Downriver 2012, Sept. through Dec.

Miss-Michigan-USAweb
Photo courtesy of Jaclyn Shultz
Wyandotte native Jaclyn Shultz was crowned Miss Michigan, beating out more than 100 other women from the state, in Port Huron.

September
A Jan. 7 trial was set for a man accused of killing an Allen Park couple.

After the conclusion of a preliminary examination of the evidence against Allen Park resident Roger K. Bowling Wednesday, Bowling was bound over on all the counts he faced: two of first degree murder, two of mutilition of a body and two of felony firearm and one count of tampering with evidence.

Bowling was arrested July 19 after a joint investigation by Detroit and Allen Park police departments after the dismembered bodies of Chris Hall, 42, and girlfriend Danielle Greenway, 32, were found in the Detroit River July 17. Bowling had dated Greenway in high school and was a houseguest of the couple for about a month at the time of the murders.

The Wyandotte Arts Center, 81 Chestnut, was christened The James R. DeSana Center for Arts and Culture, after Councilman James DeSana, who spearheaded the move to start the facility at the location, the former Masonic Temple, after the city purchased it in 2008.

The city council voted on the move in June after a recommendation from Mayor Joseph Peterson, who cited the center’s value to the community as a place where residents can showcase their various talents. The center is home to the Downriver Council for the Arts, an arts organization and gallery serving 21 Downriver cities.

The Allen Park City Council approved a measure to request a hearing regarding Gov. Rick Snyder’s Sept. 7 decision to assign the city an emergency financial manager.

A motion for the hearing passed 4-3 with some councilors saying the review team failed to take into consideration some cost-saving measures in the works at the time, such as recent American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees negotiations and a recently-awarded Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant that the city plans to vote to accept or deny at a special meeting Tuesday.

Councilman Bob Keenan said Snyder upheld the team’s decision to disprove criticism that only cities with largely black populations received EFMs under recently suspended Public Act 4.

“I firmly believe the city of Allen Park is used as a pawn,” he said in a study session. “I believe its a feather in the governor’s cap so he can say, ‘We’re going to a city that’s 90 percent white. It’s not a racist law.’”

A vote on an Allen Park Fire Department grant was postponed for the second time.

City councilors cancelled a special council meeting scheduled to vote on the acceptance of a $1.25 million FEMA Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant. The meeting was scheduled to receive more information about the grant after the topic was removed from a Sept. 11 council meeting agenda.

The grant, awarded in late August, could pay salary and benefits for six new firefighters for the department, which currently is running with 23 firefighters, five below its minimum staffing levels.

The grants have sparked controversy recently when neighboring communities have declined them citing “hidden costs” that the cities could not afford. Taylor Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand was found guilty of contempt of court Aug. 10 after refusing a judge’s order to accept a $8.1 million SAFER grant that he said came with costs the city could not afford.

Wyandotte police searched for a Dearborn man believed to have jumped into the Detroit River from a railing in Bishop Park.

Ramas Paull McCrory, 40, was presumed drowned after some of his clothing was found near the river.

Police were called about 12:30 p.m. Sept. 22 on a tip of clothing and prescription sunglasses found on a park bench near the river at the park. A pair of work boots also were found on a ledge on the side of the railing nearest the water.

A U.S. Coast Guard search of the river’s Trenton Channel — initiated after the police department contacted the agency — revealed nothing and was called off. The search included watercraft and helicopters.

Allen Park city councilors again pushed back a vote on whether to accept a federal grant to hire firefighters.

A vote expected to be held at a council meeting on the acceptance of a $1.25 million Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant did not appear on the agenda after having been removed Sept. 11 and scheduled for a Sept. 18 vote at a special meeting, which was then cancelled.

Southgate Community Schools veteran teacher and district graduate Rick Kennedy was named principal of Grogan Elementary School, a position unexpectedly left vacant in July when Tim Barlage accepted a position in Riverview. Kennedy previously served informally as acting principal when Barlage was away from the district.

Trenton High School Principal Rodney Wakeham began the new school year as superintendent, replacing a retired Larry Leapley. Wakehan was one of three internal candidates who had spent the previous school year interning for the post under Leapley’s direction.

A “road rage” collision between an armed driver and a bicyclist at the Taylor intersection of Telegraph and North Line roads ended in fatal gunfire. Edward Myers, 46, shot and killed bicyclist Henry Raymond Enoch, 42, whom witnesses said rode into Myers’ vehicle then confronted and began assaulting the armed driver. Myers had a permit to carry the weapon.

Lincoln Park officials turned down a potential $600,000 federal staffing grant for adding three firefighters to the department staff. City Manager Greg Capote said the grant contained additional costs and restrictions that the city could not financially meet.

Former Southgate police officer Emmanuel Paravas was granted bond and freed from jail, where he’d been serving a misconduct in office penalty. Attorney Michael Rataj filed appeals of both the sentence and conviction; Paravas remained free on bond pending a hearing before the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Six months into her tenure as Taylor’s treasurer, Lynn Cleary submitted a letter of resignation to the city council. Cleary said her decision to come out of retirement was premature, and she asked the council to appointment a replacement to fill the position until the next election. Cleary’s resignation was not accepted, and she remained in the position pending council action.

October
A Riverview firefighter died after being found unresponsive in the parking lot of his second job in Wyandotte.

BASF emergency response crews conducted CPR on Riverview Fire Department Lt. John Grabowski, 49, and transported him to Henry Ford Hospital. He died on the way, about an hour after he was found in the lot.

The part-time firefighter had participated in fire training drills the day prior.

A United States Fire Administration report lists the nature of death as a heart attack caused by stress or overexertion.

The state denied an appeal by Allen Park of the Treasury’s decision to assign an emergency financial manager to the city.

In an Oct. 1 letter to Gov. Rick Snyder, Deputy State Treasurer Roger Fraser said a Sept. 19 hearing in Lansing at which city representatives appealed the decision, found a review team’s findings of a financial emergency “were accurate and contained no material omissions.”

According to the letter, during the hearing, city representatives City Attorney Chris Forsyth, Mayor William Matakas and Interim City Administrator Dave Boomer argued that the decision be revoked because of a plan to eliminate the city’s $6 million deficit they said they had presented to the review team but had not been included in its final report.

The plan included an application for a $2 million state emergency loan; the acceptance of a $1.2 million Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant, which was awarded in August but the city had not yet voted to accept; an anticipated $278,000 savings from American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees union contract negotiations; a $438,000 reduction in retiree health care spending; the enforcement of an existing agreement with Fairlane Green Shopping Center that could net $88,000 in emergency medical service runs annually; and a 3 mill millage issue, if passed in November.

A Wyandotte native was crowned Miss Michigan USA after a two-day competition in Port Huron. It was 24-year-old Jaclyn Schultz’s first pageant.

Schultz, a 2006 graduate of Roosevelt High School, said she entered the pageant this summer after seeing an ad online.

“I was looking for a new challenge,” she said. “I went into it just thinking it was fun.”

Temple Entertainment Group met with Allen Park City Council members in a study session to discuss the possibility of the company running the community center.

Mayor William Matakas said the company would operate under “very similar circumstances” to a request for proposals sent to several organizations earlier this year. Wayne-based The Senior Alliance responded to the RFP and was to run the center at no cost to the city and with additional senior programs, but they pulled out of the deal. Temple Entertainment was not one of the three companies to respond to the original RFP in May.

The center ran at an approximate $400,000 loss each year and existed monthly on fees paid from skating and hockey programs. Without an agency to run it at little or no cost to the struggling city,

some councilors voiced support of shuttering the building, for which taxpayers are still paying an improvement millage.

Gov. Rick Snyder named Joyce Parker, emergency financial manager for Ecorse and Highland Park Schools, as EFM for Allen Park.

Taylor Police Chief Dale Tamsen retired from police work after more than 30 years of law enforcement service. Tamsen joined the Taylor department in 1987 and was appointed chief in 2006. The promotion to the top spot of Cmdr. Mary Sclabassi marked the first woman to serve as Taylor’s chief in department history.

A Lincoln Park man who held police at bay during a lengthy standoff faced a possible life sentence in prison after being charged with multiple felonies including attempted murder.

John Joseph Christner was seen by neighbors threatening his family and brandishing a long gun in the 1500 block of Cleophus. Christner retreated inside a house and staged an armed standoff with police that lasted until late evening when he was taken into custody.

After more than three decades with the Lincoln Park Police Department, Chief Thomas Karnes retired from law enforcement. Karnes was appointed chief in 2004, and passed the torch to interim chief Lt. Brian Hawk.

Lincoln Park lottery winner Amanda Clayton died from what police believed was an overdose of prescription medication. Clayton, who found infamy after winning a $1 million lottery prize but continued to collect state assistance, was found in a friend’s house in Ecorse.

Former Detroit Lion star running back Billy Sims opened the second Michigan franchise of his Billy Sims Barbecue restaurants in Lincoln Park. The Dix Road eatery was treated to a grand opening attended by Sims, the Heisman Trophy winner who lead the Lions in the early 1980s before a career-ending injury.

Demolition began on the vacant Montgomery Ward store in the Southgate Shopping Center. The city plans to replace the cornerstone retail space with an outdoor gathering area and concert stage.

November
Melvindale police sought three suspects who robbed an armored truck driver.

Melvindale Police Detective Lt. John Bajorek said two men armed with black handguns and wearing Halloween masks and hooded sweatshirts robbed the driver of the Total Armored Truck Oakwood and Dix after he picked up cash from the Metro Mart gas station, 2661 Oakwood.

Bajorek said police are not releasing the amount of money, but said it was a large amount.

In the general election, Allen Park voters rejected a two-year 4-mill request. The measure failed 7,560 to 6,366, the third time a similar measure has failed in the past year.

Allen Park approved a controversial charter amendment, but its legality is still in debate. Voters approved a proposal to amend the city charter to ask for a vote of residents before the city council may issue bonds. The measure passed 10,462 to 2,979.

The measure was put on the ballot after a campaign by resident group Restore Allen Park, in which residents collected more than 1,000 signatures in support of it.

Group representative Tim O’Brien said the amendment was an answer to the city’s failed Unity Studios deal, for which it issued nearly $30 million in bonds that after Unity left the complex after a year, had to be paid off from the general fund.

“The suburban Detroit community had its 15 minutes of show biz fame three years ago when the mayor and council borrowed $30 million to use as venture capital for a movie studio,” he said. “ The project went the way of the state subsidies that inspired it, leaving taxpayers on the hook for the bonds and the city now under the control of an emergency manager sent by the governor to clean up the fiscal wreckage.”

But before voters even went to the polls, its legality was questioned, with Gov. Rick Snyder saying the it violates state law by limiting the city council’s power.

Riverview Councilwoman Betty Priskorn resigned during the council’s regular Nov. 5 meeting. In the process of moving out of the city, she was no longer eligible for the seat she’s held for 13 years.

Allen Park Emergency Financial Manager Joyce Parker held her first town hall meeting, where she told residents her plan to right the city’s finances was forthcoming and asked for their input.

Appointed to the city Oct. 29, Parker said she is in the process of evaluating the city’s finances to formulate a plan to overcome its $6 million deficit; the state treasury gives her 90 days to do so.

Lincoln Park voters shot down two ballot questions that city officials hoped would shore up a struggling financial picture. A bond proposal of up to $30 million for road repairs and a Headlee Amendment override to restore property tax levels were both defeated in general election balloting.

Voters waited in long lines, at times more than two hours, to cast general election ballots in Taylor. Along with federal, presidential and state races, Taylor voters approved a school tax levy to generate an estimated $11 million for operating costs.

Incumbent Patricia Graziani and newcomer Amanda Kremer won positions on the Southgate Community Schools Board of Education in a general election contest that unseated board president Joel Bergeron.

The Trenton Public Schools Board of Education welcomed newcomer Sean Gearhart — son of City Clerk Trish Gearhart — and returned longtime trustee Wayne Sieloff to another term during general election voting. A third candidate, David French, finished close behind Sieloff and was appointed to the panel to replace Marie Conflitti, who moved out of the district.

Two would-be home invaders exchanged gunfire with a 69-year-old Lincoln Park homeowner, and were soon in custody facing charges including attempted murder. Xavier Markese Jones and Justin Acosta were bound over to Wayne County Circuit Court after police caught them near the 1400 block of Fort Park Boulevard, where they allegedly broke into a house and fired at the homeowner.

December
Steps were made toward Allen Park Emergency Financial Manager Joyce Parker’s plan for the city’s finances.

Since being appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder in October, Parker has inacted two directives: slashing the pay and benefits of city council members by half and requiring prior approval for overtime for city employees unless in the case of emergencies

A 26-year-old Wyandotte man was arrested after his 2-year-old niece, whom he was babysitting, was found by a motorist running naked in the street near Lincoln and Baumey .

According to the report, a woman driving in the area found the girl on Lincoln naked except for wet socks and “frolicking with a small dog.” The temperature was about 35 degrees. She took the child and the dog into her car, wrapped her in a towel and called police.

When officers responded, they said the girl was shivering and could not answer questions about her name or where she lived. She was transported to Wyandotte Henry Ford Hospital, where she was treated and discharged. Hospital staff said she showed no signs of abuse, apart from light bruises typical to a toddler, but it appeared as though she had soiled her diaper and removed it in the house.

While approaching the car, an officer said he saw a house in the 1100 block of Lincoln with a side door ajar. After talking with the child and the woman who found her, he checked the house and made contact with the uncle, who was in the basement.

Wyandotte City Councilors voted to accept $836,295 from Michigan State Housing Development Association for its Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2 after some cities involved in the project failed to spend the money by the grant deadline.

Wyandotte, which began accepting $6.4 million in NSP funds nearly three years ago, was ranked as a top performer in the grant program, which allocates money for cities to rehabilitate and sell blighted houses.

“They see that we’re performing at a higher level,” City Engineer Mark Kowalewski said. “We’ve spent 92 percent of our original grant … It’s a combination of our great performance enabling us to build these houses, and the failure of seven of these other cities.”

A federal jury took less than four hours to find John Robert Kennedy guilty of three felony explosives and weapons charges for planting devices in Trenton parking lots and making a telephone bomb threat to the high school in April 2011. Kennedy was tried in U.S. District Court in Ann Arbor and will be sentenced in March 2013.

A former Taylor police officer was charged with having stolen from the department a shotgun, a weapon last issued to Cpl. Matthew Edwards, killed in the line of duty in 2010. The weapon was allegedly discovered at the Farmington Hills residence of Andrew Voelkner by police responding to a domestic disturbance report. Volekner was dismissed from the department shortly after discovery of the weapon theft in January.

A Detroit man was charged with felonious assault after allegedly shooting a 42-year-old Lincoln Park woman in the stomach and causing a miscarriage of her pregnancy. Nathaniel Keith Thornton allegedly went to the woman’s house in the 800 block of Mill Street and, after a heated argument, waved a handgun around and the woman was shot. Thornton was bound over to Wayne County Circuit Court and scheduled for trial proceedings in February 2013.

Southgate Community Schools Superintendent William Grusecki announced the anticipated closing of three school buildings for the 2013-14 year, including Chormann and North Pointe elementary schools. Grusecki was alarmed to discover that the district’s anticipated budget deficit, after an audited review, was four times larger than expected. Further reductions and layoffs remained pending.

(Compiled by James Mitchell and Andrea Poteet.)

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