Alyssa Ledbetter, an Eastpointe High School senior, paints uplifting words on the walls around the school’s library Aug. 9.

Alyssa Ledbetter, an Eastpointe High School senior, paints uplifting words on the walls around the school’s library Aug. 9.

File photo by Deb Jacques


Revisit local stories from 2017

By: Bria Brown | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published January 1, 2018

 Roseville Mayor Robert Taylor listens to Michael Taylor, Roseville resident and Holistic House owner, who was asking the council to consider looking into the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act during the council’s Feb. 14 meeting.

Roseville Mayor Robert Taylor listens to Michael Taylor, Roseville resident and Holistic House owner, who was asking the council to consider looking into the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act during the council’s Feb. 14 meeting.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Christa O’Connor, of Roseville, poses for a photo Aug. 16 with her sons, Dylan Meadows, 2, and Jacob O’Connor, 10. Jacob pulled Dylan from a pool and gave him chest compressions July 25.

Christa O’Connor, of Roseville, poses for a photo Aug. 16 with her sons, Dylan Meadows, 2, and Jacob O’Connor, 10. Jacob pulled Dylan from a pool and gave him chest compressions July 25.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Roseville resident Jaiden Fettig, 11, left, and Zackary Asmar, 12, of Roseville, pose with gym owner and personal trainer Rossano Rea, who made an appearance as Batman at the Gleaners Hunger Free Summer campaign June 14 at the New England Townhouses in Roseville.

Roseville resident Jaiden Fettig, 11, left, and Zackary Asmar, 12, of Roseville, pose with gym owner and personal trainer Rossano Rea, who made an appearance as Batman at the Gleaners Hunger Free Summer campaign June 14 at the New England Townhouses in Roseville.

File photo by Erin Sanchez

Each January, the Eastsider takes a look back at some of the previous year’s biggest government, crime, education and feature stories. We’ve also included some of the memorable photographs from events throughout 2017.

 

Eastpointe and the
Department of Justice lawsuit 

The federal government told the city of Eastpointe to change its election process. Former Eastpointe City Manager Steve Duchane received a letter from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice Nov. 18, 2016, stating that the “existing system for electing the members of the Eastpointe City Council violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.”

According to a press release from the city, “The U.S. Justice Department recently recommended that Eastpointe set aside its current at-large method of electing City Council members and replace it with a geographic district-style voting system that would give voters the opportunity to select a candidate from the district in which they reside. In addition, one of the four districts would be drawn up in such a way as to give African-American voters a better opportunity to elect a minority candidate.”

Adopted in 1965, the federal Voting Rights Act “prohibits any voting practice or procedure that results in a denial or abridgement of the right to vote on account of race,” the release states. According to the federal government, African-Americans now make up approximately 34 percent of the city’s total voting-age population of more than 24,000 residents.

With a new way of electing officials, Eastpointe would be divided into four districts.

Eastpointe Deputy City Clerk Randy Altimus added voting precincts in 2017 to lessen wait times at the polls for registered voters. 

“When the Department of Justice did their district layout, it basically took the 12 precincts and cut six of them in half. Half of one of the districts would have been in one precinct, or one would’ve been in the other,” said Altimus. “And to add that the state of Michigan is going with brand new voting equipment, we had to make a decision of, ‘Do we leave it as it is and wait for a ruling with the DOJ, then make our change, or do we do this now?’” said Altimus. 

The decision was to add precincts.

There has been no ruling from the DOJ. The City Council most recently discussed the matter in closed session Dec. 19. 

 

Roseville City Council repeals medical marijuana dispensaries ordinance again 

Gov. Rick Snyder signed the new Medical Marihuana Facilities Act into law in September 2016, and during the Oct. 25, 2016, Roseville City Council meeting, all members of the council voted to repeal the city’s ordinance governing medical marijuana dispensaries. Roseville City Attorney Timothy Tomlinson said Feb. 14, 2017, that repealing the ordinance again was a “housekeeping matter.” 

Prior to the repeal, Roseville had placed a moratorium on such facilities coming into the community, despite its ordinance, because municipalities across the state had been seeking clarity from the state government on what the 2008 Michigan Medical Marihuana Act allowed. 

At the council meeting Feb. 14, during the second hearing of the public — where council can only listen to comments after going through the agenda — Roseville resident Michael Taylor, owner of Holistic House, asked the council to consider looking into the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act.

The MMFLA took effect Dec. 20, 2016; however, according to the Michigan Municipal League website at www.mml.org, a person couldn’t apply to the state for a license “of any kind under the MMFLA until Dec. 15, 2017.” The website also stated that no one could “apply to the state for a license of any kind under the MMFLA unless the municipality has adopted an ordinance authorizing that type of facility.”

Roseville City Manager Scott Adkins told the Eastsider Dec. 15 that there is no sign of the city changing its ordinance. 

“Our ordinance doesn’t allow for any type of medical marijuana business,” he said.

Adkins also said there’s no immediate indication that the council would move forward with an ordinance to allow medical marijuana businesses in the city.

 

Gleaners launches Hunger
Free Summer campaign

During the summer, Gleaners launched a Hunger Free Summer campaign June 14 at the New England Townhouses in Roseville to provide additional meals for children needing food during the summer through Labor Day.

Gleaners Chief Development Officer Ryan Hoyle explained why the campaign was important to the community.

“The statistics are alarming. We have about 300,000 students who benefit from free and reduced (price) lunch programs at school. Once the summer vacations start, the schools lose track of students and it becomes very difficult for us to ensure they don’t go without that meal they relied upon,” said Hoyle.

Gleaners’ goal was to provide an additional 2 million meals during the summer.

Citizens Bank was the title match sponsor. For every dollar Gleaners raised during its summer fundraising campaign, Citizens Bank would match it.

A Gleaners Nutrition Mission game was held during the event. The goal of the Monopoly-style game was for children to be the game pieces and travel the life-size board game to be the first to collect a day’s worth of healthy food.

In addition to the games, kids were surprised when gym owner and personal trainer Rossano Rea made an appearance as Batman.

Along with the games, the Gleaners Kids Helping Kids staff helped children plant and decorate their own herbs or vegetables.

 

Facebook status goes viral reporting alleged racism, video shows no alleged incident   

A well-known Roseville bar and grill was accused by an Eastpointe resident of an incident he said he encountered at the The Spot Bar and Grill July 22, although security footage showed no recording of the incident. 

“Last night the door guy at The Spot in Roseville charged a group of black people in front of us to get in. Then when I asked him how much the cover was, he said ‘It’s free if you’re white. Don’t tell anyone’. So I’m telling the internet,” wrote the resident July 22.

He believed there were three men and a woman in the group when he arrived between 1:20 and 1:30 a.m. July 22.

The owner of The Spot allowed the Eastsider to look through the July 22 security footage on Aug. 4 and said that at the time the resident said he came to the bar, the bar would not be collecting a cover charge.

“I don’t know if he’s trying to hurt (The Spot) because he’s trying to promote something else. I don’t know,” said the bar owner.

The footage watched by the Eastsider of the period from 12:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. of the evening in question — which was video and no audio — showed a bouncer whom the resident described to the Eastsider, but no group of four black people who looked like they had to pay to get inside the bar. 

The Eastsider contacted the resident Aug. 4, and he stayed with his original allegation.

“That’s interesting. I’m still sticking with my story,” he said.

 

Fatal shooting case to head to trial at the end of January 

A 20-year-old Eastpointe resident accused in the shooting death of an 18-year-old Clinton Township resident at a graduation party in Roseville Aug. 6 is scheduled to be back in Macomb County Circuit Court at 10 a.m. Jan. 30. 

After Amer Mongogna’s preliminary examination Sept. 26, he was bound over from Roseville’s 39th District Court on five charges: second-degree murder, assault with intent to murder, carrying a concealed weapon and two counts of possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony.

During the three-day preliminary examination, 39th District Court Judge Joseph Boedeker heard testimony from multiple witnesses, police officers and a Wayne County medical examiner regarding 18-year-old Luke Filary’s death. 

The medical examiner said the cause of Filary’s death was a bullet to the chest; the medical examiner couldn’t tell what type of bullet killed Filary.

On Nov. 8, Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Carl Marlinga said the district court transcripts were needed in order for the pretrial to continue.

During the preliminary stages of the matter at 39th District Court, Roseville police Detective Robert Gudenau, who was handling the case, told Judge Joseph Boedeker his thoughts on bond. 

“We strongly request that the defendant be held without bond,” Gudenau said in August.

Judge Joseph Boedeker ordered that Mongogna be held without bond. 

“Based on the filing complaint that was sworn to earlier by Detective Gudenau, and based on the statements made by Detective Gudenau in court today, this court is going to order that you be held without bond,” Boedeker said to Mongogna.

Mongogna was bound over without bond, and Marlinga kept the conditions the same Nov. 8.

Family members of both Filary and Mongogna have been present in the courtroom since the beginning of this case. 

 

Eastpointe High School
students renovate library with GM Student Corps program 

Eastpointe High School students renovated the high school’s library with the help of the General Motors Student Corps program during the summer. The program provided the students with a $12,000 budget.

The group doing the renovation consisted of 10 students, two GM retirees and a college intern from the University of Detroit Mercy. 

The GM Student Corps program began in 2013 with 11 partner high schools, and GM Student Corps Coordinator Matt Ybarra explained how the program operates.

“GM wanted to do more to give these students experience — work experience — to network and set them up with mentors and teach them lessons they don’t always have in school,” said Ybarra.

Alyssa Ledbetter, a senior at Eastpointe High School, said the program was beneficial to her and the other students.

“The program is beneficial because it not only gives the students the option and experience of having a job, getting up early and into a schedule, but also being responsible,” she said.

“We had meetings toward the end of the school year. Once we got together, we started coming up with project ideas. We got suggestions from the staff at our school,” said Ledbetter.

The group purchased 16 new tables, and chairs were donated.

The group also painted the yellow walls white with a dark green stripe, along with inspirational words at the top of the walls.

 

A local boy meets his favorite
actor after saving his brother’s life 

Jacob O’Connor, 10, found his younger brother, Dylan Meadows, 2, unresponsive in a pool  at his grandmother’s house in Roseville July 25, then used chest compressions to treat his younger brother. Meadows was transported to St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit, and he was there for observation for one day.

Jacob knew to do chest compressions from watching Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the movie “San Andreas.”

In the specific scene Jacob was referring to, Johnson was trying to save his daughter, who was underwater in a building after a tsunami hit the area.

“I was scared when I saw (Dylan) in the pool,” he said. “My favorite movie, ‘San Andreas,’ had compressions in the movie. I remembered it from the part in the movie where there was an earthquake, then there was a tsunami, and the girl was drowning.”

Jacob’s heroic actions went viral and made it to Johnson, who put on social media that he had to meet Jacob after hearing his story.

Christa O’Connor, Jacob and Dylan’s mother, remembers finding out through her mother that she and her sons were going to meet Johnson.

“The first thing I saw was his personal Instagram message to Jacob. My mom texted me saying I was going to Vancouver, and I had no idea what was going on,” she said.

Johnson posted a video to his Instagram account Aug. 25 saying he needed to meet Jacob.

“I gotta shake the hand of a real life 10yr old hero. Jacob, I’m gonna fly you and your family out to Vancouver so I can meet you. Hopefully, your little 2yr old brother, Dylan is well enough to fly because I wanna meet him too,” wrote Johnson.

At the Sept. 26 Roseville City Council meeting, Roseville Mayor Robert Taylor gave Jacob an award from the city; a special tribute from the state of Michigan signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, state Rep. John Chirkun and state Sen. Steve Bieda; and the key to the city.

From the entire experience, Jacob said he learned that “dreams do come true.”

Jacob said he wants to eventually be in the search-and-rescue field to provide aid to people in distress.

 

Secretary of State landing
in Eastpointe 

Pattah Development is constructing the new Michigan Secretary of State branch at Nine Mile and Kelly roads in Eastpointe and has plans to repave the parking lot at the shopping center at the location next spring. Construction of the branch began in October, and the branch is scheduled to open in the spring of 2018. 

Clark Pattah, manager of Fresh Choice Market Place, which is located next door to the new branch, said he hopes the branch will bring more traffic to the market.

“We’re hoping to bring not only that, but bring more attractions to the city of Eastpointe — more traffic and more people to the city,” he said.

Eastpointe-Roseville Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Linda Weishaupt said the branch is a “great thing for the city of Eastpointe.”

“We welcome them. That’s a great addition to that corner because it will bring in the traffic and it’ll help with the businesses that are already there,” she said.