Taking a look back at the year 2017

As we prepare for 2018 to start, here’s a look back at the people, events, activities, successes, and losses of 2017.

January 18

Jewelry Suspect Caught: The search ended for the Dec. 17 jewelry store armed robbery suspect Jimmie Walker Jr., 50, from Detroit. He was arrested in Hamtramck, and charged with 12 felonies and held in Oakland County Jail on a $500,000 bond. The second suspect, Roy-Lee Jeffrey Genright, 48, also from Detroit, got away by stealing a 2014 Jeep Cherokee from a garage, which coincidentally had the keys in it.

SoleMates Shoe Collection: With a slogan  “What can you learn from walking a mile in someone’s shoes?” seven Clarkston High School Honors English Language Arts tenth graders interviewed a person staying at Grace Centers of Hope to understand another person’s point of view. Then, they collected and donated 346 pairs of shoes to the place.

February 1

Poetry Slam for Change: Two Clarkston High School students, Olivia Maday and Sierra Aguilar, held their third Annual Voices for Change Poetry Slam on February 24 in the Clarkston High School Performing Arts Center.

Clarkston Idol: Clarkston Idol 2017 winners included Keith Garrison from Pine Knob Elementary, the Grades 4-6 Division; Abigail Mundy from Sashabaw Middle School, Grade 7 Division; Haley Phillips from Clarkston Junior High, Grades 8-9 Division; and Ben Neideck from Clarkston High School, Grades 10-12 Division. Thirty percent of the results were from the polls on Twitter@Clarkston_Idol account and 70 percent came from the panel of judges.

February 8

Global School Play Day: Springfield Plains Elementary participated in a Global School Play Day on Feb. 1, allowing students to participate in unstructured play for most of the day.

Les Miserables at CHS: Clarkston High School Performing Arts Center showed Les Miserables, which was performed by the drama club. The story was about Jean Valjean, played by Micah Blanks, a former convict who spends his life seeking redemption in 19th century France. To many of the cast, it had special meaning because it was their final winter musical as seniors.

February 15

Special Needs Helpers Honored: The Independence Elementary staff won a group award at the 2017 Sparkle Awards Ceremony, which honors people who choose to help students who have Individualized Education Plans.

February 22

Pink Panther Stalked Motown: Denise Myers of Clarkston, returned to Cobo Hall in Detroit for the Autorama with her hot pink 1971 Dodge Challenger convertible (AKA The Pink Panther), joining members of her Michigan Mopar Club. The Autorama, held  February 24-26, featured stars such as WWE Superstar AJ Styles and Rick Harrison from History Channel’s “Pawn Stars.”

Teacher of the Year: The Clarkston Foundation was planning on honoring K-12 specials teachers in the Outstanding Classroom Teacher Recognition Program on May 24 at Clarkston Community Schools Administration Building Nominees must be certified, full-time Clarkston teachers in music, physical education, art education, special education or Young 5’s with a minimum of two years teaching experience.

March 1

Mikayla’s Legacy: In honor of the late Mikayla Ferer, a Clarkston High School former student, who tragically lost her life in a traffic accident, the LEAD Program at CHS created a scholarship program in her name. This program honored the leader and sports standout who graduated in 2012. A GoFundMe page also raised more than $6,000 which was donated by 98 people.

Angels’ Place Race 10th Year: Clarkston was the center of attention for the tenth Anniversary of Angels’ Place Race, a 10k run, to help fund people in need. There was also a benefit fundraiser for the race as they gave away door prizes and donations.

March 8

DEEP in High School: Clarkston High School’s Dual Enrollment Educational Partnership program was taught at the high school by University of Michigan-Flint professors and open to all high school juniors and seniors. It had two courses of study: humanities and medical science.

Apologies to Cory: City resident Cory Johnston received a public apology from Mayor Steve Percival and City Manager Jonathan Smith at the Feb. 27 City Council meeting, after Johnston was named in the city manager’s report. Johnston provided a list of ordinance violations by city businesses regarding dumpster enclosures, exterior lighting, rooftop equipment, and off-street parking.

March 15

Kid Count Down: The first student count day of the year resulted in 7,610, which was 145 fewer students than the previous year. The 2016-2017 budget accounted for a loss of 100 students. Clarkston received $7,511 per student, so 45 students equals $337,995.

Paid Parking Paused: City Officials hit the road for more information after business owners and residents blasted a plan for downtown paid parking. Mayor Steven Percival was at the City Council meeting to discuss the proposed plan, March 13.

March 22

Blue Pinwheels: Organizers with Clarkston Area Youth Assistance (CAYA) provided about 1,000 blue pinwheels to businesses, community groups, and residents to put in gardens, front windows to represent the free spirit of a happy childhood. The goal was to recognize Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month of April.

School Bond work: The Clarkston Community Schools Board of Education accepted two bid packages during their March 13 meeting for school bond projects. One project, costing $4,040,254.76, went for construction work at Andersonville Elementary, Bailey Lake Elementary and Springfield Plains Elementary and the other project, costing $1,404,882.42, went for improvements on Clarkston High School’s football field and track.

March 29

New Parkinson’s Foundation: Michael Johnson and his wife Stacy, created a non-profit group called The Parkinson Lane Foundation, to help people maintain movement and mobility through exercise and therapy. Last June, Michael, at 41, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, after getting treatments and visiting multiple specialists.

April 5

Copland Teacher of the Year: During an assembly at Bailey Lake Elementary, Dr. Rod Rock surprised teacher Meredith Copland with the news she was named Oakland County’s 2017 Elementary Teacher of the Year.

Pre-Labor School Start: Despite some parents not approving of the decision, Clarkston’s School Board voted to allow an early start for school, on August 28, which fell before Labor Day. The board felt the transition in August eases the students and staff back and build them up a little bit stronger and allow for better teacher-student relationships.

April 12

The ‘Gangs’ of Clarkston:  The sixth of a series on the families who helped build Clarkston and the descendants who still live here, carrying on their legacy, was Charles Gray Robertson III. Gray and his neighbor, genealogist Tom Stone, live on Robertson Court, named after Charles’ family.

April 19

Road work for shredded roads: The chewed-up road of Maybee Road between Clintonville and Marvin Roads got a repaving, which involved closing one lane of traffic at a time along with flaggers directing traffic at the site.

Pay-to-Park: Downtown Clarkston voted to approve paid parking after a split vote from City Council. Mayor Steve Percival and Council members Sue Wylie, Rick Detkowski and Eric Haven approved the motion.

April 26

Repairing Twp Roads: With April showers and May flowers came the spring bounty of potholes. Pat Kittle, Independence Township Supervisor, said the Road Commission for Oakland County didn’t have enough resources for subdivision roads like Snow Apple Drive and Parview Drive, the two worst roads in Clarkston, according to residents posting on social media.

Toys of History: Robert (Bob) L. Jones passed away in 2004, but his toys, which were handmade, continued to provide fun for kids. The toys were donated to the Clarkston Early Childhood Center by his longtime neighbors and friends Dr. Tom and Arlene Stone.

May 3

Scent of danger: An investigation into a report of gun-brandishing teens over the weekend showed no gun was used.

May 10

Meters on Main?: Paid parking could expand to include meters on Main Street in addition to parking lot kiosks, according to on plan considered by the city Parking Commission.

13 Reasons for caution: Health experts had more than 13 concerns about the young-adult miniseries “13 Reasons Why” on Netflix and alerted parents and guardians to watch the show before their children watched it or watch the show with them.

May 17

Spring into arts: The arts were blooming with May flowers throughout downtown as the Gateway prepared to host an atrium filled with artwork at the Clarkston Cultural Arts Council’s second annual Art in the Atrium silent art auction.

Thou shalt not park on Church St., sayeth city: The Clarkston City Council voted unanimously to prohibit East Church Street parking east of Buffalo to the city limits. Residents on E. Church Street complained to the city for months about restaurant employees parking in their neighborhood late into the night.

May 24

More brick work on News building: When work is complete on 5 South Main Street, home of The Clarkston News, the building would be in full brick on all four sides, just like it was when it was new in the late 1870s.

City says ‘no’ to rezoning: Expansion plans for the Clarkston Mills stalled after the City Council voted to reject a request to rezone 42 W. Washington from residential to commercial. The council denied the rezoning with a 5-1 vote.

May 31

Seven saluted for service to Clarkston community: Michele Robinson, Addison Gale, Denyse Semann Couture, Rich Little, Dennis Hughes, Jim Brueck and Boy Scout Troop 189 were honored at the 32nd Clarkston Community Awards.

Music man wins Teacher of the Year: Michael Lewis, Clarkston High School’s band director, was the honored as the 24th Teacher of the Year Award winner by the Clarkston foundation.

June 7

Attention widens on city FOIA case: The Michigan Press Association and Detroit Free Press weighed in on a Freedom of Information lawsuit against the City of the Village of Clarkston, filing an amicus curie brief in support of Clarkston resident Susan Bisio’s lawsuit against the city.

Clarkston graduates 603: It was a warm, sunny evening at DTE Energy Music Theatre as Clarkston High School held commencement for 603 students in the Class of 2017. “Commencement is more than simply an annual event in Clarkston,” said Principal Gary Kaul. “It’s a moment shared between faculty, families and students. It’s a time when the school and the community come together for a rite of passage that’s filled with pride and achievement and a sense of nostalgia.”

June 14

Parking issue stalls in committee: It was back to the drawing board for the Clarkston Parking Committee as they were still on step one – looking at danger spots and making sure the plan is well-thought out.

June 21

City digs into reserves for new budget: The new city budget for a $28,456 withdrawal from its savings account.

Only one confirmed store for corner of M-15 and Dixie: One of the popular questions on Clarkston Facebook was what was going into the new strip mall at M-15 and Dixie Highway – one confirmed answer was a cellular phone store.

June 28

Young activist leads clean-up: Five-year-old Emma Stankus organized a 20-person project to fix up the neighborhood island. Stankus decided the island needed some TLC and drew up fliers with everything she wanted to accomplish.

Beaumont property up for sale: Beaumont Hospitals had high hopes in 2005 for 63 acres in Independence Township, but dashed by 12 years and a recession they put the land up for sale.


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