Have a look back at 2017 in Grosse Pointe Woods

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published January 2, 2018

 On Aug. 23, family, friends and baseball fans welcomed home the Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores Little League team after their run in the Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

On Aug. 23, family, friends and baseball fans welcomed home the Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores Little League team after their run in the Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

File photo by Sarah Purlee

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — Throughout the past year, Grosse Pointe Woods completed several city projects, endured a number of gas leaks because of the projects, and also dealt with the aftermath of high winds that hit metro Detroit.

In August, the Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores Little League went to the Little League Baseball World Series, and in November, the City Council welcomed a new member. Here is a look back at 2017.

The year began on a positive note in January when Grosse Pointe Woods was named as the sixth-best place to raise a family in Michigan, according to a study from the personal finance outlet WalletHub.com.

The study compared the 104 most populous cities in the state across 21 categories ranging from median family income to school quality to housing affordability.

“I am very pleased to be recognized as such a great city to raise a family,” Grosse Pointe Woods Mayor Robert Novitke said of the recognition. “We really strive to do that.”

The city lost its state representative for several months when state Rep. Brian Banks, D-Harper Woods, resigned his position Feb. 6 after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of filing false financial statements, according to a news release from the office of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.

A special election was held Nov. 7 to fill the vacancy. Voters elected Democrat Tenisha Yancey, of Harper Woods, to the seat over Republican Mark Corcoran and Libertarian Gregory Creswell. Yancey took the oath of office Nov. 17.

On Feb. 23, in 3rd Circuit Court in Detroit, former Grosse Pointe Woods Municipal Court Administrator Julie Ann Moore, 47, pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement by agent, trustee, or employee over $20,000. She faced a 30-day jail sentence.

On her sentencing date March 30, it was confirmed that she paid back $22,566 in restitution, plus court costs of $1,800, for a total of $24,366; therefore, she avoided jail time. Moore will still have a felony conviction for embezzlement by agent, trustee or employee over $20,000. Judge James Chylinski heard the case.

On March 8, high winds howled through town as wicked weather caused power outages and tree damage in most communities, including Grosse Pointe Woods. According to the website www.weather.gov, high winds brought gusts in excess of 60 mph, which took out power lines and trees, along with numerous reports of structural damage to buildings. Many areas — including Grosse Pointe Woods and schools within the Grosse Pointe Public School System — were without power for one to several days.

The storm caused power outages at Grosse Pointe Woods City Hall, which closed March 9. And despite the power outages at Municipal Court, it remained opened March 9 under court rules, and cases were conducted in the morning without lights. On the same day, the Public Safety Department was open, as was the Department of Public Works. Five small fires were reported between March 8 and 11 because of downed power lines. Because of the power outages, several local facilities were opened up as warming centers for local residents.

In June, family and friends mourned the loss of 17-year-old Grosse Pointe Woods resident Corey Harris-Thomas after he was fatally shot on Detroit’s west side over a pair of Air Jordan tennis shoes. On Oct. 5, Dante Ford, 20, of Detroit, was sentenced to 28 to 50 years in prison for second-degree murder, and two years consecutive to the other sentence for felony firearm in the fatal shooting of Harris-Thomas.

In 2017, the city completed several projects, including miscellaneous concrete pavement repairs, a water main replacement on Anita Avenue from Mack to Charlevoix avenues, and a road bond pavement replacement at various spots in the city. In the spring and summer, the city endured a number of gas leaks — that were fixed — because of the different projects.

The month of August was a fun time to be in Grosse Pointe Woods. On Aug. 21, community members gathered at the Woods Branch of the Grosse Pointe Public Library — and also the Ewald Branch in Grosse Pointe Park — to watch the solar eclipse. The GPPL was selected as one of more than 2,000 libraries nationwide to partner with NASA’s eclipse library outreach program for the solar eclipse.

People all over the country viewed the historic moment. Because of how the moon and sun aligned, the metro Detroit area saw a partial eclipse rather than a total one.

On Aug. 23, family, friends and baseball fans gathered on the lawn of Grosse Pointe Woods City Hall to welcome home the Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores Little League team after its run in the Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Although the Great Lakes regional champions — ages 11 to 13 — were eliminated in game two, a celebratory mood was felt throughout the community. The Little League Baseball World Series was scheduled for Aug. 17-27 and was covered by ESPN and ABC. Japan defeated Texas 12-2 to win the 2017 title as the series wrapped up.

Grosse Pointe Woods had an uncontested mayoral race and an uncontested City Council race in the general election Nov. 7. Robert Novitke was re-elected mayor, and City Council incumbents Vicki Granger and Todd McConaghy were re-elected to their seats as well. Newcomer George McMullen was elected to the City Council for the first time. The mayoral and City Council seats have four-year terms. Councilman Kevin Ketels did not seek re-election.

The Salvation Army’s annual red kettle campaign experienced a setback Nov. 21 when a red kettle reportedly was stolen from the Kroger located at 20422 Mack Ave. in Grosse Pointe Woods. The missing red kettle case remains under investigation.

The Salvation Army recouped the loss Dec. 19 when an anonymous person placed a 1981 South African gold Krugerrand coin into the Salvation Army’s red kettle at the same Kroger store on Mack Avenue. The collector’s coin is worth approximately $1,400.

Toward the end of the year, Barnes & Noble, located at 19221 Mack Ave. in the Pointe Plaza Shopping Center, announced it will close in early January. By summer, Better Health Market, located at 19850 Mack Ave., also in Grosse Pointe Woods, will relocate into the site where the bookstore currently stands. Pointe Plaza has a number of shops that line the northwest intersection of Mack Avenue and Moross Road in the location of St. John Hospital and Medical Center.