April / May 2017

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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.

Photo by Dawn Henry

Very few people these days worry about nuclear war destroying the world, Dr. Strangelove-style. And the US’ unending war in Afghanistan and America’s military actions around the globe seem part of the wallpaper—there in the background, but not affecting anyone in the homeland other than that very small number doing the fighting.

However, if you drive by the heart of Ferndale at Nine Mile Road and Woodward, Mondays at 4:30-5:30 P.M., you’ll get a reminder of the ongoing conflicts and the persistent threat of nuclear destruction. Standing on the southwest corner, picket signs aloft, is a group that has brought their message of peace to passersby for the last 628 Mondays.

Beginning in 2003, the loosely-organized peace advocates echo part of the Postal Service credo — “Neither snow nor rain. . .” – showing up undaunted by weather conditions or even by a dust-up with the Ferndale police in 2008. As they did back then, the most prominent signs say, “Honk for Peace,” which is met with an unending response as cars drive by. It was those signs and the horn-honking that got the group in trouble when the police decided that the cacophony of horns created a disturbance and made some arrests. Eventually, it was all settled amicably and peace was made on the corner although the signs and the response continue.

I asked one of the stalwarts, Helen Weber, a board member of Peace Action of Michigan, whose office is on Nine Mile Rd., whether she ever gets discouraged since usually only a handful people take part each week. “Oh, no,” says Weber, who served a term on the Ferndale city council, “because there’s always such an enthusiastic reaction from drivers honking their horns in response to our signs.”

How can you describe people who brave the elements and, at times, scorn for their Cassandra-like warnings? They would shy away from heroes. Maybe just “the Nine Mile Peace People,” as they’ve been called.
But there are people who were strategically located at the center of nuclear decisions that saved the world, that maybe deserve a heroic depiction.

One must be extended to an obscure Soviet duty officer, Col. Stanislav Petrov, who, when working at a Russian early warning station, on September 27, 1983, received signals that the US had launched ICBMs at his country. He had seconds to decide whether it was a satellite glitch or real and launch the Soviet arsenal in response. Fortunately, he made the correct decision (we had not launched missiles, and thus no cause to retaliate).

Six weeks later, in the midst of US-NATO war games on Russia’s border, right after President Reagan had ramped up his anti-Soviet rhetoric and unveiled his Star Wars missile defense system that would have given the US nuclear superiority, another crisis unfolded.

The Russians, always terrified of US intentions, believed the games were the real thing—a preparation for a first strike at the Soviet Union. All Soviet and Eastern European bases were put on full alert, which could have led to a confrontation if the US had followed suit. US Lt. General Leonard Perroots, an intelligence chief at the American Air Force base in Germany, saw the elevated Soviet military alert but, rather than respond in kind, decided to err on the side of caution and defused what could have led to a nuclear confrontation. And, can we say, hail to Vasili Arkhipov, a Soviet submarine commander during the 1982 Cuban missile crisis who refused to give the okay for a nuclear strike against the US when a unanimous decision of three officers was necessary. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., an advisor to President John Kennedy’s administration wrote, “This was not only the most dangerous moment of the Cold War. It was the most dangerous moment in human history.”

So, whew, right? Courageous men saved the world. But all of our lives were on a razor’s edge, any one of which could have gone the other way. Not good.

And, what do we face today?

Trump falsely denounces the US having “fallen behind on nuclear weapons capacity,” and commits his administration to achieving “nuclear superiority,” a policy which will result in a new arms race. Add that to his call for a$56 billion dollar increase in war spending, and the situation seems very frightening.
But, the darling of the liberals, Barack Obama, proposed a $30 billion increase and a $1 trillion modernization of US nuclear forces.

As with so many other issues facing us, it is increasingly upon us, we the people, to demand an end to war and the outrageous expenditures being spent in preparation for one. And, that is partly done every Monday in downtown Ferndale.

Helen Weber says, “There is a reminder needed that a lot of work has to be done together for a better world.”
Sometimes she has been out on the corner by herself. Don’t let that happen.

See you on Nine Mile this Monday? Peace out.

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.

Visit: http://familiesagainstnarcotics.org/hopenothandcuffs

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.

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By Rebecca Hammond

Great Lakes Funding: Funding for Great Lakes restoration may be completely cut. While I feel that our Lakes are magnificent and worth cleaning up for their own sake, there is also nonetheless a massive financial benefit to having clean lakes, and the waterways that feed them. Our tourism industry is close to being entirely based upon our water. And, although I don’t hunt or fish myself, I believe that anyone who does should be able to eat what they catch with no fears of toxicity.

It’s odd that the very success of the Clean Water Act and the EPA has convinced people that not only are they unnecessary, they never were necessary. The whole point of relaxing regulations is to legalize practices that were halted only through legislative mandate. While it’s sad to realize that there are CEOs who seem willing to increase their pollution again as soon as possible, it’s just as sad that apparently there are many who believe it won’t matter. Think back to a time, decades ago, of a drive through SW Detroit when the industrial stench was at its worst. Now imagine it even stronger. Regulations make it as mild as it is now.

The popular push-back against these moves is enormous, like nothing I’ve seen in decades. While stalwarts like the Sierra Club have never gone off-duty (and we’ve taken them for granted), new grassroots efforts are popping up like, well, grass from roots. Charlevoix resident Kimberly Simon started a movement called “All Hands on Deck” to get people personally involved in local events and fight to keep funding in place for Great Lakes restoration. Kimberly told me, “The cuts are a nail in the coffin for the Great Lakes ecosystem on land and water and for the Great Lakes regional economy and lifestyle. Great Lakes issues are not political. The Great Lakes environmental concerns cross state, party, and national lines. I hope to show that in a time when we are divided in this nation about almost everything, water is something we can agree on.” The group’s first events will be July 3 at 10:00 A.M., on beaches all over the region, and their greater purpose includes communication with political leaders, having a website that will be a hub for information and volunteerism, and educating citizens to empower them to not only reach out to candidates, but to change everyday habits to keep our Lakes healthier.

Botanist Kate Chapel took this to heart and is organizing a downriver event. “I learned about ‘All Hands On Deck’ through Facebook and immediately started to get involved. I am a provisional interpreter at the Lake Erie Metropark, so protecting this resource is very important to me. Lake Erie provides a multitude of ecosystem services including fishing, recreation, and tourism. The wetlands associated with its shore teem with life, and filter out toxins and excess nutrients. It’s truly a remarkable system worthy of our protection and stewardship.” Everyday activism.

Ferndale Michigan Monarch Project: Monarch numbers are down again this winter. I send seed fluff out the car’s passenger window wherever a spot lacks milkweed, monarch’s only host plant. Look for meadowy places, grassy verges, goldenrod and thistles, which like the same kinds of spots. This has made many a dull car trip more interesting and purposeful. A family could break up the monotony kids experience on road trips by giving them each a bag of pods and a win-dow cracked open about an inch. Great opportunity to teach kids about butterflies while let-ting them participate in some everyday activism.

Boots and Beer: We love a Michigan hike followed by a stop at a microbrewery. Last Sunday, we drove to the Maple River State Game Area north of Lansing and walked the dikes. If you’ve driven on US 127, you’ve been right through its center and may have thought, like we did, it was just a flooded area, wild and not walkable. But most of the dikes bordering the man-made lakes are. They were partly-thawed and teeming with waterfowl: ducks, swans, geese, cranes. This seemed to be a photo of four sandhill cranes. Look closely. It’s five.

I emailed this to ornithologist Laura Erickson of Duluth. We met years ago on the Ohio turnpike, of all places, because I passed her Prius in mine, in the ‘90s it being a custom for Prius drivers to wave to each other (if you watch Curb Your Enthusiasm, you know this was A Thing, and it used to be an outright snub to not wave back). We ended up at the same rest area, and struck up a friendship.

Laura told me that this must have been a long-mated pair to fly so closely together. “Spring migratory flocks are made up of pairs, their one-or-two young from the previous year, and relatives/neighbors/new associates they meet during stopovers. They’re very sociable. But the primary units of Sandhill Crane society are the mated-for life pairs that hook up during their third to fourth years. The young (usually one chick but some times two) stay with their parents until the parents slip away at some point near their destination during spring migration – the parents to nest again, the young to wander and mix with other young birds and adults whose mates have died over the winter – those adults will meet new adults and the young will wander around in small groups all summer, starting new attachments that, if their bond survives fall migration and winter, will set up new pairs to join the adult pairs the following year.” Ordinary, everyday magnificence.

Becky Hammond is indebted to Gloria Steinem for this headline, sort of. She’s lived in Ferndale since 1986.

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.


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By Jeannie Davis

I recently bought a new car. Yep, it was time to trade in my 2005 Subaru, with 26,000 miles, for a new chariot. My feelings were definitely mixed. After all, we had been through a lot together. How many flowers and pots had my little buddy carted home? I re-member campaign time, with tons of signs crammed into the back. Greg Pawlica and I always had such fun, driving around and placing the signs in lawns. I have a few memories but not a lot, because I am not a good driver and my friends always prefer to drive.

So, I was ambivalent. I was going to have to change, and change is a four-letter word to seniors. I knew where all the buttons were, and what they did. The radio presets hadn’t changed in six years, nor had the seat position or the mirrors. Yikes!

However, I soldiered through the credit checks and the appraisal on my little buddy. I signed all the papers, and made my final selection. At last came the moment of truth. I got into the driver’s seat, with Nichole (my wonderful sales-person) in the passenger seat.

This is when I learned that a radio isn’t just a radio, it also answers my phone, has a complicated thing called a “play list,” tells me when I get an e-mail, where I can get gas or food, and even delivers the weather. At this point, Nichole noticed my glazed eyes and said there were several features but perhaps now was not the time. She referred me to the manual, which equals War and Peace in size. She gallantly set up my phone so I could answer it on something called “blue tooth.” I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I rarely answer my cell phone anyway because, by the time I figure out how to answer it, the caller has given up.

Finally, I couldn’t put it off any longer. I bravely drove off the lot with the new  car, drove home, and spent the rest of the day on the couch, utterly exhausted.

The next day, it was time for a road test. I planned on being really brave, and going as far as the bird seed store. I managed to start the thing, and even adjusted the seat. However, when I went into reverse, the oddest thing happened! There, on that little screen on the dash was a picture of my driveway in back of me! I am not a total babe in the woods – I had seen this feature in Dan Martin’s car as a passenger but never as a driver. I was so distract-ed that I almost sideswiped a tree. Okay, got past that, and onto the road. I figured a little music couldn’t hurt, so I hit the radio button and soon was motoring gently along Woodward listening to Bach. A pleasant interlude, until the radio informed me that Craig Covey had posted on Facebook, as had Jean Russell. Like I care! What was this? After a few more blurbs, I turned the radio off, but did that stop the nonsense? No, my radio continued to inform me of Facebook posts, and e-mails.

I arrived at the bird seed store, made my purchases, and told the girl that I could carry both bags out to my car. I am strong, but, my downfall came when attempting to open the hatch. After fiddling with the dam key fob and tugging at the handle, the girl from the store came out and did something magical, opened my rear, stowed my bags, and returned to her perch inside the store.

I arrived home without further incident, poured a drink, and pouted. I know I am going to have to open the manual and learn how everything works, but I am dreading it. After all, I have learned other things, how hard can it be? Maybe by the time you read this, I will be expertly handling this annoyance on wheels. But if you see me driving with one hand and randomly poking at buttons with the other, perhaps you could help me out.

Change!  Who needs it? However, I do like the color.

By Christina Bournias, Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce

The recent Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce (FAC) Coffee Connection, at State of the Art Framing and Design, was attended by over 40+ business members. Our Ferndale and surrounding area Chamber members are among the most dedicated and committed of the business community in Michigan. With continuous net-working and referral opportunities, our members demonstrate devotion to their beloved community and fellow business owners. This dedication is most impressive and a fine example of a cohesive village.

Among many more exciting and upcoming monthly programs, the FAC is planning a few larger events to get involved in. Whether you choose to volunteer, sponsor, participate, or decide to earn a position as our trusted ambassador, the Chamber’s signature events evoke the best of our community. Our Chamber events bring people together; people who share a common sentiment, one of philanthropic togetherness and thriving commerce.

Our first main event of the year is The Artist In You. This creative initiative is a nod to young student artists. The Artist in You encourages students from Fern-dale High School, The Center for Advanced Studies & the Arts (CASA) and University High School DECA to enter an art competition with hopes to win an opportunity for their artwork to be dis-played around town. The students’ art-work will be displayed at the Ferndale Public Library, and a public reception will take place Tuesday, April 25. One student artist is eligible to have their artwork enlarged, reproduced, mounted and displayed on one prominent business in the Ferndale Area. The three top scoring students will receive achievement awards for their efforts.

Our 2017 Rainbow Run attracts approximate 1,000 enthusiastic participants to the Ferndale community. The Rainbow Run, this year on June 3, 2017, is a fun 5K run and 2K walk + Canine 2K that explodes with excitement for every-one who supports diversity, acceptance, and anti-bullying. The course runs through the streets of Ferndale and has six stations where volunteers toss non-toxic, colored powder onto race participants. Everyone is covered in a rainbow of colors at the finish line!  Your sponsorship helps to fund six chosen non profit organizations. Children are now being accepted to participate in the 2K walk and this Canine/2K* includes your best friend on a prismatic 2K trot through the designated Rainbow Run course (*See registration for details. City canine licenses and current vaccinations required.) The Rainbow Run route will begin at the parking lot of Foley & Mansfield PLLP, 130 E. 9 Mile Road, Ferndale, Michigan 48220.

Following these events, the Chamber will be hosting our second annual “Sip. Stroll. Roll!” in the Fall, where local establishments get a chance to showcase their distinct food and drink specials.

“The Biggest Event of the Year,” the 2017 GALA in November promises to be another powerful event celebration; one of reflection and promise. Our GALA aims to showcase our businesses; honor-ing productivity and liveliness in the coming year(s). This event includes unique silent auction items and participating restaurants.

In addition to our main events and monthly Chamber Lunch Club outings, the Chamber planned three free Learn-ing Series lunches for our Members. The first “learning” lunch was somewhat of a working meeting; an honest discussion, held inside our new offices at the Credit Union ONE community center. We heard from retail and service businesses alike. Aaron Stone, owner of STONE + TEAM Consulting spearheaded a candid talk amongst retail owners. Ferndale Foods was gracious enough to donate food platters.

Thank you to the Gerry Kulick Community Center for offering space for our next two complementary presentations. The Chamber was pleased to welcome back SaveOn for our second lunch learning series. SaveOn presenters spoke about developing a digital marketing strategy, including the associated costs attached to implementing a solid digital strategy. Most notable, merely because of their Ferndale Area Chamber membership, Chamber Members can take advantage of their own dedicated FAC/SaveOn microsite! Members filled their bellies, and left with an increased thirst for knowledge. The presentation was engaging and well received. Members’ questions were answered and they took away valuable digital business tips. What a terrific lead in to our next Lunch & Learn.

The next Chamber Learning Lunch Series will be hosted by Jon Teodoro, Verde Media, founder/strategist. He will present: “How To Grow Your Business Using The Internet.” This presentation aims to take our member’s business websites to the next level, incorporating enhanced Google and SEO discussions. Chamber knowledge is power.

Email Kim Hart, Executive Director at director@ferndalechamber.com or call 248-542-6120 for detailed information.

Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce  400 E 9 Mile Road, Ferndale,  MI 48220.
FB: @FerndaleAC

By Jennifer Goeddeke

Most Ferndale residents and regular visitors are familiar with the iconic WAB building, positioned at the corner of North Woodward Ave and East Troy St. However- according to general manager, Michael Pierce, many are not aware of the 20-year anniversary for the Woodward Avenue Brewery rapidly approaching on May 24th. A common response is, apparently, “…has it really been that long?!”
For sure, there will be an elaborate birthday celebration, combining a new brew release and a community-oriented event. Co-owners Chris and Krista Johnston, along with Brian Reedy, have kept their fingers on the pulse of Ferndale’s energetic social scene. Combined with outstandingly successful festivals
(the DIY Street Fair, Pig & Whiskey and the Ferndale Oktoberfest), the WAB continues to impress. In the words of Krista Johnston, “We are very happy we chose Ferndale in 1997! It was more on ground floor when we opened, a lot more vacancies. The City has grown, and it has been supportive and welcoming. We like to represent the City’s creative spirit…all of our staff are musicians and artists.”
I recently met with the WAB’s general manager, Michael Pierce, to find out more details on this landmark location. As a notable distinction, the WAB is currently the only brewery/brew-pub in Ferndale; it has retained a comfortable and fun vibe, while serving a good variety of handcrafted brews, and an inviting selection of food. In addition, its popular sister-establishments are within walking distance on Woodward: the Emory and the Loving Touch pool hall/music venue. Along with fellow general manager, Dustin Leslie, Pierce ensures that daily operations in all three establishments are running smoothly.
Significantly, the WAB has two relatively new members of staff: Chris Coburn, as brewmaster, and Vince Rossio, as executive chef. Onboard with the WAB crew since January 2016, Coburn’s educational background is in brewing technology and science, plus work experience at Greenbush and Beer Lab London. He creates original recipes, and also collaborates at times with oth-er breweries. One such collaboration with Greenbush Brewery was the ‘Wabracadabra,’ served at the Emory last year). Rossio has essentially revamped the entire WAB menu with very favor-able results; the food served is not at all your typical ‘pub’ food – nothing fried – with an emphasis on healthy items.

I had the opportunity to spend time with Coburn, and sample some of his creations. The enthusiasm and knowledge he has for his craft is quite obvious. Chatting with Coburn on the art of making beer is an education in itself! My first tasting was ‘Saratoga’- the House pale ale, a 5.5 per cent ABV brew; it is described by Coburn as having a “light body with a hearty malt flavoring.” Next tasting was ‘Rama’s Arrow Double IPA,’ at a surprising 9.1 per cent ABV. The WAB website description of this IPA is “Smooth, not overly bitter, and maybe a little too easy to drink.” Finally, I tasted ‘Detroit Maiden,’ the House IPA, at 6.8 per cent ABV, described online as “Beautifully balanced with four kinds of malt, Magnum and Cascade hops.” Coburn mentioned that they sell over 30 kegs per month of Detroit Maiden, and they can barely keep up with the demand. All three brews were, in my humble opinion, smooth and delicious.

Servers at the WAB have been responding well to Coburn’s lead. Apparently, two of the five main WAB servers have recently taken the Ciserone beer serving certification (at a similar level to Sommelier certification in wine serving). I liked the fact that an option is available for customers who choose to avoid gluten: a guest tap of ‘Starcut Pulsar Cider’; and for those who do not drink alcohol, Coburn keeps a steady supply of quality root beer soda.

Keeping in tune with popular demand, an innovative club with-in the WAB was formed in December 2016: “The Brewers Club.” Membership to the club is limited to 97 members, based on the year of the WAB’s launch in 1997. The club has proven to be a hit; at the time of writing, only 20 slots are left.

Giving back to the community is important to the WAB owners and management alike. Local fundraisers are organized on a regular basis, such as “Dining for a Cause” and “BarkNation.” Also in formation at the WAB is the “Feel-Good” tap: A craft brew the proceeds of which benefit local, state and national charities in monthly rotation. A special recipe is developed for the brew, which is a year-long process. Overall, it seems the current vibe at the WAB is a mixture of beer-loving tradition, community spirit and progressive attitude; definitely, a winning combination!

22646 Woodward Ave. Ferndale
(248) 546-3696