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2011: The Year in Review



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January 04, 2012 - Editor's Note: This week we continue our look back at 2011 by reviewing the last six months of the year. Enjoy!

July 6

Test results have once again declined for Oxford High School juniors who took the Michigan Merit Exam and ACT.

The Oxford Village Council publicly addressed and discussed Councilwoman Maureen Helmuth's role in covering up an alleged embezzlement of approximately $3,300 in village property tax funds back in 2006-07.

A rifle bullet burst through the window of a home in the Oxford Woods subdivision. No one was injured.

The Addison Township Public Library has a new website and a Facebook page.

July 13

Addison Township officials have to decide whether or not to stay a general law township or change to a charter township, which has additional powers.

Oxford firefighters saved a building in the Village Manor Apartments complex from a potentially devastating blaze started when a construction vehicle struck a natural gas line, causing it to ignite.

Kelly Oles, a 2006 OHS graduate, won the title of Miss Oakland County.

Local business owner Bob Warnke is the new president of the Rotary Club of Oxford.

Former Oxford Village President Renee Donovan died on July 5. She was 63. Donovan served on council from 2001-06.

July 20

The Oxford Downtown Development Authority board voted 5-3 to pay $52,500 for the development of a new streetscape plan designed to make the downtown area more pedestrian-friendly, attractive and prosperous.

Oxford Township amended its hunting/firearm ordinance to mirror state law.

Installation of synthetic blue turf began at the OHS football stadium.

An experimental road surface is working well in Addison Township, according to Supervisor Bruce Pearson. It was spread along Lake George Rd. between Lakeville and Oakwood roads. Drivers are reporting a much smoother ride.

Oxford Township officials are debating what to do with $223,927 in unspent funds from the 2010 fiscal year.

July 27

Oxford Village resident Maria Martin, a native of South Africa, is the DDA's new administrative assistant.

Jeff Acton, owner of the Oxford-based Acton Trucking, is quite upset and wants to find whoever vandalized his vehicles, which were parked at Koenig Sand & Gravel off Lakeville Rd. The damage was estimated to be around $6,000 and that doesn't include the $3,000 to $4,000 in business Acton claims he'll lose.

The family of Oxford resident Megan Roberts, 20, has filed a civil lawsuit against her father, Robert Brian Kelly, who allegedly brutally beat her with a baseball bat back in May. The family is seeking damages to help pay for Roberts' medical care, as she's in a coma and suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Oxford DDA Director Madonna VanFossen was criticized by DDA Board Member Bill Dunn for representing the interests of a local business as opposed to her employer at a village council meeting.

August 3

Oxford resident Megan Roberts, 20, died July 27 – 13 days after being taken off life support. She died as a result of the severe injuries she sustained when her father, Robert Brian Kelly, allegedly brutally beat her with a baseball bat as she slept back in May. The criminal charge against Kelly was elevated from assault with intent to commit murder to first-degree premeditated murder and a judge ruled him competent to stand trial following a psychiatric exam.

Someone ripped a statue honoring Oxford's fallen soldiers off its base and left it on the ground in downtown's Centennial Park.

Oxford Village Clerk Susan Nassar has discovered the village has under-billed 12 water customers by at least $20,000 for approximately 5 million gallons over the last three to five years.

The historic Axford home, owned by Scott and Kelly Sutphin, is one of nine Oxford Village properties slated to receive a Beautification Award.

Oxford Community Schools has approved the purchase of a virtual reference library for $141,315.

August 10

A gun sale in Oxford Township's Twin Lakes subdivision turned into an armed robbery. A shot was fired, but no one was injured.

At 12:01 a.m. Aug. 8, the OHS varsity football team began their very first practice on the new synthetic blue turf field.

A 52-3 District Court judge bound Robert Brian Kelly, 52, of Oxford, over to Oakland County Circuit Court on the charge of first-degree premeditated murder. He's accused of brutally beating his daughter, Megan Roberts, a 2009 OHS graduate, with a baseball bat in May, which led to her death in July.

A golf cart crash at Copper Hills Golf Course in Addison Township killed a 43-year-old Troy man.

August 17

Oxford resident Ruth Wright had a brush with death when a tree limb estimated to be 50 feet long and 15 inches in diameter struck her as it fell to the ground in the township cemetery. Fortunately, she sustained only minor injuries.

Oxford Township is increasing its sewer rates. The nonmetered rate will go from $67 to $86 per REU per six-month billing cycle. The metered rate will go from $17.50 to $23 per thousand cubic feet.

Oxford Community School explains the recent ACT scores and asserts they actually went up.

Longtime Oxford resident and community volunteer Gayle Schlicht passed away Aug. 8. He was 70 years old.

Gerald Wichman III, a 2004 OHS graduate, is off to China to teach U.S. history and physical education.

August 24

The Stanley Cup, professional hockey's highest prize, visited the 24th Street Sports Tavern in downtown Oxford. A large crowd showed up to see it, touch it and be photographed with it.

Oxford Meijer has filed an appeal to reduce its taxable value. If successful, the township would have to refund $43,205 to the corporate chain.

Clawson resident and U.S. Navy veteran John Heller spoke to the Rotary Club of Oxford and told the story of how he survived the sinking of the USS Indianapolis during the last days of World War II.

All seven schools in the Oxford district met the adequate yearly progress standards put out by the U.S. Department of Education.

Vandals struck Oakwood Lake Township Park in Oxford, causing $1,500 to $1,800 in damage.

Lauralei Pariseau, a junior at OHS, was crowned Miss Lapeer Days.

The Addison Township Board unanimously rejected the idea of becoming a charter township. It will remain a general law township.

August 31

The OHS varsity football team trounced arch-rivals, the Lake Orion Dragons, 41-20 in the opening game of the season.

NFL Hall of Famer Dan Dierdorf visited the Wildcats prior to the big game against Lake Orion to give the team a pep talk. Also on hand was U-M football legend Jim Brandstatter.

The first five Chinese students for the new Oxford International Residency Academy arrived in town.

Oxford Community Schools beefs up security at OMS and OHS by hiring three private security guards and a dean of students. The district budgeted $100,000 for security at the two schools.

Seven reproductions of famous paintings hanging at the Detroit Institute of Arts are coming to Oxford.

Scott Jensen, 46, of Mayfield Township, got a hole-in-one while playing at the Boulder Pointe Golf Club in Oxford.

September 7

Oxford students returned to school and the district is reported it's grossed 638 new students.

Free wireless internet is still coming to downtown Oxford, but the company installing it, the Frankenmuth-based Air Advantage, indicated it might not happen until "the official winter season" begins.

A 64-year-old Oxford woman was killed in a crash after she allegedly drove through a red light at the intersection of M-24 and Market St.

Upland Hills School celebrated its 40th anniversary with a celebration featuring students, parents, staff and alumni.

Crossroads for Youth President Dr. Janet McPeek won a Diversity Champion Award from Corp Magazine.

September 14

Oxford Village voters re-elected Tony Albensi and elect Kevin Stephison to the council. They also gave permission to sell a 0.431-acre parcel of vacant land the village owns on the west side of Pleasant St.

The OHS Hall of Fame inducts 10 new members. They are Mike Gardner, Bud Rowley, Caryn (Inman) Herrick, Eric Ghiaciuc, Lee Noftz, Ed Stull, Bud Laidlaw, Don Richmond, Kellen Kalso and Patti (Niemi) Anderson.

September 21

Oxford Township is withholding approximately $4,400 in funding from the North Oak land Transportation Authority until it receives information on the ridership. Officials are concerned they're paying for riders who are already covered by other means such as grants. The NOTA board tells Oxford to put what they want in writing and submit it.

Local veterans groups came together and donated $400 to a soldier who was robbed in Pontiac while on leave.

A helicopter from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol landed at Leonard Elementary as part of a lesson for students.

Dry Coolers, Inc. has purchased a 58,000-square-foot building at 575 S. Glaspie St. in Oxford Village. The company plans to move its operations there from its current township location on Adventure Lane.

Oxford Community Schools reported 283 students enrolled for on-line classes.

September 28

The OHS varsity football team won its homecoming game against the Stoney Creek Cougars. The score was 42-6.

Oxford Township expects to begin accepting applications for U.S. passports soon. The township's awaiting approval as an acceptance facility.

A walkability audit conducted in downtown Oxford indicated the area is noisy, lacks pedestrian crossings and needs more trees.

The Oxford Township Board voted down a proposed property tax cut of 0.05 mill. The rate will remain at 0.95 mill.

Oxford Community Schools was recognized as one of the top Chinese teaching schools in the U.S. and will receive a grant of $10,000.

The Addison Township Public Library will shut down from Oct. 1-15 in order to accommodate moving all of its materials to its new location in the Lakeville Towne Square strip mall.

A suspected drunk driver crashed into and destroyed the freestanding sign outside the Oxford Free Methodist Church.

October 5

A reproduction of a famous painting was stolen from the Polly Ann Trail near W. Drahner Rd.

Oxford resident Spencer Petoskey, a seventh-grader at OMS, shot his first buck – a 9-pointer weighing 192 pounds dressed out.

Life Scout Alex McDonald, a junior at OHS, is building bluebird houses for his Eagle Scout project.

Oxford Leader Editor C.J. Carnacchio won two photo-related awards from the Michigan Press Association while reporter Andrew Moser won one for sports writing.

October 12

Oxford Community Schools indicated enrollment is up by 200 full-time equivalent students.

Oxford Middle School sixth-graders took a fun and educational field trip to the Sloan Museum and Longway Planetarium in Flint. The Leader tagged along to get some great color photos.

Katie Champagne, a home-schooled member of the OHS Equestrian Team, doesn't let the fact she was born without hands slow her down.

The OHS National Honor Society inducted 34 new members.

Oxford Village Police Chief Mike Neymanowski is planning to approach the council about his proposal for the municipality to set and collect its own parking fines as opposed to continuing to use the court system.

October 19

Oxford Township planning commissioners gave their approval for a business at 715 N. Lapeer Rd. that plans to repair and refurbish U.S. military vehicles used overseas.

The Addison Township Public Library held a grand opening ceremony for its new 3,000-square-foot home in the Lakeville Towne Square strip mall. It was well-attended by the public, who overall loved the new facility and all it had to offer.

A meeting will be held by the Oxford DDA at which there will be a discussion as to whether or not the creation of a truck bypass should be pursued for the downtown area.

A colorful hot-air balloon visited Oxford Elementary as part of a lesson for the third-graders.

Oxford Township officials voted to approve a 2012 contract with the Oakland County Sheriff's Department that maintains the current level of manpower. However, officials also voted to ask residents for a millage increase on the August 2012 primary ballot. An amount has yet to be determined.

Oxford Township officials voted to opt-out of a new state law regulating how much public employers can pay for medical coverage. Officials plan to stick with their own plan.

October 26

Pat Fitchena, director of the North Oakland Transportation Authority since January 2004, announced she will retire Nov. 18 and move to Florida.

Oakland County Sheriff's deputies in Addison Township are searching for a man who goes by the name of "Monkey" because he crashed his vehicle into a home on Rochester Rd.

Addison residents Lauri Hoffman and Barbara Lester won the first annual rib cook-off at Louie's Food & Spirits in Lakeville.

Lakeville and Leonard students went shopping for free clothing and supplies as part of the Operation School Bell program.

November 2

The Oxford DDA's Economic Restructuring Committee determined that truck traffic will continue to go through the downtown area as part of the new streetscape plan, however, attempts will be made to control their behavior and speed.

Oxford Village Police are looking for three men who allegedly robbed a woman at gunpoint at the Village Manor Apartments complex off Pontiac St.

A total of 80 kids dressed in their Halloween costumes participated in the Jack-o'-Lantern Jamboree at Oakwood Lake Township Park in Oxford.

Two new members were added to the Oxford DDA board. They are Dorothy Johnston and Jim Bielak.

The Oxford Village attorney has issued an opinion that it's okay for Kevin Stephison to simultaneously serve on the village council and DDA board.

November 9

Based on new cut scores, Oxford students saw a drop in their proficiency on the state's MEAP and MME tests.

The Oxford-based Fix-N-Go Auto Center (1661 N. Lapeer Rd.) donated $2,000 to $2,200 worth of labor and parts to help fix up a used van so a Pontiac mother can better care for her disabled children.

OMS sixth-grader Shae Walters is excited that he will turn 11 on November, 11, 2011 (11-11-11).

The community turned out in droves to remember Alyse Prince, an Oxford Schools employee for 22 years and parks/rec. commissioner for 19 years. She died of cancer on Oct. 28 at the age of 62.

November 16

Oxford Village President Tom Benner wants to see what folks think of the idea of selling the municipal complex on W. Burdick St. and building a new one on village-owned property at 98 S. Glaspie St.

Robb Leland, owner of ArtCapsule Gallery & Frame, is proposing adding art and a sales area to downtown Oxford's historical museum. He wants a new non-profit entity of his creation to take over running the museum.

The OHS Theater Company is all set to bring "Alice in Wonderland" to the stage. This will be teacher Deb Brown's last play as director and adviser.

The Oxford Township Board voted 4-3 to approve a tax abatement policy pertaining to industrial facilities.

Oxford Life Scout Kenny Wellens received approval from the township board to create two new "Welcome to Oxford" signs for the community. Officials voted to give him up to $1,000 for the project.

November 23

Oxford Community Schools added more than $1 million to its fund balance as of June 30, 2011, according to the district's auditor. The total fund balance is $6.86 million.

The public got its chance to view the new streetscape concepts for downtown Oxford. The reaction was favorable.

OMS launched a new anti-bullying program with some help from former Detroit Lions offensive tackle Lomas Brown (1985-95), who visited the school.

The Oxford school district could receive $500,000 from the state if it commits to adopting "best practices" to make it more efficient and save money.

A group of Oxford teachers won a total of $9,000 in grants.

November 30

The Oxford Village Council voted to place two properties the municipality owns on the November 2012 ballot. Officials are seeking voter permission to sell the municipal complex on W. Burdick St. and the property at 98 S. Glaspie St.

The Village of Oxford was once again ranked as one of the top 44 communities in the state in which to do business by a University of Michigan-Dearborn study.

Oxford firefighters raised $4,800 with a "boot drive" to help local kids in need shop for Christmas gifts.

The Oxford DDA approved spending up to $8,000 for a South Carolina-based firm to develop a marketing/branding plan for the downtown district.

Someone shot Oxford Pastor Liz Wilson's dog, Duke. He survived following $6,000 worth of medical treatment, of which $4,000 was paid for by an anonymous donor.

The Oxford Area Cable Communications Commission (OACCC) voted 4-2 to terminate Don Huegerich, station manager of Oxford Community Television. However, an attorney opinion indicated the board needed five votes to fire him.

December 7

The OACCC met again and voted 5-3 to fire Oxford Community Television station manager Don Huegerich.

Cable Commissioner Jack Gray, who represents Oxford Schools, suggested the district is interested in "forging a new relationship" with OCTV and "maybe housing (the station) in the schools."

Santa Claus and the Oxford Christmas parade rolled through downtown. This year's Grand Marshal was James A. Sherman, Sr., publisher of the Oxford Leader from 1955-93.

The North Oakland Transportation Authority received a $1.37 million grant, however, Interim Director Lynn Gustafson said the entity won't be able to use it all.

Oxford Elementary students celebrated raising $24,000 in the annual Fun Run by dunking various staff members.

December 14

A group of private investors from China has signed a purchase agreement for 56 acres of land around Oxford High School. They plan to build housing for visiting foreign students, a hotel and convention center.

Metamora resident Jason Hickmott, a 1996 OHS graduate, has put up 25,712 Christmas lights on his house.

Retired Lt. Col. Harry T. Stewart, Jr., one of the most decorated Tuskegee Airmen from World War II, addressed the Rotary Club of Oxford.

Charles Drumheller, who owned the Oxford IGA from 1972-91, passed away Dec. 9. He was 83 years old.

December 21

Oxford Village's auditor tells the council its financial statements are in order, however, the municipality continues to face declining revenues and a shrinking fund balance.

OHS senior Prescott Line won the 2011 Mr. Football Award, a statewide honor.

Oxford Fire Chief Pete Scholz' new contract includes an 8 percent pay raise and cuts in benefits such as the elimination of his retirement health insurance.

Oxford Township officials voted to recommend changing the cable commission's voting composition to three members for Oxford Township, two for Addison Township and one each for the villages of Oxford and Leonard. They want the library's seat on the cable board eliminated completely.

The Oxford school district and teachers union have approved a new contract for Jan. 1, 2012 through Aug. 31, 2013.

Oxford Village officials vote to opt-out of the new state law regulating how much public employers can pay for medical coverage for public employees and elected officials.

December 28

Oxford parent Adrienne Boaz would like to see OMS and OHS students bused separately. She wants to know if any other parents out there agree with her.

Because its population increased based on the 2010 U.S. Census, Oxford Township is getting three more on-premises liquor licenses, bringing the total up to 11.

The Oxford Public Library has informed the cable commission, via letter, that it no longer wishes to have a voting seat on the board. The school district informed the commission, via letter, that it does not wish to take over and run Oxford Community Television.

The embezzlement trial for former Oxford Village Deputy Clerk Marion Patricia Paad is scheduled to begin March 5. She faces five felony counts of embezzlement by a public official over $50. Five members of Bryant's Karate in Oxford went to Spain and won five medals in the World Karate Championships.

November 30

The Oxford Village Council voted to place two properties the municipality owns on the November 2012 ballot. Officials are seeking voter permission to sell the municipal complex on W. Burdick St. and the property at 98 S. Glaspie St.

The Village of Oxford was once again ranked as one of the top 44 communities in the state in which to do business by a University of Michigan-Dearborn study.

Oxford firefighters raised $4,800 with a "boot drive" to help local kids in need shop for Christmas gifts.

The Oxford DDA approved spending up to $8,000 for a South Carolina-based firm to develop a marketing/branding plan for the downtown district.

Someone shot Pastor Liz Wilson's dog, Duke. He survived following $6,000 worth of medical treatment, of which $4,000 was paid for by an anonymous donor.

The Oxford Area Cable Communications Commission (OACCC) voted 4-2 to terminate Don Huegerich, station manager of Oxford Community Television. However, an attorney opinion indicated the board needed five votes to fire him.

December 7

The OACCC met again and voted 5-3 to fire Oxford Community Television station manager Don Huegerich.

Cable Commissioner Jack Gray, who represents Oxford Schools, suggested the district is interested in "forging a new relationship" with OCTV and "maybe housing (the station) in the schools."

Santa Claus and the Oxford Christmas parade rolled through downtown. This year's Grand Marshal was James A. Sherman, Sr., publisher of the Oxford Leader from 1955-93.

The North Oakland Transportation Authority received a $1.37 million grant, however, Interim Director Lynn Gustafson said the entity won't be able to use it all.

Oxford Elementary students celebrated raising $24,000 in the annual Fun Run by dunking various staff members.

December 14

A group of private investors from China has signed a purchase agreement for 56 acres of land around Oxford High School. They plan to build housing for visiting foreign students, a hotel and convention center.

Metamora resident Jason Hickmott, a 1996 OHS graduate, has put up 25,712 Christmas lights on his house.

Retired Lt. Col. Harry T. Stewart, Jr., one of the most decorated Tuskegee Airmen from World War II, addressed the Rotary Club of Oxford.

Charles Drumheller, who owned the Oxford IGA from 1972-91, passed away Dec. 9. He was 83 years old.

December 21

Oxford Village's auditor tells the council its financial statements are in order, however, the municipality continues to face declining revenues and a shrinking fund balance.

OHS senior Prescott Line won the 2011 Mr. Football Award, a statewide honor.

Oxford Fire Chief Pete Scholz' new contract includes an 8 percent pay raise and cuts in benefits such as the elimination of his retirement health insurance.

Oxford Township officials voted to recommend changing the cable commission's voting composition to three members for Oxford Township, two for Addison Township and one each for the villages of Oxford and Leonard. They want the library's seat on the cable board eliminated completely.

The Oxford school district and teachers union have approved a new contract for Jan. 1, 2012 through Aug. 31, 2013.

Oxford Village officials vote to opt-out of the new state law regulating how much public employers can pay for medical coverage for public employees and elected officials.

December 28

Oxford parent Adrienne Boaz would like to see OMS and OHS students bused separately. She wants to know if any other parents out there agree with her.

Because its population increased based on the 2010 U.S. Census, Oxford Township is getting three more on-premises liquor licenses, bringing the total up to 11.

The Oxford Public Library has informed the cable commission, via letter, that it no longer wishes to have a voting seat on the board. The school district informed the commission, via letter, that it does not wish to take over and run Oxford Community Television.

The embezzlement trial for former Oxford Village Deputy Clerk Marion Patricia Paad is scheduled to begin March 5. She faces five felony counts of embezzlement by a public official over $50.

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