Thursday, December 31, 2020

Buyer withdraws from Wilcox Mill art center project

Plans to remodel the abandoned Wilcox Mill into a community
art center have been withdrawn.
Plans for a community art center at the historic Wilcox Mill in Plymouth have been withdrawn.

Plans for the art center, submitted by the Art Foundation established by renowned local artist Tony Roko, had included establishment of an art studio, a sculpture garden and an art center. Roko planned to purchase the mill property from Wayne County and county commissioners had approved his plan and the sale of the historic mill in 2019, despite public protests.

“For the business model that we proposed, the project combined with the economic impact of the pandemic, just became unfeasible,” Greg Hoffman, executive director of the Art Foundation, said.  He added that he and Roko did not want to alter the plans already approved by the county for the site and made the decision to return the property to county ownership.

Friendly rivalry

Kiwanis, Rotary clubs compete for Salvation Army contributions

Julie Brown, Special Writer

Plymouth Township Trustee John Stewart, left, and Supervisor 
Kurt Heise ring bells for the Salvation Army Red Kettle 
campaign Dec. 11 at the Plymouth Kroger store.  No totals 
as to the winner of the decade-long rivalry between 
the Rotary and Kiwanis clubs as to which collected
 more during the holiday effort.
On Monday, Dec. 21, staff and volunteers of the Wayne-Westland Salvation Army had their fingers crossed - and prayers in abundance too.

The corps, serving the cities of Wayne, Westland, Inkster, Romulus and New Boston, set a $130,000 fundraising goal this Christmas season. Envoy Andrew Barylski noted this year fundraising is down.

“People are not as willing to get out and bell ring” as in the past, Barylski said. Donations by check, cash or money order payable to The Salvation Army remain more than welcome, taken to or sent to: 2300 S. Venoy Road, Westland, MI 48186. The corps is south of Palmer Road on the west side of Venoy.


2 large retailers announce closings of Canton Township locations

Photo by Sean Rhaesa
Two major retailers have announced plans to close locations along Ford Road in Canton Township.

Loves Furniture, which replaced Art Van Furniture only four months ago, and JCPenney officials have announced that both respective stores will close as part of operating reductions.  In an official statement, JCPenney management said the closure of 15 stores is part of a “store optimization strategy that began in June with our financial restructuring.”  The retailer plans to close about 200 stores nationwide through next year, according to a spokesperson as part of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings which took place earlier this year.

Lobbyist reports state actions to board of trustees

Julie Brown, Special Writer

In a year-end wrap-up to members of the Canton Township Board of Trustees, Stephanie Johnson of lobbying firm Khoury Johnson Leavitt, noted, “It was quite an eventful lame duck” session in Lansing and in Washington, D.C.

Speaking Dec. 22 to officials, Johnson noted some $900 billion was OK'd in federal aid, which will help the unemployed. She said Michigan legislators OK'd some $465 million in relief related to COVID-19, including extending unemployment benefits from 20 weeks to 26 weeks.

Michigan also has a hazard pay provision for first responders, as well as some school aid, she said.

Happy holiday

Maraschinos donates scooters to Canton BLOCK youth members

Maraschinos Pub staff distributed electric scooters to
Canton Youth Connection members resulting in plenty of smiles.
Participants of The B.L.O.C.K. Youth and Teen Center Canton Youth Connection (CYC) program each received a very special holiday gift this year donated by Maraschinos Pub. 

In the spirit of the season, Maraschinos Pub donated 26 electric scooters so that every Canton Youth Connection participant was able to take home this popular holiday gift. After holding a dine and donation drive, where 50 percent of all their sales from Saturday, Dec. 12 were put toward the gifts, Maraschinos Pub was able to provide holiday cheer to all of these participants. 

Records department hours change

Hours at the Canton Public Safety Department Records Bureau will change effective Monday, Jan. 4. 

New hours at the records bureau will be 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Mondays: 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Tuesdays: 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays. The bureau will be closed on Fridays.

Sumpter supervisor thanks donors for participation

Sumpter Township Supervisor Timothy P. Bowman recently expressed his appreciation to those who donated this year enabling the township to help make the holidays a little brighter for children the community.

“I would like to take this opportunity to extend my deepest thanks to our sponsors that donated this year to enable the township to obtain gift cards for the children in our community in lieu of our annual children's Christmas party,” Bowman said in a prepared statement. 

New recruit?

Police Facebook page offers a little holiday humor 

Officer R. PeeDee
The Romulus Police Department introduced a new recruit last week to help brighten up the holidays in the community with a little tongue-in-cheek humor.

On the police Facebook page, new officer R. PeeDee, offered a holiday “hymn” to bring a few smiles to area residents while sending good wishes. The puppet, proudly sporting his well-tailored police uniform, is strongly reminiscent of one of the Muppet characters. During a short Facebook video, he offers his own version of Christmas carol favorite The Twelve Days of Christmas in a deep baritone.

He sings: “On the 12th day of training, Romulus gave to me, 12 new policies; 11 notebook pads; 10 ticket books; nine new passwords; eight flashlight batteries; seven face masks; six new pairs of pants; five new ink pens; four sets of shirts; three FT0s; two pairs of handcuffs and a bright shiny new badge.”

Award winner

The Michigan Downtown Association recently recognized Harris Park in Van Buren Township as the 2020 Best Placemaking Project in the state. The urban park features free Wi-Fi, a digital message board, walking path, doggie stations, benches, picnic tables, pavilion, pergola, light bollards with charging stations and a large grassy area. Additionally, the property includes the Downtown Development Authority office and a conference room for business workshops and training sessions. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Harris Park has seen consistent daily usage. Van Buren Township residents have gathered at the park for socially distant activities such as business and chamber events, martial arts and dance classes, pop-up car shows, impromptu concerts, a drive-by baby shower, birthday parties and two weddings.

Time travel

Museum ‘Christmas with the First Ladies’ exhibit continues until Jan. 10 

Julie Brown, Special Writer

Christmas with the First Ladies at The White House is a popular exhibit now on display at the Plymouth Historical Museum, 155 S. Main St. in downtown Plymouth.

The exhibit, which continues until Jan. 10, goes “right back to Martha, the very first,” museum Marketing Director Rennae Green said of Martha Custis Washington. “We do go all the way back so it's quite a span.”

Some 20 costumed mannequins are featured, with many dresses from the collection of archivist Pam Yockey, also a seamstress. The Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama and Melania Trump years are covered.

Area mourns death of former Northside Hardware owner

Philip Kaplan
Philip Kaplan, the long-time owner of Northside Hardware in Wayne, died Dec. 21.

Mr. Kaplan and his brother, Sidney, acquired Northside Hardware in 1955 and grew the business into one of the most successful independent hardware stores in the country. He continued to work until almost his 90th birthday and developed numerous special friendships that endured over his entire life.

Mr. Kaplan was born July 5, 1925, the fifth and youngest child of Isaac and Fanny Kaplan. On Aug 13, 1943 he and the love of his life, Diane Pritz, went on their first date and an enduring love affair, partnership and friendship resulted in 73 years of marriage. They had three children, Gary, Robert and Janet.

The couple traveled extensively to all of the continents and Mr. Kaplan was always very curious and interested in everyone he knew and met. He was well known for his sense of humor and many would often seek him out for the latest joke. 

In addition to his wife, Mr. Kaplan is survived by his son, Gary (Wendy); his daughter, Janet (Howard); two grandchildren, Erin Zeitler (Daniel) and Zachary Kaplan, and two great-grandchildren, Riley and Mason.

He is also survived by several nieces, nephews, great-nieces and -nephews along with many friends especially in Seattle, North Carolina, New York area and the Detroit area.

Contributions in his memory can be made to Detroit Institute of Arts, Birmingham Temple, or Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, Washington.

Final arrangements were entrusted to The Ira Kaufman Chapel. 

Attempted theft of ATM machine is investigated

The investigation into the attempted theft of a Chase Bank ATM machine in Plymouth is under  way, according to officials.

Police were dispatched to the Ann Arbor Road location just west of Main Street at about 4 a.m. Dec. 20 in response to a mechanical alarm, according to police reports. Responding officers discovered an ATM machine in the drive-through lane which ad been dislodged from the cement and removed.  The machine had been knocked over and had chains attached and may have been dragged.

State opens some venues

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) updated its epidemic order recently to allow indoor activities where Michiganders can remain masked, as this has been scientifically shown to slow the virus. This includes in-person learning at high schools and indoor entertainment venues. Casinos, bowling centers and movie theatres will be allowed to reopen with total capacity capped at 100; food and drink concessions closed; and social distancing requirements in place. The new order will last until Friday, Jan. 15.

Governor names local attorney to Civil Rights Commission

Richard Corriveau
Richard Corriveau of Northville has been appointed to the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. 

Corriveau is a trial attorney and the president of Richard J. Corriveau Law, P.C.

He is a veteran of the United States military and previously worked as a public school teacher and an adjunct professor. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in English from Michigan State University, a master of arts in education and psychology from the University of Michigan, and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Detroit Law School. 

Westland Finance Department now open for bill payments

The City of Westland Finance Department has reopened to the public for tax and water bill payment services. Finance staff members will be available during normal hours of operation to process in-person payments. 

Other city hall business will be permitted by appointment only. 

This includes the assessing, building, clerk, housing and Westland CARES and planning offices. 

State and local Inkster leaders provide coats for children and seniors

State Rep. Jewell Jones (D-Inkster) partnered with local leaders to provide winter coats for children and seniors in need last week. He was joined by Inkster Mayor Patrick Wimberly, Justice Group CEO Kevin Harrington, and

Adam Davis Jr.

“I commend Brothers Kevin Harrington and Adam Davis, as well as the many sponsors for bringing this to my hometown,” said Jones. “It's a beautiful feeling to give back to the community that raised you. But what makes this so sweet is that we've opened up the borders to welcome youth and seniors from any community. This is what it means to give back.”

Gift of Life

Local teens support organ transplant efforts

Key2Finesse, a student-led nonprofit organization with members in both Canton and Northville, has generated $75,000 for the Gift of Life Foundation through a year-long partnership.

The Gift of Life Foundation supports the Gift of Life Michigan mission of honoring life through organ and tissue donation. The funds will be used to further promote organ and tissue donation education and awareness and provide financial support for transplant recipients and the social workers at Michigan Transplant Centers.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Father arrested in shooting of 8-year-old boy

The police investigation into the fatal shooting of an 8-year-old by his father in their Canton Township home has been sent to the office of the Wayne County Prosecutor, according to police reports.

Police have taken the father into custody in what has been described as an accidental shooting that took place while he was cleaning a gun in the home. The child, Jack Bennett, was a student in the Wayne Westland School District. 

Officers were called to a home on Old Michigan Avenue near Haggerty at about 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 15, according to police reports. The wounded child was rushed to an area hospital by emergency responders but died the same day.

Sacred service

Plymouth, Romulus join Wreaths Across America

Members of the Huron Valley Chapter Sons of the American Revolution
and the Sarah Ann Cochrane Chapter of the Daughters of the American
Revolution ready wreaths to honor veterans at Riverside Cemetery
on Wreaths Across America Day last week.
Don Howard, Staff Writer

Last Saturday, Riverside Cemetery in Plymouth and Romulus Memorial Cemetery were the sites of mass wreath laying ceremonies by participants of the National Wreaths Across America Day when some 200 volunteers placed more than 500 wreaths on veterans' graves. 

Each December, there is a coordinated mission to remember fallen U.S. veterans, honor those who serve, and teach children the value of freedom, is carried out at Arlington National Cemetery and more than 2,100 locations across the U.S., in all 50 states, at sea and abroad. 

Testing for virus now available

Testing for COVID-19 is now available to the public in both Wayne and Westland.

The cities have cooperated with Wayne County to provide the testing sites in an effort to reach the goal of 8,000 tests each day.

In Wayne, the cost-free testing with reportedly shorter waiting times is open at the HYPE Recreation Center from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturdays. The athletic center is located at 4635 Howe Road in Wayne.

In Westland, testing will take place in the parking lot at the Westland Friendship Center, located at 1119 Newburgh Road. Residents will have no out of pocket expenses for testing. However, if insurance information is available, it will be collected for the laboratory testing fees.

Oath of office

Plymouth Township Supervisor Kurt Heise was officially sworn into office for his second term earlier this month. Heise said that it was "my distinct honor" to be officially sworn in by. Circuit Court Judge Annette Berry, sister of our newest Trustee Audrey Monaghan. Berry administered the oath of office to each member of the board of trustees just before the official meeting.  "In the years ahead we will need your support, advice and prayers as we move our community forward," Heise said.

City council thanks judge for service

Judge David Parrott
Members of the Romulus City Council unanimously approved a resolution of congratulations to former Judge David Parrott of the 34th District Court. Parrott announced his resignation following the Nov. 3 election when he was defeated in his bid to return to the bench.

Parrott wrote a letter to the council members, which was read into the official minutes, thanking the community “for the opportunity to serve.” In his letter, Parrot said that it was an honor to have served the community on the bench for 18 years. He said he had “great respect for the community and the residents” and that while he was retiring, he was not retiring from community life. He suggested that the city could call on him for service should there be “anything I can do.”

Authority of building officials may change

Amendments to current city ordinances in Romulus will provide building officials with another tool to control blight in the city, according to Director of Building and Safety Robert McCreight.

Following discussion of the changes in language, the first reading of the changes to the ordinances was approved unanimously, although Councilwoman Virginia Williams initially told the council members during the recent Zoom meeting that she opposed the changes based on a “lack of information.”

The new language would allow a city building official, with permission from McCreight, to issue a misdemeanor violation to those in violation of city building ordinances, rather than first issuing two citations. The misdemeanor ticket would place the issue in the hands of the court, skipping the first two citations.

Charitable giving is urged

Romulus City Councilman William Wadsworth had a brief holiday message for the community during the recent Zoom meeting of the city council.

“This is the Christmas season, usually a time of giving,” Wadsworth said, “although many of us feel that more has been taken from us than given this year.”

Wadsworth, the longest serving member of the council, suggested that this was still a time to remember local charitable organizations and groups that are more in need of help this year due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Museum offers holiday trip through history

Area residents can experience a little Christmas nostalgia as they drive by or take a stroll around the grounds of the Canton Historical Museum to view holiday window displays. 

Featured decorations in the Cozy Canton Christmas display include nostalgic posters of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, gingerbread men, candy canes, and even Santa Claus.  Eight windows were outlined with garland and lights to showcase the throwback images from holidays of long ago.  

“With the state of the pandemic, the Canton Historical Museum felt it was important to provide a sense of nostalgia with holiday images of the things that we hold most dear,” said Lynn Beattie, Canton Historical Museum director. “This trip down memory lane with our Cozy Canton Christmas displays will hopefully provide some joy and lift everyone's spirits with glimpses of these iconic holiday images.”

Van Buren Schools leader receives high marks

Superintendent of the Van Buren Public Schools Pete Kudlak received all A's during his performance evaluation this year.

During a meeting of the members of the board of education earlier this month, Kudlak was given a “highly effective” rating, the highest possible on the Michigan Association of School Boards evaluation form. The multi-page form rates superintendent's performance in areas including governance and board relations; community relations; staff relations; business and finance and instructional leadership. 

Canton man faces 18 sexual abuse charges

Shailesh K. Patel
A Canton Township man is facing life imprisonment if convicted of 18 counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct.

Shailesh K. Patel, 53, was arraigned in 35th District Court Dec. 18 on the charges which stemmed from an investigation by the Canton Police Department in conjunction with the FBI task force and SEMTEC (Southeast Michigan Trafficking and Exploitation Crimes).

Officials said the investigation was based on a complaint of abuse filed by a victim. That complaint, according to police reports, dates back to 2005. The majority of the allegations involve a child younger than 13.

Northville police chief to lead associations

Alan Maciag
Northville Police Chief Alan Maciag has been elected president of the Wayne County Chiefs of Police and also will serve as president of the Southeastern Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police. 

Maciag joined the Northville Police Department as chief in December of 2018.

Maciag started his law enforcement career at the Wayne Police Department more than 21 years ago and rose to become police chief in that city. While with the Wayne department, he held supervisory roles in the Investigative and Traffic Bureau and in the undercover unit (COPC-RU), among other areas. He also gained  experience as an accident investigator and evidence technician. He was named Wayne's Police Officer of the Year in 2001. 

Heat in the Street pods now being installed

An artist's rendering of pods
and stands set up in Town Square.
The "Heat in the Street" program is under way in downtown Northville with vendor stands and eating pods to expand the restaurant scene and create a European-style outdoor bistro area. 

The stands will enable restaurants to sell prepared food and beverages in an outdoor setting and patrons will be able to consume meals, snacks and beverages in the heated pods, which have three open sides for good ventilation.

Toria and Table 5 and Lucy and the Wolf restaurants will be the first to serve special quick-bite menus from the food stands.

Grant to fund upgrade of service in Inkster

Inkster is among the communities that will soon realize free Wi-Fi access at more than 50 community locations across Southeast Michigan.  The effort is part of the Merit Network Michigan Moonshot initiative and was supported by contributions from the Toyota USA Foundation and Cisco.

 “For thousands of students across the state of Michigan, the pandemic has introduced new challenges or highlighted existing ones. We expect this to help both rural and urban communities access the internet for basic informational needs tied to living, learning and working,” said Charlotte Bewersdorff, Merit Network vice president for Community Engagement.

Rezoning OK'd to allow meat processing plant

Wayne City Council members have approved the rezoning of a 5.63-acre property on Cogswell to facilitate a $1.7 million investment in the city.

The property, zoned as Heavy Industrial has been conditionally rezoned to allow for the butchering/slaughtering of animals and retail sales as requested by Michigan Meats, a company proposing to construct three buildings on the site. According to the rezoning proposal, Michigan Meats is a USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) approved and monitored facility.


Tongue-in-cheek health report

helps save local bowling alley

The announcement by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last week that the state Department of Health had lifted the ban on bowling alleys starting Monday rolled a strike with Steven Klein.

Klein, who posted a dramatic account of the potential demise of his “baby” due to COVID-19 on Facebook recently, was overwhelmed by the attention and support his creative announcement prompted. 

Klein posted the tongue-in-cheek account of the dire effects of the virus on Dec. 6 and one of the regular bowlers at the Westland facility began a GoFundMe account to help save the establishment.

Hometown heroes

The COVID-19 pandemic did not stop the City of Wayne Fire Department version of Shopping with your Heroes. Members of the Wayne Firefighters Local #162 shopped for holiday toys and gifts and made special deliveries to  Wayne-Westland students,. Fire Department Capt. Dave Wylie and Firefighters Jeremy Tima and Tavis Brehmer brought holiday cheer to area residents recently.

City offers housing, rent relief

Westland residents whose income has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic can now apply for rent or mortgage relief through the Westland Cares program.

The Westland Cares program was designed to assist low to moderate income families with emergency emergency rent or mortgage payments for households whose income has been affected due to job loss or medical costs. 

Plans for 2021 Plymouth Ice Festival in limbo

Hearts, flowers and ice may be in order during Valentines Day in Plymouth next year.

While the pandemic has apparently forced the cancellation of the Plymouth Ice Festival during January next year, organizer James Gietzen is looking at the possibility of a smaller, February event.

Gietzen, owner of JAG Entertainment, the producer of the Ice Festival and other festivals in the area, said that planning a smaller version of the event might be necessary if the pandemic forces the cancellation of the event next month.  He said if the event were to be moved to February, he would need to ask the city for a special event permit by the end of January, but everything remains tenuous, due to the current health threat posed by the virus.

Now open

Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun, above, chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, announced last week that amended epidemic orders would allow indoor activities where visitors can remain masked, as this has been shown to slow the virus. This includes in-person learning at high schools and indoor entertainment venues. Casinos, bowling centers and movie theatres will be allowed to reopen with  capacity capped at 100; food and drink concessions closed and social distancing requirements in place. The new order became effective Monday, Dec. 21. 

Double trouble

Fire victims’ GoFundMe money is missing

When an electrical fire destroyed the home of the Micol family just before Thanksgiving Day, they were grateful to have saved their lives.

Damien Micol, his wife, Allison, and two sons, Noah, 6, and Ryder, 5, were awakened in the early morning by the fire which left their mobile home in Plymouth uninhabitable and destroyed all their possessions and even legal documents. The devastation prompted a neighbor to start a GoFundMe account for the family which raised more than $6,000 to help them. The Micols received about $1,000 of those donations and the rest apparently remains in the possession of the person who created the account.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Side effects

Long-term physical damages of virus concern health official

Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun 
Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun is no stranger to contagious disease outbreaks but the effects of COVID-19 continue to surprise her.

Khaldun is the Chief Medical Executive and Chief Deputy Director for Health for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).  In these roles, she provides medical guidance for the State of Michigan and oversees the Public Health, Medical Services, Aging and Adult Services, and Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities administrations. If that job isn't enough to keep her busy, she also works in the emergency department at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

In that role, she has seen several patients coming in for treatment after having been taken off respirators or otherwise cleared by doctors of COVID-19.

Fatal shooting prompts neighborhood concerns

The fatal shooting of a 28-year-old man in Romulus last week prompted several residents of the Oakbrook subdivision to take their safety concerns to members of the city council.

Prior to comments from several residents during the Dec. 7 Zoom city council meeting, Police Chief Robert Pfannes addressed the situation.

“We had a fatal shooting of a 28-year-old man,” Pfannes began. “It is understandable that the neighborhood is concerned. There is nothing worse than not feeling safe in your own home.”

He said there are currently extra patrols in the subdivision and suggested that residents access the Romulus Police Department Facebook page for updated information.

School district adopts new transgender policy

Members of the Plymouth Canton Community Schools district approved a new transgender policy regarding student restrooms and locker rooms during their regular meeting earlier this month.

The issue was not without controversy as some parents commented that the decision was a means of preparing all students for the diverse professional work-place environment while others labeled the decision as the path of destruction and darkness and vilified it as “evil.”

While some written comments were negative, the overwhelming majority of those who commented were in support of the new policy which had been under consideration by district administration for about a year.

City holiday tree lighting goes virtual in 2020

The official Christmas tree in the City of Romulus has been turned on by Santa himself.

While the tree lighting and Santa welcome to the city was much different this year in light of the health restrictions posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Santa still managed to arrive and receive the key to the city from Mayor LeRoy Burcroff. He was joined in the pre-recorded event by Superintendent of Romulus Community Schools Dr. Benjamin Edmondson and Gretchen Notaro, principal at Romulus Elementary School. Two special helpers, Ezabella and Gavin, were also on hand for the seasonal event welcoming the holidays to the community. 

Sumpter officials cancel all meetings until January

Members of the Sumpter Township Board of Trustees will not meet until the first week of January.

All meetings have been cancelled and township hall is closed to the public. Some township employees are available to meet with residents by appointment while others are working from home. The Senior Center is closed for activities, although food distribution continues at the site.

The closures are in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the orders of the Michigan Department of Health which has urged as little public contact as possible as the infection rate of the virus continues to spiral. Currently, several area hospitals are nearing capacity and ICU units are becoming scarce, according to Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun, Chief Medical Executive and Chief Deputy Director for Health for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).  

Inkster man arrested in fatal shooting at Moe's

Police have arrested a suspect in the Nov. 13 fatal shooting at Moe's Fish and Chicken in Inkster.

Police said that Marvin Maurice Mallory, 28, of Inkster, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Inkster resident Tyron Larkins, also 28, who was shot while inside the Middlebelt Road restaurant. 

According to police, Mallory entered the restaurant and shot Larkins in the face at close range while he was speaking to a woman in the establishment.

Special visitor

Santa officially arrived in the City of Wayne last week to officially light the city Christmas tree. Welcoming the annual celebrity was Mayor John Rhaesa who presented Santa with the key to the city. The two then traveled to the home of Delisse Smith on Phyllis Street to offer her special thanks for the elaborate holiday lighting at her home which is bringing cheer to the community during the pandemic. Photos by Sean Rhaesa  

Former Wayne mayor seeks more help for communities

Al Haidous (D-Wayne) said he was pleased with a recent report presented to the Wayne County Commission Economic Development Committee, but more help for local communities is needed.

Haidous, a former Wayne mayor who chairs the committee, said the report demonstrated that minority and female-owned businesses were major recipients of grant and loan programs distributed through Wayne County to assist small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey, presented by assistant Wayne County Executive Khalil Rahal, showed that some $70 million in grants and loans were distributed through various federal, state and county-supported programs to 5,117 businesses. Grants were available during the current year to businesses with fewer than 50 employees, loans to those with fewer than 100.

Of the 4,888 awarded grants, 2,547 went to minority-owned businesses, 1,946 to female-owned businesses and 137 to businesses owned by military veterans. Rahal noted that some businesses were represented in several categories.

Minority-owned businesses included those owned by African Americans and Arab Americans, as well as a smaller number owned by Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans.

Haidous said while the numbers were good news, both in terms of overall aid provided and the number of minority-owned and female-owned businesses represented, more must be done in the coming year, especially at the federal level.

“I hope Washington gives us the tools we need, in terms of funding, to help these people,” Haidous said.

Of the $70 million in small business grants and loans, $51.5 million was distributed through the Wayne County Back To Work program. An additional $14.8 million was distributed through Restart programs administered through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, with half of that money going to Detroit and the rest available to all other Wayne County communities. An additional $80,000 was distributed through a separate MEDC relief program.

 The Wayne County Commission offered another $4.4 million in loans through a partnership with TCF Bank.

City administrative offices remain closed in Westland

Westland City Hall and all city administrative offices will remain closed until at least next Monday, Dec. 20.

The offices are closed in response to restrictions from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and were closed by officials Nov. 17 in response to the State of Michigan “three week pause” which required limits on indoor gatherings and prohibited in-person work which can be done from home. Administrative Offices will remain operational with a limited staff, according to an official statement from the city.

Residents are encouraged to utilize the city online services at during this time. Contact information for city departments is also listed on the city website and city staff members will be responding to emails and voicemails as quickly as possible.

Shop and Dine under way

The annual Shop and Dine campaign in Westland is under way, with some changes due to the COVID-19 virus.

Due to the current pandemic-related events, the awareness campaign has shifted to supporting small businesses within the community and the importance of shopping local. The city TV commercials already on the air stress the importance of supporting small businesses facing economic downturn caused by the economic impact of the virus, nationwide. Radio ads will also be heard on the metro area air waves. The campaign also encompasses a large digital and social presence as well as billboards, according to a city spokesman. 

Holiday stress

Health professionals urge self-care for mental well-being

Patrick Stropes
Julie Brown, Special Writer
Patrick Stropes, a staff member at Growth Works Inc., knows the December holidays are different during the current pandemic

“People need to reach out when they need help,” said Stropes, who handles public relations for Growth Works, founded in Plymouth in 1971. The facility now offers help for those struggling with addiction as well as their life choices, including youths under court referral.

“You don't want to just get in your own head and mull things over negatively. It's just really self-care, and staying connected to people,” Stropes added.

Area mourns death of Arthur Butler

Arthur Butler
Arthur Butler, 72, a retired United States Coast Guard Commander, died Dec. 17.

Mr. Butler, a former president of the Noon Rotary Club of Plymouth, a member of the board of directors of the Plymouth United Way and president of the church council at Risen Christ Lutheran Church, was a practicing attorney who donated his time to numerous  community organizations for more than 30 years. 

Mr. Butler was born Dec. 17, 1943, the third of seven children. He was an Eagle Scout and graduated from Marysville High School, where he played football.  After two years at Michigan State University, Mr. Butler joined the Coast Guard and attended the academy in Connecticut where he played football.

Salute to Stoney set for Saturday

A great deal of traffic is expected on Union Street in Plymouth Saturday when the community celebrates the retirement of Susan Stoney from the Plymouth District Library.

Stoney has served as the library community relations specialist since 2001 and has worked full time in that position for 10 years. 

“Susan has proudly represented the Plymouth District Library for 19 years and we want to send her off with a hurrah,” said Library Director Carol Souchock, who has planned a special tribute for Stoney.

Suspect in overpass sandbag assault is bound over for trial

David Vincent-Charles Garcia
The man accused of dropping several 40-pound sandbags from an Interstate-96 overpass seriously injuring a woman will face trial on felony charges

Cindy Eckley, a Plymouth business owner, was seriously injured in the incident last fall which resulted in criminal charges against David Vincent-Charles Garcia, 41 of Brighton. A second man, who drove Garcia home after the incident will also face criminal charges in the incident.

District Judge Travis Reeds of the Novi 52-1 Court sent the case to Oakland County Circuit Court last week. He ordered home confinement for Garcia who is charged with throwing objects at cars causing serious impairment, assault with intent to do great bodily harm and malicious destruction of personal property.

Canton board of trustees approves pay raises

Julie Brown, Special Writer

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

The township supervisor, treasurer and clerk hold full-time salaried positions, and will receive the 2.5 percent pay hike.

Supervisor Anne Marie Graham-Hudak, Clerk Michael Siegrist, and Treasurer Dian Slavens were among the “yes” votes on the first raises for elected officials in several years.

Trustee Steven Sneideman noted the new board members had been elected Nov. 3 and their predecessors had turned down raises “for essentially five years. I'm comfortable with it at this time,” he said, and also with a match for other employee units.

Serial burglar to serve probation

David Edward Miller
David Edward Miller will serve three years probation and pay a $1,000 fine after pleading guilty to several break-ins in Canton Township.

Miller, 58, of Clinton Township, faced a maximum of 40 years in prison for the four break-ins, a charge of larceny along with a habitual offender charge.

Miller entered a guilty plea to breaking and entering two BIGGBY Coffee locations, a Subway sandwich shop and a local tanning salon in August.  Each of the felony charges carried a maximum 10-year sentence. As a habitual offender, he faced the possibility of life in prison.

According to state prison records, Miller was released from prison in March where he had been serving terms for charges including breaking and entering. 

Police seek suspect in shooting

Canton police investigators are continuing their search for a woman who shot an employee during a robbery earlier this month.

Canton police investigators are asking the public for assistance with identifying the female suspect who shot the employee of ADAM (Alcohol Drug Administrative Monitoring) during a robbery which took place at about 7 p.m. Nov. 16.

According to police reports, the female suspect entered the business at 5820 North Lilley Road carrying a handgun and demanding cash from employees. During the incident, the suspect discharged the handgun she was brandishing, striking one victim.

City, township offices are closed to public

Northville Township officials have closed all public entrances to municipal buildings - except by appointment  because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Gatherings and Face Mask Order. 

“Our staff remains committed to providing our residents with the most efficient services possible; we continue to work inside. At township hall, you may use our Drive-Thru, Drop Box or make a payment online at Building permits may be dropped off in the Drive-Thru, emailed or completed online. Residents may conduct business over the telephone or U.S. mail, too. Our main line is (248) 348-5800,” noted an official statement from the township offices. 

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Canton joins Click It or Ticket campaign

Canton Township Police Chief Chad Baugh wants to save lives this holiday season.

That effort includes a caution to motorists, warning them they better buckle up in Canton where enforcement of the Michigan seat belt law is being strictly enforced.

According to Baugh, the Canton department has again joined forces with law enforcement agencies across Michigan in enforcing the national Click It or Ticket campaign. 

Safety belt enforcement zones are conducted on Canton roadways where crash problems are prevalent or belt use is low. Portable “safety belt enforcement zone” signs alert motorists they are entering an enforcement area. One officer will serve as a spotter, radioing unbelted motorist information to other officers who will pull over the offending motorists, Baugh explained. 

First Step, stepping up

Pandemic, holiday stress can lead to increase in domestic abuse

Julie Brown, Special Writer

The COVID-19 pandemic and holiday season can make for troublesome times as the stress of both impacts families throughout the area.

"Just because there's a pandemic doesn't mean domestic violence isn't happening," said Audriana Buchanan-Cronk, community engagement and volunteer program coordinator for First Step. "Home isn't always a safe place for everyone."

First Step was founded in 1978 to address domestic violence and sexual assaults, and operates an in-person shelter. That's remained open in the pandemic with additional health/safety protocols, and the phone help line of (734) 722-6800 is staffed around the clock.

"It also leads to lack of resources or time to contact an agency like ours," she said of the pandemic.

She doesn't have specific COVID-19 data but has seen frequency of abuse now on the rise, along with use of weapons. First Step assists some 8,000 people a year with Buchanan-Cronk noting, "Already our numbers are pretty high."

"For children, it's a very scary time right now," she said, in part without the "safe adults" at schools not assessing children who are abuse victims. She's seen some abusers use the threat of exposure to COVID-19 for power and as a means of manipulating.

Sgt. Adam Shulman of the Canton Police Department notes, "We have a very good working relationship with First Step." The agency formerly operated an office at the Canton police station, he added, emphasizing "Just know we're here to help people work through issues. Please call the police department" if there's a crime or a heated argument.

"That's what we're here to do," Shulman, a 13-year Canton police veteran, said of resolving problems by assessing situations.

Buchanan-Cronk, on the staff at First Step for about four years, explained that the current situation impacts ways to implement cooling off strategies when conflicts occur in families. 

"People can't use 'Oh, I have to go to the grocery store,'" she said, as public buildings like restaurants and libraries are closed. That has impacted the work of First Step, she said.

There are bright spots, too, however. More people are committing to their First Step appointments with fewer no-shows. 

"They can just pick up the phone and start talking. Video and phone," said Buchanan-Cronk. Compared to 20 or 30 years ago, she sees more awareness of domestic violence issues, although some cultures discourage discussing family problems.

"Unfortunately our society often tends to victim-blame," said Buchanan-Cronk. She added men are also survivors, and domestic violence exists in the LGBT community and across socioeconomic lines.

The holiday season brings financial and spiritual stress, and she noted "Again that isolation piece can be difficult. No one's immune to violence. First Step is here for them and they're not alone." 

The 24-hour phone line is the point for services for adults or children, to begin getting a personal protection order and to access the criminal justice system advocates (with local courts now meeting virtually).

Fundraising at First Step has been heavily impacted by the financial stress of the pandemic, so financial donations are appreciated. A virtual holiday shopping event promotes a call for toy donations through Dec. 14.

Craft kits are also very useful at the shelter, she said, and donations assist with food and medical needs. Buchanan-Cronk doesn't see alcohol necessarily playing a large role with additional abuse of family members currently, but the emotional, physical and financial environment have an impact.

The website has a wealth of information, including on becoming a volunteer at First Step. The agency, also on Facebook, has facilities in Plymouth, Wayne, Lincoln Park and Detroit.

Shulman of the Canton Police Department agrees family stress can be abated by a walk around the block. "People could do that for a cooling-off period," he said. "Obviously if there's a crime we want them to call us."

Westland OKs new 10-year trash hauling contract

There is a big change coming to Westland beginning Jan. 1, but officials are confident residents won't notice.

A new refuse contract was approved by members of the city council during their regular meeting last week, replacing the vendor that has served the city for more than 50 years. The new 10-year contract was awarded to the lowest bidder, Priority Waste based in Clinton Township at a cost of $38,449,174. Priority Waste will purchase the city-owned garbage trucks at a price of $1.6 million, the highest bid on the vehicles. That price will pay off the existing debt on the trucks, according to city officials.

Canton residents join international farming protest

Canton Township residents joined an international demonstration protesting new laws imposed by the Indian government restricting the rights of farmers.

The gathering in Canton last Saturday attracted hundreds of Sikh and Indian residents many brandishing signs announcing their support for the Indian farmers whom, they claim, are being threatened by the new Indian laws which strip away the rights of farmers and which will devastate farming in that country.

Police probe motel shootings

Police are continuing the investigation into a shooting incident last Saturday at an Inkster motel.

According to police reports, Inkster police officers and Michigan State Troopers responded to a report of gunfire at about 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5 at the Paradise Motel on Michigan Avenue in the city.

According to police reports, responding officers heard two people yelling for help from the motel. A man in his 40s and a woman in her 30s had suffered gunshot wounds and were treated and then transported to a local hospital by emergency personnel.

New radar speed signs installed in Westland

It is a real "sign of the times" in Westland with the recent installation of speed radar signs throughout the city.

Funding for 10 additional signs was approved by members of the city council in September using funding from the city Metro Act budget. Those funds are designated for public improvements with the city rights of way. According to officials, the installation of the signs has demonstrated a significant reduction in speeding in locations where they are visible to drivers.

2 reappointed to boards

Two reappointments to the Economic Development/Tax Increment Finance Authority/ Brownfield Redevelopment Authority were approved recently by the members of the Westland City Council.

Matthew Tyranski and Kaitlynn Riley were chosen to fill the vacant terms on the boards. Tyranski is the owner of Olympic Coney Island and has been in the community for 22 years. He and his wife are the parents of three children.

Annual holiday decorating contest is now under way

The “All American Holiday Decorating Contest” began in Westland last week and will continue until midnight on Thursday, Dec. 31. Residents can visit the City of Westland website to nominate themselves or a friend in one or all of the three categories: Best Traditional Display, Most Creative Display and Over the Top Display. Nominees will be asked to enter a picture along with their submission.  

“Once again, the Department of Neighborhood Services team will be out and about in neighborhoods in search of those residents who have gone the extra mile to make their homes shine this holiday season,” commented Mayor William R. Wild.

Romulus library offering contact-free services

The Romulus Library is now reopening to the public and offering contact-free services including computer use by appointment and quick business tasks like faxing, copying and printing. Visitors can renew their library cards, apply for new cards and pick up items on hold inside the facility, noted Assistant Director Youth Services Librarian Jessica Wilhoite. 

Curbside services are still available for those who prefer them, she said.

Browsing the collection, study tables, seating, and the meeting room are not available. The Children's Area is also closed at this time.

Shooting investigation continues

The fatal shooting of a 28-year-old man in Romulus last week remains under investigation, according to Romulus police. 

The unidentified man suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the head Dec. 1, according to police reports. Romulus police were called to a home in the 15000 block of Taft near Eureka and Middlebelt Road at about 9:20 p.m. in response to a report of shots being fired. Responding officers entered the home and discovered the victim, dead from the head wound.

Noon Rotary Club honors Officers of the Year

Overcoming severe obstacles is nothing unusual for the five men honored by the members of the Plymouth Noon Rotary Club last week. A decades-long tradition, the club members honored outstanding Public Service Officers from both the city and the township during a special awards presentation during their virtual meeting.

Club members officially presented the annual Public Safety Officers of the Year awards Dec. 4 and honored the Police Officer of the Year and Firefighter of the Year for each municipality along with the Paramedic of the Year for Huron Valley Ambulance

“Today, we recognize the best of the best in our community,” said Plymouth Rotary President John Buzuvis. “We are so fortunate that our first responders work together without regard to what the patch on their arm says. Today, we recognize all the first responders, not just the award winners.” 

Walk of Trees

Denice and Eunice Austin add an ornament to the Compassionate Friends  memory tree in Kellogg Park as part of the Walk of Trees which annually fills the park with Christmas trees decorated in memory of departed loved ones. The trees attract hundreds of visitors to the park every year and are decorated for the holidays in remembrance of family members and friends. Photos by Sean Rhaesa

Fee for documents could be $222,000

If Tom Parrelley wants his recent request for documents from the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools district satisfied, he needs to come up with nearly a quarter of a million dollars.

Parrelley, of Plymouth, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the district asking for a wide range of documents on which school board members based their decision to close school buildings and offer full online education to students. The decision, according to school officials, was in response to the recent advice from the Michigan Department of Health and followed the safety procedures necessary to protect students and staff members in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

At the time of the decision, Superintendent of Schools Monica Merritt said that no matter what the board members opted to do, “someone was going to be unhappy.”

Northville Salem Hills Golf Course will reopen in spring

Salem Hills Golf Club will be open next year.

While the ownership may change, the 6,992-yard, par-72 course will remain open to golfers no matter what the status of the pending sale of the facility.

Co-owner of the course, Veronica Godwin, said that a purchase agreement for the business had been reached recently and that the potential buyers are performing due diligence. She said that the buyers had agreed that the land 57-year-old site would remain a golf course, a condition of the sales agreement. Salem Hills originally opened in 1963 and has been a popular course for area golfers under the ownership of Frank and Veronica Godwin. The couple also owned what is now Walnut Creek Country club in South Lyon from 1969 until 1088 and Marion Oaks Golf club in Howell from 1990 until 2003.

Godwin said that should the pending deal fall through, the course would open under the current ownership next spring and all commitments to leagues would be satisfied. An announcement last fall that the course might close due to the aging infrastructure prompted several offers from potential buyers for the Six Mile Road site. A condition the Godwins' imposed on the sale at the time of the announcement was the continuance of the golf course at the site. 

The couple said they planned to close the facility at the end of October, but have changed their plans in light of the pending sale agreement.

Outdoor dining permits extended until March 3

Members of the Wayne City Council agreed last week to an extension of outdoor dining permits for local restaurants through March 3, in an effort to help local restaurants  weather the current pandemic restrictions.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services closed indoor dining until at least yesterday, an order that was expected to be extended in light of the thousands of new cases of COVID-19 being reported weekly across the state.

Wayne Director of Community Development and Planning Lori Gouin told the members of the city council that she suspected the ban on indoor dining could be extended throughout the winder. “It probably would be best for us to ask you to reinstate the guidelines for outdoor dining and retail sales,” she said at the meeting.