Devout Pink Partiers Turn Out Despite Rain

Thursday’s unfavorable weather wasn’t enough to keep community members from enjoying downtown Howell’s 11th annual Pink Party.

Partiers braved the rain to paint the city pink to celebrate survivors of breast cancer and to remember those that were taken too soon by the disease. The yearly event raises funds for breast cancer services and research at the St. Joseph Mercy Brighton Cancer Center. Funds from past events helped to purchase a Stereotactic Needle Biopsy System for breast cancer screening and an ultrasound unit to aid in detection. Pink Party President Diana Biermann says they hope to be able to purchase a second ultrasound unit to increase access for local women.

The rain stopped and a rainbow appeared in the sky just before the crowning of the Queen of the Night. This year’s winner is Julie Cotton of Howell who says she decided to come to the Pink Party for the first time to celebrate the memory of her friend who died just over a year ago after battling breast cancer for eight years. Cotton tells WHMI the event’s mission means a lot to her and, imagining her friend being able to attend with her adds, “…it brings tears to my eyes but I know she’s here. Her daughter used to live in Howell so I know she’s around us everyday.”

While the weather made it difficult to hold the party’s usual events, like Zumba and Cardio Drumming on the lawn of the Historic Howell Courthouse, guests still gathered for the parade of the nominated queens and were treated to live vocal entertainment provided by the Livingston Lamplighters. There may not have been as many guests as years past, but those that came still turned out dressed to impress and ready to dance the night away with fellow supporters and survivors.

Kristi Cox, a returning guest, came decked out in a large pink ball gown and a very special sash that has the pictures of women she knows and cares about that have fought breast cancer. Cox began attending the Pink Party in honor of her aunt that died of breast cancer; however this past January Cox’s mother was also diagnosed with breast cancer. Her picture has been added to the sash, near her aunt’s picture and Cox’s grandma, who had a double mastectomy in the 1950s’. Cox says in two weeks she will be going in for genetic testing to see if she and her mother carry the BRCA gene, which can increase or contribute to breast cancer susceptibility. Cox says, “It’s important what we do and I will always participate.”

Through the years, the Pink Party has raised over $200,000 for St. Joe’s Cancer Center. Event organizers expect they’ll know how much was raised at this year’s party in a couple of months. (DK)

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Bollin Wants To Explore Implementing Tolls On Michigan Roads

A local lawmaker has proposed an amendment to the House’s transportation budget plan that would require the Michigan Department of Transportation to explore the feasibility of implementing tolls on Michigan roads.

Republican State Representative Ann Bollin of Brighton Township amended the 2020 MDOT budget during House debate on Thursday to include language for a study on the viability of toll roads in Michigan. It would investigate the use of tolling in other states, federal regulations related to tolling as well as timelines and costs. The study would be submitted to the Legislature in March 2020. Republican State Representative Ann Bollin of Brighton Township says she has heard a lot at the local and state level in testimony as well as from just being out and about in the community and people often question why Michigan doesn’t have toll roads and if that could be a potential source of revenue. 35 other states in the nation charge tolls on some of their roads. The state has considered the concept before but ultimately decided against it.

Meanwhile, a divided Michigan House approved a budget plan Thursday in which sales taxes collected at the gas pump would be shifted to road repairs. Bollin supported the plan and says the House proposal streamlines and enhances the funding available for K-12 schools by removing higher education line items. Bollin says overall, the plan raises the state’s minimum per-pupil foundation allowance $180 per student for all Livingston County schools. She says early literacy and career training are special focuses as the overall school aid fund would surpass $15 billion. Finally, she says the budget plan continues investment in state programs and services crucial to protecting the environment and drinking water.

Majority Republicans have billed the shift in sales tax revenue as a key component of their counterproposal to Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s call for higher fuel taxes to fix deteriorating infrastructure. Democrats in opposition say the budget, which they referred to as a “shell game”, offers no real solutions for fixing Michigan’s transportation issues and the spending bills would create new problems by diverting money from schools and municipalities.

Michigan spends less per capita on transportation than many states but has fuel taxes that rank among the country’s highest. That’s because it assesses a sales tax on gasoline – which is rare – while the revenue primarily helps fund education and local governments. The House vote was the latest step in what could be a protracted budget process that extends into summer. (JM)

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Streetscape Input Sought From Brighton Residents, Businesses

Residents and businesses in Brighton are being asked to weigh in on what municipal planners call “streetscape design” — the signs, sidewalks benches, light poles, enhanced crossing walks, and other physical manifestations that, taken together, lead to a downtown’s overall look and character.

The Brighton Downtown Development Authority has just embarked on a project to update the downtown streetscape plan, which was developed and implemented in the ’90’s and, according to its critics, needs updating. As a result, City Manager Nate Geinzer says a special meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 25th, to get input from the public on improving the downtown’s streetscapes. The envisioned new streetscape plan — which is now just in the conceptual stage — will be part of a multi-faceted and multi-year process. The plan will be developed in consultation with Giffels Webster, the city’s planning consultants.

As one example of the evolution of downtowns, Geinzer says Brighton has more sidewalk cafes now than in the past, creating what he calls “choke points” where pedestrians are forced to walk around, and sometimes in between, those sitting outdoors at tables. Geinzer says, “The more people are enjoying (sidewalk cafes) the more you need the space to facilitate it.” He says that although they are popular, the end result is to put more pressure on the downtown’s infrastructure. Geinzer says some communities in Southeast Michigan, including Howell and Fenton, have been able to take on streetscape projects using grant money from the state. But in order to have any chance of obtaining a grant, Geinzer says Brighton needs to have a good streetscape plan in place.

For those who can’t attend the June 25th meeting, Giffels Webster is working on putting together a visual preference survey that will be distributed in the near future. And, after the input is gathered and dissected, there will be a second opportunity — targeted for July or August – to display and showcase the design concepts. The meeting, and the input process, is open to the public, and downtown businesses will be welcome to share the invitation and the survey with their customers once it is published. (TT)

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Officials Say State Street Reconstruction Project Going Good

Despite a lot of disruption, the State Street project in the City of Howell is said to be going well.

Plans call for reconstructing State Street as a festival street that is completely barrier free along with both the east/west and north/south alleys. Water mains and sewer lines are being replaced in the area, as well as storm sewer as needed and utilities are being buried. An update was provided during Monday night’s Howell City Council meeting by Project Technician Matt Davis. He said they’ve been running into a few things here and there but in general, the project is going really well despite taking place in a challenging area and tracking along the proposed scheduled for October completion. It’s about one month into the project and Davis said the removal of pavement in the alleys went very smooth with no big issues. He says they are encountering some things, like old coal chutes crews have to work around, but all in all it’s going well and in talking with property owners and businesses, all seem pretty happy with how things are going.

Updates on day-to-day activities are being sent out to Council and affected property owners and businesses, which have been well received. Mayor Nick Proctor commented that he has been making a point to stop by businesses around the area to see how they’re doing. He says all have been very complimentary of staff and while it’s a little dirty, they’re getting through it and singing the praises of staff. A meeting with property and business owners was said to be well attended and staff anticipates holding more but wants to spread them out enough for a useful exchange of information. Many council members were impressed with all of the staff praise including Councilman Randy Greene. He commented that with a disruptive project like this and having those around it singing praises instead of being upset says something really positive. Greene said having meetings is one thing but to actually act on what they’re asking for is something totally different – noting parking signs were requested and were put up by staff the same day. Davis responded that he thinks a big part of that is the people around there are excited for the project. He says they knew going in that it would be tough at times but they’re all really excited to get it completed so it’s been really nice.

As for progress, all of the storm sewer work in the private alley is done. This week, the contractor stared putting in conduit for underground electrical and installation of the water main along Peanut Row is taking place. Unfortunately, Davis says crews found a water service that was leaking and had to be repaired on Monday but service was only down for about half hour and they went door-to-door to communicate with all of the businesses in the area. He noted installation of sanitary sewer was one of the tougher parts in Peanut Row because it’s 12 feet deep and pretty close to the buildings along Grand River, but overall went smooth. Davis says they re-phased the project a little bit to try and get all of the alley work done quicker. Davis says they’re trying to do as much as they can in the alleys so they can get those paved back in and then move out into State Street where it’s a little bit more open and work affects less people. (JM)

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Traffic Caution Urged During Hamburg Family Fun Fest

The annual Hamburg Family Fun Fest is underway and police are offering some reminders for those planning to attend.

The event runs through Saturday at Bennett Park off Merrill Road and attendees are reminded that the speed limit on Merrill Road between M-36 and Strawberry Lake Road is reduced to 35 mph during that time. No pets, including dogs on leashes, are allowed on the festival grounds per Hamburg Township Ordinance. A laser light show and fireworks display is scheduled for 10pm on both Friday and Saturday. Police advise that there will be heavy traffic conditions and delays on M-36 and on Strawberry Lake Road in the area of Merrill Road. They ask that people plan ahead and seek alternate routes if possible if they’re going to be traveling in the area during that time.

Additional event information and a line-up of activities and entertainment can be found through the link. (JM)

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Hearsefest Organizers At Odds Over Annual Event

There’s apparently new controversy related to an annual event that features a parade of hearses.

Hearsefest was founded by John Colone, Hell’s un-official mayor, and the event has traditionally been held in the tiny Putnam Township hamlet. Colone was said to have canceled the event last year due to permit issues and concerns about traffic and parking but a club of hearse enthusiasts known as Just Hearse’N Around put on an event in Hell anyway last year. Now, Colone says the group and owner Frank Hadeen are using the “Hearsefest” name without permission and on the same day he planned to host the event. An event advertisement on the Just Hearse’N Around Facebook page describes it as “the original & one-and-only Hearsefest” to be held September 21st at the Fowlerville Fairgrounds.

Putnam Township Supervisor Dennis Brennan tells WHMI he’s aware that Frank Hedeen and his club are planning on taking Hearsefest to the Fowlerville Fairgrounds but noted the township is not involved in that dispute. He noted however that the township has not received any application for an outdoor event, which is required whenever 750 people or more are expected to attend. Brennan says in talks with Colone earlier this year, he indicated he was planning to hold the event without the club. Brennan says he expressed event-related concerns and requested Colone submit an application several months in advance so that they could work with him to overcome obstacles and help him to have a successful event. An application must be received no less than 90 days in advance of the event but Brennan says there has been no further communication with Colone so he doesn’t don’t know if an event is planned or not. Brennan added that Colone has been made aware that he will be fined if he promotes the event without obtaining a permit and fined again if he holds the event without a permit.

Hearstfest organizers have since told WHMI that they dispute Colone is the founder of the event and that he has merely served as the host up until last year. They also say that the only reason they have moved it to the Fowlerville Fairgrounds is because of the permit issues with Putnam Township. (JM/JK)

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Party Set To Make Downtown Howell Pink Again

Whatever the weather, organizers of an annual celebration to help fund local cancer research say downtown Howell will be pink tonight.

The 11th annual Howell Pink Party will take over downtown starting at 5pm. President Diana Biermann tells WHMI the event is about supporting and celebrating breast cancer survivors while also providing exclusive giveaways and access to local retailers through the purchase of $25 passports.

Women who purchase the passports in groups of eight or more will get personally escorted around town by one of the tuxedo-clad men who volunteer for the event. Various forms of entertainment including massage stations, belly dancing, Zumba, live musical entertainment and food and wine tasting are all part of the event, which will run until 10pm, ending with a Queen of the Night contest.

Through the years, the Pink Party has raised over $200,000 for breast cancer services and research at the St. Joseph Mercy Brighton Cancer Center, which is an official partner of the event. Funds in the past raised by the event were able to purchase a Stereotactic Needle Biopsy System, which provides a more cost-effective and less invasive method for breast cancer screening. Andrea Barksdale is the Breast Imaging Manager for St. Joseph Mercy, and says last year’s event was able to raise enough money for an ultrasound unit to aid in detection and they are hoping to obtain a second ultrasound unit to increase access for local women.

Details are available through the link below. (JK)

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Proposals Sought For Hartland SOUP Crowdfunding Event

An upcoming gathering will combine a quick and easy meal with a chance to jump-start some local ideas and turn them into reality.

Hartland SOUP is a community micro-funding dinner in which guests pay $5 and receive a meal of soup, salad, bread and dessert, and a vote towards ideas pitched by other guests. After the various projects are presented, the crowd will vote for their favorite and the winner will receive the money collected at the event to put toward bringing their outreach effort to fruition. Stefanie Furge, Communications Manager for Hartland Living, says some of the projects that have been presented or have won in the past include the Hartland Home and Garden Club’s idea to plant a garden at the Cromaine District Library and a cleanup effort by a local Girl Scout troop at the Hartland Village Library.

Speaking to community members’ proposals Furge tells WHMI, “The only thing we ask is that it be something for our Hartland community and that they come back at a later SOUP and tell us what they did with the money and give us an update.”

Furge encourages community members with ideas and projects to submit their proposal as event organizers have yet to receive any submissions for the upcoming gathering. A link with event and submission details is posted below. (DK)

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Brighton Township Officials Review Study, Set Focus Groups For Master Plan

Brighton Township officials met to discuss a resident survey and confirm focus groups as they prepare a review of the master plan.

The master plan is the document municipalities use to guide their future growth and development, which must, by law, be reviewed every 5 years. With Brighton Township’s time come, a steering committee met Wednesday night comprised of members of both the Board of Trustees and Planning Commission. First up was a review of a township-wide survey, with community highlights. Brighton Township Planner Kelly Mathews shared some of the insight gained from it. 70% of respondents said they chose Brighton Township for its rural setting, and 50% consider that rural character to be its greatest asset. There was a large interest in preserving historic properties along with a desire for more walking and bike trails and paths. A consultant helping the township with the survey and master plan process was impressed by the number of responses received. Over 1,400 residents from 22% of the township’s households weighed in.

The steering committee spent the remainder of meeting confirming focus groups that will help in the next step of the master plan process. Residents and stakeholders from 5 different groups – housing, business, institution, pathways & parks, and conservation & heritage will meet up to 3 times in the coming months to discuss what is important to them within their category for consideration into the plan. In each group will be a liaison and back- up from the board or planning commission.

The steering committee will meet next on August 21st. They plan on holding a township-wide public hearing on the master plan in early September, once vacations are over and kids are back in school. (MK)

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Brighton Historical Society Hosting Traveling Women’s Suffrage Exhibit

A traveling exhibit about the Women’s Suffrage movement is now on display in the City of Brighton.

The Michigan Women’s History Center has assembled 11 panels that describe the history of the suffrage movement in Michigan. The panels will be displayed at the CoBACH Center located on Main Street in downtown Brighton through August 23rd. The exhibit’s first event was held earlier this month and focused on how Michigan women won the right to vote. The next presentation is a suffrage debate that will have six separate events in July. The last event will be a celebration on August 18th recognizing the Equal Rights Amendment.

The women’s suffrage movement was a decades-long fight to win the right to vote for women in the United States. It took activists and reformers nearly 100 years to win that right, and the campaign was not easy: Disagreements over strategy threatened to cripple the movement more than once. But on August 26th, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was finally ratified; enfranchising all American women and declaring for the first time that they, like men, deserve all the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

Details about the Women’s Suffrage exhibit at the Brighton Historical Society can be found at the link below.

Pictured: Lynn Strong at the “How Michigan Women Won The Vote” presentation. Facebook photo.

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