2022 — The Year in Review — | News for Fenton, Linden, Holly MI
The tri-county area saw many changes and excitement last year. From elections, fires in downtown Holly and Fenton, road construction, farmers markets, festivals, the federal government renaming Squaw Lake as Aanikegamaa Lake and more, residents had much to talk about in 2022.
The fire that destroyed or damaged several businesses in downtown Holly in June stands out as one of the biggest stories of the year because it impacted so many people and businesses.
The following are some of the Times’ biggest stories that the editorial department followed throughout the year.
After 40 years of providing the finest chocolates and treats to Fenton, Carol Schuler, owner of Sweet Variations retired in January 2022. Her candy store used to be located where Bridal Loft is now located downtown. In 2016, she relocated her store to N. Fenton Road in Fenton Township behind Sagebrush Cantina.
Last winter, Fenton City Council indicated it would be investing $30 million in infrastructure, which includes water, sewer, local streets, sidewalks. This would be done utilizing some federal and state funding.
Controversy began in October 2021 when Picasso Landscaping, owned by Brian Dennis, requested approval of a site plan and a special land use permit for property on Meadowridge Drive near Fenway Drive. Confusion over whether there would be concrete crushing resulted in talks being tabled. The Fenton Planning Commission eventually approved the site plan and special land use request for Picasso Landscaping during its March 24, 2021 meeting. Dennis filed a lawsuit against the city seeking monetary damages in excess of $25,000 along with a reversal of the denial of a special land use permit for the concrete batch plant and to remove restrictions on his current operations. This court case is pending.
The Fenton Community Expo celebrated its 37th year in March 2022. It was held in person at Fenton High School.
In May 2022, Fenton City Council approved a $4.1-million contract with Waldorf & Sons, Inc. for its 2022 Local Roads Program.
On June 3, 2022, after nearly 27 years with the Fenton Police Department, Police Chief Jason Slater retired. Lt. Jeff Cross has been serving as acting chief since that time.
After a year of intricate work, Ronny Medawar, owner of Medawar Jewelers began the final steps of repairing the four-sided fire hall clock tower in June 2022. The clock had not worked in several years and the owners of the Fenton Fire Hall restaurant commissioned Medawar in July 2021 to make the repairs.
One week after the massive fire in downtown Holly, a fire broke out in downtown Fenton on June 28, 2022, causing damage to the El Topo restaurant and Relief & Resource Co. on Mill Street, as well as an adjacent barn. The barn was destroyed and the damaged restaurant was torn down in December.
In August 2022, the Fenton Downtown Development Authority announced the purchase of the former Deehl Chiropractic property on Pine Street at E. Caroline Street. Once the building is removed, the city plans to put in parking spaces as well as a storage garage and training space for the fire department.
This past summer and fall, Torrey Road, from North Road to the northern city limits was rebuilt for a total of $1.3 million. Work also included a sidewalk from North Road to Georgetown Parkway.
In August 2022, the Fenton Planning Commission approved the final site plan for ALDI grocery store, which is proposed to be built between Target and the Fenton High School property.
After two years in an alternate format due to COVID, the St. John Applefest was held in person once again from Sept. 15-18, 2022. The event was deemed a success and the golf outing in memory of Ron Lockwood was sold out.
Also in September 2022, the Fenton Trolley, a free service of the Mass Transit Authority (MTA), started operating in Fenton.
In October 2022, Pat Lockwood, the city’s mayor pro tem, received the Jim Sinclair Exceptional Service Award from the Michigan Municipal League.
On Oct. 24, 2022, Fenton City Council approved an estimated $389,218 for the Veterans Memorial Park Project, which will be constructed at Fenton Freedom Park. The city expects the project to be completed in time for Veterans Day 2023.
A Fenton family with seven kids was able to spend Christmas 2022 in their newly renovated home. The project of Fenton Area Resources and Referral Network, Inc. (FARR) was nicknamed Miracle on Sixth Street. Community members, several local businesses and the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office joined forces to make the family’s home safe again.
The Vault, Tavern Kitchen & Bar, B&M Crane, City Electric, Fastnal, Phoenix Gymnastics, Crumbl Cookies, AMD Urgent Care, Torch Tobacco, 2941 Mediterranean Street Food, Shwarma and More, Fenton Pharmacy, Beale Street relocated to N. LeRoy Street, Provision Living of Fenton, Godwin’s Furniture, Hotworx, Dr. King Pain Management, Henn Racing Technologies
On Jan. 19, 2022, Holly Township Treasurer Mark Freeman announced that he would be retiring after 13 years of service on Oct. 30, 2022. In December 2022, the Holly Township Board of Trustees held a special meeting and voted to appoint Jen Ryan of Holly as treasurer. Holly Township Supervisor George Kullis said Ryan’s resume is stellar. She is on maternity leave and will begin her duties with the township Jan. 30.
It was announced in March 2022, that the 2020/2021 N. Holly Road resurfacing project, from north of Grange Hall Road north to the Genesee County border, a partnership of the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC), Holly Township and the village of Holly, was recognized by the American Public Works Association (APWA), Detroit Metro Branch. The APWA chapter named the road project the 2021 Project of the Year in the $1 million to $5 million category.
A severe storm and weak EF-0 tornado on July 11, 2022 caused damage through the tri-county area. Strong winds damaged homes on the east side of Lake Fenton in Fenton Township. The storm traveled at a southeast direction. The Red Riding Hood Stables on N. Holly Road in Holly Township, owned by George and Chrissy Kutlenios, sustained heavy damage. This came after their other business, the Holly Hotel in downtown Holly was heavily damaged by fire on Tuesday, June 21.
During the November 2022 election, Holly Township residents approved a proposal to add two seats to the Holly Township Board of Trustees. The proposal passed by a vote of 2,916 to 2,207. The board of trustees will go from a five-seat board to a seven-seat board.
Holly Village was the site of two movies being filmed in January 2022. Christmas at the Holly Hotel and Cupid’s Christmas were filmed in the downtown area and featured several local residents. The movie about the Holly Depot debuted in November 2022 and the movie, Christmas at the Holly Hotel debuted in December 2022.
On Feb. 8, 2022, Holly Village Council approved an ordinance amendment that would allow Holly Village to grant business licenses to qualified applicants to open recreational marijuana establishments. On June 28, 2022, Holly Village Council approved two marijuana retail licenses, one for The Brand Labs and one for Lume Cannabis Co. Village Manager Jerry Walker said he expects the businesses to open this winter.
Walker said the winter and spring of 2022 was a time of study and investigation for the council as they evaluated the pros and cons of granting cannabis licenses. After much consideration they decided to issue two retail cannabis licenses, dispensaries, along with other licenses for grow, processing, testing, etc…
The licenses were issued to Lume Cannabis Co. for a dispensary on Grange Hall Road at N. Holly Road and The Brand Labs (Cloud Cannabis) for a dispensary on N. Saginaw Street (in the former Johnson Pontiac dealership).
Walker said the decision to issue the licenses was to allow the village to better regulate the industry locally, instead of having them place an initiative on the ballot which would have little or no regulation.
“The natural fear is that with the dispensaries, crime would follow. That is not the case,” he said. “The investigation by our police chief revealed that this did not occur in similar communities in which these licenses were issued. In addition, the licenses generate some revenue for the village, as well as transforming two blighted properties into compliance.”
In the Grange Hall Road project, it will lead to the widening and improvement of the Grange Hall/N. Holly Road intersection as the Marathon station rebuilds in conjunction with the Lume project.
At approximately 4 p.m. on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, a fire broke out at Battle Alley Arcade Antiques in downtown Holly. With strong winds and temperatures in the 90s, the fire quickly spread to nearby businesses. The fire raged for hours. The antique shop was destroyed and the Holly Hotel, the Holly Moose Lodge, Andy’s Place, Creative Fashions of Holly, RHL Financial Group and Ziggy’s Ice Cream were damaged. The historic Holly Hotel sustained heavy damage and the owners have said they are committed to rebuilding. There have been fundraising efforts to help the other businesses and employees who lost their jobs due to the fire.
Walker said in all over 20 fire departments and 200 fire fighters responded to battle the blaze. “Fortunatiely, due to the quick response and heroic efforts of the first responders, which included fire, police, DPW and EMS, the damage was contained and did not engulf the entire downtown,” he said. “While damage was well over a million dollars it will be rebuilt. We have lost some history for sure but the buildings will be rehabilitated, or in the case of the Arcade rebuilt, in historic character, and they will be built to code and be safer.”
The Vietnam Moving Wall was installed at the Karl Richter Campus on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022. Hundreds of people attended the opening ceremony. The memorial remained in Holly for several days.
During the November 2022 General Election, the voters in Holly Village approved a 15-year, 3-mill millage for fire and police services. Holly Village Council approved the millage proposal Feb. 8, 2022. In July 2022, Holly Village Council learned that the millage was accidentally placed on the August ballot at the county level. Village council then voted to keep the millage on the November 2022 ballot and invalidating any August election results.
During a special meeting on Nov. 7, 2022, Holly Village Council voted 4-1 to censure Councilmember Ryan Delaney for violating the village’s code of ethics for council members. A candidate for village president, Delaney was elected president the next day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.
NORTH OAKLAND COUNTY FIRE AUTHORITY, ROSE TOWNSHIP, HOLLY TOWNSHIP
On March 9, 2022, during a Rose Township Board of Trustees meeting, Supervisor Dianne Scheib-Snider admitted that she was attempting to remove NOCFA fire chief, Jeremy Lintz.
On March15, 2022, the NOCFA Board of Directors citizen-at-large, Peter Stouffer submitted his resignation.
On April 14, 2022, Rose Township Treasurer Paul Gambka announced his resignation from the NOCFA Board.
On April 18, 2022, Scheib-Snider announced her resignation from the NOCFA Board.
On April 26, 2022, the Rose Township Board of Trustees voted to appoint Rose Township Trustee Glen Noble to the NOCFA Board. They also voted to appoint Gambka back to the NOCFA Board.
On June 6, 2022, the NOCFA Board appointed Brad Stilwell of Rose Township as the citizen-at-large for a two-year term.
On Dec. 15, 2022, Noble’s seat became vacant when he submitted his resignation to the Rose Township Board of Trustees. Rose Township Clerk Debbie Miller was then appointed to the NOCFA Board to represent Rose Township.
In September 2022, the NOCFA Board approved a three-year contract for the full-time firefighters’ union.
By a vote of 1,076 to 656, the residents of Rose Township approved the Fire Protection and Emergency Medical Services Operating Millage during the Primary Election on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022.
Members of the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks (MAMC) elected Rose Township Clerk Debbie Miller as the 2022 “Township Clerk of the Year.” A veteran of four presidential election cycles (2008, 2012, 2016, 2020), Miller has earned certification as a Master Municipal Clerk by the IIMC, and her MiPMC level II from the MAMC. She was elected in 2008, after years of service in the private sector as a Project Manager and earning her MBA.
On Dec. 15, 2022, Rose Township Trustee Glen Noble submitted his resignation letter to the Rose Township Board of Trustees. His resignation from Rose Township duties also removed him from his duties serving as a board member on the NOCFA Board of Directors. He had been appointed to the NOCFA Board during a special meeting on Tuesday, April 26, 2022. The township seeks to appoint a new board trustee.
The fence around Rose Center Cemetery on Milford Road was replaced for approximately $31,000. Replacement was necessary after it was damaged by a vehicle driven by an intoxicated driver in February.
On June 27, 2022, the Oakland County Election Commission approved recall language regarding the recall of Rose Township Supervisor Dianne Scheib-Snider and Treasurer Paul Gambka. The recall language was submitted by Rose Township resident Don Speace. Enough valid signatures, however, were not obtained to place the recall on an election ballot.
The Tyrone Township Historical Society held an online auction to help raise funds to relocate the historic Town House, which sits on former Tyrone Township property. The historical society also hosted a Pioneer Day on July 23, 2022.
Tyrone Township Clerk Marcella Husted resigned from her clerk’s position Feb. 1, 2022. On March 16, 2022, the Tyrone Township Board of Trustees named Pam Moughler as the new clerk. Moughler was reelected as clerk in the November 2022 election.
The voters in the Holly Area Schools district approved a renewal of the $97 million bond for district-wide improvements and the construction of a new middle school in the May 2022 election. In the November 2022 election, Lisa Oaks, Jennifer Young and Liz Cunningham were elected to the Holly Board of Education.
FENTON AREA PUBLIC SCHOOLS
On March 9, the Fenton Board of Education named Mike Bakker as the new principal of Fenton High School. Superintendent Adam Hartley stepped down June 30, 2022 and the school board named Heidi Ciesielski, the former teaching and learning executive director, to be superintendent, effective July 1, 2022. Mike Pearce, Ashley Prew and Renee Juhl were elected to the school board in the November 2022 election. Voters also approved a sinking fund millage renewal.
LAKE FENTON COMMUNITY SCHOOLS
During the Aug. 2, 2022, election, voters in the Lake Fenton Community Schools district approved the renewal of the school district’s sinking fund millage. Approval of this .9846 mill sinking fund millage for the next 10 years allows the school district to continue to levy the building and site sinking fund millage that expires with the 2022 tax levy.
In the November 2022 election, Michael Peraino and Shannon Elenbaas were elected to six-year terms.
Holly Academy welcomed Derrick Bushon as its new director/superintendent and Christopher Kidd as its new curriculum director and middle school administrator at the beginning of the school year.
On the Linden Community Schools Board of Education, one incumbent kept their position as trustee and a newcomer will join the board after the Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, election. Incumbent Steve Murphy and newcomer Brook Hansen were elected to six-year terms.