during a balloting and reception planned from noon until 3 p.m. Oct. 17 in Derby's Alley at 34924 W. Michigan Ave.

Survey details residents’ expansion opinions

City of Northville residents are in favor of new development in the community, as long as it preserves the small town character of the city while managing traffic and enhancing pedestrian options, according to a recent planning commission survey.

During a recent virtual meeting of the Northville Planning Commission, City Planner Sally Elmiger presented the results of the Master Plan Update survey which was developed to learn more about residents' impressions of  Cady Street, Northville Downs racetrack and South Center Street.

Promoted

Northville Township Police Ofc. Todd Seipenko has been promoted to the rank of sergeant, filling the vacancy left by Douglas Scoggins, who retired in May. Seipenko joined the Northville Township Police Department in 2019 after 25 years of service with the Plymouth Township Police Department. While with Plymouth Township, he served in a variety of assignments with his last 12 years as a sergeant.

The Twist

New entertainment venue open downtown

Downtown Northville is offering a new twist on dining in the city.

Officials have approved a new social district in the community, allowing city streets to become an extension of the bars and restaurants themselves.

It's called The Twist and expands already-closed city streets to become an even larger district where visitors can walk the city streets with “cocktails to-go” from participating businesses. The district encompasses N. Center from Main to Dunlap and E. Main from Center to Hutton, with common areas including sidewalks, roadways, Town Square, and Old Church Square. 

Board cancels ‘take out’ order for food truck


Members of the Canton Township Board of Trustees reached a compromise and agreed to a license extension for the  Slows Bar BQ food truck in Cherry Hill Village.

Following complaints from several local restaurants regarding the failure of the food truck to pay taxes in the community and citing an unfair competitive edge, trustees had rejected the Slows’ license extension request at the Aug. 25 meeting by a 4-3 vote.

District students set to begin virtual school year

Students in the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools will begin school this year from home.

In an extended meeting recently, members of the board of education approved a plan to begin the school year virtually, for all students. Board members and administrators noted that the decision was based, in part, from information received in a survey of district families and input from the union which represents district teachers. The district had been planning on a blended system of in-person and virtual classes, but that decision was changed during the discussion of the safety protocols and dangers of COVID-19.

Industrial fire destroys area building

Don Howard, Staff Writer

Plymouth Township firefighters man aerial ladder
truck, one of several fire apparatus required to
control massive industrial fire last week at an
industrial facility. Photo by Dan Phillips

Faulty equipment was determined as the preliminary cause of an industrial fire that destroyed a Plymouth Township manufacturing facility on Friday afternoon.

Fire officials said the building that housed Netshaped Solutions, located at 9075 General Dr. near Joy Road, was likely a total loss but there's a chance much of the heavy industrial cold forming and thread rolling equipment was saved from damage.

Township Fire Chief Dan Phillips said an employee working overtime first reported the fire at 3:45 p.m. According to Phillips. the business entity performs manufacturing operations that involve cutting oil and fluids, believed to be the main source of the fire. 

Special guest

Congresswoman visits area middle school

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, center, visited McBride
Middle School in Belleville last week and spoke with
Principal John Leroy and Assistant Principal
Laura Maher while maintaining social distancing protocols.
Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) drew attention to challenges faced by educators, students, families, and school districts as the return to learning begins during a visit to McBride Middle School in Belleville last week. Dingell highlighted both providing schools the resources they need to bring students back into the classroom safely and averting deep cuts to public education through state and local funding relief.

She saw preparations and distributions of meals and school supplies including Chromebooks for students to stay connected virtually.

Vote recount confirms incumbent supervisor's win

A recount of the primary election totals in Sumpter Township confirmed incumbent John Morgan as the winner in the race for township supervisor.

The recount, requested and funded by candidate Nelson Po, included nine precincts and all absentee ballots. 

Murder suspect granted time to find new attorney

Raymond Lee Bailey

The next court appearance for the man accused of killing his ex-fiancee and three other people in Sumpter Township last month has been delayed.

Judge Tina Brooks Green of the 34th District Court agreed to reschedule the court conference for Raymond Lee Bailey to Sept. 16.  Brooks Green approved the delay to allow Bailey, 37, time to secure a different attorney, who will then need time to review the case.

During the brief video appearance last week, Bailey told the judge that he expected to meet his new attorney during the weekend. He was wearing a face mask and jail garb and is being held without bail in the Wayne County Jail.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Videotapes clear trustee of election allegations

Tim Rush
Claims that a Sumpter Township trustee illegally handled voting machine records during the Aug. 4 primary election have been disproved by videotapes of the entire incident.
Trustee Tim Rush requested that the police body camera video tape and the surveillance tape of the township community center where the incident was alleged to have taken place be shown publicly at the meeting of the board of trustees last week. Rush also made a statement regarding the incident which he requested be entered into the officials record of the meeting.
His denial, and that of several other election and township officials, was prompted by an unsubstantiated claim by township resident Toni Clark who alleged that she witnessed  incumbent Rush mishandling the tabulation tapes from the Precinct 5 voting machine following the close voting at the Aug. 4 primary election.

Special project

Grant will fund Rotary renovations of pavilion at Allen academy 

Rotarians Dick Schmidt, Joe White and Ted Barker meet 
with Rori Meyerink, IPSEP supervisor, at the pavilion, 
to discuss renovation plans.
Members of the Rotary Club Plymouth A.M. have a very “special” upcoming project.
The club received a $3,700 grant from the Plymouth Community Foundation to help fund renovations on a pavilion located behind Allen Learning Academy which houses the Infant and Preschool Special Education Program (IPSEP) of the Plymouth-Canton Commun-ity Schools.
The Plymouth A.M. Rotary club has been a partner with IPSEP for almost 20 years, previously outfitting both the sensory integration room and the handicap accessible playground at the school. With the grant funds funding materials, Rotary Club volunteers will paint and decorate the pavilion and put a barrier around the structure for children's safety.

New evidence presented in teacher's sexual abuse trial

Jason William Dean
A former Michigan Hawks girls' soccer team coach who taught in both the Wayne-Westland and Northville schools is facing five counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Five charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct were filed in Oakland County last January after a woman came forth alleging the abuse by Jason William Dean when she was his student in 2010. She was 14 and Dean was her teacher and soccer and basketball coach, according to prosecutors.
Dean, of Livonia, was arraigned on the charges in January but prosecutors came forth earlier this month with more evidence from students in both the Northville and Wayne school districts where Dean taught and coached.

Van Buren schools to offer virtual and in-person classes

More than 63 percent of students in the Van Buren Public Schools will return to classes virtually.
Recently, Superintendent of Schools Pete Kudlak explained the safety protocols which will be in place throughout the school buildings during a virtual meeting available on Facebook.
Kudlak cautioned parents that several factors are still uncertain but that teachers are returning to their various school buildings for training sessions to accommodate the virtual learning selected by a majority of families as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic. About 28 teachers will be providing remote classes, four at each grade level, Kudlak said. He told parents he expects that class sizes will be from 15-20 students.

Court hearings continue for judge facing domestic violence charge

Former 34th District Court Judge David Parrott will appear for a pretrial hearing Sept. 25 in 35th District Court before Judge James A. Plakas.
Parrott, who was unsuccessful in his Aug. 4 bid for reelection to the bench, is facing a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence. He is accused of assaulting his live-in girlfriend Feb. 8 in the Van Buren Township condominium they shared.
Van Buren police were called to the residence on a disturbance call, according to police reports and arrested Parrott based on the evidence at the scene and the account of the victim.

Clerk defends election and staff

Sumpter Township Clerk Esther Hurst issued a public statement during the regular meeting of the board of trustees last week, defending her staff and the election process in the community.
Hurst was visibly concerned with recent allegations of impropriety leveled at her office and staff, including now disproved allegations of the mishandling of tabulation tapes from a voting machine in Precinct 5. (See related story, page 1.)
Nelson Po, a failed candidate for supervisor, has filed for a recount of absentee ballots in the Aug. 4 primary citing “fraud or mistake” on the part of election workers resulting in his receiving only 159 absentee votes.

Renovations to pond at Heritage Park are approved

Members of the Canton Township Board of Trustees unanimously approved a fee of $34,812 for renovations and maintenance at the Heritage Park amphitheater pond during a regular meeting earlier this month.
Leisure Services Director Greg Hohenberger explained to the trustees that the lone bidder on the work was Rigero, LLC. The contract will address the issues at the pond, he said, and will include the installation of Bio-Health pods in the 3.59-acre pond. Funds for the work will be re-allocated from 2020 tree management budget.
Hohenberger explained that over time, chemical treatments and dyes have covered and killed algae in many of the ponds owned by the township which was a “temporary fix to the algae issue.”

Final site plan for Arbor Glen condominiums OK’d by board

The final site plan for the Arbor Glen Condominiums was unanimously approved by members of the Canton Township Board of Trustees at their meeting last month.
Municipal Services Director Jade Smith noted that the petitioners, Mike Noles from Diffin-Umlor and Chris Plumb from Pulte were proposing to locate 36 single-family residential site condominiums on approximately 36.02 acres  at the northwest corner of Warren Road and Ridge Road.
One entrance is proposed on Ridge Road on the south part of the site, located about 400 feet north of Warren Road, and one emergency vehicle entrance is proposed on Ridge Road on the north part of the site, located about 1,675 feet north of Warren Road. The developer proposes to pave Ridge Road from Warren Road to approximately 100 feet north of the southern entrance to the development, according to Smith's executive summary of the project.

First recreational marijuana shop opens in city

Scott Gocaj didn't let any grass grow under his feet.
When members of the Wayne City Council approved the sale of recreational marijuana in the city in July, Gocaj prepared to open the first of the four shops approved for licenses in the city. The ordinance in Wayne allows for up to four marijuana retail licenses but those must also sell medicinal marijuana.
Gocaj said this is his first business, although he and his family have been in the Wayne area for decades.

Westland Development director to attend Women's League Leadership Academy

Aubrey Berman
Aubrey Berman was one of only 35 applicants selected to participate in the Women's Municipal League Leadership Program this year. The program is organized by the Michigan Municipal League.
Berman has served as the Westland economic development director since March of 2019 after serving five years in an administrative/communications role in the office of Mayor William R. Wild.  She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from Florida Gulf Coast University and a master's degree in business administration in global leadership from Cleary University.
The women's leadership program is offered as a part of the municipal league 16/50 Project, which aims to empower women to lead communities and works to make gender balance a reality for local governments in Michigan.

New leads sought in 2019 fatal shooting

Anthony “Nick” Jones 
The cash reward for information into the death of Anthony “Nick” Jones last year has been increased to $2,500.
A new billboard in the city of Inkster announces the reward amount offered by Crime Stoppers for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the Aug. 31, 2019 death of Mr. Jones, 54.
According to witness accounts and police reports, Mr. Jones was on his way to a high school reunion to shoot video of the event when he was involved in a verbal altercation with another driver on Lehigh Street, near John Daly in Inkster. That driver reportedly shot Mr. Jones in the head and left him to die, police said. 

Police arrest barricaded man

Inkster police are continuing the investigation into a domestic complaint that escalated into a police standoff with a man barricaded in a home last week.
According to police reports, officers responded to a call at about 8:20 p.m. Aug. 27 about a man armed with a crossbow barricaded in a home near Colgate and Beech Daly. The suspect had barricaded himself following a domestic situation, police said, in which the man had allegedly fired a pellet gun at his girlfriend and then armed himself with the crossbow and refused to leave the home.

Wayne OK's new truck storage yard

Members of the Wayne City Council accepted the recommendation of the city planning commissioners and unanimously approved a plan for a new truck terminal.
The site plan, requested by Grewal Trucking, includes the construction of a new truck terminal on 2.8 acres of vacant property south of Annapolis and west of Treadwell in the city. Grewal will store trucks at the site which will have two buildings, according to Wayne Building and Engineering Director Michael Buiten.

Renovations at elementary school buildings set to begin

Eriksson, Field, Hulsing and Dodson elementary schools in the Plymouth Canton Community Schools district will be among the first to receive upgrades and renovations funded by the $275 million bond issue voters approved earlier this year.
Members of the district board of education learned of the priorities of the planned projects during their regular meeting. These buildings were selected, according to Bill McCarthy of McCarthy & Smith, Inc., due to the need for additional class space and the development of secure entrances at Field, Eriksson and Hulsing.  McCarthy said the similarity of the buildings would allow architects greater ease in preparing plans, rather than having to design entries specific to unique plans in separate buildings.

Place your bets

Live racing under way at Northville track

The odds are in betters' favor at Northville Downs which opened recently for standardbred racing.
The racetrack will require all visitors to wear face masks and health screenings and temperature checks will be required for all spectators. Social distancing is required and the grandstand capacity is limited to no more than 896 persons, including the bar and restaurant area. Track management was required to move more than 100 tables, 500 chairs and 200 televisions to accommodate the health requirements. Crowd capacity has been reduced, track managers said, by 85 percent.

School superintendent says student safety is top priority

Newly-hired Superintendent of Romulus Schools Dr. Benjamin P. Edmondson has made the safety of district students his top priority as plans for fall classes are under way.
In a recent communication of families, Edmondson said that as a parent himself, nothing is more important than knowing children are in the safest environment possible.
To that end, he said, district educators will be “champions of safety, personal, physical, emotional and intellectual.”
He said that the decision to offer virtual classes from Sept. 8 through at least Oct. 30 was “well thought out and considerate of our community.”
Edmondson explained that the members of the Romulus Community Schools Board of Education made the best possible decision offered to them, as the safety of students and staff had to be the first priority.
“I believe we made the best, available option in going virtual for a few months. Many schools are experiencing such a disruption to the school day due to positive tests and potential exposures. Even if we are able to provide some degree of face-to-face (traditional) interactions with limited student populations (ie, self-contained students, emotionally impaired), it is a safer option than opening up our entire district and risking full exposure to the virus,” he said.

Metro Airport catering business warns of 100 upcoming layoffs

Another business has fallen victim to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in the loss of more than 100 jobs at Detroit Metro Airport in Romulus.
Sky Chefs, an airline catering company, announced the layoffs of more than 100 workers in a letter to state officials, July 31. The letter was posted this month and said that the layoffs will begin Oct. 1.
“We are writing to inform you that due to a dramatic downturn in business as a result of COVID-19 there will be a mass layoff,” the owners of Sky Chefs wrote in their letter to the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget.

Romulus library continues curbside lending services for public

The Romulus Public Library remains in phase two of reopening to the public and is continuing curbside pickup for patrons.
The library will remain in the curbside pickup phase of the reopening plan while the building is being prepared for reopening to the public, a spokesman said.
“We are applying for grants to help us with social distancing signage, deep cleaning, and other supplies to make the library as safe as possible for you. Our first priority is the safety and well-being of our staff and patrons, so we are closely following protocols from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and MiOSHA,” he noted in a posting on the library website.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Million dollar makeover begins at Hatchery Park

Johnson Creek at Fish Hatchery Park in Northville.
A million dollar makeover is currently under way at Johnson Creek at Fish Hatchery Park in Northville. The project will transform the park, improving both fish habitat and visitor experience, as well as bolstering water quality within the Rouge River watershed, township officials said.
Construction crews from Anglin Civil, LLC, of Livonia, recently began tearing out the overgrowth that will expose the now-hidden Johnson Creek and allow easier access to the crumbling wall that runs the length of the creek. Workers will replace the wall with a natural earth berm and dredge Fish Hatchery Pond, two key steps to improve fish passage between the pond and creek and to create a more hospitable fish and wildlife habitat, they added.

County commissioners oppose new Census deadline

Members of the Wayne County commission have unanimously opposed the effort that moved the response date for the 2020 U.S. Census from Oct. 31 to Sept. 30.
At the same time, commissioners strongly urged those who haven't yet responded to make sure they are included in the count this year.
“With all that is going on in the world and in our country we need to keep things the way they are,” Chairman Alisha  Bell said. “Michigan is doing well in terms of its census response but some Wayne County communities are not. It is so important to have a fair and accurate count.
“The census determines how much revenue our county will receive from the federal government for the next decade.''

Wayne County Community College OKs virtual classes

Students at the Ted Scott Campus of Wayne County Community College District (WCCCD) in Belleville will be attending classes virtually this fall.
Like most of the local school districts in the area, the college will also begin classes virtually in an effort to protect students and faculty from the effects of the COVID-10 pandemic.
In a letter to students last week, Chancellor Curtis Ivery said that the classes would be moved to “alternative virtual modalities.”
Ivery said there will be “a very small number” of exceptions for health science and career education courses that require hands-on learning experiences.

Friends, family celebrate life, and legacy of Mary L. Menard

Mary L. Menard
The family of Mary L Menard has asked her many  friends and acquaintances to raise a glass of Chardonnay and celebrate her life with a toast to her memory.
 Mrs. Menard, 72, died peacefully Aug. 19, surrounded by her family.
She arrived in the world on Dec. 20, 1947, part of a proud Chicago brood of six children.  Mrs. Menard originally aspired to a life in the religious community, but that changed when she met the love of her life, Walter. The couple was married in 1967 and started their family, being blessed with two daughters. 
In the early 70s, the couple moved their family to Southeast Michigan where they began their custom home construction business, now known as Menard Builders.

Canton offering multiple outdoor fitness programs

Canton Leisure Services is now offering an outdoor programming lineup which includes an assortment of fitness classes.  Participants can choose from: Yoga; Cardio & Core; Zumba; Plyometric Sculpt; Total Body; Circuit Training; Bootcamp; Cycle, and several others, organizers said.
Each 55-minute class takes place at either the Heritage Park Amphitheater, located behind the Summit on the Park at 46000 Summit Parkway or the Summit on the Park Community Court, located in the Summit west parking lot, weather permitting.
“We are thrilled to be able to provide some of our most popular fitness classes in an outdoor environment,” said Health and Wellness Specialist Jennifer Franz.  “All of these programs have been developed to allow for safe physical distancing, with smaller class sizes, and other important safety protocols which include equipment sanitizing procedures, and more.”

New traffic signal installed, work on township roads continues

Crews have been at work this week on road repairs and traffic controls in Canton Township.
A new traffic light has been installed at Beck Road and Michigan Avenue while work on  Sheldon Road between Warren and Ford roads is under way.
The Sheldon Road repair is described by Wayne County Road Commission engineers as a 2-inch mill and fill on the area of the heavily-traveling north-south road. The work was expected to be complete and the road open to traffic this week.

What's in a name?

Township chooses winning name for new park

A portion of the newly-named Legacy Park of Northville.
Northville Township has chosen a winning entry in the Name the Park contest.  Legacy Park of Northville was the unanimous choice of members of the board of trustees who approved the new name during their virtual meeting earlier this month.
The winning entry was submitted by two Northville Township residents, Sharon Hayden and Pam Norcutt, who will share the $200 prize for the winning entry.
Northville Township Clerk Marjorie Banner received more than 100 entries for the contest that began June 20.
“Many came in with explanations about why the name was suggested,” Banner said. “Some tugged at our heartstrings, while others connected history to the park. It was a difficult decision.”

Beautification commission chooses 2020 winners

Members of the Northville Beautification Commission did not let the coronavirus stop them from choosing the award winners in the community this year.
For the 31st consecutive year, local businesses were honored for displays of flowers and plants in the city, adding to the character of the community. This year, members of the commission received flowers and plants for the city efforts on June 2, just after nurseries were allowed to reopen by the governor. The plants were installed in containers and distributed at key sites in the city by commission volunteers who worked as a group, but took recommended safety precautions, working at safe distances and wearing masks.

Shooting suspect faces first-degree murder charges

Raymond Lee Bailey 
Raymond Lee Bailey was arraigned last Wednesday in 34th District Court on four counts of first degree murder and four counts of felony firearm.
Bailey, 37, of Kinross, faces the felony murder charges in connection with four homicides that occurred Aug. 15 in Sumpter Township.  Sumpter Township police officers responded to a 911 call at about 12:30 p.m. reporting gunshots at a home in the 24900 block of Martinsville Road.  When officers arrived at the home, they discovered four victims, two men and two women, who had apparently died of gunshot wounds.
The deceased were subsequently identified by police as Laura Tanner, 35 and her sister, Sarah Grupa, 38 of Detroit, and brothers, Forrest Sampson, 28 and Neal Sampson, 30, both of Van Buren Township. Prosecutors allege that at the time of the shooting, Laura Tanner was having ongoing problems with Bailey, her former boyfriend.

Back to the future

Romulus Movies in the Park 
set in old-fashioned drive-in venue

The City of Romulus has gone back to the future with the showing of the annual summer Movies in the Park in an old-fashioned drive-in style venue.
The drive-in movies are an effort to protect the community amid the COVID-19 pandemic and still provide the evening movies which have become a tradition in the city. The films will be shown beginning at dusk on the last Fridays in August and September in a field on Olive Street between Grant and Bibbins streets.
The movie for Friday, Aug. 28 will be Trolls World Tour while the film for Friday, Sept. 25 has not yet been announced, city officials said.

Business to Business workshop goes to virtual format

The City of Romulus launched a virtual Business-to-Business Networking Series last week in an effort to promote economic development and provide support for local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Representatives from Wayne County, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Detroit Regional Aerotropolis joined the conversation to provide updates on grants and other available business resources.
“I see the city of Romulus as a business-friendly municipality, and I think the future looks good for businesses in Romulus,” said Wayne County District 11 Commissioner Al Haidous during the meeting. “The city of Romulus is a hotspot for economic development.”

Westland rededicates park to honor civic leader

Virgil Gagnon, bottom right, was a member
of the original Nankin Township Charter. 
City of Westland officials celebrated the official re-dedication of the Virgil Gagnon Jaycee Park last week.
Mr. Gagnon and his family are among the earliest civic leaders in Westland, officials said and he and his wife, Harriet, were very active in the community with the PTA, Scouting, and many other civic organizations. In 1946, The Gagnons opened the Hamburger House on Michigan Avenue and in the 1950s they opened the Gagnon & Son's Gulf Gas Station at the corner of Wayne and Warren roads.  In 1962, the couple organized the Nankin Township Chamber of Commerce.

Upgrades to Wayne Atwood Park playscape are delayed

Wayne officials are promising that the upgrades to Atwood Park will be worth the long wait.
Despite an official announcement earlier this year that the park would see a new play structure in early spring or summer, no work has been done at the site, prompting questions from several residents in the area. In a response on the city Facebook page, officials said COVID-19 “created some significant delays with this project.” 
The play structure removal and new installation is being funding using a grant from Wayne County which includes strict guidelines regarding the process, officials said.
“In order to follow the grant guidelines, the city and the county have to go through a formal bid process. Once a bid is accepted, the city and county will work with the selected contractor to schedule the project timeline,” officials said.

Photography exhibit continues

The Gallery at Westland City Hall in August is hosting an exhibit of the fine art photography of Allen Brooks. 
Brooks, a former Westland portrait studio owner turned his talents to fine art photography upon retiring several years ago. 
His award-winning style of photography has been displayed throughout Southeast Michigan.  The exhibit is free and open during regular hours at Westland City Hall.

Police investigate 2 shooting deaths in Inkster

Two incidents of gun violence resulting in deaths remain under investigation by police in the City of Inkster.
The most recent incident took place last Friday night when a 14-year-old died after he was shot in the head, apparently by another teen.
Inkster police and Michigan State Police responded to the incident at about 10:35 p.m. Aug. 21 at Dearborn View Apartments where they discovered the body of the teen, dead from an apparent gunshot wound.
Emergency responded transported the victim to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Annual Romulus Pumpkin Festival is cancelled for 2020

The Romulus Pumpkin Festival has, like so many other community events throughout the country, been cancelled for 2020.
A statement from the city noted that the cancellation was, “In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and at the recommendation of the Pumpkin Festival Planning Committee and the Romulus Rotary Club.”
Officials said that the decision to cancel the festival and the annual Parade of Lights which traditionally begins the event, was made after careful consideration of all options.

Lawsuit claims racial discrimination at truck trailer plant

Three former employees at a Romulus truck trailer company claim they faced racist treatment while working at the business, including a display of nooses.
Three African-American men have sued Benlee, Inc., claiming in court filings that a noose was hung at the company twice while they worked there as part of a series of racial incidents aimed at intimidating them.
Jermaine Ware, a Detroit resident, filed his lawsuit In March in Wayne County Circuit Court. Last week, Marcus Gray of Westland and JaJuan Jones of Detroit, also filed lawsuits, alleging they were called the N-word and “boy” while working at Benlee Inc. In their court filings, Gray and Jones also allege white co-workers threatened them and other African American workers saying they were going to “hand them” while in full view of a  13-coil “hangman's noose,” visibly displayed on company premises. Gray's legal filing alleges that a white co-worker tried to put a wire around his neck and threatened to hang him.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Futuristic driverless route set for Michigan Avenue

A Cavnue concept rendering of the new
Michigan Connected Corridor vehicles.
It will take several years to complete, but if all goes as planned, there will be driverless vehicles traveling in a dedicated lane down Michigan Avenue connecting Ann Arbor to downtown Detroit.
The proposed route will travel through Canton Township, the City of Wayne and Inkster, with proposed stops along the route at the University of Michigan Dearborn and Detroit Metro Airport in Romulus. Developers said that plans would allow passengers to summon connected or autonomous vehicles and know their pickup and arrival time on the route. Speakers said the project has the potential to make transit more accessible and equitable.
The plan was announced last week during a joint press conference with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer; Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Co.; Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Jonathan Winer, co-CEO of Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, the lead developer of the project.

Skydive to save lives

Rotary Club members take a 14,000-foot 
leap of faith to eradicate polio

Jan Eisen, left, Rotary District Governor Noel Jackson and Chuck Bares
enthusiastically prepare for their 14,000-foot skydive
to earn funds to fight polio. Photo by Dave Willett
They took a leap of faith last Saturday when several members of both the Plymouth Noon and Wayne Rotary clubs jumped out of a plane at 14,000 feet.
The courageous club members followed the lead of District 6400 Governor Noel Jackson who organized the flight to fight polio and urged club members to secure pledges from friends, family members and strangers to ensure they actually jumped from the aircraft. To date, the Skydive for Police effort has generated more than $123,036 to the Rotary effort to immunize children and eradicate polio world wide. That total includes a two to one grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, whose interest was piqued by the unusual fundraising effort.

Butterfly Gardens taking root in Plymouth area parks

Kellogg Park
The City of Plymouth has some new residents and neighbors have welcomed them to the community.
Butterfly gardens have been installed in Kellogg Park, Lion's Club Park and the Knights of Columbus Park in the city. The plants and flowers blooming add color to the park and create a habitat for butterflies, bees, hummingbirds and other pollinators. Each of the gardens includes host plants and pollinator perennials including Coneflowers, Black Eyed Susans, Daisies, Bee Balm, Phlox, Swamp Week, butterfly Weed, Wildflowers, Dill and Fennel, officials said. The garden projects were led by Department of Municipal Services Operations Technician Dave Cirilli.

29-year veteran of Canton Township Police Department retires

Lieutenant James Harrison has retired from the Canton Township Police Department after a 29-year career with the law enforcement agency.
Harrison, or “Turtle” as he's affectionately known around the department, was hired as a police officer in 1991; he was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 2008 and to lieutenant in 2017.
Early in his career, Harrison participated in numerous special units including assignments as a range/firearms instructor, bicycle unit officer, and a field training officer. Most notably, he served 13 years on the elite Western-Wayne Special Operations Team as an assistant team leader.

Ethics, racism commissioners to be named

Westland officials are seeking a group of residents to serve on two separate commissions charged with ensuring integrity and non-discrimination in city government.
Mayor William R. Wild is currently accepting applications to reestablish an ethics commission in the city. Members of the ethics commission would evaluate and submit written opinions about any ethical concerns or complaints filed by residents or city employees. That written opinion would be forwarded to the mayor and the departments involved in the complaint for a response or action.
Applications for the committee can be submitted online by accessing the city website, but candidates will be held to some high standards according to Wild, Council President Jim Hart and Councilman Jim Godbout. All have expressed concerns about applicants seeking an appointment for political reasons and a concern that there is a danger of “weaponizing” such a commission.

Suspect in Sumpter shooting deaths surrenders

Raymond Lee Bailey
The Sumpter Township man sought in connection with the shooting and killing of four people in a Martinsville Road last week surrendered to police Sunday evening.
According to Sumpter Township Police Chief Eric Luke, Raymond Lee Bailey, 37, the subject of a state-wide manhunt, entered the Bay County Sheriff's office and turned himself over to authorities at about 10 p.m. Aug. 16.  Luke said that officers from Sumpter Township were already en route to the Bay City area as part of the investigation and took Bailey into custody and transported him to Sumpter Township where he is incarcerated awaiting a charge determination from the office of the Wayne County prosecutor's office.