Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Court of Appeals rules against City of Wayne

    The Michigan State Court of Appeals has upheld court decisions against the City of Wayne stemming from a suit filed against former Councilman Anthony Miller. The city lawsuit claimed Miller breached his fiduciary responsibility to the city when he provided a hostile work environment assessment report to Michigan State Police as part of a separate criminal investigation.
    To date, Third Circuit Court Judge Sheila Gibson has found in favor of Miller on every issue and has awarded more than $90,000 in legal fees to the Rasor Law Firm which represents Miller.
    Gibson ruled, and the appeals judges affirmed, that the confidentiality of the hostile workplace assessment report was removed during a council meeting the day prior to the entire report being posted on the city website. The report was removed after about 15 minutes, but multiple downloads of the document had already occurred. Gibson also ruled the city litigation was filed outside the statute of limitations.
    In a separate action, Miller is claiming discrimination by city officials and is demanding redress under the Elliott Larsen Act which prohibits discrimination based on race, religion or sexual orientation. The city argument is that Miller, as an elected official, was not a city employee and therefore not afforded those protections.
    Miller’s attorney, James Rasor, strongly disagrees with the city argument noting that the city “ruthlessly attacked” Miller and he is entitled to the same protections as “usual employees.” Should the appeals court find in Miller’s favor in this claim, it could establish a legal precedent for other elected officials, Rasor said.
    The crux of the city claim is a 2018 independent report that dealt with the conduct of former City Manager Lisa Nocerini and concluded that she should be disciplined up to and including termination. The city lawsuit alleged that the report was a confidential work product.
    The judge dismissed the claims of the city noting that the statute of limitations had expired before the suit was filed and that the city allegation that the report was ever confidential was disproven by a video tape of a city council meeting in which the posting of the report on the city website was discussed and approved by officials.
    According to Rasor, in addition to the $90,000 in legal fees, the judge may impose “sanctions” on the city. That means, Rasor said, the judge could decide to levy some punishment against the city for “acting in bad faith.” The bad faith,” Rasor explained, “would be the proof presented during the trial that city officials knew the report was not confidential before the lawsuit was filed.”
    Miller, who was appointed to the city council in December of 2015 and re-elected twice, resigned his position in June of 2021 during the COVID pandemic and moved out of state. While he said he was hesitant to make any comment on the current situation, he said his treatment by other city officials was a factor in his resignation.
    The investigative report concerning the conduct of Nocerini has also been accepted as evidence in three separate ongoing legal proceedings. Resident Mark Blackwell is charging Nocerini and Police Chief Ryan Strong with violations of his civil rights. He claims Nocerini motivated Strong to falsely arrest him for speaking out at public meetings regarding the findings in the report. Nocerini claimed that Blackwell was stalking her by speaking to other residents in the city hall parking lot following council meetings and driving behind her on Wayne Road.
    Blackwell was found not guilty of all those allegations and he is now pursuing legal redress from the city based on violations of his civil rights.
    In a separate lawsuit, Wayne police Ofc. Abrahan Hughes also claims Nocerini interfered with the police chief selection process by insisting Blackwell be arrested. He alleges he refused to make the arrest and claims that despite higher test scores, Strong was promoted to the chief’s job after arresting Blackwell.
    Those cases continue to proceed in court.

Death of former editor Tom Mooradian is mourned

Former Associated Newspapers Managing Editor and award-winning author Thomas (Tatos) Mooradian died June 5 2024, in his home on Hubbard Lake.
    Mr. Mooradian was a well-known and popular figure in the community, beginning his newspaper career as a sportswriter and eventually managing the Associated Newspapers editorial staff for several decades.
    Born July 31, 1928, in Detroit, Mr. Mooradian graduated from Southwestern High School, where he was known for his academic achievements and his basketball prowess. Seeking adventure, his family said, he joined a group of Armenian repatriates and went to Soviet Armenia at the age of 19, playing basketball for the national team, coaching youth, and receiving a degree in education from the Institute of Physical Culture and Sports, Yerevan, Armenia.
    Mr. Mooradian returned to Detroit in 1960, earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Wayne State University, before beginning his journalism career.
    He married the love of his life and best friend Janice Marie (Taracks) on July 11, 1974, and the couple were the parents of two daughters.
    Mr. Mooradian retired in 2005 and the couple relocated to Hubbard Lake, where he wrote his long-promised book, The Repatriate: Love, Basketball, and the KGB, which shared his experiences during his time in the Soviet Union. His work received seven book awards.
    The couple traveled throughout the United States where he spoke about his Soviet ordeal.
    Mr. Mooradian was preceded in death by his father Boghos, mother Dzovinar, brothers Robert (Popkin) and George (Krikor).
    He is survived by his wife Janice; daughters Jennifer and Bethany; grandchildren Emerson, Elizabeth, and Auden; his sister Rose (Patrick) Torossian and a host of nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews, and great-great nieces and nephews, as well as a warm circle of dear friends. A family visitation is planned for 1 until 3 p.m. Thursday, July 11 in the library at the First Presbyterian Church of Alpena where Mr. Mooradian was a member. The family is planning a second visitation in the Detroit area later this summer.

Northville wins Gold Seal award for sustainability

Northville was one of only 36 communities to receive a gold seal of achievement for leadership in the Michigan Green Communities (MGC) Challenge.
: Mike Domine, DPW director; Lori Ward, DDA director; AnnaMaryLee Vollick and Thom Barry, both on the Planning Commission; Susan Haifleigh; Dave Gutman, past chair; City Council Member John Carter; and John Porterfield.
    Northville was at the bronze level in 2019 when the Sustainability Team was formed. “After we put together a plan, which was adopted by members of the city council, we implemented several projects such as replacing streetlights with LED bulbs, planting street trees and installing more EV charging stations,” said Spillane. “This helped us earn silver status.”
Michigan Green Communities (MGC) is a free program open to all local governments in the state. MGC provides networking, benchmarking and technical assistance to guide communities in their work to improve their sustainability efforts and adapt to the changing climate. Communities are awarded bronze, silver, gold or platinum seals of achievement.
    The Northville Sustainability Team, chaired by Kathy Spillane, entered the award competition on behalf of the city. Others on the team are
    The city then took on more complex projects such as the permeable pavement on Wing Court, Smart Growth advocacy for new construction, non-motorized transportation infrastructure, the Tree Champions, Low Impact Development ordinances for managing stormwater and energy conservation plans. These and other efforts helped the city achieve gold status, officials said.
    The team got credit for completed projects and those in process. They are currently conducting a Green Ordinance audit to review city codes, ordinances, policies and procedures, to determine where barriers exist to the use of Low Impact Development practices and recommend greener alternatives.
    Another sustainability effort was the conversion of sodium-gas lights in downtown Northville to LED. To better manage stormwater, the city piloted the permeable pavement on Wing Court. Observations by the residents suggest the absorption of water has markedly decreased as the pavement requires vacuuming to clear dirt and debris from the porous surface, which needs to be done by a contractor.
    The Sustainability Team and Rouge River Task Force came together to advocate for non-motorized paths and a more cyclist/pedestrian-friendly road system in the community. This included giving feedback on the Seven Mile and Sheldon roundabout and making recommendations for the Downs River Park paths. To improve pedestrian safety, DPW staff members have been painting more visible crosswalks in the downtown area.
    When The Downs project was being reviewed, city planning commissioners challenged the width of the roads to insure a more walkable community and traffic calming measures. They also advocated strongly for walkability while deliberating the Master Plan updates for sub areas. Economic development was also a big factor in The Downs project - building in a substantial commercial area to cater to the growing residential sections of the city, officials noted.
    As part of internal operations, the city has reduced paper usage included the recent adoption of the online agenda/packet for council meetings. The online system will be applied to other boards and commissions in the fall reducing the estimated 50,000 to 70,000 sheets of paper used to produce agendas and packets for meetings.
    The Tree Champion group is educating the public about the importance of a tree canopy, which provides a cooling effect, cleans the air, supports wildlife and enhances the beauty of the community. The Tree Champions conduct seminars on tree care and have put together a tour of majestic trees in the city on an app. Porterfield, an arborist, chairs this volunteer group.
    “All of these projects and others were considered in the award designation,” Spillane said. “This certification recognizes our efforts to achieve that balance of economic development, sustainability, social needs and quality of life factors.
    “The pillars of our (sustainability) plan are economic, environmental and social,” she noted. “When we recognize conflict between the pillars, that shows up on our radar, and we strive to figure out ways to resolve those conflicts,” she added.

Wealth of knowledge

    The Westland Rotary Club and North Brothers Ford in Westland provided $12,000 in scholarships to six deserving high school seniors from the Wayne-Westland Community Schools District. Past club President Mark McConnell (far left) and Tom North of the auto dealership (far right) were among those honoring the Wayne-Westland graduating seniors at a June 6 luncheon at Joy Manor banquet hall in Westland. Student winners from Westland John Glenn High School are Elizabeth Fall (Westland Rotary) and Areli Campos (North Brothers Ford): from Wayne Memorial High School Crystal Phan (Westland Rotary) and Jayden Myers (North Brothers), and from William D. Ford Career-Technical Center Maya Jenkins (North Brothers) and Kaylie Sheppard (Rotary). The car dealer family supports college scholarships in memory of their late father Jim North, and also donates to students through Garden City Rotary, where Mr. North was a member. McConnell is chief judge of the 18th District Court in Westland.

 

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

$82.3 million budget approved in Westland


Members of the Westland City Council unanimously approved the $82.3 million budget proposed for 2024-2025 by Mayor Kevin Coleman.
    Coleman noted in a prepared statement that the budget submitted June 3 was designed to support essential services and promote community growth. “This budget marks a significant step forward in ensuring the continued safety, well-being, and development of our city,” according to a posted comment.
    The new budget allocates funding to enhance the capabilities of the city fire and police departments. Funding for a new fire station to be constructed at the old Hawthorn Valley site is included in the proposed expenses. The budget also includes funding for new investigative technology to be installed in the police department.
    Coleman’s budget also includes investments in city parks, including plans for Cayley Park, Corrado Park, Stottlemyer Park and Curtis Woods Park. Plans include upgrading recreational spaces in the parks.
    The approved budget also includes detailed plans for the General Fund, Water & Sewer Fund, Capital Improvement Fund, and the Library Fund, all integrated into the six-year financial outlook of the city. This strategic approach ensures a balanced budget while maintaining an overall fund balance of $12 million, officials said.
    No increases to the city millage rate were proposed maintaining the current tax structure.
    Included in the budget was $5,150,000 in grant revenue from various sources, including the SAFER, ARPA, and JAG grants.
    The councilmembers also approved the strategic restructuring within the building, planning, public services, and police departments which Coleman included in the budget.
    A comprehensive 6-year capital improvement plan includes investments of $11.8 million for this budget and a total of $48.5 million during the next 6 years in major and local road funds, the Capital Project Fund, and the Water & Sewer infrastructure.
    Coleman said the budget included community engagement and insight.
    “The collaborative efforts of our residents, City staff, and Council members have been instrumental in shaping this plan,” Coleman said. "I was encouraged by the unanimous support on the budget we received from Westland City Council.
    "The investments in public safety, senior services, and parks and recreation will make sure Westland continues to offer great services without raising costs for taxpayers."

Let Freedom Ring…


 Canton Township celebrates 31st Annual Liberty Festival

Visitors to Canton’s 31st Annual Liberty Fest are in store for plenty of family-friendly activities this weekend as Heritage Park comes alive with live music and entertainment, exciting carnival rides and Midway games, arts and crafts, festival food, and a Beer Garden, as well as the Annual Liberty Run, a special Juneteenth Community Celebration and Friday night fireworks.

Canton Liberty Fest, presented by Neehee’s and Pizzawala’s, will take place from 1 until 10 p.m. today, Thursday, June 13, from 1 p.m. until 11 Friday, June 14 and from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. Saturday, June 15 in Heritage Park, located adjacent to the Canton Administration Building. Additional major sponsors of the community event, include: Schoolcraft College, Trinity Health IHA Medical Group, Michigan Army National Guard, and WeatherGard. 

As always, admission to the weekend celebration is free. 

Carnival rides, games and attractions will be joined by concession stands and gourmet food trucks offering traditional festival foods, special dishes, beverages, and snacks. 

The Canton Township Partnership for the Arts and Humanities will be hosting a Beer Garden, sponsored by West Side Beer Distributing, from 4 until 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday and from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. Saturday. Visitors can cool off with a cold beverage near the Amphitheater, where a selection of craft beers, domestic beers, and seltzers will be available.

Volunteer support at the Beer Garden will be provided by members of the Plymouth-Canton Optimist Club, Rotary Club of Canton, Canton Chamber of Commerce, Relay For Life of Canton and Plymouth, and St. Thomas a’Becket Catholic Church. Festival-goers must be 21 years to purchase these adult beverages. 

There will be activities and entertainment on both the Schoolcraft Collage LIVE! Stage and the Amphitheatre stage all three days of the event.

Canton Leisure Services is again joining forces with Running Fit to host the 10th Annual Liberty Run, including 5K, 10K, and One Mile events. Participants are encouraged to register at www.cantonlibertyrun.com and run, walk, or stroll in these events. Participants will also receive finisher medals, as well as a race T-Shirt. Plus, running-theme awards will be handed out to the best “Red, White, and Blue” running outfit. 

Added to the festival this year is Family Fun Day, sponsored by Trinity Health IHA Medical Group, set for the Fun Zone on the north side of the park from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday 

Hydration stations will be available throughout the park giving festival-goers a chance to cool off and organizers have suggested visitors bring a refillable water bottle. 

Walk on the Wild Side, featuring Oasis Animals will be available all day Friday and Saturday to provide visitors of all ages a chance to get up close and personal with some barnyard and exotic animals. 

KultureCity sensory-friendly Rest & Relax Tents will also be available on the north and south side of Heritage Park, which will be a safe space for those with sensory challenges in which to rest. Parent Tents, will be available to serve as changing or feeding tents with furniture sponsored by IKEA. 

The Liberty Fest Marketplace will be open from 4 p.m. until dusk on Friday and from 11 a.m. until dusk on Saturday and will feature merchandise from local artisans, crafters, businesses, and vendors. Booths will be set up around the large pond.

Other returning Liberty Fest attractions include the Scholastic Book Fair and LEGO Station provided by MichLUG (Michigan LEGO Users Group). In addition, Canton Lions Club members will be offering simple, free children’s eye screenings during the festival, as part of their Lions KidSight USA, which is a nationwide program. 

The Canton Liberty Fest mobile app for Apple and Android users will also be available prior to the event. Here festival-goers will be able to access everything about the event, including entertainment schedules and performer information, Carnival Zone information and festival food and drink information. Users will also receive news and updates during the three-day festival. 

Event organizers strongly discourage visitors from bringing pets onto festival grounds. However, dogs that attend the festival must remain on a leash, be under their owner’s control, and be on their best behavior at all times. Festival-goers are reminded that all bikes must be parked in a bike corral. In addition, a convenient Uber, Lyft, or parent drop-off/pick-off spot has been designated on Civic Center Boulevard in front of the Canton Public Library’s main parking lot. For more information, visit www.cantonlibertyfest.com or call (734) 394-5360. 

 

Juneteenth celebrations planned in several local communities

    The Juneteenth holiday which commemorates the day in 1865 when 250,000 slaves in the state of Texas were declared free by the United States Army will be celebrated throughout the community this month.I Juneteenth, however, did not change the lives of slaves overnight and is considered the beginning of the struggle for freedom for many. As soon as the following year, local festivities were organized in African American communities to celebrate and remember the significance of June 19. The celebrations continued year after year.
    In the 20th century, as African Americans from Texas and neighboring states spread throughout the country, so too did Juneteenth celebrations. In 1980, Texas became the first to make it a state holiday. Shortly thereafter, other states followed suit, along with organizations and businesses across the nation hosting events and educational opportunities dedicated to commemorating the significance of this day. In 2021, the day became a national holiday.
    In Canton Township, Saturday, June 15, will mark a celebration of liberty as the Juneteenth holiday takes center stage in the Heritage Park Amphitheater during the Canton Liberty Fest set for June 13, 14 and 15 this year in Heritage Park.
    Canton Liberty Fest set for June 13, 14 and 15 this year in Heritage Park.
    In Inkster, the celebration of freedom is planned for noon until 5 p.m. Saturday, June 15 at Inkster Park. The annual Michigan United Juneteenth cookout at Inkster Park will include music, dancing, games and food. Guests are urged to bring a baseball glove to take part in the softball game.
    The park is located at 1550 John Daly St.
    The Leanna Hicks Public Library in Inkster will present “Walking in the Footsteps of History.” The celebration will also include games, singing, dancing, food and interactive fun. The event is free and is planned for noon until 3 p.m. June 17. 
    The library is located at 2500 Hamlin Dr. in the city.
    In Romulus, the holiday will be celebrated with a family event from noon until 5 p.m. at Romulus Historical Park, 11120 Hunt St. Officials have planned a day to remember the past, and celebrate the future. The Freedom Day celebration will include vendors music, crafts, food trucks and fun, officials said.
    In Westland, the Third Annual Juneteenth Heritage Day will take place from noon until 4 p.m. June 24 at Nankin Mills Park in Westland.
    The theme for the 2024 event is Celebrating Family and Freedom. This free event is presented by the Huron -Clinton Metropark.The park is located at 33175 Ann Arbor Trail in Westland.

Page Turner

A large crowd gathered at the official celebration of the new Jack Wilcox Amphitheater at the Plymouth District Library last week. A combination of funding from the Wilcox Foundation, used-book sales by Friends of the Library, and private contributions made the new facility a reality, library officials said. The amphitheater will host readings, small musical acts, and entertainment. The Saturday ribbon cutting during the grand opening included refreshments and music provided by the Plymouth Community Band. The library was recently
 awarded a STEM grant by the Bosch Community Fund. The funds will support hiring student summer staff members to work in the library lab. The Teen STEM Corps program began last year with Bosch Community Fund support; it enables expansion of the lab hours during the summer months and affords greater opportunities to assist patrons with using the resources, noted Heather Pacheco, library community relations specialist.

Community relations officer is named

Cale Bell has been named as the new Canton Township Police Community Relations Officer.Bell has been a patrol officer with the township department for five years, while also serving on the Community Engagement Team and as a TEAM instructor at some area elementary schools. In his new role, Bell said he plans to expand his work in the local schools, attend community events, and participate in department outreach activities. 
Bell added he is excited to get out into the community this summer and plans to spend time on bicycle patrol in the neighborhoods and shopping centers, meeting and mingling with residents and business owners. Bell will also be responsible for providing public safety information and education to the community through programs, special events and social media.  Information about the outreach program is available at cale.bell@cantonmi.gov.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Area communities will soon see new waste hauler

Local officials throughout the area are hoping the changes residents see in trash collection will be more efficiency and newly-painted trucks beginning in July.

Area-wide trash-hauler GFL Environmental has been sold to the Priority Waste company which will assume the routes and contracts with area communities. The sale, announced to employees May 29, will affect waste hauling throughout the tri-county area. A spokesman for Priority Waste said the company will retain all 800 current employees of GFL and incorporate the current trash hauling vehicles and other equipment into the company fleet.

According to Priority Waste Director of Public Relations Matt Allen, maintaining current employees and equipment should ensure a seamless transition for customers. Beginning in July the rebranding and painting of the distinctive lime green GFL trucks will begin. The trucks in the fleet will eventually all be yellow, Allen said. The trucks may continue to have the GFL logo for a period of time, until all the repainting and rebranding of the vehicles is complete.

No financial details of the sale were released. Plymouth Township has 

another two years of a five-year, $7 million contract with GFL while Canton Township officials approved a five-year, $26 million contract with GFL despite difficulties and service complaints from residents. In Canton, residents will receive new Priority Waste bins which should be used after July 29, officials said.

Northville Township has also reported some difficulties with the service provided by GFL. In a prepared statement from the communications department, delays in trash pickup and failure of GFL to complete routes were referenced, along with delays in trash pickup.

Northville Township Supervisor Mark Abbo said he had

 recently been informed of the sale and change in service provider.

“The first thing we’re going to do is look at ou
r contract with GFL to see what our rights are,” Abbo said. “Then we’ll look at the kind of service Priority is providing to its customers, then determine what we’re doing to do. We need to do our due 

diligence,” Abbo said.

Heise said he had reviewed the Plymouth Township contract with GFL which was “transferable” but would continue to monitor the services provided.

Westland signed a 10-year contract with Priority Waste in 2021 at a cost of $38,449,174. Officials said Priority was the lowest of three bids received for the contract. The City of Belleville also has a contract for trash hauling with Priority Waste, as does Sumpter Township.

Smart talk

 Noon Rotary Club awards $34,000 in student scholarships

The Plymouth Noon Rotary Club awarded $34,000 in scholarships to local students during an official presentation last month.

Rotary member Bill Weber presented the scholarships to the students awarded in consideration of several factors.

Student applications are evaluated on academic achievement, leadership, character, school activities and community service as well as financial need. Weber noted during the presentation that the many service projects in which the recipients had been involved were “truly remarkable as are their academic achievements.”

“Aside from all of their achievements, they are just really nice people who do very much for other people,” Weber said. “All of these students exhibited leadership traits by participating in student government, National Honor Society, service clubs including Interact and Key Club. In some capacity, they served as mentors to other students including participating in Link Crew where upperclassmen adopt incoming freshman to help them acclimate themselves to school.”

He noted that each of the scholarship recipients had also participated in athletics and activities ranging from basketball, swimming, cross country track and field wrestling, Science Olympiad, National Honor Society, Aeronautics club, and Scouting, among others. Weber noted that in most instances, not only did the teens participate in the activities, they were selected to be captains and/or leaders of their teams.

Much of the scholarship award is also based on community service, Weber explained.

“When we look at this aspect we are looking to the experiences that students have that are not related to mandatory service often associated with clubs such as National Honor 

Society,” or Interact. I guess the best way to describe it- what do these students do when no one is looking and the services they participate in are outside of any requirements. Rest assured their contributions are impressive,” he said.

Students presented financial scholarships included Maya Joiner who was awarded a $6,000 grant from the club. Joiner will be attending Hiram University in the fall and plans to study biology and psychology and perhaps find time to play a little basketball.

Emily Lin received a scholarship totaling $4,000 and will be attending The University of Michigan in the fall and plans to study engineering.

Gage Ellis will was awarded a scholarship totaling $12,000 and will be attending Western Michigan 

University in the fall and plans to study aviation science.

Anirudh (Ani) Krushman will also receive $12,000 scholarship and will be attending Johns Hopkins 

University in the fall and plans to study applied mathematics and 

statistics.

Judge reconsiders downtown street closure decision

The turbulent legal issue regarding the closure of the downtown streets in the City of Northville has prompted a 

reconsideration of the last decision by Judge Charlene Elder of the Third Circuit Court of Michigan.

Elder reversed the preliminary injunction that prevented the city from closing sections of Main and Center streets and the city can now close the streets to vehicular traffic. Following the May 21 ruling, sections of Main and Center streets will be closed to traffic and could reopen 

Saturday evening following a special event ends. As soon as the court enters the order granting the motion for reconsideration and lifting the injunction, the city may take measures to close those streets to vehicles on a long- term basis, according to a city spokesman.

“We’re happy to receive this good news,” said City Manager George Lahanas. “Downtown Northville with its pedestrian plaza has become a very popular destination for residents and visitors. We will continue to vigorously oppose the lawsuit that prompted the initial injunction. Our legal counsel informed us that cities in Michigan have broad 

authority to manage streets based on the Michigan 

Constitution and Home Rule Cities Act.”

Elder advised that when making the original ruling, she made conclusions on the element of irreparable harm. On reconsideration, she said she found that the affidavits by the plaintiff’s members (Engerer, Good, Corriveau, Demray) had not substantiated their claims of losses and that of closing due to the street closures. She further reasoned that, even if there is economic loss as a result of the street closures, those losses would be compensable as 

damages, so there is a remedy for the alleged harm and it does not constitute irreparable harm.

On the road

Romulus police recently accepted delivery of one of five new vehicles assigned to the department. Earlier this month, the vehicle with updated markings designed by officers Shank and Green, was out on patrol in the community. The new vehicles will all also be equipped with new push bumpers and increased emergency side lighting to enhance visibility, officials said.