0 94

By Sara E. Teller & Stephanie Loveless

On February 27, 2017, the Ferndale City Council unanimously passed a resolution to request issuing up to $20 million dollars in bonds to finance a mixed-use parking development project at the corner of Allen and Troy Streets. These bonds will be issued without a vote unless ten per cent of the registered voters of Ferndale sign a petition now being circulated.

The mixed-use structure will include street level commercial and office space meant to be stitched into the character and fabric of the location. “Plazas and open community spaces are critical elements that allow the office and street level retail experience to blend seamlessly into the character of the downtown,” according to Assistant City Manager Joe Gacioch.

“Office employees and tenants are viewed as beneficial to current downtown businesses because they introduce a daytime element of foot traffic that is not currently represented in the downtown.” He continues, “The City is committed to delivering a design that embodies the character of Ferndale and harmonizes with the streetscapes and landscapes that hug the property.”

Not everyone in in favor. “Forty-six businesses and many employees, residents and customers signed a letter requesting the parking problem be handled with a simple, parking-only structure instead,” says Jaye Spiro, owner of Mejishi Martial Arts. Concerns from those at the Feb. 27 meeting include:

  • Inadequate outreach to residents and businesses before the decision was made to begin financing (Ferndale Friends has received nothing at all about the project from the City.)
  • The duration of the construction phase;
  • Traffic congestion;
  • The financial obligation to residents;
  • The structural height and risk of overshadowing the historic character of the block
  • Frustration with the current building code;
  • Concern that the new employees, residents and customers will negate any gain in parking in the new multi-use development;
  • The higher costs of a multi-use compared to a parking-only structure.

“If two people occupy one of those units and each own a vehicle, there will be insufficient spaces. This creates further demands on public parking in lots and residential neighborhoods,” Spiro contends. She is also worried about the negative impact of an extended construction timeline. “The survival of many busi-nesses is threatened during the construction phase, and most feel that the best way to mitigate the neg-ative effects would be to shorten the duration of construction by having more equipment, supplies and workers on site during building.”

Two design concepts have been offered.

Concept 1 is a mixed-use parking development that includes approximately 390 parking spaces spread over four levels of parking. The mixed-use project would include four stories with a transfer slab that would give the City the flexibility to pursue an additional two stories of office development after the initial components are built. The future development would be capped as two additional stories of office space. Street-level commercial space would be added, along with alley beautification elements, and West Troy street-scape improvements for community gatherings or temporary events. The total cost is estimated at $14.5 million to $18.5 million.

Concept 2 is a single-use parking platform that would include approximately 300 parking spaces spread over three levels of parking and exclude the other mixed-use features. As the project is similar to an existing facility in downtown Rochester, Joe states, “Our office has reached out to the Rochester Economic Development Director to obtain more extensive details about their downtown parking project.”
Gacioch claims, “We are exploring several different ways the City can support businesses during the construction period.” Some examples that could provide parking relief include offering downtown valet services and a free shuttle service for employees to park at a nearby location. “We understand that convenience, frequency, and consistency are all important drivers for a successful implementation of either of these tools,” Gacioch says. “We also seek to learn more about business delivery schedules and customer needs that we can incorporate into any traffic-planning or other alternative parking programs.”

Matt Helms, of the Fabulous Ferndale Forum, addressed the same concerns. “We appreciate that many downtown business owners are deeply concerned…But we believe a very strong majority of Ferndale residents are in favor of this parking deck as it’s designed. It’s taken way too long to get to this point. Many of us view the first-floor commercial space –which could be used for retail or offices – as a way to avoid building an ugly, single-purpose deck that takes away from the vibrant downtown street life this community has worked so hard to nurture over the years. We also understand that the income from the ground-floor commercial space would be far greater than the city could earn were that space only used for parking, making the retail and office component critical to the long-term financial viability of the deck…”

But if they are certain “a very strong majority of Ferndale residents are in favor” – why not put it to a vote? Councilperson Melanie Piana flatly stated on Facebook, “Please do not sign this petition. The reasons for the petition have inaccuracies and will waste time getting the project done.” Supporters of the project have complained that petitioners are giving “false information.” However, it is common practice in Michigan to use paid, low-wage signature-gatherers for such petition drives. These hired workers are obviously not a good source for expert information.

The City plans on holding a meeting for public comment on the design concepts in late April or early May. A minimum of two additional public meetings will be held as part of the plan review process. As it stands today, the Planning Commission could review and provide feedback on a design concept during their meeting on May 17th and June 21st. “We plan on providing the public no less than three opportunities to engage in the design project over the next several months,” Gacioch explains. “If the Planning Commission were to approve a final design in June or July, my office would present their final recommendation for design and use to City Council for approval. Once approved, the City would move forward with a request for proposal process for a general contractor/ construction services. After a vendor is awarded the contract, the City could move forward with preparing the site for excavation.”

You can be sure that Spiro and other spirited opponents of the project will be at those public meetings. Spiro wants everyone to remember that “The guarantors of the $20 million dollar bonds are the taxpayers of Ferndale. With the possibility that there will not be enough revenue to pay the million plus a year bond notes, the city can levy property taxes as stated in Exhibit A of the Bond Request. Our taxes assure this large Bond Request. We deserve a voice in this decision. Citizens have until early April to put this issue on the ballot.”

Residents are currently canvassing the neighborhood and downtown businesses for signatures. Additionally, local residents (electors) can sign the petition to vote on the bonds at Reid’s Salon, Flip Salon, Mejishi Martial Arts, Library Bookstore, Modern Natural Baby, Crane Optical, Get Your Game On, Painting with a Twist, Professional Guitars, MiChigo and many other businesses downtown.

By Ingrid Sjostrand
Photo by Bernie Laframboise

One in seven Americans – or 40 million people – suffer from addiction to nicotine, alcohol or other drugs, according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. This outnumbers those with diabetes, cancer or heart conditions. Chances are you know someone who is struggling with or recovering from addiction.

“Personally, I have had a family member addicted and if my family deals with it anybody could be dealing with it,” Ferndale Police Sergeant Baron Brown says. “Whether it’s the neighbor down the street or someone you know personally, it’s happening all around you and needs acknowledging.”

This awareness encouraged Brown to bring the Macomb-based program, Hope Not Handcuffs (HNH), to Ferndale. HNH allows individuals struggling with addiction to walk into any participating police station and immediately connect with a volunteer, called “angels,” to coordinate treatment options without fear of consequences.

Developed by Fraser-based organization Families Against Narcotics (FAN), Hope Not Handcuffs launched in February 2017 throughout Macomb County and Ferndale. Katie Donovan, Executive Vice President of FAN, says the program is based off the national nonprofit group, Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative (PAARI), and its program which started in Gloucester, Mass. in June 2016. PAARI has spread to 150 police departments in 28 states.

“We have been following the program for some time, were impressed with its creativeness, the effectiveness and how it was not only helping those struggling with addiction; they also saw reduction in crime, ER visits and less money spent in the judicial system,” Donovan says.

After developing HNH, FAN reached out to members of the community, including EMS, health departments and Macomb County law enforcement to gauge their interest. The response was overwhelming, with all police agencies in the county wanting to participate. While the program had not yet been extended to Oakland County, Brown reached out to FAN about including Ferndale.

“We desperately needed to be involved. I approached our Captain, our Chief and City Manager and we all think it’s an excellent program that we can offer not only our citizens, but everyone in the community,” Brown says. “And community doesn’t just mean the people that live in Ferndale; I always say its community with a big ‘C’ because it includes everyone who comes onto our streets.” Donovan says they are working to expand the program into other areas and that the success so far has been inspirational.

“In its first month – albeit the shortest month of the year – in 28 days we assisted 72 people into treatment. We are so proud of these numbers!” she says. “We have had many police departments reach out, wanting to know more and how they can implement in their own communities, even from different states! This is creating a movement across the nation, which just gives me chills!”

While it’s too early to notice a decrease in crime rates, Brown has seen an impact in Ferndale too – with 12 people coming to the station so far and ten of those currently in treatment through HNH.

Brown is the first to admit that law enforcement doesn’t have the best reputation among addicts, but is hoping to change that perception with HNH.

“Usually police and addicts aren’t two people who are standing in the same room working together, and when people who you wouldn’t expect to trust or rely on the police are coming to us for help it says a lot,” he says. “We just want to spread that treatment is out there and if people – even the police – are wanting you to get help, it shows just how serious this problem is.”

When an individual comes into the station, police will follow standard procedures including a pat-down and a search in the criminal database to ensure the safety of the volunteers from HNH. Nonviolent warrants or a criminal record shouldn’t stop people from seeking treatment, Brown encourages.

“All the things we thought could be fixed by arresting people were all wrong, and we are changing the way we think about addiction,” he says.

“We aren’t looking for lesser charges – shoplifting warrants for example – we will deal with those things down the road. We consider that part of your recovery. Once you have been in treatment and are working toward recovery, we will handle those warrants.”

But for those that still have doubts, Donovan says there are other options.
“If they are uncomfortable walking in, we have an online form they can fill out and an angel will be assigned to them. It can all be done over the phone, as well,” she offers.

Angels are all members of the community and anyone can fill out an application on the FAN website.

“The requirements are passion, believing addiction is a disease and compassion for the addict. All walks of life have volunteered, from people in recovery themselves, stay-at-home moms, grandmas, a retired deputy sheriff, EMS, teachers, nurses, it’s just truly incredible,” Donovan says.

“I have seen such immense passion from our volunteer angels.  They will stop at nothing to help someone, night or day. We even had one angel who slept in his clothes, in case he got a call in the middle of the night.”

FAN works with treatment facilities nationwide and can help anyone, regardless of their insurance, to find the best match for them. Hope Not Handcuffs doesn’t just stop at getting someone into treatment either.

“Once they finish a program, we can help them continue their recovery by setting them up with a recovery coach, outpatient therapy, sober living and getting involved in the community again as a productive member of society,” Donovan says.


Story by Sara E. Teller
Photos by Bernie Laframboise

It goes without saying that individuals with criminal offenses on their records find it more difficult to get a decent job. No matter their skills-set, they are often turned away because of past behavior, no matter what they’ve done to rectify the situation. However,Michigan Works! has instituted a program designed to help these individuals get back on their feet. Michigan Works! helps the unemployed build their marketing tools, including cover letters and resumes, and search for the most appropriate job opportunities. Unemployment pay is often offered during the job hunt, as well.

Ex-offenders are “provided with intensive one-on-one services,” says David A. Straka, Career Planner with Ferndale Michigan Works!. These are a bit more extensive, because those that have committed crimes need to know how to best approach being open and honest about their offenses while seeking employment. “We provide counseling on the best way to structure their resumes, how to approach the employment application and, also, how to handle the interview process and follow-up to the interview,” David says.

The ex-offenders program has been around for several years, almost since the employment service was established in the 1930s. “This was all part of the Employment Counseling program,” David explains. “Throughout the years, more attention was paid to providing services to ex-offenders through programs like Employment Service, the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA), the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA), and now the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).”

The services are only as helpful as an individual’s own effort, however. As long as a person is willing to put in the work, Michigan Works! can help just about anyone get back on his or her feet. “The services we provide, if they are followed by the individual, can result in employment,” David says. The service can be very individualized, focusing on the exact skill or marketing tool needed by a particular person to be successful.”

“Sometimes, depending on their situation, retraining can be an option to assist them in gaining a marketable skill to help them be more competitive in the marketplace,” David explains. “We also give them information about the Federal Bonding Program, Work Opportunity Tax Credit Program, and if necessary, Michigan [Prisoner] Re-Entry Program (MPRI).” The Work Opportunity Tax Credit Program offers a federal tax credit to employers for hiring individuals with significant barriers to employment. And, the vision of MPRI is that every prisoner will return to the community prepared for success. Through this program, state departments work with local officials and human services agencies, such as Michigan Works!, to coordinate services and integrate support systems to aid the returning prisoner in finding employment.

The Federal Bonding Program serves as an insurance plan, more or less. It is in place to help an individual “sell an employer” by offering “an assurance that if they do anything that would cause damage due to their actions, [this] program can help cover any monetary damage,” says David. “Depending on their particular situation, we also provide [employment seekers] referrals to other partners in our program who can assist with other barriers we may not be able to provide.”

As far as how the Michigan Works! Ex-Offenders Program benefits the city of Ferndale, David explains, this “basically means that employers that hire individuals with a barrier are now contributing to the community, paying taxes and can invest in the local economy.” Employers willing to hire ex-offenders will receive the federal tax credit, and are aiding in the reduction of crime by keeping a large percentage of the population off the streets.

The Ferndale community is encouraged by members of Michigan Works!to get actively involved. “The main members of the community that can get involved would be businesses and organizations that hire these individuals,” David says. “A number of times individuals with barriers have needed skills, but are being turned away from employment because of the offense.”

This is a shame, because the individual has the talent to truly benefit
the community if he or she is just given a chance. “We hear a lot from employers about how they can’t find qualified employees, when individuals with barriers have the skills and a business or organization will not hire them” simply due to this fact.

For more information on all services offered:
The Ferndale Michigan Works! Office, located at 713 E 9 Mile Rd, Ferndale, MI, 48220, can be reached Monday through Friday, 10:00AM to 4:30PM, at 248-545-0222.

By Jeff Milo,  Circulation Specialist

We just want to remind you about HOOPLA! The Ferndale Library launched the popular down-load/streaming app for patrons in January. This new media service provides instant access to materials like movies, albums, eBooks and audiobooks, with no waiting on any hold list. You just need your Ferndale Library card.

Patrons usually do a double-take when we tell them what HOOPLA is and how it works. This app works with your tablet or phone, allowing downloads of newly released titles. But if you prefer to skip downloads, you can just click on what you want to read, watch, or listen to, and start streaming right away.

Over the last two months, 300 Ferndale Library patrons have started using the HOOPLA app, with nothing but enthusiastic responses. The library is hoping more cardholders continue to discover the advantage of HOOPLA, whether they’re regular visitors to the brick-and-mortar location in downtown Ferndale or if they’re typically utilizing the library’s online catalog and requesting holds on materials from home or on-the-go.

If HOOPLA usage continues to grow, then the Ferndale Library is considering making what is initially a trial run into a permanent resource for cardholders to access. To register and start downloading titles, Ferndale cardholders can download the HOOPLA digital app from your Apple App or Google Play store on your mobile device.

Updates : Author Tom Stanton is an associate professor of journalism at University of Detroit Mercy, and a past recipient of the Michigan Library Association’s Author of the Year Award. On Saturday, April 22, The Book Club of Detroit will host a lecture from Stanton about his new book, Terror in the City of Champions, about the riveting, intersecting tales of the frightening rise and fall of the Black Legion, a secret terrorist organization flourishing in Detroit’s underground during the late 1920’s and 30’s. Stanton will discuss how the scourge of the Black Legion was countered by the uplifting heroics of athletes on the Detroit Tigers. Anyone interested in Detroit history, particularly of the 1930’s, is encouraged to attend.

Later, on April 29, the Ferndale Library joins the Muslim American Society to host “Get To Know Your Muslim Neighbor,” a chance to learn about American Muslims and enjoy hands-on activities for all ages. International delicacies and coffee will be served during this discussion, with presentations about calligraphy and the ‘Muslims & Early America’ poster exhibit.

Finally, we took this spring off from coordinating our usual program of Ferndale Reads events, but stay tuned. Ferndale Reads will return next year: bigger and better than ever, partnering with Berkley Public Library, Oak Park Public Library, and Huntington Woods Public Library to expand the program and unite multiple communities of book lovers.

By David Wesley
Photos by Bernie Lamframboise

Seven years ago, Michelle Mirowski was struck by proverbial lightning on her front porch when she and her friends came up with the idea for a community radio project in Ferndale. Following the passage of an important communications law during the Obama administration, a tiny crack opened up in the local radio spectrum, allowing for the creation of a Low-Power FM (LPFM) radio station right here in our home town of Ferndale.

With the help of The Rust Belt and tons of local donations, Michelle and her team are only a few thousand dollars away from making the fresh and impactful change in radio that will nourish local talent and influence Ferndale life through the years to come.

Michelle sat down with me for an interview about Ferndale Community Radio: Its inception, its current state and its shining future.

DW: How and why did you start the Ferndale Community radio and how has it evolved since its inception?
MM: It was started from a passion for local radio! Local, community-based stations represent the creativity of the region they are based in, as well as helping bring communities together. The further along we got into FCR, the more we realized how perfect a community-based station is for Ferndale. Seven years ago, we just had a great idea. Now, we have an FCC permit for an FM station (100.7 FM), a secure location for our tower and studio (Rust Belt), we have a structured plan for running the station and a number of local folks who want to be volunteer DJs. The support has been overwhelming. We are also less than $5,000 from reaching our goal to get everything going. If you go to, you can donate to help us reach the finish line.

DW: What are some of the most rewarding aspects of FCR for you, and how has it affected the city?
MM: Seeing people’s faces light up when we mention our project is one of the most rewarding parts of the station. Folks want a place where they can share their creative projects and learn about new music and ideas.
This will give the Ferndale residents another tool to communicate with each other. FCR has given the city something extremely unique to look forward to. It is extremely rare that a city has their own community station!

DW: What do you plan the future of FCR to be?
MM: Once we are up-and-running, we hope to partner with lots of organizations in Ferndale. For example, we want to partner with the schools and air local football games, and work with students who might be interested in radio. This will also be a great place for local musicians from all genres to play their music. In year two or three we want to start streaming. This will be an avenue for the creative projects that make Ferndale, Ferndale. The station is here to enrich the already vibrant and talented community.

●    We are only a few thousand dollars away from succeeding with this project.
●    Local businesses that want to sponsor the station in return for on-air mentions should reach out to us at
●    T-shirts and hoodies, as well as guest DJ spots, can be found at
It’s the best way individuals can help.
●    Weds. April 19: Special Fundraiser at Zeke’s Rock ‘n Roll BBQ, all day, mention Ferndale Community Radio and 15% of your receipt will be donated to FCR.

Story by Sara E. Teller
Photos by Bernie Laframboise

Jay Kaplan is a very interesting man. Born and raised in Michigan, he holds a Bachelors in Psychology from the University of Michigan and a law degree from Wayne State University.

For 13 years, Kaplan was employed at Michigan Protection & Advocacy Services, a private nonprofit organization designed to protect and promote the human and legal rights of people with disabilities in the state of Michigan. While employed at the service provider, Kaplan worked with special education clients. He acquired funding to start a program for HIV and AIDs advocacy, designed to provide legal services for individuals living with these ailments. He also served as staff attorney for the project, which outlasted his stay at MPAS, for seven years.

Jay is currently a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan’s LGBT Project, which was founded in 2001. He advocates for the LGBT community on a number of issues, challenging current laws and moving for reforms. One of the issues Jay worked on was the ability of transgender individuals to get accurate gender markers on their drivers licenses. He also has challenged same-sex marriage laws affecting couples with children. In the State of Michigan, the law states that a gay couple cannot marry if one partner already has kids. This means that the partner without children cannot adopt the other partner’s children as his or her own. Therefore, children are not afforded the same legal protection as those of heterosexual couples.

Back in 2001, Jay was involved in a lawsuit brought against the City of Detroit Police Department for an undercover sting operation targeting gay men in Rouge Park. Thousands of residents were wrongfully arrested and their driver licenses revoked during the sting, which targeted the men due to their sexual orientation. Eventually, the City settled, agreeing to pay damages, as well as amend unconstitutional ordinances moving forward.

In 2004, Jay was involved in investigating another sting near Lansing also targeting the gay population. During this sting, undercover officers pretending to be gay approached men at a rest stop and attempted to engage them in sexual conversation. They were then arrested under Michigan’s solicitation and criminal sexual conduct statutes. The sting was conducted during the weekend of Michigan Gay Pride. One of the men taken into custody reported the incident to the ACLU.

Other notable issues in which Jay has been involved include health insurance – for example, currently hormone therapy for the transgender community is generally not covered by insurance – and domestic partnership limitations for same sex couples. He is working on issues involving faith-based adoption agencies which are currently allowed to deny same-sex couples access
to adoption.

Jay is the humble recipient of a few awards for his hard work. He received the 2006 Unsung Hero Award from the Michigan State Bar, for which he simply states, “It was an honor, but there are so many unsung heroes that deserve to be recognized.” He was also honored with the 2010 Virginia Uribe Civil Rights Award issued by the National Education Association (NEA). Jay also teaches a public interest law course. He says he enjoys the ability to share his knowledge of law with his students, and Kaplan says he chose to attend Wayne State because it is an urban law epicenter. His education and career path have taught him “cultural competency, empathy and communication skills,” all very much needed in his line of work.

Most of all, Jay would like to remind the general population, “the LGBT community includes a very diverse population of people” of varying ethnic and cultural backgrounds. “The issues of one population do not exist in a silo. They intersect across differing groups,” he says. Therefore, the issues the ACLU’s LGBT Project are tackling are ultimately for the benefit the larger community as a whole. And, although there has certainly been notable progress made, Jay says they still have a long way to go.

Story by Jill Lorie Hurst
Photo by Bernie Laframboise

By now, some of you have seen “12th and Clirmount,” a documentary featured at this year’s Free Press Film Festival. Produced by the Free Press in collaboration with Bridge Magazine, WXYZ-TV and a group of cultural institutions led by the Detroit Institute of the Arts, the film shares old home movies and new interviews by people who were around during the Summer of 1967, when an early Sunday morning police raid on a blind pig pulled the bandage off repressed racial tension and frustration in Detroit. Days of looting and violence followed, and the city was changed forever.

The Detroit Free Press won a Pulitzer for its coverage of the riot. Fifty years later, the DFP takes us back to those tumultuous days. A trip down a jagged memory lane for some, a history lesson for others.

Detroit is back on the map these days. Some would argue that it was never off the map. Another discussion. A desolate and (seemingly) broken city for years, it’s now a food destination, a sports town with a new arena going up, a home for technology and small home grown businesses, urban agriculture, the Q Line. We love Midtown, Corktown, downtown. As always, the art, the music, the cars. Up ‘til the mid-‘60s, Detroit was viewed as a “model city.” Federal funding flowed in to help the schools, housing, job creation. A young, energetic mayor worked with the police department, business owners and citizens to maintain peace in the integrated city. The mayor, the citizens and the rest of the country watched that view go up in July 1967. The “model” fell apart.

The smoke in the sky, the military presence, the fear. Memories shared by many. Memories are what executive video producer and Ferndale resident Brian Kaufman was immersed in as he edited hours of eight-millimeter home movies taken by Detroit families in 1967. We didn’t record our lives then the way we do today. Even so, there is plenty of footage. Footage of the riots. Footage of everyday life in 1960’s Detroit. Kaufman talks about the films. Birthday celebrations, Christmas. A reminder that no matter how different we seem, we celebrate the same moments.

“12th and Clairmount” was a history lesson for Kaufman. He was born in Southern California and has been with the Detroit Free Press for ten years. He and his wife Gina Kaufman (a native of Southeastern Michigan who is a Free Press reporter assigned to the metro desk) chose Ferndale as home in 2009. He spoke affectionately of old Ferndale restaurants now gone like Maria’s Italian, and Bart’s – “the best breakfasts”, but says they enjoy the changes in Ferndale and Detroit. Ferndale is a great location for Free Press staff – “a lot of Freepers live in Ferndale.” Kaufman can work at home, but likes to get downtown to the office to be with his colleagues. “I’m not there enough to justify paying for parking.” he said. “So, I park over by John King books and walk down Michigan Ave to the office” (on Fort Street). “I wouldn’t be able to work on the documentary projects if I was freelance. Having a staff job with a supportive boss (Kathy Kieliszewski) is great. Unique in the newspaper world.”

Brian’s first dive into Detroit history came in 2014 when he worked on the Packard Plant project “Packard: The Last Shift,” presented at the first Freep festival in 2014. The Packard plant, a project on the National Parks and now, the ‘67 riots. Interesting and challenging. “How do we take it beyond our web site? We’d like to find partnerships like the one we have with WXYZ TV. We’ll run it through the festival circuit, and hopefully find a distributor.”

“12th and Clairmount” ends with people wondering whether to stay in Detroit, or leave, post-riot. “So much to learn from what happened in Detroit. People assumed things were fine. But they weren’t. This film is about Detroit, but relatable. The problems then still exist today.” Kaufman wonders how we’ll share stories about our past in 50 years. People record more, but the hard copies that we packed away so carefully in order to preserve our memories? They won’t exist.

In the meantime, we have the footage from that summer. See “12th and Clairmount,” an opportunity to learn and to remember.

For more information about “12th and Clairmount” go to

Story by David Wesley
Photo by Bernie Laframboise

Former Mayor Craig Covey and Monica Mills began the annual Ferndale Pub Crawl 20 years ago in 1997. Now, after a long tenure of success, the event may be at risk of ending due to gentrification and corporate interest in other local events.

The Ferndale Pub Crawl is historically important in the modern story of Ferndale: Making the city more popular, wealthy and socially-endearing. Craig regaled Ferndale Friends with the history of the Pub Crawl, its impact on the city and its uncharted future.

“Before Ferndale took off in its renewal back in the early 1990s, there were only a half dozen bars downtown. Gays and lesbians began to move into the city in growing numbers, along with a few artists, musicians and other younger residents. A group of us in the gay community tried and failed to pass a gay rights ordinance through the city council in 1991. Later on, residents formed a gay residents association called FANS of Ferndale, which stood for “Friends And Neighbors.” FANS had three goals, which included increasing social activities for our community, civic engagement with the city through community service and volunteerism, and political activism from the gay and lesbian residents.

“We created the first pub crawl in 1997, and had about 35 people traipse around to all six or seven of the bars downtown, including Rosie O’Grady’s, Sneaker’s, Danny’s, Como’s, Tony’s and Doug’s Body Shop. We had so much fun we decided to make it an annual event. By 1999, we had straight people joining us, more bars opened like the Post and WAB, and we began raising money for charity.”

The annual pub crawl rapidly became a “thing” promoted by the whole city including the DDA. As new bars and clubs opened, like the Post and Club 9, they joined the crawl and the attendance grew every year. Traditionally the mayor of the city always sent off the packs of crawlers, and by 2009 the event was drawing 2,000 participants, more than 20 stops were included, and tens of thousands of dollars was raised for a variety of charities such as the Ferndale Community Foundation, the Ferndale Police Auxiliary, and the Midwest AIDS Prevention Project. The event was always the last Friday of July, and for many pubs it became their biggest night of the year. It was attended by chamber officials, city council members, and even city staff.

As changes came to the city, the charities and the businesses downtown went through change, and over the past six or seven years the annual pub crawl growth began to level off and then decline. Many of the new bars and restaurants chose not to join the event, and several of the original clubs stopped participating and instead began promoting more corporate events such as DIY Street Fair and Pig & Whiskey. As the city continued to gentrify, and support from the city establishment lessened, there was not as much interest in the traditional, grassroots-organized events that raised money for local charities.

“The annual Gay Pride Festival seems to be strong, and has new leadership and corporate buy-in. The annual Blues & Music Festival should also continue under new leadership. But the Ferndale Pub Crawl is at real risk of ending. After 20 years, it may just be a victim of its own success. Also, designed to promote the downtown and walk-ability, maybe it has successfully finished its tasks and accomplished its goals.

“Monica Mills and I announced a year ago that we were not going to manage the event after 2016. So, unless new, younger folks decide to make it happen, then at least that iteration of the pub crawl is done. We raised a quarter million dollars for charities and had a whole lot of fun. The city is now popular, walkable, inclusive, and has more than its share of bars and clubs. And the LGBTQA community got our social outlets, civic visibility, and political recognition.”

By Jennifer Goeddeke

With a spacious, brightly-painted new location at 23440 Woodward Ave (previously the TV Fitness building), it’s clear owner Tammy Crenshaw and her dedicated team are doing things right!

Previously located for several years at 703 Livernois, at a smaller locale, an expansion of services offered and enhanced class space has literally just opened up for Fido’s canine clients. When I recently had an opportunity to stop by and meet with Crenshaw, I was also introduced to Sarah Maki, who wears several Fido ‘hats’ as head trainer, groomer and office manager.

Together, Maki and Crenshaw have formed an effective and lively partnership, with a shared ‘no-force’ approach when dealing with all dogs. Positive-reinforcement is the name of the game and, although this may sound simple or even obvious, not all dog training or dog grooming facilities are created equal! Both Maki and Crenshaw have many years of experience and education in training and grooming, which allows them to understand our dogs’ unique signals.

Crenshaw has worked with dogs for 17 years, initially focusing on pet-sitting and dog-walking. She then started training at Bubble & Bark in Ferndale, back in 2006, after graduating with honors from Animal Behavior College. She went on to receive her certification from the Council For Professional Dog Trainers in 2011. Originally, she met with Maki as a client. Soon after she began to realize Maki already had notable skills with dogs, and invited her to sit in on some classes. “I was smart enough to grab onto her!” Crenshaw explained, smiling: “We are now basically business partners, where Sarah takes on most of the staff and office managerial role.”

Maki gained her Honors Degree in 2009, at the same Animal Behavior College as Crenshaw, and proudly completed her grooming qualifications at the Bingo Institute of Grooming last year. Maki added that the bad grooming experiences she had with her own dogs at various places inspired her to create ‘Fido’s Gray Dog Grooming’, so that all dogs’ boundaries could be respected.

The main goal is for each dog to associate a visit to Fido with enjoyment. Traditionally, grooming can be a stressful time for dogs, and so dogs may be reluctant to enter the facility — but not at Fido! Various methods have been implemented by Crenshaw, Maki and staff, to ensure your dog is comfortable and happy during each phase of care. Ideally, they want to see enthusiastic tail-wagging from all dogs coming in! Appointments are set so that ‘overbooking’ does not occur, and pets are not waiting around.

Your dog sets his or her own pace during the appointment, and can take a break if the groomer sees signs of anxiety. For example, your dog may be fed during nail clipping, by way of distraction. Other tried-and-tested approaches involve the use of toys, treats, potty-breaks and offering water. Further low-stress grooming methods include rubber mats being placed in tubs, to minimize noise echo. Aromatics such as essential oils are often used to soothe the dogs. Additionally, a soft cloth ‘Happy Hoody’ is used to put over a dog’s sensitive ears, and greatly mutes the blow-drying noise which most dogs dislike. For older or larger pets, there is an extra tub available which is lower to the floor, which makes it easier for your dog to maneuver.

Had to ask : What are some of the anxiety cues to look out for in our own dogs, at home? Tammy informs us: Yawning (signaling stress) and different types of tail wags — in fact, all kinds of body language is used; we miss a lot of their signals, apparently, just by being human! Crenshaw explained further, “….more studies are now available on dogs and cats, leading to better understandings. We are primates, they are canines and felines…so although we can feel a great deal of connection and understanding toward our
pet…many signals and even emotions are different from ours…often with regards to  their moral com-pass. Corrections for ‘bad behavior’ may not always be what it seems…often, dogs are reacting to our tone and body language when ‘acting guilty’…they develop appeasement postures and faces to appear submissive and create a better response from us…a stressed-out dog may be giving many communicative signals before finally snapping or biting!”

Regarding classes at Fido, there are plenty to choose from, from various phases of puppy obedience to ‘canine good citizen,’ ‘leash reactivity’ and ‘advance field trip,’ just to name a few. All staff members at Fido are carefully chosen for their combination of education and experience. Currently there are five lead trainers, three assistant trainers and a team of eight dog walkers. Both Crenshaw and Maki agree that seeing a dog change from being conflicted or unhappy to being more content and relaxed is hugely rewarding. Maki commented, “… it really seems to come down to an ‘aha’ or ‘lightbulb’ moment for the dog, where he or she realizes that his or her communication is finally being understood.”

Clearly, there is so much to learn about our loyal and beloved canine companions. It is certainly re-assuring to know there are gentle and fun approaches, such as those used by Fido staff, to help train and groom these amazing family pets!

23440 Woodward Ave, Ferndale or Tammy Crenshaw or Sarah Maki may be reached at 248.607.9350 or

By Rudy Serra

Q: My son returned from a visit with his cousin, and now he wants to install neon lights on the under-carriage if his car. Are those even legal? What about interior neon lights? What else should he know about tricking out his car?

Answer: The Dream Cruise is only a few months away. Welcome to convertible season and Daylights Savings Time. The law says you cannot install lights on a motor vehicle unless “expressly required or permitted” by the motor vehicle code. Otherwise, the law requires that such lights “are both covered and unlit.” Who wants to buy lights they have to keep both unlit and covered?

Neon undercarriage lights are not required. They are not mentioned in the motor vehicle code. Although they are not expressly forbidden, they are also not expressly permitted. This means that you can install neon under-carriage lights, but you cannot use them at any time that the car is on a public street. You cannot drive with such lights on. Your son can display the lights only while parked.

The law is also very specific about what color lights can be used in or on a car, and what direction they can be seen from. The only color lights that may be visible from the front of a vehicle are white or amber. If you can look through the windshield and see blue, red, green or other lights in the passenger compartment, it is a violation. Interior neon lights, therefore, would be subject to the same rules as exterior. You would need to be parked.

The only colors that may be visible from the rear of a vehicle are red or amber. On the sides of your vehicle in back, you can display only amber or red. On the sides of the front, anything other than white or amber is a violation.

According to the Michigan State Police: “No other colors are allowed and if any permitted color lamp is visible from any direction that is not allowed then it cannot be equipped that way. If the lighting causes a visual impairment for the driver or is potentially distracting, then such lighting is unlawful. Finally, like exterior neon lighting, there is no provision within the Michigan Vehicle Code that allows the use of interior neon lighting. Ultimately, it will be a matter for the courts to decide.”

Even neon license plate frames are regulated. They must be covered and unlit any time the vehicle is being driven, and they cannot obscure any information on the plate.

JUDGE RUDY REPORTS is a regular feature in Ferndale Friends. This ¨ask the lawyer¨ format column welcomes questions from readers. If you have a legal question or concern, send your question by email to Advice about specific cases cannot be provided but general legal questions and topics are welcome.