This year marks the 30th that I’ve been covering Livingston County news, with the first 20 of those 30 years at the Livingston County Press and Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, and the last 10 at The Livingston Post.
While at the local newspaper, we’d determine the Top 10 stories each year using a very scientific, holiday-themed, pizza-fueled meeting of staffers during which we’d choose and rank them from nominations. I thought it would be fun to go through the list of the top stories during my time at the paper.
This was the year I started working at the Livingston County Press, first as a special writer, then as a full-time place-holder for a reporter unable to start right away, and then as a staff writer. It was my first and last job as a newspaper reporter; you can read about that by clicking here.
My first story, by the way, was about street fighting outside the Shady Lady bar in Fowlerville. It made the front page.
Controversy and strife dogs the Howell Public Schools throughout 1990. But after a very turbulent period — during which the district endured millage defeats, protesting employees, a near-strike by teachers, and criminal sexual conduct charges filed against a school board member — the year ends on an up note for Howell’s schools, as voters approve two parts of a $26 million bond issue.
OTHER BIG STORIES
• Paige Marie Renkowski’s car is found on I-96 near Fowlerville Road, but she was missing. We still don’t know what happened to her.
• Timothy Hensick, attorney and secretary of the Howell Board of Education, is charged with three counts of criminal sexual conduct for assaulting a client.
• Four members of the Brighton Township Board are recalled, the first successful such effort in Livingston County in 30 years.
• Ramco-Gershenson, a Southfield development company, pitches a commercial development on Challis Road in Brighton.
The situation was nothing less than critical for the Howell Public Schools in 1991. If a 30.55 mill renewal had failed in a Sept. 10 vote, the school district would have been forced to shut its doors a month later. The millage passes by 37 votes.
OTHER BIG STORIES
• Merchants in Brighton and Howell freak out as Walmart announced it was building a store at Latson Road and Grand River Avenue in Genoa Township.
• Former Howell Public Schools Board member and attorney Timothy Hensick is found guilty of three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.
• One of the worst storms Michigan had seen in years rips through Livingston County, leaving thousands of people without power, trees down everywhere, windows blown out, and a Green Oak Township woman dead after a tree crashed down on her.
• Livingston becomes one of the first counties in Michigan to try someone under the relatively new spousal-rape law.
• Green Oak Township Supervisor Dale Brewer is recalled.
• Jon Stoppels, the former city manager of Brighton, resigns his position and then, a few months later, mounts a successful campaign for a seat on the Brighton City Council.
Serial killer Leslie Allen Williams
After the assault and abduction of a woman he had released alive, Leslie Allen Williams was sentenced in 1983 to concurrent terms of 5-10 years in the assault and abduction, with an additional 7-30 years tacked on under Michigan’s habitual offender law. In 1990 — after serving just seven years of his sentence — Williams was paroled from prison. (Click here to read more on this.)
On Sept. 29, 1991, teenage sisters Michelle and Melissa Urbin of Tyrone Township went for a walk near their home.
They never returned.
The following eight months were a living nightmare for their parents, who searched endlessly for their daughters. The entire community helped with a massive search that turned up nothing.
On May 28, 1992, Leslie Allen Williams, 38, was captured after abducting a woman from an Oakland County cemetery. People who saw the abduction alerted police, who located Williams in his car and found the woman inside the trunk.
After his capture, Williams confessed to a series of murders and crimes. Among them was the abduction, rape and murder of 16-year-old Michelle Urbin and 14-year-old Melissa Urbin; later that day, Williams led police to a shallow grave in Oakwood Cemetery in Fenton in which he had buried the sisters. Williams also confessed to killing 15-year-old Cynthia Jones of Milford and 18-year-old Kami Villanueva of South Lyon.
A series of court appearances followed, and Williams was given life sentences for each of the murders.
I discovered what being “chilled to the bone” meant as the reporter covering Allen’s court appearances. It was then that I finally understood pure evil walks among us. Allen’s allocution took place in one of Livingston County’s small courtrooms and I sat just feet behind him in the front row, next to Kathy Urbin, the mother of the murdered girls.
Listening to Williams confess his sins and describe how he killed the sisters was indescribably brutal — I couldn’t get warm when I returned to the newsroom, so I headed home to take a hot, hot bath to stop the shivering. To this day, I still can’t even imagine how devastating that proceeding had to have been for Kathy and Patrick Urbin.
Trust me when I tell you that no one — NO ONE — would have faulted Patrick Urbin at Williams’ sentencing if he had leapt over the divider and attacked Williams himself. Instead, Urbin stood in the courtroom and spoke softly and lovingly about his daughters and grieved for the future Williams had stolen from them.
On the one-year anniversary of the murders — just six days before the sentencing — a memorial gathering took place in the woods off Foley Road in Tyrone Township where Michelle and Melissa were killed. I was invited to attend, and I wrote that it “seemed to have a cleansing effect both on those attending the ceremony, as well as on the area where the girls were murdered. Some people talked about a feeling of closure, events coming full-circle, and the upcoming sentencing of Williams.”
Hours before the ceremony, the parole system reform bill on which the Urbins had lobbied so hard was signed into law by Gov. John Engler. The law makes it more difficult for criminals like Williams to be released from prison without serving their entire sentence.
“It was something we had to do for them (Michelle and Melissa),” Kathy Urbin said. “They wouldn’t have wanted us to sit around and do nothing after their deaths.”
After I was laid off from the paper, in a column about my time there, I wrote that “I’ve been humbled by the grace with which some people move through unspeakable tragedies.”
I was thinking of the Urbins when I wrote that.
OTHER BIG STORIES
• Brighton Area Schools has big board drama, including an investigation by the state AG that determined a school board member/city attorney, and a city council member/school board attorney couldn’t hold both offices at once; a hotly contested school board race; and teacher contract negotiations.
• Don Homan, a Michigan State Police veteran, pulls a huge election upset in beating Livingston County Sheriff Dennis DeBurton.
• Brighton businessman Dick Chrysler wins the Republican primary, but lost the November election for the new 8th District to Democrat U.S. Rep. Bob Carr in what is the most expensive Congressional race in Michigan that cycle.
• Fowlerville, Howell and Pinckney get new elementary schools.
• Controversial developments are pitched in Hartland Township, including a gas processing plant and a mobile home park.
• The Howell Highlander football team makes it to the state playoffs, ending the season 9-2.
• A Pinckney High School student dies after chugging a fifth of Southern Comfort while partying with a group of students in the Brighton State Recreation Area. Before he died, he passed out and was transported to the hospital with a blood-alcohol level of .388.
• Hartland High School music teacher Nancy Flanagan is named the Michigan Teacher of the Year.
The Pinckney Community Schools starts off the year with talk of privatizing busing and custodial services, and ends with four board members holding onto their seats in a bitterly contested recall election. In between, the superintendent is fired and a millage package is passed.
OTHER BIG STORIES
• Thomas Manning, a 44-year-old Howell man charged with sexually molesting children, is killed in his cell at the Livingston County Jail.
• A report of a 3-year-old girl gone missing from a gas station near the Brighton Mall sparks a huge hunt in the area, a hunt that ends when her body was found near Vestaburg with the help of a psychic. As it turned out, the child had never been in Brighton, and the man who reported her missing in Brighton — her mother’s boyfriend — is charged with her murder.
• Near record amounts of snow create a thawing problem that turned dozens of dirt roads in Livingston County into impassable pits of mud.
• A social worker is murdered at the W.J. Maxey Boys Training School in Whitmore Lake.
• Hamburg Township has a controversial year with the Strawberry Lake Sewer District, recall drives, a lawsuit against the township board by the Brighton Argus after the township pulls its legal advertising, and raises of $10,000 granted to top township officials.
Note: I left the Livingston County Press as a reporter in the fall of 1993 to become the editor of the South Lyon Herald. I was there just about a year before returning to the LCP as its editor in 1994.
The Pinckney Schools make national headlines when its board announces plans to consider privatizing the entire district.
OTHER BIG STORIES
• When U.S. Rep. Bob Carr gives up his Congressional seat to run for Senate, it paves the way for Brighton businessman Dick Chrysler to run — and win — the 8th Congressional District race.
• The Ku Klux Klan rallies at the Historic Livingston County Courthouse. A “Community Coalition” of local business, religious and government officials comes together to mount a successful counter programming campaign to keep residents away.
• Proposal A passes, raising the sales tax from 4 to 6 percent, and changing how school districts would receive state funding.
• Hamburg Township Board votes to put its legal ads back into the Brighton Argus, and bonds are sold for the Strawberry Lake sewer district.
• Three Livingston County teens are charged with killing two men at a campground in Missaukee County.
• After attacking then-state Sen. Fred Dillingham for not being “Republican enough,” Mike Rogers becomes Livingston County’s new state senator after Dillingham decides to retire.
• The Fowlerville High School wrestling team clinches the state championship.
• Brighton Area Schools loses Superintendent Dennis McMahon to a job in South Carolina, battles a $4 million budget shortfall that forces cuts in programs and services (including busing), and welcomes new Superintendent Gary Hughes.
• The Livingston County Airport’s master plan to expand the airport — and chase many Howell Township residents from their homes — goes down to defeat.
Pinckney Schools, for the third consecutive year, ranks as the top newsmaker in Livingston County, with stories about privatization, the shift in board control, and the success of its robotics program topping the headlines week after week.
OTHER BIG STORIES
• Three men are arrested on weapons charges after a traffic stop in Fowlerville — Paul Darland of Kalamazoo, Micheal Gleason of Howell, and James Alford of Detroit, who claimed ties to the Michigan Militia — disappeare before their District Court preliminary hearing. Throughout 1995 they continue to make news, as two were eventually found and brought to trial. Although local Militia leaders said the three were not connected to the organization, their alleged ties dragged Livingston County into the fray following the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
• The Imagination Station at the Brighton Mill Pond comes to fruition as 1,500 community volunteers — led by Brighton’s Jackie and Vince Price — come together to do the building. (The photo below from the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus commemorates the 10th anniversary of the Imagination Station.)
• The Hartland Consolidated Schools district finds itself the center of massive media attention after 28 members of the high school varsity football team hired two strippers to perform at a pregame party.
• The Howell area appears to be on the verge of a water agreement in which the City of Howell would provide treated water to Oceola, Marion, Howell and Genoa townships, in exchange for the townships helping to foot the bill for expansion and upgrading the city’s water plant. The plan never came to be.
• The Livingston Technical Academy — the community’s first charter school — opens its doors.
Former state Sen. Debbie Stabenow beats first-term U.S. Rep. Dick Chrysler by a 10-point margin in a race that garnered national attention.
OTHER BIG STORIES
• The Kensington Valley Factory Shops (now the Tanger Outlet Mall) opens.
• Brighton teachers challenge a state law designed to inflict monetary damages on striking educators, as district officials alleged the teachers staged an illegal one-day strike by calling in to work, forcing classes to be cancelled.
• The Howell girls basketball team make it to the state playoffs, losing the final game.
• A record number of traffic fatalities — 35 — leaves law enforcement officials wondering what to do.
• There is lots and lots of turnover on township boards as voters took a “throw the bums out” attitude at the polls.
• Fowlerville Community Schools Superintendent Dave Peden is suspended for two weeks without pay after his 1995 arrest on domestic violence charges.
• Uber’s Drugs closes after 50 years in business in downtown Brighton.
• Incumbent District Court Judge Michael Hegarty emerges victorious after a challenge from attorney Michael Merritt.
• The City of Howell settles an easement case with Joseph and Kathleen Sorentino for half a million dollars. There is also much ado on the city council over granting a liquor license to Mr. B’s Rustic Tavern; concerns over young people gathering downtown; and an odor problem involving Libralter Plastics.
What started as a domestic violence report exploded into a media circus, with everyone from tabloid journalists to talk-show hosts latching onto this Livingston County case involving parental discipline. Court TV won the rights to broadcast the trial. Deborah Skousen, a Genoa Township woman, was ordered to stand trial for assaulting her 18-year-old daughter. Prosecutor David Morse offered to drop the charges in exchange for a year of counseling, but Skousen opted instead to turn the matter into an issue of parental rights. The case went to trial — the prosecution said Skousen had lost control when she struck her daughter, and the defense claimed the case was one of the government imposing itself on American households. The six-person jury deliberated a little over an hour before finding Skousen not guilty.
OTHER BIG STORIES
• Livingston County is No. 1 in Michigan for growth
• The Livingston County Press and the Brighton Argus begins publishing twice weekly in October
• Pinckney passes a $73 million bond issue, at the time the largest-ever in Livingston County, and third-largest in the state.
• Housing prices go through the roof, as the average sales price of a Livingston County home rose over 50 percent to nearly $175,000 since 1990.
• Howell road millage goes down in flames, losing 2-1
• African American woman sues Mr. B’s for discrimination after she was told there were no jobs available. The event spawned the “Are We Racist, Do We Care” letter-to-the-editor discussion.
• LeAnn Rimes headlines the entertainment at the Fowlerville Fair
• Howell hires retail guru Bob Gibbs to do a study of its downtown
• Plans for the Tanger Outlet Mall take shape
The Howell Township Casino
Developers with the Bay Mills Tribe make a pitch in October to bring a multi-million-dollar development — the centerpiece of which would be an Indian casino — to a parcel of land near I-96 and Burkhart Road in Howell Township. As the year came to a close, Gov. John Engler had promised to veto an Indian casino in Howell, but the developers were proceeding in a very patient manner, still hopeful that slots and blackjack will someday come to Livingston County.
OTHER BIG STORIES
• Two Canadian men are charged with criminal sexual conduct involving a 13-year-old Howell girl they had met online. Adrian Rivait and his son, Damon, drove to Howell, picked up the girl, and Adrian had sex with her in a Howell motel room. Police nabbed the pair. The son ended up pleading guilty in exchange for testifying against his father. a jury convicted Adrian Rivait, and he received a hefty sentence.
• The firing of Howell City Manager Mike Herman
• Fire at Thermofil
• The Meijer Skate Park. The Meijer company donated five acres of prime real estate behinds its Brighton store for a community park — the main component of which would be a skate park.
• Drew Henson signs a $2 million deal to play for the NY Yankees,
• Developments abound at Latson Road and Grand River Avenue
• Three Brighton men are killed and one was injured on Jan. 1 as they were heading back to home from Ann Arbor after watching the Rose Bowl on TV. A vehicle driven by a drunk driver from Brighton flew over the center line of U.S. 23 and crashed into the car in which the men were driving. The driver, Donald Hokenson, was charged with second-degree murder, and pleaded guilty before his trial began.
The violence at Colorado’s Columbine High School in April sets off a slew of copycat-style bomb threats and other incidents around Livingston County.
OTHER BIG STORIES
• Latson Road/Grand River Avenue development
• Turf job involving four Hartland teens ended with a homeowner seriously injured after he jumped into a pickup truck the teens were in and was either thrown from or jumped out of it.
• City of Howell purchases the Howell Theater for $310,000
• New Pinckney High School opens
• Meijer Skate Park opens in Brighton
• After a tumultuous year on the Howell City Council and an attempted recall of council member Doug Heins after he orchestrated the firing of City Manager Mike Herman, Heins and fellow incumbent Bret Coy are voted out of office.
• Voters approve Howell Public Schools bond issue.
• The Log Cabin Restaurant in Genoa Township goes up in flames after a worker boring a hole for cable lines hits a gas main, causing an explosion.
My own personal top story of the year was this:
Sheriff Don Homan wins the Republican primary after battling Ivan Deering, a lieutenant in his department who headed up the detective bureau, in one of the “most intriguing, nastiest and most closely contested elections” Livingston County had ever seen.
OTHER BIG STORIES
• Mike Rogers wins a squeaker for the 8th Congressional District over Dianne Byrum.
• The Livingston County Press and Brighton Argus start publishing six days a week as The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus.
• Brighton attorney Theresa Brennan challenges Circuit Court Judge Stanley Latreille in a campaign in which she spent over $100,000 — a record amount for a county judicial campaign — but Latreille won by a narrow margin.
• George W. Bush became the first winning presidential candidate to have campaigned in Livingston County. He made a surprise campaign stop in Brighton, visiting with patrons at the Brighton Big Boy, and then stopping by Hornung Elemenarty School. Barbara and Laura Bush attended a rally in downtown Brighton.
• A 2,000-home development — larger than the villages of Pinckney or Fowlerville, and what would have been the largest development ever in Livingston County — was pitched for Marion Township. It never came to fruition.
• The Livingston Arts Council purchases the Howell Opera House from the Gill-Roy’s Complete Hardware owners.
Livingston County responds to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 in an emotional candlelit ceremony organized by the newspaper at the historic Livingston County Courthouse. It drew over 2,000 people.
OTHER BIG STORIES
• In an apparently racially-motivated attack, a black, off-duty Michigan State Police trooper is assaulted by two white men while he danced with a white female friend at the Metropolis Bar and Grill in Brighton.
• A tornado rips through Hartland in May, causing an estimated $2 million in damage.
• Eight Howell HS students came down with viral meningitis, and a member of the freshman football team died of eastern equine encephalitis.
• Howell attorney Mike Burke pleads guilty to embezzling $1.6 million from 27 clients and gambling all of it away at the Windsor Casino.
• Cleary’s Pub in downtown Howell sustains several hundred thousand dollars of damage after a fire — believed to have started when a cat knocked over a halogen lamp in an apartment above the restaurant — destroys that apartment, and smoke and water damages other parts of the building.
• The Hartland Consolidated Schools has to deal with a host of bomb threats made by students, all of whom were caught and expelled.
• The Howell Area Fire Authority was born.
In one of the closest races ever in Livingston County history, 22-year-old Joe June beats Dave Domas, chairperson of the Livingston County Board of Commissioners, by two votes in the Republican primary for the 47th state House district to become Lansing’s youngest legislator.
OTHER BIG STORIES
• An arsonist breaks into Howell High School and sets several fires on the second floor in and near the library, burning books and triggering the sprinkler system, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. A Howell HS freshman was discovered driving behind McPherson Middle School a couple days later with a van full of burglar’s tools and gasoline. He pleaded guilt as an adult to charges including arson and breaking and entering, and was sentenced as a juvenile.
• Hartland Township supervisor Greg Bogdanski is recalled.
• There were five domestic violence murders — including the drowning of two young children — and the suicides of two of the perpetrators.
• Bomb threats throughout the county — 11 in the Hartland Consolidated Schools District, six in the Brighton Area Schools, three in the Howell public Schools District, and one in the Fowlerville Community Schools — cost the districts thousands of dollars, hours of wasted class time, and time of law enforcement agencies and their K-9 units.
• Approximately 5,000 people helped raise over $309,000 in Livingston County’s 2002 Relay for Life even at Brighton High School.
A minivan carrying eight young people crashes on Hogback Road near Fowlerville, killing four of the passengers — including the 16-year-old driver — and injuring the other four. The accident spawned legislation in Lansing that would limit the number of passengers a 16-year-old driver could have in a car.
OTHER BIG STORIES
• The Iraq War hits home when Army Pfc. Jason M. Meyer, a Howell HS grad, became the county’s first war casualty since Vietnam.
• The Lake Chemung interchange is changed when Grand River Avenue is widened to five lanes, and the off ramp from westbound I-96 traffic is modified to a signalized “T” intersection with Grand River. The work was helped by the newspaper’s “Fix It or Nix It” campaign in which hundreds of area residents signed a petition urging the state to either fix the exit or shut it down.
• A massive power outage — which left much of Livingston County one of the only areas in southeast Michigan with power — brings throngs of out-of-county visitors in search of gasoline and supplies from stores.
• The Howell Public Schools’ $97.6 million bond issue — which would build Parker High School — becomes the largest ever approved in Livingston County.
• Jessica Fear, a 21-year-old single mother working the midnight shift at a Fowlerville gas station, is stabbed to death.
• Crop circles — thought to be a hoax — appear in a Marion Township field.
• One of Livingston County’s best-known homes, owned by Congressman Dick Chrysler and his wife, County Commissioner Katie Chrysler, goes up in flames. The cause of the fire was never determined.
• A Green Oak Township woman, more than 8 months pregnant, falls from the second-story balcony of her home onto some music equipment on the first floor, and a microphone stand impales her in the upper chest. The woman survives and she went on to deliver a healthy baby boy a short time later.
• The roundabout at Main and Third streets in Brighton opens.
The war hits home. About 170 troops from he National Guard’s 1462nd Transportation company based in Howell were mobilized and then shipped out tot he Middle East in January. A young Marine from Gregory — Lance Cpl. Michael W. Hanks — was killed during fighting in the Al Anbar province of Iraq on Nov. 17.
OTHER BIG STORIES
• Two Livingston County police officers are wounded in the line of duty on Memorial Day when they investigate a car fire. Brighton Police Officer Mike Zaccagni and Green Oak Township Police Officer Patrick Moll entered the home of the family of Steven Gyori, 19, to arrest him on an outstanding probation violation warrant from Oakland County and to question him about the car fire, when he opened fire on them with an AK-47-type assault rifle. Gyori was killed when the officers returned fire.
• L. Suzanne Geddis wins election to the district court bench (replacing Judge Frenk Del Vero), and David Reader won election to a circuit court seat (replacing Judge Daniel Burress).
• Floods cause property and other damage for some 200 Hamburg Township residents, as well as others in Green Oak Township.
• Livingston County remains the fastest growing in Michigan. There were big projects proposed, including the Green Oak Village Place Mall, a sewer system in Brighton Township, and school expansions in Fowlerville and Howell.
• Costco opened in Green Oak Township.
The Iraq War hits home in Fowlerville
Two more Fowlerville HS alumni lost their lives in the war in Iraq. Maj. Gerald Bloomfield II died in a helicopter crash Nov. 2 about 70 miles west of Baghdad, and Marine Lance Cpl. Andrew Kilpela was killed June 10 by a roadside bomb near Fallujah. Lance Cpl. Michael W. Hanks, 22, was the first Fowlerville grad to die in the war when he was killed outside Fallujah on Nov. 17, 2004.
OTHER BIG STORIES
• The community by a 2-to-1 ratio say no to a 3-mill “enhancement millage” for Livingston County’s school districts.
• Ole Gray Nash Auction in Howell puts a Klan robe in its window to advertise an auction in January that drew a protest from Howell community leaders who opposed the event. Another auction took place a few months later. By the end of the year, Ole Gray Nash lost its lease on the Howell building and moved to Stockbridge.
• The Green Oak Village Place, a 550,000-square-foot “lifestyle mall” was under construction.
• Livingston County contributed about $1 million to Hurricane Katrina relief. The paper urged residents to donate $5.55 (which would equal $1 million if every resident contributed); church groups and other organizations sent volunteers to New Orleans; “Livingston County Concert of Care” was organized by the paper; and the Howell Township and Green Oak Township 7-11 stores donated over $350,000 in goods and money, and sent a caravan full of baby formula, wheelchairs, blankets and more to the hurricane-hit region.
• Four students painted the word “love” over an anti-gay message on the large rock outside Howell High School. Other students got involved and painted “love” dozens more times on sidewalks and benches around the school property. After the students were suspended, a 1960s-style “sit-in” by hundreds of students followed.
• After the defeat of the “enhancement millage,” Brighton Area Schools Board of Education eliminates busing for high school students as part of a $2 million in cuts. Traffic of cars carrying students clogged major arteries in downtown Brighton and prompted the idea of a collection to raise the $120,000 needed to restore busing. However, less than $10,000 was collected before the school voted to restore transportation.
• Livingston County gets the double roundabout at the interchange of U.S. 23 and Lee Road in Green Oak Township, just outside the Green Oak Village Place mall.
Despite the poor economy, commercial mall development continues undeterred. Green Oak Village Place Mall opens; development take shape in Hartland; and WalMart project approved for Fowlerville.
OTHER BIG STORIES
• The economy takes a hit as housing sales suffer a major slump
• Dual roundabout in Green Oak Township leaves drivers confused
• Amid controversy, the Howell High School Diversity Club’s rainbow flag is removed because some thought it promoted homosexuality
• Brighton’s Biennial sculpture exhibit creates a buzz
• A man is arrested in the stabbing murder of Jessica Fear, a 21-year-old single mother working the midnight shift at a Fowlerville gas station
• There were big problems opening Parker High School with budget shortfalls and logistical issues
A tornado touches down in the northern part of Livingston County, damaging more than 250 homes and businesses in Cohoctah, Deerfield, Hartland and Tyrone townships.
OTHER BIG STORIES
• Two Iosco Township neighbors — Edward Gierlack, 91, and Cheryl Harper, 51 — were mauled to death in two separate incidents on Sept. 13 by four American bulldogs. The owner of the dogs, Diane Cockrell, was charged with two 15-year felonies of owning dangerous animals causing deaths.
• Homeowners deal with declining housing market
• Ann Coulter comes to Livingston County as a speaker for a sold-out Livingston Economic Club luncheon.
• Chuck Breiner’s contract causes a stir. While it doesn’t have a just cause clause for dismissal, it does have an odd guarantee that he receive an extra payment should his successor make more money than he.
The economy dominates the news, including record foreclosures, gas prices soaring above $4 a gallon, and record foreclosures taking place.
OTHER BIG STORIES
• “High School” — starring Adrien Brody and Michael Chiklis — was filmed at the empty Parker High School.
• Speaking of school, Howell switches superintendents, ousting Superintendent Chuck Breiner (and paying him over $200,000 to leave), and replacing him with Ted Gardella, who lasted all of a year. If you’re wondering where Breiner is now, click here.
The official trailer for “High School,” with lots of scenes inside Parker High School:
• Barack Obama’s historic run for the White House sees him fare better in Livingston County than any Democrat since 1964, grabbing 42 percent of the vote. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who ran against Obama, made a campaign stop during the GOP primary season for a town-hall meeting in Genoa Township,
• Inappropriate cell phone pics in Pinckney, Fowlerville schools shine the national spotlight on Livingston County.
• A double murder in Oceola Township of Richard and Brenda Kowalski, with brother Jeome Kowalski charged in the crime. This is the case that led to the downfall of Judge Theresa Brennan.
• In July, an 18-month-old toddler is found dead in her father’s truck in Green Oak Township after he forgot she was inside the vehicle. Prosecutors declined to file charges.
My big story of 2009? I was laid off from the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, along with Buddy Moorehouse and other people who had served long and well.
We launched a new online publication in October 2009, and it continues to this day as The Livingston Post, with a robust 1.5 million page views in 2020.