News

By Jenn Goeddeke

Jimmy Dowdle

Jimmy Dowdle

WE WISH TO EXTEND OUR HEARTFELT CONDOLENCES TO ALL FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND LOVED ONES OF JIMMY DOWDLE who died from a sudden cardiac event at his home on April 12th.

Dowdle resided in Detroit and was formerly of Battle Creek. He was much loved by his family and a great number of friends. Dowdle’s career in the food, bar and entertainment industry began at the Gaslight Restaurant in Battle Creek. He later moved to Detroit and worked for the Riverfront restaurant, before becoming co-owner of Menjo’s (Detroit). For the past 16 years, he helped manage Danny’s Irish Pub in Ferndale, alongside Dan Reedy (owner). The staff and patrons of Danny’s were all extremely close with him.

Dowdle was outgoing and friendly with a great sense of humor, and a quick wit, plus a talent for lighting up a room with his smile/laughter. He was also very generous and thoughtful towards others. Some of his interests included watching sports; he was a huge U of M football and also Tigers baseball fan. (One of his last outings was the Tigers’ opening day on April 8th, with a group of his close friends). Dowdle also cheered for the Pistons, Red Wings, and Lions teams. He had a diverse taste in music and listened to many bands such as Led Zeppelin, Pearl Jam, and Roxy Music. Fortunately, he had the opportunity to see one of his favorite bands, the Rolling Stones, at Ford Field last November, with one of his longtime best friends, Gary Wagner.

Dowdle loved animals and was a proud pet dad to a rescue dog named Willow. The memorial service was held on April 21st at the Farley Estes Dowdle Funeral Home & Cremation Care in Battle Creek. Further celebrations of Dowdle’s life have been organized by Dan Reedy of Danny’s Irish Pub. (Event has passed). Memorial contributions can be made to any local animal shelter, and condolence messages may be sent to: www.farleyestesdowdle.com.

Tim Idzikowski

Tim Idzikowski & his wife, Tracey Kane

TIM IDZIKOWSKI, 36, CO-OWNER OF THE POPULAR DETROIT BBQ COMPANY food truck died in his sleep on April 14th, 2022.

We offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones of Tim Idzikowski who died unexpectedly at his home on Thursday April 14th. No cause of death has been given. Idzikowski was originally from Fair Haven but resided in Royal Oak. He established the Detroit BBQ Company around 15 years ago, with his brother Zac Idzikowski, and worked full-time as a food truck chef for over a decade. He was also helping his good friend, Kevin Heaney, launch a brand of hot sauce called Man’s Best Friend Sauce Co.

His family stated that he loved cooking even as a child and closely followed The Food Network on TV. His favorite chef was Anthony Bourdain. His food truck was hugely popular at various local outdoor events, including the Pig & Whiskey annual event in Ferndale. Reportedly, this is also where he first met his wife, Tracey Kane, and she was immediately impressed with him. According to all sources, Idzikowski was extremely loyal, kind, and generous to everyone. Kane mentioned that he was also a big animal lover and was an outstanding pet dad to their two dogs, Ruthie and Mo Mo.

A celebration of his life was held on April 20th by his close friend Stephen Roginson, owner of the Batch Brewing Company in Corktown. The family has asked that any donations in his memory be made to Focus Hope or the Detroit Dog Rescue in Detroit, and condolence messages may be sent to www.farleyestesdowdle.com.

THANKS TO THE RESIDENTS OF FERNDALE, WE’RE GETTING A BRAND-NEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL!

On March 10th, 2020, voters approved a $125 million bond to make a significant investment in our educational system. Due to rising property values and expiring debt, this bond was made possible at no tax rate increase to our community.

To learn more about all of the bond projects that will be completed over the next decade visit www.ferndaleforward.com. You can also visit our Ferndale Schools web page where we update the community on all of our bond projects as they are completed: www.ferndaleschools.org/district/operations/bondprojects.

While the bond will ensure every classroom in the District is updated, the most significant investment is the construction of a brand-new, state-of-the-art, Ferndale Lower Elementary School. While we are still more than a year away from its opening, in April of 2022 Ferndale Schools hosted a ground-breaking ceremony at the schools future location within Jackson Park.

THE NEW FERNDALE LOWER ELEMENTARY IS 50 PERCENT LARGER than the current building and will expand classroom sizes while integrating new scientific insights from learning environment research. High-efficiency heating, cooling, and infrastructure will accompany advanced classroom technology for every student.

Construction will continue until 2023, but you can take a virtual “fly through” of the building and outdoor spaces right now at www.FerndaleSchools.org/bond. While small modifications may be made during construction, this video will give you a great look at what to expect from the new Ferndale Lower Elementary.

To all of our neighbors, thank you for your steadfast commitment to ensuring our students have the optimal learning environment. Your investment in their future will be the bedrock of our lifelong-learning community for generations to come.

Photo ©2021 by Bennie White

IN RECOGNITION OF THE UNPRECEDENTED TIMES and the immense loss so many have experienced, the City of Oak Park will create a space that allows for reflection on the pandemic and remembrance of those who lost their lives to COVID-19.

We recognize each individual has their own story on how COVID-19 impacted them and that each story has affected our community. Some of the greatest impacts have been felt by those who lost a loved one to COVID-19. To ensure victims of the virus are properly remembered, the City will be installing a thoughtful and permanent memorial. We invite Oak Park residents to share their input on what an appropriate COVID-19 Memorial may be, where it should be installed and, most importantly, to provide information on Oak Park residents who fell victim to the virus. The City will, on an ongoing basis take the information of those lost to COVID-19 to ensure their memory is preserved.

Information can be provided by utilizing the QR code on this page (photo); and pictures of Oak Park residents who died from COVID-19 can be sent to Communications Director Courtney Flynn at cflynn@oakparkmi.gov. We thank you for your valued input and are humbled at the opportunity to provide a space for our community to honor and remember their loved ones.

Photo ©2021 by Bennie White

THE CITY OF OAK PARK HAS FIVE MOGO STATIONS and the numbers show that our community knows how to ride!

In 2020, Oak Park had the highest usage of any community in the surrounding area, with 1,667 trips taken. We hope our residents continue to utilize this service offered through the City’s partnership with MoGo.

For those looking to get on a MoGo bike and ride, the Oak Park stations are located at:

• West 11 Mile Rd. & Tyler St.

• Lincoln St. & Greenfield Rd.

• Coolidge Hwy. & Lincoln St.

• Oak Park Blvd. & Parklawn St.

• West Nine Mile Rd. & Manistee St.

To stay up-to-date on MoGo News, visit their website at mogodetroit.org or follow them on social media (@MoGoDetroit).

Photos ©2021 by Bennie White

THE Oak Park Water Tower Social District, on 11 Mile Rd., opened to the public in August and continues to offer opportunities for patrons to enjoy local businesses, both inside and out. The Social District welcomes those ages 21 and above to purchase from participating businesses to-go alcoholic beverages and enjoy them in the Commons Area.

HOURS OF OPERATION:

• Monday through Saturday: Noon-10:00 P.M.

• Sunday: Noon-6:00 P.M.

• Closed on holidays recognized by the City of Oak Park

PARTICIPATING BUSINESSES / EXPANDING SOON!

• Oak Park Social

• Dog & Pony Show Brewing

• Unexpected Craft Brewing Company

• Berkley Coffee

Social districts were created through a state initiative in 2020 with the hopes of spurring social and economic involvement in local communities. As the Water Tower Social District in Oak Park continues to experience its rebirth, this initiative will surely only help the businesses in that corridor grow while also helping to foster a deeper sense of community.

Photos ©2021 by Bennie White

WELCOME!

OVER THE LAST YEAR THE CITY OF OAK PARK HAS WELCOMED several new faces to the leadership team, including Human Resources & Labor Relations Director Megan Burke, Library Director Kimberly Schaaf & Communications and Public Information Director Courtney Flynn. These staffing updates will continue to ensure Oak Park remains in line with its commitment to excellence, innovation and high-quality service.

“I am proud of the team we have in Oak Park, as we all work to meet the needs of Oak Park residents and continuously look for ways to improve how we deliver our services,” said City Manager Erik Tungate. “The additions of Directors Burke, Schaaf and Flynn to our team have solidified our culture of excellence in this City and make me confident we are blazing a bright trail for the future.”

MEGAN “MEG” BURKE

MEGAN “MEG” BURKE IS AN EXPERIENCED HUMAN RESOURCES (HR) PROFESSIONAL, who came to the City of Oak Park with knowledge from both the private and public sectors.

She attended Wayne State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, and in 2020 she completed a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership, with a concentration in Human Resources. She began working in the City of Oak Park in August 2020.

Burke’s philosophy on HR is that empathy, humility and relationships are the foundation of Human Resources, and that focusing on these principles creates a productive, safe, and comfortable working-environment. Some of her favorite aspects of the job include labor relations, compliance review, contract/proposal writing, and benefit administration. She holds various certifications, including:

• Certified Labor Relations Leader (CLRL): Michigan State University.

• Certified Professional in Public Sector Human Resources (IPMA-CP): International Public Management Association of Human Resources.

• Yellow Belt in Lean Six Sigma: Six Sigma Global Institute.

• Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Adult & Youth: National Behavioral Council.

Burke serves on the Board of Directors for both Macomb County Community Mental Health (MCCMH) and the Michigan Public Employer Labor Relations Association (MPELRA) and is an active member of Woodside Bible Church in Troy.

She lives with her husband, Tim, an IBEW Local 58 electrician, in Chesterfield Township. She enjoys golfing, traveling, cooking, and spending quality time with family and friends.

KIMBERLY SCHAAF

KIMBERLY SCHAAF JOINED THE OAK PARK TEAM IN THE SPRING OF 2021, with a wealth of knowledge related to libraries and program. Prior to taking on the Director of Library role at the Oak Park Library, Schaaf served as the Head of Adult Services at Springfield Township Library.

Overall, she has 14 years of library experience. Schaaf is also professionally involved in the Library Network Committees Group and serves current chair of the Shared System Users Group.

In addition to her library experience, Schaaf also has several years of corporate business management experience and holds degrees and certifications in the following:

• Bachelor of Arts in English with a specialization in secondary education, University of Michigan.

• Master of Library Science: Wayne State University.

• Professional Level One Librarian Certificate: The Library of Michigan.

• Certificate in Library Community Assessment.

Schaaf is married with two teenage boys. In her free time she enjoys gardening, hiking, doing mixed media art projects and spending time with family.

COURTNEY FLYNN

COURTNEY FLYNN JOINS THE CITY OF OAK PARK’S MANAGEMENT TEAM as the Director of Communications. She formerly served as Public Relations Manager for the Macomb County Board of Commissioners.

She is well-versed in government communications with an emphasis on community engagement and programming, crisis communications, media relations and policy analysis. Prior to serving in the public sector, Courtney served as a local government and education journalist.

She earned a Master of Public Administration degree from Wayne State University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Print Journalism from Bowling Green State University. In addition to her extensive communications experience, Courtney woks with the Wayne State University Center for Urban Studies analyzing socioeconomic data and policies.

In her free time, Flynn enjoys walking her dog, road trips centered around hiking, live music and finding the best places to eat.

By Sara E. Teller

SHELL CLEANERS, ON COOLIDGE HIGHWAY, OPENED ITS DOORS ON MARCH 13, 1982. Narendra Patel, originally from India, had immigrated to the United States already with a college degree, but without speaking a word of English.

“My sister lived in Oak Park,” said Patel, which is why he chose to settle in the area. “I was looking for something to do here and the people were very nice.”

A laundromat seemed like a great option. Patel would be able to interact with many Oak Park residents and could learn English along the way. He also began to night school in Southfield after work. It wasn’t the easiest start, but he found his way, learning the language of his customers and eventually feeling at home.

“I was able to clean clothes for many customers and serve the city,” he said, which gave him great satisfaction.

Shell Cleaners served the city for 40 years and became an institution largely because Patel was known for doing great work at a reasonable price, which allowed his business to boom. He began to get to know many of his customers on a first-name basis and they would return to the the cleaners time-and-again for a quality job.

Patel was not only known for taking care of his customers’ clothing but serving them “always with a kind smile.” She added that he was such an integral part of the city that former U.S. Representative “Sander Levin wrote a letter to help bring [Patel’s] wife from India north of Bombay.” Eventually, the two were able to settle in the area together.

Patel enjoyed serving the people of Oak Park as much as they loved the work he did. They became more than just clients to him over the years. “They weren’t just customers, they were extended family to me,” he said.

YET NOW, AFTER ALL OF THOSE YEARS IN BUSINESS, Shell Cleaners has officially closed its doors. The pandemic has brought about many unforeseen changes and has hit small businesses especially hard. Unfortunately, small cleaners like Shell have been unable to obtain the same quality soap customers have come to expect and the prices of essentials such as poly bags and hangers have tripled. Because many professionals are working from home, they’ve transitioned from wearing business suits that need to be dry cleaned to more casual clothes.

All of these things affected Patel’s business. He tried to keep Shell afloat for as long as possible but there came a point that he had to make a very difficult decision. It was time to sell the building and close Shell’s doors.

“The Coronavirus has affected the whole country,” Patel said. “But it has very been hard on small businesses and their supply chains. I’m retired now but I wasn’t ready to.”

He said, “I miss the city. The city was my family.” He added he especially misses former and current Mayors Jerry Naftaly and Marian McClellan, respectively.

When asked what the future holds, Patel said he would like to eventually do something else but hasn’t decided what that is yet. Because of the pandemic and the continued difficulties small businesses face, “Right now, I’m just trying to take it easy,” he replied. Patel added he is no longer in Oak Park but may like to return someday.

Even though Shell has closed its doors, it will never be forgotten by all of the customers served over the four decades it was in business. Flynn said, “We are delighted he settled in Oak Park and wish him joy in his retirement.”

Photo ©2021 by Bennie White

FOR TIFFANY PUGMIRE, HER ARTWORK IS HER MEDIATION, her cathartic release. For others, Pugmire’s artwork invokes joy, cheer, inspiration and more.

“WHEN CREATING,I AM CONSISTENTLY sifting my way through transitions and emotion; thus the extra play time with this medium lends to the remedy or healing process,” Pugmire said of her work. “For me, there is a magnetic sensation when looking at the reflection of light, and the contrast of the hidden colors in shadows. It keeps me interested in a subject as I attempt to capture this quality in my efforts.”

Pugmire gained local fame last Spring when she put her talent to work through sidewalk art. In exchange for chalk to perform her skills, Pugmire would take requests of what individuals wanted displayed on their sidewalk. Mayor Marian McClellan requested Vincent Van Gogh’sSunflowers,” and others requested birthday messages, recreations of other well-known art pieces and more.

While, the rain has since washed away the sidewalk art that brought smiles to Oak Park residents in the height of the COVID pandemic, Pugmire’s artwork can now be viewed in City Hall. This artwork won’t be found on the floors of City Hall, though; rather her oil paintings are displayed on canvas throughout the art gallery near the main entrance.

PUGMIRE’S ARTWORK DISPLAY IN CITY HALL IS PART OF Oak Park’s Public Art Exhibition Program, which is administered through the City’s Arts & Cultural Diversity Committee. Her artwork can be viewed now through the end of December.

The use of light and shadow in Pugmire’s paintings is quick to catch a viewer’s eye. The way in which she brings life to a simple bowl of eggs or a cabbage on a string is something only someone with true, raw talent can accomplish. Pair Pugmire’s inherent artistry with her training and still life art becomes anything but.

WHEN PUGMIRE IS NOT DELVING IN HER ARTISTIC SIDE she can also be found teaching yoga, practicing Reiki and working for the Oak Park Public Safety Department’s Records Bureau. She is a woman of many talents, and the City of Oak Park is thrilled to serve as a conduit between her artwork and the public.

For the Park’s Public Art Exhibition Program administered by the Arts & Cultural Diversity Program, local artists are encouraged to apply on a rolling basis. The Committee regularly seeks two-dimensional artwork for the lobby of City Hall for the duration of a quarterly exhibition period, and seeks art that represents the diversity of our community. Varied artistic styles and mediums are welcomed. All artists are encouraged to apply; however priority is given to Oak Park resident artists. Artwork should reflect positively on our community and must be suitable for public display.

Photos ©2021 by Bennie White

Detective Dwaine Green

DWAINE GREEN WAS RECENTLY PROMOTED TO THE POSITION OF DETECTIVE IN THE OAK PARK PUBLIC SAFETY DEPARTMENT. This promotion became effective on March 8, 2021 for the six-year Oak Park Public Safety Department veteran. Detective Green is a highly decorated and respected officer, as is highlighted by the numerous citations he has throughout his career.

He also serves as a Field Training Officer for newly-hired recruits and is a select member of the Comeback Quick Response Team, which supports “Hope Not Handcuffs” and the “Families Against Narcotics Program.” Both programs assist citizens who are challenged by a substance-use disorder.

The decision to promote Green to detective was based not only on his successes as an officer, but also on his personality traits. Detective Green is intelligent, knowledgeable and possess a keen sense of awareness, all valuable skills for a detective. He also has a natural ability to relate with all citizens. Detective Green is a key asset to the Investigation Bureau and the Public Safety Department is proud to have him.

Parking Officer Michael Foster & Public Safety Officer Steve Arbenowske

In addition to promoting Det. Green, the Public Safety Department also welcomed Michael Foster as a new Parking Enforcement Officer in July of 2021. Foster is an Oak Park resident and has several years of parking enforcement experience with the City of Ferndale. He has strong communication skills, which are further enhanced by his great personality.

Director Steve Cooper & Safety Officer Evan Beauchamp

Oak Park Public Safety Officer Evan Beauchamp was presented with a Director’s Commendation by Public Safety Director Steve Cooper at the Monday, Aug. 23 Council Meeting. Officer Beauchamp is one of the Department’s newest officers and completed the Fire Academy as the number one Academic Recruit amongst 23 fellow graduates.

Photo ©2021 by Bennie White

HELLO FROM YOUR OAKLAND COUNTY COMMISSIONERS! We, Commissioners Charlie Cavell (representing Ferndale, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods and Royal Oak Twp., and part of Oak Park) and Yolanda Charles (representing Lathrup Village and parts of Oak Park and Southfield), would like to take a moment to say that it has been an honor to serve the residents of Oak Park throughout 2021.

And it brings us both great pride to continue representing you on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners into 2022. As we adapt and move forward through this challenging time, we are committed to supporting our residents of all ages and backgrounds, in addition to our diverse businesses and organizations.

The Board of Commissioners recently adopted the 2022-2024 County Budget, which includes funds for a number of programs that will directly assist the residents of Oak Park. In the first year of the pandemic, Oak Park small businesses were awarded $2.3 million in grant funding from the County, and local government, educational institutions, non-profits, seniors, individuals, veterans, and libraries and community centers were awarded $3.9 million.

We look forward to bringing you more information about relief and support programs made possible through Oakland County’s American Rescue Plan Act funds as the Board works with County administration to find meaningful ways to get help to those who need it most.

IN ADDITION TO THOSE DIRECTLY RELATED TO THE PANDEMIC, the Board has spearheaded projects that impact all areas of life for Oakland County residents. Early in 2021, we both participated in a press conference at the Ferndale Housing Commission to launch the Fair Housing Initiative, aimed at ending source of income housing discrimination. We have also brought environmental sustainability initiatives to our communities, stood for County-wide equality initiatives and made efforts to make County government more accessible to the constituents we serve.

We thank you for your engagement and commitment to making your community a rewarding place for us all. As two commissioners serving their first terms on the Board, it’s been extremely gratifying to get to know Oak Park. From community groups to cultural events, every nook of the city has something to offer its residents and the county.

Please remember that the Board of Commissioners is here for all of you, so do not hesitate to reach out to your commissioner for any reason at all. For more information about the Board, visit www.oakgov.com/boc. For the most up-to-date information, sign up for our newsletters from our commissioner pages, which can also be found on the website.

Commissioners Charlie Cavell (District 18) and Yolanda Charles (District 17)