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Bob Maxey
December 27, 2012
THE GROSSE POINTES — Many articles span the individual Grosse Pointes to encompass the entire community.

Pointe-wide issues during 2012 included:

January

A single, all-Grosse Pointe public safety dispatch center could be built by next summer.


A $300,000, 50 percent state matching grant for construction requires approval within two months by the five Grosse Pointe city councils.

“Technology being what it is today, probably means dispatch services can be done in a much more efficient manner than we’ve done for years,” said City of Grosse Pointe councilman Chris Walsh.

“One of the obstacles to immediately doing a five-city dispatch was we had to build space to accommodate at least four dispatchers to operate,” added Peter Dame, City manager.

February

The Grosse Pointes’ man in Lansing wants to kick to the curb a proposal putting vehicle registration fees in overdrive.

Across-the-board fee increases of 67 percent would pay for road repairs, but weigh heaviest on people who drive the least, according to state Rep. Timothy Bledsoe, D, City of Grosse Pointe.

“A lot of people on fixed income don’t drive a lot,” said Bledsoe, in his second term. “If this is pushed through, the little guys will be paying more than their share of road construction.”

Bill Rapai, president of Grosse Pointe Audubon, signs copies of his new book, “Kirtland’s Warbler,” published by University of Michigan Press.

“There is talk that the Kirtland’s warbler is going to be taken off the endangered list,” said Rapai, of the City of Grosse Pointe.

March

Ten paintings reproduced from the Detroit Institute of Arts are hung outdoors around the five Grosse Pointes as part of the museum’s “Inside|Out” program.

Each city gets two.

“The Grosse Pointes is one of our major audiences,” said Graham Beal, DIA director. “It always has been.”

Farms officials join counterparts from the four sister cities in passing a resolution accepting grant money to build a combined public safety dispatch center.

The Pointes thereby qualify for the $300,000 grant, should separate inquiry conclude centralized dispatch is feasible.

According to an initial study last year, a central dispatch would have nearly 29 percent less operating costs than the current set-up.

April

Firefighter layoffs in Harper Woods cause aftershocks in the Grosse Pointes.

Most impacted is Grosse Pointe Woods.

Its public safety officers are being deployed automatically to structure fires in Harper Woods.

The cities share roughly a 3-mile border.

“I have a vested interest in protecting our borders and helping neighbors in the short term while they work out their issues,” said Skip Fincham, Grosse Pointe Woods administrator and former public safety director.

May

A charity basketball game teaming Grosse Pointe and Harper Woods public safety officers against present and past Detroit Lions football players is a win-win for Services for Older Citizens and Grosse Pointe-Harper Woods Special Olympics.

Event organizers from Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 102 present each of the two groups $2,500 checks from proceeds raised at the game, played before 1,000 people at Grosse Pointe South High School.

June

“Melancholy Woman” won’t feel so blue when a special exhibition honors her return this month to the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The painting, from Picasso’s blue period, of a down-in-the-dumps female prisoner adds hometown color to the exhibition of Spanish masterpieces.

All proceeds from the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club 2012 Annual Muskie Derby on Lake St. Clair benefit the Grosse Pointe/Harper Woods chapter of the Special Olympics of Michigan.

July

Eugene Gargaro, chairman of the Detroit Institute of Arts and a resident of Grosse Pointe Shores, lobbies for voters to pass a tri-county millage next month ensuring the museum’s continued operation.

“Companies considering locating in Southeast Michigan want to know what cultural amenities are available to their executives, staff, employees and families,” said Gargaro, retired senior executive of Masco Corp. “You’ve got to have culture and arts as a viable complement of business.”

Harper Woods, a longtime member of the Grosse Pointe-Harper Woods police and fire mutual aid agreement, is omitted from a new, beefed-up automatic aid covenant ratified by the five Grosse Pointes.

The new arrangement instructs participating agencies to respond automatically to working fires in other jurisdictions without waiting to be summoned by multiple alarms.

“Automatic aid gets more equipment and manpower on the scene,” said Skip Fincham, Grosse Pointe Woods administrator. “You can reduce property loss and save lives.”

The sky’s the limit for fireworks — and its driving some people ballistic.

“It was like the wild west,” Farms resident Andy Dervan said of the July 4 holiday period.

“I keep hearing them pop off,” Vito Cusenza, of the Shores, said after the holiday came and went.

State Rep. Bledsoe, D, City of Grosse Pointe, feels the same way.

He and many other Michigan lawmakers want to amend the state’s new, free-wheeling fireworks law, which turned out to be more annoying in practice than festive on paper.

“At a minimum, we need to give municipal officials the latitude to regulate fireworks more than they are given latitude in the current bill,” Bledsoe said.

August

Clark Durant, of Grosse Pointe Farms, wins the Pointe vote in the Republican primary election for U.S. Senate.

But, he concedes the statewide race to Pete Hoekstra.

Two-term state Rep. Timothy Bledsoe, of the City of Grosse Pointe, the first Democrat elected to speak for the Pointes in Lansing, loses a third bid for office in the primary election.

Although Bledsoe, a Wayne State University political science professor, wins the Pointes handily, he loses the overall district to Rep. Alberta Tinsley-Talabi, D, Detroit.

It was the first election in newly-drawn District 2, which is dominated by Detroit Democrats.

September

Grosse Pointe Theater’s first show of the year,” Oklahoma!,” goes off without a hitch.

Patrolmen throughout the Grosse Pointes honor a murdered West Bloomfield officer by pulling curbside and activating their cruisers’ lights and sirens for 15 seconds.

October

Local history authors seek tidbits for their forthcoming work, “Legendary Locals.”

The book is the third collaboration about Grosse Pointe by Suzy Berschback and Ann Marie Aliota.

The pair invite people to contact them with story and photo ideas through the Grosse Pointe Historical Society, (313) 884-7010; society offices at 381 Kercheval, Grosse Pointe Farms; or at gphistorical.org.

An organization is being developed to privately fund public safety K-9 units.

The goal is to promote “public safety in the Pointes by supporting local police dog programs,” said John Stevens, former City of Grosse Pointe councilman and member of K-9 Partners of the Grosse Pointes.

Downy mildew ravaged impatiens this summer.

Spores can survive in soil over winter, contaminating flower beds through next year.

November

An eight-time felon is elected to represent Grosse Pointe Shores and Woods in Michigan House District 1.

Brian Banks, a Democrat from Detroit with a history of credit fraud convictions, beats Dan Schulte, a Grosse Pointe Shores Republican and councilman, in the general election.

“My past is my past,” said Banks, citing his victory as another sign of his rehabilitation.

All candidates from the Pointes in the general election lose their bids.

The long arm of the law reaches out to Eastcoast victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Grosse Pointe and Harper Woods public safety officers belonging to Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 102 raise money for a New York City policeman and family whose house was destroyed due to the storm.

Friends of the Grosse Pointe Parade sponsor another float for the Grosse Pointe Santa Claus Parade.

Making its debut this year is the White Christmas Carriage.

December

State Rep. Bledsoe opposes passage of right-to-work legislation, banning compulsory union membership.

He main reasons, stated in his capitol update, are:

“First, the claim that all workers have an innate freedom to decline to pay union dues or agency fees is inconsistent with the common practice of compulsory check-off fees in a variety of sectors.

“Second, there is no evidence that the presence of right-to-work laws produce more jobs.

“Third, right-to-work laws encourage ‘free riders,’ people who benefit from the presence of a union without paying union dues.”

Public safety commanders from the Pointes prepare to review and possibly update special response team protocols and tactics in response to the mass murder of students and teachers at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.


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