Thursday, August 26, 2021

Sumpter Township Trustee protests Sunday meeting

One Sumpter Township Trustee expressed her displeasure at being disturbed on “family days” to conduct her elected duties.

During a special meeting called on Sunday, Aug. 15, Trustee Peggy Morgan soundly criticized the scheduling of the meeting. The brief  Zoom meeting  had only one agenda action item, the hiring of a part-time clerk in the treasurer's office. 

Morgan insisted that the hiring vote could have waited until the regular meeting of the board scheduled for the next week. She claimed that this could be “the first time in the history that a meeting was called on Sunday to hire a part-time employee.”

‘Civic servant’

Plymouth Whipple award presented to Kiwanis founder, former mayor

Plymouth Mayor Oliver Wolcott, right,  congratulates Jim Jabara,
 on the Ruth Huston-Whipple Award presented to him by
the city last week. Jabara, above, center, is surrounded by
the members of the Plymouth Noon Kiwanis Club who came to the
meeting to congratulate him. Jabara is a founding member of the club.
Members of the Plymouth City Commission presented the prestigious Ruth Huston-Whipple Award for Civic Engagement to former Mayor James Jabara during their Aug. 16 meeting.

The award is the latest of many for Jabara who, at 92, is one of the longest-serving civic activists in the community. This award is presented annually to a member of the community who has positively impacted the quality of life in the City of Plymouth through his or her exceptional civic and/or philanthropic engagement and Jabara certainly exemplifies that criteria.

Curtain going up

Village Theatre at Cherry Hill receives Shuttered Venue Operators grant

The Village Theater at Cherry Hill was recently awarded $187,512.26 in funding from the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program, which provides emergency assistance for eligible cultural institutions and organizations affected by COVID-19.

The grant was awarded by the U.S. Small Business Administration to enable recipients to recoup expenses and recover from the period when they were unable to earn revenue. Funds may be used to repay eligible expenses in 2020 and 2021, including but not limited to payroll, ticket refunds, utilities, maintenance, and repairs. 

Township to host special family picnic, fireworks

Fireworks will ignite over Heritage Park ponds located
behind the Canton Administration Building at
1150 S. Canton Center Road during the Picnic in the Park.
 Photo courtesy of Canton Leisure Services.
There will be festive food, live music and fireworks at the Canton Township Picnic in the Park set for Friday, Sept. 24.

The event will take place from 5 until 9 p.m. in Heritage Park and include food choices from area restaurants and food trucks and popular music artists performing on two stages, before the fireworks extravaganza scheduled to begin at dusk. 

 “We're hoping friends and neighbors grab their big blankets and head over Heritage Park, where they'll be able to pick a spot for their picnic and watch our live music performances, choose from a variety of great local eats and drinks, and then sit back and enjoy some amazing fireworks,” stated Jon LaFever, Canton Leisure Services deputy director. 

Barn ‘raising’

Brew, Brats and Bands fundraiser set

The barn may have been destroyed by fire, but preparations are still under way for the 11th Annual Brew, Brats, & Bands at the Barn fundraising event set for 6-9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11 in Preservation Park.

While the previous location of the event, the Cady-Boyer Barn was destroyed by fire last month, event planners are confident that the scenic location of Preservation Park, located at 500 N. Ridge Road, will remain the perfect backdrop for the popular fall event. 

“This event has always been affectionately known as B4 because it was 'Brews, Brats, and Bands at the Barn,' and it will remain so even without the physical barn,” said Gregg King, Canton facility services supervisor and fundraiser organizer. “Year after year, it's been an honor to host this annual fall tradition, but this year will be even more special and bittersweet with the barn no longer there.” 

Yard waste day is changed

Canton Township residents can place their grass and yard clippings at the curb this Saturday, Aug. 28 for pick up by GFL.

Beginning this Saturday, all residential yard waste pick-ups in Canton will be made on Saturday. The new pick up day is expected to continue through Oct. 9, according to a prepared statement from township officials.

“GFL is making this change in an effort to remain current on residential garbage and recycling collections,” according to the statement.

Compensation adjustment equalizes trustees’ pay

The recent pay adjustments to the salaries of elected officials in Sumpter Township was the first increase in nearly two decades.

A realignment of compensation was first suggested and begun in November of 2019 when unintended disparities between the payments to members of the board of trustees were questioned.  

The first adjustment was approved by a vote of the trustees in November 2019 and eliminated the medical portion of the board compensation which was the main cause of the disparity, explained Trustee Matt Oddy.  

Romulus man facing murder charge

Michael David McCarren
A Romulus man is facing second degree murder charges in the stabbing death of a woman Aug. 7.

According to reports from the office of Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, Michael David McCarren, 52, will face the charge in connection with the murder of Jennifer Leombruno, 43, also of Romulus. The defendant and the victim had formerly lived together and had children together although they were not living together at the time of the incident, according to prosecutors. The children were not present during the reported stabbing, police said.

A fitting ‘Honor’

Police training facility named

for former judge, city attorney

Mayor William Wild, left, Charles Bokos and
Police Chief Jeff Jedrusik display the
plaque awarded to Bokus during the ceremony.
Two revered names in the City of Westland were honored last week when the Police Community Training Center was dedicated to retired Honorable Judge C. Charles Bokos and the late longtime City Attorney Angelo A. Plakas.

The Westland Police Department was awarded a Michigan State Police Justice Assistance Grant for the new room which will be used as a training center for youth academy classes, citizens' academies, community discussions and specialized officer training. A spokesman said the room will be used to train officers in mental health first aid, fair and impartial policing, cultural diversity, de-escalation tactics and other training necessary to promote neighborhood policing. 

Northville Art House will present 13th ‘Left of Center’ exhibit

The Northville Art House will present the13th annual West of Center: Art that Pushes Boundaries juried all-media exhibition featuring 50 works by 35 artists from Michigan and around the country.

Selected by juror Tara Welch, executive director of Studio 23/The Arts Center in Bay City, artists were encouraged to push the boundaries of art imagery and practices in their work, including those set by traditional techniques, materials, concepts, genre, subject matter, personal experiences, and/or societal norms.

Artist Winnie Chrzanowski of Royal Oak, who will have two works in the exhibition,Eye of the Storm and Frozen in Flight, said, “Photography is a way for me to see the world with new eyes. It allows me to capture details and moments that are fleetingly experienced. 

Northville Township names beautification award winners

Every summer, the Northville Township Beautification Commission scours the township for businesses that go above and beyond in beautifying their facilities by planting flowers and enhancing the landscape. 

Commission members this year recognized2021 award winners:

AISIN World Corp. of America (Corporate Pride Award); Cedarbrook of Northville; Community Choice Credit Union; Deadwood Bar & Grill (Best in Township Award); George's Senate Restaurant; Gerald's Salon; Haggerty Dental; Hidden Springs Veterinary Clinic;

MalcoIm X home restoration to be funded by grant

The Inkster home where Malcolm X lived will be restored.
A federal grant will help restore and preserve the onetime Inkster home of Malcolm X.

Project We Hope, Dream & Believe, non-profit organization, received $380,850 through an African American Civil Rights grant provided by the Historic Preservation Fund administered by the National Park Service to save the house and grounds.

Aaron Sims, executive director of the group, has been leading the effort to preserve and restore the home at 4336 Williams St. in Inkster for more than seven years. The group was awarded the home with help from Inkster Mayor Patrick Wimberly in 2018 and has continued their volunteer efforts to clean and restore the property, hoping to turn it into a museum or youth center celebrating the life of Malcolm X.

Historic moment

Wayne County Commissioner and former Wayne Mayor Al Haidous, left,  helped the Wayne Historical Commission and Society members celebrate a $191,000 grant secured to rehabilitate and remodel the museum building, first constructed in 1878. Haidous made the official announcement of the grant award during a meeting at the museum last week. Officials said that the museum building is "in dire need of repairs and through this grant, this historic building will last for generations to come." 

Safety first

Amusement provider assures riders’ safety at Plymouth Fall Festival  

When the huge amusement rides are installed at the Plymouth Fall Festival set for Sept. 10, 11 and 12, they bring with them 50 years of safety experience.

Danny Huston, the owner of North American Midway Entertainment, said that safety is the top priority of the company which undergoes repeated professional inspections in states across the country when they take the rides to carnivals, festivals and events.

“The Michigan inspectors do a great job,” he said. “They are very through and very professional. Those are tough inspections.”

Plymouth, Westland each awarded DTE community grants

The cities of Westland and Plymouth were among 26 Michigan communities and organizations to receive grants funded by DTE to plant trees, enhance communities and protect water quality.

Grants totaling $92,500 will fund the purchase and planting of trees along streets and in parks and other public spaces. The funding, from a program sponsored by the DTE Energy Foundation and administered by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and nonprofit ReLeaf Michigan, ranged is size from $1,800 to $4,000.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Construction to close Harvey Street in Plymouth

The next few weeks may prove unpleasant for Plymouth motorists who regularly use Harvey Street between Penniman Avenue and Ann Arbor Trail.

A reconstruction project including underground water main replacement, reconstruction of the three lanes of the roadway with new curbs and the upgrade of some storm sewer and sanitary sewer sections beneath the roadway began on Monday. The project includes the installation of sidewalks on both sides of Harvey to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. New traffic signal mast arms will also be installed at the intersection, although that project could be delayed until next year, officials said.

Big wheels


The Police and Community Together (PACT) bike ride and picnic sponsored by the Romulus Police Department drew a crowd of bikers of all ages recently when officers and residents joined up for a 1.5 mile ride through the community.

Sumpter trustees name township administrator

Members of the Sumpter Township Board of Trustees promoted Michelle Cole to the job of township administrator during their regular meeting last week.

Cole, currently the finance director and deputy supervisor for the township, will continue at her current $93,000 annual salary and will receive no raise for taking on the new title.

Members of the board praised Cole's work and her efforts on behalf of the township and noted that she currently is performing the duties of an administrator without the title.

Trustee Matt Oddy said that he agreed with the decision.

Romulus Pumpkin Festival returns in September

Another step out of the shadow of the COVID pandemic is planned in Romulus with the 23rd Annual Pumpkin Festival set for Sept. 17, 18 and 19 this year.

The festival is a three-day event that traditionally begins the third Friday in September with the Rotary Club Parade of Lights, where everything is aglow, from bicycles to cement trucks. Thousands of people line Goddard Road to view the parade, organizers said. This year, as always, there is no fee to enter the parade, although preregistration is required. All entries must be decorated with working lights, “the more the better” according to Rotary Club members.

High and dry

Groups donate new roof to township veteran

Army veteran Carson Middlebrook and his family stayed warm and dry in his Canton Township home during the recent rainstorms that pummeled the area.

Just in time to avoid the heavy downpours, Tittle Brothers Construction in partnership with Habitat for Humanity installed a roof at Middlebrook's home on Aug. 6.

The repair was part of the Owen Corning National Roof Deployment Project that offers new roofs to service members in need. Candidates for the program are selected by Habitat For Humanity and the program includes veterans of all military service organizations.


The Salvation Army Plymouth Corps Community Center received new leaders recently with the assignment of Majors Kris and Mary Ann Wood who will be responsible for the pastoral ministry, programming, operations and social services in Plymouth, Canton, Belleville and Northville. Most recently, the Woods served as corps officers of The Salvation Army Washtenaw County Corps. Kris Wood received a bachelor of arts in sociology from University of Detroit in Detroit while his wife earned her bachelor of arts degree in French from Alma College. The Woods have been Salvation Army officers for 27 years and are residents of Canton Township.


Free Movie in the Park planned in Canton Aug. 28

Like a blast from the past, Canton Leisure Services will host a free Movie in the Park, on Saturday, Aug. 28, at the Heritage Park Amphitheater.

The fun is set to begin at 6 p.m. with outdoor entertainment and the movie, fan-favorite Onward, will be shown at dusk. 

The Heritage Park Amphitheater is located directly behind the Canton Township Administration Building at 1150 S. Canton Center Road. While the event is free to attend, pre-registration is required. Sign up today at Dinner options, as well as summer concessions, will also be available for purchase, while supplies last.  

State legislator reports on Lansing at board of trustees’ meeting

Julie Brown, Special Writer

State Rep. Matt Koleszar, who represents both Canton Township and the city and township of Plymouth, knows big box stores don't do Canton any favors. 

“I do recognize this is a major problem, specifically for Canton,” the Democrat said at the Aug. 10 Canton Board of Trustees meeting.

Koleszar noted a court case before the Michigan Court of Appeals involving Escanaba and big box stores like The Home Depot. Too often, he told township trustees, those stores don't pay their fair share of property taxes.

He had good news on the budget allocation in state aid for the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools. “A really good budget for Plymouth-Canton Schools,” the legislator said, noting additional eligibility for pre-K services.

Night out

The Inkster Police Department celebration of National Night Out earlier this month brought out local residents of all ages to enjoy multiple attractions including a wild animal show from Animal Safari which gave visitors, and police officers, a very close look at a 16-foot-long python, a kangaroo, an alligator and a woodchuck, among others exotic creatures. Inkster police officers and auxiliary officers spent time in a dunk-tank and troopers from the Michigan State Police let visitors take a look at the patrol cars and other equipment.

Wayne receives federal funds to upgrade city amphitheater

The City of Wayne was recently awarded more than $550,000 in federal funding for the rehabilitation of the Goudy Park Amphitheater in the city.

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, D-13th District, recently supported federal funding for both the Goudy Park project and funding for the construction of a Senior Wellness Center in the City of Inkster.

No decision on the Inkster project had been announced at press time.

Also in the new bill is funding for the creation of Wayne-Westland Build Your Future: Pathways To The Workforce proposed program which is designed to address the community need for an integrated career readiness system;

City zoning update approved

Zoning in Westland is about to get a serious upgrade.

Members of the city council approved a contract Aug. 2, with metro-Detroit based, Wade Trim to conduct a comprehensive rewrite and update of the city zoning ordinance at a cost not to exceed $60,470. 

Westland officials said they had identified the need to update the city zoning ordinance and corresponding zoning map in a way that will “promote the vision of the community, modernize our zoning district and be more user friendly. There has been no major update of the city's zoning ordinance since 1997,” they said. 

Sumpter trustees approve 3 firefighter promotions

Members of the Sumpter Township Board of Trustees unanimously and enthusiastically supported and approved three promotions in the township fire department during their most recent meeting.

At the recommendation of Fire Chief Rick Brown, Capt. Michael McHenry was promoted to the rank of battalion chief, John Crushman was promoted from battalion chief to deputy chief and Capt. Walt Thompson was promoted to battalion chief.

Rethink Your Drink

Van Buren Township program provides free water bottles for residents

The Van Buren Township Water and Sewer Department is giving away refillable water bottles to residents.

The give away is part of the department Tap the Tap: Rethink Your Drink program and is aimed at celebrating healthy tap water. 

“Municipal tap water is constantly tested to maintain safety and quality standards,” said Water & Sewer Director James T. Taylor. “With all these standards in place, many residents have stated Van Buren Townships tap water tastes great and smells odorless.” 

Van Buren Township tap water is routinely tested and an annual water quality report is sent to residents during the summer months in the Van Buren Today magazine,” he added.

Northville Cross Control water inspections are planned

City of Northville Department of Public Works (DPW) officials plan to begin the Cross Connection Control Program for residents this fall using HydroCorp. The program includes conducting residential inspections of exterior water connections to ensure safe drinking water in the community. HydroCorp has been the Northville contractor for commercial and industrial inspections of cross-connections since 2004, officials said. 

A cross-connection is an actual or potential connection between the safe drinking water (potable) supply and a source of contamination or pollution, according to a city report. Water normally flows in one direction, from the public water system through the customer's water plumbing system to a faucet or other plumbing fixtures. Under certain conditions, water can flow in the reverse direction. This is known as backflow and could cause non-potable water to backflow into the residential drinking water, creating a health hazard.  

A taste of history

Fall Festival, Rotary Club Chicken Barbeque returning to Plymouth

The Plymouth Fall Festival will return Sept. 10, 11 and 12 this year bringing back many of the traditional events that attract thousands of people to the community each year.

Tickets are already on sale for the famous Plymouth Noon Rotary Club Barbeque Chicken Dinners, a mainstay of the annual event. 

This year, the festival and the barbeque will each feature an added concentration on safety and health precautions.

Festival President Eric Joy said that many of the civic booths are planning on including hand sanitizer and the festival committee will have hand sanitizing stations throughout the festival venue.

“We are keeping a very close eye on the Delta Variant,” he said. “We want to be sure everyone is safe.”

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Lawsuit claims city violated resident’s civil rights

A Wayne resident found not-guilty of criminal charges leveled by city officials has filed a lawsuit seeking punitive damages against the City of Wayne, City Manager Lisa Nocerini, Police Chief Ryan Strong and Police Lt. Finley Carter.

Mark B. Blackwell, through his attorney Timothy E. Galligan, is demanding a jury trial to adjudicate his claims that the defendants violated his first, fourth and fourteenth rights under the U.S. Constitution. He is asking “actual, special, punitive and or exemplary damages” along with interest, costs, reasonable attorney fees and expert witness fees in an unspecified amount as compensation for their actions.

This is the second lawsuit filed against the city and Nocerini in the last month. 

Inn at St. John’s property in Plymouth sold to Pulte

Inn at St. John’s 
While terms of the sale were not disclosed, the long-rumored sale of The Inn at St. John's property in Plymouth has been confirmed.

After months of speculation, the Archdiocese of Detroit announced that hotel, golf course, banquet center and other land along Five Mile road between Northville and Sheldon roads has been sold to Pulte Family Management SJ LLC. 

The former St. John's Catholic Seminary originally opened in 1948 and housed and educated priests until it was closed by the Archdiocese in 1988. 

The late William Pulte was a member of the group of Catholic business owners who worked to develop the former seminary campus into the current golf course, hotel configuration.

Northville Township Police Department earns accreditation

Northville Township Manager and Director of Public Safety Todd Mutchler received some good news recently.

He was notified that the Northville Township Police Department achieved one of the most prestigious designations in law enforcement: accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA®).

This important designation verifies the department meets or excels at best practices of law enforcement standards, Mutchler explained. Only 11 of the 583 police agencies in Michigan and only 4 percent of more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide have achieved accreditation, a process that typically takes three years to complete. Northville Township was able to complete it in two years, Mutchler noted.

Forgotten Harvest effort aids township families

The first Sumpter Township Forgotten Harvest food distribution was successful, but officials hope that more community residents will take advantage of the program.

During the July 27 meeting of the board of trustees, Township Finance Director Deputy Supervisor Michelle Cole  reported that the effort was able to distribute food to 85 households, or enough to serve 245 individuals.

She said that Forgotten Harvest personnel had prepared 180 boxes of food for distribution on July 26, and that they were hoping to reach more people in need in the township. 

A third food distribution is set for 2:30 until 4:30 Aug. 23 at the Sumpter Community Center, 25501 Sumpter Road.

Pay scale for elected officials adjusted by trustees

Sumpter Township officials took one step closer to returning to “normal” following the pandemic with the reinstatement of the former pay scale for elected officials during an in-person meeting last month.

During the July 27 meeting, members of the board approved four resolutions adjusting pay scales in the township. Township Supervisor Tim Bowman's pay was set at $38,000, the same amount paid to former Supervisor John Morgan, according to officials.  The annual salaries of Township Clerk Esther Hurst and Township Treasurer Vincent Warren were set at $30,000 each, increased from $19,019.

The salaries of trustees Don LaPorte, Peggy Morgan, Matthew Oddy and Tim Rush were set at $22,000 each.

Art masterpieces now on display throughout city

Irises and Calla Lilies
The Detroit Institute of Arts Inside Out installations in Romulus are now complete and available for public viewing.

Currently, reproductions of DIA masterpiece works are on public exhibit outside at Boice Park, Romulus City hall, the Romulus Athletic Center (RAC), at Romulus Historical Park and at the Romulus Senior Center. 

The painting on Boice Parkway is a reproduction of Chevy by Edwin Henry Landseer; a William Maw Egley painting titled Talking Oak is mounted near the bathrooms at Romulus Historical Park on Hunt Street and A Day in June, by George Wesley Bellows is on display at Romulus City Hall at 11111 Wayne Road. Mexican Pueblo by Jose Clementa Orozco is on display at the left of the entrance to the Romulus Library at 11121 Wayne Road and Irises and Calla Lilies by Maria Oakley Dewing can be viewed at the entrance to the Romulus Senior Center at 36525 Bibbins.

Last call

Inkster Police Det. Lt. Jeffrey Smith performed his “last call” July 9 before officially beginning his retirement.  Smith served for more than 27 years with the Inkster Police Department. During his tour of duty Smith moved up the ranks from patrol officer to executive lieutenant and  oversaw both patrol and investigations. His commitment to the department extended beyond the day to day operations, officials said. Smith also served as the department SRT Commander and lead firearms instructor. His knowledge, expertise, and leadership helped to guide all of those that he supervised and his legacy will continue on for many years in those that he trained, commented Police Chief William T. Riley. “While he will be sorely missed, everyone at the department hopes that this next chapter is everything he hopes for and he enjoys every minute of retirement,” Riley added. 

City mourns ‘Buck’ Carney, 45

Gerald “Buck” Carney
Members of the Romulus City Council unanimously adopted a memorial resolution honoring the life of Gerald Lee “Buck” Carney who died July 23

Mr. Carney, 45, was a long-time Romulus employee and well-known throughout the community. He was born May 22, 1976.

In formerly adopting the resolution, Councilman William Wadsworth noted that “Big Buck, as I called him, was a fine example of the workers who keep this city going. Big Buck was a good, good man.”  His sentiments were echoed by other members of the council and by city Treasurer Stacy Paige who said that “to know Buck was to love him. You could see what a good man he was in his relationship with his wife and with everyone else. In my opinion, the world would be a better place with more Bucks in it.”

New principal appointed at Moraine Elementary

Joseph Reimann
When students at Moraine Elementary School return to in-person classes next month, they will be greeted by a new principal.

Members of the Northville Board of Education unanimously approved a one-year contract with Joseph Reimann who will serve as principal at the school for the 2021-2022 school year.

Reimann joins Northville Public Schools from Grosse Ile Township Schools where he taught music education, including band, across the pre K-12 grades (primarily at middle school) for 10 years before moving into elementary administration in 2016. He has served as principal at Meridian Elementary and Parke Lane Elementary. During his time as principal, Reimann focused on three areas of improvement, including student-focused advocacy, instructional leadership and community connection. In each of these areas of focus he established a character development program, supported teacher-led learning and led a Parent Book Club.

Dairy Queen plan is approved

Who doesn't need a chocolate-dipped, double-twist vanilla at 11 p.m. after a long hard day of Zoom meetings?

Members of the Northville Township Planning Commission heard plans for a new Dairy Queen on Five Mile Road which would offer drive through service until 11 p.m. during the summer months and from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. during cooler months. While those hours concerned some members of the commission, worried about the impact on nearby residential areas, commissioners approved the plan on a 4-2 vote with hours limited to 10:30 p.m. 

Beautification winners are named

Adorn Fine Flowers co-owner Alicia Racine, pictured with
Mayor Brian Turnbull, accepts the award from the Beautification Commission. 
The City of Northville and Northville Township chose 50 local businesses and civic organizations to receive beautification awards this year.

A spokesman noted that the annual awards are presented by members of the City of Northville Beautification Commission and the Northville Township Beautification Commission. 

City Beautification Commission Chairwoman Diane Pittaway and member Liliana Miyahara, accompanied by Mayor Brian Turnbull, delivered signs to some of  the honorees on July 20. Certificates will be delivered in person at a later date since the traditional September luncheon hosted in September is postponed another year due to pandemic precautions. 

Canton awarded grant for firefighter safety

The Canton Township Fire Department will receive a $129,163 federal grant to fund the implementation of a health and wellness program to help keep firefighters safe.

The grant will be funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency Assistance to Firefighters Grant program and was announced recently by Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters. 

The Canton Township award was among a total of $800,000 in grant funding announced for southeast Michigan fire departments.

Brews, Brats and Bands set at Cady-Boyer Barn

The barn may have been destroyed by fire, but preparations are still under way for the 11th Annual Brews, Brats, & Bands at the Barn fundraising event set for 6-9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11 in Preservation Park.

While the previous location of the event, the Cady-Boyer Barn was destroyed by fire last month, event planners are confident that the scenic location of Preservation Park, located at 500 N. Ridge Road, will remain the perfect backdrop for the popular fall event. 

“This event has always been affectionately known as B4 because it was 'Brews, Brats, and Bands at the Barn,' and it will remain so even without the physical barn,” said Gregg King, Canton facility services supervisor and fundraiser organizer. “Year after year, it's been an honor to host this annual fall tradition, but this year will be even more special and bittersweet with the barn no longer there.” 

Fish story

Canton Township officials are currently investigating an influx of dozens of dead fish recently discovered in Heritage Park ponds. Unusually high numbers of rainbow trout, bluegill, and other varieties of fish have recently died off and Canton officials are working with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to investigate. The cause of the deaths has not yet been determined, they said, noting that to date no chemicals were used in the treatment of these ponds, ruling that out as a possible cause. Staff members will continue to monitor the situation and work with state agencies to explore possible causations, as well as to determine possible speedy solutions, officials said. For additional information, contact the Canton Parks office at (734) 394-5310 or visit

Good neighbors

Township businesses repair monument

Bob Oberdorf, a right, of Pioneer Landscaping & Lawn Maintenance,
and Richard Yost, Jr. of Yost Sand & Gravel, dedicated the materials
 and labor to repair the Van Buren Township monument retaining wall.
Van Buren Township has some very good neighbors.

Recently, when one local business owner noticed that the retaining wall at the Van Buren Township monument sign on Belleville Road near Quirk was failing, he took some immediate steps to repair the situation.

Bob Oberdorf from Pioneer Landscaping & Lawn Maintenance told township officials that the failing wall posed a threat not only to the monument sign but also to the well-established trees and other landscaping around it. Oberdorf then donated the hardscape materials and labor necessary to make the repairs. He also enlisted the aid of Richard Yost, Jr. of Yost Sand & Gravel who donated the soil and material necessary to complete the repairs.

Road repairs now under way

Work began last week on repair and replacement of a section of Belleville Road in Van Buren Township.

Repairs will be on both the northbound and southbound sides of Belleville Road from the south I-94 service road to the bridge entering the City of Belleville, according to officials. 

The Van Buren Township Downtown Development Authority submitted a request to Wayne Country for the repairs as a “shovel ready” project early this year. The township was notified, officials said, that the county had approved the project and that the work would begin Aug. 5.

Voters favor incumbents during primary balloting

Mayor William R. Wild
Last week, Westland voters narrowed the field of candidates who will go on to compete in the general election on Nov. 2.

More than 10,500 ballots were cast in the Primary Election Aug. 3, with 8,115 of those as absentee ballots, according to the office of City Clerk Richard LeBlanc. The top two candidates for the mayoral office, incumbent William R. Wild and Councilwoman Tasha Green along with the top eight city council candidates, incumbents Jim Hart, Peter Herzberg and James Godbout along with candidates Debra  Fowlkes, Melissa Sampey, David Cox, Antoinette Martin and Sarah Austin will all advance to the General Election when voters will elect a mayor and four city council representatives.

Helping hands

Members of the Westland Fire Department have organized a Gofundme page on Facebook to help the 33 families displaced by the Aug. 4 fire at Westwood Village Apartments in the city. Firefighters responded beginning at about 11:20 p.m. after a call about smoke in the hallway. Firefighters attempting to evacuate the residents were forced out of the building hallways by the rapidly expanding fire moving through the attic space.

Authority reappointment is approved

Jason Freese
Jason Freese, the co-owner of Norman's Market, has been reappointed to the Westland Downtown Development Authority (DDA).

Freese's reappointment was confirmed by the members of the Westland City Council during the Aug. 2 meeting. He will serve a four-year term that will expire July 18, 2025. 

Freese is a graduate of John Glenn High School and his father served on the original DDA board under Mayor Robert Thomas. During his first term on the DDA, Freese was an active participant in many sub-committees, including a steering committee which is currently developing a comprehensive strategic plan for economic development within the community. 

Library rescinding all late book fees

The Wayne Public Library just wants the books back.

Recently, members of the Library Board voted to rescind the late fee on borrowed materials in an effort to have the library operate more efficiently and allow more people to use the library.

In an official statement, the board members said that during the last few years, hundreds of libraries across the country have gone fine-free and seen significant increases both in library materials being returned and in residents using the library again.

Party on

Elvis did not leave the building during a recent party at Independence Village of Plymouth. An Elvis tribute artist arrived to visit residents in a vintage car and interacted with the crowd of residents during a day in the sun. Residents cooled off in several small wading pools after they enjoyed games including volleyball, ring toss, and water unfights. For dinner, the residents enjoyed an “Elvis Eats Southern Style Buffet.” The week leading up to the party on Friday was filled with Elvis-themed events including daily Elvis movies, a traveling cart with peanut butter and banana smoothies, a viewing of the way pools and diving boards are made, exercise periods to Elvis tunes, Bingo with Elvis, and a craft with mini beach umbrellas. 

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Ford to open $100 million battery plant in Romulus

Romulus will become the home of the new, $100 million Ford Motor Co. global battery research and development center, Ford Ion Park.

The decision to move to Romulus was announced by Ford officials last week and characterized as an acceleration of the automaker's “research and development of battery and battery cell technology.” The former A123 Systems 270,000 square-foot facility located at 38100 Ecorse Road will be refurbished by Ford and take advantage of the remaining five years of tax abatement under the Renaissance Zone designation. A123 Systems was granted approval of a 15-year renaissance zone by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. in 2010. That designation allows companies to operate free of all state and local taxes during the term of the agreement. The remaining five years of the designation is estimated to total about $1 million in tax abatements.

Blues, Brews and BBQ

Annual city festival returns with headline entertainment, fireworks

They are already firing up the grills in preparation for the 10th Annual Blues, Brews and BBQ event which will return to Westland this weekend, Aug. 6 and 7.

The event will feature talented musicians, all American barbecue and a selection of Michigan craft beers at Thomas H. Brown Central City Park.

Showing off their grill skills will be professional pit-masters Hill Billy Bone BBQ, Heaven on a Roll, Old Dads BBQ, The Grill Father, and Smokehouse 52 BBQ, all serving on-site, slow cooked, authentic BBQ. Also set to offer their wares are Harvest Kettle Corn, Detroit Mini Donut, Big Dog Hot Dogs, and Redd Ventures.

Area legislator’s campaign finance report prompts questions

Rep. Jewell Jones
The financial report of State Rep. Jewell Jones, D-Inkster, has drawn questions from some local lawmakers.

In his required financial fundraising report submitted last week, Jones, 25, claims to have spent more than $6,400 since Jan. 1 at restaurants or lounges. He reportedly spent a total of $15,926, including $12,057 described as “incidental” to his serving in office.

Among his expenses is listed a $221 charge at a strip club in Dearborn. The report, which lists spending from Jan. 1 through July 20, 2021, lists the cost as a “constituent meeting” to “discuss potential economic projects.” The financial reports are required by the state to ensure that candidates and officeholders do not violate state campaign funding or spending laws.  

Veteran police officer retires from force

Sgt. Eric Kolke
Canton Police Sgt. Eric Kolke has retired from the department after a 25-year career with the township. 

Kolke was hired as a police officer in 1996, and was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 2014. He has a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice from Madonna University, and is a graduate of the Michigan State University Police Staff and Command School. 

Kolke began his career with an immediate interest in special units, most of which he worked in addition to his regular patrol duties. He was selected for a multitude of assignments including evidence technician, the bicycle unit, the honor guard, field training officer, rifle instructor, range instructor, special enforcement unit, motorcycle instructor, rapid response unit and search warrant team. Most notably, Kolke served 22 years on the Western-Wayne Special Operations Team. As a member of this prestigious unit, he originally held a sniper position, later advancing to the sniper team leader. He currently holds the rank of Assistant Team Commander, serving as second in charge of the special operations team. 

Planned roadwork in township outlined for board trustees

Julie Brown, Special Writer

When Canton voters OK'd a 20-year roads millage in 2018, many were eager to see subdivision roads improve. 

Not only is that work under way, but major roads are also being upgraded. 

During a July 27 Canton Board of Trustees presentation, trustees asked questions about millage and repair plans through 2026. Director of Municipal Services Jade Smith noted the plans are posted on the roads page of the township website.

Smith said the township is working with Wayne County and with the Michigan Department of Transportation: “Obviously, that comes down to funding opportunities.”

Bill Serchak of the township engineering department noted the Ford Road Boulevard construction will start in 2024 “at the earliest,” and getting detour routes around Ford in good shape is important.

Safety first

Rotary Club Chicken Barbecue will

include multiple health precautions

Preparation of the traditional beloved chicken dinners at the Plymouth Rotary Club Chicken Barbecue this year will include something new, along with the “secret seasoning” and genuine charcoal grills.

This year, all COVID safety protocols will also be in place, explained Brandon Bunt, chairman of the Rotary Club Chicken Barbeque Committee.  Actually, Bunt rose through the ranks of the committee to become chairman last year, but the pandemic canceled the barbecue for only the second time since the event began in 1956, moving the committee assignments forward a year. 

It’s official

Mayor Leroy Burcroff, left, and Romulus Police Chief Robert Pfannes, far right, officially welcome new police officer James Paquette to the Romulus force. Paquette, 23, took his official police officer oath July 12. He is a Ferris State University graduate and a downriver native.

Repairs to Harvey Street are OK’d

Just in time for the streets of downtown Plymouth to fill with thousands of visitors for the Fall Festival, construction on Harvey Street has been scheduled. 

Plymouth City Commission member during their regular meeting last week, approved several contracts for the 2021 Harvey Street construction project. 

The planned construction will close Harvey Street between Ann Arbor Trail and Penniman. 

The project will include new water mains, new sanitary sewers, new storm sewers and a new roadway surface.

Learn to earn

 Wayne Champions program receives

$500,000 funding endowment pledge

Richard Helppie, at left, of the Helppie Family Charitable
 Foundation and one of the Wayne Memorial High School
 'Champions' along with Lisa Styers of Arrow Cares, Kari D. Walker,
 president and CEO of The Guidance Center and Dr. James Anderson principal
of Wayne Memorial High School celebrate the new endowment outside
Wayne Memorial High School.
Wayne Memorial High School students can continue to compete for cash based on improving their grades. 

The Champions of Wayne program, an educational incentive program established at Wayne Memorial High School in 2008, has received a pledge of $550,000 from the Helppie Family Charitable Foundation. The grant, to be delivered over five years, is designed to be the sustaining financial base for the champions program at the school.  Helppie Foundation co-founders Richard and Leslie Helppie have been the primary sponsors of the champions program since 2009 and have contributed more than $1.3 million to the grade-enhancement opportunity.  Students sign a contract to make a specific grade point improvement and choose a mentor to help them achieve their goal. When they make their goal, the program pays them $200 in cash as a reward for their improved grades.

Free Comcast wi-fi ‘Lift Zone’ is now open in Inkster

The first wi-fi connected “Lift Zone” is now open in Inkster.

The service, provided by Comcast, offers free robust WiFi in safe spaces designed to help students access the internet, participate in distance learning and do homework, especially in areas where there is a significant digital divide. Low-income students face a great risk of being left behind, particularly during the summer months while school is out, Comcast officials noted and these Lift Zones are designed to help those students who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to connect to the internet at home.

Lift Zones also serve adults and can connect them to online education, job searches, healthcare information and public assistance. These sites offer access to hundreds of hours of digital skills content to help families and site coordinators navigate online learning, officials explained.

Flying high

Eagle Scout builds new canine agility course in township park

Boy Scout Jonathon Barringer and his dog, Rebel, enjoy
the Dog Agility Course he designed and built at Marv Gans
Community Park as his Eagle Scout project.
Northville Township teen Jonathon Barringer's Eagle Scout project went to the dogs.

Barringer organized, raised funds, recruited assistance and built a six-obstacle agility course at the Northville Township Dog Park at Marv Gans Community Park that allows both dogs and their “best friends” exercise while bonding. 

Barringer, a University of Detroit Jesuit High School student in Boy Scout Troop 755, hosted a grand opening of the course last week. He recruited dog trainer Elly Price to teach mini-agility dog training classes to introduce canines and the owners to the equipment and to learn some basic commands. 

Agility is a growing dog sport in the United States. The American Kennel Club (AKC) reports more than one million entries to the AKC Agility program each year. 

Six Mile Road bridge closed during I-275 reconstruction

Construction barrels are already in place in the Northville area.

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) closed the Six Mile Road bridge over I-275 last week for repairs which will continue approximately eight weeks. 

The I-275 exit and entrance ramps will remain open. Some lanes on 275 may close intermittently during off-peak hours for the bridge project.

The bridge closure is part of Revive 275, a project to repair and rebuild 24 miles of I-275 between Six Mile Road and Will Carlton Road in Wayne County in six phases over four years.

County Commissioner urges municipal service contracts

Wayne County Commissioner Al Haidous told Sumpter Township officials that after exhausting other resources, he was hoping to schedule a meeting with Wayne County Executive Warren Evans regarding services in the area.

Haidous attended the most recent meeting of the Sumpter Township Board of Trustees in response to numerous complaints regarding unkempt drainage ditches and high weeds and brush in the area. Residents had complained to members of the board about the serious safety threat high weeds caused as visibility was blocked at several intersections.  Fire department officials had also expressed concern about fire hydrants being blocked by high weeds.

Mosquito control program OK’d

Outdoor life in Westland should become far more pleasant soon.

Officials in the city have declared war on the invading horde of mosquitoes that have been plaguing residents recently. The recent heavy rainfall has provided an ideal breeding spot for mosquito larvae in the 7,300 catch basins in the city and residents are feeling the 'bite' as they attempt any outdoor activities, officials said.

In response to numerous complaint calls, the city received approval from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) to take proactive measure using G30 Spinsad Briquettes in the catch basins. The comprehensive mosquito abatement program is designed to eliminate mosquito larvae in standing water before hatching.