By Sara E. Teller

SHELLBACK MANUFACTURING CO. is Hazel Park’s oldest manufacturing business. “We’ve been here for 85 years and Hazel Park hasn’t even been around that long,” said Office Manager, Colleen Lessnau. “The company was founded before Hazel Park became a city.” The pump maker, which ironically got its start due to some unfortunate personal circumstances on the part of its founder, was established back in 1934. It all started after Axel Nielsen and his wife, Marie, came to the United States from Denmark in 1928. Finally able to purchase their own home after years of hard work as a chauffeur, private cook and housekeeper for a local family, the couple settled into a small residence in Hazel Park. The home did not have a basement, prompting Axel to dig one. Unfortunately, it flooded soon after he had finished, and Axel could not find a sustainable solution. It flooded again and again until he realized he had to dig a crock.

Axel then went shopping for a sump pump, but when he took a close look at the device he thought he could probably build his own. So he picked up all of the components he’d need instead and assembled it at home. It worked! Apparently, Axel and Marie’s home wasn’t the only one in Hazel Park with a flooding basement and the couple soon started receiving requests from their friends, asking if Axel could make them sump pumps, too.

The Nielsens eventually had more orders for pumps than they knew what to do with and it became apparent the endeavor was a gold mine. Axel worked at General Motors during the day and assembled the sump pumps at night. Marie would paint them while he was at work. On the weekends, the couple began driving to hardware stores to sell their products. Finally, business grew so much that Axel quit his day job and officially started his business, incorporating Shellback Manufacturing Co.

“Axel was the original owner and he has the patent for the pumps,” Colleen explained. Now his son, William, is the owner.” William J. Nielsen, Axel’s son, is a United States Air Force veteran as well as a veteran of the Korean war. He has taken over the charge, keeping Shellback in the very same location in which it started all those years ago.

THE BUSINESS HAS, AND WILL CONTINUE TO BE, passed down to the Nielsens’ family members. “This allows for a personal touch in the daily operation of the company,” Lessnau said, explaining that the company’s family-oriented structure has probably enabled it to survive for so many years, “because during hard economic times, personnel could be adjusted easier.” Shellback also has a reputation for employing local residents. It continues to operate as an OEM repair shop for all types of home and industrial application pumps and pump mechanisms; manufacturing, distributing, and repairing its Torpedo Sump-less Sump Pumps and Laundry Tray and citing customer service as a top priority. Asked why being located in the heart of Hazel Park is ideal, Lessnau responded, “Employees can walk to work.”

Residents looking for a new pump or to service an existing one can contact Shellback Manufacturing Co. at 248-544-4600 or, or just stop on by 1320 E Elza. The office is open 8:00 A.M.-4:30 P.M., Monday through Friday.

By Sara E. Teller

YOUNGBLOODS IS A BARBERSHOP AND MEN’S RETAIL STORE that sits at the former Phoenix Café location on John R. in Hazel Park. Husbandand-wife team Lyle Hayman Jr. and Angie Yaldoo officially opened for business in July 2018. Hayman and Yaldoo both have years of experience in their field – Hayman as a hair stylist and Angie as a retail and fashion guru. Hayman was formerly a stylist at the Berkley Chop Shop and Yaldoo was a manager of Incognito, a now-defunct Royal Oak boutique.

The “youngbloods” are excited to start their first venture together and blend their expertise to offer a unique experience for members of the community. Their shop is an eclectic mix of dark colors with pops of red and gold – a masculine, yet classy look with a touch of edgy rock n’ roll. On racks and shelves at the back of the store, patrons will find men’s hats, jackets, jeans, shirts, and accessories. The shop is lined with Straight to Hell apparel, which is inspired by music and culture and includes leather and denim jackets, animal prints, and more.

There’s even a line of all-natural, soy, handmade candles available in black and white. And, of course, at the front, the shop offers a wide variety of men’s hair styling products, including pomade, balms, and sprays.

Yaldoo explains, “We offer everything from haircuts and beard trims to men’s apparel, accessories, grooming products and candles.”

Hazel Park was a great place to establish because of the tight-knit neighborhood and ability to connect with residents. When locals walk in they’re looking to get to know and trust their stylist, so they can return time and again. Hayman was already wellknown around town and has maintained some of his Berkley clients.

“WE LOVE THAT HAZEL PARK ISN’T OVERRUN BY BIG CORPORATE CHAINS and individuality is still embraced. We also love the people! Everyone has been very welcoming and supportive,” Yaldoo said, adding that they chose the location because “we loved the energy of Hazel Park and the renaissance that is expected to happen within the city.”

Keeping with the vibe of the once prominent Phoenix Café, which was a place for residents to come out and listen to live music, the couple has incorporated music into their routine as well.

“We strive to provide an experience,” Yaldoo said. “It’s more than just a place to get your haircut or pick up a shirt. We recently hosted a show where a handful of bands played after hours. We hope to have other events and pop-up shops here as well.”

Hayman and Yaldoo believe they can offer something a large chain cannot. “Youngbloods is owner run and operated and the staff genuinely cares about their craft and their clients,” Yaldoo explained.

As far as the “experience” that kicks in as soon as patrons walk through the door, it’s one that is unique to the barber shop and boutique. It’s not simply about a quick haircut and shopping trip. “We love to have a good time,” Yaldoo said. “Come in and find out!”

For an appointment or to learn more about Youngbloods, stop by or call 248-629-6626 Tuesday through Friday between 9:00 A.M. and 7:00 P.M. or Saturday from 9:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. Check out their Facebook, Boutique, and Instagram pages, @youngbloodsbarberboutique, to keep up with what’s happening.

By Maggie Boleyn

BILL HITCHCOCK KNOWS MORE THAN A THING OR TWO about Hazel Park and properties in the City. He and his family have lived and worked in this area since the 1940s.

Hitchcock is a certified real estate brokerage manager, and owner of Hitchcock Real Estate, also known as ReMax in the Park. Hitchcock Real Estate is one of Hazel Park’s oldest businesses. Hitchcock has been selling real estate for over 60 years, beginning by working in his father’s real estate business.

“My father started out in 1946,” Hitchcock said. The company has been in the same area ever since. Hitchcock himself began selling real estate in 1951. “I sold my first house when I was 15,” he recalls. The property was sold as a land contract, and Hitchcock typed up the sale paperwork himself. “My father didn’t type,” he said with a chuckle. Today, Hitchcock Real Estate is reported to generate an estimated $1,000,000 in annual revenues and employs approximately ten people at the Hazel Park location.

The Hitchcock family has been a long-time fixture in this area. The family moved to the Hazel Park area in 1941. Hazel Park was incorporated in 1942. Hitchcock is a product of the Hazel Park school system, and a graduate of Wayne State University.

The City of Hazel Park is currently undergoing exciting changes. The city’s story cannot be told without mentioning the Hazel Park Raceway. The Raceway opened in 1948 and was instrumental in the city’s growth. By providing a hefty chunk of tax revenue, the Raceway supported Hazel Park’s finances for many years. The landmark clubhouse, stables, and track at 10 Mile and Dequindre have been torn down, making way for new growth. Now, with the Raceway only a fading memory, current development on the property includes one of the largest buildings in Oakland County. “I remember when that corner was the trash yard for Highland Park,” Hitchcock says.

Now, as in the very early days of the city, Hazel Park is an economical alternative to living in nearby cities. “The town is growing, and schools are improving,” Hitchcock points out.

Hitchcock has served as the chairman for the Downtown Development Authority since its inception, more than 40 years ago. He says that present plans include a bond sale to finance resurfacing of John R and Nine Mile roads. Hitchcock says plans for John R include narrowing the road at certain points. He says this will help local businesses currently located on John R, and will serve to attract new businesses to Hazel Park.

HITCHCOCK ALSO SERVES AS CHAIRMAN FOR THE PROMISE ZONE, which helps finance college for Hazel Park High School graduates. “The Promise Zone is a unique thing in this area,” he said. Scholarship grants have blossomed from approximately $500,000 in the first year to $6.1 million dollars. Hitchcock credits City Manager Ed Klobucher with the rise in recent building developments as well as the increase in Promise Zone scholarships.

There are many qualities that make Hazel Park a one-of-a-kind place to live. There is a strong spirit of volunteerism in Hazel Park. Time and again, since the city’s founding, residents have pitched in to improve the city. “Volunteers have made Hazel Park what it is,” Hitchcock says.

As the city’s website notes: “Hazel Park has proven itself to be adaptable to change and will continue that tradition in the coming years. “

Hitchcock Real Estate, which also operates under the name ReMax in the Park, is located at 22200 John R Rd in Hazel Park.

By Sara E. Teller

KERI VALMASSEI HAS HELD THE TITLE OF DIRECTOR at Madison Heights/ Hazel Park’s Chamber of Commerce for six years. Asked to describe what her position entails, she said, “A lot of hats. Lots and lots of hats. I’m an ambassador, event coordinator, counselor, marketer, promoter, welcome-wagon, connector and more plus cleaning service and secretary. Directors do a lot of things under the umbrella.”

Regarding what the Chamber does, exactly, Valmassei said, “The Chamber of Commerce is here to promote local business. We do this through arranging networking events, publicity, making introductions, and general promotion. The Chamber is the only place where you can get a marketing team at a fraction of the price you’d pay an agency. And no one knows our communities better than we do!” She added, “The Chamber of Commerce is valuable to residents because we provide a trusted lineup of providers that has been vetted, so consumers know they can trust our members.”

The Madison Heights/Hazel Park Chamber of Commerce is governed by a Board of Directors, with execution by a Director. According to its website, it is “dedicated to promoting business and provides lines of communication with the cities.” It also “encourages and sponsors civic activity.” The Chamber is responsible for coordinating the annual State of the Cities address, where community members can get a playback of the previous year as well as hear what’s planned for the current year from community leaders.

Members of the Madison Heights/Hazel Park Chamber of Commerce include an eclectic mix of home-based businesses, large corporations, and everything in-between. These businesses do not have to have a residency in either city to participate, and they enjoy exclusive benefits such as discounts and deals made available to them via an affiliate program, networking possibilities, and access to an online directory, to name a few.

THE ORGANIZATION ALSO SUPPORTS THE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT TEAM, the Hazel Park Literacy Project, Hazel Park’s animal shelter, and its school district, and members participate in charitable events, partnering with the Community Coalition. In the past, participating businesses worked together with the Coalition to donate well over 100 backpacks to needy families with children getting ready to go back to school.

“We plan at least three events a month,” Valmassei explained, “Our calendar is available online at “Coffee & Companies,”

“Drop-In Lunches” and “After Hours” are some of the events currently scheduled, as well as our annual Golf Outing and Gala Fundraiser.”

The Chamber also arranges ribbon-cuttings and grand openings for members and partners with other area Chambers to host collaborative events. These events bring people from all over and provide a perfect opportunity to mix and mingle.

Prior to landing her current position, Valmassei had a marketing and promotions background, and also held management positions as well as on-air positions at a few radio stations. A local to the area, she said, “I sleep in Royal Oak, but I live in Madison Heights and Hazel Park.”

She loves the ability to wear many hats in her current role and be involved in many different activities. “There are no two days the same,” Valmassei said fondly. “I’ve really enjoyed making connections with so many people in the community. I feel like I’ve found another family.”

Asked about plans in the works at the Chamber for the current year, she added, “2019 is going to be an exciting year! The Chamber is here to serve residents and businesses – give us a call.”

By Maggie Boleyn

COFFEE. YOU PROBABLY START YOUR DAY with this beverage. You might grab another cupful at midmorning. Or, perhaps you drink it constantly throughout the day before downing another cup after dinner. You drink it with co-workers, and maybe you drank it on a first date. Whenever and however you choose to enjoy it, coffee is very likely a big part of your life.

“Coffee is a great conduit to bring people together,” says A.J. O’Neil, the self-described “Chief Bean Officer” of Detroit Bold Coffee Company. “We’re not too serious about titles,” he added.

What Detroit Bold is serious about is providing good coffee geared towards “hardworking humans.” From its beginnings as AJ’s Music Café in Ferndale to the present, O’Neil takes his coffee seriously, while providing a little shot of fun along the way.

Organizing a musical marathon featuring 50 hours of “Danny Boy” beginning on St. Patrick’s Day and setting a Guinness Book of World Records for holding the longest “Assembly Line Concert” are just two examples. O’Neil said the Assembly Line Concert was created to “bring awareness to the little café that bailed out Detroit, one cup at a time.” The event logged an impressive 288 hours of live music running for 12 days with more than 300 performers participating.

“Our vision is to promote great things about the hardworking people of the community,” O’Neil said. He said that coffee provides the backbone for hard work done by people in this region. One of the things he loves about Hazel Park is the industriousness of the residents. “There are hardy souls in Hazel Park,” he said.

After a roofing accident ended his days working in construction work, O’Neil says he found himself in a coffee shop and thus began a new career. “Coffee found me,” he says. He decided to use coffee as a vehicle to showcase and “promote the Detroit area and the great things we do here.” Detroit Bold’s beans are roasted in Highland Park, the city which launched auto giant Henry Ford. “Between Hazel Park and Highland Park is where this all happens,” O’Neil said.

O’NEIL SAID THAT HE DOESN’T REALLY SEE HIMSELF AS COMPETING with larger coffee chains like Starbucks. With millions of coffee drinkers in the US alone, O’Neil says, “There’s plenty for everyone.”

According to Espresso Business Solutions (EBS), approximately 50 percent of the population, roughly 150 million Americans, drink espresso, cappuccino, latte, or iced/cold coffees on a daily basis. EBS pegs the average U.S. consumption at 3.1 cups per day, and notes that specialty coffee sales are increasing by 20 percent per year and account for nearly eight percent of the 18 billiondollar U.S. coffee market.

By promoting the local aspects of his products, O’Neil says any competitive aspect is downplayed. “We complement, we don’t compete,” he said.

Unlike the former Starbucks CEO, who is toying with a 2020 presidential run, another area where O’Neil will not be competing in soon is politics.

Although he was a 2010 Congressional candidate, he says, “I have no future plans to run for office.” Instead, he said he will be concentrating on his product line and marketing new coffee offerings like “Baseline” – the “8 Mile” deep, dark roast blend which is served every Saturday at Eastern Market.

O’Neil sees Hazel Park as populated by hardworking people that care about the community. “We don’t kick our wounded, and we don’t leave anyone behind,” is how he characterized the community. “If I were rich, I would still want to live in Hazel Park,” he concluded.

For more information about Detroit Bold Coffee, visit

By Sarah E. Teller

WHEN SUBURBAN FORD MOVED INTO FERNDALE, the company had some work to do in and around the existing facility. But this didn’t stop the family-owned business from putting down roots. Suburban Ford’s Platform President, Ron MacEachern, said, “Our company normally buys a store in a geographic area that we can develop into a larger footprint. If we have a large footprint, we can do more.”

Suburban began operations in Ferndale with the Buick GMC lot on Woodward in 2012 and acquired the Ford lot two years later. “When we got here, some major remodeling needed to be done,” explained MacEachern, including getting rid of a rodent infestation and remediating the water. “We sunk $5 million into a total campus remodel,” he disclosed. Part of that remodel included landscape improvements with greenery and brick pavers added to the front of the building. “The City asked us to do this,” MacEachern said. “We lost parking because of it, but we were happy to cooperate. We added to the beautification of Woodward Avenue.”

According to MacEachern and General Manager Jeff Huvaere, the company started with one parking lot and also a house kiddy-corner from the area. They also bought out a few other homes over time, making offers over list price. MacEachern explained, “The people who lived in these homes knocked on our door and told us they were interested in selling.” The renovations paid off, and Suburban Ford quickly expanded. Staff increased substantially to 75 employees. However, the rapid expansion came at a price and parking and other issues soon arose.

In November 2018, Suburban issued a mailer to local residents that read: “While the dealership has been through a lot of physical changes and growth…we understand that you as our neighbors have been impacted by those changes as well, with increased customer traffic, construction traffic and noise and increased street parking activity on Silman and Jewell Street.”

SUBURBAN SCHEDULED A PUBLIC MEETING For December 10, 2018 regarding “the dealership’s operations and future proposed plans,” as specified in a letter distributed by the City of Ferndale. “I don’t think they expected a standing-room-only crowd to voice their concerns,” resident Roberta Kuhn said of the meeting. “But those who have been impacted the most were there. They’re concerned about their property values, safety, and the impact on the neighborhood of tearing down old homes zoned residential to make parking lots.’”

“Progress is uncomfortable for some people,” MacEachern said of the meeting’s outcome. “But for every complaint we’ve gotten, we’ve received at least that many compliments.” Of the parking situation, he said assuredly, “We don’t park [cars] there illegally, and they’re not there overnight.” Huvaere added, “We haven’t gotten one parking ticket I can think of since we’ve been here.”

Some residents believe ‘no parking’ signs have been pulled from certain areas so the dealership isn’t issued tickets. And they’ve noticed other problems, such as an incident of antifreeze leaking onto surrounding streets.

Kuhn said, “There was a car parked across the street from my house where it is legal to park. However, it was leaking antifreeze. I went to the City and showed a picture of it to Code Enforcement, so he drove over and talked to the service managers and they had it towed. Everyone around here has cats and dogs. I’m worried about our animals and the environment.” She added, “There was also a mechanic working on a car right in front of my house. There is no parking on the north side of Silman. Another big issue has been mechanics test-driving cars, fast-braking, etc. up and down the street.”

“ANOTHER BIG CONCERN WAS THE PLAN to tear down five homes at the same time; four on Silman and one on Jewell. Some of these homes are close to 100 years old. Neighbors are concerned about lead paint, asbestos and other toxic materials that would be released in the environment and the adjacent homes.”

“Other issues discussed included home values, conserving greenspace, snow removal, limited street corner visibility due to parked cars along Woodward, and scattered trash and debris. In fairness, some of these issues have been addressed since the meeting. However, rezoning residential for parking is the pending concern.”

MacEachern responded, “We have never been cited for any environmental thing. We have never had a parking violation. Yes, we have vehicles parked on the side streets, but we have a strict rule about where employees are supposed to perform test drives. We also have rules for where customers can test drive vehicles.”

“I can tell you this,” MacEachern said. “As far as any antifreeze, we are diligent about following OSHA and safety guidelines.” “Otherwise, we’d lose our license,” Huvaere said. “The bottom line is there are a few unhappy neighbors and parking is a legitimate concern we’re working with the City on. There’s a designated test drive route,” Huvaere added. MacEachern said, “We’re hitting max capacity, and we need a couple hundred parking spots.”

BOTH HUVAERE AND MACEACHERN SAID addressing residents’ concerns is their top priority. “I know I plan to stay here. I love Ferndale,” Huvaere said. “I was working in Sterling Heights for seven years before I came here, and there’s a community feel to Ferndale that there wasn’t there. We get the sense that residents just want to be in the know, and we would too. We’re here to stay.”

Justin Lyons, Planning Manager at the City of Ferndale, said there are no future meetings in the books with the City to discuss parking, explaining, “Suburban’s team was going to review the feedback given at the December community meeting and decide their next steps. The request to expand parking would be driven by Suburban and is not a City-led project. The City would review the request once received and would notify residents in the immediate area via the email list started at the community meeting and mail. The most recent proposal by Suburban would likely require rezoning, which requires public hearings and public notice via mail and newspaper at least 15 days prior to a meeting.” He suggested, “Residents should use SeeClickFix for issues related to parking and contact the police non-emergency line, 248-541-3650, for speeding or other safety issues. Suburban Ford’s management team has also encouraged residents to reach out directly to them.”

By Sarah E. Teller

VERY RECENTLY, THERE WERE FOUR NEARLY LIFE-SIZED STATUES OF GIRAFFES standing in the last of Ferndale’s large green spaces adjacent to the controversial Pinecrest Holdings mixed housing development that’s been underway for quite some time.

Nearby, a sign read: “Giraffes are the first to flee danger. A developer wants to clearcut the woods, dig up the soil/contamination will spread over our homes and FHS students. Save our last green space!” Not long after being placed, however, the statues and the sign were removed by local law enforcement.

According to the artist and sculptor responsible for the message (who wishes to remain anonymous), “Giraffes are the first critters to flee an area when there’s severe strife. It goes back to a native, mythological belief that because of their long necks, giraffes can see trouble before it happens. They can see into the future and know when something’s coming.”

He said he wanted to make a statement about eliminating the city’s last green space, especially because he considers himself a “friend to the environment” and uses only natural materials in his art.

“There were four giraffes altogether – a mom, dad, and two kids. Police cut down the sign. The little ones are gone. The mom and dad have been knocked down. All in all, I have about four months of work in it and $350, including 37 yards of fabric, some jute cord, 200 feet of chicken wire, and spray paint. As a nature lover, this green space is important to me. There are old trees there that will be cut down. The developer said they’re going to save as many trees a possible, but what does that mean? Before you know it, they’ll just say they couldn’t save anything.”

URBAN PLANNING MASTER’S DEGREE CANDIDATE, Leah Deasy, provided some additional insight into the status of the development project. “Process-wise, I believe the City has received application materials from the developer, Pinecrest Holdings LLC, seeking site plan approval for a Planned Unit Development (PUD) on the two parcels south of the high school on Pinecrest. The last word from City staff was that these materials are in the process of being reviewed. They have not yet been made public.” She added, “Pending completion of the application and staff review, the PUD formal application could come before the Planning Commission for a vote on December 5 or 19. Before a vote, the Planning Commission will take public comment on the project. If approved by the Planning Commission, the PUD moves on to City Council for approval.”

Jordan Twardy, Director of Community and Economic Development for the City of Ferndale, confirmed, “The project team is currently responding to feedback from their last appearance at the Planning Commission in July 2018 as well as the recent community meeting in October 2018. Critical next steps include a more detailed site plan and a development agreement. If those pieces are completed by the developers and submitted to the City, they could appear before the Planning Commission.”

NOT ALL RESIDENTS ARE PLEASED, HOWEVER. “I would say that there has been a lot of concern from residents on the environmental conditions of the site,” said Deasy. “Residents are very concerned, thoughtful and deliberate. We want to know exactly what risks we are facing from contaminants at the site currently and what risks we could be exposed to by disrupting it. What I’ve observed so far is that residents still have so many unanswered questions that they don’t feel anyone has enough information yet to responsibly make a decision of this magnitude.”

She continued, “The community also feels hurt by the misdeeds of past landowners at this site – Ethyl Corporation using the forest as a dumping ground for trash and chemicals and the needless destruction of Ferndale’s only Albert Kahn-designed house, circa 2012. It is a hard pill to swallow to think that no one can be held responsible for past actions at this site and that we have little choice but to consent to more destruction for its future.”

The local artist added, “The developer is not being specific about the plans. This is another big problem I have with this. They’re not being honest with us or the City, and the City says it’s private property so they can do anything they want.”

A group of concerned individuals, who’ve coined themselves the Southwest Neighborhood Association, has formed in order to discuss the issues at hand. “There was a meeting with the City. The City is not interested in a parcel of land, and Pinecrest Holdings LLC doesn’t own the land, they only have an option to buy. Just come out and be honest with us – no ifs, ands or buts.”

Deasy explained, “There is clear consensus from residents, however, that any development should be concentrated on the south portion of the site and that the forest area towards the mid-north end of the site should be preserved for the benefit of the community. We desire to see dense, walkable, mixed-use development on the 8 Mile frontage of the property, at the corner of 8 Mile and Pinecrest, and for the 15 acres of forest to remain intact. We’d like the nature that has made this site its home to stay and want the process of bio-remediation that has already started onsite to continue. We think if the developer would think more ‘innovatively’ about the relationship between current and future land use onsite and the value of the ecosystem services already in existence there, we could have something really special.”

Twardy addressed this concern. “The project, if approved as a PUD, will require the preservation of a significant number of old growth trees as well as the provision of north-south and east-west pathways for public use throughout the site,” he said. “In response to public feedback, the developers will also be looking at ways to increase the size and accessibility of open green space and wooded areas. Additionally, space is being set aside –currently proposed for the eastern portion of the site – for a defined public space, which, if the project is approved, would be designed with public input.”

THE ANONYMOUS ARTIST SAID, “There’s a large herd of deer there, coyotes, and it’s home to owls and a couple of species of bats that are endangered. It’s a beautiful place. It really is. It’s been astounding, and it will be heart-wrenching to have it all paved. The City is trying to get revenue generation and tax money, I get it. But it will also cost us money, in additional police and fire resources. And, imagine if you clear-cut everything. Then, it’s August and hasn’t rained in a month to a month and a half. The contamination will scatter, and we’ll all be breathing it and brushing it off our furniture. The students will all breathe it in.”

Addressing clean-up concerns, Twardy said, “The project will be required to, prior to any construction, clean up all contamination in accordance with applicable state and federal environmental standards. The entire site will be required to be cleaned up prior to any development activity. The applicable standards for cleanup also have provisions for ensuring the continued safety of all adjacent and nearby properties. The result would be a situation that is safer and cleaner for the property and surrounding neighborhoods than currently exists today.”

He added, “Additionally, separate from the developer’s efforts, the City has approved funding of up to $20,000 to perform an environmental concerns inventory for the site. We are in the process of also seeing if grant funds can be used to pay for the study. Our goal is to have the study completed in time for the project’s return to the Planning Commission or, at the latest, by the time the project goes forward to City Council for final approval, which would only occur if the Planning Commission were to approve it.”

As far as her personal thoughts regarding the development, Deasy, too, is concerned about the wildlife. “Myself, I often think about the deer. I’m partial to deer and having them intermingled within our city suburbs thrills me. I think that’s something really special to Michigan and Metro Detroit – that we have so many deer and that they are welcome and enjoyed alongside our neighborhoods in places like Troy, Rochester Hills and Farmington Hills,” she said. “A lot of the people focus on the trees on this site – and they are huge and amazing, but they also provide a habitat for deer and this is the only place I know of in Ferndale where deer live. When we remove the last deer habitat in the city, we are unequivocally stating that wildlife is not welcome in Ferndale. I also think the destruction of this forest will have a negative impact on our air quality, heat index and storm water retention that we do not fully understand.”

She added that the communal power of local residents shouldn’t be discounted or ignored. “Regardless of the outcome of this specific site development, neighbors have bonded together to build community. We’ve met and become familiar with people on our blocks and across our corner of the city and Royal Oak Township. We’ve organized a neighborhood association that we intend to formalize by seeking guidance from more established organizations and to continue working to make our awesome community even better. We are working together to harness our communal power and we have lots of ideas.”

By: Ingrid Sjostrand

Hazel Park is using the power of a word to promote positive, inspiring change in the city and the word they’re wielding is “HOPE.”

Through a permanent art installation inspired by the work of Robert Indiana and his famous “LOVE” sculpture in Central Park, the bright red, metal piece spelling out the letters of HOPE sits in front of the Hazel Park Historical Museum, 45 E Pearl, for all to see and create their own meaning.

The project is a collaboration of several organizations in the city, including the Hazel Park Historical Commission, Hazel Park Creative Arts which funded the project, and the Community Engagement team. Superintendent of Hazel Park Schools, Dr. Amy Kruppe, says the team effort made this project possible.

“We have a beautiful Community Engagement committee here in Hazel Park, and we’ve been talking about doing city art projects because our team is really about developing and bringing the city together,” she says. “This piece is just a centerpiece expressing that we’re all hopeful. Without great communities, schools and organizations you don’t have a great city. You have to have all those pieces together.”

The sculpture was built by local artist Richard Gage and his team and sat in front of Tony’s ACE Hardware, at 24011 John R Rd, through the month of October for the City’s “Artober” event. It was painted, moved and unveiled at an event on Saturday, November 5th in its new home at the Historical Museum. During the event, over 60 locals purchased and painted locks to attach to the HOPE piece.

“This is really a tribute to Robert Indiana. My association with it is not on a creative level, I just executed it and helped pull the team’s ideas together,” Gage says. “It’s important for me as an artist that the proper credit goes to who it belongs.”

THE MUSEUM WAS CHOSEN FOR ITS SIGNIFICANCE TO HAZEL PARK and also for its location, says City Council Member, Bethany Holland, who also serves on the Board of Creative Arts as well as the Historical Commission.

“That section of road right there – so many people go by it or have to stop in traffic and are going to see that. My goal is that people will see the sculpture and whatever’s going on in their world at that moment, that word is going to be burned into their brain,” Holland says. “Whatever you’re going through, there’s hope.”

The inspiration for adding locks to the piece came from Kruppe at a time in her life that could have felt hopeless. In October 2017, her husband Frank was diagnosed with lymphoma and they spent a year traveling to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, where an art installation was created with painted locks. She shared the story of the project in Hazel Park and HOPE was born.

“It was a really difficult time. It was the hardest year I’ve ever had, but Frank is now in remission and the beautiful thing about this sculpture for me and my family is that out of all of this grows hope and I hope that’s what this art project is going to bring to Hazel Park,” Kruppe says.

People are encouraged to continue to add locks to the sculpture, which can be purchased from the museum during open hours (the first Sunday of each month from noon to 4:00 P.M. and the third Thursday from 6:00 to 8:00 P.M.) Tony’s ACE Hardware also sells locks for $3.59, with $2 of every purchase donated to funding after-school activities for Hazel Park Schools.

For more information about the sculpture and additional lock painting dates, follow the Hazel Park Historical Commission & Museum and Hazel Park Creative Arts on Facebook.

Story By: Ingrid Sjostrand
Photos By: Bernie Laframboise

HAVE YOU EVER ORDERED SUSHI AND HAD IT ARRIVE AT YOUR TABLE ON FIRE with literal blue flames rising from each roll as it’s placed in front of you?

It’s probably not your typical sushi experience, but it’s commonplace at Inyo Restaurant and Lounge, which is more than your typical sushi restaurant. Katie Pickhover, general manager, describes the menu – located at 22871 Woodward – as “Asian fusion.” And that flaming dish is the Dynamite Roll, their most popular item.

“It is the most-ordered and most-talked-about. The “Dynamite” specialty roll is salmon, crab, avocado, tempura fried and topped with a spicy cream sauce and roe served over fire,” Pickhover says. “We have quite a few table-side ‘wow’ items, sparking questions like ‘what is that?’ and ‘how can I get that?’”

Another one of those ‘wow’ dishes is the Beijing Duck, a three-course meal that can feed up to four and costs only $60.

“Some of our cooler items that aren’t as popular include a table-side Beijing duck: An entire duck comes out, they cut the breast table-side, and it includes two more courses, a choice of soup, lettuce wraps or pan-fried Asian noodles,” she says. “I wish more people ordered it; anything table-side is fun and can create an experience throughout the restaurant.”

THESE SPECIALTY DISHES are just part of what makes Inyo special. Opened in 2009 by Norman Acho and Executive Chef Kenny Wee, they wanted to create a unique concept using their knowledge of multiple international cuisines.

“Customers sometimes come in requesting traditional Chinese, Japanese and Korean but our version has Kenny’s new flair on it, which makes it different from other restaurants,” Pickhover says. “Most people like that, but if you are looking for traditional you probably won’t find it here.”

“Kenny has an extensive background in multiple Asian cuisines, creating Asian fusion was some-thing important and he puts his personal twist on everything,” she adds. “He has lived in Malaysia and Melbourne, Australia and takes a lot of inspiration from his childhood and places he grew up. His background and experience aren’t some-thing you’d find in other Asian restaurants.”

Inyo also prides itself on creating custom, seasonal cocktails and offering specials. Each weeknight, customers can come in for deals including half off appetizers on Mondays and more. Their cocktails are often Asian inspired and utilize traditional ingredients.

“We have the luxury of incorporating sake into our drinks and that is something you wouldn’t see if you weren’t at an Asian restaurant,” Pickhover says. “It allows us to create a lot of different flavors. We also try to change our drinks up for the seasons, creating something lighter for summer like the Malaysian butterfly, which was made of muddled cucumber, sake, vodka and elderflower.”

IN THE NINE YEARS SINCE OPENING, Inyo has watched the Ferndale community grow and expand, and they credit a lot of that to City Hall and their support of small businesses.

“The downtown community has been up and coming for so many years, it’s amazing to watch everything develop in this city,” Pickhover says. “Ferndale has a lot of community and the city is great at showing love to small businesses, that really helps with success here. We try to participate in the community as much as possible – through Pridefest, Small Business Saturday and other things.”

Inyo’s hours are 11:00 A.M. – 10:00 P.M. Sunday through Tuesday, 11:00 A.M. – 11:00 P.M. Wednesday through Friday, and 11:00 A.M. -Midnight on Saturdays. They also have a second location in West Bloomfield.

Story by Maggie Boleyn

THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEYS SAYS, “Most folks are so afraid of death, by extension, they are afraid of the people who are there to help when there is a death in the family.”

Ferndale and surrounding communities have nothing to fear. “We are honored to serve our community,” says Kelly O’Meara, who serves as business administrator of Spaulding & Curtin Funeral Directors. He is the son-in-law of Patrick Curtin. He and his wife live nearby.

“Funerals and memorial services are for the living,” said O’Meara in an email. “We are here to help navigate a difficult and stressful time. Our caring and compassionate staff aims to personalize each family’s experience to ensure their unique needs and wishes are met. We hope when family and loved ones enter the funeral home, they feel welcome and at home.”

Spaulding & Curtin has been in business for more than a century, serving Ferndale and surrounding communities for 91 years. A four-generation, family-owned-and-operated funeral service firm, Spaulding & Curtin has been at the present location on Nine Mile Road since 1939.

The history of Spaulding & Curtin is one of continuous service. The original founder, Verner Spaulding, entered funeral service in 1905 in Buchanan, Michigan. He moved his business to Rochester in 1911, where he operated an undertaking and furniture establishment until moving to Ferndale in 1927.

Verner Spaulding and Albert Steinbaugh operated a funeral home on Vester Avenue until 1938 when the firm became Spaulding & Son. In 1939, Verner and his son, Merton, moved the operation to their newly constructed facility on the present site at 500 West Nine Mile Road. This location is said to be the first funeral home built as such in Oakland County.

ACCORDING TO THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF FUNERAL HISTORY, in Victorian times, funerals mainly took place inside the family home. The deceased person was displayed in the front parlor. During the early 20th century, funeral service practitioners began establishing funeral homes, where bodies were transported and prepared for funeral services. During this time, front parlors became known as “living rooms,” because they were no longer used to display the dead. Michigan is one of nine states that no longer allow families to conduct funeral services in a non-funeral home.

In 1960, Merton and son-in-law, Patrick Curtin, who was born and raised in Ferndale, formed the partnership Spaulding & Curtin. Kevin Curtin, Patrick’s son, Merton’s grandson and Verner’s great-grandson, joined the firm in 1984 and eventually became the managing partner until his death in 2007. The funeral home continues to be owned and operated by the Curtin Family.  Kevin’s wife, Patricia, currently owns the business and resides within the Ferndale area.

“Externalizing grief helps people deal with their loss. Funerals are important because they allow the grieved to be supported by their friends and family during what is often the most difficult time of their lives. Funerals also celebrate the life a loved one. The sharing of stories and memories allows us to see how our loved one touched other’s lives,” says O’Meara.

One trend in funeral services is pre-planning. “Pre-planning ensures an individual’s wishes are known and fulfilled at the time of their funeral,” said O’Meara. “When pre-planning is pursued with family members input, valuable conversations take place before the event of death. This relieves stress on those left behind.”

O’Meara is mindful of the responsibility to the community, and appreciates the loved ones who need his services. “We know that families have choices when choosing a funeral home, and we value our clients’ trust when choosing Spaulding & Curtin,” he concludes.