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VOL. 142, NO. 12




Check out our video coverage:


Dexter unites after tornado strike By Sean Dalton and Erica McClain Heritage Media


fter a powerful EF3 tornado devastated portions of Dexter Village and Dexter Township, officials and the community at-large are looking forward to rebuilding and moving forward. “It is the material loss that we can survive,” said Ron Gelaude, religious leader at Connexions Church of Christ on Sunday. “We can see this process already beginning.” And a cord of three strands is not easily broken, Gelaude added, quoting Ecclesiastes 4:12. “Those strands represent three things: church, community and the congregation,” Gelaude said. Even just hours after the tornado hit the afternoon of March 15, Village President Shawn Keough was confident the vil-

lage would bounce back. emotions, they’re also readying “This is a special community,” themselves with government he said late that night. “We’ll get tasks. through this.” “We’ve been able to focus on That sentiment is felt all over helping with the property damfrom the Huron Farms subdiviage,” Keough said, adding that sion to he has a Carriage five-page Hills and list of dameverywhere aged or in-between. destroyed “We homes in know the the village. VILLAGE PRESIDENT SHAWN KEOUGH force of “It’s five nature is pages typed strong, but single line the force of Jesus’ love is stron… and in some cases there are ger,” said Father Brendan Walsh homes that look fine on the outof St. Joseph Parish during last side that have drywall damage Sunday’s service. on the inside that aren’t on this Village President Shawn list,” Keough said. “I don’t know Keough reiterated how blessed if we’ll ever truly know.” he felt the community was that Paul Cousins said he is lookhuman casualties weren’t part ing forward to the Council’s next of the situation. meeting, 7:30 p.m. March 26, and While Keough and village offi- discussion to see what was done cials are still dealing with heavy right and what could have been

“This is a special community. We’ll get through this.”

done better. “I think we’ve done pretty well,” Cousins said. “I’m sure there were things that fell through the cracks but most of it has been done really well.” He said that the early warning system that worked so well in the village, didn’t seem to be as effective with the residents in Carriage Hills and other areas around Dexter-Pinckney Road. Cousins said that one of his goals is to introduce a measure on Council to expediently replace trees on village public property and easements that were toppled by the storm. “I’m looking forward to bringing that forth,” Cousins said. “Some of the trees we lost are 60 to 80 years old. If we plant them now they won’t make as much of a difference in my life or my children’s lives, but maybe my PLEASE SEE REBOUND/3-A

Volunteers and help still needed


any groups have stepped forward to help Dexter residents affected by the devastation the tornado

caused. The Dexter Leader has assembled information for those who need assistance or those who would like to give to others or assist in cleanup efforts.

Ways to help: United Way of Washtenaw County has established the Dexter Area Tornado Relief

Fund to assist those affected by the damages with 100 percent of funds collected going directly to help long-term recovery efforts. The fund will provide resources to those needing assistance in the weeks and months ahead. To support these effort, visit www. and click on Dexter Area Tornado Relief Fund. All 15 Busch’s Fresh Food Market locations are asking customers to round up their grocery order total with the difference going to the Dexter Disaster Relief Fund through the Salvation Army.

LaFontaine Automotive Group and Chelsea State Bank have established the Dexter Relief Fund as well. To donate food, water or supplies, bring them to LaFontaine Chevrolet, 7120 Dexter-Ann Arbor Road in Dexter, which is just south of the Huron Farm subdivision. To donate money by credit card to the fun, call any locations directly, LaFontaine Chevrolet, 734-426-4677, and LaFontaine Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, 734429-9431. Lake Trust Credit Union is collecting funds to support

relief efforts of The American Red Cross, Washtenaw-Lenawee Chapter at all of 21 branch locations, in addition to making a $2,500 corporate donation March 17. “This really hits close to home, as we have many members and staff who we see every day and know well, who live in this community,” said Danielle Brehmer, vice president of Marketing at Lake Trust. “Our main concern is to reach out and help in whatever way we

• New volunteer hub at Creekside • Mounted deputies ride to the rescue • Families regroup at Wylie Community Pool • Officials talk about the tornado that hit Dexter • Tornado in Dexter • Dexter-Pinckney Road damage scene • Dexter-Pinckney Road still off limits • Huron Farms resident talks about tornado • Weather wrecks Central Street properties • Tornado strikes Dexter • Cars turned around at village entrance

In their own words:

“I looked that way and saw the entire top of a house missing and I thought, we’re those people on the news.” Courtney Johnston Huron Farms resident

“My son asked me, ‘Does God create the weather?’ and ‘Why does God create tornadoes?’” Roger Wondrash Huron Farms resident

“When I got into disaster services, it never occurred to me that I would be doing this in my home town.” Christy Harvey American Red Cross

“It’s kind of a wake-up call that this can happen anywhere at any time.” Brad Barbara Resident

Check out all our online coverage: Scan this QR code with your smartphone to see all of our coverage online.

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grandchildren’s lives.” Village officials all echoed the desire to get back to where things were on March 14 – before the tornadoes forced a new chapter in the Dexter village history books. This week DTE crews restored power to affected areas of Dexter Township on Dexter-Pinckney Road, but Township Supervisor Pat Kelly is urging residents to refrain from pulling debris from yards to roads and road right-ofways. The township is working on a plan to aid residents in removing debris, but that must wait until the Washtenaw County Road Commission is finished with its work in the area. Starting Monday, Carriage Hills residents began receiving assistance with debris removal, while county government manages bringing Dumpsters in and out of the area. Still, many questions are in the process of being answered, such as the cost in overtime to the village for department of public works employees who put in extensive overtime to clear streets and sewer drains. Other questions involve what to do with the continuing flow of volunteers that are contacting the village offices as a starting point for their efforts. “Residents and volunteers were good at bringing things to the curb for us to pick up,” said Village Manager Donna Dettling. After 8 p.m., village employees Dan Schlaff and Kurt Augustine were out with their four- and threeman crews, respectively, aided by seven Chelsea DPW employee volunteers the first few days after the storm doing as much as they could after dark when activity was relatively settled. That effort alone filled a dozen Waste Management Dumpsters, with another dozen expected to be picked up now that they too are full possibly by mid-week. Where to keep those Dumpsters going forward is another concern that Council will have to discuss. “We rushed to get the cleanup done as quickly as possible so things can look normal again,” Dettling said. Another concern was getting glass off streets and out of village easements, so those village staff costs were well spent, in Dettling’s opinion. It’s currently unclear how the Dexter Area Fire Department will tally the costs or who will be charged, as the area fire service typically bills based on an address applied to a service call. In this case, Dexter fire department crews were out on general emergency duty. It’s also unclear whether or not Waste Management, which brought the Dumpster service to the village unsolicited, will ultimately bill anyone. Village officials have been moving them around, first to the parking lot of the Blackhawk Development strip mall and then to a cordoned off road in the Bishop Industrial Park. “We’d certainly like to

Heritage Media has the Internet covered



Starting Monday, Carriage Hills residents began receiving assistance with debris removal, while county government manages bringing Dumpsters in and out of the area. keep them around … there are so many (parcels of public property) where someone has been taking care of it even though it’s not (their responsibility,)” Dettling said. One important achievement of village employees was clearing debris from storm drains to stop street flooding early on. Another water problem involved the heavy rainfall Thursday evening overwhelming the Dexter Wastewater Treatment Plant’s infiltration system, which rainwater bypass in favor of an equalization basin as a failsafe.

A public official had erroneously attributed the infiltration system stoppage to a loss of power, which Dettling clarified by pointing to the fact that the



d PAGE 3-A

village has generators that kick in when power is lost to critical infrastructure. Those who have been calling the village offices and either getting Dettling, Courtney Nicholls or Allison Bishop at odd hours and on weekends, or a courtesy diversion to the fire department should expect the village office operations to return to normal later this week. “Even today we’re still fielding calls from people who have needs or who want to get involved in the cleanup effort … it was




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The Village Conference Center’s th 10 Annual Easter & Mother’s Day Brunch

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Panko Chicken with Artichoke, Asparagus & Tomatoes Sliced Sirloin with Peppercorn Sauce Shrimp Creole Boursin Whip Potatoes Pasta Primavera

Assorted Desserts Coffee, Iced Tea & Lemonade

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County Sheriff ’s Office and the Michigan State Police have pledged not to bill the village for the emergency response. Village and township residents who need further assistance are urged to call the village at 734-426-8303 or Dexter Township at 734426-3767.

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tough up to a point making sure that they were going to be safe,” Dettling said. At this point the village is diverting volunteers to the American Red Cross at Creekside Intermediate or one of the various religious organizations in town. Dettling said she was pleased that the Washtenaw

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Dexter Area Chamber Of Commerce

WALK TO DONATE! IT’S THAT EASY:) This is a special Wellness Walk - not only is it time to get moving with your community, but the ChelseaArea Wellness Foundation is going to donate $20 to the Dexter Relief Fund for each adult walker who completes the walk on Saturday! This is an opportunity for anyone who hasn’t been sure how to support our friends in Dexter. Plus you’ll get to see a great, newly completed path along the creek, connect with others in a healthy way & get some exercise. Please, join us Saturday, March 24th, at 10am for our 2nd DEXTER WELLNESS WALK! Meet up at the Dexter Public Library and pick your local route. There are 2 different routes (2 and 3 miles...links on the left!) to choose from depending on how far you want to walk. Bring friends and family - pets welcome! The Village will also be dedicating the new bridge and Probility Physical Therapy will be there to help everyone stretch out! Call The Dexter Chamber if you have any questions! 734-426-0887

P.O. Box 478, Dexter, MI 48130 734-426-0887

Dexter unites after tornado strike  

Lead story of Dexter tornado coverage on front page of following issue.

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