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Eastpointe, Roseville

January 2, 2013

Time capsule: 2012

A month-by-month look at the news and events that defined the year

By Sara Kandel
C & G Staff Writer

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Time capsule: 2012
Enrollment in East Detroit Public Schools increased by five percent, or by 180 students, at the beginning of the 2012 school year.

EASTPOINTE/ROSEVILLE — As with each passing year, 2012 brought both good times and bad: times when the community came together to celebrate, to fundraise to support, and times when tough decisions left local leaders at odds.

Looking back, it seems that many of the events that defined the year were rooted in the financially troubling times that both Roseville and Eastpointe have faced throughout the past few years, and while the poor economy did bring with it difficult times, losses and sorrow, it had another effect in these two cities, as well: it inspired partnerships, bold steps, change and a sense of togetherness.

In Roseville, budget constraints led to the cancellation of the annual fireworks, but city employees and residents teamed up on fundraiser after fundraiser until they finally raised enough money to bring the fireworks back to Roseville in 2012.

In Eastpointe, city officials were forced to look at new ways to cut costs and evaluate different ways to provide services; in doing so, they determined that a privatized ambulance service would help the city curb expenses, while offering the same or better service to residents. It was a decision, many city officials said, they would not have thought of during better times, but that has ended up working out quite well.

The Eastpointe Enhancement Commission’s work with the chamber of commerce led to the start of the farmer’s market and the community garden Urban Seed. The group formed to improve the city at a time when the city budget didn’t have the wiggle room to back such projects.

Stories like these filled the pages of the Eastsider throughout the year, but there were others, too. From policy to crime, hope and community, these are the stories that defined 2012.

January
• The Roseville Fire Department received a federal grant worth thousands of dollars that covered the majority of the cost of supplying the department with new self-contained breathing apparatuses.

The grant, worth $163,260, covered 90 percent of the $181,400 cost of the new equipment. The air packs or SCBA the department was using were purchased in 1996 and had a life expectancy of 10 years.

• Eastpointe launched two city apps for smartphone users at no cost to taxpayers. The apps were made on appsbar.com — a free-to-use app-making website — with the purpose of providing residents an easier way to access information and services.

• An armed robbery suspect hit three 7-Eleven stores and a hotel in a four days.

Around 3 a.m. Jan. 21, the 7-Eleven store at Masonic and Little Mack in Roseville was robbed. The next day at 12:30 a.m., the 7-Eleven store at Masonic and Kelly in Roseville was robbed.

The 19-year-old Detroit man police suspected in the incident — and who was also believed to be responsible for an armed robbery at a 7-Eleven in Warren Jan. 20 — was later shot by Southfield police after an armed robbery at a Holiday Inn Express Jan. 23.

February
• Some of the residents living at Chester Berry Manor, a five-story low-income senior housing complex in Eastpointe, were temporarily stranded in their apartments when the building’s only elevator was unable to be used while awaiting repair.

The elevator was down for routine maintenance, when workers discovered it was in need of work and wouldn’t be operable for four weeks. While some of the seniors chose to stay with family while the elevator underwent repair, others who weren’t able to maneuver multiple flights of stairs and had no one to stay with were stranded in their upper-level apartments.

Eastside Teen Outreach stepped up to offer a helping hand during the five weeks that the elevator was out of order. A group of six to 10 teens met in the lobby every afternoon after school and, together, went door-to-door offering to take out garbage, collect mail and pick up groceries.

• Roseville hired a new city manager in preparation for previous City Manager Steve Truman’s retirement in March. The council approved a $94,000 one-year contract for Scott Adkins at the regular meeting Feb. 14.

Adkins, who at the time was the superintendent of St. Clair, came to Roseville with additional management experience, as well as a career history that included more than 30 years working in public safety as both a firefighter and police officer.

• Eastpointe continued in their efforts to increase police efficiency and residential convenience when they introduced online crime reporting in February.

Any non-emergency crime can be reported through the online system featured on the city’s website and at a kiosk inside the Police Department lobby. It saves both the Police Department and residents time, filing reports that will be used only for insurance claims, documentation of an incident or record keeping.

• Friends, family and co-workers packed into Erin Auditorium at the Roseville Public Library Feb. 28 for then-City Manager Steve Truman’s retirement party.

At the time of his retirement, Truman had been with the city for 32 years — hired in as the director of the Housing Commission in 1979, he was promoted to the same role in the Building Department four years later and then to city manager in 2005.

During his time in Roseville, he served as the vice president for the Michigan Suburbs Alliance and sat on dozens of boards, commissions and organizations, including the Roseville Optimist Club, Utica School Board and Project Art In Roseville (PAIR). Truman also spearheaded the creation of the Southeast Regional Emergency Services Authority (SERESA), and the Recreational Authority of Roseville and Eastpointe.

March
• The Archdiocese of Detroit finalized a plan that detailed the consolidation and collaboration of churches across the Metro Detroit area and the closure of Our Lady Queen of Peace in Harper Woods and St. Donald in Roseville.

In Eastpointe, St. Veronica and St. Basil were directed to work on a cluster plan, which would include details on how they would go about the consolidation of services, programs, administration and outreach.

In Roseville, Sr. Angela was directed to form a cluster plan with St. Isaac Jogues in St. Clair Shores, Holy Innocents was directed to form a cluster plan with St. Barnabus in Eastpointe, and Sacred Heart and St. Athanasius were directed to move forward as collaborative partners with Our Lady Queen of All Saints in Fraser.

• Hundreds of residents, city officials and local professionals packed Athena Banquet Center in Roseville for the Eastpointe-Roseville Chamber of Commerce’s debut Taste Fest on March 14.

Proceeds from the event benefited the Roseville fireworks and Eastpointe’s Cruisin’ Gratiot.

• High-end reproductions of eight famous works of art at the Detroit Institute of Arts were put on display at various locations in Eastpointe and Roseville as part of the DIA’s Inside/Out program.

Eastpointe’s collection included: The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli at City Hall, Reading the Story of Oenone by Francis Davis Millet at the Eastpointe Memorial Library, Staunch Friends by William Frederick Yeames at the Children’s Garden, and View of LeCrotoy from Upstream by George Pierre Seurat at East Brooke Commons.

Roseville’s collection included: Bank of the Oise by Vincent Van Gogh at the Roseville Recreation Department, Alexander the Great and the Women of Darius by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo at Continental Lanes, Costal Scene with Man-of-War and other Vessels by Ludolf Backhuysen at City Hall, and Dancers in a Green Room by Edgar Degas at Huron Park.

April
• Macomb County opened a satellite office in Eastpointe on April 10. The county employees from the Department of Planning and Economic Development have information on incentives and tax exemptions, teach classes and seminars and offer services, such as business planning, development, retention, consulting and site selection.

• Roseville police charged Detroit residents Javon Nicole McCoy, 34, and Ernest Willie Ford, 33, with felony counts for armed robbery and fleeing and eluding officers after an incident at Kmart that resulted in the hospitalization of two of the store’s loss-prevention agents. Both defendants have trials scheduled this month.

• Eastpointe’s Department of Public Works Director Greg Brown was arrested April 26 for obstructing an investigation.

Brown was being investigated by the city after reports surfaced that he wasn’t following certain city practices. His arrest came after he declined to turn over city files as a part of the investigation. Brown was out on a $500 bail just a few hours after his arrest, but he was placed on paid administrative leave and unable to return to work. He resigned a few weeks later.

May
• The cremated remains of two men and one woman, found in the basement of Buehler Funeral Home during a February 2011 raid of the property, were given a full military funeral at Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly.

The Roseville Police Department published the names of more than 100 people whose unclaimed cremated remains were discovered in the raid and were able to locate families for about 60 percent of them. The Missing in America Project checked the remaining names against military databases and discovered three were deserving of full military funerals.

Working with the nonprofit group, the Roseville Police Department organized a local ceremony with Chapter 154 of the Vietnam Veterans of America and the Native American Veterans of Southeast Michigan, which included a motorcycle procession to the cemetery where they were interred.

• An optometrist accused of sexually assaulting a minor patient in his Roseville office pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in Macomb County Circuit Court May 21.

Police said Danny Brikho, 30, of Sterling Heights, sexually assaulted a 16-year-old patient in August 2011 at the LensCrafters location inside Macomb Mall, where he worked. According to the report, Brikho administered three drops of fluid to each of the girls’ eyes and instructed her to close her eyes. The girl said she felt something touch her lips, causing her to open her eyes. When she did she saw Brikho’s exposed penis, and she ran screaming from the room. 

• The Roseville Police Department had a new leader at its helm, after a contract promoting James Berlin from deputy chief to police chief was accepted at the May 22 regular City Council meeting.

At the same meeting, the council presented gifts to his predecessor, Michael Pachla. The two exchanged kind words toward each other and expressed their eagerness toward what would follow — for one, retirement, for the other, heading a department. Berlin said he had long dreamed about becoming chief. When asked how long, he replied, “Just 31 years.”

June
• The owner and an employee of a Roseville smoke shop were arrested June 5, after police found large quantities of the banned drug K2.

Macomb County banned K2 incense and bath salts the previous day, under the Macomb County Health Department Public Health Code, which gives local health officials the ability to enact laws that address an imminent danger to the community. Both K2 and bath salts can cause immediate psychotic reactions, including extreme delusions.

Both men arrested were released immediately after booking, pending charges by the Macomb County Prosecutor’s office.

• A diamond ring valued at more than $16,000 was stolen from a Roseville jewelry shop June 12. Police said the suspect in the incident approached the counter at Gianinis Jewelers and asked to see the ring, fleeing the store with it on his finger, immediately after the owner handed it to him.

The owner followed the suspect into the parking lot, pleading with him to stop. The suspect complied and briefly turned around; at that point, the storeowner told police, he reached one arm behind his back. Fearing the suspect had a gun, the storeowner produced his own gun and shot at the suspect.

Responding officers concluded the storeowner missed the suspect, as there was no evidence to indicate the suspect was injured as he fled across the parking lot to an awaiting vehicle. The vehicle the two suspects fled in was found abandoned a short distance from the location of the jewelry store.

• Eastpointe saw another successful cruise on June 16, when Cruisin’ Gratiot brought thousands of people to the city.

Officials agreed that, in its 14th year, the cruise was busier than ever, with more than 400 lane passes sold prior to the event and hundreds of other cruisers occupying the open lanes on cruise day. Then-Police Chief Michael Lauretti estimated more than 160,000 people attended the cruise.

• Residents and city employees worked together throughout the year to bring a treasured event back to the city. On June 23, hundreds of people gathered at Veterans Memorial Park in Roseville for an evening of fireworks.

The Roseville Fireworks Committee raised the $40,000 needed to fund the event through various fundraisers throughout the year and two generous donations — $7,500 from Christian Financial Credit Union and $5,000 from National Coney Island.

• Council passed a 1.464 millage increase, which was divided among several areas and brought the city to its voted-on maximum allowable millage of 24.8494, at the June 26 regular meeting.

Refuse received the majority of the increase, gaining 1.35 mills, going from approximately 1.21 mills to 2.57 mills. The library debt millage increased by 0.075 mills from 0.161 to 0.236. General operations received a 0.039 millage increase, going from 13.660 to 13.669.

July
• The Eastpointe and Roseville fire departments worked together with the Eastpointe Police Department to investigate a July 6 house fire in Eastpointe that killed four pets and critically injured a fifth.

Police have not released the name of the man believed to be responsible for the incident, but they said, at the time, that they were able to develop a suspect after speaking with the homeowner and several witnesses who saw a man lurking around the victim’s yard.

• Eastpointe Police Chief Michael Lauretti retired July 11 after more than 32 years with the department.

Lauretti, who had been on the board of the Michigan Chiefs of Police association for five years at the time of his retirement, had a passion for technology and is responsible for brining online crime reporting, Leads Online, Crimedar and more to the department in the year before his retirement.

“Eastpointe is my home, whether I hang my hat here or not,” Lauretti, a Clinton Township resident, said at the time of his retirement. “I grew up in Eastpointe. I graduated from the high school. My mom still lives in the house I grew up in. My brother still has a house here. My sister-in-law still lives here. The city of Eastpointe has been an outstanding opportunity for me and given me a wonderful career and a great life.”

•  Firefighters train to deliver babies regularly, but they say they usually get the call in time to get the expectant mother to the hospital before delivery. That wasn’t the case early in the morning July 23.

According to the department, a woman-in-labor call came in just after 5 a.m. The firefighter/paramedics left the department at 5:03 a.m., got to the Eastpointe home where the call came from at 5:07 a.m., and the baby was born in the back of the ambulance at 5:14 a.m.

“Within a half-hour, I went from sleeping to delivering a baby to driving back to the station,” said firefighter Joe Zangara. It was his first time delivering a baby.

August
• Roseville police responded to a possible stranger-danger situation Aug. 1, when two children reported being approached by an elderly man.

Police said that the man approached the kids as they were walking down a residential street on the city’s east end and offered to pay them $3 to deliver a dozen roses. The man did not specify an address and sped off after handing the flowers to the children.

A card attached to the flowers was signed “Ricky Joe,” but after canvassing the area, police were unable to locate the suspect or any residents who knew anyone by the name on the card.

•  Eastpointe voters pass a library mileage and two city charter amendments at the Aug. 7 primary.

City proposal A, which called for a restructuring of the role between City Council, the city manager and the finance director, passed with 2,146 votes, or by about 54 percent of voters. City proposal B — another charter amendment — called for changes to the city regulations governing waste removal, recycling and public-works contracts. City proposal C, which called for a 1-mill library millage increase, saw the most outstanding support with almost 70 percent, or 2,977 votes, favoring it.

• Council passed a resolution at the Aug. 21 regular meeting that outlines requirements to allow city and school district employees to purchase tax reversion homes from Eastpointe at cost.

The resolution was aimed at creating more home ownership in the city and coincided with the $1.5 million purchase of approximately 90 tax-foreclosed properties from the county.

September
• An employee from a St. Clair Shores business was robbed at gunpoint while making a cash deposit at Comerica Bank in Roseville Sept. 8.

Police said the suspect approached the victim on foot in the bank parking lot, at Kelly Road and 10 Mile, and lifted his shirt to expose a gun. He demanded that the victim hand over the cash. The victim complied and the unidentified robber fled the scene.

• Acting on a tip they said was credible, on Sept. 26 police in Roseville taped off a driveway near the city’s center, in preparation for a soil test.

According to the tip, the body of Jimmy Hoffa was buried beneath a driveway that backed out to the 29000 block of Kelly Road, and after ground-penetrating radar showed an anomaly in the location indicated in the tip, police prepared to take a soil sample to test for human remains.

The sample was taken Sept. 28, and within a few days, the results came back negative for human remains.

October
• An attempted carjacking almost led to a kidnapping Oct. 4, when a Roseville woman was preparing to drive her two children, ages 7 and 8, to school. She realized she’d forgotten something in the house and made the decision to dash back inside while the children waited in the car.

Police said the woman had been in her home for less than a minute when she returned outside and saw two men getting into her car. Driving her car, the suspects fled the driveway at high speed and ran over the woman in the process. She was hospitalized due to injuries.

Not far from the house, the suspects lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a telephone pole, then fled the scene in an awaiting vehicle. Both children survived the crash without serious injury.

• Solid Ground, a transitional shelter in Roseville, closed Oct. 17. The shelter’s directors said that about one third of the shelter’s annual budget was in grants, but in 2012, they didn’t receive any, and without the government’s help, they couldn’t afford to stay open.

Officials at the shelter gave residents — 12 women and 23 children — 30 days notice and worked with neighboring agencies to help as many of them as possible find placement in nearby shelters.

• Enrollment increased at East Detroit Public Schools in fall 2012. According to the official tally on count day, Oct. 17, district-wide enrollment increased by 180 students, growing by five percent from the previous year.

• City officials and residents in Eastpointe gathered at the site of an old middle school Oct. 19 for the ceremonial groundbreaking of a new senior living facility.

The city purchased the property using Neighborhood Stabilization funds, after the school was closed in 2010, and worked with the county and developers from MHT/Continental Management to build a low-income senior living facility. Oakwood Manor is slated to open in June 2013.

November
• The private, nonprofit EMS, or emergency medical services, company Medstar signed a contract with the city in early November to provide ambulance services in Eastpointe. Medstar service doesn’t cost the city anything, and their track record is made up of run-time data and customer reviews.

• More than 50 percent of registered voters in Eastpointe and Roseville hit the polls Nov. 6 for the 44th presidential election.

In Roseville, voters re-elected long-time resident Harold Haugh to serve another two-year term in the state House. In Eastpointe, long-time resident Veronica Klinefelt was elected to a two-year term on the Macomb County Board of Commissioners.

• The Recreational Authority of Roseville and Eastpointe received a Competitive Grant Assistance Program grant totaling $342,000 to help cover the cost of building improvements for the facility at 18185 Sycamore, which serves as the headquarters of the authority.

However, the amount received covers less than a quarter of what is needed to expand the building. The cost to fix cracking in the foundation in the northeast corner of the building is estimated at $750,000. An expansion is estimated at $1.5 million.

December
• A former Eastpointe detective faced with two felony charges was in 38th District Court for a pretrial conference Dec. 4.

Timothy Stopczynski is accused of stealing items seized by the Police Department and selling them for personal gain. The 14-year veteran of the Eastpointe Police Department was charged with one count of misconduct while in office, a five-year felony, and one count of embezzlement greater than $1,000 but less than $20,000, a five-year felony. A preliminary exam is scheduled for Jan. 4.

• Both Roseville and Eastpointe saw great turnouts to their annual tree-lighting events, held Dec. 5 in Eastpointe and Dec. 6 in Roseville.

More than 200 people came out for the Eastpointe event, which included music by the East Detroit High School band and choir, doughnuts and hot cocoa and a visit from Santa. The Roseville event saw a crowd of about 600 and had a variety of activities, including a sing-along with council, doughnuts and hot cocoa, live reindeer, a visit from Santa and craft stations where kids could get a holiday tattoo, write a letter to Santa or color pictures.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sara Kandel at skandel@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1030.