These 12 stories helped shape the year in Detroit, Harper Woods

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published December 22, 2017

 Harper Woods Department of Public Safety K-9 Officer Stephen Johnson shows off Kaiser, his new partner who was added to the department early in the year.

Harper Woods Department of Public Safety K-9 Officer Stephen Johnson shows off Kaiser, his new partner who was added to the department early in the year.

File photo by Sean Work

 Bike enthusiasts took to the streets of Detroit in greater numbers in 2017, with group rides such as the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bike Ride, pictured.

Bike enthusiasts took to the streets of Detroit in greater numbers in 2017, with group rides such as the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bike Ride, pictured.

Photo provided by Colleen Robar

 The opening of the QLINE down Woodward Avenue was marked with celebration and a free ride promotion.

The opening of the QLINE down Woodward Avenue was marked with celebration and a free ride promotion.

File photo by Donna Agusti

Residents of the Advertiser Times’ coverage area read about and witnessed a variety of interesting, fascinating and engaging stories throughout the year. The newspaper’s editorial staff chose some of the most memorable from the last 12 months to look back on before the new year arrives.

 

Harper Woods police get a new furry partner
The Harper Woods Department of Public Safety welcomed a new four-legged member to its ranks in 2017 with the addition of Kaiser, a specially trained police dog. Trained to track suspects or missing people, sniff out suspicious substances and interact with the community, Kaiser has since been called a huge success for the department by residents and officers alike.

 

Eastland Center suffers setbacks
Shoppers at Harper Woods’ Eastland Center were stunned twice in 2017 with the announced closures of the mall’s Macy’s and Target stores. The Macy’s department store was a mainstay of the community since its opening in 1957. Both Macy’s and Target were chosen to shut down due to declining revenues. Residents and city officials voiced their dismay that two more of the community’s shopping resources would no longer be available. Target is scheduled to close Feb. 3.

 

Bike tours show off communities
Bike tours and group bike rides continued to be an upward trend throughout the city of Detroit, with several being organized to show off different aspects of the city. This included the fifth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bike Ride, which commemorates King’s historic march through the streets of the city. Other rides included the first-ever Bike the Ambassador ride, which crossed the Ambassador Bridge into Canada, and a new bike tour of Harper Woods.

 

Harper Woods Schools chooses new superintendent
The Harper Woods School District began a new chapter over the summer as Todd Biederwolf, the superintendent for the last eight years, announced his retirement. His successor is Steven McGhee, the former principal and director of career and technical education at Osborn Collegiate Academy. McGhee said he will focus on ensuring that students have opportunities after graduating, instituting talent management programs for hiring and maintaining staff, and instituting a curriculum director position.

 

Upheaval in Michigan’s 1st District
Michigan’s 1st Congressional District was rocked when, after less than one month after being sworn into office for another term, Democratic state Rep. Brian Banks announced his resignation on Feb. 6. Banks did so as a response to pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of filing false financial statements. A special election took place in November — which was a controversial decision among voters due to the long length of time the district went without a sitting representative. Banks was succeeded by Democrat Tenisha Yancey, who won election in November and will serve the remainder of Banks’ term, which ends Jan. 1, 2019.

 

QLINE trolley opens on Woodward Avenue
Residents of Detroit and the metro area gathered to celebrate the opening of the QLINE trolley along Woodward Avenue on May 12. The trolley runs up and down Woodward, connecting the downtown area with the midtown area. Riders were treated to free service until Sept. 4 as part of a promotion to encourage people to take advantage of the new resource. Some residents, while pleased that the QLINE came to fruition, voiced their opinions that the trolley line is only good as a first step, and a more comprehensive public transit system is still needed by the people of southeastern Michigan.

 

Dlectricity lights up Detroit
Midtown Detroit was awash with light and sound for the third Dlectricity art show, which took over the city’s museum district Sept. 22-23. The show comprised a series of installations designed to utilize light as a medium for creating art. This was the third Dlectricity festival, and it included pieces of neon light, projected images, a parade of bikes outfitted with LED lights open to the public, and even a roving stunt show with professionals performing tricks dressed up as characters from the “Star Wars” franchise and doing battle with illuminated lightsabers. 

 

Harper Woods officers accused of crimes
One Harper Woods Department of Public Safety officer was fired and another suspended after being accused of violating both the law and the department’s protocols. Michael Lynch was dismissed after his fellow officers investigated discrepancies in the department’s property room. He is accused of removing several items, including an unknown amount of heroin, and he is expected to face a criminal trial in Detroit’s 3rd Circuit Court in early 2017. Fellow officer John Biernat was suspended without pay after being charged with one count of controlled substance use. He is scheduled to begin trial on Wednesday, Jan. 10, in 32A District Court in Harper Woods.

 

9/11 memorial dedicated in Harper Woods
The residents of the Harper Woods community commemorated the 16th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, with the dedication of a memorial at the Harper Woods’ AMVETS Post No. 57. The memorial was created out of cement and a recovered steel beam from the World Trade Center, and it was unveiled at a ceremony on Sept. 11 of this year. It was dedicated to the first responders who worked and died on that infamous day, as well as first responders all over the country.

 

Detroit welcomes first legal drag races in city’s history
Detroit may be the Motor City, but it wasn’t until 2017 that residents saw their first legal drag races within the city limits. Called the first “Motor City Showdown,” the races took place at Detroit City Airport Sept. 23 and featured both big-wheel and small-wheel cars tearing down the runways in front of cheering crowds. Collectors and classic car owners also showed off their rides in a car show that accompanied the high-octane action.

 

Harper Woods resident is first hair sculptor featured at DIA
Art comes in a variety of styles and mediums, but a Harper Woods resident was the first to be featured at the Detroit Institute of Arts in the field of hair sculpting. Kristina Beaty, owner of the Studio Glamour Salon in Grosse Pointe, has competed and won in hairstyling competitions all around the country, and she was invited to demonstrate her skills at an interactive installation and Q&A at the DIA Oct. 28-29. She showed the skill and passion that goes into her work, as well as the amazing results of her creations.

 

Solanus Casey beatified by Catholic Church
Solanus Casey, Capuchin friar and well-remembered role model of Detroit, was beatified at a special Mass, which took place at Ford Field Nov. 18. Casey helped and counseled those in need and helped found Detroit’s Capuchin Soup Kitchen, which continues to provide assistance for those in need to this day. Beatification is the penultimate step until an individual is declared a saint by the Catholic Church.