Wednesday, April 24, 2024

State of the City address stresses cooperation


Romulus Mayor Robert McCraight presented his annual State of the City address earlier this month to an audience crowded with residents and city officials and visitors.
As usual, the Romulus Police Honor Guard opened and closed the event with the presentation and retiring of the flag. This year, Deputy City Clerk D’Sjonaun entertained the large crowd with a remarkable rendition of the national anthem. Julie Wojtlko, MCraight’s chief of staff, introduced the officials in the audience prior to the invocation by the Rev. Arthur Willis.

McCraight presented a detailed summary of the past year in the community and the list of accomplishments and successes the city has seen during the past year. He presented a graphic of five pillars of city management and explained the success Romulus and his administration have accomplished in each area during the past year.

McCraight didn’t shy away from responding to challenges the city is working to overcome. He stressed that the new 34th District Court building has been paid for by those who use the court and explained “the city does not owe money for the building. What we have to solve is the operational costs,” he told the crowd, “and we are working with the other communities who use the court to find solutions.”

“We continue to find new ways to innovate and one of those is working together with the schools,” McCraight explained as he introduced Superintendent of Schools Benjamin Edmondson to address the status of the district.

Edmondson, like McCraight, didn’t shy away from difficult situations the schools currently face and told the crowd, “Nobody deserves your trust if they’re not going to be truthful and transparent with you.” He stressed the importance of communication with the schools and urged residents to make an effort to become informed.

McCraight solidly agreed with Edmondson regarding the importance of the city and the school district working in concert to solve problems.

“We’ve got a lot of things we’re trying to change in this city, but if schools aren’t coming along and going with us, it’s going to continue to pull us down,” McCraight said. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been with an economic development person who wants to develop in our community who makes the decision based on the schools.”

McCraight referenced the new state program dedicated to developing workforce housing and explained that Romulus has 3,000 acres available. He discussed the growing use of technology in nearly every city department, including the police and ordinance enforcement. The mayor also noted the difficulty across the county in recruiting police officers and explained that issue is also one the community is working to alleviate.

The mayor ended his address by presenting the first Ambassador Award from the city designed to recognize a group or individual who presents a positive image of Romulus outside the community. This year, the initial award was presented to the Romulus Flyers, a youth football league.

As has become his usual closing, McCraight thanked his wife, Kendra, but rather than his presentation of flowers to her, this year he opted for a Harley Davidson gift basket and noted with a smile that she has recently taken up cycling, joining him in his off-duty hobby.

Home town heroes

 First responders, civilian honored for saving life of baby 

It really does take a village to raise a child, especially in a life-threatening emergency.

Last week, during the regular meeting of the Northville Township Board of Trustees, 13 first responders were recognized for their heroism in saving the life of a baby during an emergency situation earlier this year. A standing ovation from the audience accompanied the presentation of the lifesaving awards recognizing the exemplary actions of the first responders credited with saving the child’s life.

Last February, emergency dispatchers received a call from Northville resident Abby Salamen who reported an infant in distress who was not breathing and had no pulse. Public Safety Ofc. Carrie Hollingshed provided crucial lifesaving instructions by phone to Salamen until Police Ofc. Chris Bachand arrived on the scene and immediately began to perform CPR on the small child.

When township firefighter/paramedics arrived, they were able to provide Advanced Pediatric Life Support for the child as they transported the baby to the hospital. The child was successfully resuscitated and was later released from the hospital with no long-term health consequences related to the incident.

Township officials presented Lifesaving Awards to the 13 individuals responsible for saving the life of the child including civilian award to Salamen and departmental awards to both Holligshed and Bachand.

Firefighters Chris Wiggins, Mike Mandziuk, Kyle Susewitz, Jake Fedel, Chris Kilinski and Mackenzie Slowik were honored for their lifesaving efforts along with Battalion Chief Brad Neuhart, Lt. Mike Obermiller, Training Coordinator Jesse Marcotte and Fire Marshal Kyle Lewis.

“For the actions taken by these individuals, a child’s life was saved,” said Fire Chief Brett Siegel in presenting the awards. “We want to thank you all for the for service to the Northville community and upholding the finest traditions of the Northville Township Department of Public Safety.”

Construction of Five Mile Road could cause traffic delays

 Road work on a stretch of Five Mile Road that runs along Plymouth and Northville townships has begun, according to township officials and area drivers attempting to navigate the area.

Road crews are rebuilding and widening Five Mile Road between Beck and Ridge roads, as well as curb and gutter placement, concrete and aggregate shoulder placement, underdrain installation, bioswale installation, ditch construction, signing, striping and restoration, township 

officials noted.

Officials warned drivers to expect congestion and temporary detours throughout the duration of the construction project.

One lane of traffic in each direction is open but there will be closures along Five Mile and Ridge roads during certain portions of the project, according to township officials. Drivers will have access to all adjacent streets and entrances during for the project, they added.

“Northville Township is glad to be a part of MITC, an exciting project that brings both jobs and an expanded tax base to the region,” Northville Township Supervisor Mark J. Abbo said. “We are grateful to Wayne County in helping build solid roads and infrastructure to help our residents zip around the region.”

There are also numerous development projects in the works along Five Mile Road, including a new Meijer store in Plymouth Township.

Officials expect the roadway construction project, which is being funded with a $10 million state grant, to last through the remainder of this year.

Spring Spectacular

 Canton and Plymouth bands to perform together in special concert

The Canton Concert Band and Plymouth Community Band will combine forces for the first time at the Village Theater at Cherry Hill at 7 p.m. May 4. for a “Spring Spectacular” concert.  Each ensemble will present a unique variety of music, followed by a combined performance of both bands playing together as one.

Under the direction of Ryan Hoffman, the Canton Concert Band has been a staple ingredient in the Canton Community for 20 years. The 52-member concert band performs year-round at different events throughout the community and presents three annual performances in the fall, winter, and spring at the Village Theater at Cherry Hill.

“We are thrilled to be able to present this collaborative performance to ring in the spring,” said Hoffman. “Both bands have been hard at work, creating a program of music that will appeal to any audience.”

With a Bachelor of Music degree from Wayne State University,  Hoffman studied music education as well as jazz and composition.  Prior to conducting the Canton Concert Band, he played in their trumpet section.  Currently, he also plays in the Northridge Church orchestra and enjoys private teaching, as well as writing music.

The Plymouth Community Band under the direction of Carl Battishill comprises 55-75 volunteer, amateur musicians who enjoy coming together to make music in a “concert band” arrangement.  Members come from all walks of life, have diverse backgrounds and experiences, and range in age from teenagers to octogenarians, a spokesman noted.

Battishill has been the director of the 65-year-old Plymouth Community Band for the past 45 years. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from the University of Michigan, and was a music teacher in schools in Frankfort, Plymouth-Canton, and West Bloomfield for 48 years. Now retired from teaching, he spends his time with family and friends, working in the yard, and attempting to play golf.

Tickets for Spring Spectacular are $12 - $14 (fees included) and can be purchased online at or by calling the Village Theater Box Office at (734) 394-5300.  Box Office hours are from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays and from 4 until 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the box office one hour prior to show time.


The Village Theater at Cherry Hill is located at 50400 Cherry Hill Road, Canton. For more information about this special performance, call (734) 394-5300 or visit

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Police officer nearly injured by 15-year-old driver

 A Westland police officer narrowly escaped injury last week as a suspect drove from the scene of a crime, according to police reports.

Officers responded to a report of an attempted car theft at about 2:20 a.m. April 11. Upon arriving at the scene in the 35000 block of Hunter Avenue officers were alerted to a nearby vehicle that might have been involved in the incident.

As officers approached the vehicle, the driver attempted to flee the area and crashed the car into multiple garages causing serious property damage to several properties.  When one of the responding officers exited his vehicle, the suspect drove the fleeing vehicle directly in the path of the officer, according to police reports of the incident. The officer was forced to immediately retreat to avoid being struck by the oncoming car.  The fleeing vehicle struck the driver’s side door of the patrol vehicle where the responding officer had initially been standing.

Another officer in the area observed the suspect vehicle, a stolen white Kia Optima, and attempted to stop the car. The driver refused to stop and led officers on a pursuit that ended in the area of Ford and Central City Parkway where the driver lost control of the vehicle and struck a light pole.

Responding officers were able to apprehend all of the suspects involved including two adults and four juveniles.  The driver of the suspect vehicle, a 15-year-old female Detroit resident, was arrested after a short foot pursuit and transported to the Wayne County Juvenile Detention Facility.  The remaining juveniles, a 12- year-old female Detroit resident and a 13-year-old male Detroit resident were released to the custody of their parents and criminal complaints against each were forwarded to the Wayne County Juvenile Court.

James Hayes, an 18-year-old Detroit resident, was arraigned by Judge Mark McConnell on a felony charge of receiving and concealing stolen property.  Hayes was issued a $10,000 personal bond and must be fitted with a GPS tether.  Hayes was ordered to appear back at the 18th District Court on April 25th for a probable cause conference.

Kahari Thomas, an 18-year-old Detroit resident, was also arraigned by McConnell on a felony charge of receiving and concealing stolen property.  Thomas was issued $10,000 personal bond and must be fitted with a GPS tether.  Thomas was ordered to appear back at the 18th District Court on April 25 for a probable cause conference.


 Canton Sports Center to reopen

The Canton Sports Center, a popular sports destination for local softball/baseball leagues and national tournaments, will reopen for the 2024 season after undergoing significant renovations with a special event set for May 1.  

To celebrate the completion of the $1.2 million renovations, the Canton Sports Center will host “Light Up the Park,” a special opening-day event. The special ceremony will feature Canton Township Supervisor Anne Marie Graham-Hudak and the elected officials of the Canton Board of Trustees. The event will begin at 8 p.m., with public festivities scheduled from 7:30 – 8:30 p.m. including softball and baseball games; Kicker’s pizza party; glow party contests and DJ Royce. 

This active facility, located in Canton Victory Park, was recently upgraded with a new state-of-the-art LED lighting system, that will improve on-field lighting and visibility in its 12 softball fields, as well as reduce energy consumption and enhance the overall experience for players and spectators.

Additional renovations included the replacement of all concrete sidewalks surrounding the facility, with several sidewalks leading to the 12 softball fields. The remainder of these sidewalk are scheduled for replacement in October, officials said.

“The Canton Sports Center is an incredible asset to our community, as well as a high-demand sports destination,” said Greg Hohenberger, Canton Leisure Services director. “All of these renovations show that Canton Township is committed to recreation and to providing opportunities for all ages to participate in baseball, softball, cricket, lacrosse, flag football, and more.” 

The Canton Sports Center is located at 46555 W. Michigan Ave. and features a 12-diamond lighted softball/baseball operation with state-of-the-art facilities, as well as Kicker’s Bar & Grill. The complex annually plays host to several national tournaments that produce a significant economic impact to the area; at times generating over $1 million in revenue for area businesses.

For additional information about the Canton Sports Center, visit, or call (734) 483-5600.

Spring is here

Area residents traveling through downtown Plymouth have enjoyed the efforts of the Rotary Club members who planted hundreds of tulip bulbs in the Main Street median last fall. The flowers, now in bloom celebrating the warm spring weather, will be replaced by Rotary Club volunteers with masses of begonia plants next month. 
Photo by Dave Willett 

Canton Township Police Community Relations Officer retires

Canton Township Police Department Community Relations Officer Patricia Esselink has retired after 23-year on the force.

Esselink began her career with Canton in 2001. Initially serving as a patrol officer, she responded to calls for service, provided traffic enforcement, conducted criminal investigations, and responded to emergency situations throughout the community. In addition to her patrol duties, Esselink was selected early on to participate in numerous special units including those of TEAM (Teaching, Educating and Mentoring), Explorer Unit, Bicycle Unit, and the Rapid Response Unit. Esselink maintained active roles in each of these special units throughout her career, attaining lead officer status as a TEAM instructor and Explorer Unit advisor. She excelled at engaging with the youth participating in both programs—one focusing on safety skills for young children, and the other providing training and insight for teens interested in a career in law enforcement, according to a prepared statement from department officials. 

In 2013, Esselink left road patrol for a position as an investigator in the department detective bureau. She quickly became a valuable member of the unit, displaying a passion for thoroughly investigating a wide array of criminal cases, officials said and she received numerous awards and citations for her work while assigned to this special unit.

Two years later, Esselink made a significant move in her career, accepting her current position as Community Relations Officer. In this position, Esselink found her niche by combining her passion for police work with her intrinsic ability of positive interpersonal communications, the statement continued. Over the past nine years she has become the face of the department—transforming the position into an all-encompassing, public safety wellbeing campaign for residents of all ages, abilities, and situations. Her expansion of the position included development of custom educational programs and assistance to address the specific needs of our community’s youth, teens, adults, senior citizens, and those otherwise in need, striving to make their lives safer and better than she found them. She has also worked with the neighborhoods, schools, businesses, and places of worship to ensure they have the knowledge and tools necessary to provide safe environments for those who gather in their facilities, officials said. 

During the last six years Esselink has also served as a Department Training Instructor, working with a team of peers tasked with providing a variety of annual and specialty training for sworn personnel. As a senior officer, Esselink was able to incorporate her expertise and experience to provide mentoring for officers at varying stages of their careers. Her knowledge, positive energy, and laughter will be missed by all, officials noted. 

“Officer Esselink has set herself apart within the law enforcement community. Her approach to policing, marked by a dedication to bridging the gap between the community and the police department, stands as a model of service,” said Police Chief Chad Baugh. “Officer Esselink's outstanding contributions have been instrumental in fostering a strong bond between the police and the community, demonstrating the profound impact that one individual can have in enhancing public safety and community relations. As she shifts into retirement, her legacy of service, leadership, and community engagement will continue to inspire current and future generations within our police department,” Baugh added.

Art in Bloom set at Village Arts Factory


Art in Bloom,” a special spring artisan market presented by the Village Arts Factory and Raman Pharmacy of Cherry Hill Village, is set to take place from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday, April 27 indoors, as well as outside on the grounds of this unique arts complex, located at 50755 Cherry Hill Road in Canton Township.

This special event, supported by Jacob Matthew Jewelers and Trinity Health IHA Medical Group Nurse Midwives, will showcase resident studio artists of the Village Arts Factory, as well as other local food and artisan vendors selling an array of fine arts, crafts, handmade gifts, jewelry, pottery, ceramics, apparel, accessories, and home goods. In addition, the annual Cherry Hill Potters Guild Spring Pottery Sale will also take place during the event.

“We are thrilled to bring back this special artisan market that celebrates the return of spring while showcasing a wide variety of high-quality handcrafted merchandise,” stated Kevin Ryan, community program director.  “The entire family will be able to enjoy this special event that is jampacked with so much more than a unique shopping experience.”

Additional highlights include: live music; children’s activities; face painting; as well as an opportunity to view the current exhibition, “You Can Get There from Here: An Artist’s Pathway by Martine MacDonald,” in the Village Arts Factory Fine Art Gallery through April 30.  In addition, refreshments and coffee will also be available for purchase from onsite food and coffee trucks.

The Village Arts Factory, located at 50755 Cherry Hill Road in Canton, MI, is a multi-purpose studio space, where artists, designers, teachers, and community leaders can gather to collaborate, create, and display their works.

For additional information about the Village Arts Factory ‘Art in Bloom’ event, visit or call (734)765-7061.

Demolition begins at Northville Downs


The largest development in the City of Northville was set to begin demolition this week.

Outbuildings at the former Northville Downs were slated for demolition this week by Renascent, Inc. as one of the first steps in the redevelopment of the site into residential and retail structures. The proposed Downs project will be a community of single-family homes, townhouses, row houses, apartments, condominiums and small businesses, along with greenspace amenities according to the developers’ website.

Permits for the demolition were recently issued by city officials. Included in the demolition permit were the houses and apartment complex north of Beal Street extended. A demolition permit has also been issued to Toll Brothers for the structure on the old Farmer’s Market site at Seven Mile and Sheldon Road. The main racetrack clubhouse is not included in the scope of the demolition permits that have been issued to date, according to city officials.

Asbestos remediation has been completed in the outbuildings on the Downs racetrack parcel and inspections by representatives of Environmental Testing and Consulting (ETC) have determined the outbuildings clear and safe for demolition. Remediation continues on the main racetrack clubhouse and it has not been cleared for demolition, according to a prepared statement from the city.

All materials generated from the dismantling of the structures will be hauled off site. Construction traffic will enter and exit the site through the construction entrance on Center Street and will be limited to Center Street and Seven Mile. City ordinances allow construction work from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily, seven days a week. The construction site will be secured outside of construction times, officials explained.

For more information visit the Hunter Pasteur website on The Downs project, Northville Downs, or the city of Northville pages dedicated to this project Northville Downs Redevelopment - City of Northville, MI.

Questions or concerns can be emailed to or

New best friend


Members of the Westland Rotary Club partnered with officials from the Westland Police Department  for idea on projects to help the community. The addition of a therapy dog to the police resources was ultimately selected as the most beneficial for the community. Last week, Rotor was welcomed to the city as part of a program funded by the Westland Rotary Club. Rotor is an 8-month-old Golden Retriever mixed with Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Rotor is a rescue dog who had a difficult start in life. Rotor is 
scheduled to begin his therapy dog training for certification next month.

Books and Badges


‘March is Reading Month’ was celebrated last month by the Plymouth Township Police Department “Books and Badges” program, led by School Resource Ofc. Joe Smitherman. Police officers, including Chief James Knittel, accepted 50 invitations to read to students. “These positive interactions were also an excellent opportunity to let our students know that the police are here to help them and keep them safe. We estimate that over 1,200 students and teachers were positively impacted by this community program,” officials posted on social media.

City councilman elected as state representative


Westland City Councilman Peter Herzberg has been chosen to complete the vacant 25th District State House of Representatives term. The 25th District includes portions of Westland, Wayne and Canton Township.

Herzberg, a Democrat, was the choice of 6,373 voters in the special election last Tuesday. His opponent, Republican Josh Powell, garnered 4,096 votes. Herzberg’s total was 59.5 percent of the votes cast while Powell was the choice of 38.3 percent of voters. Herzberg will serve the remainder of the term vacated by Kevin Coleman when he was elected as mayor of Westland last fall.

The term will be on the ballot again in November.

The Democratic candidate in District 13, Mai Xiong, won 5,740 or 65.6 percent of the votes in the 13th District while her Republican opponent Ronald Singer received 3,006 or 34.3 percent of the votes.  

The two Democratic victories now give Democrats a majority vote in the state house.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Former Romulus mayor sentenced to probation


Former Romulus Mayor LeRoy Burcroff, 59, will serve three-years probation and four months of home confinement following his conviction on charges of misuse and theft of campaign funds, according to United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison.

Burcroff entered a guilty plea to wire fraud in 2022. He did not admit guilt of charges of federal campaign finance violations of using more than $15,000 in campaign finances for personal expenses as claimed in an investigation by the FBI.

U.S. District Judge Denise Paige Hood handed down her sentencing decision last week.

The charges stem from the use of funds in a committee to elect (CTE) bank account entitled “Committee to Elect LeRoy D. Burcroff” established by Burcroff during his successful campaign for mayor in 2014.  According to court documents, during the next two-and-a-half years, Burcroff defrauded donors to his CTE account by using campaign funds for his personal benefit rather than for his election. Court documents alleged that in November 2017 Burcroff spent more than $3,500 of campaign donors’ money to pay for a family member’s wedding.

Burcroff also spent campaign funds on a church fee, a banquet room rental, flowers, and the liquor expenses at his daughter’s wedding, according to court documents. Prosecutors claimed that in 2017 and 2018, Burcroff used CTE funds to pay more than $11,600 in dues and expenses to a yacht club which he used for his personal benefit. The federal investigation determined that on multiple occasions, Burcroff overpaid his yacht club dues using his campaign account, which resulted in the yacht club issuing a refund, which Burcroff deposited in his personal bank account. Court documents alleged that in 2018, Burcroff made a $1,000 donation of campaign funds to a trade industry with the hope that he would receive a promotion at his private sector job. In 2019, Burcroff spent more than $4,000 of campaign funds on a personal vacation to Florida with friends.

In a letter to the court last year prior to his sentencing, Burcroff stated, ““I agonize every day over what I did. I wish I could do things over, but I know I can’t.

“I never thought 

I would be in this 

position standing before a judge, admitting to breaking the law, and asking for your leniency. ... I made some terrible mistakes, made some terrible decisions. ... I am so sorry.”

“Trust in our state’s campaign finance system is a critical component of a healthy representative democracy. Mr. Burcroff’s conviction and sentence underscores our 

commitment to ensuring that the citizens of the Eastern District are represented by public 

officials who have integrity and are seeking office not for their self-interest, but for the good of the people they are elected to represent,” Ison said.

“The citizens of Michigan demand and deserve utmost trust and integrity in our campaign finance system,” said Special Agent in Charge Cheyvoryea Gibson of the FBI in Michigan. “The former Mayor’s actions severely undermined the confidence of those who bestowed trust and faith in him and his office. The FBI and law enforcement partners are fully dedicated to fighting public corruption by investigating and exposing corrupt officials whose greed erodes the public’s trust in the government. We will not tolerate misconduct and will do everything we can to ensure justice is served.”

The investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Detroit Area Corruption Task Force. The case was being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eaton P. Brown.

Play Ball

 Officials celebrate reopening of remodeled Canton Sports Center

The Canton Sports Center, a popular sports destination for local softball/baseball leagues and national tournaments in the Metro Detroit area, is set to reopen for the season following significant renovations.  

  To celebrate the completion of $1.2 million in renovations, the Canton Sports Center will host “Light Up the Park,” a special opening-day event for its 2024 spring season on Wednesday, April 17. A grand re-opening ceremony, featuring Canton Supervisor Anne Marie Graham-Hudak and the elected officials of the Canton Board of Trustees, is slated to begin at 8 p.m., with public festivities scheduled from 7:30 – 8:30 p.m. including: softball and baseball games, Kicker’s pizza party, glow party contests and DJ Royce. 

  The facility, located in Victory Park, was recently upgraded with a new state-of-the-art LED lighting system that will improve on-field lighting and visibility in its 12 softball fields, as well as reduce energy consumption and enhance the overall experience for players and spectators, officials said.

Additional renovations included the replacement of all concrete sidewalks surrounding the facility, with several sidewalks leading to the 12 softball fields. The remainder of these sidewalks as scheduled to be replaced in October.

  “The Canton Sports Center is an incredible asset to our community, as well as a high-demand sports destination,” said Greg Hohenberger, Canton Leisure Services director. “All of these renovations show that Canton Township is committed to recreation and to providing opportunities for all ages to participate in baseball, softball, cricket, lacrosse, flag football, and more.” 

  The Canton Sports Center, located at 46555 W. Michigan Ave. features a 12-diamond lighted softball/baseball operation with state-of-the-art facilities, as well as Kicker’s Bar & Grill. The sports complex annually plays host to several national tournaments that produce a significant economic impact to the area; at times generating over $1 million in revenue for area businesses, officials said

For additional information about the Canton Sports Center, visit, or call (734) 483-5600.

Criminal gang connected to Northville home robberies


Northville Township authorities are warning residents after a recent increase in organized criminal activities targeting high-end homes in the area.

Law enforcement 

agencies have identified a pattern of break-ins attributed to an organized crime group believed to originate from South America. During the past year in Northville Township, police have identified five home invasions that have exhibited striking similarities to this crime group. This group’s method of operation involves parking a vehicle on a nearby side street away from the home before forcing entry into the targeted residence, officials said. criminals

Typically, the perpetrators operate in groups of three to four individuals, demonstrating a coordinated approach to their criminal activities. Once inside the homes the criminals focus on valuable items such as cash, jewelry and other high-end possessions.

“We are deeply concerned about the recent uptick in what appears to be organized crime activities targeting our neighborhoods,” stated Northville Deputy Chief of Police Matthew MacKenzie. “We urge residents to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities immediately to law enforcement.”

Northville Township Police are intensifying their efforts to apprehend those responsible by increasing patrols and implementing surveillance measures in affected areas. This is to deter further incidents and ensure the safety of residents, officials said.

Residents are reminded to take proactive measures to safeguard their homes, including ensuring that all doors and windows are securely locked, turning on lights when not home, avoiding posting on social media when on vacation, and promptly reporting 

suspicious individuals or activities. Northville Township authorities are collaborating with regional law enforcement agencies to investigate these incidents. Anyone with information about these crimes is urged to contact the Northville Township Police Department at (248) 349-9400.

“Our residents are the eyes and ears of any community. If you see something, say something. We’re here 24/7; reaching us is as simple as dialing 911 or calling (248) 349-9400,” officials said.

Death of beloved music teacher is mourned


A beloved voice in the Wayne-Westland School District was silenced with the death of Dorotha Louise Schuler-Gleason who died March 29 at the age of 82.

Mrs. Gleason was a former music educator in the school district and was an influence on many students during her career. Several students posted tributes to the former choir director and educator on social media last week. Her life, her family said, was characterized by her passion for learning and creativity. As a dedicated educator, she was honored as Music Teacher of the Year, Michigan School Vocal Music Association, 1980, leaving an indelible mark on the lives of countless students.

Beyond the classroom, Mrs. Schuler-Gleason found joy in the simple pleasures of life, from the pages of a good book to the tranquility of her garden. She possessed a knack for knitting and a curiosity for technology, often found “fooling around” on computers. Her love for music was evident through her involvement with the Michigan School Vocal Music Association.

Mrs. Schuler-Gleason, a resident of Howell, was born Oct. 17, 1941, to the late Herman Louis Schuler and Dorotha Louise Arick.

Among her survivors are her sisters Luan Purcell, Virginia (Richard) Hobson, Mary Fall; her extensive family network of nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and nephews; stepsons, Dean (Teresa) Gleason and Aaron (Vicki) Gleason, and grandchildren, Sirena Nettles and William Gleason. Mrs. Schuler-Gleason was preceded in death by her husband Charles, as well as her stepsons Darrell Gleason and Tad Gleason, and siblings Frederick Schuler and Marjorie Anderson.

Her family members are planning a private memorial service to celebrate her life and the profound impact she made on those around her, leaving behind a legacy of love, kindness, and unwavering dedication to others.

Memorial Contributions in Mrs. Schuler-Gleason’s honor are suggested to the Livingston County Animal Shelter,

Arrangements were entrusted to the Keehn-Griffin Funeral Home, 706 W. Main St. Brighton.

Jersey Boys appear in Canton

Spotlight Players’ Production of Jersey Boys: The Story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons is headed to The Village Theater at Cherry Hill on April 19-21, and April 26-28.

The production is filled with songs that shaped a generation, including: “Oh, What a Night”, “Beggin”, and “Sherry”.  Jersey Boys will give audience members special behind-the-scenes access to the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons to discover the secret of a 40-year friendship as the foursome work their way from the streets of New Jersey to the heights of stardom.

Director Wendy Sielaff brings this jammed-packed musical adventure to life with a cast of 19, featuring Brandon Dominguez as Frankie Valli, Brian George as Tommy DeVito, Mark Mazzullo as Nick Massi, Kevin Morgan as Bob Gaudio, Andrew Pierzynowski as Joe Pesci, Emily Darling as Mary Delgado, Audrey Waugh as Francine, and Kelly Rizzo-McClain as Lorraine. 

The Jersey Boys book was written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice with music composed by Bob Gaudio, with lyrics written by Bob Crewe.

Performances will take place on the Main Stage, with Friday and Saturday evening shows at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinee shows at 3 p.m. at the Village Theater, 50400 Cherry Hill Road, Canton, MI 48187.

Tickets are $18-20 (including fees) and can be purchased online at or by calling the Village Theater Box Office from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, at (734)394-5300 x3. Any remaining tickets will also be available for purchase at the box office one hour before show time. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Northville Downs developer sues Plymouth Township


The second lawsuit contesting development decisions in Plymouth Township may not be as “friendly” as the settlement agreement which ended the lawsuit filed by Meijer last year.

Last month, developers of Northville Downs filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Detroit demanding $10 million from the township alleging township officials “aggressively” induced the owners to construct a new facility in Plymouth.

The Meijer lawsuit was filed after the company was denied a permit from the members of the planning commission for a new 159,000 square-foot store on Five Mile Road, west of Home Depot. A Jan. 18 consent agreement 

approved by the court will allow the construction of the new store in exchange for concessions to the township including a $100,000 contribution to the township tree fund.

The latest federal suit, however, is more contentious. According to the court filings, township officials rejected the project after racetrack developers purchased 125 acres of property in the township, based on assurances by Supervisor Kurt Heise and Township Economic Director Gary Heitman. The filings claim township officials placed unconstitutional conditions on required permits and that “extortionate conditions” were imposed not relevant to the harness racing track. The 

lawsuit alleges the demands of township officials for specific conditions, including a community benefits agreement, are illegal and contrary to the Michigan Horse Racing Law of 1995, the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act, the Township Zoning Ordinance, as well as the Michigan and U.S. Constitutions. The racetrack developers are also requesting the court to invalidate the township denial of the racetrack development plan, without including the negotiated community benefits agreement.

“The Township made extravagant, unlawful, and unconstitutional demands for $5,000,000 in cash, drone shows, soccer fields, pickleball courts, and other items worth millions more to obtain regulatory approval for NVD (Northville Downs),” the federal filing claims.

Northville Downs, the only horse racing track in the state, closed the facility in downtown Northville earlier this year. The track, operating for 80 years, was owned by the Carlo family.  The former racetrack property on Seven Mile and Sheldon Road is the site of a proposed $300 million redevelopment project.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit sought approval for a new track at Five Mile and Ridge roads. After more than a year of negotiations, members of the Plymouth Township Board of Trustees voted in January to terminate the project. Heise accused the developers of negotiating “in bad faith” regarding the community benefits agreement which was included as a condition for the Planned Urban Development (PUD) permit the developers were seeking.

Following the court filing seeking redress, Heise reportedly told media sources that these community benefit agreements are common, particularly when a development project might be socially disruptive. He admitted the Northville Downs development was the first in the township to require such an agreement.

He called the lawsuit “outrageous” and said the developers would not find a solution in federal court. Heise added that the township will vigorously defend the community benefits agreement and other conditions in court.

Court fillings allege that Heise and Heitman “aggressively” pursued the racetrack project and promised approvals of required permits “within 90 days.”

Heise claims the racetrack project was handled in the same manner as any other business and that the required community benefits agreement was discussed from the onset of discussions. He said the agreement was an effort to demonstrate a benefit to the community from the project. He said the breakage fees, or the difference between winning better’s payouts and the nearest dime, under Michigan’s Horse Racing Law of 1995 would have generated $3 million for recreation and public safety in the township.

Both the Meijer and racetrack projects met with strong objections from township residents during regular meetings of the board of trustees.

According to the settlement agreement in the Meijer lawsuit, construction of the new complex will begin this spring. The project will include a pharmacy and garden center, as well as a separate 3,300-square-foot convenience store with a gas station on part of a 21-acre parcel of property.

The land is part of the Michigan International Technology Center corridor and owned by Redico Holdings, which has a purchase agreement with Meijer for the property. Specifics of the settlement include a $100,000 contribution from Meijer and Redico to the township tree fund, construction of an 8-foot concrete bike path adjacent to Five Mile, and other sustainability design features. Meijer will also contribute to the Five Mile Road reconstruction project as part of the settlement.

No court date for the Northville Downs suit has been scheduled.