Looking back at the events that shaped the community

By: Mary Genson | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published January 25, 2024

 Three-time cancer survivor, Peter Grantz, walked his daughter down the aisle at her wedding this fall.

Three-time cancer survivor, Peter Grantz, walked his daughter down the aisle at her wedding this fall.

Photo provided by Samantha Lee Studios

 The seating of the 1924 American LaFrance fire engine was recently upholstered.

The seating of the 1924 American LaFrance fire engine was recently upholstered.

Photo provided by the Birmingham Fire Department


In the last couple of years, the Eagle has covered a range of topics that have gone on to develop into interesting and even heartwarming stories. We reached out to some of our previous sources, seeking updates on some of our favorite pieces.  

Cancer survivor walks daughter down aisle

In August 2023, the Eagle spoke with a Bloomfield Hills resident and three-time cancer survivor,  Peter Grantz, ahead of his daughter's wedding. 

Grantz was the first CAR-T therapy patient at Corewell Health’s Beaumont Hospital.

“I received my first CAR-T infusion one year ago on Dec. 19. I’m cautiously optimistic that I will remain cancer-free and periodic diagnostic testing is ongoing to confirm all is well,” Grantz said last December.

In September 2023, Grantz walked his daughter down the aisle at her wedding. 

“My daughter had a lot planned, and surprisingly, everything went really well. From the weather to the vendors, it proved to be a truly gorgeous day that I felt blessed to take part in. I got to give a welcome speech at the reception, and we did end up picking the NSYNC song ‘God Must Have Spent a Little More Time on You’ for our father-daughter dance. Our first concert together was NSYNC, so it made the dance that much more special. All in all, it was a great day spent with family and ‘framily’ – friends that are family,”  Grantz said.

Since December 2022, nine patients have received CAR-T therapy at Corewell Health in Southeast Michigan, including Grantz.

The GovAlert mobile app 

In February 2022, the Eagle covered the development of GovAlert mobile app through GovPilot, an app designed to make communication about non-emergency concerns more convenient between the city and the public. 

“It's been really well received by the community,” Communications Director Marianne Gamboa said. “We have received positive feedback from residents who liked ease of use, especially with the app.”

Around mid-December, Gamboa shared some statistics to show how the community has been using the system since they began using the service. 

There have been 1,300 concerns that have come in, and of those, about 62% are using the app. Most of the requests come in for street maintenance, followed by code enforcement. 

In a recent city manager’s report, the city was reminded that city commissioners can not submit GovAlert requests on behalf of residents. Instead, they are instructed to refer residents to the GovAlert app when they have a concern. 

When a resident submits a concern to GovAlert, it is immediately distributed to appropriate staff members.

For residents who are not comfortable sending in a concern on a smartphone, an online form is available at bhamgov.org/residents/citizen_request. 

Birmingham’s historic Fire Engine

In May 2022, the Eagle covered a donation from the family of Bill and Carol Olsen of a 1924 American LaFrance fire engine to the city of Birmingham. 

After being on the waiting list for about a year and a half with an expert in restoring upholstery of antique vehicles, the 1924 American LaFrance Fire Engine has a new seat. 

They made sure the seat was restored to its original specifications. The department will continue to maintain this part of the city’s history for years to come. The only difference is the city opted to not spend the extra money on having it filled with horse hair. 

The Birmingham Fire Department plans to continue maintenance on the vehicle as needed. 

“​​In the next phase of restoration, we will be looking at getting some of the things rechromed and polishing up the brass on it,” Birmingham Fire Chief Paul Wells said. 

The Birmingham Museum’s Underground Railroad project

In January 2022, the Eagle first covered the Birmingham Museum finding parts of Birmingham’s history that tie back to the Underground Railroad. Since then, the Eagle has covered this project multiple times. 

Throughout 2023, the Birmingham Museum has dedicated time to studying the Underground Railroad history of southern Oakland County. This project has been in collaboration with neighboring historical organizations and was funded through Michigan Humanities, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

So far, the goals of this project have been to conduct evidence-based research on the Underground Railroad, create a traveling exhibit that will educate people throughout the county and create an educational, interactive web map of local Underground Railroad history.

The museum recently applied for additional funding from Michigan Humanities to expand its reach and extend the project another year. The Birmingham Museum was awarded a 2024 grant from Michigan Humanities of $10,000 to continue the project into a second phase.

Next year, the museum plans to create resources for county educators and students, such as classroom-ready lesson plans and a student reference book. 

“It was always our intent to bring this information forward, especially on behalf of students and the general public,” Birmingham Museum Director Leslie Pielack said. “This is, to us, one way to just make that a lot more available.”

The Birmingham Museum has been partnering with the Friends of the Birmingham Museum, Oakland Schools and historical society volunteers throughout Oakland County.