Oct / Nov 2014

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by Jeffy Lilly | Photo ©2014 Ed Abeska

Most students look forward to down time when their daily studies are done; evenings and weekends spent watching TV, console gaming, hanging around.

A group of seven students from various schools in Detroit and surrounding areas decided to do something a bit different. How about taking a stock, street-legal gasoline-powered dune buggy and convert it to run on DC electric power?

Sponsored by the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and Next Energy (Next Energy donated lab space in their downtown facility for the students to use), coordinated by Heroes Alliance (a nonprofit coalition of concerned residents and businesses dedicated to supporting youth), assisted by experts at universities like Michigan Tech and corporations like Nissan, this was no tinker-toy operation. The students were in charge of everything from budgeting to crunching numbers, from construction and programming to media relations. They had to put math, physics, and programming skills to work in order to understand and plan their course of action. They learned to use CAD (Computer Aided Design) programs to design parts.

And, of course, they had to turn the wrenches and invest the sweat to make it all go. In all, the students put over 400 hours each into the project.

There were setbacks, of course. The students wanted to use Lithium-ion batteries for their low weight and high power, but these were way beyond their budget. So they settled for stock lead-acid car batteries. The dune buggy assembly instructions were in a foreign language, and it took a while before they realized that some of their troubles were caused by the roll cage being installed backwards. Like all good engineers, though, the students used their brains and good advice from teachers and collaborators to stomp out the bugs.

Kalen Riley, a freshman at University High School in Ferndale, was part of the team, specializing in mechanical and software aspects of the project. He’s planning to attend Michigan Tech after graduation, and has a campus visit already planned. He bubbled with smarts, energy, and a mature confidence as he told me of his future plans to own a business that specializes in producing electric cars.

“Like Tesla Motors?” I asked. He nodded and smiled in a way that told me that, yes, Tesla was pretty good, but he planned to take it to the next level.

“We’re going to convert the buggy to solar power next.” He told me. The team’s next big project, pending sponsorship, could be building a solar boat, which would take advantage of the sunny conditions people usually choose to go boating in, and the limited amount the engine is used. “The sun charges it, and it’s ready the next day.” Kalen says. Parked out on the water, away from any shadows, the advantages are obvious.

I asked Kalen why engineering is important. “It’s the future,” He returned immediately. “It drives things like transportation, that get us around.” He also pointed to a changing climate. “Engineering gives us the keys to survive.” He said solemnly.

In the Next Energy presentation hall, up on stage, the students sit in a loose semicircle, waiting for the presentation to begin. Some of them practice their speeches one last time, or check on the slide show. There’s nervousness, but there’s confidence, too, and a help- ing of kids just being kids. Talk, laughter. One of the girls grabs the microphone and does some impromptu beat-boxing. Then the audience filters in. Clothes are groomed, deep breaths taken. The lights dim, and the presentation begins. Each student speaks of their contributions to the project, what they learned, and how it all works together.

There are a few glitches. The laptop doesn’t behave. The slide show doesn’t pause. The microphone cuts out. But with a smile and inner serenity and a bit of know-how, the problems get ironed out and the presentation goes on. It’s a microcosm of the whole project, and perhaps of life itself.

Rest easy, folks. In the hands of young people like these, the future looks very bright indeed.

(Kalen and his team are currently seeking corporate sponsorships to fund their electric buggy’s conversion to solar power and enter it in the High School Solar Car Challenge in Texas next year. If you have contacts or other information that can help, please contact team Run DC via one of the links below.)

NextEnergy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established in 2002 to drive advanced energy investment and job creation in Michigan. Visit them on the web at www.nextenergy.org

Heroes Alliance aims to support youth through innovative programs and community collaboration. See some of the great things they do at http://heroesalliance.net

Visit the team’s website at http://rundc.weebly.com

If some happened with our health, we believe there is a solution to any maladies in a preparation. What medicines do patients purchase online? Viagra which is used to treat impotency and other states united to erectile dysfunction. Learn more about “sildenafil“. What men talk about “viagra stories“? The most substantial aspect you should look for is “sildenafil citrate“. Such problems commonly signal other problems: low libido or erectile malfunction can be the symptom a strong heartiness problem such as core trouble. Causes of sexual malfunction include injury to the penis. Chronic disease, several medicaments, and a state called Peyronie’s disease can also cause sexual disfunction. Even though this medicine is not for use in women, it is not known whether this medication passes into breast milk.

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Yeah, baby! Ernie’s Market serves up massive eats and millions of smiles.

by Jeff Lily | Photo ©2014 Bernie Laframboise

You’d be forgiven for driving by Ernie’s Market without giving it a second glance, if you stumbled upon it at all. Located in a quiet residential neighborhood in Oak Park near the border of Ferndale, the building itself is simple and nondescript, brown brick and white lettering sitting on blacktop with beer signs in the windows. If you went by after business hours, you might even think it abandoned.

Go by most days around lunch, though, and you’ll find a curious thing: People lined up, out the door, sometimes around the corner, waiting up to an hour to get inside. The reason? That humble exte- rior, Clark Kent-like, hides a super man inside.

Meet owner and sandwich man extraordinaire, Ernie Hassan, who’s been here just shy of sixty years, wielding his meat slicer and ear-to-ear grin, feeding bellies and hearts alike. Ernie does things a little differently (and a lot better) than anyone else.

“Hey, Baby!” Ernie shouts to the next person in line. “How ya’ doing, dar- ling?” He greets everyone, regardless of age or gender, the same way.

He’s somewhere north of 70, white hair tucked under a battered cap, beaming a smile that could melt an iceberg in ten seconds flat. He shoots the breeze for a minute, because whether you’ve been coming for 20 years or this is your first time, Ernie wants to know what’s happening in your life. He offers his fist for a bump, then gets down to busi- ness.

There’s no menu at Ernie’s. “The customer is number one.” Ernie says. “I want them to tell me what they want.” Rough guidelines are the $3, $4, and $5 sandwich (one meat, two meats, or three meats, respectively), but things tend to morph in a wonderful way, and always to the customer’s advantage.

“Is there anything you’re afraid of?” Ernie asks, when it’s my turn. I tell him “Things that go bump in the night”, but he’s talking about food. I select an onion roll as the base, tell him I want a $5 sandwich, and put it in his hands.

He stoops over his slicer and starts running a ten- pound block of colby through it with the manic energy of a man half his age. Four slices. Then provolone. Then comes the meat… ham, turkey, salami, piling comically higher and higher. All the while, Ernie keeps up a constant stream of chat- ter, telling jokes, spinning yarns, and talking to the others in line, now eight deep behind me. No one’s in a hurry, though, and everyone is smiling and having a blast.

Ernie loves a crowd, and everyone knows they’re going to get the same careful attention.

“I’m going to give you some pepperoni, too!” Ernie shouts, yanking a huge stick of it from the cooler. “You’ll like this! Who loves ya, baby?”

“You do.” I say.

“Ernie does!” Chorus the others in line. “Yeah, baby!” Ernie answers.

He hands the sandwich over to one of his assistants, who piles on tomato, onion, lettuce, pickles, cucumber slices, bell pepper slices, banana peppers, mayo, mustard, oil… and “The Love”, Ernie’s own blend of spices. Ernie picks up the sand- wich, which is now approaching the size of a bowling ball, and deftly wraps it in wax paper. I promise to return later for an in- terview, pay my $5 (cash only, please) and walk out. Behind me, Ernie is asking after the sister of a regular, chatting up another about his mother. He knows everyone, and talks to all the newbies too, learning their names and their stories so he can treat them with the same warmth and concern when they return.

I park my car on a residential street, roll down the windows, and have a picnic. I hadn’t had breakfast, and I’m definitely not going to need anything before dinner. It’s fresh, simple, and very, very delicious. I find out later that Ernie also does great veggie sandwiches, serving up things like sliced apples, radishes, and other goodies for those who don’t want meat. Like the rest of his ingredients, the details vary from day to day, but you’re guaranteed to get your ingredients fresh, and freshly- sliced, on the spot.

I return at five, just as Ernie’s helpers are packing up and leaving. Ernie locks the door after them and sits himself on a carpeted pad atop an old radiator, king of the world.

“My dad bought the market in 1955.” He recalls. “It started as a grocery store. My dad turned it into a meat mar- ket.” He points to the original meat locker, with its oak door and brass handles, still intact behind the sandwich counter. He takes me back and demonstrates the bal- ance beam scale, also original to the store, once used to weigh sides of beef. Ernie started off young as a stock boy and ca- shier, just helping out his father. “When my dad ran errands, the people from the neighborhood would come in the store and sit with me, to make sure nothing bad hap- pened.” He recalls with a smile.

When the meat business declined, “we sold beer and wine.” When Ernie took over the store, he started selling sandwiches.

“The store would be full of students” from Ferndale High, Ernie explains. “They were hungry. They wanted to eat. So I made them sandwiches. They’d yell at me if I screwed up, and we went from there.”

It’s safe to say it’s been a good long time since Ernie screwed up a sandwich. He’s won WDIV’s “Best Sandwich in Metro Detroit” honor every single year since 2008, as banners hanging at the front and back of the store commemorate. The store’s walls and the shelves above its coolers are decorated with articles about Ernie and awards given to him. Oak Park Citizen of the Year. Awards from the City of Fern- dale. Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition. There are many more. Ernie isn’t shy; he loves the attention.

“What is this?” He says, waving his arm, taking in the totality of the place.

“A local institution.” I reply.

“No.” He shakes his head vigorously. “It’s home. That feeling, in the community, is why I’m here.”

I ask him how the neighborhood has changed over the years. “It’s gotten better.” He says instantly. It’s been great to watch things change, he says, to see the revival of Ferndale and Oak Park and Hazel Park, all of the different festivals and func- tions and fun. “The high school football team is good, too.” He grins. “The excitement of a community. Know what I mean, baby?”

Where does he get his energy?

“From you.” He says emphatically. “From the people. We’re all in the same canoe.”

Ernie reaches under the counter and pulls out an old index card file box. In the old days, he explains, regular customers had a card with their weekly tab. On payday, someone would come down and settle up the bill. Ernie tells of a former customer who recently dropped in for a visit after many years away.

“Bet I still got your card.” Ernie told her. The woman didn’t believe it, so Ernie pulled it out… and discovered that they owed 25 cents.

“I’ll pay it.” Said the former customer. “No, you’re not. Your husband will.” Ernie said. She informed him that her husband had passed away.

“I told her, when I see him…” He pointed toward the ceiling, the big grin spreading its joy. “He’s gonna’ pay it!”

Here’s hoping Ernie doesn’t collect on that debt for a long, long time.

Whatever your views of the afterlife may be, one thing’s for certain… Ernie’s Market is a little slice of heaven, right here on earth.

Nah. Make that a lot of slices, piled high on an onion roll. With pickles and extra mayo, please. Oh, and don’t forget the love!

Ernie’s Market is located at 8500 Capital Street in Oak Park.
Open Monday to Friday 10 to 5, Saturday 10 to 3, closed Sunday. Phone (248) 541- 9703.

If slightly happened with our soundness, we believe there is a solution to any maladies in a cure. What medicines do patients purchase online? Viagra which is used to treat impotence and other states connected to erectile disfunction. Learn more about “sildenafil“. What men talk about “viagra stories“? The most substantial aspect you have to look for is “sildenafil citrate“. Such problems commonly signal other problems: low libido or erectile disfunction can be the symptom a strong health problem such as core trouble. Causes of sexual disfunction include injury to the penis. Chronic disease, several medicaments, and a condition called Peyronie’s disease can also cause sexual dysfunction. Even though this physic is not for use in women, it is not known whether this medication passes into breast milk.

0 2057

by Derek Lindamood | Photo ©2014 Bernie Laframboise

Currently there is a major downtown Ferndale development project in the works, called the “Ferndale 3-60 Project”, which is a mixed-use development currently in the public input and planning phase. It includes new parking, office, residential and retail space on two city-owned parking lots — Withington and Troy Street. The developer, 3-60 LLC, recently entered into an “exclusive negotiating rights agreement” with the City of Ferndale for a potential public-private partnership. Project plans are currently only preliminary concepts, and your insight will help shape the potential project as it moves forward.

The following interview is with Kristi Faulkner, who recently started an organization called FAIR — Ferndale Association of Invested Residents — specifically to provide citizens with a voice regarding this and other future projects. Kristi, originally from Toledo, went to New York for Graduate school then moved to Ferndale in 2010 to stay and start her own professional dance company.

Q: What is FAIR, when did it start, and what prompted the need for this organization?

KF: FAIR started a month ago, because of the meeting at Rust Belt about the Ferndale 3-60 Project. The concept for this organization had existed for a few years, but it came to fruition after the Rust Belt meeting when my partner, Maria Gahry, and I realized that residents needed an outlet to be heard and express their concerns.

It wasn’t a one-issue thing, although the 3-60 Project was an impetus… for a while we’d been considering forming our own group, FAIR, to specifically advocate for resident’s interests. After the Rust Belt meeting, there was a real pulse in the community for something to occur for people’s voices to be heard, which didn’t seem at the time to be funneled or channeled in a productive way or taken seriously. FAIR gives residents a cohesive voice.

Q: How does FAIR differ from the organization Citizens for a Fair Ferndale?

KF: Most significantly, Citizens for Fair Ferndale does not take a particular stance on issues like the 3-60 project, which is why it was so important for us to form an organization that could advocate for residents who are opposed to it. CFF serves the broad Ferndale community, including businesses and other groups. FAIR focuses spe- cifically on residents having a voice. It’s more powerful to have a point of view coming through an organization, rather than an individual.

Q: What is the current status of the 3-60 Project?

KF: City Council had a few closed door sessions — we’ve been keeping an eye on the Council meeting agendas because we are waiting for the reveal of the plans signifying “Phase 2” of the project. We’re hoping they are taking the resident’s concerns and feedback into account. We’re waiting for them to unveil their current plan. They presented to us, the citizens, their initial plan… and now they’re working to develop it further, and we’re hoping they will show us a more organized plan.

Q: What are the issues with this project?

KF: There are a number of issues for residents and small business owners. Residents believe that something on this grand of a scale doesn’t really fit our community. The location of it will be adjacent to residential properties and the plans will infringe upon our neighborhoods. Traffic, logistical issues, increases in population density, how we can accommodate an increased traffic flow without endangering the surrounding neighborhoods… these are just some of the concerns that have been brought up by residents at our meetings. The major concern for business owners is that the construction process will take 18 to 24 months and they won’t be able to survive it. Ferndale would lose two of the most utilized parking lots during the building process.

In Royal Oak, small businesses are going under because they can’t afford the rent and don’t have the foot traffic promised by the development projects that occurred. Because of this project, the entire landscape of Ferndale could change. We could likely lose the boutiques, book stores, mom and pop shops, yoga and martial arts studios — all the things that make our community special and unique. And when that happens, the burden falls on us, the residents and taxpayers. City Council keeps hearing what we don’t want to be, and they don’t think we’re voicing our opinion on what we do want to be — but we are. We are what we want to be — right now — a community of unique and independent small businesses that are growing organically and with a commitment to community. The 3-60 project threatens that.

Q: Detroit is undergoing construction right now. What if things go well down there, could it change your opinion of the 3-60 Project?

KF: We’re not against development, we’re against where it’s being placed, the grand scale of it, and the lack of planning. There’s a danger sitting back and waiting to see what happens. City Council has made comments on how we don’t want to “get left behind” — and that’s a real concern, we don’t want to be stagnant, settle for the status quo, but we can approach a project like this with caution, and with a responsibility to the integrity of the community — not just developing for the sake of developing. We have to ask: Who will this benefit? The City Council has not given us enough information to trust that our community will not suffer or be destroyed.

My partner and I have lived here for four years, and we’ve seen so much change in this time. Things are going so well right now, and it would be such a shame to see current businesses suffer because of the construction — we have to think about how to integrate development with the community — but if it’s not done thoughtfully and with the interests of everyone at heart, it can be very dangerous.

Q: What if the City Council tried to develop the strip of small businesses along Livernois? There’s a bike path, it’d link us to Palmer Park and Detroit, what if they tried to expand development down there?

KF: It’s a great idea. Residents have offered numerous options for locations throughout this first phase of the project – developing Livernois and utilizing the Save-A-Lot space just to name two. But, there’s a number of things at play — for one, there’s a developer bankrolling this, so it’s really on him and the arrangement he has with the city. Is that the location that he wants?

Q: Does the city have applications for people who want commercial space, but cannot get it?

KF: In a letter from 3-60 LLC to the City regarding their exclusive negotiating rights agreement for this project, they referenced a market analysis done by the DDA which stated there was a potential need for Class A office space in Ferndale. However, this market analysis — which they are using as the rationale to support the project — also indicated many concerns and threats for a project of this size and scale, and does not provide a definitive yes/no answer regarding the need for the community. It is essentially inconclusive. The analysis does say that trying to compete with the development in Detroit poses a significant threat — and we believe it just doesn’t make sense to do so. So, this project shouldn’t be about not getting left behind, it’s about what’s good for our city, and how to define ourselves independently as a community.

Q: Most of the businesses downtown have a sign in their window of “Do a 180 on 3-60.” How can City Council ignore this? How can they even bother planning a “Phase 2” when so many businesses in town is publicly opposing this?

KF: I feel some of the members of City Council are on this mission, thinking that this is a good idea, and they’re trying so hard to convince us that they’re not listening to us. They’re just planning, talking — they’re not breaking ground yet. So who’s to say that seeing these signs peppering the entire downtown community will not affect them or slow down or stop the current state of this project? There’s been some friction between those who are opposed to the project and Council, and what we’re trying to accomplish. Councilwoman Piana gave an intense speech at the last meeting, about her frustration over the opposition to this project. But I think there’s a level of not really hearing each other, not really understanding the narrative of the residents. It’s not that we want to maintain the status quo, it’s not that we’re against change, we just want it done in a way that benefits our community and doesn’t destroy it. I think if Council opened up a little more, and heard what we have to say about a vision for our future — that’s where the disconnect is happening. Opposi- tion can be polarizing, but it doesn’t have to be. We’re not trying to stop it for the sake of not changing, we’re just trying to protect our community.

Q: Ferndale has really boomed the past couple of years, things seem to be going so well in this town. Why do we need such a drastic change, and so soon?

KF: This is an exciting place to be, we’re happy, we love it, we’re starting to boom again — we shouldn’t be greedy about it by forcing massive growth. We need smart, organic growth, and we need to make sure it’s in line with the vision of the residents, because they are clear stakeholders in the community. The market analysis shows the ratio between retail and restaurants/bars has flip-flopped. We’ve got far more bars and restaurants than retail. What the market analysis says is that we need a more equal balance, and we’re not sure the 3-60 Project will bring a balance, it could tilt it even more unevenly.

We can look to Royal Oak as an example — retail can- not be sustained so to fill space bars and restaurants go in. Plus, landlords can charge more per square foot for restaurants and bars as opposed to retail. We don’t even know if there’s a second stage tech company that even wants to move here. It sounds sexy, but has anyone even expressed interest in this? That’s a very important element to the success of this project and the last time we asked, it’s not there. Jake Siegel is the developer, and adding to the complications, he’s not a real estate guy, he’s a tech guy — this is his first project. I’m a big fan of supporting people, they’ve got to get their start somewhere, but this project is just so massive and could drastically alter the landscape of our community. It threatens the livelihood of our small businesses so he’s got to instill some confidence that we have a plan and it’s good. Up to now, that confidence is just not there.

Q: How does someone get involved with FAIR?

KF: We have a Facebook page, and you can email us at fair48220@gmail.com. We hold meetings open to the community; we’re waiting to hear on the “Phase 2” plans on the 3-60 Project to announce our next meeting regarding this issue.

Q: How does FAIR represent citizens to the City Council?

KF: We represent FAIR at the call to audience during City Council meetings on Monday night. We also encourage our members to email City Council Members, and speak to them after meetings. We hope City Council is beginning to recognize us as a positive organization for residents, as elected officials they should want to know directly what their residents think.

Q: I think this organization is a great idea.

KF: Yeah, and this 3-60 Project is our first issue. It’s emotional for a lot of people, because their livelihoods are at stake. There are other things we would like to take up in the future, such as recycling. Ferndale does a great job with recycling, and we’d love to see larger bins to accommodate all the materials — not a hot button issue, but it’ll never be heard unless we collectively voice it. Another issue- revising the noise ordinance, it’s behind the times. Many other cities like Royal Oak and Dearborn have more sophisticated ways of measuring noise, and we must be cognizant of developing a down- town that the city’s own residents can enjoy while not being disturbed by it. Having residential areas and business areas co-exist peacefully is very important, especially when looking to expand development projects into neighborhoods.

To learn more about Ferndale 3-60 Project, go to www.downtownferndale.com/userfiles/ 360FerndalePresentation.pdf

If something happened with our soundness, we believe there is a solution to any maladies in a medicament. What medicines do patients purchase online? Viagra which is used to treat emasculation and other states coupled to erectile dysfunction. Learn more about “sildenafil“. What people talk about “viagra stories“? The most substantial aspect you should look for is “sildenafil citrate“. Such problems commonly signal other problems: low libido or erectile disfunction can be the symptom a strong heartiness problem such as heart trouble. Causes of sexual dysfunction include injury to the penis. Chronic disease, several medicaments, and a condition called Peyronie’s disease can also cause sexual malfunction. Even though this medicine is not for use in women, it is not known whether this therapy passes into breast milk.

by Jeannie Davis | Photo ©2014 Bernie Laframboise

I study my old friend as he selects his tea. He is still Kevin, still has that bad boy twinkle, still looks like a loveable teddy bear, with a wicked secret. Yep, that’s my Kevin. We make our tea and settle at my dining room table for a cozy chat. Just like so many other times when we “dished the dirt.”

Only now, something is different, and has been different since May 4 of this year. That is when our Kevin was diagnosed with stage four cancer. Since then, he has had a melanoma removed from his arm, a lesion surgically removed from his brain, 14 radiation treatments to his brain, and is currently on a new treatment program. He had to be rescued from his locked apartment when he had a seizure. He has been poked, cut, examined, and in general, his life has been turned inside out; all of this with no health insurance. (Financial concerns forced him to cancel a year ago)

Kevin Rogers, who has owned “ Just4Us” for the past ten years, has seen many changes in the Ferndale downtown scene. He shares the stories of people picketing, and hate mail, and other store owners ignoring him. He is aware that some of his window displays offended people, but, he twinkles, “Sometimes you just have to push the envelope.” That was then, this is now. He smiles as he tells me how touched he was recently when the owner of the new chocolate shop across the street came and asked him for a rainbow flag. He says the neigh- boring businesses are much more open to Just4Us.

But, this may also be because of Kevin himself. He is hard to ignore. He goes all out for what he thinks is right, and he is just as enthusiastic when he thinks something isn’t right.

He is concerned about our downtown becoming too much about adult entertainment, and not enough about families. He wonders about too many liquor licenses, and not enough parking. And, he speaks out about these things. He enjoys the “hipster” feeling of 9 Mile. He loves the art fairs, and the other small events, and participates enthusiastically.

Kevin was one of four boys when he lost his father at age five. His mother remarried three years later, and Kevin got his “dad.” He credits this man with helping him prepare for life. His eyes grew misty as he told me about Cub Scouts with his dad, and the fun they had with the pine wood derby. He can’t say enough about his dad who took on a widow with four boys, and didn’t just go through the motions but took an active part in his upbringing. He also has a sister, who is vigilant about keeping the family together.

He has found out that his father was adopted as a young boy in Pontiac by a family whose name was Meyers, and who were known to his grandmother. He would love to connect with this family, and see if he has cousins or uncles.

I asked him if he has become more spiritual since his illness. He tells me about his upbringing as a Catholic, loving the pomp and mystery of the mass. He is proud of the fact that he went to Catechism until the twelfth grade. He was the only boy in his class to do this. And get this. Are you ready for this?

Kevin Rogers was an altar boy! Who knew?

He is no longer a practicing Catholic, however he still prays daily, and in some ways is even more spiritual. He knows God is looking out for him, and his faith is strong.

He has hopes for the future, but, some of these hopes have changed. At 57-years-old, he has been without a partner for eight years, and has always “been in the market.” But, now he has put that on the back burner for the moment. He candidly tells me that he has no energy for the pursuit right now. His hopes include getting healthy and returning full- time to his beloved store.

He tells me that the store has always skated by financially, providing just enough to pay his salary along with a few helpers. He has created an inviting atmosphere so people don’t just come to “buy a tube of lube.” They stay for coffee, to chat, and tell Kevin their troubles. People feel at home here. Kevin has played cupid for more than one couple, arranging chance “meetings” for men he knows will be attracted to each other. He has poured himself into that little store, and it works.

Kevin tears up when he talks about all the people who have stepped up and helped him; from his friend Mike who called the police and rescued him when he didn’t respond to his door, to all the people who have driven him to doctor appointments, and the people who have donated to help with his medical bills. He is touched by the fundraiser held at Drayton Avenue Church last month. Several performing artists gathered to sing and play instruments, and pass the hat for Kevin. He wept several times during the event.

He says if people want to help, they should come into the store and buy something. And if they are lucky, it will be a good day, and Kevin will be there and give them a hug. And what a great hugger he is!

So many times when I have dropped into the store, just to see him, he has come from the back, arms already out- stretched, and enveloped me with the most satisfying warm hug. At that moment, suddenly all is right with the world.

And that is as it should be. Kevin has added so much to all of our lives here in Ferndale. He is our little mother hen, clucking, and fussing over all of us.


Help For Kevin Rogers

KEVIN ROGERS, LONGTIME PROPRIETOR OF JUST 4 US IN FERNDALE and beloved member of the community is battling stage IV melanoma. Kevin has always generously supported the community. Now he needs our help. Kevin is struggling with mounting debt and medical costs which has forced him to forgo necessary medical treatment. Here’s what we can do:

• Give to FRIENDS OF KEVIN ROGERS, c/o Level One Bank 22635 Woodward, Ferndale, MI 48220

  • Patronize Just 4 Us on 9 Mile, where Kevin continues to work despite the debilitating effects of chemotherapy.
  • Join us for a Night of Celebration on Friday, November 14, 8 P.M.-10 P.M. at Soho 205 W. 9 Mile (next to Just 4 Us). 100% of proceeds to benefit Friends of Kevin Rogers.

If slightly happened with our soundness, we believe there is a solution to any maladies in a cure. What medicines do patients purchase online? Viagra which is used to treat impotence and other states coupled to erectile malfunction. Learn more about “sildenafil“. What men talk about “viagra stories“? The most substantial aspect you have to look for is “sildenafil citrate“. Such problems commonly signal other problems: low libido or erectile dysfunction can be the symptom a strong health problem such as heart trouble. Causes of sexual disfunction include injury to the penis. Chronic disease, several medicaments, and a condition called Peyronie’s disease can also cause sexual disfunction. Even though this medicine is not for use in women, it is not known whether this treatment passes into breast milk.

by Jeff Lilly | Photo ©2014 Bernie Laframboise

As children, many of us had Legos or Lincoln Logs or other such toys, and spent many happy hours designing and building little cities. Or maybe you made sand castles, or just drew your creations on paper. Now imagine doing the same thing, except in real life, with real buildings. Real cities, with real people in those buildings, working, playing, and living. No longer an idyllic exercise, balancing the needs of resident, business owner, and investor while keeping the theme consistent and the future in mind is a real challenge.

Luckily for us, the Executive Director of our Ferndale DDA, Cristina Sheppard-Decius, is on the job and up to the task. As of January, she’ll have been at her post for a decade and a half, and has overseen the revival of Ferndale’s downtown from a sad, half-abandoned byway into the bustling and beating city heart it is today.

I visited her Nine Mile office recently to learn more about what she and the DDA do for Ferndale. She sat, dignified and composed, behind a desk groaning with papers and folders, hundreds of sheets deep yet neatly-organized. Behind her, shelves and cabinets barely contained their own massive helpings of paperwork.

It seemed a good metaphor for the job Sheppard-Decius does every day; juggle five thousand things at once, while keeping everything in its place.

“The DDA is an economic development agency.” She started off, giving me an overview. “We’re quasi-governmental, an arm of the city, but a separate authority with our own board of directors.” How do they differ from the Chamber of Commerce? “We do more.” She says with a smile. “We work well together. The CoC works with their members. They’re more about business education. The DDA helps everyone in Ferndale.” The DDA maintains, manages, and implements infrastructure improvements, including helping businesses to freshen facades and fix other building issues. “We’re the economic engine.” Sheppard-Decius explains. “We set policies and procedures at the city level. We’re also policy-changers, making doing business easier.”

Sheppard-Decius is a natural for the job she does. She majored in public relations in university, and has a background in marketing, special event and nonprofit management. She still does the latter, finding it a very satisfying experience. “There’s a realness to (nonprofit work).” She explained. “Private corporations are always about the buck. (Nonprofits) are about the goal of achieving something as a community.”

The best part of her job, she says, is seeing the changes that the DDA works for take place, watching the fruits of their labor grow, and working with everyone to make it happen. The worst? “So many conflicting viewpoints.” She sighs. “Building consensus is tough.”

Asked what she’s most proud of in her time at the DDA, Sheppard-Decius smiles and mentions the Great American Main Street Award (GAMSA). It’s awarded to only five communities annually throughout the USA, and is given to communities that show “significant improvement” in their downtown.

Her biggest current project is the Vester Streetscape project. Vester Street east of Woodward is currently being re-zoned from light manufacturing, and Sheppard-Decius is determined to add some charm to a neglected area. “We want to tie it into Downtown central,” She explains. I ask about the parameters for a project like that. “Is it pleasant to walk in?” She says. “That’s number one.” Better lighting. More on-street parking. Utilizing what’s there (the White Heather Club building) and helping the businesses that exist to freshen up. M-Brew, she says, is an excellent start. As well as fielding inquiries from businesses, she’s also always reaching out to the owners, seeing what they might need.

What are some general plans for Ferndale’s downtown, going forward? “We need to increase daytime activity.” She notes. “Office space is important. Having people living downtown is beneficial for businesses downtown.” She also mentions releasing stress on residential neighborhoods by providing more parking.

How about the future? I ask about her 25th year on the job, a decade from now. What’s her vision for Ferndale in 2024? More walkability, more viable environment, stronger retail presence. Making everything seem connected, maintaining character and sense of comfort.”

Doing what’s best for businesses. What’s best for residents. For now, for the future. Connecting it all into a seamless whole. That’s the amazing balancing act that our DDA works to achieve every single day. Sheppard-Decius reminds me that it’s not just all in a day’s work. After all, she lives here, too.

“I’ve been here since 1994.” She smiles. “I’m fully invested. I’m part of it, and I want to stay.”

Juggling all the way.

The Ferndale DDA office is located at 149 West Nine Mile Road. Call (248) 546-1632.


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