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Remembering 2012 July-December



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January 02, 2013 - July

Enbridge controversy

For much of 2012, township officials challenged Enbridge plans to replace the Line 6B petroleum pipeline, part of which runs through the township. Meetings in the township regarding the plan began in the spring, and in July, the township postponed giving consent to Enbridge Energy to replace the pipeline.

"I don't think the board or the community understand the magnitude of this project," said Supervisor Kathy Thurman.

Phase one of the project includes three miles of pipeline in Brandon Township as well as three miles in Groveland Township that crosses private property as well as public roads. A second phase, not yet approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission, includes another 3 miles of pipeline in Brandon, as well as an above-ground pump station in the township. In total, the massive Line 6B replacement project spans 210 miles from Indiana to Sarnia, Ont. The existing pipeline will be deactivated and remain in the ground next to the new pipeline.

The township requested Enbridge seek their approval to move forward with the project and toward that end, Enbridge, a multi-billion dollar Canada based company sent four representatives and a lawyer to the July 2 board meeting to answer questions.

Still, the representatives failed to appease concerns and left many questions unanswered. Over the next several months there would be multiple meetings with attorneys, a violated woodlands ordinance by the company, a work stoppage ordered by the township, requests for higher safety standards that went unheeded, retractions of those requests, legal wrangling, untold fees incurred and concerns voiced from residents over environmental impact and damage to personal property resulting from planned construction, as well as the delay of it.

On Dec. 3, just before midnight and at the end of a 5-hour meeting, a newly elected township board unanimously approved a motion that will allow Enbridge to proceed with the first phase of the project in the township, with township approved inspections and a new agreement for replacement of trees.

Goodrich bleachers

By a 5-2 vote at a spacial meeting, the Goodrich School Board accepted $30,000 in compensation in exchange for Southern Bleacher Company leaving the new bleachers where they are at the Roy Stacey Athletic Complex— a 6-foot deviation from the original plans.

The original plans required a 6-foot distance between the bleachers and a fence which borders the track surrounding the football field. The opening— detailed in the approved plans— was needed to accommodate a walkway for fans. The placement issue was discovered in June.

New bridge

The Brandon School Board approved spending $136,300 of bond money to replace a bridge on school property.

The bridge, located just off South Street in the Village of Ortonville, crosses Kearsley Creek and leads to the rear property of Harvey Swanson Elementary and the H.T. Burt Lifelong Learning Center, located on Varsity Drive. The 60-year-old bridge was in poor condition and is used by students walking to and from school.

Plane crash

On July 21, Bob and Charmaine Kerchner were sitting in their family room in their home on the east shore of Lake Shinanguag when an ultralight float plane that had been flying over the lake crashed into their home.

The plane shattered a large plate glass window, sending glass toward Bob and Charmaine.

"He should have landed the plane in the water," said Bob. "He ended up in our trees and family room."

Bob received several cuts and abrasions to his face. The plane's pilot was uninjured. His 11-year-old granddaughter was treated at a local hospital and released.

Brandon principals resign

Two Brandon principals resigned in July. Belle Ann Elementary Principal Cathy Kochanski and Brandon Fletcher Intermediate School Principal Jeff Beane both left to take positions in other districts.

Kochanski was replaced by interim principal Coy Stewart, while Beane's replacement was interim principal Carol Bogner.

August

Brandon gunman captured

A Brandon Township man who terrorized his neighborhood Aug. 1, firing shots and assaulting a woman, was safely taken into custody and arraigned on eight charges, including felonious assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

According to police reports, 10 Oakland County Sheriff's Office patrol units responded to the area of Inner Drive near Chevrolet Avenue in Brandon Township after a 9-1-1 call reported a man with a gun and shots fired. Deputies used their active shooter detail training to capture James Walter Graves, 58, before he could get back in his home, where police later recovered 19 weapons and discovered a marijuana grow operation.

"It was a very dangerous situation, it could have gone very, very bad," said OCSO Sgt. Pete Burkett. "Thankfully our deputies were able to get the situation under control."

Library millage passes

Brandon Township voters approved a millage rate increase for the library in the August primary election.

The question of whether the property tax millage should be increased by .2261 mill was answered yes by 1,574 voters and no by 1,312. The approval means the millage rate levied for the library will be 2 mills. The increase will bring an additional $95,000 in funds for the library in 2013. The money will be used to restore library hours on Fridays, beginning in January, as well as additional programming and technology upgrades.

"This is a victory for readers and library patrons throughout Brandon Township," said Library Director Paula Gauthier.

Consumers Energy plans Atlas expansion

Consumers Energy announced a plan to bring a natural gas main extension project to Atlas Township. While a timeframe was not established, Consumers will eventually provide the same kind of natural gas project as is being conducted in Brandon Township, and which will also require 50 percent participation to proceed.

"From our preliminary meetings, the project will most likely be done in a three part phase," said Atlas Twp. Supervisor Shirley Kautman-Jones. "We have limited natural gas in the township, but the thing that is amazing is a lot of areas you would think have natural gas and there isn't— including portions of Perry Road and Baldwin Road."

September

Koss remembered

Gwen Koss, Ortonville Community Emergency Fund food pantry director and lifelong Ortonville resident, died Sept. 1. She was 56.

"She had an infectious smile, a trademark smile," said Loraine Travis, volunteer coordinator for Genesys Hospice, where Koss was also a volunteer. "The thing I loved most about her is she found good in every single person she met...There will be a huge hole in the community and in the hearts of everyone who knew her."

Former Brandon supervisor killed

Former Brandon Supervisor Pat Alexander was killed in an automobile accident Sept. 1.

She was 61.

Alexander, a Tennessee resident, died in a head-on crash that injured several other individuals. Alexander was elected as township supervisor in 1996 and served one four-year term. She did not seek re-election in 2000. She also served as township trustee from 1988-1992.

Primary election vote recount

On Sept. 7, five 2-member teams from the Genesee Board of Canvassers reviewed the 839 votes for Atlas Township Treasurer Ann Marie Slagle and the 679 votes tallied for challenger Beth Forys at the township offices. The results found two additional votes for Slagle and one more vote for Forys, leaving the results of the primary election unchanged and Slagle the winner.

Citizen of the Year 2012

Raena Kalfayan, a Brandon Township wife, mother, teacher, founder of North Oakland Animal Help and leader in the Relay for Life of Brandon/Ortonville for the past five years was The Citizen's proud choice for 2012 Citizen of the Year.

"Under her outstanding leadership, our Relay became one of the most successful in our region, winning a huge array of awards from the American Cancer Society," said Scott and Leanne Claxton in their letter nominating Kalfayan for Citizen of the Year. "That is a huge accom-plishment for a relatively small town!"

Kalfayan also runs the non-profit NOAH, which provides low-income pet owners with free pet food monthly, enabling them to keep their animals in tough economic times.

Maximum police mills approved

The Brandon Township Board approved levying the maximum amount of mills for police funding— 3.5286. Previously, the township was levying 3.25 mills.

Levying the full police millage will be an increase of $28 per year in taxes for a home valued at $200,000.

"We are at a point that if we continue to cut it would hurt the police service we are providing to the township," said Supervisor Kathy Thurman. "Although I did not like having to move the mills up to the full amount, it was the only way to avoid cutting more deputies."

Oxford Bank sold

On Sept. 13, officials from Oxford Bank announced they entered into a "definitive agreement" under which it will be acquired by the Farmington Hills-based Level One Bank for $3.47 million.

Locally, Oxford Bank has two locations— 345 S. Ortonville Road, Ortonville, and 8125 S. State Road, Goodrich.

Home

Army Command Sgt. Major Bryan Merkel returned Sept. 28 from a year-long stint in Afghanistan, flying in to Lansing and then surprising his daughter Baylee, 14, during her lunch hour at Goodrich High School.

"I had no clue he was coming home," she said. "I was just so surprised. Dad just walked into the cafeteria, I'm so excited he's home."

October

Apple crop devastation

After apple trees bloomed early in warm March weather, a hard freeze in April destroyed the majority of Michigan crops and the fruit was in scarce supply at local orchards in October.

"According to the records, the last time warm weather too early knocked out the crops this much as 1945," said Sharon Ashton of Ashton Orchards. "We've never had it this bad."

Goodrich Hotel razed

On October 1, demolition crews began taking down the century-and-a-half-old Goodrich Hotel.

Of historical interest in the community was the Goodrich House Apartments, which had been occupied by eight families when a fire ripped through the structure on Sept. 27, 2009.

Student counts fall again in Brandon, Goodrich

Both Brandon and Goodrich school districts saw decreases in enrollment following count day in October. Brandon had 30 fewer students, resulting in a loss of approximately $209,000 for the district. Since 2006, Brandon has seen a decrease of 455 students. In Goodrich, 25 less students for the 2012-13 school year meant a loss of $170,000 for the district.

Groveland murder

Colin Eugene Thompson, 39, of Groveland Township, was charged Oct. 18 for the alleged first-degree premeditated murder of Michele (Missy) Coakley, 40, also of Groveland Township.

Coakley was killed Sept. 21 in Groveland Township. She and Thompson lived together and Thompson reported she had attempted suicide. When Michiplaced on administrative leave for the 2012-2013 season and the district had hired interim coaches.

Bogner also confirmed that the varsity basketball program violated Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) rules.

Flath

On Nov. 26, the Ortonville Village Council unanimously approved a resolution on behalf of village residents expressing "official gratitude and deep appreciation to Bob Flath for his efforts, devotion, and public service to the Village of Ortonville, residents and patrons and wish him best regards in all his endeavors."

Flath, a past council trustee (2004-2007), planning commissioner, Brandon Township trustee, fire board member, and community photographer and resident for more than 35 years, moved to Missouri Dec. 1 to be close to family.

December

Brandon school changes

Brandon Twp.- The school board unanimously approved recommended changes to buildings in the district during a special Dec. 3 meeting.

The approved changes include the closing of the former H.T. Burt Elementary, which currently is used as the alternative high school and also contains all preschools classes. The alternative high school will move to the current Belle Ann Elementary. Belle Ann will no longer have elementary students. Instead, all Kindergarten through third grade classes in the district will be held at Oakwood Elementary and Harvey Swanson Elemetnary. All preschool and latchkey programs will also be at those buildings. Brandon Fletcher Intermediate Scholl will now accommodate all fourth grade classes in addition to the current fifht and sixth grade classes held there. No changes ot the middle school or high school will occur as a result of the recommendation from the Michigan Association of School Boards.

The changes will be implemented and take effect next fall and will save the district an estimated $200,000 annually.

Goodrich cityhood

A new chapter that could change the village to a city could be dawning.

The idea of cityhood was discussed at the village council's Dec. 10 meeting as the council moved forward with a plan to send Council President Rick Horton and Council Member Richard Saroli to a meeting with the Michigan Municipal League titled, "Impact of Changing from a Village to a City Workshop."

The April training session will look at factors to consider in deciding whether to seek city status. The similarities and differences in city and village government will also be discussed at the meeting.

Locals react to Newtown tragedy

Goodrich School District was one of 21 districts in the Genesee Intermediate School District that closed their schools Dec. 20 and 21 due to threats in Genesee and Lapeer counties following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary on Dec. 14 that took the lives of 20 young students and six women at the school in Newtown, Ct.

In Brandon, schools remained open and students, staff and parents banded together, conducting a bake sale at Brandon Fletcher Intermediate School to send monetary proceeds to the families of victims. At Brandon Middle School, students made cards and posters expressing their sympathy for the Newtown families.

gan State Police troopers arrived, they found Coakley with a "zip-tie" around her neck.

"The investigation by the MSP also reported they were being evicted from their residence that day," said Oakland County Prosecutor Paul Walton. "Based on the physical evidence collected and the demeanor of the suspect, we issued arrest warrants for Thompson after the MSP detectives' investigation. This is just a very tragic case."

"Groveland Township is a very quiet community where such crimes are rare," he added. "I've been a prosecutor in Oakland County for more than 22 years and only recall maybe one other such crime."

Funeral fight

Groveland Twp.- Police responded Oct. 10 to Ortonville Cemetery to break up a fight among a reported 40 family member after they buried their grandfather in his final resting place. According to a police report, six Oakland County Sheriff's Office deputies responded at about 12:35 p.m. to the cemetery with information that several family members were involved in a fistfight, a man had been pepper sprayed and beaten, and that a comment had been made about getting a firearm from a vehicle. Upon arrival the deputies found several family members around the grave. Medics were called to aid a male victim and other family members were directed out of the cemetery, leaving without further incident.

Amman steps down

Atlas Twp.- After more than 20 years in local government, Paul Amman retired from public office.

Amman served eight years on the township planning commission, four years as a township trustee and was township supervisor for eight years. In August 2008, he lost a bid for a third term as supervisor by 25 votes to Shirley Kautman-Jones. He was appointed in March 2011 as a trustee to complete the term of Scott Statson, who resigned.

"I've enjoyed my years in service in the township," said Amman. "I realize that for any action there's a reaction."

Consumers Energy Service Center

Groveland Twp.- On Oct. 18, Consumers Energy, along with township officials, broke ground on a new service center.

The 21,133 square foot complex will be located on about 21 acres of property near Dixie Highway and Shields Road. The service complex, which should be completed next summer, will consolidate current facilities in Pontiac and Lapeer. About 40 current employees will be working from the new location.

Hurricane Sandy felt locally

Superstorm Sandy struck the East Coast Oct. 29, killing more than 70 Americans and causing widespread flooding, power outages and billions of dollars in damage to property. Locally, the storm knocked out power to 120,000 DTE customers in southeast Michigan, and 700 customers were without power in the Ortonville-Goodrich area Oct. 30.

Baby murdered

A 4-month-old boy was murdered by his mother's boyfriend Oct. 25 in Brandon Township, police said. The baby died from severe head trauma and the death was ruled a homicide.

Donald Kyle Raleigh, 27, was arraigned Oct. 27 on one count of felony murder and one count of first degree child abuse, both punishable by life in prison.

"This case and all that involve adults causing the deaths of babies are disgusting," said Sheriff Michael Bouchard. "If you can't take care of a baby or stand to hear the baby crying, call someone that can, for heaven's sake. There is no cell deep and dark enough for people like this."

November

Election results

There were few surprises as most local candidates ran unopposed in the Nov. 6 general election. Groveland Township Supervisor Bob DePalma, Clerk Pam Mazich, and Treasurer David Ax were all re-elected, joined on the board by Trustees Diane Howell and Dale Cason.

In Brandon Township, Supervisor Kathy Thurman was re-elected, as was Trustee Dana DePalma. Newly elected trustees were Ron Lapp, Bill DeWitt, and Jayson Rumball. New clerk was Candee Allen and new treasurer was Terri Darnall.

The Brandon School Board got two new members-- Lisa Kavalhuna and John Chartier. Diane Salter, appointed to the board in 2012, was elected to complete a partial term that ends Dec. 31, 2014. A school operating millage renewal passed.

In Ortonville, Council President Wayne Wills was re-elected. Winning trustee seats were Debbie Baker, Dan Eschmann and Courtney McClerren.

In Goodrich, a detachment proposal that would have detached 87 parcels of property located within the village and added them to Atlas Township failed, with 77 percent of voters saying no.

Richard Horton, Pete Morey and Richard Saroli were re-elected to the Goodrich Village Council.

Chip Schultz, David Cramer and Ryan Starski were elected to 6-year terms on the Goodrich School Board.

Elected to the Atlas Township Board were Trustees Barry June and Patrick Major. Supervisor Shirley Kautman-Jones, Clerk Tere Onica, and Treasurer Ann Marie Slagle all won re-election.

Milligan new OCEF food pantry

director

Karyn Milligan, longtime OCEF volunteer, was named the new food pantry director for the Ortonville Community Emergency Fund, as well as the new St. Anne Christian Services coordinator.

"This is like a continuation of my spiritual journey," she said. "I've been in this community since 1977 and I am blessed to be able to serve this community— the most giving community I have ever known."

Goodrich hoops

In a written statement, District Superintendent Scott Bogner announced that boys varsity basketball Head Coach Gary Barns and Coach Wayne Wilson would be placed on administrative leave for the 2012-2013 season and the district had hired interim coaches.

Bogner also confirmed that the varsity basketball program violated Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) rules.

Flath honored

On Nov. 26, the Ortonville Village Council unanimously approved a resolution on behalf of village residents expressing "official gratitude and deep appreciation to Bob Flath for his efforts, devotion, and public service to the Village of Ortonville, residents and patrons and wish him best regards in all his endeavors."

Flath, a past council trustee (2004-2007), planning commissioner, Brandon Township trustee, fire board member, and community photographer and resident for more than 35 years, moved to Missouri Dec. 1 to be close to family.

December

Brandon school changes

Brandon Twp.- The school board unanimously approved recommended changes to buildings in the district during a special Dec. 3 meeting.

The approved changes include the closing of the former H.T. Burt Elementary, which currently is used as the alternative high school and also contains all preschool classes. The alternative high school will move to the current Belle Ann Elementary. Belle Ann will no longer have elementary students. Instead, all Kindergarten through third grade classes in the district will be held at Oakwood Elementary and Harvey Swanson Elementary. All preschool and latchkey programs will also be at those buildings. Brandon Fletcher Intermediate Scholl will now accommodate all fourth grade classes in addition to the current fifht and sixth grade classes held there. No changes to the middle school or high school will occur as a result of the recommendation from the Michigan Association of School Boards.

The changes will be implemented and take effect next fall and will save the district an estimated $200,000 annually.

Goodrich cityhood

A new chapter that could change the village to a city could be dawning.

The idea of cityhood was discussed at the village council's Dec. 10 meeting as the council moved forward with a plan to send Council President Rick Horton and Council Member Richard Saroli to a meeting with the Michigan Municipal League titled, "Impact of Changing from a Village to a City Workshop."

The April training session will look at factors to consider in deciding whether to seek city status. The similarities and differences in city and village government will also be discussed at the meeting.

Locals react to Newtown tragedy

Goodrich School District was one of 21 districts in the Genesee Intermediate School District that closed their schools Dec. 20 and 21 due to threats in Genesee and Lapeer counties following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary on Dec. 14 that took the lives of 20 young students and six women at the school in Newtown, Ct.

In Brandon, schools remained open and students, staff and parents banded together, conducting a bake sale at Brandon Fletcher Intermediate School to send monetary proceeds to the families of victims. At Brandon Middle School, students made cards and posters expressing their sympathy for the Newtown families.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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