Thursday, December 05, 2019

Friends of Rouge Park are hiring an intern

River Rouge Park - Photo by Frank Nemecek
The nonprofit advocacy and service organization Friends of Rouge Park are looking for two qualified interns to help them organize volunteer work days in the natural areas of the park. One internship will run from January to May while the other will run from April to August. Both positions pay a stipend of $500 per month.

College students who are majoring in environmental studies, natural resources management, parks management, community engagement, or related fields are preferred.

Those wishing to apply for this position at the largest park in Detroit should ideally possess good communication skills. The group is also seeking interns who have a background in management of natural areas as well as:

  • Knowledge of invasive species and native plants;
  • Invasive species removal methods;
  • Certified pesticide applicator is preferred;
  • Experience working with a diversity of volunteers; and
  • Good computer skills including spreadsheets, social media, and website updates.
The intern should also must be comfortable contacting corporations to ask for volunteers and donations.

Duties for this internship will include assisting in the development as well as implementation of a plan for the management of the prairie, trails and natural areas in Rouge Park.  This will involve but is not limited to: prioritize projects, recruit volunteers, organize volunteer work days, train volunteers, develop core volunteers as well as corporate volunteers, develop partnerships, and solicit corporate donations and volunteers. The interns will also engage the local community in these efforts and in the park.

College students who are interested in applying should send a cover letter and resume to rougepark@gmail.com with “ATTN:  Internship” in the subject line. The deadline for applying is December 13, 2019.

Detroiter charged in child pornography case

Prison cell - Photo by Ichigo121212/Pixabay
A Detroit man was indicted yesterday on charges of production, possession and receipt of child pornography, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Saima Mohsin announced earlier today. Mohsin was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Steven M. D'Antuono of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Detroit Division.

Indicted was Wade Preston Streeter, 49 of Detroit. Streeter was arrested on November 21 on a criminal complaint and was held in custody while charges were pending in his case.

According to court records, Streeter is alleged to have sexually assaulted and covertly produced sexually graphic photographs of minor boys as well as engaged in sexually explicit conversations with the minor victims.  This alleged conduct took place both at his home in Detroit as well as on a tugboat that he owns.

The FBI is asking for the public’s help to identify potential victims of Streeter, who would befriend young boys on Facebook and other social media sites and then arrange to meet them privately.

Anyone who may have been victimized by Wade Preston Streeter, or anyone who may have information about his alleged criminal behavior, is encouraged to call (313) 426-3880 or email the FBI at DetroitShipTips@fbi.gov.

The FBI is legally mandated to identify victims of federal crimes that it investigates. Identified victims may be eligible for certain services and rights under federal and/or state law. Victims in this investigation can find information about the hearings in this case at https://www.justice.gov/usao-edmi/united-states-v-wade-streeter-docket-19-mj-30602.

It is important to note that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

The case is being investigated by special agents of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys April Russo and Barbara Lanning.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

One more Christmas miracle

Recent photo of Vivian Lemire - Family photo
As we get closer to Christmas, I become more and more of a sucker for news stories with a happy ending - especially when they involve sick children. Today, such a story comes to us all the way from Missouri, courtesy of the Children’s Organ Transplant Association

Vivian Lemire will celebrate her ninth birthday shortly before Christmas. Then on December 31 her family will ring in the New Year by remembering their post-transplant homecoming two years. These December celebrations are made possible by another family, complete strangers, who chose to donate their child’s liver and kidney during the most difficult of circumstances.

Her parents Cara and Rich Lemire are no strangers to loss nor to big gifts - especially ones that are life-saving. When they found out in 2010 they were pregnant with a daughter they would name Vivian, they were excited and anxious. Four years earlier, they lost their first child to Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease.

The condition caused their first baby’s kidneys and liver to swell and take up space the lungs needed to grow properly. Cara and Rich were completely unaware of her condition before her birth and they only had two days with their daughter, Renee, before she passed. They allowed themselves time to grieve before considering another pregnancy, but with support from their medical team they decided to try again.

“Once we were pregnant again we were thrilled,” Care explained, “but we struggled to let ourselves feel we could ‘get ready’ for her. We had walked this journey before and worried it would lead to the same heartbreaking place. Vivian’s early ultrasounds showed no sign of ARPKD and we felt encouraged about not experiencing a recurrence.”

ARPKD is a rare inherited childhood condition where the development of the kidneys and liver is abnormal. Over time either of these organs may fail. Even though ARPKD is rare, it is one of the most common kidney problems to affect young children. PKD International, a global network of patient organizations, estimates that 1 in 20,000 babies are born with this disorder. The condition often causes serious problems after birth.

At Cara’s 32-week pregnancy check, an ultrasound showed that Baby Vivian’s kidneys were enlarged with cysts and her amniotic fluid was dangerously low. The Lemires were devastated when they were told the baby also had ARPKD. “It was a crushing moment, but we were determined to give Vivian the best chance we could at survival,” Cara said.

When the baby’s heart muscles began to show signs of hypertension, the doctors determined they could not wait any longer and Vivian was delivered a few days before Christmas 2010. The baby’s lungs had some underdevelopment but she was able to breathe with minimal assistance. Vivian’s next challenge was severe hypertension and renal failure with kidneys that were estimated to be the size of adult kidneys in her tiny body.

At two weeks old, Vivian had her first kidney removed and began dialysis 24 hours a day. Four weeks later Vivian had her second kidney removed. The Lemires had to travel 40 minutes from their O’Fallon, Missouri, home to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis four days a week for Vivian’s hemodialysis. Each session was four hours long.

Vivian spent 278 days of her first year of life inpatient enduring several surgeries, battling infections and treating complications of her compromised immune system. Vivian’s medical care made it nearly impossible for both Cara and Rich to keep their full-time jobs; therefore, Rich decided to step back from his career to manage Vivian’s medical schedule of appointments, treatments, specialists, back-and-forth commutes and many more of her complicated medical demands.

Cara and Rich knew Vivian would need a dual life-saving transplant (kidney and liver) for long-term survival. At the start of 2012, while in the midst of Vivian’s hemodialysis sessions and appointments, a transplant social worker suggested Cara and Rich reach out to the Children’s Organ Transplant Association to learn more about fundraising for transplant-related expenses. On January 31st, Cara called COTA’s toll-free phone number and completed COTA’s Patient Agreement.

COTA uniquely understands that parents who care for a child or young adult before, during and after a life-saving transplant have enough to deal with, so COTA’s model shifts the responsibility for fundraising to a community team of trained volunteers. COTA is a 501(c)3 charity so all contributions to COTA are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law, and COTA funds are available for a lifetime of transplant-related expenses.

On March 8, 2012, a COTA fundraising specialist travelled to the Lemire’s hometown to train the volunteers for the COTA campaign in honor of Vivian. This group of family members and friends, quickly got to work organizing fundraisers to help with mounting transplant-related expenses. Numerous COTA fundraisers were held and the team surpassed its $60,000 goal in a short amount of time.

When Vivian was 2½, the transplant team at Cardinal Glennon officially listed her for a dual kidney and liver transplant. Cara and Rich were anxious but were excited to continue their family’s transplant journey. However the wait became lengthy and Vivian’s case became more complicated as she grew. Cara and Rich were eventually told by the Cardinal Glennon transplant team they were no longer able to perform the life-saving dual transplant Vivian needed.

“We will never forget the moment our nephrologist, whose guidance we trusted, told us if Vivian were her child, she would take her to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford,” Cara said. Soon after that recommendation, the Lemires flew to Palo Alto, California -- more than 2,000 miles away from their Missouri home. Cara says at their very first meeting ‘everything clicked.’ The Lucile Packard transplant team agreed that, when the time came for Vivian’s dual transplant, the Lemire family would need to temporarily relocate to California and start her transplant treatment plan.

In August 2017 after two years of being listed and a near match, the Lemires finally got The Call for both a kidney and liver match for Vivian in California. Cara remembers feeling like their bags were in their hands before they even hung up the phone. It was indeed the call they had been waiting for since the day Vivian was born. On August 9, 2017, Vivian received a kidney and liver transplant and her second chance at life. Cara and Rich received the greatest gift imaginable.

The dual organ transplant went well but required a longer recovery time for Vivian, which meant the family would be in California for an extended period of time. Cara took a leave from her job and the family was able to stay in the Ronald McDonald House very close to Lucile Packard. “With our home and jobs halfway across the country, COTA eased the financial burden and enabled us to be at Vivian’s side during her transplant and lengthy recovery,” they said.

On December 31st, four and a half months after her life-saving dual kidney and liver transplant, Vivian and her parents were able to return home to Missouri. It was indeed a positive way to step into the New Year and their new post-transplant life.

“Even before Vivian was born, we knew a transplant was likely in our family’s future. When it became clear the best outcome of Vivian’s transplant would be achieved at a transplant center more than 2,000 miles away from our home, we also knew we were going to need help to make everything work financially. With home and jobs halfway across the country, COTA eased the financial burden and enabled us to be at Vivian’s side before and after transplant. It is a tremendous gift to know COTA is here for our family now and will be … for a lifetime,” said Cara and Rich.

Today Vivian is enrolled in elementary school, which she loves and where she is thriving. She loves dancing, singing and participating in any type of music. Vivian is thrilled to be making new friends at school. This Christmas will likely be full of celebration and joy for the Lemires as they enjoy the holidays in their own home. Vivian is indeed a gift for Cara and Rich who went from wondering when The Call would come to now watching their beautiful daughter enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of the season. They will indeed remember their special donor angel this holiday season as well.

Friday, November 29, 2019

"War on police" - rebuttal

Police car - Photo by Free Photos/Pixabay
I posted earlier this week about a Detroit police officer who was tragically killed in the line of duty approximately four miles north of the Warrendale neighborhood. My intention was simply to memorialize an individual who lost his life while heroically protecting our city. I had absolutely no intention of dragging partisan politics into this or causing any type of debate. I simply wanted to memorialize a fallen hero.

When I shared that post on Facebook, the majority of people reacted in much the way that I expected. There was shock and outrage as well as praise for the fallen officer and prayers for his family and all other police officers. This is great and pretty much what I expected when I shared my post.

However, there’s always that one guy.

One individual in particular was rather vehement in his opinion that former President Barack Obama had started a “war on police” and this was the latest example of it. This was followed by repeated usage of Blue Lives Matter hashtag and insults directed toward those who disagreed with him. When I pointed out that a thread dedicated to memorializing a fallen officer wasn’t the best place for partisan politics, he only seemed to double down on his attacks.

This prompted me to do a little bit of research. Here’s the big headline that I want everyone to remember: a carpenter in the United States today is approximately 30% more likely to be killed on the job than a police officer.

In spite of this, no one claims that there is a war going on against carpenters. There has also never been a Carpenters Lives Matter hashtag trending on Twitter or any other social media platform.

As for the numbers, there is an estimated 950,000 carpenters working in the United States, according to official statistics. On average, one out of every 10,000 carpenters died at the workplace each year. In contrast, with an estimated 850,000 police officers in the United States, there are 0.7 out of every 10,000 who die a violent death on the job each year. This translates into a carpenter being 30% more likely to die on the job than a police officer.

Oh, and the reason why I chose carpenters for this comparison is simply because my father, grandfather, and many of my uncles worked in carpentry. I’m the misfit in my family who chose to earn a living with a cell phone and a laptop.

I suspect that much of the reason for this has to do with the fact that police officers expect to encounter danger on the job. As a result, they train and prepare for it. This training and preparation helps them to mitigate the danger and bring the number of deaths down dramatically. Carpenters, in contrast, do not expect to die on the job so they don’t take anywhere near the precautions that law enforcement officers do.

But still, I cannot help but feel that if there was a war going on against police officers - regardless of whether Barack Obama, George Soros, Hillary Clinton, or whoever else was leading it - the result would not be that they would be less likely to be killed on the job than carpenters.

As further evidence that there isn’t a war on police that Barack Obama, George Soros, Hillary Clinton, or whoever else are responsible for, I would simply point out that line of duty deaths for police officers are largely unchanged with them out of office and someone who is the polar opposite replacing them.

It’s a sad fact that I will one day again have to memorialize the tragic death of another police officer or firefighter on this blog. I dread this prospect.

My only hope is that when that tragic moment comes, I won’t have to also worry about someone hijacking the issue with partisan attacks. It is much better, in my opinion, to keep the focus on the fallen hero and the grief that his or her family and friends are going through.

This post is a part of this blog's semi-regular Friday Focus series, which endeavors to highlight news and opinions that, in my opinion, don't get as much attention as they deserve.

Please follow this blog on Facebook for more great content. I'm also on Twitter and Instagram as @fnemecek.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Detroit police officer killed in the line of duty

Officer Rasheen McClain - Photo by the Detroit Police Department
Officer Rasheen McClain was shot and killed in the line of duty last night while responding to a call on the west side. He was a 16-year veteran of the Detroit Police Department.

The Detroit Free Press reported that the suspect who is accused of shooting McClain had a lengthy criminal history. The man in question was also described as having a death wish. Their full reporting on this story is available here.

I'm thankful that the alleged shooter is currently in police custody.

On a personal note, I would like to join my fellow Detroiters in saying that while the shock and sorrow of losing a hero like Officer McClain is powerful, I take comfort in knowing that all of the angels and saints in Heaven will join in welcoming him home today.

I pray that Saint Anne, the patroness of the city he served, brings comfort and peace to the friends and family that Officer McClain was forced to leave behind.

I pray also that the Saint Michael the Archangel and Patron Saint of Police Officers watches over, guides, and protects those who protect our city tonight.

Amen.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Another attempt at regional mass transit

Commuter train - Photo by Shutterbug75/Pixabay
 Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter, and Mayor Mike Duggan of Detroit annoucned a plan to put a new regional mass transit plan before voters Washtenaw Counties are going to try one more time to get voters to approve a regional mass transit plan. I've been listening to plans like this since I was in high school. I'm currently a few months away from my 50th birthday.

I regard this as progress. At least we've recognized that Macomb County isn't going to be a part of it. I'm doubtful that Oakland County will approve it or - if they do - it will likely be so watered-down that it will be of minimal value.

My only hope is that regardless of whether Oakland County approves a watered-down version, Wayne and Washtenaw Counties move forward with a more comprehensive plan for their two counties.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Reconsidering AirBnB in Detroit

AirBnB, Detroit
Home - Stock photo from Pexels
For several months, the City of Detroit has been looking for ways to better regulate short-term rental housing. This includes popular options like Airbnb and Homeaway that have been achieving more and more success in our area.

Critics of short-term rentals point to negative the impact these services have on hotels, housing prices, and the community at large. A study published in the Harvard Business Review, for example, showed that as more Airbnb rentals happened in a given area, the local rent prices would increase proportionately. In some cities, that increase has made a difference in whether or not someone could afford to live there.

These rentals also have a detrimental impact on hotels in the area, as Forbes magazine pointed out. This is important because traditional lodging options pay more taxes and generate more jobs. If hotels are hurt too much, we lose the thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenue that they create.

Supporters, however, point out that optins like Airbnb and Homeaway allow ordinary Detroiters to generate a few hundred dollars a month in extra income from an empty bedroom or two. That extra money can be invaluable to many families.

There is also the fact that when someone stays at a hotel by a large corporation like a Hilton or Marriott, much of the income generated from it leaves our state. In contrast, when money is spent with a small local person then, as a different study by Michigan State University pointed out, that money is more likely to be spent and reinvested locally.

Clearly, the ideal solution is to find some kind of balance that works for everyone. While I don't claim to have all of the answers, I do have a few ideas. For starters, let's talk taxes.

Taxes - Stock photo from Pexels
When someone rents a hotel room in Detroit for a night, they pay a 13% tax rate but when they rent an Airbnb for the same night, they only pay a 6% tax. The difference between the two tax rates is because, while both pay a 6% sales tax to the State of Michigan, short-term rentals do not pay either the 1% tax to Wayne County to support the stadiums nor the 6% tax to support the convention center.

This, I believe, is fundamentally unfair. There's no reason to tax one option for a night's lodging at one rate while taxing a different option at less than half that amount.

Therefore, I propose that we impose an additional 7% tax on short-term rentals in Detroit to even things out. I would further propose that most, if not all, of the revenue go towards improving mass transit. I say this because the stadiums and convention center are both doing just fine as is. Meanwhile, Detroit has what has been ranked as the worst mass transit system in the nation and could desperately use the extra revenue.

We could even add an extra 1 or 2% onto Lyft and Uber rides, while we're at it as well. This would bring them in line with the taxes that we levy on car rentals or taxi cabs. It would also generate even more revenue for mass transit.

The Detroit City Council looked into this issue in 2016; concluding that such a thing is indeed possible. We may have to put the question to a ballot referendum, much like we did with taxes for stadiums and convention center. However, I don't believe that would be a significant challenge.

Neighborhood - Stock photo by Pixabay
The next challenge is in terms of regulating how many Airbnbs can operate in the city. There was an efort by the City Council earlier this year to place a hard limit on the number of these rentals that could exist. This was intended to address the impact of these operation upon the housing market, which I mentioned earlier.

While that move was well-intended, I believe a better option would be to place on limit on the percentage of residential housing stock in a given area that may be used for such things. I believe it would be appropriate for a limit of 1 or 2% of the housing stock in any one square mile for short-term rentals.

In a place like the Warrendale neighborhood, with roughly 4,000 housing units per square mile, this would mean a limit of 40-80 homes that could be used for a short-term rental. As new housing is eventually added in, the limit would increase proportionately.

These, of course, are just a few ideas. I welcome feedback either in the comments below or by email.

This post is a part of the Warrendale Detroit Blog's Friday Focus series. The series endeavors to highlight news, events, and opinions that, in the view of this blog's publisher, don't get as much attention from the news media as they deserve.

Please follow this blog on Facebook for more great content. I'm also on Twitter and Instagram as @fnemecek.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

District 7 holday party announced

Christmas | Photo by Larisa Koshkina on Pixabay
The District 7 team of Detroit invites everyone to celebrate the holiday season. They will host a holiday party on Thursday, December 5. It will run from 6 – 8 p.m. at the Brennan Pool House (21415 Plymouth Rd.), which is located at the northern end of Rouge Park.

All Detroiters are invited to attend this party. There is no charge for any residents to attend this holiday celebration.

The District 7 is a part of the City of Detroit’s Department of Neighborhoods. It includes the Warrendale neighborhood as well as the surrounding ones.

There is ample parking near the Brennan Pool House. It is also along the D-DOT Plymouth Rd. bus route. One can download a schedule for the Plymouth Rd. bus route from the D-DOT website.

This is the first of several holiday parties that will happen in the area. When more of these events are announced, I will post them to this blog.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Friends of Rouge Park to meet this Tuesday


The nonprofit advocacy group Friends of Rouge Park will have their next general membership meeting this coming Tuesday, November 19. It will start at 7:00pm at the Westside Christian Academy (9540 Bramell St.).

Their agenda for that evening will include a report from Alisha Bell. She is the President of the Wayne County Commission President as well as the Commissioner for District 7, which includes the Warrendale and surrounding neighborhoods. There will also be an update on the master plan for the park as well as reports from:

  • City of Detroit;
  • Detroit Outdoors;
  • Elite Archery;
  • Buffalo Soldiers; and
  • Motor City Mountain Biking Association.

Everyone who is interested in the future of the largest park in Detroit is welcome to attend this meeting.

Will Detroit be able to sweep this street?

DPW says they're going to sweep this - Photo by Frank Nemecek
According to the signs that are posted from one end of Ashton Ave. to the other in Warrendale, the City of Detroit's Department of Public Works is supposed to sweep the streets today. I mean, that is what the signs say.

Personally, I wonder if they're going to be able to do it. What do you think?

I mean, maybe if they got the sweepers really, really hot or something.

Update at 8:07 p.m.
The "no parking" signs are now gone. The street, however, has not been swept.

I'm totally shocked.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Job readiness workshop to be held tomorrow in Detroit

Training workshop - Illustration by Mohammed Hasan on Pixabay
The City of Detroit will host a job readiness workshop to better prepare unemployed and underemployed residents for the career that they desire. This important event will begin tomorrow, November 12 at 6 p.m. and will run until 7:30 p.m. that evening. This will happen in the St. Suzanne Cody Rouge Community Resource Center (19321 West Chicago), which is approximately one mile north of the Warrendale neighborhood.

One of the things that this workshop will discuss is the Detroit at Work program. That’s a program that provides job training and job placement assistance to Detroiters. It focuses on growing sectors such as construction, healthcare, hospitality and retail, information technology, and manufacturing.

They will also talk about financial education for Detroiters. Finally, during this workshop they will  provide advice on two other important details that are essential for getting the job you want. This is advice on how to interview for the job you want and how to dress for that job interview.

The Detroit at Work program currently has 7,249 job available in our area. More job opportunities are added all the time.

There is no charge to attend this workshop tomorrow. However, those wishing to attend are asked to RSPV by either calling Eric Fowlkes at (313) 236-3516 or emailing fowlkese [at] detroitmi [dot] gov. His email address, of course, is presented in a way that humans should be able to understand but that spam robots should find difficult.

The job readiness workshop is presented by the City of Detroit and Huntington Bank.

Help is here to get your finances in order

Getting a hand up - Photo by Tumisu on Pixabay
If you look at the statistics, it's clear that most Americans are a financial mess. The typical American family today has too much debt, not enough savings, no financial plan, no life insurance, and is basically one hardship away from financial ruin. The one ray of hope in this is that, for Detroiters at least, the Financial Empowerment Center is here to help.

The Financial Empowerment Center offers professional, one-on-one financial counseling as a free service to Detroiters. They enable residents to address their financial challenges and plan for their futures. The FEC is a partnership between the City of Detroit, the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office, and Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency.

Residents receive free, one-on-one professional counseling assistance with their finances.The FEC's professional counselors can help Detroiters take control of their debt as well as:

  • Deal with debt collectors;
  • Improve your credit;
  • Build your savings;
  • Create a budget and create a plan to stick to it; and
  • Find safe and affordable financial products.

These professionally trained counselors support their clients in navigating complex financial challenges and choices. They help Detroiters identify and meet present challenges and future ambitions. Counseling services are integrated into other social services including housing and foreclosure prevention services, workforce development, prisoner reentry, and benefits access.

All of their counseling services, including credit report analysis, are availabel free of charge. There are no income limits or residency requirements. Interpreting and translation services are available upon request.

Detroiters are invited to schedule an appointment with a FEC counselor by calling (313) 322-6222. Appointments are available at the Wayne County Treasurer's Office (400 Monroe St.) downtown or at Wayne Metro Lakeshore (7310 Woodward Ave.), in the New Center area.

The Detroit Financial Empowerment Center is funded by the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, JPMorgan Chase, Wayne County Treasurer’s Office, and the Skillman Foundation.

These tips are brought to you by the Warrendale Detroit Blog as part of our Tip of the Week series. Please check back next week for more advice on your home, money, and life. In the meantime, please feel free to follow the author Frank Nemecek on Twitter and Instagram as @fnemecek for more great content.

Review - Killng Quarry

Killing Quarry by Max Allan Collins - Cover art by Paul Mann
Who put Quarry in the crosshairs?

That’s the question that drives Killing Quarry by the bestselling author of Road To Perdition, Max Allan Collins. It hits bookstores tomorrow but I got a chance to take a look at it ahead of time.

The titular character Quarry is a Marine sniper turned hitman. He has spent the past decade killing for money; first for an agent known only as The Broker and now as a freelance hitman. His one redeeming quality is that he has always been on the right side of those contract kills.

All of this changes while he is on an assignment. Someone tries to kill him. Quarry needs to find out who and why fast.

One of the things that I find to be very impressive about Killing Quarry is how Collins managed a very successful balancing act. This is his 16th Quarry novel, which means that his character has a lot of backstory already built up.

In this installment, Collins was able to remain consistent with the legacy yet not get so caught up in it that readers who never read any of the previous installment could still understand and enjoy his story. He carefully drops enough details about the character in the first couple of chapters that a first-timer could feel caught up yet not so many details that returning readers feel weighed down.

“The Quarry books are some of our most popular and been too long since readers have had the pleasure of a new one,” explained Charles Ardai who founded and edits Hard Case Crime, which publishes the Quarry novels. “We’re thrilled to bring this classic antihero back to put him through the wringer like he’s never been before.”

One other thing that I liked about this book is the way Collins handled turning the proverbial tables on his main character. It felt authentic and engaging. In my experience, very few novelists can maintain that sense of authenticity and engagement after this many stories. Even Ian Fleming only managed to hold it together for 12 James Bond novels and two collections of short stories.

For all of those reasons, I’m proud to recommend Killing Quarry by Max Allan Collins.

Killing Quarry by Max Allan Collins is available for pre-order now on Amazon.com by clicking here or on the graphic below. It is also available at fine bookstores everywhere.


The Warrendale Detroit Blog is proud to offer occassional reviews of books that we enjoy.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Community-wide meeting this Wednesday

An avenue - Photo by Peter H./Pixabay
Over the past nine months, residents and community  groups throughout Warrendale have come together and worked with the City of Detroit’s Planning and Development Department. They are going to propose a series of projects for the built environment of this neighborhood. This includes improvements to our streets, our houses, our parks, our businesses, and more.


After all of this work, it’s time for everyone to come out and see what these groups have come up with. The City of Detroit and others are eager to get feedback on everyone who lives or works in Warrendale. This is an essential part of building a community.

To that end, there will be a community-wide meeting this Wednesday, November 13 at the Dick & Sandy Dausch Campus NFL/YET of the Boys & Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan (16500 Tireman Ave.). Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. Presentations will start at 6 p.m.

In addition, childcare will be provided on site for this meeting. If you have young ones that won’t sit through a presentation and you don’t have someone else to watch them, those facts should not be an excuse for not participating. Your voice is an important part of this meeting and that’s why there will be someone there to watch young kids while the adults talk about the future of our neighborhood.

Refreshments will also be provided for those attending this meeting.

Parking is available for this meeting in the lot at the Boys & Girls Club. If that lot fills up, additional parking will be available at the O’Live Church of God in Christ (16601 Tireman Ave.). The church is basically across the street from where this meeting will happen.

There is no cost or commitment for anyone to attend. I hope to see a lot of my neighbors in attendance this coming Wednesday evening.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Detroit is the worst city in the USA for veterans

Veterans | Illustration by tammyatWTI/Pixabay
Dear Detroit,

We need to talk.

Veteran’s Day will be upon us soon. I know this because I’ve already gotten announcements from a few different restaurants announcing specials for active and former members of the military. It won’t be much long until a series of talking heads fill our television screen talking about the debt that we owe veterans and how great our country is because of them.

That’s nice and all. But here’s the thing: Detroit was just named the worst city in the United States for veterans. At first, I thought this was just another case of some media outlet back Detroit. Again.

But this time, they brought receipts. Out of the 100 largest cities in America, Detroit ranks 83rd in the percentage of homeless veterans. We also come in at:

Those are four very big categories that show we are failing the veterans that we are calling heroes. Oh, and, by the way, it gets worse.

This the third time that Detroit has held this dubious distinction. WXYZ-TV reported on it in 2018. The Metro Times reported on this 2017. This now makes three years in a row when we have been the worst city in the United States for veterans. None of the issues addressed in either of the previous years.

Another one of these lists will come out again next year. I would really like it if Detroit was not the worst city for veterans a fourth year in a row.

Can we as Detroiters all agree on that as a goal?

Whether it’s a love for our veterans, outright anger at this problem going on for so long, or just not wanting to be the target of another one of these lists – whatever motivates to get involved; that works for me.

What can you do? I’m not sure but I’m pretty sure that anyone of these eight veterans service organizations in Detroit will have an idea about what you can do to help if you reach out to them. If anyone else has an idea, please leave it in the comments below.

We need to do better, Detroit.

Monday, November 04, 2019

10 Tips for funding a major housing repair

Home repairs in progress - Photo courtesty of Pexels
Once you reach a certain stage in your life, you begin to plan for contingencies. In your early 20s, while you are finishing a degree or starting a career, you often live paycheck to paycheck. As you grow older and build savings, earn some credit and start a family, your financial responsibility starts to grow, too -- especially once you purchase a home.

For homeowners, keeping your property healthy will be one of your top priorities. Not only is your house your family’s haven, but it’s also an investment you want to protect. Staying on top of major and minor repairs can help you stay both comfortable and secure in your investment — but it can also be costly.

Many Detroit home owners qualify for an interest-free loan to cover the cost of repairing their home provided that they meet certain income requirements or live in qualified areas of the city. Warrendale is one of those qualified area so residents of our neighborhood are eligible regardless of their income. To get the process started, homeowners need to fill out this information packet.

For those who don't live within the Detroit city limits, here are some ways to help you plan so home repairs don’t cause an unexpected blow to your savings.

  1. Start saving early and add to it often. Even if you can’t put much into savings, commit to some amount every pay period. Over time, as your salary increases or your spending habits level out, begin adding more.
  2. Take time researching the right contractors. If you know in advance who to hire, you’ll be better able to budget for major home repairs. Ask neighbors and friends for recommendations; they are more reliable than online reviews.
  3. Know what your home insurance policy covers and your deductible. Keep track of your receipts and purchases in case you need to make a claim to help with a repair. Be sure your savings account always has enough to cover the deductible.
  4. Look into taking a cash out refinance to help pay for the costs of emergency repairs. A cash for remodel option allows you to use your home equity by replacing your current mortgage with a higher-balance loan, providing you with the difference between the two to use toward repairs and improvements, like replacing a roof or installing a new HVAC unit.
  5. Tackle easy, DIY projects on your own. Minor repairs like a squeaky floorboard or a loose railing can often be fixed quickly and with simple tools. If you need instruction, there are hundreds of high quality online tutorial videos to follow.
  6. Research home loans and grants that could be available to you. If you are a veteran or are making a modification to accommodate a disability, you may be able to apply for grants or loans with a lower percentage rate.
  7. Stay on top of upkeep and maintenance. It’s easier to keep your hardwood from getting scuffed than to refinish your floors. Focus on keeping your home’s elements in top shape.
  8. Share your space. You can make extra money by renting out an extra bedroom or guest house on a site like Airbnb and VRBO. Put this side income back into your home by funding repair projects and improvements.
  9. Get warranties to cover maintenance, upkeep and damage over the years, especially on big ticket items like roofing, plumbing and appliances. 
  10. Pay off your debt. Setting a budget and working on a plan to pay off your debt will free up your income for home improvement projects. For example, some people have had success paying off credit cards quickly by transferring a balance to a card that offers 0% APR. That way you don’t wind up spending the majority of your payments in interest.

Homeowners spend an average of 1-4% of their home’s value annually on repairs. While you can’t always be prepared for every kind of repair, having a financial safety net in place will help make paying for these situations much easier.

Rarely is it one solution, but a combination of two or more can help keep repair costs manageable. Home improvement projects can make your home more appealing and enjoyable, both as a place to live and an investment to rely on.

These tips are brought to you by the Warrendale Detroit Blog as part of our Tip of the Week series. Please check back next week for more advice on your home, money, and life. In the meantime, please feel free to follow the author Frank Nemecek on Twitter and Instagram as @fnemecek for more great content. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Speed bumps come to the Warrendale neighborhood

Speed bumps on Artesian Street - Photo by Frank Nemecek
Some people love speed bumps. Others hate the things. Regardless which side of the divide you are on, speed humps have come to the Warrendale neighborhood.

Regular readers of the Warrendale Detroit Blog may recall that I reported back in May of this year about how the Department of Public Works was introducing speed humps as a means to combat excessive and dangerous speeders.

I even included details in my original post about how residents could request one of these speed bumps on their street. That information, by the way, is still available on the City of Detroit’s website.

Earlier this month, Artesian Street from W. Warren Ave. to Ford Rd. became the first street in the Warrendale neighborhood to get these speed humps. They are installed in regular intervals along this mile-long stretch of road.

Artesian, of course, is one of only four residential streets that connects from W. Warren Ave. in the north to Ford Rd. at the southern border between the cities of Detroit and Dearborn. Most of the residential streets in Warrendale come to a dead end somewhere near Kirkwood Ave, which is just north of Ford Rd. This makes it a more attractive stretch of road for speeders.

Artesian is also the only place that has a licensed day center. One is located at the southeast corner of Artesian and Whitlock Streets.

It’s not clear at this time if any other residential streets in Warrendale will get speed humps in the next few months. The one thing, however, that is abundantly clear is that speed bumps do cause motorists to slow down.

While photographing the new speed humps on Artesian Street, I witnessed several people drive over them. No one appeared willing to do so any faster than 5 m.p.h.

Now that we have one of the speed bumps in our neighborhood, I believe we as a community will have lots to talk about in the coming months about the pros and cons of having speed humps on our residential streets. As always, those conversations will be reported on by the Warrendale Detroit Blog.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Grand opening of the Minock-Whitlock Park in Detroit


It was a cold and rainy autumn day in Detroit this past Saturday; the sort of day when many souls wouldn’t think about venturing off the couch if they didn’t have to. However, for one group of Detroiters who have spent years of their lives preparing for this past Saturday, no amount of rain could possibly keep them away.

It shouldn’t be surprising then that more than 100 Detroiters came out to partake in the official opening of the Minock-Whitlock Park in Warrendale. They were joined by County Commissioner Alisha Bell, Mayor Mike Duggan, Councilman Gabe Leland, State Senator Sylvia Santana, and Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib were there to cut the ceremonial ribbon and celebrate this moment.

A couple of years ago, a series of three vacant and blighted houses sat on this stretch of land at the northeast corner of Minock and Whitlock Streets. The City of Detroit managed to demolish the dilapidated houses but that still left empty land in its place.

The crew of volunteers who have spearheaded the In Memory Of Community Garden across the street decided to intervene. With support from the City of Detroit, the Land Bank Authority, and corporate sponsors, they were able to transform this vacant land into a safe and fun place for neighborhood kids to play.

This same group of volunteers also worked with the City of Detroit to establish the In Memory Of Orchard, which is near the garden at the southeast corner of Auburn and Whitlocks Streets.

The group plans to expand the existing playscape to include monkey bars once additional funds can be raised.

The Minock-Whitlock Park is open every day from dawn to dusk.

Housekeeping for this blog

Housekeeping - Image by Tumisu/Pixabay
I want to take a moment to talk about a few housekeeping points as they relate to the Warrendale Detroit Blog. I spent much of this past weekend making a few changes to this site to make sure that it functions better. My hope, though, is that these changes will not be noticeable to most of my readers.

The first change that I made is that I archived all of the articles on this blog from prior to 2018. In January of next year, I will probably also archive the ones from 2018.

When there are a few thousand pages online representing almost 15 years worth of content, search engines like Google, Bing, and others have trouble keeping all of them straight. This is made even worse by the fact that much of the content is already outdated, is filled with links that no longer work, and is formatted in a way that is not optimal for the search engines of 2019.

If anyone ever needs to see any of the old content, please drop me a line and tell me what you’re looking for. I will do my best to retrieve if for you manually.

The second change that I made is to update some of the sites that I link to in the right-hand column of this blog. Back in 2005, for example, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Christopher were two separate parish communities. Since then, they have merged into one and only have one website.

If there are any websites that you think I should link to, please feel free to leave a comment below. I always appreciate a little feedback.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

WXYZ-TV features a Warrendale community garden in a news segment


WXYZ-TV featured the In Memory Of Community Garden (6551 Minock St.) in a news segment yesterday evening.They mentioned the impact that it has had on our portion of Detroit; transforming a series of vacant lots into an asset for the Warrendale neighborhood. The best part, in my opinion, is that they also highlighted one of the things that makes this community garden different from any of the other ones.

The In Memory Of Community Garden is the first, and so far only, garden to partner with the Detroit Detroit Police Department on their Project Greenlight campaign. This means that there are surveillance cameras on the property that silently monitor the streets around it. The video feed from those cameras, of course, is monitored by DPD headquarters.

This enables the garden to act as both a deterrent to crime and also as a tool for police to identify any situations that they need to respond to. This is one more thing to help keep Warrendale safe.

Prior to this, the Project Greenlight locations have mostly been gas stations, liquor stores, and other commercial structures along the main corridors. This leaves the residential side streets vulnerable and its a vulnerability that is only made worse when criminals who want to avoid the Greenlight cameras start cutting through side streets.

The hope is that with more of these participating locations coming onto residential side streets, there will be fewer criminals cutting through to avoid surveillance on the main strips.

I, for one look forward to seeing more of these cameras in residential areas.


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The state of Detroit's real estate market in 2019

detroit
The internet is losing its mind - Photo by Mandyme27/Pixabay
I posted an article to this blog yesterday pointing out that a home on Greenview Street was up for sale. This was part of my Featured Place to Live series where I highlight some of real estate opportunities in Warrendale neighborhood in Detroit. The asking price for this home I reported, was $79,900.

And the internet promptly lost its mind.

Within minutes of that article going online, my social media notifications started to blow up as one person or another wanted to comment on how delusional it was for a home in this part of Detroit to command such a price. Even asking for such a price, some individuals argued, was preposterous.

There were a few people who took this news in stride. They may have expressed a healthy amount of skepticism or been cautious in their optimism. What they did not do, though, was argue that homes in Detroit aren’t worth anything, that no one wants to live here, or any other such thing.

At this point, I should say that I had a completely different article planned for today. I was going to talk about some of the best places to go trick-or-treating since we are so close to Halloween at the moment. However, with so many people reacting so strongly to the idea of a home in the Warrendale neighborhood of going on the market with an asking price of $79,900, I felt it best to put original article aside for a moment and focus on this.

In the space below, I will provide some of the various reasons why one person or another was indignant at the such real estate pricing. While my comments are about the Warrendale neighborhood in particular, I feel that most of this applies to much of Detroit as a whole.

The comments in bold below are summary of a point that someone tried to make yesterday. Those comments are followed by my rebuttal.

The neighborhood is nothing like it was at some point in the past.
While it’s true that Warrendale and the other neighborhoods in Detroit have declined since their heyday, it’s also true that there have been substantial improvements in the quality of life here in recent years and that all signs point towards this trend continuing.

To put this in perspective, 20 years ago, a three-bedroom home in Warrendale would go for what in today’s dollars is roughly $140,000. Detroit still had a multitude of problems in the late-1990s and homes in the area were still able to command a six-digit price.

While the area was hit hard during the mortgage crisis of 2007-2008 and hasn’t fully recovered, I have to ask: is it really unreasonable that a house today should command a price of half of what it was prior to the mortgage crisis?

Personally, I don’t think so.

Detroit isn’t as good as [fill in the blank with some other city]
Again, Detroit has its problems. A piece of real estate in much of the city isn’t as valuable as a similar property in other parts of the country or even other parts of Michigan. However, I feel I should point out one key detail: the median selling price of a single-family home in the United States is $240,000, according to the January 2019 edition of Kiplinger.

If the outlying neighborhoods of Detroit were as good of a purchase right now as some of your other communities then that house on Greenview would have an asking price around $240,000; not $79,900.

[Fill in the blank crime] happened recently at a location nearby
First, crime happens everywhere.

Everywhere.

The only communities that don’t have a certain level of crime present are the ones who don’t have a certain number of people present.

Second, while crime is still a very serious issue in Detroit and the city is still one of the most dangerous in the United States, the crime statistics do show a slight slowdown. I would also say that this community’s current levels of crime and poverty are a large part of why that home on Greenview is asking $79,900 and not a figure much closer to national averages.

Warrendale is still a part of Detroit
Yes, it is. And you know what?

This home nine miles away in the Midtown neighborhood that’s selling for $319,900 and this one 11 miles away in downtown that’s selling for $430,000 are both also in Detroit. Oh, and this one eight miles away in the Corktown neighborhood that’s selling for $364,900? Yeah, that one is in the city of Detroit as well.

Does this mean that homes in Warrendale will soon be selling for $300 - $400,000 anytime soon?

Probably not.

It does, however, establish that the mere fact that a home is within the Detroit city limits does not mean that it’s worthless.

Oh, and then there’s my favorite criticism of all. The one that I deliberately saved for last.

It’s just not worth it
There are a thousand or so homes in the Warrendale neighborhood that are currently occupied on a rental basis. The landlords, generally speaking, have relatively little trouble finding people to rent those houses. They have, in fact, been getting around $850 per month for those homes and they’ve been getting that price for several years now.

And here’s why that is important.

If someone bought a home in Detroit for $102,250 and financed it entirely with no money down then, between his or her mortgage payment, property taxes, and homeowners insurance, he or she would pay approximately $850 per month, according to the mortgage calculator at Quicken Loans. It stands to reason, therefore, that home is this area should be selling for somewhere in the vicinity of $102,250.

detroit mortgage
Screengrab from Quicken Loans by Frank Nemecek
But the purchase of a home in the area for $79,900 is preposterous? I don’t think so.

Time will tell whether or not the home on Greenview really does sell for $79,900. I believe that it’s more than worth it and there are programs out there to help with the financing of such a purchase.

For now, I simply wish that folks were better able at accepting a little bit of good news every once in awhile.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Featured Place to Live: 6516 Greenview

house home
6515 Greenview - Photo by Century 21

The housing market in Warrendale is not only improving, but improving dramatically. This point has been documented in a recent article in Hour Detroit as well as at Realtor.com and elsewhere. More importantly, in my opinion, the rate at which our local market is improving seems to be accelerating.

For all of those reasons, I have decided to bring back my weekly series the Featured Place to Live for this blog. This was one of my most popular features before the city’s bankruptcy and other local problems. With significant progress made on all of those fronts, I’m bringing it back and will highlight a residential property in our corner of Detroit every Tuesday.

The Featured Place to Live for this week is 6515 Greenview St, which. is a four-bedroom colonial that on the market and priced at $79,900. This home has a large living room and hardwood floors underneath its carpeting. It also has a newer furnace and central air conditioning as well as two full bathrooms and a finished basement.

One of the details that I personally like the most about this home is that there is a balcony off each of the two upper bedrooms. While having a balcony attached to one’s bedroom might be common place in Bel Air or Beverly Hills, California, there are very few homes for sale in Detroit that offer such an amenity.

This home was originally built in 1928 and was remodeled in 2015. It has a total of $2,624 square feet across its two stories.There is also a detached garage at the rear of the property.

6515 Greenview is located on Greenview Street in between Whitlock and Paul in the Warrendale neighborhood of Detroit. This is rather popular area with very few vacant homes on the block.

This home is offered by Ali H. Saad of Century 21 Curran & Oberski in Dearborn Heights. There aren’t any open houses currently scheduled for this property. However, private viewings are available by contacting Sadd; his contact information is available on his website.

Financing for this purchase is available through the Detroit Home Mortgage program if the buyer intends to make this his or her primary residence. For those who are looking at this home as an investment property, the seller is willing to finance its sale through a land contract.

For all of these reasons, 6515 Greenview is your Featured Place to Live in Detroit for this week. Please stop by next week when I highlight another of the fantastic real estate opportunities in the Warrendale neighborhood.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Ribbon cutting at Minock Whitlock Park this Saturday

ribbon cutting stock image
Ribbon cutting - Stock illustration courtesy of Needpix.com
After months of construction and preparation, it is finally time for the Warrendale neighborhood to join together and celebrate the new Minock-Whitlock Park (6548 Minock St.) with an official ribbon cutting celebration. We will have one this Saturday, October 26. Several Detroit dignitaries are expected to be on hand for this event that starts at 2 p.m. at the park.

The Minock Whitlock Park is a series of three lots in our Detroit neighborhood that were previously vacant and a blight to the community. With thousands of volunteer hours and funding from several different sources, this land has been transformed into a pocket park that is complete with a playscape for local children.

This transformation was spearheaded by Barb and Joe Mattney who also led the In Memory Community Garden (6551 Minock St.), which is directly across Minock Street from the playground, and the In Memory Of Orchard (6700 Auburn St.), which are nearby. They were not alone in their efforts to bring this park to life. Building it was a community effort that numerous community members took part in.

Everyone in Detroit is invited to attend the ribbon cutting this Saturday. Children, in particular, are invited to wear their favorite Halloween costumes to the park.

After the ribbon cutting ceremony, there will be cider and donuts as well as a pumpkin patch at the In Memory Of Community Garden. Again, everyone in Detroit is invited to attend this as well. It will be a celebration of dreams and sweat that made this happen for our neighborhood.

The park is located at the northeast corner of Minock and Whitlock Streets; hence its name. It will be open from dawn to dusk every day throughout the foreseeable future. There is no charge to use this park and the public is welcome.

Governors in Detroit to talk infrastructure + cybersecurity


Detroit is hosting a series of high-profile meetings that revolve around infrastructure and cybersecurity. The first of these meetings happened this past Thursday and Friday when the National Governors Association met at the Westin Book-Cadillac (1114 Washington Blvd.) downtown.

During this meeting in Detroit, Governors from across the United States as well as infrastructure policy and technology experts discussed emerging trends and best practices for securing vital infrastructure against man-made and natural threats. This is the second of four National Governors Association stakeholder summits in support of Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s 2019-20 NGA Chair’s Initiative.

“While no public policy can prevent all disasters, governors and leaders across America can show real leadership, and work together to find innovative new ways to withstand disasters better, and to respond and recover more quickly,” Governor. Hogan said. “Throughout this bipartisan summit, we discussed the most effective measures that governors can take to fulfill our most important responsibility: protecting our states and our citizens.”

Governors Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Bill Lee of Tennessee joined Governor Hogan in Detroit for this meeting.They were joined by other state officials as well as executives of energy, transportation and water companies. This group explored ways to reduce threats of cyberattacks and to deal with challenges posed by extreme weather.

“As the climate changes, we must continue the work to mitigate the effects of natural disasters on our infrastructure and our communities,” explained Governor Whitmer. “Michigan is home to tough, innovative people who are stepping up and helping prepare our state for the future, whether it’s by joining in on efforts to combat climate change or keeping us safe from cyberattacks. I’m proud to work together with my fellow governors and leaders from across the country who are taking bold steps to protect us from harm.”

Climate change, the nation’s governors discovered, poses a threat to America’s critical infrastructure. Energy systems, water and stormwater facilities, and the transportation sector are all vulnerable to increasingly large and more frequent storms.

“Infrastructure connects everyone in our states,” stated Governor Lee. “From roads, to water, to electricity, to cybersecurity, we need a comprehensive and thoughtful approach to addressing these many challenges. Thanks to my colleagues Governor Hogan and Governor Whitmer for hosting this event and helping us continue to find ways to help our states solve our most pressing infrastructure needs.”

This summit was the second of four planned U.S. convenings in support of Governor Hogan’s NGA Chair’s Initiative, Infrastructure: Foundation for Success. He was joined by fellow governors and experts in Boston this past September to study measures to relieve traffic congestion. He also a study tour in Australia later that month to explore innovative funding models.

The next high-profile meeting regarding infrastructure to happen in Detroit will be the North American International Cyber Summit, which happens Monday, October 28. This will be followed by the U.S. Army Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence Symposium that will meet November 20-21. Both of these events will happen at the TCF Center (1 Washington Blvd.) downtown.