The 'Ville - April 2020

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April 2020 | Vol.3 | Issue 4

Northville’s News and Lifestyle Magazine

Behind Closed Doors

Northville tries to stay positive while facing international crisis

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LOCAL MATTERS! Please send checks, cash or lucky charms to: Journeyman Publishing 16435 Franklin Northville, MI 48168 Thank you!


APRIL 2020

16435 Franklin, Northville, MI 48168 • 734.716.0783 •

KURT KUBAN – Editor/Publisher

Kurt Kuban is an award-winning journalist, having served as a reporter and editor for several local newspapers and magazines, including The Northville Record, over the course of a career spanning more than two decades. Kurt lives in Northville with his wife, Cheryl, and their three children, who all attend Northville Public Schools.

CRAIG WHEELER – Creative Director

Craig has been in the creative industry for over 25 years. He has developed a diverse background in that time, but publication design has been his passion during the past 16 years. Craig enjoys cycling, running, wine tasting, his beloved Boston Terrier and an unhealthy addiction to movies.


Michele Fecht is a longtime journalist whose first post-college reporter position was at The Northville Record before moving on to The Detroit News. A 30-plus year resident of the City of Northville and historic (old) house owner, she is an author, researcher, local history enthusiast, and community activist/advocate.


Publisher Here is a list of people who contributed to local journalism last month. We appreciate your support! Doug and LaVonne Baker Elizabeth’s Bridal Manor Joyce and John Folino Roy and Perla Forbes


Richard Henningsen Alan and Judy Somershoe John and Janet Wiktor

Over the course of his four decades with the Observer & Eccentric Newspapers, Brad established himself as one of the preeminent prep sports reporters in the state, winning many journalism awards along the way. His greatest joy is interviewing local athletes and coaches, and reporting on their efforts.


Wensdy graduated with a degree in journalism from Wayne State University. Her first job was working as a reporter for The Northville Record. Now, as a freelance writer and editor, she works for a variety of magazines, and is excited to get back to her roots in The ‘Ville. -Photo by Kathleen Voss


Lonnie graduated from EMU with a degree in creative writing. He is a longtime newspaper reporter, including two stints with The Northville Record. He is now a freelance reporter for a number of publications, including The Sun Times News in Dexter, where he lives with his wife and two young children. He is glad to be back covering the Northville community.

BRYAN MITCHELL - Photographer

Bryan started working as a photographer more than 30 years ago, and was the Northville Record photographer in the 90's. He has freelanced for The Detroit News, The Guardian, Reuters, and other publications. His photography has appeared in newspapers and magazines around the globe. The Northville resident also coaches mountain biking at Northville High School.

JENNY PEARSALL – Graphic Designer

Jenny has been in the design and print industry for more than 20 years, holding various positions in graphic design, large format and trade show graphics, print buying, production and print management. One of her favorite memories is working for Colorquik Graphix in the historic Water Wheel building in downtown Northville.

The ‘Ville is a product of Journeyman Publishing, which assumes no liability or responsibility for any inaccurate, delayed or incomplete information. Any form of reproduction of any content in this publication without the written permission of the publisher is strictly prohibited. Comments are welcome at

A View From The ‘Ville

Surviving An Unprecedented Crisis I wanted to use this space to write about Johnson Creek, one of our community’s most underutilized natural resources, which winds through Northville before emptying into the Rouge River in Hines Park. It is the last remaining cold water stream in Wayne County, and supports a nice population of trout. In fact, Fish Hatchery Park, which Johnson Creek flows through, got its name because it was the site of a national fish hatchery that reared a variety of trout for more than a half century. Michele Fecht’s Past Tense column this month focuses on that history (See Page 14). The good news is the park (located on Seven Mile between Rogers and Clement) is getting a big makeover that will benefit both Johnson Creek and a spring-fed pond in the park. Work is supposed to begin this summer. Unfortunately, this story – like everything else these days

– is taking a backseat to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit our world like a comet from outer space. It has closed schools, shut down public spaces and has already devastated many businesses in our community. Despite all of the political fallout, I would rather concentrate on getting through this … together. It’s time to circle the wagons, because one thing that is certain is this virus doesn’t care about your politics. We are all being impacted one way or another. I’m writing this as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is announcing the closure of our schools for the remainder of the academic year. There will most likely be some kind of learning this year for our kids, but as Gov. Whitmer said, it’s “going to look different” for different districts. By the time you read this, Northville Schools officials will have communicated what that means for us. I feel particularly terrible for our high school

seniors who are missing out on cherished traditions, like prom and their final sports seasons. In this issue, we have The Stiteler family (Brienne, Cohen, Emery and step-dad done our best Craig Warden) display their message for the world while stuck to cover the in their Northville home. Photo by Bryan Mitchell impact this crisis has had on our community. our magazine, I ask that you But things are moving quickly, consider making a donation – if and may have already changed. you are in a position to do so. We are planning to follow up in While many publications have our May issue to explain what suspended operations as this this all means for Northville. crisis rages, I’d like to continue to In the meantime, we implore bring you important local stories you to support local businesses but I need your help. as much as you can, particularly Hopefully, soon we’ll be able the restaurants and stores that to go back to concentrating on have remained open. It is very things like Johnson Creek. possible some won’t make it through this. Kurt Kuban is editor and The ‘Ville is not immune. We publisher of The ‘Ville. He have already lost advertising welcomes your feedback at revenue, and I suspect that trend kurtkuban@thevillemagazine. will continue in the coming com. month(s). If you enjoy reading

Your Voice: Letters to the Editor 4 Businesses grapple with COVID-19 uncertainty 6 Local governments try to adjust to new realities 10

Brides Rule at Elizabeth's


22 32 Infectious Positivity

Undefeated Season Suspended

ON THE COVER: Silver Springs Elementary teacher Mary Ellies has been communicating with her students online while working from home. Photo by Bryan Mitchell

Past Tense: Northville park’s fishy history


Sports Recap: Plenty of outstanding performances 26 It’s Your Business: BurgerFi 34 Dishin’ With Denise 38

Your Voice Show second-run movies

300 Feet





The coronavirus crisis is reinforcing my strong belief that our public schools are the true Statue of Liberty of this great country of ours. Our teachers and support staff are the torch lighting the way for us all. It is vitally important during these crisis times that our young people understand we are all working together to keep them safe. Thanks for all you are doing for our kids! Tom Watkins

4 The ‘Ville






Cady Street / Cadytown




South Center Street

Fine job

Keeping our youth safe





I couldn’t agree more with the letter “Let us live in peace” that ran in the March issue. It seems there’s more interest in generating profit than there is in protecting the precious gem that we already have in our little historic village. Don’t we owe it to all Northville residents – past, present and future – to respect and preserve it? Let’s stop trying to “fix what ain’t broke.” Susan and Bill Carbott

I am a resident of St. Lawrence Estates, and have lived in the Northville area for many years. I am very familiar with Northville’s uniqueness, it’s traffic patterns, commercial commerce, retail, dining, entertainment – and its growing pains. Here are some of my ideas and opinions for the existing racetrack master plan. Construct a center lane on Center Street at the intersection of Center Street and Seven Mile. • Run Hutton, Church and Griswold streets to 7 Mile. • Run Beal and Fairbrook streets to connect Center and River streets. • Possibly create a round-a-bout on 7 Mile. • Keep all commercial and high density living north of Beal Street. • Create parkland near 7 Mile. • Keep everything else “single family homes” only and keep it consistent with the existing single family home neighborhoods that surround it. I feel this best represents the City of Northville. Northville is unique, because it is not a high density city. It’s why people are drawn to our city in the first place — for its charm, beautiful neighborhoods and livability. Linda A. Wilke CHURCH ST

Don’t fix what ain’t broke

Master plan ideas ST S CENTER

I think the natural re-use of the Marquis Theatre is as a movie house, with second-run movies priced at $2 like the Farmington Civic. It could be open Friday-Sunday at night and SaturdaySunday matinees. It would give people a reason to come downtown and could be a boost for the restaurants. You could kick off the series by adding a movie host and a trivia contest, probably about that film. Prizes could be as simple as free refreshments at the candy counter, or perhaps a dinner at a local restaurant. This would still allow room to do the children’s plays. Another thought. They could run films like “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Miracle on 34th Street” around Christmas, perhaps for free. Great magazine! Jim Morche

Thank you to The ‘Ville staff for sending your outstanding magazine to all Northville residents each month. We appreciate all the work of your writers, photographers, designers, and creative director. A fine job every month! Alan and Judy Somershoe

Timely publication

My wife and I read The ‘Ville monthly and enjoy the varied range of coverage, especially the articles that pertain to civic issues such as plans for current and future projects related to the Northville school system. We think your idea for the publication was very timely and much needed. We look forward to reading The ‘Ville for many years to come. Doug Baker

Please submit your letters by emailing Editor Kurt Kuban at Letters must be 150 words or less. We reserve the right to edit all letters.

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‘We’ll Make It’ Northville business community grapples with COVID-19 uncertainty Story by Jonathan Shead | Photos by Bryan Mitchell


leak. Dismal. Deserted. These words are typically used to describe a post-war torn town, but these days in the wake of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 — which had grown to nearly 5,500 cases and 132 deaths in Michigan as of March 30 — they can be used to describe once thriving downtowns like Northville.

The mass retreat to the indoors, prompted by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, has led many Northville businesses to cope with pivoting their operations or having to temporarily close altogether. “It’s a hard time for businesses right now. Even those that are getting access to the market have to make

those difficult decisions to possibly close,” said Northville Downtown Development Authority Director Lori Ward. Northville Chamber of Commerce Director Jody Humphries said restaurants and bars are the worst hit industry in town upon Gov. Whitmer’s initial executive order 2020-9 on March 16, which closed theaters, bars, casinos and other places of public accommodation, and limited restaurants to carry-out or delivery only. With more than 400 Chamber businesses in the township and city, many of them small businesses, most all of them now are facing hurdles in some way, even the Chamber as a nonprofit itself. FIGHTING FOR SURVIVAL Jim Roth owns both Good Time Party Store, which has remained open, and the Custard

6 The ‘Ville

Time ice cream parlor, which has postponed its seasonal opening. Roth said he had to get rid of 250 gallons of soft serve ice cream he bought for the slated March opening. Still, he remains optimistic in the face of this unprecedented crisis. “It’s really sad. None of us have really gone through something like this. It’s very unfortunate,” said Roth, “but we will succeed. We will keep going. Whatever it takes for us to make it, we’ll make it.” Face-to-face interactions may be minimal these days, but businesses are turning to technology to fill in the gaps. North Center Brewing Co. owner Kevin DeGrood is ramping up online marketing delivery more and taking the extra time to “level up” his staff and his website to be optimized for the current challenges. The brewery’s first week under the pandemic still brought in

roughly 55% of the normal revenue, DeGrood said, but getting people to come out has been like “trying to squeeze blood out of a rock.” Despite having to lay off all of his part-time staff, DeGrood believes there is some good to come out of this. “At a minimum, the silver lining is going to be that these systems we’re putting in place, there’s no reason they should go away when COVID-19 goes away,” he said. “Additional cleaning procedures, our online ordering system, our leveled up website, those are all things that make us better. I always use the phrase, ‘survival inspires innovation.’ We’ve found several ways to keep things going and there are a lot of ideas that will carry after this is all over.” Lindsey Casterline, owner of Casterline Funeral Homes,

said she’s turned to Facebook Live and webcasting to still provide her clients with a funeral service that can include the whole family while also practicing social distancing. Traditional viewings are still allowed, though now with a maximum capacity of 10 people in the funeral home at a time, which has inadvertently led people to forego holding a funeral service for their loved one until the bans on social gatherings are lifted. “In our industry, that’s definitely going to affect the healing process — how long it takes and how difficult it’s going to be,” Casterline said. “Not only are they dealing with the grief of the coronavirus, they’re dealing with the loss of a loved one. It’s double impacting their lives. It’s horrible actually.” Casterline said she’s reminding families that there

are other options outside of a traditional funeral. Families can hold a private viewing for immediate family now, and then host a celebration of life ceremony at one of Northville’s restaurants after the social gathering bans are lifted. HELP FOR BUSINESSES Northville business owners aren’t alone in the fight to keep their establishments afloat. The Northville Chamber of Commerce and DDA have stepped in to help the business community, especially disseminating information as news, updates, and new programs or funding sources are funneled down the pipeline from federal to state to local governments. “We’re encouraging them now that things are starting to play themselves out to get a plan, because certainly for

our small businesses, there are going to be options for them,” said Humphries. “We don’t want anybody to feel bad about it either. We’re looking at multi-million or billion dollar industries, such as airlines, that need it, so for small businesses there’s nothing bad about that.” The DDA has put together a list of businesses still open and is helping them promote their online orders and special gift certificates via social media and to subscribers of DDA News, which consists of about 2,500 members. Northville Mayor Brian Turnbull is chipping in to help. Each week, once a week, he has been giving out 10 $25 gift certificates to people who are getting carry-out orders and supporting businesses to encourage them to continue doing so. At North Center Brewing Co., a GoFundMe drive that will be distributed to all their part-time staff affected by the layoffs, had already reached $3,000 by the end of March. DeGrood said the company plans to match 10% of the final fundraising total. ADJUSTING ON THE FLY The COVID-19 outbreak has forced local business owners to make some gut-wrenching decisions. Ward said she’s already heard of one downtown business that will not reopen after COVID-19 blows over, because the company’s supply chain, which came from China predominantly, has since dried up. She couldn’t comment on which store it was. But it’s not all doom and gloom, she said. “We’re getting some positive anecdotal stories as well,” she Business continued on page 8

The ‘Ville 7

Time is ready to open once the COVID-19 restrictions are over. For DeGrood, who’s brewery was in the midst of expansion plans to a new building in Northville, the worry isn’t whether his brewery will survive but if those plans and funds to expand will. “I’m confident our business will be OK coming out on the other side of it. It’s just a matter of where we’re going to be serving our beer. That’s going to be the big question,” he said. The little libraries around town have been converted COVID-19 into temporary mini food pantries for folks who may related need help during the crisis. updates weather this storm for a couple for Northville community months and still be able to open businesses can be found on the again eventually. Chamber’s website at www. Casterline echoed the same or the DDA for her funeral home, saying website at downtownnorthville. she’s “used to having ebbs and com.


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said. “We’re hopeful that those projects continue to move forward, but we do know there are going to be those that this impacts severely enough that they’re not going to make it through.” Derek Blair, who recently purchased Northville Gallery on Main Street, has opted to close temporarily. However, the crisis has provided him the opportunity to make his online retail options more of a priority. Blair said the gallery is on good enough financial footing to be able to

flows of money coming in.” Roth said Good Time Party Store, despite losing about half of its average patrons, isn’t in jeopardy of closing and Custard



Business Continued from page 7

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Brynn Bartel, 9, of Northville is seen through a window as she gets homework help Mary Ellies, a first grade teacher at Silver Springs Elementary, is working from home from her dad Kurt Bartel at home during the COVID-19 pandemic on March 27. "I connecting with students who are at home while schools are closed. "I miss my kiddos," miss seeing my friends but I love having a lot of free time to create and design things," said Ellies, who said she misses talking with them and their good morning hugs. said the Amerman 3rd grader.

Extraordinary Times, Extraordinary Measures

Local governments try to adjust to new realities during COVID-19 pandemic Story by Lonnie Huhman | Photos by Bryan Mitchell


n evolving situation that grew more serious each day. That’s how many, especially local government and schools decision makers, described the first weeks of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak hitting southeastern Michigan. Around mid-March, the local schools and government started adjusting their daily operations as the coronavirus began having its impact. They started holding meetings remotely through phone or computer, canceling events and closing the doors. However, because important things like public safety, services and education need to carry on in some capacity these organizations still had a job to do. “We’re surviving like everyone else,” Northville

10 The ‘Ville

Township Supervisor Robert Nix said on March 26. By that time, the township had adjusted its operations in response to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer giving the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order. Nix commended the employees and staff of the township for all chipping in to do what they could to help the township continue its mission providing services to the community. Each day in the first week or so new orders came down directing municipalities and schools to take certain actions in effort to protect public health and safety. All the while they were working on continuing to deliver on their core missions. It was on March 16 that the City of Northville decided to close City Hall to the public,

as it was still providing most services. The next day it cancelled all public meetings for the rest of the month. Parks and Rec programs, as well as the Community Center were also shut down. “In less than a week, we went from no gatherings of 250 or more, to 100 to 50 to 10,” City Manager Pat Sullivan said on March 17. “If this just goes into April, we’ll probably be fine, if it goes beyond that, we’ll have to figure out a way to conduct the public’s business without creating a health risk.” Calling it a new experience for everyone, Northville Public Schools Board of Education President Matt Wilk said each day things were evolving and the schools were doing their best while shifting a lot of plans. In a March 20 letter

to the NPS community, superintendent Mary Kay Gallagher thanked everyone for their patience and support, “as we continue to navigate unprecedented times and an evolving public health matter that has brought about significant change and a great deal of uncertainty in a matter of days.” “Parents were thrust into trying to navigate learning with their children while also managing their own jobs, and our students lost their daily connection to their peers, their teachers, their classroom communities,” Gallagher said. “Our teachers and staff likewise are mourning this loss – while all of us grapple with the worry of COVID-19.” Although there was a lot of wait and see moments, each

organization still sprang into action to respond. Among their many important functions, both the city and township emphasized service by police, fire, advanced life support staff and first responders would continue without interruption. “These are indeed extraordinary times and communication is a top priority for all of us,” Mayor Brian Turnbull said in his update to the community. “First, I want to thank our hardworking men and women in the Northville community on the front lines of this COVID-19 battle, with all of its evolving situations (public safety, medical professionals, essential services and those assisting the community).” In the school district, there were also a range of things

its decision makers had to respond to. From students’ daily education to activities, testing and providing different resources, NPS worked to get the word out to parents and the rest of the community through timely updates on what it was doing in response. It was on March 23 that students and families received a more detailed communication on the NPS Home Learning Support Framework, which included details on what they and their child could expect to see from NPS staff, what they were hoping their students would do, and what parents could do to support this framework. “The plan includes a weekly communication of a learning plan that provides reinforcement and enrichment

opportunities,” Gallagher said. This is just one part of the response by the schools, and again for them and others it was a daily task of adjustment and communication. Things were challenging, to say the least. However, one overriding motivation during these first weeks in Northville was to stay positive and carry on the best one could while also remembering the health and safety of the greater community. Turnbull summed it up best. “I’m committed to ensuring that no one in the greater Northville community gets left behind,” he said. “Northville is strong because of every one of you working together to keep our community safe.”

Juliana Bartel, 11, of Northville works on schoolwork at home on March 27. "I can do my schoolwork in my pajamas, but I miss being able to talk to my friends in person," said the Amerman 5th grader.

*EDITOR’S NOTE: As we are preparing to go to press, we are awaiting word from Governor Whitmer that schools will not reopen for the remainder of this school year. We will update our readers what that means in our May issue.

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Fish Tales

Northville’s hatchery site was a national leader rearing trout By Michele Fecht


ecent news of grant funds awarded for the Johnson Creek-Fish Hatchery Park Habitat Restoration project (see accompanying story) offers an opportune time to look back at what once was one of Northville’s most prominent industries. And what better time to talk fish than with the opening of Michigan trout season this month. Anglers, grab your rods and reels! Northville’s Fish Hatchery Park on Seven Mile Road is named for the longtime fish hatchery established in 1874 by Nelson W. Clark, a prominent fish breeder from Clarkston. The Village of Clarkston is named for Nelson and his brother, Jeremiah, early settlers of the village and among its most influential citizens. Clark, already overseeing fish propagation efforts in Clarkston, decided to leave his

hometown to establish a fish hatchery on 15 acres in Northville on a spring water supply tributary to the Middle Branch of the Rouge River. Clark was among the early proponents of fish propagation, Strolling around the the ponds at Northville Fish Hatchery, circa 1897. (Photo courtesy of Troy Schmidt) following a growing national interest in artificial Assistant Secretary of the constructed a hatchery on the propagation of trout and other Smithsonian Institution and a site, and would patent several fish species. In 1871, President renowned naturalist, as head fish containers and tanks that Ulysses S. Grant signed the of the new agency. The first would continue to be used resolution establishing the fish hatchery in the National throughout the industry well U.S. Fish Commission, and Fish Hatchery System was into the 20th century. appointed Spencer Fullerton established in 1872 on the On April 17, 1876, just two Baird, then McCloud River in California. years after establishing his It would later be named the Northville enterprise, Nelson Baird Hatchery. Clark died of dropsy (today known as edema), leaving TAKING SHAPE his son, Frank, to take over The enterprising management of the fishery Nelson Clark — along operation. with his brother — built a Under Frank Clark’s sawmill, gristmill, school management, the Northville and fish hatchery in station would grow into one Clarkston. He brought of the finest fish hatcheries the same innovation to in the Great Lakes region and Northville. In addition gain national prominence. By to constructing a 1880, the federal government series of ponds and leased the buildings and made raceways on the acreage Clark superintendent. He also formerly owned by oversaw substations in Detroit card. tification the Cold Springs Cream and and Alpena. en id e ye lo r's emp liam Thaye Butter Company, Clark also ndent Wil


14 The ‘Ville

THRIVING ENTERPRISE A History of Detroit and Wayne County and Early Michigan, published in 1890 by Silas Farmer, detailed the scope of Northville’s fish hatchery operation at that time. Farmer noted the hatchery “is located on grounds that contain innumerable springs of the purest water, the two principal ones furnishing about 375 gallons per minute. In winter, these springs are utilized for the hatchery alone, supplying about 30,000 barrels per day.” The grounds contained “two large buildings, one used for packing, the other a hatching house ... containing fifteen feeding tanks or nurseries. Outside are thirteen ponds

Workers check thousands of fish eggs inside the hatchery laboratory.

so divided as to be made into twenty, if needed.” In the winter of 1889-90, the hatchery contained eggs of 2.1 million lake trout,

207,000 brook trout, 120,000 Loch Leven trout, and 57,500 rainbow trout. Shipments were made to various parts of the United States, England, France,

Germany, South America, New Zealand, and other locations across the globe. In 1896, the federal government erected a new fish hatchery building and a superintendent’s residence at its Northville facility. Transport from the nation’s hatcheries was primarily by railroad for domestic shipments and by ship for international orders. The growth in the fish hatchery industry brought about the “Fish Car Era,” with federally raised fish traveling first class in railroad cars along with their attendants. The advent of the truck made delivery more efficient and cost Fish Tales continued on page 16

City lands grant to restore Fish Hatchery Park, Johnson Creek


fforts to restore the only remaining cold-water fishery in the Rouge River watershed have received a substantial boost with $885,915 in grant money awarded to the Johnson Creek – Fish Hatchery Park Habitat Restoration design and implementation project. The Alliance of Rouge Communities (ARC) received the grant funding in February from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative through the U.S. Environmental The city will install a vegetative swale to filter stormwater Protection from the parking lot before entering the pond. Agency. Key initiatives of the restoration include: • Naturalize and stabilize 1,050 feet of Johnson Creek stream bank for improved wildlife habitat • Remove 2,000 cubic yards of sediment in Fish Hatchery Pond to create deeper water for fish habitat • Modify the outlet of the pond to create a fish passage channel between the pond and the creek • Install vegetative swale to filter stormwater from the parking lot before entering the pond

In addition to the key improvements, the project also includes planting more than 250 native trees and more than 300 native bushes. “This is going to have a tremendous impact on Fish Hatchery Park,” said Mark Gasche, Northville Parks and Recreation director, adding that the park is a key access point to Johnson Creek. Requests for proposals were expected to go out last month with bids due back by April 22. The bid opening is expected to take place by the end of the month and then go to Northville City Council More than 1,000 feet of Johnson Creek streambed will be for approval. naturalized, and sediment will be removed from the pond. If all goes as planned, construction is scheduled to begin in mid-June with the project completed by year’s end. ARC will administer the grant on behalf of the city. Consultant for the project is Environmental Technology & Consultants, Inc. of Ann Arbor. Before its purchase by the City of Northville in 1968 for recreational use, Fish Hatchery Park was the one of the most prominent federal fish hatcheries in the Great Lakes region. By Michelle Fecht

The ‘Ville 15

Fish Tales Continued from page 15

END DRAWS NEAR At the time of Widmyer’s retirement, the Northville effective. Air travel also played Fish Hatchery supplied the a role in the delivery. One of the state annually with about first successful air transports 25,000 legal trout, the majority was made in 1928, when 27,000 deposited in02 Wayne, Oakland 0 APRIL 30,2 THROUGHand brook and rainbow trout were Washtenaw counties. transported by airplane from Legal trout were seven inches Northville to Dayton, Ohio, long. Smaller trout were sent without a single loss. to other parts of Michigan, Frank Clark, who would Ohio, Kentucky and Illinois. serve as president of the Hatching and rearing of sport National Fisheries Association, fishes stopped in 1957, and continued as Northville the Northville station was converted into a research laboratory. Among those working as a researcher in 1955 until the Northville Loch Leven trout were among the various species of trout bred station’s at the hatchery in its heyday. closing was superintendent until his death Louella E. Cable, the first in 1910 when he suffered a female scientist employed by fatal heart attack while riding the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries (it on the interurban (electric would not become the U.S. Fish streetcar). William W. Thayer, & Wildlife Service until 1940) one of the community’s in 1927. most prominent residents By 1964, with only three and a grandson of Northville remaining employees, the pioneer Rufus Thayer, took fisheries’ regional office over as superintendent upon informed the City of Northville Clark’s death. A renowned fish of its intention to close the fish culturist, Thayer served in that hatchery. In early 1968 the City capacity for 20 years. of Northville purchased the Following Thayer’s death in 13-acre site on the south side 1930, F.L. Snipes was named of Seven Mile for $16,375, half superintendent followed by E.R. its appraised value, with the Widmyer in 1933. Widmyer, intention of using the acreage who retired in 1955, was the for recreational purposes. The longest serving superintendent hatchery building on the two of the Northville station; his acres north of Seven Mile, left work for the Bureau of Fisheries empty after it was vacated by spanned 45 years. He was not the fisheries’ regional office, replaced as the government was a target for vandals and began slowly shuttering its eventually demolished by Northville operation. area fire departments. The superintendent’s cottage is the only structure remaining. It is a private residence today.


16 The ‘Ville


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Where Brides Rule Elizabeth’s Bridal Manor celebrates 30 years


ver three decades in the bridal gown business, Elizabeth Clancy has seen styles come and go. When she first started in the ’80s, brides wanted high necks, poufy sleeves, ornate beadwork and long trains. “Like Princess Di,” says Clancy, who celebrates the 30th anniversary of Elizabeth’s Bridal Manor this year. “Everybody ordered bright white headpieces that had big poufs, which balanced out the

18 The ‘Ville

volume of the gowns. It was fun.” Strappy dresses popular in the ’90s evolved to strapless in the ’00s, while blinding white gave way to soft ivory, nude, champagne and blush. Today, anything goes. “Brides rule,” Clancy says. “These days there are no set rules. They can do whatever they want.” Some modern brides seek a glamorous vibe — fitted sheaths with sleek plunging

necklines. Others want light, airy A-lines for destination beach weddings. Other popular choices are lace over nude lining, or simple gowns free from embellishment, timeless and chic. Ball gowns remain in demand. “Some brides will always want that princess look,” Clancy says. One trend Elizabeth is glad to embrace is body positivity. “The average size today is 14 to 16 as opposed to size 8 to 10

By Wensdy Von Buskirk

thirty years ago, but I’m really happy to see how much more comfortable brides are with their body images,” Clancy said. “I see fewer and fewer criticizing themselves. They are proud of their curves and really want to show them.” FALLING FOR FROCKS As Clancy tells it, she stumbled into the bridal business. She was waitressing at the former Plymouth Hilton when a group of guests clad in

evening gowns and tuxedos sat at one of her tables. “It turned out they were putting on a bridal show and sample sale and they needed help,” she said. “I volunteered. They told me to come at 9 a.m. the next day. I thought I was going for an interview.” Instead, they put her to work, and she ended up working shows in Metro Detroit as well as Chicago and Minneapolis. “I got the bug,” she said. “I decided to do it on my own out of my condo. I got dresses and set up a little salon in my guest room.” Clancy ordered wholesale and sold on consignment. A bridal store in Birmingham offered her a slew of high-end

condo, she and her partner, the late Alan Brown, leased a home in Northville, at 402 South Main Street, on the outskirts of downtown. They renovated and rezoned, eventually purchasing the building in 1993. “We’re still here, 30 years later,” she says. Annie Laurain (left) who purchased her gown from Elizabeth’s bridal manor in 2011. Rachelle Fanelli (right, owner of Sunny J’s lingerie shop in Plymouth) purchased her gown from Elizabeth’s Bridal Manor in 1992, and her daughter Gracie Fanelli (center) will become another bride from Elizabeth’s Bridal Manor in 2020. Submitted.

dresses at $50 apiece. “I took them all, about 20 nice dresses, and I made a really nice profit.” When Clancy outgrew her

Elizabeth Clancy opened Elizabeth’s Bridal Manor in 1990.

HOME SWEET HOME Elizabeth’s Bridal Manor has become a charming landmark on South Main with its fieldstone porch and pink shutters. The Northville Beautification Committee awarded Elizabeth’s ‘most improved property in Northville’ its first year in business, and has recognized the shop annually for its gardens and landscaping ever since. Inside, Elizabeth’s is a palace of gilt fixtures, lavish draperies, and, of course, beautiful dresses, headpieces and jewelry on display. Clancy, with her sharp dark bob, petite frame and impeccable style, has seen not only wedding trends, but business climates come and go. She has weathered the Great Recession, and is now dealing with COVID-19. “Thirty years ago, I could never have imagined this epidemic. I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone,” she says. How does she stay sane through it all? “Who says I’m sane?” she quips. “You have to have a passion and enjoy what you do. You have to have integrity and a sense of humor. We laugh a lot with our customers and with each other.” Everyone who enters takes their shoes off at the door, which keeps the plush ivory Brides continued on page 20


Fifteen years ago, I had a true Northville wedding. I met my husband, Jeff Von Buskirk, an artist known for painting the giant 9/11 memorial flag mural on the back of the Marquis Theatre, while I was a reporter at the Northville Record, and he was living in a second-story apartment on Main Street. We got married at Mill Race Village, and rode a horse-drawn carriage to our reception at Genitti’s. After that, we walked across the street for a nightcap at Poole’s Tavern, where we had met each other years before. After interviewing Elizabeth Clancy, owner of Elizabeth’s Bridal Manor in Northville, I realized that I wasn’t the only one. She says you can plan your whole wedding without ever leaving downtown Northville. After 30 years doing business downtown, here are her picks: DRESS Elizabeth’s Bridal (of course!) FLOWERS & INVITATIONS Adorn REHEARSAL DINNER Tirami Su CHURCH Our Lady of Victory or Presbyterian Church of Northville RECEPTION & BRIDAL SHOWER Genitti’s Hole-in-the-Wall CATERING Edward’s Cafe By Wensdy Von Buskirk

The ‘Ville 19

Brides Continued from page 19

of February, featuring their wedding photo on an easel, she in a tea length dress, he in a tux. carpet clean and creates a For her 30th anniversary relaxed, intimate vibe. Clancy party, held on Feb. 9th, former goes over and employees above to make from as far as brides and Ohio came in their friends to celebrate. and family as She created comfortable a gallery of as possible. photos on the Clancy French doors says she is on going back in her second time. generation When of customers asked about as brides her best she fitted for memories their wedding from the last Julie Silber Musch (center) was one the dresses bring 30 years, first brides to purchase a gown from their grown Clancy Elizabeth's in 1990. Three decades later, her daughter Sara also purchased daughters doesn’t her wedding gown from Elizabeth. back to shop. hesitate. She Submitted. “It’s an had occasion honor and privilege to make to grant the dying wish of two their dreams come true, to local moms, who wanted to make that as seamless and witness their daughters trying smooth as possible. We do that on wedding dresses. and we do it well and that’s why we’ve survived,” she says. Clancy inspects every garment, sending it back if she spots the slightest flaw. She remains calm under deadline pressure and high expectations. “It’s so wonderful to see that bride with that look on her face when she’s trying on ‘the one’,” Clancy says. “It lights up the room and lights up our hearts. You have to be genuine. If you’re phony people know it. We’re very caring. We want you to have your best look.” MARKING MILESTONES Clancy herself remains true to her soulmate, Alan Brown. In 1995, Clancy’s husband passed away from lung cancer at age 49. She never remarried. Clancy honored Brown throughout the month

20 The ‘Ville

The first was Mia Hart of “It was one of the last things Farmington Hills, who brought Stephanie wanted to be able her four girls, ages 9-17, to to do. Elizabeth rolled out the Elizabeth’s in 2018. The story red carpet for us. She wasn’t in made the a hurry. She front page of gave us all the The Detroit time in the FOUNDED: 1990 Free Press world.” OWNER: Elizabeth Clancy on Mother’s Three Day. Last month later, ADDRESS: 402 S. Main Street, fall, she was Stephanie Northville contacted by a passed away. PHONE: (248) 348-2783 social worker “Now when WEBSITE: from Angela’s the time is Hospice on right and the behalf of Stephanie Seyfarth, a girls are going to get married long-time Northville Township we’ll definitely go back there resident diagnosed with a rare and choose from one of the and aggressive form of cancer. dresses that they’ve already Clancy welcomed the Seyfarth tried on, I’m sure,” John said. family in after hours on a “Elizabeth deserves 30 years Sunday and brought out several in business. I can see why with dresses for Oivia, then 28, and the kind of caring that she gives Rachel, then 22. Afterward, the customers. I would highly she surprised the family with recommend her to anybody. a mini three-tiered cake and It is good to know that there champagne. are people in this world like “It meant everything,” said Northville’s very own Elizabeth. Stephanie’s husband, John. She is a gem.”

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What Could Have Been?

Undefeated Northville boys swim team heartbroken as season suspended


ongtime Northville High boys swim Rich Bennetts called it “a punch in the gut.” Just 24 hours prior to the scheduled start of the Division 1 state finals at Oakland University, one of the most successful swim teams in school history learned that the Michigan High School Athletic Association had suspended all winter sports tournament activities to deter the spread of the coronavirus, known as COVID-19. “It was such a great season,” Bennetts said. “We went through a lot this year. We had a lot of stuff going on this year. And every time we dove in the pool we won. That was the one thing that makes this so tough because I knew how well we were going to swim. This team

22 The ‘Ville

By Brad Emons

Northville’s Andrew Lane (bottom) touches the wall as teammate Craig Maibach dives in during the 400 freestyle relay exchange during a second-place effort at the KLAA finals.

never lost. It breaks your heart.” The Mustangs finished 12-0 during the dual meet season, including a 5-0 record in the highly competitive West

Division of the Kensington Lakes Activities Association. They repeated as Wayne County Invitational champions and turned in another

impressive showing by capturing the 15-team KLAA meet with 978.5 points while arch-rival Novi was runner-up with 859. At the conference meet, the Mustangs came away with four firsts led by senior Brian Ding, who figured in three himself including an individual victory in the 100-yard breaststroke (58.5). Senior Kyle McCullough, junior Austin Zhang and sophomore Leonardo Simoncini joined forces with Ding to capture the 200 medley relay (1:37.17). The foursome of senior Craig Maibach, junior Conner Halberg and Ding also contributed a first in the 200 freestyle relay (1:27.93). Halberg added a victory in the 500 freestyle (4:41.48)

top eight heading into the first day of prelims. Among the individual qualifiers included Alameddine (200- and 500 freestyles); Northville’s first-place 200-yard freestyle team of (from Maibach (200 left) Brian Ding, Conner Halberg, Leo Simoncini and Craig individual Maibach clocked a 1:27.93 at the KLAA meet. medley, 500 with senior teammate Michael freestyle); Lane (200 IM, 100 Alameddine placing runnerfreestyle); Simoncini (200 up (4:43.99). Other runner-up IM, 100 freestyle; Maiz and finishers included sophomore senior Pranav Kartai (diving); Andy Maiz (1-meter diving, Ding (100 butterfly and 100 373.50 points) and Zhang (100 breaststroke); Halberg (500

freestyle), junior Josh Seidelman (500 freestyle); freshman Jacob Mowers (500 freestyle); McCullough (100 Northville’s Brian Ding (bottom) and Austin Zhang (top backstroke); finished one-two in the 100-yard breaststroke at the KLAA Zhang (100 meet. backstroke); and sophomore William Teng accomplished a lot. The one (100 breaststroke). thing that just breaks your heart “Love the kids,” Bennetts is these seniors. They never get said. “Really disappointed we to represent this school again couldn’t finish it off, but at to have the rug pulled out from the same point and time they under you 24 hours before you

It was such a great season. We went through a lot this year. We had a lot of stuff going on this year. And every time we dove in the pool we won. That was the one thing that makes this so tough because I knew how well we were going to swim. This team never lost. It breaks your heart.” Rich Bennetts, NHS Boys Swim Coach

breaststroke, 59.11). The 400 freestyle relay quartet of senior Andrew Lane, Alameddine, Maibach and Halberg also placed second behind Novi in 3:13.29. “They’ve got a lot to be proud of – KLAA champions is a big deal,” Bennetts said. “I think that once everything calms down here and people are able to kind of look back on it, it’s something to be proud of. But it was one of those things . . . what could this team had done? That’s really what is tough about it.” Northville boasted 12 individual state qualifiers, not to mention that all three relay teams were seeded among the

Northville coach Rich Bennetts gives words of wisdom to (from left) Leo Simoncini, Craig Maibach and Andrew Lane.

go, it’s a tough gig. Obviously, everybody understands the circumstances. You’ve got to err on the side of caution. But boy, oh boy, you wish the decision could have been made a little bit sooner.” Bennetts was confident the Mustangs could have finished anywhere from sixth to as high as third in the final team D1 standings at OU. “It’s one of those things,” the Northville coach said. “I thought we would have been a sneaky team to kind of jump on top of people to see what we could do, but it’s all for naught…”

The ‘Ville 23

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Senior Jack Deak competed at the regional.


The girls hockey team finished 10-7-1.

By Brad Emons

Mustangs get plenty of outstanding individual and team performances


he Northville High winter sports season featured plenty of “highs” led by the undefeated boys swim team coached by Rich Bennetts (see story on page 22). But for the boys basketball and girls gymnastics teams as well, it also turned out to be a season of “lows” when the Michigan High School Athletic Association suspended all

26 The ‘Ville

remaining tournament action on March 12 in an effort to deter the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Here is a look back at the 2019-20 campaign for the Mustangs.


Coach Todd Sander’s squad posted an 18-4 overall record, but had its season cut short prior to a “rubber match” meeting with Canton in the scheduled March 13 Division 1 district final at home. The Mustangs, who tied Canton at 10-4 for second place in the KLAA’s West Division, were led by all-conference 6-foot- 5 senior forward-guard Zach Shoemaker, who averaged a team-best 19 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Senior guard Grant Mathiesen (left), who averaged 13 points and shot 40 percent from ‘three,’ joined senior guard, Domenic Rodriguez, who had a 5-to-1.5 assist-to-turnover

ratio, on the all-conference team. Meanwhile, senior forward Brady Withey was named honorable mention.


The Mustangs, coached by Todd Gudith, finished 8-13 overall and 6-8 in the KLAA West, which was arguably the top division in the state featuring top 10 ranked teams Hartland, Brighton and Howell. Northville featured two

All-KLAA performers led by 6-foot-3 senior center Morgan Thompson, who averaged 10 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. The three-year varsity player is headed to play at Lourdes (Ohio) University. Senior guard Ellie Thallman, a four-year varsity player, averaged 8.9 points and is headed to play soccer at Michigan State en route to AllKLAA honors. Junior Avery Tolstyka earned honorable mention.

Senior Morgan Thompson signed to play basketball at Lourdes (Ohio) University.


Despite an 8-19-1 overall record, the Mustangs reached the MHSAA Division 1 regional final before losing to Salem, 2-0, on March 7 at Novi Ice Arena. Coach Gordie Brown’s team finished 3-7-1 (tied for fourth) in the tough KLAA West and were led by a pair of all-conference honorees in senior forward Nick McInchak, the team’s top scorer, along with senior goalie Joey Loebach, who posted a .922 save percentage and a 2.85 goals-against average. Sophomore forward Zach Holstad was the team’s second leading scorer, while sophomore Dylan Eliason (.907 save percentage) split time in goal with Loebach.

Sophomore forward Reese Heaton was named first-team All State.


The Mustangs, who finished 10-7-1 overall under coach Conor Sedam, took ninth place in the Michigan Metro Girls High School Hockey League with an 8-7 record. The season ended with a 4-3 loss to Plymouth-Canton-Salem. Sophomore forward Reese Heaton (first team All-State) paced Northville’s scoring attack with 19 goals and 15 assists, while senior forward Sara Hanson added eight goals and six assists. Junior goalie Emma Gniewek posted seven shutouts with a goals-against average of 1.78.

Jack Gattoni finished eighth at the state finals held at Ford Field.


Coach Dylan McLeod’s team showed marked improvement this season finishing third in the KLAA West at 5-2 led by the three Gattoni brothers. Sophomore Jack Gattoni (119 pounds) earned All-State Division 1 honors by finishing eighth in the MHSAA individual finals held at Detroit’s Ford Field. He went 40-12 this season. Senior Nicholas Gattoni (152) also qualified for the state finals and finished 34-12. Other Region 3 qualifiers at Saline included senior Grant Gattoni (125), 34-12; senior Brandon Liu (112), 27-9; junior Alex Laskowski (189), 3516; freshman Joshua Drake (103), 36-7; sophomore Jonah Koipillei (103), 11-12; and sophomore Noah Myung (130), 3-4. Northville also placed fifth in the KLAA meet with 99.5 points led by Drake (119) and Liu (112), each taking third; Grant Gattoni (125) and Nicholas Gattoni (152), fourth; and Laskowski (189), fifth.


Under the direction of coach Victoria Clay, the Mustangs earned a trip to Rockford for the state finals for the third straight year, but never got a chance to compete after a runner-up

finish the previous season. Northville took runner-up honors to Plymouth in Region 2 with 141.80 points and were led by individual state qualifiers Katelyn O’Brien, Skyler Peppo, Ella O’Brien, Maria Scavnicky and Camryn Moyers. Northville wound up with a 5-3 dual meet record in the KLAA West and placed fifth in the conference meet. At the KLAA meet, Katelyn O’Brien took third in the Division 1 all-around (35.85), including a first in the vault (9.25), while Scavnicky was 10th overall (34.45). In Division 2, top conference performers included Ella O’Brien, second, floor exercise; third, uneven bars; Peppo, fourth, balance beam; tied for sixth, uneven bars; Paige Abraham, eighth, vault.


Coach Kyle Moir’s squad just missed out by one place and 12 points from qualifying for the MHSAA Division 1 team finals after a fourth at the Region 2 meet held at Alpine Valley. Jack Deak, a senior, earned an individual qualifying berth with a ninth in the giant slalom and 10th in the slalom at the regional. He placed 38th and 47th, respectively, at the state finals held at Boyne Highlands. Teammate Harrison Zoltowski, a senior, earned 14th (slalom) and 18th (giant slalom) at the regional.


The Mustangs placed ninth at the Region 2 meet at Alpine Valley with 326 points led by top finishers Meghan Davis, a senior, who took 28th in the giant slalom, and Katrina Cox, a junior who added a 32nd in the slalom.

Senior Kathleen Heiberger and Sophomore Brandon Leavitt were top performers in bowling this year.


The Mustangs finished 3-13 overall in the KLAA, including a 3-11 mark in the KLAA West (seventh place). They placed 12th at the Division 1-Region 5 tourney at Canton’s Super Bowl. Sophomore Brandon Leavitt was Northville’s top individual finisher at the regional with a 16th place highlighted by a 227 game. He carried a team-best 196 average in the KLAA, while sophomore teammate Will Patel averaged 191.


Senior Kathleen Heiberger earned a Division 1 finals individual berth after placing seventh at the Region 5 tourney. She took 45th overall in the qualifying block on March 7 at Allen Park’s Thunderbowl. Heiberger ranked 12th in the KLAA with a 169 average, while teammates Clare Baker, a junior, and Kristabelle Kmeid each posted 152 averages. As a team, the Mustangs finished 12th in the Super Bowl regional and finished 8-8 in the KLAA, including a 7-7 mark in the West Division (tied for third).


Under the direction of coach Cathey Howe-Leung, the Mustangs finished 12th in the MHSAA Division 1-District 5 competition with 612.00 points at Brighton.

The ‘Ville 27

On The Road With Adventure Capital of the World

City of Northville residents Jerry and Terry Mittman celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary (Dec. 20) with a three-week trip to Australia and New Zealand - and they took along their copy of The ‘Ville! Here they are (top photo) pictured along the waterfront in Queenstown, New Zealand, which Jerry said is considered “the Adventure Capital of World.” In the background is Lake Wakatipu. “We enjoyed our time in New Zealand and the beauty of the country,” Jerry said.

Way Down South

Robert Zeigler, a lifelong Northville resident and 1964 graduate of Northville High School, took us along on a cruise from Chile to Argentina. He even left a copy of The ‘Ville at a restaurant at Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands! His trip took him from Port Stanley to Ushuaia, Argentina, known as the “Southern Most City In The World” and is situated closer to Antarctica than any other departure point. Because of this, it is referred to as “The End Of The World” but for most Antarctic travelers it marks the beginning of their journey into Antarctica and the last chance to get supplies for the journey, according to Zeigler. Here he is pictured next to the Anglican Christ Church in Port Stanley (bottom left). “It is known as the ‘Southern Most Cathedral in the World.’ We also saw seals and penguins in the bay,” Zeigler said. “What a great way to start 2020!”

28 The ‘Ville

Bless You Boys!

While visiting Florida last month, Northville’s Claire and Dave Duey stopped by Lakeland to catch the Tigers play the Yankees in a spring training game on March 2. Here they are (second from top) pictured at Joker Marchant Stadium. The sun was shining, it was warm, and the Tigers won! They beat the Yankees, 10-4.

On the High Line

Northville’s Sharon Simkins took her copy of The ‘Ville on a recent trip to New York City. One of the highlights of her trip was visiting the High Line, an elevated linear park and greenway built on an abandoned rail line on the west side of Manhattan. Here she is (bottom right) pictured at the Plinth, a section of the High Line dedicated to contemporary art. Behind her is a towering, 16-foot-tall bronze bust called “Brick House” by artist Simone Leigh. “It was very cool to see in person,” Sharon said. The next time you head out of town, take along a copy of The ‘Ville, snap a photo, and let us

know where your travels take you. Our readers would love to know! Please email the photos to We’ll feature the photos every month.

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Infectious Positivity Ms. Wheelchair Michigan doesn’t let paralyzed body define her Story by Emily Doran | Photos by Bryan Mitchell


orthville Township resident Laura Jackson has worn many hats over the years. She’s been an advocate for people with disabilities, a spokesperson for cheerleading safety and a political activist. Now, she’s added a tiara to the mix. The bubbly, outgoing 31-year-old, who is paralyzed from the neck down and relies on a ventilator to breathe, was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Michigan 2020 this past November in recognition of her advocacy work. “When I first broke my neck, I never thought I would be as involved as I am,” she said. “It’s funny the resilience you don’t know you have until you’re forced to have it.” In 2003, when she was 14, Jackson landed on her head while performing a back tuck during high school cheerleading

32 The ‘Ville

tryouts, and she broke her C1 and C2 vertebrae. She was in the hospital for seven months following the accident, and during that time, she wrestled with her new reality of being a quadriplegic. “It was a struggle comprehending what my future would look like,” she said. “The first day or two, you think this is absolutely the worst thing possible that could ever happen to anyone. You’re just devastated. And then you’re in ICU with other kids that are way worse. It’s like a reality check.” After that, Jackson’s perspective changed. “I figured, I can move my mind, and I can move my mind to stay positive, stay happy,” she said. “The one thing I could do is control my attitude. I’d rather laugh through life than cry or be mad through life.”

“We think to ourselves how terrible it is as a parent (that) you have a child that this has happened to,” said her mom, Melody Jackson. “But it’s like, if she can get up every day and do this, I guess we can, too.” Since then, Jackson has accomplished more than she initially Northville Township resident Laura Jackson was crowned thought Ms. Wheelchair Michigan 2020 in November. possible. She MANY ACCOMPLISHMENTS has earned both a bachelor’s Today, her positivity is and a master’s degree in infectious. business, and she has been

involved in multiple causes, including the movement to enhance cheerleading safety and educating the public about stem cell research. She’s also had the opportunity to share her story on major platforms such as NBC News and The Dr. Oz Show. She credits her support system — including her parents, sisters and nurses — for helping her tackle the challenges of being a quadriplegic. “My heart goes out to the people that don’t have that, because it’s so life-changing and altering,” she said. “To do it alone would have been so hard, and I don’t know how I would have done it. I know people do it all the time, so I give them a lot of credit.” For Jackson, living an impactful, meaningful life comes back to her positive perspective, which ultimately molded her Ms. Wheelchair Michigan platform, “Move your mind.” Jackson had never been particularly interested in pageants and originally had no intention of participating, but she changed her mind after she realized she wasn’t following her own advice to live boldly and without fear of others’ opinions. She had plenty of time to think it over—the state coordinator for Ms. Wheelchair Michigan and president of Ms. Wheelchair America, Shelly Loose, had been asking her to participate for nine years in the advocacy-focused pageant. Loose, a Byron Center resident who was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Michigan 2007, originally connected with Jackson online. “In the spinal cord injury world, people mention other

people all the time,” she said. “She was strong and she’s done a lot and she hasn’t let her disability stop her. (She) has a positive attitude. That’s the perfect kind of person that you want to represent the organization.” Winners of the volunteerrun Ms. Wheelchair America pageant and corresponding

of Ms. Wheelchair Michigan already, I’ve met so many amazing, incredible women that inspire me. … I kind of have my own community of people that I never really had before now.” As part of her Ms. Wheelchair Michigan duties, Jackson regularly visits schools to educate kids about people with disabilities.

16. During that week, she “transformed” and became more confident. “I didn’t have my mom and dad with me; I didn’t have my sisters with me,” she said. “I feel like it pushed me to get out of my comfort zone.” Through North Star Reach, where she serves on the young professional board

When I first broke my neck, I never thought I would be as involved as I am. It’s funny the resilience you don’t know you have until you’re forced to have it.” Laura Jackson, Ms. Wheelchair Michigan 2020

state chapter pageants act as spokeswomen for people with disabilities. “It’s really about breaking stigmas and letting people know that we—meaning people in chairs or with disabilities—have goals and desires and things we want to accomplish, and that we do things a little bit different,” Loose said. “It may take us longer than it takes an able-bodied person, but we accomplish the things that we need to accomplish.”


Through the Ms. Wheelchair Michigan program, Jackson has found a new community of women she’s been happy to join. “I have some friends that are in wheelchairs, but not a lot,” she said. “And so, being a part

“The kids just have the craziest and the best questions, and I’m like, ‘Ask away!’” she said. Jackson also attends fundraisers on behalf of the organization, and she will compete against other state titleholders for the Ms. Wheelchair America crown in Arkansas this August. Even with her new timeconsuming responsibilities, Jackson hasn’t neglected her other passion projects. One organization she holds dear is North Star Reach, a nonprofit in Pinckney that offers camp experiences for kids with disabilities. Jackson grew up attending summer camps and even spent a week at a camp specifically for kids on ventilators when she was

to assist with outreach and fundraising, she wants to give kids with disabilities a similar opportunity to enjoy camp in a safe, medically equipped environment. “This is the reason I got involved, because at the end of the day, it’s just all about the kids having this experience of being able to find that confidence and that self-love,” she said. As for what her future holds, Jackson is open to trying new things and hopes to get involved with other causes. She’s thinking about writing a book and would like to do motivational speaking at some point. “I think I have something meaningful to say, but maybe that’s just me,” she said.

The ‘Ville 33

It’s Your Business Burger Fi

BurgerFi Northville owner Alban Shehu shows off their classic cheeseburger and onion rings.

Proud to be All-Natural BurgerFi committed to highest standards


hen it comes to the burger steroids, antibiotics, or growth wars, Alban Shehu is hormones. definitely on the frontlines. Not only is that a more Competition is fierce, but humane way to do business, Shehu, the owner of BurgerFi it also translates into a better in Northville, burger eating feels he has his experience foes outgunned for BurgerFi with a superior customers, product. according to OWNER: Alban Shehu That’s Shehu. ADDRESS: 18801 Traditions Drive, because “We are a Northville Township BurgerFi is little more PHONE: (248) 308-3532 committed to expensive HOURS: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondayselling only than a fast Sunday all-natural food place, WEBSITE: burgers. but it’s not They only even close to buy certified American Black being the same. You can actually Angus beef from ranches that taste our burgers,” he said. adhere to the “Never-Ever” “In fact, the quality of all our program. Their cows are freeingredients is second to none.” range, humanely treated, and This probably explains raised on vegetarian diets, and BurgerFi’s quick expansion they are never injected with from a single store that opened


34 The ‘Ville

in Florida in 2011 to nearly several vegetarian options, 130 stores across America and including their made-in-house beyond today. In that span, VegeFi – a gourmet spin on BurgerFi has sold millions of its a veggie burger. Their crispy burgers to a growing customer fries and double-battered onion base. rings, which they hand-cut The 40-year-old Shehu before serving with house made bought the store, located at sauces, round out the menu. 18801 Traditions Drive near And don’t forget to finish off Seven Mile and Haggerty, in your meal with a variety of May of 2019. He had been in the shakes or frozen custard. restaurant business since he Since buying the store, Shehu was 21, performing just about said he has been impressed every aspect of the business with the Northville community, at various noting there’s places of a lot of room employment. for growth. “I was He’s also tried looking for to give back something by sponsoring on my own. high school I liked the sports teams BurgerFi and other concept causes. of using With a all-natural total of 17 ingredients, employees, and Shehu says he everything has a friendly BurgerFi offers several meatless is fresh and staff that options including its VegeFi burger. hand-made. can answer It was a good fit for me,” said the questions about their products. Milford resident. It’s all part of the goal of making Despite the brand’s rapid sure patrons have an all-around growth, the Northville store is good experience when dining at the only BurgerFi location in BurgerFi. Michigan. They offer several “We want people to feel specials each week, including welcome when they open the on Tuesdays when kids eat free door, and then leave with a (with an adult purchase) and on smile on their face,” Shehu said. Thursdays when you can get a Due to the coronavirus cheeseburger, regular fries and outbreak, BurgerFi is in the a draft beer for $10. same boat as all restaurants that Did someone mention beer? have remained open. They offer BurgerFi has a nice selection of carryout service only, though craft beers and wines, including people can utilize Grubhub, many made right here in DoorDash, and Uber Eats to Michigan. have their BurgerFi delivered. While the burgers are their Shehu is offering 25% off mainstay, BurgerFi offers all meals placed through the plenty of non-beef options, BurgerFi app through April including all-natural chicken 30th. For more information, sandwiches and tenders, and visit

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Dishin’ With Denise

Denise Jenkins serves on the board of directors for the Northville Chamber of Commerce and Tipping Point Theatre. An avid writer and proponent of the arts, she is also plugged into what’s happening in Northville. Contact her at

Taking Care of Business...


can hardly believe how quickly life can change. If you had plans for anything last month, for this month or beyond it likely has changed because of COVID-19. We all have a new normal, like it or not. How do we get back to business as usual? Let’s start with simply getting back to business.

Since the governor's Stay Home, Stay Safe order, downtown Northville has looked like a ghost town. Photo by Bryan Mitchell

You may have noticed a new logo in some store windows throughout Northville that reads “See It – Support It.” These are Northville Chamber of Commerce members. As a member of the Chamber Board, I’m asking if you see the label, support the store. Many of them are trying to weather this crisis, staying open for essential services. The Chamber itself is also being impacted. The Chamber puts on the State of the Community luncheon, which features Mayor Brian Turnbull, Township Supervisor Bob Nix and Northville Schools Supt. Mary Kay Gallagher. It has been re-scheduled for Monday, June 8th at Schoolcraft College. The Chamber does so much for our community. It is the Chamber that brings you the

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Farmer’s Market, which is scheduled to open on May 7th -- fingers crossed. They also put up the military banners in town, produce the 4th of July Parade, the Heritage Festival and the Holiday Lighted Parade. The best way to support the Chamber right now is to support its members. According to Jody Humphries, Chamber executive director, people can visit www. to find a list of businesses that are open and offering “Hot Deals.” I think you’ll agree it’s pretty dog-gone easy to get back to business. I personally have already had take-out from The Garage and The Sports Den. Now is the time to support our local merchants. We should not take for granted they will still be there to provide us with goods and services once this crisis ends. All this recent seriousness has put a cramp in my style – parties, plays, church, everything has been cancelled. What could I dish about? Well, fear not. I found a list of

“Just For Fun” days. It made me laugh. It seems there is something for everyday. April 1st is not just for fools – it is also Sweet Potato Day. April 6th is International Pillow Fight Day – not national, but international! I suggest you have a belated celebration. April 17th is Blah, Blah, Blah Day. No kidding! April 21st is Go Fly A Kite Day and April 27th is National Sense of Smell Day. Calling all playwrights. Submit your 10-minute play for the 11th Annual Sandbox Play Festival. Tipping Point Theatre is looking for five original plays written, directed, and acted by

local artists. The Festival has its own week at the theatre during the month of October. There will be cash awards. Five plays will be produced, and the audience will have an opportunity to choose an audience favorite. The requirements are: must be original; no adaptations or collaborations; plays that have received staged readings or workshops are eligible; playwrights may submit multiple plays; running time of less than 15 minutes; cast limit of 4. Submission deadline is May 31, 2020. As I write this, Tipping Point Theatre has had to cancel its production of The Baxter Sisters – and I want to thank everyone who donated the cost of their ticket back to the theatre. It is appreciated. I have been waiting all season for Prelude To A Kiss. It is scheduled to open on May 28. I’m hopeful it will happen. I’ll be there and would be so happy to see the usual crowd of theatergoers. Because, there’s no business like show business!

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