Year in Review: The top stories from the beginning of 2020

2020 certainly was a year no one will forget as the COVID pandemic changed… a lot. This week, December 23, we look at the top stories in January, February, March and April – life before and during the beginning of COVID. What are some of your highlights of 2020? Share them with us by emailing

January 1
Township cracks down on massage: The massage parlor business was under more scrutiny after the Independence Township Board voted unanimously to approve first reading of new regulations.
Christmas dinner for families in need: During the last week of the semester, the Everest Collegiate High School student government traveled to the Ladies of Charity in Bloomfield Hills for an apostolic day of service.
Music to go: The Clarkston Wolfpack Running group spread Christmas cheer around town during their annual Christmas Eve run. They stopped at several businesses to run through the aisles and sing Christmas carols.
January 8
Rudy’s a restaurant?: Owners of Rudy’s Market, Robert Esshaki and Christopher Thomas, were looking to remake the 87-year-old downtown business at 9 S. Main Street into a restaurant.
Thoughts for 2020: The year 2019 was good and 2020 looked to be even better, said Clarkston Mayor Eric Haven. “I think progress was made on a lot of issues,” he said.
Happy Noon Year!: The Clarkston Independence District Library brought in 2020 with a Noon Year’s event on Dec. 31. Kids made their own party hats and sparklers out of pipe cleaners.
January 15
Readers reply with ideas for Rudy’s: As owners of Rudy’s Market were looking to remake the long-time business to suit today’s economy, the community shared memories and thoughts on The Clarkston News’ Facebook including not making Rudy’s into a restaurant.
World War II lessons for junior high: World War II raged 75 years ago and the challenge for 68 Clarkston Junior High School students was how to make the historic event relevant today.
City hall project in final phase: Clarkston’s city hall construction project was wrapping up with administration staff moving back into the renovated office by the end of the week. City Council, board and commission meeting would be back in the new city hall starting in February.
January 22
Push back on RTA: Independence Township did not want anything to do with the 2020 Regional Transit Authority millage proposal with the township board unanimously passing a resolution to opt out of RTA.
Fans fete alumni for season of firsts: Players and coaches from the 1980 Clarkston Boys Varsity Basketball championship team were back on the hardwood court as they were honored 40 year after their epic season which included first trip the Wolves were in the semifinal game and won a regional championship.
Praise for school board: January is School Board Appreciation Month and the Clarkston Board of Education was recognized at its meeting, Jan. 13, with gift bags and positive words from Superintendent Shawn Ryan and Clarkston Education Association President Daryl Biallas.
January 29
City still to be swayed to join RTA opposition: Clarkston City Council members were sympathetic to a local drive against a proposed Regional Transit Authority millage, but fell short of jumping on board during their Monday meeting, Jan. 27.
Angels’ Place Race gears up for new year: Angels Place was getting ready for their 13th year for their annual race in downtown Clarkston.
Clarkston earns top scores at BPA regionals: Several Clarkston High School earned top-end marks at the Business Professionals of America regional event at Baker College in Flint.
February 5
Residents not yet sold on marketplace proposal: Area residents voiced their displeasure at a proposed 67-acre development in Independence Township, at the north west corner of Waldon and Sashabaw roads.
Take precautions for coronavirus, flu: The coronavirus (2019-nCoV) joined the flu as health concerns for the winter season. The Oakland County Health Division was monitoring reports of coronavirus, first identified in Wuhan, China. At the time, there were no confirmed cases of the virus in Oakland County.
Sing for good: Students from Clarkston Junior High and Clarkston High schools used their talents to raise money for charities and causes during the C-Factor show.
February 12
Key to success: Lochaven, a new alternative rock/pop band, was in town promoting their debut album “Change is Upon Us.” The trio included P.J. Twork of Clarkston, Gabe Toth of West Bloomfield and Jake Fultz of White Lake. How to slow M-15: Looking to slow down traffic on Main Street, the city was looking at different options and starting with a meeting with Michigan Department of Transportation to discuss short-term solutions like lower speed limit and truck diversion.
Long loves: For Valentine’s Day 2020, six couples responded when The Clarkston News asked for photos of Clarkston couples celebrating more than 50 years together.
February 19
Rules up in the Airbnb: Short-term rentals are a benefit to Clarkston, owners of Airbnbs and similar services told City Council during a discussion of proposed regulations. However Clarkston has a history of protecting, promoting sing-family residential housing, said East Washington resident Carol Eberhardt.
New top cop for Clarkston area: Lt. Todd Hill, new commander of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Independence Township substation, arrived with former commander Larry Perry’s highest endorsement.
‘No’ to proposed anti-RTA resolution: Clarkston City Council voted unanimously to reject a proposed resolution against a Regional Transit Authority millage.
February 26
Case with Supremes: The Michigan Supreme Court was slated to hear Clarkston resident Susan Bisio’s appeal in her Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the City of the Village of Clarkston, March 5.
Happy Leap Birthday: Charlie Formaro celebrated his third birthday in 2020 with his classmates from his sixth grade class at Sashabaw Middle School. He was born February 29, 2008 so his birthday was technically every four years.
Back to work for former fire station: After almost 20 years, the 5255 Maybee Road building would once again be used in the ambulance business after $50,000 of renovations was completed.
March 4
Virus voids exchange with Japan: While no cases of coronavirus had yet been confirmed in Michigan, students and staff from Japan scheduled to visit later in March as part of the ongoing Japanese exchange program weren’t coming due to safety precautions.
National honors for local artists: For Clarkston High School student Riley Kisser, Michaela Mueller, Natalie Neumann and Samantha Moyet their passion for art paid off as all received recognition at the annual Scholastic Art Awards.
Runner makes friends, memories around the world: Jackie Joseph of Indepedence Township found when runners achieve their first marathon, they either never run so far again or keep going. Joseph keeps going – completing 62 marathons all over the world after her first one in Detroit in 2001.
March 11
Supreme suss out lawsuit arguments: For the Michigan Supreme Court, ownership of 18 records central to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the City of the Village of Clarkston was a question for both sides.
State RTA proposal off table, Kittle says: The proposed Regional Transit Authority state legislation was stalled in committee, which was fine with Independence Township Supervisor. “I’m happy to announce that at 4:30 p.m. I received notice that House Bill 5550 has stalled. It is off the floor,” he said.
Minute for miracle to fight leukemia: The Clarkston High School Junior Optimist Club raised $651.71 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through donations during the Clarkston Boys Varsity Basketball game against Lake Orion.
March 18
Schools closed, food offered to all kids: With Clarkston schools closed until April due to state executive orders to fight coronavirus, students and families relying on free breakfast and lunch at district buildings were not going to be left out in the cold.
Cancellations due to COVID: Independence Township canceled most of its community activities for the foreseeable future to fight COVID-19.
Students give back to community: Andersonville Elementary students gave back to the community during Project Spread Love and Warmth 2020, March 6.
March 25
COVID-19 in Clarkston: Two patients with the coronavirus were in treatment at Clarkston Medical Group. The medical group was performing drive-up screening in its mobile unit outside their building on Bow Pointe Drive, off Sashabaw Road.
Stay home – that’s an order: For at least the next three weeks, Michigan residents were ordered to stay home and away from each other as much as possible to fight the spread for the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Township pulls Walters Lake park plan: A proposed Walters Lake parks development was off the table after property owners had a change of heart.
April 1
Deputies keep watch: With schools and many businesses closed during the COVID-19 emergency, Oakland County Sheriff Office deputies in Clarkston and Independence Township stayed busy patrolling businesses, residential areas, grocery stores and medical facilities.
Schools moving to online learning: Teachers were busy studying Virtual At-Home Learning in order to start remote classes for Clarkston Community Schools on Monday, April 6.
Quarantine strands resident in Peru: Michelle Phaup planned to return home to Clarkston from her winter getaway in Lima, Peru, on March 17. A national quarantine due to COVID-19 thwarted that idea.
April 8
Perils of publishing during pandemic: For the first time in the long history of Sherman Publications, Inc. printing was paused due COVID-19. (Don’t worry folks, we were back to printing for the May 13 edition. And boy, did we miss all of you!)
We will continue our Year in Review for the months of May, June, July, and August in the Dec. 30 edition of The Clarkston News.


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