PLACES TO EAT: OUR GUIDE TO NEARLY 100 LAKES AREA RESTAURANTS JUNE 2014
TRAIN CARGO NO ONE KNOWS WHAT IS TRAVELING THROUGH OUR NEIGHBORHOODS SWIMMING BEACHES: TESTING THE WATERS TO AVOID ILLNESS CAMPAIGN CASH: DONATIONS (PLENTY OF THEM) THAT FUEL ELECTIONS
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23 29 Questions about train cargo No one knows what possible toxic or dangerous content is moving on local railroad tracks until there is a public safety emergency.
PLACES TO EAT: OUR GUIDE TO NEARLY 100 LAKES AREA RESTAURANTS JUNE 2014
With the start of the swim season, county health officials begin testing to make sure water at beaches is safe.
Money is still the important ingredient in election campaigns as the 2014 political contests are starting up.
11 CRIME LOCATOR A recap of select categories of crime occurring in the past month in Commerce, Walled Lake, Wolverine Lake and the Union Lake area, presented in map format.
39 MUNICIPAL Commerce DDA selling more land parcels; Walled Lake voters face two millages; village adopts new budget; residents weigh in on Wise Road land usages; plus more.
TRAIN CARGO NO ONE KNOWS WHAT IS TRAVELING THROUGH OUR NEIGHBORHOODS
46 ENDNOTE Planning for the new Commerce library; train cargo transport and public safety.
SWIMMING BEACHES: TESTING THE WATERS TO AVOID ILLNESS CAMPAIGN CASH: DONATIONS (PLENTY OF THEM) THAT FUEL ELECTIONS
ECRWSS Postal Customer PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE PAID ROYAL OAK, MI 48068 PERMIT #792
FACES THE COVER
21 Carrie Rexroat
27 Sean Proctor
37 Jim Brandstatter 45 Molly Reeser
Cooley Lake in the Union Lake area at daybreak in May.
DISTRIBUTION: Mailed monthly at no charge to homes in the Commerce, Walled Lake and Union Lake area. Additional free copies are distributed at high foot-traffic locations. For those not residing in the free mail distribution area, paid subscriptions are available for a $12 annual fee. Go to our website (westendmonthly.com) and click on “subscriptions” in the top index and place your order on-line or scan the QR Code here.
DOWNTOWN • WESTEND • THE GUIDE 124 WEST MAPLE ROAD BIRMINGHAM MI 48009 P: 248.792.6464 downtownpublications.com facebook.com/downtownpublications • twitter.com/downtownpubs
Publisher: David Hohendorf Ad Manager: Jill Cesarz Ad Sales: Heather Marquis Graphics: G.Lynn Barnett News Editor: Lisa Brody
News Staff/Contributors: Allison Batdorff, Rachel Bechard, Hillary Brody, Kevin Elliott, Sally Gerak, Austen Hohendorf, Garrett Hohendorf, J. Marsh, Kathleen Meisner, Laurie Tennent
INCOMING: We welcome feedback on both our publication and general issues of concern in the Commerce/Union Lake community. The traditional Letters to the Editor in Westend are published in our Incoming section, and can include traditional letters or electronic communication. Your opinions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org; or mailed to Downtown Publications, 124 West Maple Road, Birmingham MI, 48009. Letters must include your full name, address and daytime phone number for verification.
The Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Presents...
Rockinâ€™ Under The Stars with music by
â€Śand Power Play! FREE PARK ING
Saturday - June 14
SUPPORT OPEN DOOR OUTREACH CENTER FOOD DRIVE Help feed the less fortunate in our community. Non-perishable food & personal care products will be accepted at the concert. Open Door is a 501 (c)(3) tax exempt organization. #MISC7533
$5 per person 12 & under FREE
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:
Multi Lakes Conservation Association 3860 Newton Road, Commerce
6:00 pm - Gates Open 6:30 pm - Power Play performs 8:00 pm - Fifty Amp Fuse performs Bring your lawn chairs and enjoy an evening of musical entertainment with your family, friends and neighbors. Food , beer, wine and soft drink concessions available throughout the event. No coolers or carry-ins permitted.
FROM THE PUBLISHER
nfortunately in Michigan we are seeing the creep of national political action groups into the realm of local elections as we enter the 2014 political season. Until the last couple of years, national far-right and far-left political action money was generally relegated to national elections and some key races at the state level across the country, but a recent ballot election in Birmingham suggests that the thrust of outside money is about to change. The most noted of the national conservative groups is the Americans For Prosperity (AFP) launched in 2004 by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. Their group, by some estimates, poured $100 million into federal races in the 2012 elections and perhaps another $400 million through related groups. I say “estimates” because this group, like many others in the political netherworld, is structured in such a manner that it is not subject to transparency rules like other state and national political action groups. Like on the far left of the political spectrum, there are numerous political action committees devoted to conservative issues, among them the Free Congress Foundation and its advocacy offshoot, Free Congress Action (FCA). The Free Congress Foundation was established by beer magnate Joseph Coors in 1977 as a public policy research and educational organization seeking “conservative solutions” to national policy issues. Among its first class of trainees, when he was running for the U.S. House, was Newt Gingrich. The Virginia-based affiliate FCA is basically a group lobbying for limited government and pushing a pro-growth agenda and weighs in as a defender of traditional family values. This group jumped into Birmingham’s recent election on an expansion of the city library that was on the May ballot, using mass mailings of over-sized postcards opposing the ballot issue just days ahead of the election. The political action group may have also been responsible for robocalls against the library ballot issue the weekend before the election. No one can say with certainty what impact was felt from a national group entering the local fray given the general momentum the opposition to an expensive library proposal, with a 20-year tax, generated on its own, but without doubt the FCA involvement had to have some influence on the results. I highly doubt advocacy efforts from outside the local community determined the final outcome when everywhere the general population is more attuned to controlling government spending. It’s unknown what brought this national group into the local election battle. The Free Congress Foundation offshoot group
notified Citizens for Responsible Spending, the library ballot opposition group, a couple of weeks before the election that they were planning on getting involved, although as federal law requires, I am assured there was no coordination with the local group, merely a courtesy call alerting the Birmingham organization. There has been increasing involvement by such groups in local elections across the country. Good information has it that the AFP approached the local library expansion tax opposition group a couple of months before the election but their offer of help was turned down. It’s not the first time that Americans For Prosperity has involved itself in purely local election issues. Up until the last couple of years the group and its 35 state chapters in the country have focused on national and state candidates, including such issues as Obamacare, opposing policy relative to climate change and net neutrality. The AFP was clearly involved this year in the defeat of the May ballot issue in Columbus, Ohio where voters were asked to approve a permanent tax of 1.25 mills for program expansion at the local zoo. The issue lost with a 70 percent vote against the tax. And the AFP near the end of May started lobbying in Lansing against state assistance to resolve the Detroit bankruptcy. Since 2012, the AFP and its affiliates have been involved in local elections in Kansas, Texas and in Iowa where the group focused on the city council election. The Iowa election should be a red flag here in Michigan now that we have seen unfettered money poured into a purely local election. Our system of government provides the opportunity for local citizens to determine their own fate when it comes to candidates and local ballot issues. Yes, money has always played an important role in elections at all levels of government, and it probably will become even more important now that the federal courts have basically opened the flood gates with elimination of restrictions on spending for candidates and issues. But it’s a frightening thought that outside groups, with unlimited and unreported resources, have started to enter local elections in Oakland County. Somehow that diminishes our right for selfdetermination when it comes to deciding who we think should govern at the local level or what the majority in a local community is willing to support in terms of local taxes.
David Hohendorf Publisher DavidHohendorf@downtownpublications.com
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INCOMING Impressed with article I have spent some time researching the convoluted state of affairs for Michigan medicinal marijuana. I was really impressed with your article (Westend/May 2014) and enjoyed reading about the different attitudes of various municipalities and police forces in southeast Michigan. It will be interesting to see further developments with the passing of HB 4271. A conflicting fact though that was not addressed via your article: even with dispensaries being legal from this new potential law, would the dispensary still be limited to only 5 patients under existing law? Because by nature a legal dispensary would have more than 5 patients, one would assume so. Great writing. Keep up the good work. Mark Abdo, Shelby Township
Questions for officials Your publication brings items of great interest to our area and includes much that is not covered in other local news media. I would like to comment on several items covered in the April 2014 issue. On the article on luxury apartments proposed for Walled Lake, when you look at the many summer events that take place using this property and at the community value for these events, I cannot imagine what the Walled Lake DDA is thinking when they consider allowing a threestory complex to be built on this property. Although I have not see any architectural drawings, I cannot imagine using the beach with a huge building right behind you. As to the Commerce Township renewal millage, $1 million is remaining and the majority of the development millage was spent to acquire the area along Wise Road. I question how much further development of parkland is necessary. The area surrounding Commerce Road and South Commerce Road has much undeveloped land and the Dodge Park soccer area is nicely developed. This seems to me to be enough parkland for the area. Maybe Commerce Township should consider westendmonthly.com
SPEAK OUT We welcome your opinion on issues facing the Commerce, Walled Lake and Union communities. Opinions can be sent via e-mail to email@example.com or mailed to Downtown Publications, 124 West Maple Road, Birmingham MI 48009. While we donâ€™t have a specific word limitation, we reserve the right to edit for length.
asking for half of that millage renewal. Building a pedestrian bridge over M-5 at great expense sounds wonderful at first glance. But how do bicyclists get over the bridge? There is no sidewalk along Haggerty, M5, nor Welch Road. You can use a bike trail along Decker, but then where do you go? Wolverine Lake is enlarging Glengary to include a bike lane but how do get there? The bike path along M-5 is scenic and enjoyable, but going north, where do you from there? There also does not seem to be a way to get to the Martin Parkway bike path from there, although you can take 13 Mile east all the way to Orchard Lake Road. Its seems like we are are developing bike paths that meander a couple of miles to nowhere. From Union Lake and Commerce Road you can bike all the way to Orchard Lake Road on an off-road path, but how do you get safely to Union Lake and Commerce? Thank you for your excellent newsmagazine. There are many other articles which were also very informative. Gaylene Vitale, Commerce
Influence of money Nolan Finley, Editorial Page Editor of The Detroit News, implied Gary Peters and Terri Lynn Land had spent equal amounts of money in attack ads against each other in the race to replace Carl Levin in the U. S. Senate in the November 4 midterm election. (â€œCan Land lead GOP
wave?â€? Sunday, May 4, 2014). He failed to mention Land has vast personal wealth, plus the support of Americans for Prosperity (backed by the Tea Party). She could finance her campaign if groups supporting her failed to meet their goals. Peters relies on the senate majority super PAC and various labor unions. Democracy is diminished when money controls candidates and policies. Many attempts for campaign finance reform have been made and are currently being formulated. Hopefully someday the Supreme Courtâ€™s ruling in Citizens United will be overturned. Citizens must be involved in helping to change the influence of money in politics. They must educate themselves about the individuals who seek to hold office as well as who their supporters are. Voters must send donations in any amount no matter how small to those candidates they want to represent them. Remember : large amounts of donations in the amounts of $5-20, helped Barack Obama become president. Most importantly, voters must vote on November 4, 2014. Encourage people of all ages, especially the new, young voters to vote. In 2010 many Democrats failed to go to the polls. That is when extreme right Republicans (Tea Party) took over the federal government. One goal was to make Barack Obama a oneterm president. He was re-elected. But we know how the U.S. Congress has failed to achieve anything of worth and has prevented Obama from succeeding in most of his goals. With power in the hands of a conservative, activist Supreme Court and Republicans controlling the U.S. House of Representatives, progressive Democrats must lead the Senate. Otherwise, what remains of our democracy is doomed. Grass roots efforts will prevent Mr. Finleyâ€™s last words in this article, â€œIf Land continues to match Peters dollar for dollar and poll for poll, watch out for the GOP to deliver another thumping nationwide in Novemberâ€? from happening. Hannah Provence Donigan, Commerce
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These are the crimes reported under select categories by police officials in Commerce Township, Walled Lake and Wolverine Lake Village through May 22, 2014. Placement of codes is approximate.
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SECRET TRAIN CARGO WHATâ€™S TRAVELING THROUGH OUR NEIGHBORHOODS?
BY KEVIN ELLIOTT
hirteen miles per hour may not seem fast enough to cause a fatal accident, but when dealing with a 4,791-ton freight train more than a mile long, 13 miles per hour can have catastrophic results. Thus was the case on Nov. 15, 2011, when two trains collided near Clarkston, killing two crew members of one train, injuring two others, and forcing the evacuation of dozens of businesses, two schools and hundreds of residents. It was just before 6 a.m on that day in 2011 when the conductor of a southbound train pulled off the main track near Clarkston to allow another train to pass. However, operations went terribly wrong when the conductor of the diverted train fell asleep and reentered the track, colliding with an oncoming train on the main track, killing the two crew members on the northbound train and seriously injuring two crew members on the southbound train.
The crash also led to a fire and derailment of some of the train cars. Firefighters were able to rescue two crew members trapped inside a locomotive, but were unable to determine the contents of some of the breached tank cars. The fire and release of unknown materials caused emergency responders to evacuate all of the people within a half-mile radius of the crash site, as well as those up to a mile downwind of the train.
akland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard recalls the crash and trying to get a better view of the burning rail cars in order to determine what, if any, hazardous materials might have leaked or caught fire during the accident. "We wanted to get a better eye on it, but didn't want to get our aviation unit over it because we didn't know what it was, and we didn't want them flying into any kind of toxic air plume," Bouchard said. "That helped me determine that we should have some unmanned capability for emergencies." When the smoke cleared, more than 1,570 people, 38 businesses and two schools had been evacuated for nearly four hours. Costs for the damage from the crash was estimated at $1.4 million. Bouchard said the county's response team has since expanded some of its capabilities, one of which was adding an unmanned drone. The unit is essentially a small quad-copter equipped with a camera. The small remote unit gives authorities a way to inspect incidents without putting officers in danger. For many emergency responders, the first step in reacting to a train crash is trying to determine what, if any, hazardous cargo is on the train and has been released as a result of the crash. Each year, millions of gallons of toxic chemicals, radioactive material, commercial explosives, flammable liquids, corrosives and other hazardous materials are transported across the country by train. Yet, first responders have little to no information about the types or quantities of materials being transported along local railways, or the frequency of the shipments. "They probably aren't real key on releasing that information," Bouchard said of the rail carriers. "It could be sensitive. We don't maintain records on what they are moving." The lack of records isn't unique to the sheriff's office. Local and state officials across the country have raised concerns that they receive little to no information about when, or what kind of, hazardous materials are shipped through their communities or how railroads pick their routes. Patrick Waldron, public affairs manager for CN Transportation, said the rail company shares some hazardous materials information, however such information isn't available to the general public. "It's upon request," he stated. "CN shares hazardous materials information with some communities that we travel through. For instance, (with) first responders, to make sure that they have information that they need in the case of an emergency. The federal government considers it security information." Rail lines operated by CN run through Oakland County. The line runs north/south between Ferndale and Pontiac, through Royal Oak, Birmingham, Bloomfield and other communities. The CN line also runs east/west from Pontiac to the west end of Oakland County through Waterford, White Lake, Springfield and Holly. Waldron said sharing information with first responders is a longstanding voluntary practice. "We also provide training to communities," he said. Royal Oak Fire Chief Chuck Thomas said most contact with the railroad company is made during the city's Arts, Beats and Eats event each summer. "They might (share information) with the police, but I get nothing," Thomas said. "We do a lot with them during Arts, Beats and Eats. All the trains that come through then, they avoid all the hazardous stuff for that time period, but day-to-day information? No." Birmingham Fire Chief Michael Metz said the railroad does provide
training for HAZMAT personnel when requested, but there is no schedule for training with the rail companies, and no regular communications about the types of materials coming through the community. "It might be helpful," Metz said about knowing specific materials that are coming through the area. "We have our HAZMAT team that will train with them from time to time," he said. "They don't advise us in advance of what rail cars are carrying, but each train has to have shipping papers on board to say which cars have what in them, and MSDS sheets. We just have to assume there are hazardous materials on the train." In addition to the CN rail line, CSX operates tracks that run north/south from the southwest end of Oakland County, north through Novi, Wixom, Highland Township and through the northern portion of the county near I-75. In total, CSX operates and maintains more than 1,200 miles of track in the state, including more than 3,160 public and private rail crossings. It also operates a bulk transfer terminal in Wixom. "None of the trains are required to identify what's on the train, but all rail cars must be placarded. If there's a corrosive substance or something of that nature, there is identification on the car that identifies that," said Wixom Fire Chief Jeff Roberts. "We have a pretty good relationship with CSX. They provide information annually that is very general about the types of things they haul." Roberts said rail carriers provide additional information to responders when it's requested. Further, he said, CSX provides training to local responders. Among the types of materials that Roberts said come through the community are crude oil, liquid propane, coal, ammonia, chlorine and other materials. Other commonly transported materials include ethanol, polyethylene, potassium chloride and nitrogen fertilizer. "Anything good that can be transported over the rail, we see it in Wixom," Roberts said. "We see a lot more crude oil tanks, liquid propane and hopper cars full of coal. As for the cargo cars, we don't have a clue what is in there." ationally, freight traffic is at an all-time high, particularly shipments of crude oil coming from the Bakken shale fields of North Dakota, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. Regulators have warned that crude oil has the potential for explosion, prompting the FRA on May 7, 2014 to issue an emergency order regarding the shipment of Bakken crude oil. Additionally, the department advised rail carriers to avoid specific types of tank cars for the shipment of crude oil. The emergency order requires rail carriers operating trains containing more than 1 million gallons of Bakken crude oil, or about 35 cars, to provide each state's State Emergency Response Commission information about the operation of these trains through their state. Nationally, more than 750,000 barrels of crude oil are transported daily by rail each day, according to the Association of American Railroads. Under the order, notification to state SERCs must include the estimated volumes of Bakken crude oil being transported, frequencies of anticipated train traffic and the route through which it will be transported. The order also requires railroads to provide the state with contact information for at least one responsible party and advises railroads to assist the SERC as necessary to share information with appropriate emergency responders. "Upon information derived from recent railroad accidents and subsequent DOT investigations, the Secretary of Transportation has found that an unsafe condition or an unsafe practice is causing or otherwise constitutes an imminent hazard to the safe transportation of hazardous materials," the DOT said in issuing the emergency order. "Specifically, a pattern of releases and fires involving petroleum crude oil shipments originating from the Bakken and being transported by rail constitute an imminent hazard." In addition to the emergency order, the FRA and Pipeline and
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Hazardous Materials Safety Administration on May 7 issued a joint safety advisory to the rail industry regarding tank cars. "The safety of our nation's railroad system, and the people who live along the rail corridors, is of paramount concern," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in issuing the order and related advisory. "All options are on the table when it comes to improving the safe transportation of crude oil, and today's actions, the latest in a series that make up an expansive strategy, will ensure that communities are more informed and that companies are using the strongest possible tank cars." he order comes on the heels of an April 30 train derailment in Lynchburg, Virginia that resulted in a massive crude oil fire and an unknown amount of oil being spilled into the James River. The 105-car train was stocked with Bakken oil when it derailed, sending more than a dozen tanker cars near the front of the train off of the track. Some of the derailed cars were DOT-111, a type of tanker car that has been fingered by federal transportation officials for years as a problematic rail car. "Investigation determined that DOT-111 tank cars have poor performance in crashes," investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board stated in an accident report regarding an Oct. 7, 2011 crash in Tiskilwa, Illinois. "The poor performance of DOT-111 general specification tank cars in derailments suggests that DOT-111 tank cars are inadequately designed to prevent punctures and breaches and that catastrophic release of hazardous materials can be expected when derailments involve DOT-111." The Tiskilwa derailment involved nine ethanol cars, three of which failed during the fire and erupted into massive fireballs and led to temperatures in excess of 1,000 degrees. The NTSB also identified DOT-111 cars as being vulnerable to failure following a June 19, 2009 derailment that resulted in an ethanol fire. The fire, which occurred near a road crossing, caught several cars on fire that were stopped at the railway crossing gates, killing the occupant of one vehicle and injuring several others. An accident investigation of the derailment indicated the fire had burned for more than a half hour before first responders evacuated some 600 residents from the surrounding area or were able to begin efforts to extinguish the blaze because officials were unable to determine the burning substance. "Several vehicles were in the roadway near the derailed equipment, with one vehicle on fire. EMS was attending to several injured persons," the investigation report stated. "At this time, responders had not been able to identify the contents of the tank cars or to determine whether pressurized rail tank cars were involved." The report states that first responders couldn't identify the placards on the tank cars because they weren't visible on the burning cars. It wasn't until the railroad operators informed the local emergency dispatch personnel that the cars contained ethanol that responders began using fire suppressing foam to extinguish the blaze. The NTSB investigation identified the vulnerability of the DOT-111 tank cars, the effectiveness of CN's internal emergency communications system and accuracy of train contents as safety issues. Waldron said that CN Transportation is a member of the Association of American Railroads and supports the rail industry's position, which calls for upgrades and phasing out of the DOT-111 cars. "Freight railroads have for years worked with emergency responders and personnel to educate and inform them about the hazardous materials moving through their communities," the AAR stated in response to the May 7 emergency order. "These open and transparent communications will continue as railroads do all they can to comply with the Department of Transportation's Emergency Order." In addition to the measures taken under the federal emergency order and advisory, the AAR and federal Department of Transportation in February came to a voluntary agreement regarding the transport of crude oil.
Under the agreement, members of the AAR will make several commitments to improving safety issues, including: increasing track and mechanical inspection frequency beyond current regulations; conducting routing analysis; establishing new speed restrictions; and utilizing braking systems which will reduce piling up of railcars in the event of a derailment. "We share the administration's vision for making a safe rail network even safer, and have worked together to swiftly pinpoint new operating practices that enhance the safety of moving crude oil by rail," AAR President Ed Hamberger said about the agreement. "Safety is a shared responsibility among all energy supply chain stakeholders. We will work with our safety partners â€“ including regulators, our employees, our customers and the communities through which we operate â€“ to find even more ways to reinforce public confidence in the rail industry's ability to safely meet the increased demand to move crude oil." Specific steps to be taken under the agreement include: increased track inspections, which took effect on March 25; equipping, by April 1, enhanced braking systems on trains with 20 or more carloads of crude oil; the implementation of a Rail Corridor Risk Management System by July 1 to aid in the determination of the safest and most secure rail routes for trains with 20 or more cars of crude oil; restricting speeds to 40 mph in federally designated high-threat urban areas on trains that include at least one DOT-111 tank car. Speed restrictions include the Detroit area, Sterling Heights, Warren and a 10-mile buffer extending from the border of the combined area. Additional steps to be taken by July 1 under the agreement include the use of increased safety technology regarding wheel bearing detectors along the track; increased emergency response training and tuition assistance; and emergency response capability planning. ocally, information about the types of hazardous materials traveling through each community appears to vary. At the county level, Oakland Sheriff Bouchard said his office doesn't receive any advanced notification regarding the shipment of hazardous materials. None of the law enforcement officials contacted had any information about the shipment of hazardous materials in their communities, and fire officials had limited information. Essentially, it is up to each community to prepare for emergencies that could possibly occur from a train accident. "They (CSX) have a self-certification program we do every two or three years," Roberts said of first responders in Wixom. While local responders have the responsibility of preparing for train accidents, Roberts said CSX provides training, and ensures adequate resources in the event of an accident. The measures are key steps to working with the community, according to the AAR. Under the voluntary agreement with the AAR, railroads will provide $5 million to develop a specialized crude by rail training and tuition assistance program for local first responders. One part of the curriculum will be designed to be provided to local emergency responders in the field, as well as comprehensive training designed to be conducted at the Transportation Technology Center facility in Pueblo, Colorado. The funding will provide program development as well as tuition assistance for an estimated 1,500 first responders in 2014. The training facility is one that has already been utilized by local responders, Roberts said. "All the railroads have to be able to provide (cargo information) if you call and ask," Roberts said in regard to information sharing with emergency officials. "They also have to be able to provide you with a certain level of training. They take care of us pretty well, as far as first responder training. "If something happens, they are assuming they will provide someone to the command post. They would identify what assets they need from us, and we tell them what level of response we can provide. Anything beyond that, they can provide. They can literally turn a small city into a large city in a short time. If we need 15 fire engines and we only have two, they will make them appear. That's how deep CSX's pockets are."
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arrie Rexroat was a fifth grader at Glengary Elementary School in Walled Lake when she first picked up the French Horn; at 23, she is an awardwinning professional musician living in Los Angeles. “I was about 10 (when I started playing),” she said. “I had to get a French Horn from my neighbor. His name was John Olari. He had one sitting in his garage and I borrowed it and practiced on it. (Olari) and his wife were actually at my senior recital at U of M.” Rexroat’s mother, Beth, a long-time drama teacher at Walled Lake Central, provided a strong musical background for her and her brother, Jacob. “She really wanted my brother and me to have a musical education,” she said. “She would play the cd ‘The Magic of the French Horn’ when we were little. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that. It was a big influence. My dad is also big into musical theater. We would go see musicals at the Fisher Theater.” Prior to earning a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Michigan, Rexroat studied under Dave Rogers at Walled Lake Central. “(Central) has an amazing performing arts curriculum,” she said. “I think Mr. Rogers is the best in the state of Michigan. I attribute a lot of my aspirations in music to him. He thought I had a good shot at pursuing music as a career and I started to focus more on it.” Rexroat has since played in the Livonia Symphony, Oakland Symphony Orchestra, Dearborn Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Jewish Symphony, Golden State Pops Orchestra, and she is currently positioned as second horn in the American Youth Symphony. She was also the recipient of the Junior Music Award and received the Andrew J. Lum & David R. Juillet Young Artist Scholarship. “It felt really special,” she said. “It was knowing what I was doing was working and paying off.” With her grandfather, retired circuit court judge Gene Schnelz, at the helm of her family, Rexroat gives credit to her immediate and extended family for giving her the confidence she needed to not only pursue a career in Los Angeles but to also come out as a gay woman. “If anything, it’s a hard life. Being a lesbian, it’s always going to be tough and it’s always going to be tough being a musician,” she said. “My immediate and extended families have been a strong support group for everything.” Rexroat frequents Hollywood with her friends, but misses the small-town feel of Walled Lake and the fall seasons in Michigan. Her goal is to play as a studio musician on movie soundtracks, but she is looking at all the options. “I can’t predict where I’ll wind up. I’m trying to stay open and not limit myself to one thing or another. Right now, I’ll wait to see. I do freelancing around LA,” she said. “But, it’s pretty unbelievable – getting paid to do something I really like to do.” Story: Katey Meisner
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TESTING BEACHES IN OAKLAND HEALTH DIVISION MONITORING SWIMMING AREAS AT 70 SITES THIS SUMMER
BY KEVIN ELLIOTT
he record-setting snow that fell this winter season has finally passed, as the summer solstice falls on June 21 this year, marking the end of spring and the official start of summer. And while thousands of Oakland residents will head to beaches in the county to cool off, swim or splash in the water, the county’s health division will be testing the waters, too. While the water may look clean, simply looking at the water won’t allow you to determine whether disease-causing microorganisms are present. Swimming in or coming into contact with contaminated water may result in several different types of waterborne illnesses. Swimming or playing in unsafe water may result in minor illnesses, such as a sore throat or diarrhea – but it might also result in more serious, even life-threatening illnesses. Recreational water illnesses are caused by germs spread by swallowing or having contact with contaminated lakes, rivers or ponds that result in a variety of infections affecting gastrointestinal systems, skin, ears, eyes, or respiratory systems. Children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are most susceptible to waterborne illnesses. To determine if water is safe for swimming or other recreational uses, the Oakland County Health Division will be testing more than 70 beaches this summer for E. coli levels. Unlike recent strains of E. coli, such as the 0157:H7 strain, which has been showing up in food and wreaking havoc on some consumers, most types of E. coli are relatively harmless. And, because E. coli is a naturally occurring bacteria in warm-blooded animals, the presence of E. coli in water serves as a good indicator of the water quality.
Water collection and beach surveying by the Oakland County Health Division is done by student interns hired for the summer. Water at each of the beaches included in the program is tested on a weekly basis, measuring for E. coli levels. As an indicator, if E. coli is present, other more harmful and harder to detect organisms may be present, said Mark Hansell, chief of Environmental Health Special Programs with the Oakland County Health Division. onitored beaches must meet a one-day standard of less than 300 colonies of E. coli per 100 milliliters of water, and a 30day geometric average standard of 130 colonies per 100 milliliters. If a beach doesn’t meet the water quality standard, it is closed until levels fall, often within 48 hours. “If you want to get a good picture of the water quality on the lake, you are going to want to sample it at least weekly during the swimming season,” Hansell said. Hansell is responsible for overseeing the county’s beach monitoring program, which is conducted for about eight weeks each year during the summer months. More than 70 beaches will be included in this year’s program, with each bathing beach tested at least once a week through the end of July. Monitoring is done primarily by interns typically working toward a degree in environmental health. Hansell said the county had to cut back the number of interns it could take into the program in recent years in order to cut back on costs associated with the program. Oakland County has about 279 public or semi-public beaches, which include those at children’s camps, day care facilities, public beaches maintained by state, county or local governments. About 120 beaches were tested prior to cuts in the county’s program after 2007. However, the number of beaches being tested has slowly risen, from about 44 in recent years to a total of 74 for the 2014 summer season. “We have four interns this year. They are very busy,” Hansell said. “We had to reduce the number of interns. We went from six to four, and then we reduced the number of beaches. We try to maintain the public beaches. If your county has a program, you have to do the public beaches. Fortunately, we have been able to expand that.” The county’s beach monitoring program is funded by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), which has awarded more than $1.5 million in grants to local health departments and non-profit entities across the state since 2000. In 2013, the Oakland County Health Department received $40,430 to monitor 45 beaches, according to the DEQ, giving Oakland County the highest number of beaches tested of any county in the state, and the second largest amount of funding, with the Northwest Michigan Community Health Agency receiving $44,306 in 2013. The availability of grant funds has increased the number of counties where beaches are monitored, bringing the number of beaches tested across the state from less than 50 to more than 400 since the DEQ started providing funds for local programs in 2000. Prior to then, beach monitoring programs relied primarily on local funding. In 2000, the MDEQ began distributing funds from the Clean Michigan Initiative-Clean Water Fund for beach monitoring programs. The goal of the state’s program is to assist local health departments in starting or strengthening local programs, as well as to create and maintain a statewide database of beach and water quality information. According to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the top 10 causes of recreational water outbreaks include: Shigella, Norovirus; E. coli; Cryptosporidium; Avian schistosomes; Giardia; Leptospira; algal blooms; Plesiomonas; and Campylobacter. Cryptosporidium, or Crypto, is a microscopic parasite that causes the diarrheal disease cryptosporidosis, which can infect humans and animals. The parasite has an outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for long periods of time. Crypto is most commonly spread in drinking water and recreational water, and is one of the most frequent causes of waterborne disease among humans in the United States. Giardia, another microscopic parasite, is found in surfaces or in soil, food or water that has been contaminated with feces from infected humans or animals. Shigellosis is an infectious disease that may cause diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps that start a day or two after being exposed to the bacteria shigella. The diarrhea is often bloody. Severe infection with a
high fever may be associated with seizures in children less than two years old. Still others infected may have no symptoms at all and can pass the bacteria on to others. Norovirus is a particularly contagious virus that can infect anyone through food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus causes the infected person’s stomach and/or intestines to become inflamed, leading to stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea or vomiting. A new strain of the virus was detected in 2012, which is currently the leading cause of Norovirus outbreaks in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another common problem associated with natural water is swimmer’s itch, or cercarial dermatitis. Swimmer’s itch is considered an aquatic nuisance disease caused by an allergic reaction to specific parasites found in certain birds, mammals and snails. Anyone who swims or wades in natural water may be at risk. While not contagious, swimmer’s itch may cause temporary tingling, burning or itching of the skin. The Oakland County Health Division recommends swimmers avoid areas where swimmer’s itch is a known problem or where signs have been posted warning of unsafe water; avoid swimming in marshy areas where snails are commonly found; and to towel dry or shower immediately after leaving the water. Health experts also recommend that you don’t attract birds by feeding them in areas where people are swimming. In determining local funding, the MDEQ considers the location and frequency of a beach’s use; the history of beach monitoring and bacterial contamination; the ability to communicate the results of a program to the public; the ability to respond and take appropriate action in the event of beach contamination; the proximity of a beach to a known contamination source; and innovativeness and feasibility of a proposed project. “We made a proposal to the DEQ for grant funds with a list of beaches we propose to sample,” Hansell said. “They are primarily public beaches, which would include parks, camp and pay-to-swim facilities. We were able to expand that to semi-public beaches, which are those that are maintained by homeowners’ associations.” ecause each of the nearly 300 beaches in Oakland County can’t be included in the county’s beach monitoring program every year, the Oakland County Health Division rotates which beaches are tested each year, leaving some out of the program. Beaches to be tested during the 2014 summer season include:
• Addison Oaks County Park, Adams Lake, Addison Township. • Bald Mountain Recreation Area, Lower Trout Lake, Orion Township. • Bay Court Park, Greens Lake, Independence Township. • Bloomfield Parks and Rec/West Hills High School, Walnut Lake, West Bloomfield. • Bloomfield Square Beach Association, Walnut Lake, West Bloomfield. • Brown’s Landing Mobile Home Park, Tipsico Lake, Rose Township. • Burlingham Lake Park I & II, Huntoon Lake, Waterford. • Camp Agawam Boy Scout Camp, Tommy’s Lake, Orion Township. • Camp Dearborn Lake 1 & 5, Phillips Lake, Milford. • Camp Maas/Rodecker, Phillips Lake, Groveland Township. • Camp Sobell Beach, Phillips Lake, Groveland Township. • Camp Oakland, Handsome Lake, Oxford. • Camp Ohiyesa North, Fish Lake, Rose Township. • Camp Wathana, Green Lake, Rose Township. • Charnwood, Charnwood Lake, Troy. • Christ The King Church Camp, Long Lake, Oxford. • Clear Water Resort, Green Lake, Brandon. • Country Club, 5000 W. Shore Dr., Orchard Lake, Orchard Lake. • Davisburg Village Beach (Hart Community Center), Mill Pond, Springfield. • Dodge Park #4, Cass Lake, Waterford. • E.V. Mercer City Beach, Walled Lake, Walled Lake. • Eagle Lake Road, Eagle Lake, Waterford. • ECHPOA, Elizabeth Lake, Waterford. • Elizabeth Lake Estates Improvement Association, Elizabeth Lake, Waterford. • Emerald Lake Homeowners Association, Little Creed Road, Sandshores Lake, Troy. • Emerald Lake Homeowners Association (Sandshore Road), Walker Lake, Troy. • Ferndale, Sylvan Lake, Sylvan Lake. • Finnish Day Camp, Sun Lake, Wixom. • Fox Bay Civic Association, Allen Lake, White Lake. • Greens Park Village Beach, Stewart Lake, Groveland.
• Haas Lake Park 1, 2, 3, 4, Haas Lake, Lyon Township. • Heather Lake Estates, Heather Lake, Orion Township. • Holly Recreation Area, Heron Beach, Heron Lake, Groveland. • Holly Recreation Area, Wildwood Beach, Wildwood Lake, Groveland. • Holly Village Beach, Bush Lake, Holly. • Independence Oaks County Park, Crooked Lake, Independence. • Independence Township Village Beach, Deer Lake, Clarkston. • Keego Harbor City Beach, Cass Lake, Keego Harbor. • Kensington (Maple Beach & Martindale Beach) Kent Lake, Milford. • Lakeland Association, #1, Watkins Lake, Waterford. • Lakeshore Park, Walled Lake, Novi. • Mountain View Country Club Sub, Maceday Lake, Waterford. • Oak Heights Improvement Association, Upper Pettibone Lake, Highland Township. • Pioneer Highlands, Sylvan Lake, Sylvan Lake. • Pleasant Lake Highlands, Pleasant Lake, Waterford. • Pleasant View Sub, Square Lake, Orion Township. • Pontiac Recreation Area, Pontiac Lake, White Lake. • Proud Lake Recreation Area, Proud Lake, Commerce Township. • Rosmar, Tipsico Lake, Rose Township. • Sandy Beach, Loon Lake, Waterford. • Scotch Lake Residents, Scotch Lake, West Bloomfield. • Scripter Village Park Township Beach, Round Lake, Oxford. • Seven Lakes State Park, Big Seven Lake, Holly. • Seven Lakes Park (campground), Sand Lake, Holly. • Stony Lake Park, Stony Lake, Oxford. • Sylvan Shores Improvement Association, Sylvan Lake, Waterford. • Tamarack Subdivision, Tamarack Lake, Oakland Township. • Teeple Lake Recreation Area, Highland State Park, Teeple Lake, White Lake. • Thelma Spener Park, Carter lake, Rochester Hills. • Upland Hills Farm, Prince Lake, Addison Township. • Walnut Lake Estates, Walnut Lake, West Bloomfield. • Walnut Lake Hills Corp., Walnut Lake, West Bloomfield. • Westwood Manor, Wing Lake, Bloomfield Township. • Wing Lake Farms Association, Wing Lake, Bloomfield Township. • Wing Lake Property Owners Association, Wing Lake, Bloomfield Township. In addition to beaches tested by interns at the health department each season, individuals or groups can test water at their beaches themselves and provide samples to the health division for analysis. Testing, whether done by the county or private individuals, is done by drawing samples from multiple areas in the water, equidistance from each other and not more than 500 feet apart. The samples are taken near the drop-off point of the beach, at both sides of the beach and the middle section. Under state law, a local health officer or authorized representative that conducts tests at bathing beaches is required to notify the MDEQ and other entities of the test results within 36 hours of conducting a test or evaluation. Owners of public bathing beaches must post a sign that states whether or not the bathing beach has been tested, and if so, the location of the test results. The MDEQ has since developed a database available to the public, www.deq.state.mi.us/beach/. The database includes beach locations, maps, beach monitoring test results, notification data and routine sanitary survey data. A total of 26 beach closings were issued in 2013 at 13 different beaches, according to the Oakland County Health Division. The Oakland beaches closed for at least one day in 2013 included Dodge Park #4 on Cass Lake, in Waterford; Davisburg Village Beach; Eagle Lake Beach in Waterford; Finnish Day Camp Beach in Wixom; Fox Bay Civic Association Beach in White Lake; Lakeland Association Beach in Waterford; Pleasant Lake Highlands Beach in Waterford; and Walnut Lake Hills Corp. in West Bloomfield. Hansell pointed out that while one beach on a lake may be closed due to high E. coli levels, it doesn’t mean that the entire lake has a high level of contamination. “The water quality in one bathing area on a larger lake isn’t indicative of the water quality of the entire lake,” he said. Bacteria contamination originates from conditions or factors present on
or near the shore in the immediate vicinity of the beach, according to the health division. That means that two beaches on opposite ends of a lake that have different shore conditions will not have the same bacteria levels. “This is why it is important for private homeowners who swim near their houses to periodically take samples from where they swim and not to rely on results from a beach down the road,” the division states. “Since contamination originates on-shore, it is generally considered to be safer in deeper areas from the shoreline because wind direction and wave action could trap bacteria against the shore.” For beaches that aren’t regularly tested for bacteria levels, the CDC recommends people avoid swimming after heavy rains. Beach goers should also look for storm drains that may be near a beach area and avoid swimming near them, as well as looking out for signs of trash or other pollution. Recreational water may become contaminated from both point sources, such as a storm outlet that empties near a swimming area, or non-point sources, such as an abundance of wildlife. Additionally, water quality can be affected by precipitation events. Storm water runoff can carry various contaminants, including animal wastes from the ground into the water, resulting in high levels of bacteria. “There is evidence that a beach is more likely to be closed after a significant rain event,” Hansell said. “It’s usually from runoff, but there could be defective connections of storm water drains near the beach.” ecent work done by researchers at the University of Michigan that was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health further indicates that extreme precipitation events are expected to increase in frequency and intensity as a result of climate change, and that runoff from these extreme events poses threats to water quality and human health. Researchers looked at the impact of such extreme precipitation events and beach closings on the risk of gastrointestinal illness-related hospital admissions among people 65 and older in 12 Great Lakes cities. The study found that extreme rainfalls were associated with beach closures in eight of the 12 cities, including metro Detroit’s tri-county area. However, the study failed to find any association between beach closures and gastrointestinal-related hospital admissions. How the recent record-setting precipitation experienced over the past winter will impact beach closures isn’t certain, but appears to be unlikely, as increased beach closures typically occurred within a day after extreme precipitation, and runoff from snowmelt has occurred prior to the summer season, allowing for stabilization. High levels of E. coli may fluctuate quickly. For instance, samples taken on June 11, 2013 at Walnut Lake Hills Beach in West Bloomfield showed E. coli levels at 2,419 per 100 mL, causing the beach to be closed for water use. However, samples taken the following day show levels had dropped to 163 colonies per 100 mL. Still, other closures may be persistent throughout a season, as was the case in 2009 when E.V. Mercer City Beach in Walled Lake was closed for 35 days from July 14 to August 18, according to the DEQ. That particular closure was due to high bacteria levels from an unknown source. Despite sporadic episodes of beach closings, Hansell said there doesn’t appear to be any particular beaches that are closed more often then another. “There are none that are closed more than another,” he said. “Public beaches are very well maintained and designed to be bathing beach areas, where some of the semi-public beaches are at ponds or smaller lakes that weren’t designed to have swim areas. They were converted, so occasionally, we have more problems with those.” In 2007, the Reed Lake Property Owners’ Beach on Reed Lake in Commerce Township was closed for 13 days between July 18 and July 31 due to bacteria from wildlife. It was closed for one day on July 11 due to storm water runoff. However, the beach didn’t experience any elevated levels of bacteria when it was monitored during the 2008 summer season. “There are several things that can help maintain water quality,” Hansell said. “One is the natural flow of water, and whether it gets good circulation to the beach. If you have poor water movement and flow, you might have problems. And exposure to sunshine will help keep water quality up.”
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MLS 214049206 - $229,000 Impeccable NW Royal Oak 3 bedroom, 2 bath ranch with family room addition that includes heated floors & fireplace. Many upgrades including finished basement, newer kitchen, newer paint & décor, vinyl siding, concrete drive & patio. Nothing to do but move in and enjoy! www.realestateone.com
MLS 214049045 - $105,000 Great opportunity for a first time buyer to make Royal Oak your home. Adorable house on tree lined street. Veranda front porch with swing, hardwood floors throughout, eat in kitchen has newer stove & refrigerator, tool shed in backyard for storage, close to downtown. www.realestateone.com
MLS 214047189 - $459,000 Just in time for Summer fun! Lakewood Village beauty features impressive open floor plan perfect for the entertainer! Deluxe gourmet kitchen features massive granite island, walkin pantry, tons of cabinets & counter space, great room with dramatic 2 story vaulted ceiling, fireplace, and hardwood floors – see all that this home has to offer! www.realestateone.com
MLS 214046611 - $335,000 Pride of ownership! Beautiful two story 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath home in move in condition, formal living and dining room, kitchen with hardwood floors, breakfast nook with doorwall to huge new Trex deck, stunning landscaped yard with privacy, master suite with walk in closet, newer roof, new furnace and hot water tank. www.realestateone.com
MLS 214046551 - $625,000 Exquisite custom soft contemporary ranch located on the 11th tee of private Prestwick championship golf course. Dramatic open floor plan is an entertainer’s dream. Deluxe gourmet chef’s kitchen, deluxe master suite features generous windows, full finished lower level with wet bar, media & gaming rooms. www.realestateone.com
MLS 214043124 - $279,000 All sports Carroll & Clark Lake!! Meticulously maintained inside and out. Beautifully updated 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath waterfront home with patio and walk around water deck & sea wall. Ready to finish walk out with day light windows. Updated kitchen, newer roof, windows, furnace, AC and water softener, Walled Lake Schools. www.realestateone.comMLS
214045744 - $399,900 Stunning lakefront home on all sports Round Lake! Large great room with natural fireplace, spacious kitchen/dining room, master suite and beautiful master bath with ceramic tile & jetted tub, many expensive upgrades throughout including Anderson & Norco windows, high efficiency furnace & AC, newer roof. www.realestateone.com
MLS 214045281 - $260,000 Stunning custom built 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath brick home in popular Twin Lakes Village! Bright & open gourmet kitchen with huge pantry, great room with soaring ceilings, recessed lights, gas fireplace, deluxe master suite, 3 car garage, premium lot with wooded back lot, enjoy access to all sports Tull Lake. www.realestateone.com
MLS 214043942 - $185,000 Cherry Hill Village! You’ve been waiting for this one so don’t miss out! End unit with extra windows, premium location overlooking the park, 42” oak cabinets in kitchen, attached 2 car garage and basement, large balcony and deck area, this unit has it all. Light and bright with neutral colors, soaring ceilings. www.realestateone.com
MLS 214043359 - $289,900 Wonderful family home in excellent condition. Impressive great room with fireplace and large windows, updated kitchen, family size eating area, first floor laundry and den, master bedroom has full bath with shower & walk in closet, tankless hot water, 2.5 car side entry garage, professionally landscaped. www.realestateone.com
MLS 214034302 - $229,000 Gorgeous 2348 sq. ft. contemporary lakefront/lakeview condo, modern and bright with open floor plan, boat slip on all sports Loon Lake, walking trails along the nicely landscaped common areas, enjoy lake living at it’s best! Great room features doorwall to deck with million dollar views. www.realestateone.com
MLS 214043237- $214,900 Stunning Colonial in desirable Indian Wells sub! This home has it all. Newer roof, maintenance free siding, newer vinyl windows, spacious floor plan perfect for a growing family. Large oak kitchen with lots of cabinets, large family room leads to newer stamped concrete patio for entertaining, large backyard, Walled Lake schools, immaculate move in condition. www.realestateone.com
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ean Proctor bought his first camera when he was 13-years-old; at 25, he is an award-winning photographer whose pictures capture raw emotion in a simple moment in time. “When I go into a situation, I don’t want to set anything up,” Proctor said. “My presence does affect how things work out, but I put the camera down, hang out and pick the camera up when people are comfortable with me.” One particular assignment he took on as staff photographer for the Midland Daily News was to photograph Katie Johns, a young girl who was diagnosed with brain cancer. “When I met (the Johns), Katie had just been diagnosed. I was going to doctor visits and any event they put on for Katie. “I love doing that documentary type of work,” he said. “The people I photograph are my friends. They’re opening themselves up to me and I have to open myself up to them.” Proctor also took on an assignment with the Reformed Jedi Order, a group of kids in Midland who hold weekly lightsaber battles. “(The Reformed Jedi Order) was more about friendship. Those guys were great. They have battles every Sunday and they actually knighted me in the group.” The young photographer slips in and out of the lives of his subjects while capturing the purest moments of humanity. He has documented everything from local sporting events to the desperation of the financially troubled. “I see people for who they are and accept them for who they are. If I
photograph someone I want to know what their story is, not what I think it is,” he said. “I want people in the community to connect with these stories.” His body of work in 2013 won him the Michigan Press Photographers Association Photographer of the Year. He was also named the National Press Photographers Association Best of Photo Journalism Photographer of the Year (Smaller Markets). “It was pretty incredible, honestly. I was shocked and obviously very excited. That’s a pretty big award. It was my first full year as a staff photographer.” Proctor’s talent behind the camera and dedication to his craft earned him unprecedented acclaim in his early career and he gives credit to his coworkers at the Midland Daily News for his success. “My friends and coworkers Neil Blake and Nick King are why I had such a great year. They are always ready to cover a shift for me. It’s a team effort in everything we do and it’s the main reason we are so successful.” The Waterford native’s confidence accelerated when his parents recognized his eye for photography. “My parents were really encouraging. My dad was kind of a hobbyist photographer.” Proctor’s goal now is to simply aim higher. “I don’t want to plateau. My goal is always to be pushing myself. It’s seeing what I can do to move forward and surpass the personal bar I’ve reached.” Story: Katey Meisner
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BY LISA BRODY The saying “money makes the world go round,” is especially true in politics. Just as the rich guy may get the pretty girl, very often, it’s the person with the deepest pockets and biggest purse who gets the most votes. It’s not because they’re buying those votes, but because money purchases access to voters, helps acquire credibility and can signal to others that they’re a serious candidate. As we enter another election season, the role money is playing in local elections is just as important as on a national level, and just as in flux. That is because of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, McKutcheon v. FEC (Federal Election Commission), that was issued in April 2014, which struck down a decades-old cap on the total amount any individual can contribute to federal candidates in a two-year campaign cycle. It is believed that the ruling will increase the role money already plays in American politics, and follows another Supreme Court ruling, from 2010, Citizens United v. FEC. In the Citizens United case, the court ruled that the First Amendment prohibits the
CAMPAIGN FUNDING MONEY DRIVES LOCAL ELECTIONS BUT RULES HAVE CHANGED THANKS TO THE COURTS
government from restricting expenditures by corporations, associations, or labor unions to campaigns. In essence, it permits PACs – political action committees, to spend as much money as they choose, either for a candidate, or against one, without any limits. And contrary to some interpretations, it is not one-sided. PACs, representing differing electoral ideologies, pour money into candidates and issues on both sides of the aisle. “We’ve had some Supreme Court decisions that have really relaxed the rules, and changed those rules, and it’s really a new game,” noted John Klemanski, a political science professor at Oakland University. “We’re going to see a lot more outside money because the Supreme Court basically said anyone who’s interested in a race can give as much as they want.” Klemanski explained that in the Citizens United case, the court ruled that any source can spend unlimited amounts of money from any source, provided they were not actually coordinating with the campaign itself. Jocelyn Benson, dean of the Wayne State University Law School, said this election cycle will realize the full effects of both Supreme Court rulings. “We’re now seeing the influx of money coming into Oakland County. There are no requirements (from the rulings) to disclose all of the money coming in,” she said. “The only requirements is the money from the PACs cannot be spent directly on the candidates. If money that is spent says specifically ‘vote for’, ‘don’t vote for’, ‘reject’, or ‘elect’, then the ad has to disclose where the money has come from, otherwise they don’t have to. If the ad says they’re a bad person or a good person, they don’t have to disclose anything, like some of the (Mark) Schauer (for governor) ads – ‘The Schauer’s over.’ If they don’t mention an election exactly, under Michigan law, they don’t have to disclose their funding. It’s new this year – (Gov.) Snyder just signed this into law.”
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“The only limitation is that they cannot work directly with the candidate,” Klemanski pointed out. “They can say, ‘I like this candidate; I hate that one.’ Outside interests do a lot of negative advertising, and then the individual candidate will not have to do that actual negative advertising because the outside interests have done it for them.” On December 27, 2013, Gov. Rick Snyder signed Michigan Public Act 252 of 2013 into law, originally Senate Bill 661, which allows for doubling campaign contribution limits and protects the secrecy of issue ad donors, a change to Michigan’s 40-year-old campaign laws. Under the new law, the maximum donation to a candidate seeking statewide office is now $6,800; to a candidate for state Senate, $2,000; and for a state House seat, $1,000. Snyder asserted he sought these new limits and campaign donor protections in efforts for greater transparency, but it was actually in opposition to fellow Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s campaign transparency efforts. She had sought rule changes to require public disclosure of issue ad donors – so that those PAC ads would have to disclose their funding. Instead, Snyder backed a Senate committee amended bill that included wording to prohibit such a change, an effort that the full legislature late approved and he signed. enson said that Michigan’s law is now more lenient towards donors than federal law. “The federal law states that any race that mentions something that can influence a voter within 60 days of a general election or 30 days of a primary election is considered a campaign ad because it can influence an election,” she said. Federal rules apply to presidential, senate, and congressional races. “The big picture is that as time goes on, more and more campaign spending will not be done by the candidates but by these big groups. One of the things that happens, at least on the federal level, is how much they are spending, and not from what sources. You don’t know who is spending the $10 million to get someone elected,” Klemanski said. “The amount of money that can be spent in the aggregate, in a state House or Senate race, and what will be the impact, is unknown,” said Bill Ballenger of Inside Michigan Politics. “We still haven’t seen the full impact of Citizens United in 2010, and here it is 2014, and here’s this new Supreme Court decision. It’s just staggering to contemplate.” Even more than the breadth of money and the financial impact is what Klemanski feels these decisions are doing to the electoral process itself. “To me, this does not move us forward in protecting democratic interests,” he said. “There are too many wealthy interests influencing campaigns and elections, and ultimately, the results. I think the process is broken. Even if you try, you can’t ever discover who is donating to these (PACs) sources. That is not the way the political process is supposed to work. And it’s going to happen more and more as time goes on. Campaign spending is now protected under the First Amendment. Bottom line, money has become too important. The whole rationale for restrictions in the 1970s (for campaign spending limits) was because you didn’t want a wealthy person to have too much influence or corruption in the process. That’s all gone now.” While money is a key factor in any political race, it is not the only defining characteristic. Oakland University Political Science Department Chairman David Dulio said that while money can be a huge factor and oftentimes we see the side with the most money winning, it’s not everything. “Money allows a candidate to purchase election year services,” Dulio said. “On the local level, that money usually buys you mailers and postcards to residents. More and more today it helps with online access, polling and social media services. Having money also allows you to raise more money. It allows the candidate to hold events and fundraisers for more money. It’s also a signal of viability, both to people in Lansing and to PACs, but to major donors as well, who may see a candidate’s financial filing report and realize that the candidate has a chance to make it. People always want to back someone with a strong chance of making it.” Ballenger said that while money is critical, he can remember a U.S House race where too much money actually proved fatal for two candidates. “I can think of when too much money being spent impacted the voters in a bad way,” he recalled. “In 1992, you had (Republicans) David Honigman, a state Senator, and Alice Gilbert, a judge who left the bench, and they had mutually-inflicted destruction. They cancelled each other out. They actually bombed each other. Voters were so repelled, and Joe Knollenberg, this insurance agent, snuck through and won the primary. No one was paying attention to Knollenberg
and he squeaked through. And once he won the primary, and then the general in the Republican district, he was there for 16 years – eight terms – until (Gary) Peters beat him in 2009. That can happen.” Ballenger also noted the efforts in 2012 by Manuel “Matty” Moroun, owner of the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, to block the construction of a new bridge over the Detroit River International Crossing. Despite spending approximately $40 million to mount a statewide ballot proposal to fight the new bridge, it still went down in defeat. “You can spend an obscene amount of money, like Matty Moroun did for the bridge, but it backfired, and it dragged him down,” said Ballenger. “It also took down all of the other yes votes for the other proposals, too.” On the other hand, he acknowledged, “What would you rather have, too much money or too little? You always want too much. Money always tilts the campaign towards you. It’s very seldom that you find a candidate spending less than their competitor and winning.” In Oakland County, that doesn’t portend well for current U.S. Congressman Kerry Bentivolio of Milford in the 11th District (R-Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Commerce Township, Walled Lake, Wolverine Lake, White Lake), who has raised $448,441, according to campaign finance reports, against debts of $90,602, and has spent almost $300,000, leaving his campaign with just $131,176 as of March 31, 2014. His primary challenger, Republican David Trott of Birmingham, had total contributions of almost $1.7 million. While his campaign spent $710,729 in the first quarter of 2014, that still has left him with over $1 million of cash on hand. Trott, a successful attorney and businessman, has contributed $808,000 to his campaign, according to campaign financing reports for October 2013, February 2014, and April 2014. His reports also show a wide range of contributions from local supporters in all levels of denominations. “Self funding can be a double-edge sword,” Dulio pointed out. “It can help the candidate by seeding themselves for the campaign. It can also look like you can’t garner support so you have to self-fund.” Michigan Republican Party Communications Director Darren Littell said that self-funding can help, but it’s not a defining factor. “Financial resources are always helpful, but they’re not the only defining attributes. So many different candidates bring so many different resources to the table,” he said. “Trott’s not just seen as self-funding. He has other attributes that make him a viable candidate.” Bentivolio’s history, for those who may have forgotten, is a strange one. He’s been called the “accidental congressman”, having won his congressional race by default when former Rep. Thaddeus McCotter imploded. McCotter, a Livonia resident and former state senator, had been the U.S. Representative for the district since 2003, and while from July 2 to September 21, 2011, he was a candidate for the Republican nomination for president in the 2012 election, his candidacy never gained traction, and he was never included by Republicans and others in any national debates. With a safe and securely redistricted seat that now spread from Livonia, Westland and Novi into Commerce Township, Walled Lake, White Lake, and Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills, it was a campaign no-brainer. He just had to get the required signatures filed for the August 7, 2012 primary, where only one other candidate had filed to run against him, a former U.S soldier, teacher, and reindeer farmer and Santa Claus, Kerry Bentivolio of Milford. But strange events can happen in politics. McCotter is proof of that. In late May 2012, after the official filing deadline, it was discovered that an overwhelming majority –85 percent– of the signatures on his filing petition had been fraudulently signed, a fraud perpetuated by his staff, it was discovered, since 2006. he fallout led McCotter to resign from Congress on July 6, months shy of the end of his term, leaving his constituents high and dry, and forcing voters to not only choose a replacement for him in the August primary and November general election, but in a special September election, where Democrat David Curson prevailed to finish the six weeks left in McCotter’s term. Besides being appalled by the fraud and scandal that McCotter left in his wake, state and local Republicans by and large weren’t thrilled with the only choice they had on the ballot: Bentivolio, who had previously only run once before for any elected office. In 2010, he was unsuccessful in his bid for the state Senate in the 15th District, against the more experienced Mike Kowall. Party members sought a write-in candidate, approaching local businessman
Ginny Fisher realtor 248.593.0518 gﬁsher@hallandhunter.com
ALL-SPORTS NORTH COMMERCE LAKE | $1,350,000 3 Bedrooms 4 Full, 1 Half Baths 5,200 Square Feet MLS# 214018619
Custom built in 2005, this lakefront Victorian-inspired charmer combines the most sought-after amenities with breathtaking, light-filled views. In addition to its cheerful curb appeal, the home boasts an elevator that services every level. Other features include a 2-story foyer; a chef ’s kitchen with lake views; a master suite with two unique balconies and lake views, plus a heated marble tile floor in the master bath; 3 fireplaces; lakeside 3-season room; artist’s studio; sauna, and fully finished walkout lower level. Summer is complete with a 25’ pontoon boat with motor and patio furniture included in the sale.
BLOOMFIELD HILLS | $1,699,000 4 Bedrooms 4 Full, 2 Half Baths 4,800 Square Feet MLS# 213006575
5 Bedrooms 5 Full, 2 Half Baths 5,800+ Total Sq. Ft. MLS# 214037186
Light-filled & beautifully renovated. Gorgeous family room and sun room. Chef ’s delight kitchen. Elegant granite master bath. Fully finished walkout lower level with billiards room. Expansive deck. 3-car garage.
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Private gated enclave on ravine setting. Total of 7000+ square feet. Renovated Millennium cherry kitchen opens to family room. Finished walkout with possible 5th bedroom. Lower paver terraces. 4-car garage.
BLOOMFIELD HILLS | $799,000
442 South Old Woodward Avenue | Birmingham, Michigan 48009
David Trott, amongst others, who declined. Former state Sen. Nancy Cassis (RNovi), who had been term-limited, bit the bullet for the team and launched a write-in campaign. Bentivolio went on to win the general election in the Republican district, having raised only roughly $41,000 himself, and is the current representative, where he has been trying to pay off campaign debts of approximately $112,000, according to reports, while trying to raise money for the 2014 run. An August 2013 fundraiser at The Townsend Hotel in Birmingham featuring Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner was largely avoided by local Republicans, and Bentivolio raised only $12,000 in local money – a pittance by fundraising standards. y and large, local Republicans have not been happy with Rep. Kerry Bentivolio. Littell, the communications director for the Michigan Republican Party, said that “Bentivolio hasn’t said or done anything bad, but he’s not seen as a strong candidate.” Why don’t mainstream Republicans like Bentivolio? He is Libertarianleaning and an outspoken opponent of the Federal Reserve, and is primarily supported by various Tea Party groups. In August 2013, as a U.S. Congressman, he announced that he had consulted lawyers about potentially impeaching President Barak Obama, but discovered you had to have a reason and evidence in order to do that. He said that he examined impeaching him after he met the president, which left him disgusted just by standing next to him. That point of view may appeal to some GOP primary voters. And while local party establishment money may not flow to Bentivolio, PAC money from national groups, like Americans for Prosperity, has already started to pour into local elections around the country, as evidenced by the recent Baldwin Library bond election in Birmingham in which the national Free Congress Action advocacy group did mailings and robocalls to help defeat a local ballot proposal. Americans For Prosperity-Michigan Executive Director Scott Hagerstrom wrote on their website that “The Kochs (the funding mechanism for Americans For Prosperity) worked with other anti-labor billionaires, corporations and activists to fund conservative candidates and groups across the country.” Repeated calls to Hagerstrom were not returned. “In the 11th and the 9th U.S. Senate races, we’re seeing multimillion dollar races,” commented Benson. “Look, Trott raised more than a $1 million just in the last quarter. It’s not just the candidates – it’s outside groups sending the money. And they’re willing to spend the money. Close to the election, we could see spending of upwards of $10 million to influence the election, like with (Rep.) Gary Peters (D) in 2012. There will definitely be outside interests influencing these races. “The voters will see a lot more misinformation, which is unfortunate,” she continued. “The more money spent, the less the facts will break through. The ads become much more personal, and more attacks, which is unfortunate for the voters.” The 9th District congressional district, which includes Bloomfield Township, Franklin, Beverly Hills, Bingham Farms, Royal Oak and Ferndale, has been represented by Rep. Sander Levin (D), who has been in congress since 1982. Levin received $977,906 during the last filing period, of which $229,637 he funded. His campaign currently has $377,277 cash on hand. His Republican challenger, George Brikho, received $18,539 in the first quarter of 2014, and spent more than he took in, with a $4,637 deficit at the end of the filing period and no cash on hand. He did not provide his campaign with any money. The 11th District race is not the only one that could be a cat fight this primary season. On the state level, the 13th District state Senate race features Republicans who will hammer each other to see who will emerge the victor in August to face either Democrat Ryan Fishman, a 26-year-old Andover High School alum who has been actively campaigning and gaining support, particularly from the local Jewish community, for months, or Cindy Peltonen. The 13th District represents Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township, Troy, Rochester and Rochester Hills, is currently represented by Sen. John Pappageorge (R), who is term-limited. The Republicans battling over replacing Pappageorge are Ethan Baker, Al Gui, former state Rep. Marty Knollenberg, former state Rep. Chuck Moss, and former state Rep. Rocky Raczkowski. “It’s just a big dogfight,” noted Moss. Moss’ campaign currently has the most money in its till, largely coming from the candidate himself. Of the $166,541 his campaign raised in the first
quarter of 2014, Moss provided $152,191. Knollenberg, Raczkowski and Gui all waived reporting their financial statements. Baker reported that his campaign did not spend or receive in excess of $5,000, the filing threshold. On the Democratic side, Fishman raised $98,492, of which he provided $33,481. Peltonen provided her campaign $525 of the $1,145 she raised in the first quarter. “Moss is probably the most moderate of the Republicans running, but he has the skimpiest of geographical bases, and it will be difficult for him to win,” Inside Michigan Politics Ballenger said, not taking into account dollar figures. “Raczkowski or Knollenberg have the greater ability to win because of their geographic bases. They’re not extreme Republicans. Knollenberg has that great name recognition, and Raczkowski has a big military background, with Pappageorge already endorsing him. It may make him more acceptable to Republican voters. It’s still a 56 percent Republican district. It will take a stretch and a reach for a Democrat to win, especially in this year, which will be very difficult for Democrats to win, which will not help Ryan Fishman.” Ballenger said that newcomer Fishman is being taken seriously by the Republicans “because he has the ability to really raise money. And it will depend on who the Republicans nominate in the primary (to go against Fishman). If the independent (voters) or Jews don’t like him, Fishman could spring an upset.” In the state Senate’s 15th District, covering Commerce Township, Walled Lake, White Lake, and Wolverine Lake, first-term Sen. Mike Kowall (R) is being challenged by two Tea Party Republicans, Matt Maddock and Ron Molnar. The winner of the August primary will face the victor of the Democratic primary, between Tom Crawford and Michael D. Smith. Kowall raised $61,040 in the first quarter of 2014; almost $21,000 from his own pocket. Of the other $40,000, his donors primarily consisted of trade associations around the state and political PACs. Kowall’s two challengers, both with Tea Party-affiliations, do not appear to have raised much money so far. Molnar waived the filing and Maddock did not spend or receive in excess of $5,000. The two Democratic challengers in the district, Crawford and Smith, also did not spend or receive in excess of $5,000. “That’s a more conservative area of the county,” Dulio acknowledged. “There are some debates about how strong the Tea Party is and how strong the (traditional) Republican Party is.” ittell, who said the state party stands apart from the primary process, waiting to endorse until the general election, said, “Kowall’s record speaks for itself. He’s represented the district to the best of his ability, even if not everyone agrees with his position. The primary process makes the candidates stronger because it allows the candidates to speak about the position, and makes them stronger.” Littell echoed that same sentiment for the open state House seat in the 44th District (White Lake), which term limited Rep. Eileen Kowall (R) is vacating for a county commission run. Republican challengers Dennis Garlick, Jim Runestad, Liz Fessler Smith and Russ Tierney are competing in the primary to see who will go against Democrat Mark Venie in November. In the first quarter of 2014, Runestad self-funded his campaign $58,260 of the $68,120 his campaign raised. Tierney provided his campaign with the entire $50,000 donation his campaign had for the first quarter. Garlick and Fessler Smith did not expect to spend or receive in excess of $5,000. Democrat Venie waived his filing. Similarly, current state Rep. Klint Kesto (R) in the 39th District (Commerce Township, West Bloomfield) is facing Republican challengers Deb O’Hagan and Alan Stephens. The victor will confront the winner of the Democratic primary, Sandy Colvin or Michael B. Saari. Kesto’s campaign has raised $51,000 so far, with his challengers waiving filing or not expecting to receive or spend in excess of $5,000 for the first quarter of 2014. In each of the races, big or small, it will come down to money and how well the candidates get out their individual voters in the highly partisan primary election. “To me, one of the greatest travesties is how money influences how a candidate acts. The more there is rhetoric on TV about a candidate, the more there is rhetoric from the candidate themselves,” said Wayne law school’s Benson. “At the end of the day, it deters good candidates from running, deters good government from functioning. “In my opinion, the root of the problem is the money, and how it warps our political arena. Until we figure it out on the federal and state level, and how we rectify that, we’re not going to see changes that will help improve the rhetoric of our political arena. It will just continue to stagnate and devolve.”
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Unique Bloomfield Hills home on 1.25 acres overlooking a private pond and woods. Many extras include, Jennaire oven and Sub Zero refrigerator, exercise room with hot tub. 214043709 $700,000
Spacious four bedroom home in popular location. Most of interior has all original features. Great opportunity to buy at a reduced price and make this your own! 214024178 $275,000
Beautifully updated walkout basement Ranch on estate size lot. Renovated kitchen, 2 renovated bathrooms and more. 213116308 $375,000
Extremely appealing Cape Cod, full of charm & updates! Coved ceilings, refinished oak floors, neutral soft paint colors throughout. 214034922 $199,900
Unique Tudor Style Bungalow loaded with charm, character and updates! Leaded glass door off foyer leads to spacious living 7 dining rooms with gleaming refinished oak floors, coved ceilings, lovely marble fireplace and built in glass shelving. 214045976 $179,900
Bring the horses! Just over 10 acres of rolling land including fenced pasture and woods. Home is a quad level with oversized eat in kitchen. Barn has 4 stalls, hay room, electric and water pump. 214040911 $354,900
4 bedroom 2 full baths, located in a great Waterford subdivision with sidewalks and shaded streets. A chefs delight gourmet kitchen. Ready to move in! Lake privileges on Lotus Lake thru association. 214026371 $167,900
Beautiful brick ranch with 3 bedrooms, formal dining room, large living room, family room with fireplace. 2 car attached garage. 214017834 $199,900
Lakefront living at it’s finest. 2 1/3 acres of rolling terrain on private Meadow Lake. Spacious quality built custom home with loads of amenities. 214036282 $895,000
Sharp bungalow in North Royal Oak. Many updates, freshly painted, hardwood floors just refinished, newer windows and door wall. 214042288 $139,000
Breathtaking property may be the nicest you will ever see. Over 2 acres of trees, hill, full size tennis court with gallery viewing area. Inground swimming pool, beautiful decking and pergola. 214046464 $829,900
Absolutely stunning model perfect home. Luxurious 3700 sq.ft. open floor plan design. 2 story entry with hardwood floors, true gourmet kitchen. 214025191 $519,000
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Quality throughout this exquisitely appointed fully updated home. Hardwood entry, newer corian kitchen with island and tumbled marble backsplash. Oversized 2.5 side entry garage. Fabulous home! 214046075 $424,900
One of a kind exquisitely appointed and updated home. Large double foyer, fabulous kitchen, generous sized family room with fireplace. 214044604 $269,000
Great price on West Bloomfield lakefront. You will notice attention to detail the second you approach this beautiful home. Peaceful setting and beautiful lake views. 214023370 $434,500
Striking Tudor on premium lot. Well maintained by original owners with many updates and a re-modeled kitchen with new granite countertops. Professionally finished basement with lots of storage. 214046991 $320,000
Spectacular Mission Springs home. Located deep in heavily wooded neighborhood with protected grounds. Nicely updated “expanded” kitchen. 214032965 $387,900
Great price on nicely updated Oxbow lakefront. Home sits on double lot with 95 feet of frontage. Complete with sandy swim beach. Oversized gourmet kitchen. Nicely landscaped lot with field stone treatments, stamped concrete and stone steps. 214026306 $336,000
Stunningly updated with rich components. Granite kitchen counters & island. Quiet location on court. Very little traffic. Move in ready. 214046081 $299,000
This one is truly - move-in and unpack. Remodeled top to bottom with finest materials, best craftsmanship and tastefully decorated. There is no carpet in this house. 214045745 $180,000
Old World Charm greets you as you enter the private drive. Surrounded by 4.26 acres this 1930’s Classic Colonial Estate was designed by Albert Kahn & Wallace Frost. Truly a once in a life time opportunity. 214003314 $2,975,000
Nearly new home in beautiful condition, filled with daylight/huge backyard/master suite with bath & walk-in closet, living room with cathedral ceiling and fireplaces. Spacious main level laundry room. 214022022 $269,000
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Sheer Old European Elegance. Welcoming marble entry. Massive 2 story great room w/20’ contoured ceiling. Master w/floor to ceiling closets. French doors to private patio. 214037096 $650,000
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The Julie 5k Run/Walk & 1 Mile Fun Run 21st Annual Benefit for Open Door Outreach Center Saturday, June 28th, 2014 â€˘ Registration 7:30 a.m. Race Start 9 a.m. Oakland Community College Highland Lakes Campus 7350 Cooley Lake Road Waterford, MI 48327
For More Information and Sponsorship Information
Registration also available at: https://www.opendooroutreachcenter.com/Julie_Reg.aspx Pre-Registration $25 5k/$10 1 Mile - Must be received by June 24 Late Registration Available Day of Race $30 5K/$15 1 Mile
Please Call Robin Maloney 248.360.2930
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im Brandstatter is an author, former collegiate football player, broadcaster for the Detroit Lions, and has broadcast University of Michigan football games for nearly 35 years. “I have a job at a place where I feel at home and connected. It couldn’t have been any better,” said the University of Michigan alumnus. As a boy, the Brandstatter home was complete with five athletic boys, all passionate about sports. “I was the youngest. My brother, Art Jr., was an MSU (football) player when I was 10-years-old. When your older brother is on a college football team, it is a big deal. He set an extremely high standard. “As you would expect, we had a mandatory basketball hoop over the garage in the driveway. We had a big yard and we would play catch. We’d throw the (foot)ball from one side to the other.” Brandstatter’s mother, now 97-years-old, took pride in her sons’ athletic abilities and played the role of the sports mom to perfection. “We’d throw our sweat socks and t-shirts down the stairs. When you’re a kid, you just don’t realize it. The stuff was magically cleaned and folded. She was amazing. For 14 years or more, mom was taking care of the gym bag.” Brandstatter’s father, Art, was an All-American fullback for Michigan State University in 1936. Despite his father’s allegiance to MSU, he supported Brandstatter’s decision to attend and play for the household rival. “They believed it was up to me to make that decision. When they met Bo Schembechler, and saw the friends I made and the experiences I had, they knew I could never have done so well at another school.” Playing under the legendary Schembechler was an unparalleled
experience. “It was extremely difficult, mentally and physically. (Schembechler) asked for more than we thought we could give. He was rude and sometimes downright anti-social, and yet we would follow him off the edge of a cliff.” Affectionately known as “Brandy,” Brandstatter was an offensive lineman for Schembechler and played in two Rose Bowls. The Commerce resident has written two books entitled “Tales from Michigan Stadium Volumes I and II.” In 2014, he was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame. He has also served as the Detroit Lions color analyst on their statewide radio network since 1987. ”I remember watching black and white television when Bobby Layne was the (Lions) quarterback.” Among several pillars of strength, Brandstatter names his wife, retired broadcaster Robbie Timmons, for guiding him toward professional greatness. “I had a dream of doing play-by-play. I told (my wife) it may be a while before I can contribute financially. She said, without hesitation, ‘Go ahead. Do what you’ve got to do.’” In spite of his local celebrity status, Brandstatter exudes humility about his success and his career broadcasting University of Michigan football games. “I love going there anyway. I get free parking, free tickets, and the best seats in the house. I get free food and two weeks later they send me a check.” Story: Katey Meisner
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MUNICIPAL Walled Lake voters to decide millages By Kevin Elliott
Walled Lake voters on August 5 will determine the fate of two millage proposals, including the renewal of an existing library millage and the creation of a new public safety millage for police and fire services. The library millage proposal is a request to renew the current .9846 millage approved by voters in November 2004, which expires in July 2014. If approved, the millage would continue for another 10 years, with an estimated revenue of $172,000 in its first year, and almost $1 million for the library over the life of the millage. Funds from the millage may be used for all library purposes permitted by law. The renewal proposal is in addition to a current .7975 mills levied for library purposes, which was approved by voters in 1963 for an unlimited duration. A mill is equal to $1 per $1,000 of taxable value of a property, which is typically half of a property’s market value.
Ballot language approved on Tuesday, May 6, by the Walled Lake City Council at its regular meeting is as follows: “This millage, a renewal, will enable the continued operations of the Walled Lake City Library. “Shall the City of Walled Lake be authorized to levy a tax annually upon the taxable value of property subject to ad valorem taxation in an amount not to exceed .9846 mills ($.9846 per $1,000 of taxable value) for a period of ten (10) years, 2015 through 2024, inclusive, which will raise in the first year of such tax levy an estimated $172,000, for the purpose of providing funds for all library purposes permitted by law. If approved, this would be a renewal of the current library millage levy.” The second millage proposal would establish a new tax of 3.95 mills which would be levied for five years. If approved, the millage would generate about $692,000 in revenue for police and fire services. Currently, police and fire services are paid for out of the city’s general fund budget. City council members in March 2014 approved combining the police and fire services under the umbrella
of a public safety department. While the combined department doesn’t require staff to be cross-trained in fire and police services, creating a new department allows the city to request a public safety millage for both services, Walled Lake City Manager Dennis Whitt said in recommending the creation of the department. Whitt said in March that without a new millage to support public safety, it would be necessary to cut services and eliminate one of the two departments. Walled Lake Police Chief Paul Shakinas said that it is no secret that the city has had difficulties funding services, referring to staffing cuts at the police department and other municipal staff. “Since 2007, we went from 48 employees to 25 employees, citywide,” Shakinas said. “When I started at the police department in 2001, we had 20 full-time employees. Now we have five.” The millage proposal language approved by council states the millage is needed for additional support and funding of the public safety department, and specifically asks:
“Shall the City tax limitation imposed on all taxable real and tangible personal property within the City of Walled Lake, Oakland County, Michigan, be increased in an amount not to exceed 3.95 mills ($3.95 on each $1,000 of taxable value) for five (5) years, 2015 to 2020 inclusive, to provide funds to staff, equip maintain or operate the Public Safety Department and for any other Fire, Police or Public Safety purposes authorized by law? The revenue the City will collect if the millage is approved and levied in the 2015 calendar year is estimated to be $692,000. An incremental portion of this revenue may be subject to capture by the Walled Lake Downtown Development Authority according to existing laws and regulations generally applicable to taxable property within the City of Walled Lake.” Shakinas said the need for the millage, as well as other options for providing public safety services and those associated costs, will be discussed during a Monday, May 19, public hearing regarding the city’s
budget. That meeting is scheduled for 8 p.m. at city hall. “There is no way, there are too many bills with the pension liabilities,” Shakinas said about the possibility of operating both police and fire services without additional revenues. “We made a dent in (the budget) last year and reduced the pension debt by $1.3 million. We got concessions from employees and trimmed all the fat. The only thing we can do is ask for a millage increase. Without an increase in revenue, we won’t be able to provide the same level of service that we are.”
Wolverine Lake to discuss budget The Wolverine Lake Village Council on May 28 was expected to hold a special work session to discuss the village’s fiscal year 2015 budget, which runs from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015. Village treasurer Michael Kondek said the proposed $2.3 million budget is essentially a “break even” budget for the village’s general fund. The budget is comprised of the village’s general fund, major street fund, local street fund, drug forfeiture fund, and water and sewer fund. The village tax rate is proposed to remain the same at 9.573 mills, which is what it has been since 1996. The largest portion of the proposed budget includes $725,550, or 31.2 percent of total expenditures, for the village’s police department; $494,600, or 21.27 percent of total expenditures, for general services; $267,000, or 11.48 percent of total expenditures, for rubbish/leaf collection; and $280,100, or 12.05 percent of total expenditures, for the department of public works. The majority of the village’s revenues, or 56.81 percent, come from taxes and penalties, which total $1,321,000. “Our most pressing recent problem, the severe contraction in the residential housing market, appears to be behind us,” Kondek said in a memo to village council. “The village’s taxable value fell from a high of $172 million in 2008 to $134 million in 2011, a decline of 22 percent. But it has increased slightly since then to $140 million for the upcoming year and should continue to grow, albeit slowly, for the foreseeable future.” The proposed fiscal year 2015 budget includes $2.3 million in estimated revenues, as well as the same amount in expenditures. That 40
DDA land sales being negotiated By Kevin Elliott
he Commerce Township Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is in the midst of negotiating the sale of two parcels of land totaling more than 43 acres inside the Commerce Towne Place project area with an unnamed developer. The parcels include an 8.9 acre parcel known as Parcel D, located west of Martin Parkway and adjacent to Haggerty Road, and a Parcel E, which is a 34.4 acre parcel bordered by Martin Parkway on its west side and Ridgeway Court on the north side of the property. The land is on the east side of Martin Parkway and township hall. “We’ve been in negotiations with several developers,” said Insite Commercial President Randy Thomas, who has been hired by the DDA to market the Commerce Towne Place project land. Thomas reported at a May 6 DDA meeting that the DDA’s attorney, Thomas Rauch of Kemp Klein, had prepared an opinion about the negotiations, which was later discussed in a closed executive session with members of the DDA board. Neither the name of the developer or developers interested in the parcels, nor related details, were disclosed. Parcel D is a smaller parcel of land that is intended to be developed for various uses, including recreation, residential, research and development, high tech and commercial. Parcel E is a larger piece and has been recommended for potential residential development, commercial use, high-density senior living, corporate headquarters, office space, research and development, and high tech uses. The land had previously been under consideration for purchase by Bloomfield Hills developer Edward Rose and Sons, which had proposed building nearly 400 apartments and a senior housing facility. Rose had offered the DDA $4.5 million for the land, but later withdrew the offer after some members of the Commerce Township Board of Trustees expressed opposition to high-density, multiple-family housing developments in Commerce Towne Place. In April, the DDA approved a $2 million purchase agreement with developer Doraid Markus for a 6.2 acre parcel at the northwest corner of Pontiac Trail and Haggerty Road for a proposed shopping center. In 2013, the DDA accepted a $5.15 million offer from M. Shapiro Development Company for nearly 60 acres of land for a mixed use/commercial development that includes the construction of about 400 stacked ranch homes or townhouses. Hunter Pasteur Homes of Novi agreed in September to pay about $1.04 million for roughly 15 acres of land just west of township hall for the development of 39 single-family homes. amount is down slightly from the approved fiscal year 2014 budget of $2.6 million, but up from the actual amount of the fiscal year 2013 budget of just under $2.3 million. The village’s fund balance is expected to take a loss of about $171,406 in the proposed budget. “We should end fiscal year 14 next month with a decrease in fund balance, which, while not anticipated when we adopted the fiscal year 14 budget last year, is nevertheless caused by the $150,000 contribution to the police officers retirement fund and the expensing of the new weed harvester in fiscal year 14 rather than in fiscal year 13 as was originally anticipated,” Kondek said. The proposed budget includes 3 percent pay raises for all administrative and department of
public works personnel. Capital outlay projects to be paid from the general fund in fiscal year 2015 include $20,000 for a McCoy drainage project; $61,800 to parks and recreation for equipment upgrades, recreational courts and fields, a neighborhood park acquisition, and completion of a concession stand and storage building; $30,000 for a walking pathway along South Commerce Road between Heron Hills and Glengary; $45,000 for a police vehicle; and $9,000 for police equipment.
Friends of Byers to hold wine tasting The Friends of Byers on Saturday, June 28, will hold a wine tasting event to help pay for repairs needed to the
township’s historic Byers farmhouse, following approval of a permit by the township board which delayed approval of funding for a structural study of buildings at the local historical spot. “We envision this as a pleasant, classy, low-key event on an early summer evening,” Ellen Smith, Friends of Byers secretary said to the Commerce Township Board of Trustees in a memo prior to their board meeting Tuesday, May 13, describing the event. “The event will be contained within a tent on the meadow area at Byers and will be surrounded by fencing.” Tickets to the event are $20, which will give guests an opportunity to try a variety of domestic and imported wines by area suppliers. The organization indicated it was trying to work with Colasanti of Milford to supply and serve guests. The event will be held in an outside tent and not inside the historic farmhouse, which has a current occupancy limit of five people. That limit was placed on the farmhouse in light of major repairs needed at the building, which was built more than 150 years ago and prior to modern building codes. The farmhouse at 213 Commerce Road underwent emergency repairs this winter when a wall separated from the rest of the building and moved several inches from the building. Floors in the farmhouse sag and move when used. The township board of trustees in March approved paying for the installation of an aircraft cable inside the attic of the farmhouse to pull the walls together and reattach them to the roof. However, the repairs are considered a temporary fix to keep the structure standing and won’t allow for the farmhouse to be used by the community for events. A proposal for engineering and architectural services to assess the Byers Homestead, which includes the farmhouse, the historic barn and several smaller structures, was received by the township in April from Bud Design and Engineering Services, of Grand Blanc. Board members at their May 13 meeting approved the special permit for the wine tasting event and briefly discussed the future of the farmhouse. Jim Meenahan, president of the Friends of Byers, said he hoped the board would approve the engineering proposal from Bud Design and 06.14
Engineering to survey the farmhouse. Based on the proposal, the assessment itself would cost about $7,500, and would include both an engineering/architectural assessment and a presentation of the assessment report. The assessment would include record documents, site investigation of structural, mechanical, plumbing and electrical conditions and field measurements of the building. The assessment would include an analysis of the farmhouse’s foundation, the first-floor joist support system, second floor assessment and bearing wall analysis, rafter assessment, recommendations for repair and/or replacement of first and second floors, as well as roof rafters. The assessment would also look at other structural issues, as well as the state’s historic marker that had been removed by the state and whether it could be returned. The proposal doesn’t include any actual repairs. Township supervisor Tom Zoner said he was hoping to get some assistance from some experts in the community who are familiar with the historic site to see if they could provide any assistance. Zoner said he would like to consult with others before asking the board to approve any additional expenses. A motion to approve the proposal and authorize Bud to conduct the assessment was tabled until the board’s meeting in June.
Wise Road property use discussed By Kevin Elliott
Soccer fields, baseball diamonds, walking paths, a disc golf course and a dog park are among the possible park improvements that will be included in Commerce Township’s master park plan for the 518-acre property along Wise Road. About 50 township residents shared their thoughts on Tuesday, April 29, at a public workshop hosted by the Commerce Township Parks and Recreation Committee and consultants from Living Lab Detroit regarding the former state-owned land. Attendees of the two-hour session were given some background information about the park, including its history and current ecological makeup. They were then asked to list park improvements they would like to see at the park, if there were no budgetary limits. westendmonthly.com
Command structure study okayed
he Commerce Township Board of Trustees on Tuesday, May 13, approved the purchase of a new fire apparatus to replace the fire department’s Rescue 3 truck, and authorized the formation of a committee to discuss the possibility of establishing a new command structure at the department. Members of the Professional Firefighters Union Local 2154 brought up the issue of establishing a command structure at the department during union negotiations. According to the union members in favor of the change, allowing a new command structure at the department would allow for a clear chain of command within the department. However, board members questioned whether such a structure would result in additional costs to the township in regard to salaries. The two sides agreed to set the issue aside and approved a union contract in April, with the intent of continuing discussions about the command structure. Under the approved contract, firefighters will receive a two percent increase in compensation through 2016. The contract also includes some changes in health care contributions, the creation of a health care stipend, as well as minor changes to some disciplinary procedures. Board members on April 22 approved the contract by a unanimous vote. Board members on May 13 approved up to $380,500 for the purchase of a Rosenbauer custom pumper truck to replace the fire department’s Rescue 3 truck, which is a mini-pumper truck with multi-purpose vehicle extraction equipment. The current truck is about 12 years old and is experiencing some corrosion problems. The replacement truck specifications were sent to 10 vendors and received three bids from two different vendors. From the three bids received, the department’s truck committee considered two. The purchase of the truck is about $19,636 under budget. The additional funds will be used toward the purchase of necessary items needed to mount equipment on the truck, as well as any additional connections, adapters, hose appliances, ladders and other equipment needed. The Commerce Township Board of Trustees in January approved spending nearly $14,000 to develop a plan for the property, which was purchased by the township in 2011. The majority of the park, located on the north side of Wise Road, is subject to deed restrictions prohibiting most structures or recreational use that wouldn’t be considered a passive use. Roughly 75 acres of land on the south side of Wise Road is available for other recreational uses, such as soccer fields, tennis courts or baseball diamonds. Residents attending the meeting named several recreational uses they would like to see. Some suggestions mentioned Tuesday included a fishing pier, running and biking trails, soccer and baseball fields, a disc golf course, children’s playgrounds, a dog park, picnic areas, cross country skiing, a community garden and other uses. Leah Groya, with Living Lab, said a budget for the park hasn’t yet been developed, but funds for
improvements could come from both state and federal grants, as well as the township’s parks improvement millage. The development and finalization of a park master plan is required for many grants, while a renewal of the township’s park improvement millage will be decided by voters in August. Voters first approved the existing .3939 mill tax in November 2004. The millage has generated about $7.25 million over 10 years, of which about $1 million remains for recreational improvements and land acquisitions, along with related expenses. About $4 million from the fund was used to purchase the Wise Road property, with another large portion of the fund used to pay for major renovations to the township’s Dodge Park 5. Residents attending Tuesday’s meeting broke into five groups to place stickers of proposed recreational facilities onto maps to provide a better understanding of what the park may look like if fully developed. The groups
then presented their maps to those in attendance. Township resident and Wolverine Lake Village Council President John Magee said the group he was sitting with decided to put in an access road in a portion of the park, along with a skate park, picnic area, community gardens, restrooms, baseball diamonds and a soccer field. The group also suggested the names “Wise Park” or “Commerce Park” for the formal name for park. Another group suggested the name “Mistletoe Park,” a play on words and reference to the former Nike missile base that was located on the southern portion of the park that has since been decommissioned and raised. One of the groups recommended putting in about nine soccer fields — the maximum they could fit into the southern portion of the park — as well as some playground areas. Input at the meeting will be used to develop a concept plan for the park, which will later be developed into a master plan. A phasing plan and cost estimates will be developed and included in the concept plan, which is expected to be presented to the township’s parks and recreation committee in June. “We are working on cost estimates and a phasing plan,” Groya said “It’s a long-term vision for the property, and then we will talk about what can be done initially and in the first couple of years.”
Road project to cause traffic delays Motorists on the border of Commerce Township and White Lake Township should be advised that one lane in each direction of Cooley Lake Road will remain open between Williams Lake Road and Union Lake Road while road crews work to resurface the roadway. About a quarter mile of the road will be resurfaced and replaced with new asphalt. The half-million project includes milling off the old surface of the road and laying new asphalt, replacing concrete curbs and replacing pedestrian crosswalks. About 80 percent of the project is being done with federal funds, with the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) contributing the remaining 20 percent. Construction is expected to be finished by early September. 41
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PLACES TO EAT
Anaam’s Palate: Middle Eastern. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 2534 Union Lake Road, Commerce Township, 48382. 248.242.6326. Applebees Neighborhood Grill: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 9100 Highland Road, White Lake, 48386. 248.698.0901. Backyard Coney Island: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 49378 Pontiac Trail, Wixom, 48393. 248.926.9508. Bayside Sports Grille: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 142 E. Walled Lake Drive, Walled Lake, 48390. 248.669.3322. Biffs Coney Island: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 3050 Union Lake Road, Commerce Township, 48382. 248.366.7400. Big Boy Restaurant: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Beer & Wine. 5834 Highland Road, Waterford, 48328. 248.674.4631. Big Boy Restaurant: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 800 N. Pontiac Trail, Walled Lake, 48390. 248.624.2323. Big Boy Restaurant: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Beer & Wine. 7726 Cooley Lake Road, Waterford, 48327. 248.363.1573. Billy’s Tip N Inn: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 6707 Highland Road, White Lake Township, 48383. 248.889.7885. Blu Nectar: American. Lunch & Dinner, Monday - Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 1050 Benstein Road, Walled Lake, 48390. 248.859.5506. Boon Kai Restaurant: Chinese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 1257 S. Commerce Road, Commerce, 48390. 248.624.5353. Buffalo Wild Wings: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 5223 Highland Road, Waterford, 48327. 248.674.9464. Carino’s Italian Restaurant: Italian. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 500 Loop Road, Commerce Township, 48390. 248.926.5300. Carrie Lee’s of Waterford: Chinese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 7890 Highland Road, Waterford, 48327. 248.666.9045. Casey’s Sports Pub & Grill: Deli. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 1003 E West Maple Road, Walled Lake, 48390. 248.669.5200. CAYA Smokehouse Grille: Barbeque. Dinner, Tuesday - Sunday. No reservations. Liquor. 1403 S. Commerce Road, Wolverine Lake, 48390. 248.438.6741. China Garden: Chinese. Lunch & Dinner daily. No reservations. 49414 Pontiac Trail, Wixom, 48393. 248.960.8877. China House: Chinese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 901 Nordic Drive, White Lake Township, 48386. 248.889.2880. China King: Chinese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 4785 Carroll Lake Road, Commerce Township, 48390. 248.363.9966.
China Queen: Chinese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 1130 E. Maple Road, Walled Lake, 48390. 248.669.8896. CJ’s Brewing Company: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 8115 Richardson Road, Commerce Township, 48390. 248.366.7979. Coffee Time Café: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 1001 Welch Road, Commerce Township, 48390. 248.624.0097. Coyote Grille: American. Lunch, MondayFriday; Dinner, Monday-Sunday. No reservations. Liquor. 1990 Hiller Road, West Bloomfield, 48324. 248.681.6195. Dairy Queen: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 10531 Highland Road, White Lake, 48386. 248.698.2899. Daniel’s Pizza Bistro: Pizza. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 2510 Union Lake Road, Commerce Township, 48382. 248.363.7000. Dave and Amy’s: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 9595 Highland Road, White Lake, 48386. 248.698.2010. Dave’s Coney Island: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No Reservations. 901 Nordick Drive, White Lake, 48383. 248.889.3600. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit: Barbecue. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 4825 Carroll Lake Road, Commerce Township, 48382. 248.360.4055. Dobski’s: American, Polish. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 6565 Cooley Lake Road, Waterford, 48327. 248.363.6565. Eddie’s Coney Island: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 1749 Haggerty Road, Commerce Township, 48390. 248.960.1430. El Nibble Nook: Mexican. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations for 6 or more. Liquor. 2750 Haggerty Road, West Bloomfield, 48323. 248.669.3344. El Patio Mexican Restaurant: Mexican. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 7622 Highland Road, Waterford, 48327. 248.666.5231. Five Guys Burgers & Fries: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 5134 Highland Road, 48327. 248.673.5557. Gest Omelets: American. Breakfast & Lunch, daily until 4 p.m. No reservations. 39560 W. 14 Mile Road, Commerce Township, 48390. 248.926.0717.
The Places To Eat for Westend is a quick reference source to establishments offering a place for dining, either breakfast, lunch or dinner. The complete Places To Eat is available at westendmonthly.com and in an optimized format for your smart phone (westendmonthly.com/mobile), where you can actually map out locations and automatically dial a restaurant from our Places To Eat.
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Golden Chop Sticks: Chinese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 47516 Pontiac Trail, Wixom, 48393. 248.960.3888. Grand Aztecha: Mexican. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 6041 Haggerty Road, West Bloomfield, 48322. 248.669.7555. Greek Jalapeno: Greek, Mexican. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 6636 Cooley Lake Road, Waterford, 48327. 248.363.3322. Green Apple Restaurant: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 7156 Cooley Lake Road, Waterford, 48327. 248.366.9100. Haang's Bistro: Chinese/Thai. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. 225 E. Walled Lake Drive, Walled Lake, 48390. 248.926.1100. Highland Grille: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 7265 Highland Road, Waterford, 48327. 248.666.8830. Highland House: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 2630 E. Highland Road, Highland, 48356. 248.887.4161. Highland House Café: American, Pizza. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 10719 Highland Road, White Lake, 48386. 248.698.4100. Hong Kong Express: Chinese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 5158 Highland Road, Waterford, 48327. 248.673.7200. It’s a Matter of Taste: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 2323 Union Lake Road, Commerce, 48390. 248.360.4150. Jennifer’s Café: Middle Eastern. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 4052 Haggerty Road, Commerce Township, 48390. 248.360.0190. Jenny’s Restaurant: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 1186 E. West Maple Road, Walled Lake, 48390. 248.669.8240. Jeff's Kitchen: Asian. Lunch & Dinner daily. Reservations. 1130 E. West Maple Road, Walled Lake, 48390. 248.669.8896. Kennedy’s Irish Pub: Irish/American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 1055 W. Huron Street, Waterford, 48328. 248.681.1050. L George’s: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 1203 S. Commerce Road, Walled Lake, 48390. 248.960.5700. Leo’s Coney Island: American/Greek. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 6845 Highland Road, White Lake, 484386. 248.889.5361. Leo’s Coney Island: American/Greek. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 4895 Carroll Lake Road, Commerce Township, 48382. 248.366.8360. Leo’s Coney Island: American/Greek. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 2210 Teggerdine, White Lake, 48386. 248.779.7085. Leon’s Food & Spirits: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 29710 S. Wixom
Road, Wixom, 48393. 248.926.5880. Lion’s Den: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 4444 Highland Road, Waterford, 48328. 248.674.2251. Lulu’s Coney Island: Greek. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 1001 Welch Road, Walled Lake, 48390. 248.669.1937. Maria’s Restaurant: Italian. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 2080 Walnut Lake Road, West Bloomfield, 48323. 248.851.2500. Mexico Lindo: Mexican. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 6225 Highland Road, Waterford, 48327. 248.666.3460. Mezza Mediterranean Grille: Mediterranean. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 1001 Welch Road, Commerce Township, 48390. 248.926.2190. Moonlight Mediterranean Cuisine: Mediterranean. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 1123 E. West Maple Road, Walled Lake, 48390. 248.859.5352. Nick & Toney’s: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, Monday-Saturday; Sunday until 3 p.m. No reservations. 9260 Cooley Lake Road, White Lake, 48386. 248.363.1162. North Szechuan Empire: Chinese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 39450 W. 14 Mile Road, Commerce Township, 48390. 248.960.7666. On The Waterfront: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 8635 Cooley Lake Road, Commerce Township, 48382. 248.363.9469. Panera Bread: Bakery, Deli. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 5175 Highland Road, Waterford, 48327. 248.618.0617. Pepino’s Restaurant & Lounge: Italian. Dinner, Tuesday-Sunday. No reservations. Liquor. 118 W. Walled Lake Drive, Walled Lake, 48390. 248.624.1033. Red Lobster: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 479 N. Telegraph Road, Waterford, 48328. 248.682.5146. Red Robin: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 3003 Commerce Crossing, Commerce Township, 48390. 248.926.2990. Root Restaurant & Bar: American. Lunch & Dinner, Monday-Saturday. No reservations. Liquor. 340 Town Center Blvd., White Lake, 48386. 248.698.2400. Rudy’s Waffle House: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 674 N. Pontiac Trail, Walled Lake, 48390. 248.669.7550. Samuri Steakhouse: Japanese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 7390 Haggerty Road, West Bloomfield, 48322. 248.661.8898. Shark Club: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 6665 Highland Road, Waterford, 48327. 248.666.4161. SIAM Fushion: Thai. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 6845 Highland Road, White Lake Township, 48386. 248.887.1300.
Siegel’s Deli: Deli. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 3426 E. West Maple Road, Commerce Township, 48390. 248.926.9555. Sizzl in Subs & Salads: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 2051 N. Wixom Road, Wixom, 48393. 248.960.0009. Socialight Cigar Bar & Bistro: American. Lunch & Dinner daily. Reservations. Liquor. 6139 Haggerty Road, West Bloomfield, 48322. 248.669.0777. Swasdee Thai Restaurant: Thai. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 6175 Haggerty Road, West Bloomfield, 48322. 248.926.1012. Sweet Water Bar & Grille: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 7760 Cooley Lake Road, Waterford, 48327. 248.363.0400. Taqueria La Casita: Mexican. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 49070 Pontiac Trail, Wixom, 48393. 248.926.1980. Thai Kitchen: Thai. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 7108 Highland Road, Waterford, 48327. 248.886.0397. The Lake’s Bar & Grill: American. Lunch, Tuesday - Sunday; Dinner daily. Reservations. Liquor. 2528 Union Lake Road, Commerce Township, 48382. 248.366.3311. The Library Pub: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 6363 Haggerty Road, West Bloomfield, 48322. 248.896.0333. TJ’s Sushi & Chinese Restaurant: Japanese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 8143 Commerce Road, Commerce Township, 48382. 248.363.3388. Town Lake Family Restaurant: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner daily. No reservations. 1186 E. West Maple Road, Walled Lake, 48390. 248.669.7550. Uptown Grill: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 3100 West Maple Road, Commerce Township, 48382. 248.960.3344. Village Grill: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 1243 N. Commerce Road, Commerce Township, 48382. 248.366.3290. Volare Risorante: Italian. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 49115 Pontiac Trail, Wixom, 48393. 248.960.7771. VR Famous Fried Chicken: American, Cajun. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 47520 Pontiac Trail, Wixom, 48393. 248.926.6620. White Palace: Mediterranean. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 6123 Haggerty Restaurant, West Bloomfield, 48322. 248.313.9656. Wilson’s Pub n Grill: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 2256 Union Lake Road, Commerce Township, 48382. 248.363.1849. Wonton Palace: Chinese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 5562 Cooley Lake Road, Waterford, 48327. 248.683.5073. Woody’s Café: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 235 N. Pontiac Trail, Walled Lake, 48390. 248.624.4379.
olly Reeser, executive director of Camp Casey, dreamt of moving to New York and writing for a magazine, but a spunky little girl named Casey Foote changed her mind and her life. “I went up to MSU (Michigan State University) when I was 18,” Reeser said. “I had taught horseback riding since I was 16, and thought I should use that skill to make 10 dollars an hour or whatever it was. It was there that I met Casey.” Casey was undergoing treatment for cancer and she was a regular at the barn where Reeser was teaching while earning her degree. “Everyone loved Casey. She was a compassionate and really likable little girl.” While studying at MSU, Reeser spent much of her free time at the barn. She learned more from Casey than she could have learned in any text book. “I always thought of cancer as something that older people got. I never knew a child who had cancer.” As Casey’s health declined, the young girl spent less time at the barn. The absence of her charming personality was devastating for everyone. “I remember it being an awful time at the barn,” Reeser said. “Then, we got the information that she passed away. It was like something was missing.” Reeser and several of her fellow trainers decided to honor Casey by planning a one-day affair for children and their families from a nearby hospital who were also afflicted with cancer. “We thought about getting a park bench or planting a tree, but that wasn’t Casey. She would’ve rolled her eyes at something like that,” Reeser laughed. “I put $200 toward pizza on the emergency credit card my parents gave me and we recruited kids from the hospital.” Children and their families enjoyed a day with the horses in Casey’s honor. “We ended up having 80 people out that day.” A week later, Reeser received a letter from a boy who attended the event. “It said, ‘Thank you for the best day of my life.’” The group then decided to host an ongoing therapeutic horse program for children with cancer. Reeser remained a part of it until she finished college. “I graduated, but I didn’t want to let it go.” So, she didn’t. Reeser created Camp Casey in 2004. She and her staff have offered therapeutic horse programs for thousands of children with cancer. They bring horses to children’s homes, offer campouts at a ranch near Muskegon and local destination outings. The non-profit organization now serves over 300 participants each year and is always seeking support as well as children who could benefit from the program. The Walled Lake Western alumnus met her husband, Nick, while at MSU. The two have a one-year-old son, Nico, and she is due with her second child in August. She has spent 10 years honoring a little girl named Casey Foote and bringing joy to children and families who are faced with unthinkable circumstances. “To see the reactions from the children is worth a million bucks.” Story: Katey Meisner
Take time to find right spot for library
iscussions about where to relocate the Commerce Township Public Library should be revisited and expanded before a final decision is made by the township’s board of trustees, which out of the blue recently announced it is considering constructing its new library at Dodge Park 5, at the southeast corner of S. Commerce and Commerce roads. Trustees met with members of the Library Advisory Board in April to discuss the future of the library, which is currently located at 2869 N. Pontiac Trail, inside the Commerce Township Downtown Development Authority’s project area. Board members rapidly concluded at the meeting that the library would be located at Dodge Park 5 and built with a budget of no more than $8 million. Board members, citing the ever-increasing need for improvements to the current library location, indicated the project should begin moving forward as quickly as possible. We recommend they put the brakes on before they get ahead of themselves. The current Commerce Township library, a 20,000-square-foot golf clubhouse that was converted into library space, was established with the understanding that the township would one day relocate the library to a new space. Initial discussions had hinted that the land where the current library is located would be sold and a new library would be located inside the DDA area, possibly near Commerce Township Hall. The idea that was floated around for that location would
create a sort of civic center inside the DDA project area, which was originally conceived about a decade ago as a walkable downtown for Commerce, combining retail, residential, commercial office space and parkland. The idea of establishing a civic center in the township’s downtown area is one that we feel needs extensive discussion by more than members of a joint meeting involving the board of trustees and library board members. And it demands more than just a passing discussion at one meeting. The township needs to think clearly about its future, about how residents will live and use the community, rather than acting in haste today. At the one joint meeting, township supervisor Tom Zoner said location options include a 3.9-acre parcel next to township hall; the library’s current location; on a small plot next to the Richardson Center; at the former state-owned land along Wise Road; and at Dodge Park 5. However, he said both the Richardson Center location and the one near township hall appear to be too small for a new library. He also said many of the library’s visitors complain about access to the library because they dislike its vicinity to a traffic roundabout at Pontiac Trail and Martin Parkway. But we don’t know if those are anecdotal comments without an actual survey or a township master plan. Meanwhile, deed restrictions and utility easements would make constructing a new library within the Wise Road property difficult or impossible.
Board members loosely agreed on the 106-acre Dodge Park 5 property because it is a central location in the township, and because is is free. The township also owns the property, meaning that it would alleviate the need to spend additional funds to purchase the land. On the other hand, relocating the library to the parkland would reduce open space in the area and clear out some substantial trees, an option that hasn’t yet been discussed with the township’s parks and recreation committee. Free today can prove to be expensive later. Libraries are central destinations in a community, and just shuttling it off to a more remote area of the township may prove ill-advised. By creating a civic center near township hall, with easy access to walking paths, pedestrian walkways, and the amenities such as shopping and possible senior living that will be developed as the DDA is built, shows vision and leadership on the part of Commerce’s staff and boards. The board of trustees was right in May when it agreed to hold off on confirming an official location until additional input from the public is received about the library’s future location. We also strongly believe some kind of a plan must be followed to properly develop the DDA land into a beautiful and functional downtown development that will enhance the lives of Commerce residents for years to come.
Transparency needed for rail shipments
easures going into effect next month to increase the safe transportation of crude oil along the nation’s railways should be considered a means of gathering steam, not a final stop in the push to protect human health and the environment along local rail corridors. The Federal Rail Administration in May issued an emergency order requiring rail carriers to notify each state’s State Emergency Response Commission about certain shipments of crude oil through their states. Additionally, the rail administration established a voluntary agreement with the nation’s rail operators to take other safety measures, including increased safety inspections and lower speed limits for some trains traveling through “high-threat-urban areas.” However, the emergency order and agreement stop short of more meaningful reforms that would protect much of Oakland County’s 1.2 million residents. The current reforms revolve mostly around the shipment of Bakken crude oil being shipped from the highly-productive shale fields of North Dakota. Nationally, shipments of the highly-explosive oil are at an all-time high, with more than 750,000 barrels of the crude being shipped each day. Under the emergency order, only trains carrying more
than a million gallons of Bakken crude, or about 35 tanker cars, fall under the enhanced notification regulation. That notification, which includes estimated volumes being transported, frequency of anticipated train traffic and the transportation route, refers only to the shipment of Bakken crude oil. Speed restrictions, which include Detroit, Sterling Heights, Warren, and a 10-mile buffer from those areas, pertain to trains moving aging DOT111 tank cars, which have a known tendency to release cargo when involved in crashes and derailments. While it’s nice to know our nation’s rail regulators are taking steps to protect what they consider “high-threat-urban areas” and massive, million-barrel shipments of oil, the measures do nothing to enhance the safety of hundreds of thousands of gallons of potentially explosive oil and other hazardous materials through areas inhabited by tens of thousands of potentially unwitting victims in many southeastern Michigan communities. The measures are especially a failure in providing adequate information about other hazardous materials. More importantly, the agreement doesn’t provide local public safety officials with any type of
reliable information on the rail loads passing through their own communities. That necessary knowledge could lead to increased preparedness for them as trains routinely chug through their own and adjacent municipalities. The transparency with local officials is a necessity in order to create a mutual aid relationship in the event of a hazmat situation. And companies with sensitive matter can still provide the information to local public safety officials with the stipulation that it is exempt from public view without a Freedom of Information Act request. Perhaps it’s the rail carriers themselves who sum up where the increased measures fall short: “Safety is a shared responsibility among all energy-supply-chain stakeholders,” American Association of Railroads President Ed Hamberger said regarding the agreement. It is time that the rail industry and the Federal Rail Administration acknowledge their responsibility and share with local public safety officials the information and safety measures they need in order to protect their communities in the unfortunate case of a rail accident. Our safety depends upon it.
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Published on Jun 6, 2014
WESTEND is an upscale newsmagazine mailed each month to 24,000 homes in the Oakland County area of Commerce, Walled Lake, Wolverine Lake and...