Thursday, August 06, 2015

Looking back on the Ransom Gillis House

The Ransom Gillis House has stood vacant in Detroit's Brush Park neighborhood for decades. Various attempts have been made to save this historic home over the years, but it looks like Nicole Curtis is going to be the one to make it work.

Nicole Curtis, of course, is the hostess of Rehab Addict on HGTV. She has rehabbed historic homes across the country but has concentrated on Detroit. The Ransom Gillis House is one of her latest projects.

Her work on this historic home has garnered a significant amount of media attention. Curbed Detroit, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, MLive, and WXYZ-TV are just some of the media outlets that have covered the redevelopment of this house. I'm excited to see this home come back to back to life and am grateful to Nicole Curtis for all of her hard work.

The media attention, though, does make me want to share a documentary short that I made with former Warrendale resident Lee Runchey back in the summer of 2007. Our film Held for Ranson is embedded above.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Detroit Police Commission issues annual report

The Board of Police Commissioners, which is a civilian board mandated by the City Charter to oversee the Detroit Police Department, released their 2014 annual report. This report includes statistics regarding complaints that citizens have registered against police officers or the department in general. More importantly, it documents a 20% increase in the number of complaints filed

Of the 6,461 complaints filed against the Detroit Police Department in 2014, 3,838 - or approximately 59% of the total - were related to allegations that an officer did not follow established procedures or allegations related to his demeanor. The remaining 41% related to arrests made, entry into a property, damages made to property, searches, use of force, or general harassment.

I spoke with Ricardo Moore, who represents Warrendale and the surrounding neighborhoods on the commission, about this spike. He believes a large portion of this spike in complaints has to do a similar increase in news stories and social media posts about the police. He went on to add that body cameras will soon come to the Detroit Police Department.

The full text of this 58-page report from the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners is available below.

The report itself is fine. However, I believe it would have been useful if they provided some comparison with other departments of a similar size to Detroit.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Santana scares teens straight

For all the haters out there this special message is for you. Several months ago myself and my homie Raphael B. Johnson...
Posted by Harvey Santana on Tuesday, July 21, 2015
State Representative Harvey Santana posted this story to his Facebook page the other day. Please click "see more" to see the rest of this story. I think it is a great example of the power that we have to help teens turn their lives around.

My thanks go out to Santana and Johnson for doing their part.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Land bank to auction 17 Warrendale homes

Warrendale home - Photo by Frank Nemecek
The Detroit Land Bank Authority will soon place 17 vacant home in the Warrendale neighborhood up for auction. There will be an open house at Ss. Peter and Paul Church (7685 Grandville Ave.) this coming Sunday, June 28 from 1 - 5 p.m. to showcase these homes as well as the auction process.

If you are not familiar with the DLBA auction, a few basics are that bidding on each house starts at $1,000 and is open for one business day. Three homes are auctioned per day.

The 17 homes in Warrendale that will be placed for auction at:

  • 6330 Abington Ave;
  • 6481 Mansfield;
  • 6594 Forrer;
  • 6717 Longacre;
  • 6720 Grandmont;
  • 6759 Rutland;
  • 7318 Woodmont;
  • 7421 Mettetal;
  • 7425 Rutherford;
  • 7450 Woodmont;
  • 7498 Rutland;
  • 7501 St Marys;
  • 7530 Forrer;
  • 7537 Abington Ave;
  • 7771 Memorial;
  • 7811 Memorial; and
  • 6315 Archdale.
Open House Tours are free and open to the public and gives folks an opportunity to see the house before bidding and get a sense of the rehab work needed. More information is also available on their website, which is On the website, one can also view the homes that are included in the auction.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Warrendale Radio Patrol returns to duty

Warrendale Radio Patrol - Photo by Frank Nemecek
A group of concerned residents is resurrecting the long-dormant Warrendale Radio Patrol. This group of volunteers acts as the eyes and ears of the Detroit Police Department, patrolling the neighborhood and reporting what they see.

If you would like to help them protect our neighborhood, either as a volunteer or with a donation to cover their gas and other expenses, please reach out to them. They can be contacted via their Facebook page or by calling David Brierley at (734) 560-4953.

I appreciate the work that these volunteers are doing in our neighborhood. I wish them the best.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Champps to host benefit for Beaumont Children's Hospital

As part of this blog's Friday Focus series, Champps in West Bloomfield is teaming up with the Student Heart Check program at Beaumont Children’s Hospital  to support free heart checks for high school students.  Champps, located at 7410 Orchard Lake Road, will host a celebration to benefit Beaumont Student Heart Check on Thursday, February 26.

Champps will donate 10% of sales for the entire day and night of Thursday, February 26 to the Beaumont Student Heart Check program, which offers free heart checks to high school students to help detect young people who may be at risk for sudden cardiac arrest.

The party begins at 6 p.m., when guests are invited to enjoy a complimentary sampling of Champps’ signature dishes, including Champps Americana Chopped Salad, Chipotle Burger, Pepper Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos and Calamari Fritti.

Featured signature cocktails include Grand Sangria, Island Rum Punch and Champps Long Island Tea for $4 each; draft beer will be available for $2 each. In addition, Michigan’s own Latitude 42 Brewing Company will be hosting a “Tap Takeover,” where they will feature six of their beers on tap, including favorites Schoolhouse Honey Amber Ale and Lucifer's Cuvee-Double Chocolate Rye Stout.

"We are thrilled to be partnering with Champps for their celebration event and are so grateful they have chosen to support our efforts,” said Jennifer Shea, Event Coordinator for Beaumont’s Student Heart Check program.  “We are looking forward to a fun and festive event.  We invite everyone to come and join us on February 26!"

Champps in West Bloomfield offers 31 High Definition TVs; nearly 50 kinds of beer, including 24 beers on tap, 15 of which are craft and 11 of which are local; and a deliciously crafted menu for sharing, snacking and dining.

Champps in West Bloomfield is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. Sunday – Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday – Saturday.   For more information, reservations or to book a private event, call Champps at (248) 538-6333, or visit us at on Facebook and Twitter.

The Friday Focus is an occasional feature to draw attention to stories outside of the Warrendale neighborhood that the publisher believes is worthy of an extra dose of attention.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Uber to deliver Paczki from Warrendale

Paczki - Photo by Leslie Seaton
The social media-driven ride sharing service Uber confirmed this morning that they will deliver paczki to customers across metropolitan Detroit who request them tomorrow. Their exclusive source for all of these paczki will be the West Warren Bakery (15708 W. Warren Ave.) in the Warrendale neighborhood of Detroit.

In order to get these paczki delivered, all that users need to do is open the Uber app on their smartphone starting at 7 a.m tomorrow and select "pazcki" from the far right side. Users can then:

  • Set their delivery location and submit their request;
  • Meet their driver outside upon arrival to pick up their tasty treats.
  • No cash is needed. They'll charge the card on the users Uber account. 

I'm thrilled that Uber is turning to one of the bakeries in the Warrendale neighborhood as their source for paczki this year. I hope people across the Detroit region enjoy them.

Investigation into Wayne County completed

U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced last week that the federal corruption investigation of Wayne County government was now complete. Joining her in this announcement was Paul M. Abbate, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The investigation, which began three years ago, resulted in the convictions of five individuals, including Wayne County’s Chief Information Officer and an Assistant Wayne County Executive who served as the Director of HealthChoice of Michigan. The United States will not seek any additional charges in connection with the investigation.

“I would like to thank and commend the officials and staff of the Wayne County Executive and the Wayne County Corporation Counsel for their cooperation during this investigation,” said McQuade in a prepared statement. “Their assistance and openness allowed federal investigators to carefully review and assess a number of complex issues regarding the operation of county government.”

36th district court officer charged with extortion

An indictment was unsealed last week charging a former court officer for the 36th District Court in Detroit with extortion, mail fraud and theft, said U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade in a prepared statement.

Joining in the announcement was Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Paul M. Abbate, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Marlon Cleveland, 33, of Westland, was charged with misusing his position as a Court Officer for the 36th District Court to steal and extort thousands of dollars from defendants in civil cases over the course of more than a year. The crimes are alleged to have occurred in 2013 and 2014.

McQuade added, “Anyone who abuses a position of trust to steal from our courts or to extort money from members of the public should expect to face serious penalties under the law.”

“We must weed out corruption at all levels of government to ensure the public is served,” said Schuette. “Nobody will get a free pass when they break the law.”

“Preventing the abuse of power to conduct criminal activity remains among the highest priorities of the FBI,” added Abbate. “FBI Detroit, in concert with the Michigan Attorney General’s Public Integrity Unit and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, will continue to investigate these types of crimes and bring to justice those who abuse the public’s trust.”

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in collaboration with the Michigan Attorney General’s Public Integrity Unit.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Every defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Friends of Rouge Park to meet tommorow

Rouge Park on a foggy day
Photo by Frank Nemecek
The Friends of Rouge Park will hold their next meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, January 20. This meeting will start at 6 p.m. and is expected to last until 7 p.m. They will meet at the Don Bosco Center (9356 Westwood), which is half a mile north of the Warrendale neighborhood at West Chicago.

The agenda will include:

Additional updates and news about Rouge Park will also be included at this meeting. The minutes from their most recent meeting are available here.

Anyone who is interested in the future of Detroit's largest park is invited to attend this meeting.