Farmington Public Schools approved a bid for surveillance cameras on buses in 2018.

Farmington Public Schools approved a bid for surveillance cameras on buses in 2018.

File photo by Deb Jacques


A year of influence in the Farmington area

2018 leaves us stronger, prepared

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published December 27, 2018

 Beaumont Hospital, Farmington Hills’ expansion includes 193,000 square feet of new space; more than 61,500 square feet of existing space on the campus will also be renovated.

Beaumont Hospital, Farmington Hills’ expansion includes 193,000 square feet of new space; more than 61,500 square feet of existing space on the campus will also be renovated.

File photo by Deb Jacques

 Helene (Kouzoujian) Rimer, of Farmington, brought her graduation picture so classmates would recognize her at a Harrison High School final-year event. Rimer was part of the school’s first graduating class in 1972.

Helene (Kouzoujian) Rimer, of Farmington, brought her graduation picture so classmates would recognize her at a Harrison High School final-year event. Rimer was part of the school’s first graduating class in 1972.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Farmington resident Philas Kelly — named the oldest living member of the Michigan National Guard at age 104 — holds a photo of himself at the Matterhorn in the Alps decades ago while talking about old times at his home.

Farmington resident Philas Kelly — named the oldest living member of the Michigan National Guard at age 104 — holds a photo of himself at the Matterhorn in the Alps decades ago while talking about old times at his home.

File photo by Donna Agusti

 Sister Mary Maurita Sengelaub, 100, in her younger years made an impact on the health care system. She is a nun at the McAuley Life Center.

Sister Mary Maurita Sengelaub, 100, in her younger years made an impact on the health care system. She is a nun at the McAuley Life Center.

File photo by Deb Jacques

 Lights fill the room at a memorial service Oct. 29 at Temple Israel in West Bloomfield. The service was quickly organized by local Jewish youth groups in response to the anti-Semitic mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Lights fill the room at a memorial service Oct. 29 at Temple Israel in West Bloomfield. The service was quickly organized by local Jewish youth groups in response to the anti-Semitic mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

File photo by Sean Work

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FARMINGTON/FARMINGTON HILLS — The celebratory sentiments have all but died down, and the greater Farmington area is thriving in the wake of 2018’s highlights and indelible moments.

Before you get to work on your own personal resolutions, step back to recall some events of note from the year gone by.

 

Road fix arrives in Hills
Voters in Farmington Hills approved a local road millage during the Nov. 6 general election.

The charter amendment for the city of Farmington Hills passed with 22,266 votes, or about 60 percent, according to unofficial results from the Oakland County Elections Division.

The “no” votes tallied 15,666, or 41.3 percent. A total of about 37,932 people voted.

The vote allows for the city to transition from special assessment districts to pay for road improvements to a local road millage.

Residents had sparked the initiative due to burdensome special assessments on terrible roads.

The city charter had previously required SADs for road reconstruction in neighborhoods.

Finance Director Steve Barr said last year that there were 1,764 parcels in active SADs, though “some have already been paid off.”

Barr said that all but 11 of the 1,764 parcels are residential properties.

The city has 243 miles of local streets, 129 miles of which are poor, 71 miles of which are fair, 21 miles of which are good, and 22 miles of which are gravel roads.

Per the city’s directed special assessments for road improvements policy — approved by the City Council in April 2016 — local roads are given priority to be improved based on a pavement condition rating and a number of other factors, including housing density, Department of Public Works upkeep and public interest.

Under that policy, the city is responsible for paying 20 percent of the cost of repairs, while residents living on that road pay 80 percent.

Under the approved 2.57-mill road tax, a resident with a home that has a market value of $229,000 would pay $247.50 annually.

The millage will be in effect in perpetuity, Barr stated in an email.

The road tax will show up on residents’ summer 2019 property tax bills, and construction could start in the summer.

 

A ‘remarkable man’ leaves his mark
Farmington-area philanthropist George Riley, 85, died on Jan. 5, remembered by many for his generosity.

Riley, a longtime Farmington Hills resident who lived in Naples, Florida, during his last years, died of natural causes in Naples surrounded by loved ones.

Riley, described as a pillar of society, had lived in Farmington Hills for about 50 years.

Riley, born in Detroit, served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War and married Dolores Dailey in 1952, according to his obituary on www.heeney-sundquist.com; Dolores died in April 2010.

Riley’s love of electronics — used in the Navy — led him to opening up the Clover TV repair shop in Plymouth in 1952 that later turned into Clover Technologies in Wixom, which is now the site of Detroit Public Television’s studios.

After Riley sold the business, he and his wife established the Riley Foundation to give back to the community, along with many facilities that bear the name Riley.

Charitable projects of the Riley Foundation also go toward Angela Hospice in Livonia, the George F. Riley Healing Garden at the Beaumont Cancer and Breast Care Center in Farmington Hills, and the Riley Wilderness Youth Camp in Novi.

Clover Technologies — a Fortune 50 telecommunications company — was commonly referred to as a company that had blossomed from one man to a business with over 450 employees and eight offices throughout the United States.

Riley started the Riley Foundation, responsible for Riley Skate Park and the Riley Archery Range in Farmington.

 

Beaumont Hospital $160M expansion progresses
Due to an ongoing renovation project, big changes were underway for Beaumont Hospital, Farmington Hills.

The $160 million hospital expansion project was celebrated with a groundbreaking ceremony in 2016.

On Feb. 2, 2018, construction crews ceremoniously hoisted the final steel beam into place on Beaumont Hospital, Farmington Hills’ new south tower as part of a “topping off” ceremony.

The expansion includes 193,000 square feet of new space; more than 61,500 square feet of existing space on the campus will also be renovated, a press release states.

The hospital filed a certificate of need with the state of Michigan for the expansion project in 2014. The Michigan Department of Community Health manages and approves certificates of need for all hospitals, a state regulatory program intended to balance cost, quality and access issues, and to ensure that the needed services are developed in Michigan.

The work also includes expanding and modernizing the hospital’s surgical services, with nine new operating rooms and 27 private patient rooms. Other expansions include a lounge area.

The five-story south tower will have 80 private rooms, bringing the total number of private patient rooms to 159, with an additional 24 private intensive care unit beds. Total beds will remain at 330.

South tower renovations feature units for orthopedic, oncology and respiratory care patients; and a new main entrance and reception area for the entire hospital, according to a press release.

The expansion of the hospital’s east pavilion will create a bigger emergency and Level II Trauma Center that will grow by over 60 percent to 58 treatment and evaluation bays, including three trauma rooms and a 17-bay observation unit. An increase in capacity will mean bumping the current 65,000 patient visits annually to 88,000.

A new parking deck and more are also on tap.

Beaumont Health is funding $150 million for the project and is looking for community support for the remaining funds.

 

Cause of ‘catastrophic’ water main break revealed
The Great Lakes Water Authority explained the cause of a water main break that occurred in the fall of 2017 and left thousands of people without water for nearly a week.

The break, which happened just after rush hour on Oct. 23, 2017, occurred near 14 Mile Road in West Bloomfield. Residents there — along with more than 300,000 customers in Farmington Hills, Orchard Lake, Novi, Commerce Township, Walled Lake, Rochester Hills, Keego Harbor and Wixom — are serviced by the line.

Water pressure was reduced significantly to those customers, resulting in a boil water alert that lasted as long as seven days for some communities while representatives from the GLWA worked to repair the 48-inch concrete cylinder pipe. Many municipalities provided bottled drinking water to residents affected by what the authority called the “catastrophic failure of the main.”

In 2018, the GLWA finished an in-depth investigation on what led to the break: corrosion of the pipe from the intrusion of water, oxygen and chlorides into the pipe’s cement.

In the fall of 2018, the Great Lakes Water Authority took action to fix the problem and prevent the roughly $5 million situation from happening again, GLWA officials said.

At an Oct. 17 press conference at Pioneer Park in Farmington Hills, not too far from the site of the water main break, authorities and officials explained new technologies that are coming down the pike.

The GLWA launched a program to evaluate the condition of water transmission mains using technology that will hone in on an 8-mile stretch of pipe that was impacted during the water main break, according to a press release.

The GLWA, in partnership with Pure Technologies, announced the launch of a program designed to use two technologies for assessment: the SmartBall and the PipeDiver.

The launch of the pilot program will initially examine 8 miles of water transmission pipe along 14 Mile Road in Oakland County.

The SmartBall technology uses acoustics to detect leaks and gas pockets.

The PipeDiver technology examines the pipes to detect structural weaknesses. Both pieces of technology will be in operation while the pipes remain pressurized and in operation.

The data collected from testing using the new technology will allow the GLWA to predict where an area of main pipe might be weak so officials can intercede before a break occurs. The early detection of leaks and structural problems should result in a cost savings through cost-effective repairs and avoidance of emergency situations.

 

A sense of preparation
During a Neighborhood Watch seminar on active shooter training protocols, Farmington Hills Police Department representatives spoke to a full house April 25 at City Hall about updated active shooter response scenarios in the wake of mass shootings.

The takeaway message: Don’t be a sitting duck. Do all that you can do to stay alive and help others.

Active assailant training protocol falls under the acronym ALICE, for alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evade.

Acting Sgt. Domenic Lauria, of the Farmington Hills Police Department,  said that ALICE is “nothing new” because people instinctively fight back in dangerous situations, but culturally, many Americans have been taught from childhood to not fight and to avoid conflict.

Lauria said the outdated response to a school intruder alert would be to shut the blinds, stay quiet, close and lock the doors, move to the wall farthest from entrances, and turn off the lights.

With ALICE, “alert” encompasses learning about the active assailant situation and telling others; “lockdown” means securing the area via barricades, if leaving is not an option; and “informed” is seeing or hearing something that can help the police immediately, like where the aggressor is located.

“Counter” involves distracting and disrupting an aggressor’s plan.

“Disarm and subdue (the) aggressor,” Lauria said. “Try to separate weapon from aggressor.”

Lauria said that only when in immediate danger should someone confront an aggressor.

“If they are right there and (there is) no chance of you getting away, what do we have to do? Fight,” he said.

If it is necessary to handle the attacker’s weapon, put it in a box or a trash can and carry it to safety; otherwise, you might be mistaken as the aggressor. When evacuating, flee on foot, not via vehicle, which could cause a traffic jam and interrupt emergency personnel.

The Police Department is partnering with Farmington Public Schools and houses of worship on more ALICE training.

 

Harrison High School’s legacy is celebrated   
Once a Hawk, always a Hawk.

That well-known saying in the Harrison High School community will live on as the final Harrison graduates and alumni walked the school halls for the last time.

Harrison High School will close before the 2019-20 school year, and school officials are planning something big to commemorate its nearly 50-year history.

The Farmington Public Schools Board of Education voted 6-1 in 2016 to close Harrison High School for the 2019-20 school year, which allowed current students to be enrolled at Harrison High School until the spring of 2019, according to a press release. Trustee David Turner voted “no,” saying you “can’t cut your way to savings” and that the district needed to find a way to “re-establish the confidence and cohesion” of parents.

In the fall of 2019, every FPS high school student will attend either Farmington High School or North Farmington High School.

A districtwide email was sent out regarding Harrison events spanning from the fall to this summer to celebrate educating thousands of Farmington and Farmington Hills children.

A closing celebration weekend is slated for the spring, with activities such as a spring alumni concert and a closing sale featuring select uniforms and memorabilia.

Since Farmington Hills voters approved the city’s 10-year parks and recreation millage renewal in the Aug. 7 primary election, the millage renewal funding could also provide program offerings at the new program space planned for Harrison High School.

 

Community concerned over Wesley Street shooting
The gunshots that rang out in September led to a Farmington neighborhood community rallying together.

The gunshots were from a drive-by shooting at around 10:30 p.m. Sept. 19 in the 23500 block of Wesley Street, south of Grand River Avenue, west of Gill Road, according to a police report.

The Farmington Public Safety Department hosted a meeting Sept. 27 with over 100 residents, most of whom live nearby.

The over hourlong meeting discussed the situation surrounding the shooting — without going into crucial investigation details — and what residents should know about neighborhood safety.

Farmington Public Safety Department officers were dispatched to the area after numerous 911 calls reported gunfire.

Responding officers arrived within two minutes that day and found numerous spent shell casings on Wesley Street.

Officers determined that no one in the home had been injured and that the suspects had left the scene, according to the report. Police said that the home was targeted, and the shooting was not a random event.

Witnesses noticed as many as three vehicles leaving the scene at a high rate of speed.

A family of six who lived there had rented the home; the landlord had revoked their lease, and they had to leave by the end of September; the home was slated to be put up for sale. The landlord helped the family find a place to live, more than likely outside of the city, police said.

 

Farmington voters approve 3-mill tax hike
Voters in the city of Farmington an up to 3-mill tax increase for city services Nov. 6.

The charter amendment was approved with 3,109 votes, or 62.06 percent.

The “no” votes tallied 1,901, or 37.94 percent. A total of 5,010 people voted, according to unofficial results from the Oakland County Elections Division.

The measure gives the Farmington City Council the authority to levy up to an additional 3 mills in property taxes.

The City Council unanimously approved putting the proposal on the November ballot.

At least half of any millage amount levied each year would need to fund capital improvements to streets and sidewalks, water and sewer lines, parks, bridges, walking paths, bike paths and streetscapes, and large apparatus, like fire trucks, according to city officials.

The remaining funds of any amount levied will be used for general operating expenditures, including public safety, public works, city administration, recreation and culture, economic and community development, and district court expenditures.

The millage could be levied beginning with the 2019 summer tax bill, and the authority to levy expires in 10 years, according to the city.

If the entire amount were levied, the average taxpayer would pay $225 more per year, based on an average home value of $190,000.

Staff Writers Tiffany Esshaki and Maddie Forshee contributed to this report.

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