Looking back on 2015

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published December 30, 2015


MACOMB COUNTY — There were plenty of headline-making news stories in the Journal’s coverage area this past year. Some are still fresh in our minds, while others may have faded from memory. Here’s a look back at some of the stories that shaped Macomb County in 2015.

A jailhouse death
Although David Stojcevski reportedly succumbed to prescription drug withdrawal in 2014, his death while in the Macomb County Jail became national news this year after a federal court lawsuit was filed against the county, a number of jail employees, and medical personnel who allegedly failed to tend to his needs.

According to the suit filed in March by the Stojcevski estate, the defendants listed in the suit allegedly did little to help the prisoner. The suit, filed by attorney Robert Ihrie, also alleges that someone at the jail could have confirmed and filled the medications that Stojcevski had been prescribed prior to incarceration. Hours of video surveillance are being used as evidence in the case. The videos show Stojcevski, 32, of Roseville, apparently having seizures and gasping for air while naked on the floor of his cell. He died on June 27 when he was transported to McLaren Macomb Hospital after he stopped breathing. The suit also states that Stojcevski lost 50 pounds during his 17 days of incarceration.

In November, U.S. District Court Judge Linda Parker dismissed 31 defendants, including jail employees and medical workers, as well as a 14th Amendment allegation and an emotional distress claim filed by Stojcevski’s brother, Vladimir, who was simultaneously incarcerated but released four days before his brother’s death. Vladimir can file a separate lawsuit, she ruled.

The FBI was still reviewing the case at press time.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, a former Macomb County sheriff, publicly defended jail staff. “I know damn well they did what they needed to do to care and tend to (David Stojcevski),” he said.

Harrison Township gets a full-time library
The Harrison Township Public Library officially began operating on a full-time basis this year following a successful millage increase in August 2014.

The library on L’Anse Creuse Street went from operating 23 hours a week to 40 hours a week on Aug. 3. In addition, the approved 10-year, 0.5 mill increase — which was expected to raise about $413,000 in the first year for new computers, books and other materials — also has resulted in a paid staff and a full-time head librarian in Dan Hutchins.

Hutchins said that since the library began operation full time, 450 new cards have been issued, which is up 90 percent from the year prior. Circulation, he said, is up 20 percent from 2014.

“It’s been going up incrementally every month.” he said. The library now offers four children’s programs each month and at least one adult program each month. Hutchins said they hope to add more programs in 2016. The Harrison Township Public Library also now has e-books, downloadable music, and it will be adding homebound delivery service next year.

Airmen deployed to fight Islamic State
In April, approximately 350 airmen from the 127th Wing of the Michigan Air National Guard at Selfridge and 12 A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft were deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the mission to eliminate the Islamic State, also referred to as ISIS.

Selfridge officials reported that the airmen engaged in daily missions as part of the operation. Deployed units included the 107th Fighter Squadron, the 127th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, the 127th Maintenance Squadron and the 127th Operations Support Squadron.

According to Selfridge Brig. Gen. John D. Slocum, commander of the 127th Wing, the airmen began filtering home in late October.

According to Selfridge officials, A-10 pilots and support crews made more than 1,600 sorties during their deployment, logging more than 11,000 combined hours of combat flight time.

“Our airmen, and their families, have been fully engaged. It is with great gratitude and respect for a job well done that we welcome them home,” Slocum said after they had returned home to Michigan.

A welcome-home ceremony was held at the air base on Dec. 6 and was attended by various officials, including Gov. Rick Snyder U.S. Sen. Gary Peters.

County projects target Mount Clemens
Over the summer, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel enthusiastically announced $65 million in improvement projects slated for Mount Clemens.

“I’m excited. Why? Because we’re really looking at progress in the county,” Hackel said during a press conference in July. “This is going to carry on to other projects planned in the downtown campus area.”

Projects include the $9 million, 610-space parking structure next to the County Administration Building currently under construction, ongoing renovations at the Old County Administration Building where county offices will soon operate, and work at the Macomb County Circuit Court, the former Talmer Bank building — where the Clerk’s Office’s non-court operations will be located — and the Clemens Center.

Officials said the goal of these projects is to provide more efficiency in Macomb County and occupy vacant buildings in the county seat’s downtown area. The projects are slated to bring in more than 100 new county employees to Mount Clemens, and essentially boost the local economy by bringing in more visitors.

Hackel said the projects will be paid for with $45 million from county bonds, $10 million from the county’s general fund, and $10 million from an insurance payout received following the electrical fire that occurred at the Old County Administration Building two years ago.

Earlier this month, the county’s Visioning Committee issued a notice to residents seeking recommendations via a survey about what to do with the space where the current 40-year-old parking garage next to the court building currently stands. The parking garage will be demolished once the new facility is complete, which officials expect will be in February 2016.

Hard copies of the survey are available at three locations in Mount Clemens: the Chamber of Commerce, 28 First St., Suite B; the jury room at circuit court, 40 North Main St.; and the Board of Commissioners office, 1 South Main St., ninth floor. To fill out the survey online, go to www.surveymonkey.com/r/CountySeatVisioningProject.


Macomb County loses a powerful political figure
The county lost an icon when Ted Wahby passed away on Dec. 5 following a lengthy illness.

Thousands of mourners attended the late Macomb County treasurer’s Dec. 9 service at St. Margaret of Scotland Church in St. Clair Shores, where he was a longtime parish member and supporter. Wahby, a resident of St. Clair Shores and the city’s longest-running mayor, made a lasting impact on the area over his lifetime.

Wahby was first elected as Macomb County treasurer in 1995. Previously, he was mayor of St. Clair Shores from 1983 to 1995, a St. Clair Shores city councilman from 1981 to 1983, and a member of the Lake Shore Board of Education in St. Clair Shores from 1979 to 1981.

Wahby was also chairman of the board at McLaren Macomb Hospital, where the Ted B. Wahby Cancer Center is named in his honor.

“Ted was a dynamic individual and an enthusiastic supporter of McLaren Macomb and our community,” said McLaren Macomb President and CEO Tom Brisse. “He led our hospital board for many years and was instrumental in the hospital’s affiliation with McLaren Health Care, which further strengthened our position as a major contributor to quality health care in Macomb County.”

The county is now in the process of appointing someone to fill the treasurer position. The County Treasurer Appointment Committee — made up of Macomb County Senior Probate Judge Kathryn George, county Clerk/Register of Deeds Carmella Sabaugh, and county Prosecutor Eric Smith — met for the first time on Dec. 18 to begin the process.

The committee adopted an application process for the position, including filing deadlines and the appointment date of the new treasurer. County officials said the vacancy needs to be filled within 90 days of the vacancy, and Deputy Treasurer Jerry Moffitt will act as the treasurer until the vacancy is filled. The appointee will be treasurer for the remainder of the current term of office, which expires Dec. 31, 2016.

Four sentenced in fatal party store shooting
The four men involved in the March 2014 shooting death of Moon Lite Party Store owner Basim “Basil” Sulaka faced trial in 2015.

Clinton Grayson, Darius Diaz-Gaskin, Kenneth Hill and Jomar Robinson were all found guilty of first-degree murder, armed robbery, felony firearm possession and conspiracy to commit armed robbery. Each was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Staff Writer Nick Mordowanec contributed to this report.