By Charles Sercombe
It’s time to ring out the old and take a look at the past year. We’ll start this week off with a look back at the first six months of 2012.
The new year started off with a bang.
First up, three city councilmembers and two new school boardmembers were sworn into office.
Councilmembers Cathie Gordon, Robert Zwolak and Anam Miah took their oath of office at a special ceremony held at the public library. Also sworn in were School Boardmembers Magdelena Srodek and Nassir Hussein.
Councilmember Gordon was the only incumbent taking the oath.
“Standing in the shadows of the great leaders of Hamtramck’s past,” said Gordon, “I am here not as a city official but as your servant.”
Zwolak, who has worn several hats in city government, said: “We’re all part of a great big Hamtramck fraternity, and it continues to grow. We need to promote and sell the city of Hamtramck.”
In other political developments, Councilmember Tom Jankowski continued his criticism of City Manager Bill Cooper by calling for a five-day suspension of Cooper.
Jankowski said he was upset that Cooper had been ignoring the council’s directives. No one on council supported Jankowski’s proposal, but the incident foreshadowed what was to come a few months later.
When we asked Jankowski if he advocated firing Cooper, he replied: “We have not moved forward under the watch of our city manager, and it is time for the council to seriously consider all available options to reverse this trend.”
Things were a little ruffled over at the Police Department when officers were forced to accept a new condition to their health care coverage. State legislators ordered communities to require co-pays for public employees once their contracts expired, which was the case with Hamtramck’s police officers.
Although the average salary for an officer is $62,000, if they wanted family coverage they had to kick in $11,000.
We asked Lt. Steve Smiscik, president of the ranking officers association, for a comment and he said: “This is not good faith bargaining. In fact it is nothing short of a bully tactic.”
The savings to the city was expected to be $300,000 a year.
Is Hamtramck still mostly a Polish enclave? According to the U.S. Census, not so much anymore.
Hamtramck’s fastest growing immigrant population was the Bangladeshi community, which now represents 21.5 percent of the city’s population. The Polish community shrunk to 15 percent.
So where did all the Poles go? Dr. Ted Radzilowski, who heads up a Census data center here in Hamtramck said it’s not a case of Polish-Americans leaving the city.
“Those who were going to leave, for the most part, got out 25 years ago. It’s that the population is aging. They’re dying off,” he said.
As the city’s financial picture worsened, city officials discussed a number of ways to increase revenue. One idea tossed around was to talk with Highland Park officials about having Hamtramck take over police and fire services.
Later in the year, Highland Park officials said they would be open to the idea of contracting out fire services, but not police services.
Feel like you could use a cup of “courage”?
Well, look no further than Hamtramck’s newest coffee house called “Courage Coffee.”
The Caniff establishment introduced some pretty fancy coffee drinks. We asked Rev. Chilly Chilton to explain what is so special about his coffee and the name of the business:
“Three things come to mind: (1) We want you to enjoy one of the freshest, most delicious cups of coffee every time you come to Courage Coffee; (2) We want you to feel encouraged by our staff and atmosphere with each visit. “To encourage” is to “put courage into” – that’s our goal! That you leave feeling appreciated and valued! (3) We want to honor God. Christ gave His very best so that we could experience life. We live by the motto: Excellence honors God and reflects His purpose.”
The word was getting out. School is the place to be. For parents, that is.
And more and more parents indeed became involved in the public schools, especially over at Holbrook Elementary School where a new PTA was formed.
“The bottom line is making our kids successful,” said Fateh Obaid, one of the organizers. “Without education, you’re locking them out of jobs.”
Mac Saleh, of the state’s PTA, said the local PTA is “the voice of the parents.” He said parents have a keen interest in their children’s education.
“They feel that parents are not represented, have no voice in their children’s education,” Saleh said.
School Principal Russell Robinson welcomed the parents’ involvement.
“This is really exciting,” he said.
You can say that the Obama administration was very good to Hamtramck. Through the federal FEMA agency, Hamtramck was awarded a $650,000 grant to purchase a new aerial truck for the Fire Department.
Hamtramck’s existing aerial truck was over 30 years old.
Rocker/celebrity and all around good guy Bob Seger never forgets – Hamtramck that is. The rock and roll legend was spotted doing some “night moves” at Polish Village Café.
Rock on, Bob.
The greening of America arrived in Hamtramck’s backyard with the construction of a new, state-of-the-art recycling plant on Denton.
This isn’t about home recycling, though.
Instead, this is a huge plant that will sort out paper, plastics, Styrofoam and other office waste products — as well as light industrial metals — and turn them right around into more of the same.
The process produces very little waste product going back into Mother Earth. At least, this is what the people behind Hamtramck Recycling had to say, and there appeared to be no reason to doubt them.
The promise of this plant and facility is that it’s not only contributing to the greening of America, it’s also adding jobs. Make that about 40 to 50 new jobs for locals, said Jason Friedmann, the city’s director of Community & Economic Development.
A Hamtramck landmark, the Clock Restaurant received a rewind. It re-opened this time around as a soul food place.
But alas, it wasn’t meant to be, and the restaurant closed later in the year, but re-opened once again as a coney island. More on this later.
As Pontiac firefighters marked the last day of the Pontiac Fire Department, Hamtramck firefighters had mixed feelings. Fire service for Pontiac was taken over by Waterford.
Some in the Hamtramck Fire Department criticized Waterford firefighters for forcing the issue.
Lt. William Diamond, the president of Hamtramck Firefighters’ union, Local 750, said it was about “one local (union) taking over another.”
“It wasn’t a merger,” he said. “It was a takeover.”
Diamond said he feared the same fate could happen in Hamtramck if a state-appointed emergency financial manager took over Detroit or Hamtramck.
“Hamtramck as an entity would be gone,” Diamond predicted. “The state could make Hamtramck a neighborhood of Detroit. It’s not a good thing for unions in the state.”
Hamtramck firefighters had plenty reasons to be worried.
City officials projected a $3.4 million budget deficit by June.
You could say that the local committee to save the grandstand in Veterans Park scored a home run after state officials with the Historic Preservation Office approved the committee’s proposal to apply for National Historic Landmark status.
According to committee member Rebecca Binno Savage, the state’s OK pretty much means the grandstands will receive approval from the National Parks Service.
What’s so special about the grandstands?
Well, for years no one really knew much about the structure and its history until some locals began digging into the matter. And lo and behold, what they found turned out to be a game-changer. Instead of talking about demolishing the dilapidated grandstands, folks are now awed at the possibility of redevelopment.
That’s because this grandstand was built for the National Negro League, specifically a team called the Detroit Stars.
Its heyday was 1930 through 1937, and during that time 12 future baseball Hall of Famers played here.
The thinking is that a renovated park can be used for ball play once again, and it will also attract out of town visitors who are interested in the historical aspect of the grandstands.
The ballpark is one of only five grandstands remaining that served the Negro League.
A national historic designation would also open some checkbooks from various organizations, including Major League Baseball, Binno Savage said.
“What’s most key here is fundraising,” she said.
Government budgets were slashed during the year, but some cuts were way too deep.
Friendship House, a charity of the American Baptist Churches USA for 83 years, had been receiving a regular grant from the Department of Human Services of approximately $12,240 annually. Gov. Snyder passed the cut but didn’t bother to inform the affected agencies.
Friendship House called and asked the DHS what was up.
The unnerving answer, according to Friendship House Executive Director Linnea Berg, was to the effect of, “Oh yes – you’re not getting your grant.”
“We were stunned,” Berg said. While it may not seem like a huge amount of money, $1,000 a month goes a long way when you’re talking about food staples.”
So, how did they get by?
Fortunately a private charity stepped up.
“We’re one of the lucky recipients, out of huge number who apply, of donations from Forgotten Harvest,” Berg said.
Religious freedom and zoning laws clashed once again in town. A request made to convert the former DTE building on Jos. Campau into an Islamic center caused a controversy.
City officials were worried that a growing number of commercial buildings are being turned into religious institutions, which means no property taxes for the city and eliminates commercial development.
But there is nothing the city could do to prevent the matter from going forward.
A little-known federal law with the cumbersome title of Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person Act restrains cities from blocking the location of religious centers, even if they are located in areas designated for commercial development only.
“We want people to practice their religion, but the problem is Jos. Campau is supposed to be our main commercial district – our prime real estate, which generates tax dollars,” said Jason Friedmann, the Director of Community & Economic Development.
For the fourth year in a row, Hamtramck house values dropped in value.
And we’re not talking a little bit.
According to the Wayne County Equalization Department, Hamtramck’s house values cratered a whopping 14.7 percent starting from Oct. 1 2010 through Sept. 30, 2011.
Hamtramck’s Assessor, Tony Fuoco, said that over the last four years, house values here decreased 37 percent.
For one day, Hamtramck was the center of attention in the metro area. What could bring that about?
Paczki Day, of course.
Revelers were everywhere, and live music was happening in all sorts of places. Even outlets like Detroit Threads and the resale shop Lo and Behold had music blaring out into Jos. Campau.
The city’s two remaining full-time bakeries were, to put it mildly, overwhelmed with crazed paczki lovers willing to wait – get this – two hours in line.
In what would become the story of the year, City Manager Bill Cooper said it was time to call in the state to look at the city’s financial situation.
But city councilmembers disagreed, saying it was too soon to ask the state Treasury Department to review Hamtramck’s finances.
Cooper had some compelling reasons to ask for a state review.
He said the city would probably not be able to pay its bills or meet employee payroll as of April 1.
He also said that by June 30 the city would have a $1.5 million budget deficit, and that by 2013 the deficit would grow to $3.4 million.
Cooper further said that a partial cause of the financial crisis comes from the city’s two unions representing police officers and their bosses.
“To date we have negotiated minimal concessions bringing us far short of our goal in order to avert a financial crisis,” Cooper said.
Still, the council was having none of it. Councilmember Tom Jankowski said that it appeared the city is admitting defeat.
“I haven’t been shown anything yet to throw up my hands,” Jankowski said.
Instead, Jankowski said the council needs to look deeper into the budget and blasted the administration for not providing “hard” financial information.
“We haven’t done our homework,” Jankowski said.
Well, the prediction of running out of money didn’t come true, but the city’s finances remain in crisis mode.
One of Hamtramck’s iconic businesses shut down.
But its products live on.
Dudek Foods was swallowed up by Hamtramck’s other iconic business, Kowalski Sausage Co.
Kowalski continued the Dudek line of frozen foods and continued to sell the products with the Dudek logo.
Production of the Dudek line was incorporated into Kowalski’s facilities. The Dudek building, located on Caniff and Gallagher, remains up for sale.
The search for two women abducted at gunpoint intensified, and would ultimately reveal that the women had been murdered.
Abreeya Carol Brown, 18, and Ashley Victoria Conaway, 21, were taken by gunpoint from their Andrus St. home.
Their bodies were discovered a month later, partially buried in a park on Detroit’s Westside.
The main suspect, Brandon Lewis Cain, 26, of Detroit, attempted to pay the women $5,000 to not pursue legal action against him. Three weeks earlier, police said, Conaway had broken off a relationship with Cain. Cain became upset and shot out the back window of her car.
Cain and three accomplices were later convicted for murder.
That wasn’t the only high-profile crime. During the Hamtramck Blowout, four women were carjacked outside a Hamtramck bar. One woman managed to escape, but the remaining three women were driven to an eastside neighborhood where they were sexually assaulted.
The suspect, Tonio David Dace, 21,was arrested and later convicted.
Within one week, Hamtramck lost one city manager and gained another.
The city council held a special meeting and fired City Manager Bill Cooper.
Although Cooper’s firing was sudden, it was not surprising. As the city’s financial crisis grew in the last few months, so had criticism of how Cooper was handling it. His firing was precipitated by a memo he sent to city employees saying that, come the end of April, there would be payless paydays for the next three months.
Leading the charge against Cooper has been Councilmember Jankowski, who for the past few months needled Cooper for failing to provide various pieces of financial information.
“Our administration, we hired, did not do the job,” Jankowski said.
He later went on to add: “We need leadership in the administration that will perform more professionally.”
A week later, in another special council meeting, the city council hired Eric Tungate as the city’s new acting city manager.
Tungate had once served as the city’s Director of Community & Economic Development. He worked for the city from 2005 to 2007, and then went on to take a succession of jobs with Detroit, the state and Wayne County.
One hears a lot of different tongues wagging on an average promenade down Jos. Campau.
Thankfully, there’s a business here, well-equipped to sort it all out for us.
That business is an interpretation and translation service called Bromberg and Associates, located in the heart of Hamtramck at 3141 Caniff. Jinny Bromberg, the owner of the company is a native of Moscow.
Bromberg & Associates has actually been in business for 13 years, according to Bromberg. Begun, in fact, as a home-based business, they’ve been in Hamtramck for the past 10 years or so, since 2002, and always somewhere on Caniff.
Since the year before, they’ve been in their new space at 3141 Caniff.
“It’s a better building,” said Bromberg. “It’s bigger – we’re growing. It’s also got a better layout for our needs.”
Bromberg felt that Hamtramck offered the “most diverse” multi-cultural environment, which “stood for what we believe.” She and her crew of seven (all of them project managers or schedulers, she says – the actual interpreters and translators normally work from home) are happy to be here.
“It’s not some sterile office environment,” she said, referring to the typical suburban office setting.
“We need to stand together tonight in defiance,” said Mayor Karen Majewski at a gathering of about 200 people during a Friday evening late in the month.
And defiance indeed was in the air.
The outpouring was in response to the horrible violence done to six women within a one-week period.
The get-together was also the result of planning by a new group called “Take Back the Night Hamtramck.”
The event started at the corner of Jos. Campau and Holbrook, and the gathering then walked a few blocks south and stopped for a brief moment of silence in the Checker’s restaurant parking lot, across from the Painted Lady Lounge, where four women were carjacked after leaving the Jacob St. bar.
One of the women escaped before their abductor, holding a gun, ordered the three remaining women to drive away.
The women were later repeatedly sexually assaulted.
The group then walked a few more blocks down and stopped at Andrus St. where a few days prior to the carjacking two women were kidnapped during a gun battle at their house, and were then stuffed into a trunk of a car. Their bodies were later discovered, buried in a park on Detroit’s west side.
During the walk, two drummers kept time with a marching beat. Many in the crowd held hand-made signs. Some said:
“Like a good neighbor, Hamtramck is there”
“We are family”
“Stop violence. Spread peace”
“Take back our streets”
As they walked, some in the crowd chanted; “No more violence! No more hate! Women unite! Take back the night!”
Hamtramck officials are crossing their fingers that a bank will loan the city $2 million within the next several weeks.
The loan was just one part of an overall strategy to buy the city time to work its way out of its projected $3.4 million budget deficit come next year.
The loan, called a “bridge” by Acting City Manager Erik Tungate, would still only give the city until October to work out a series of contract concessions with city employees – which includes police officers and firefighters – and find new revenue streams.
Hamtramck welcomed a new school boardmember.
After three hours of interviewing seven candidates, relative newcomer to the city Eric Burkman was voted in to fill the vacated seat of Joan Borushko.
Borushko announced her resignation in March, citing ongoing health issues. Her term has two years to go, ending on Dec. 31, 2014.
Burkman has lived in the city for about three years, but he is no stranger. He has been the head of the Hamtramck Drug Free Coalition, which has been active in working with public school students.
Hamtramck taxpayers, want to know what city attorneys are billing you?
Well, forget it.
According to City Attorney James Allen, of the Allen Brothers law firm, the monthly bills he submits to the city outlining what cases and issues he worked on and how much he and other attorneys in his law firm received in payment are “privileged” information.
Allen made that claim in his denial to a Freedom of Information Act request made by The Review to get copies of the monthly billings for January and February.
Allen went on to say, in a statement prepared by Allen but signed by City Clerk Ed Norris, that only the city manager and city council can view the billings.
Councilmember Cathie Gordon, who has been an outspoken critic of Allen, didn’t agree that Allen can withhold the information from the public.
“That information belongs to the client, and the client is not the council,” Gordon said. “It’s the city.”
Gordon also questioned Allen’s motives, saying: “What’s he hiding? What’s he concerned about?”
Hamtramck may be cooking up a future iron chef.
Koscuiszko Middle School student Jada Lawrence won a Regional Future Chefs Contest for her recipe called, “Jada’s Awesome Breakfast Burrito.”
Lawrence was one of 30 regional winners and was in the running for one of the five national finalist slots. Unfortunately, she narrowly missed a winning position.
The contest was sponsored by Sodexo, which is the company that provides food service to the school district.
“Jada Lawrence is a star in our book and we wish her more culinary success in the future.” Said Brian Swift, Executive Chef with Sodexo Food Services.
Hamtramck had not seen anything like this.
A new police and fire chief – yes, two chiefs — were sworn into office in front of a pack 31st District courtroom, filled with family, city officials, friends and special guests.
The two new chiefs are also the youngest chiefs Hamtramck has welcomed on board, at least in recent years. The police chief is Max Garbarino, and the new fire chief is Paul Wilk, son of city Treasurer Mike Wilk.
The city’s financial picture continued to worsen.
According to Acting City Manager Erik Tungate, there was only enough cash on hand for two more payrolls.
That was just some of the bad news the city council heard at a special budget work session.
Tungate didn’t shy away from saying just how bad things were going to get without a cash infusion.
“We’re not in a good place,” he said. “Make no mistake, we’re at a doomsday scenario.”
If you had run into a Hamtramck firefighter in early May, it’s likely he had a big grin.
The Fire Department welcomed a new member to its family: A brand-spanking new Sutphen aerial ladder truck, weighing in at a few tons.
The truck replaced the department’s 30-something-year-old aerial.
“It still has that ‘new truck’ smell to it,” said one firefighter.
The Fire Department won a $650,000 grant from the federal government. Just like the old truck, the ladder on this rig is able to reach the top of the eight-story Senior Plaza building. The new ladder is actually 10 feet longer.
Graffiti artists from around the world – some from as far away as Montreal, Los Angeles and even New Zealand—descended on Hamtramck for a major art project.
Montana Paint, which makes the highest grade spray paints preferred by many street artists, funded the project and did a documentary on it as well.
Additionally, Hamtramck-based CONTRA Projects, the brain child of former CPOP Gallery owner Thomas Thewes Jr. and friends, had a hand in bringing in the specific artists chosen for the project.
But not everyone was pleased. It seems one of the murals created a firestorm of protest. A mural painted on a city-owned building on Jos. Campau and Goodson ruffled a few feathers.
The mural depicted six cartoon figures carrying a casket. On the casket were the words “STREET ART.”
There were some folks in Hamtramck who thought the casket in the mural was symbolic of the city’s death, and they were mighty perturbed about that.
Mickey Pokoj was so upset he circulated a petition to have the mural painted over and prosecute the artist who created it.
Jason Friedmann, the city’s Director of Community & Economic Development defended the mural, saying that in other areas of the city, as well as in many other cities, it has been proven that graffiti art prevents the spread of illegal graffiti doodling.
Well, the debate continued for several more months until in December the mural was painted over. In its place will be a bald eagle. Nice and safe.
To listen to Community & Economic Development Director Jason Friedmann talk, you’d never think there was a lingering economic slump.
Hamtramck is bustling with new development, he says, and darned if you didn’t get pumped up hearing about it.
On Jos. Campau, a major renovation was about to launch. And with it, there was an expected influx of skateboarders. A skateboard company called CHIIPS was relocating from the city of Plymouth to the former Hamtramck Hardware on Campau.
And there was more to that story.
The Hamtramck area was about to become a major destination spot for skateboarders. A sculptural skate park was created in the neighborhood just north of Hamtramck, across from Carpenter and close to Conant.
That’s an area where artists have already begun to renovate homes, thanks to local power couple Gina and Mitch Cope.
“It’s a big deal,” Friedmann
There are school talent shows, and then there is a Hamtramck school talent show.
You could say the public schools here have set the bar very high. And it’s a good bet that there is no other school district in the nation that has the depth and breadth of talent you can find in Hamtramck.
This year’s “Multicultural Celebration” at Dickinson East Elementary School was a feast for the eyes and ears.
The kids demonstrated amazing talent, and the complexity of some of the ethnic dances was jaw-dropping to say the least.
Newly-appointed Police Chief Max Garbarino made good on his pledge to reach out to the community. He met with members of the Hamtramck NAACP and promised him that under his leadership, the police department will not be “walled-in.”
Garbarino said that out of that list of grievances he heard at the meeting a theme emerged: “A lack of communication.”
He said many of these issues could be resolved simply: Explain to the public what happened.
Garbarino also promised to make the department more ethnically diverse as positions open up.
Jos. Campau is filled with history. Just ask Rebecca Binno-Savage, who was doing a survey of 80 buildings in the city’s main shopping district.
Binno Savage was submitting the list of buildings to the National Register to be designated as historical places. The project was well underway and, according to Binno Savage, was already at a point where its success was likely.
“Usually, once a project gets this far,” it’s a fairly foregone conclusion that it will be approved, Binno Savage said.
The upshot of all this is, that any building so designated will net a 20 percent property tax break for any owner who wishes to use said savings toward rehabilitating the structure.
Owners can still choose to do anything to the buildings that they want to with their own funds, including totally razing them, making radical changes to them, or anything else allowed by the city.
And while this would be Hamtramck’s largest such district, it wouldn’t be the first.
“There is actually already a ‘St. Florian District’ in place,” Binno Savage said, “although, that’s mostly residential structures.”
It seemed at the time that a majority of Hamtramck City Councilmembers wanted to be somewhere else.
Four out of six councilmembers put their hat in the ring to run for higher office in this year’s elections for Wayne County Commissioner and State Rep.
Councilmembers Cathie Gordon and Tom Jankowski both took on incumbent County Commissioner Martha Scott.
In the State Rep. race, Councilmembers Mohammed Hassan and Robert Zwolak were running. The seat was vacant, and about a dozen challengers lined up for this one.
It’s not unusual for members of any city council to use their local office as a stepping stone to higher offices.
But Mayor Karen Majewski said that although she didn’t question their motives, they should serve out their terms in office before moving on to another.
“You have an obligation to fulfill your term,” she said.
By election time, none of the Hamtramck candidates came close to winning.
Everything’s OK down at the Corral.
That’s Al’s Corral, pardner, and it’s once again open for business. Had been, in fact, since January of this year.
The site of a number of different restaurant incarnations, especially the original Al’s Corral and the more recent Bengal Masala Café (as well as, at least, one other Indian or Bangla restaurant), it has a sharp new interior and sharp new menus, courtesy of sharp new owner Zef Lulgjuraj.
Hamtramck old-timers might recall the original Al’s Corral, on Conant near Caniff, and the man who owned it, Al Cieslak.
Cieslak was one of three Polish Hamtramck restaurateur brothers in the area, whose father set them all up in the business, Lulgjuraj recalled. Al Cieslak got this place, and christened it “Al’s Corral.” Al moved to Las Vegas some years ago, and ended up dying there.
Hamtramck’s financial woes made headlines in several metro media outlets during June.
The reports hinged on a special city council meeting to discuss both the future of police and fire service, and a request to have the state perform a preliminary financial review, which is the first step in having a state-appointed emergency financial manager take control of the city.
Well, guess what?
The special meeting turned into a two-hour closed session, at the end of which the council decided to delay taking any action.
City officials were tight-lipped over what was discussed, but sources told us there was a significant agreement reached with the police officers’ union as well as a promise from the firefighters’ union to look for cuts into their budgets.
Six residents living in an upper flat on Trowbridge St. had a big “thank you” to say to firefighters.
Firefighters made a dramatic rescue of the six who were trapped upstairs while their house was burning down.
By the time firefighter arrived at 3:30 a.m., it was a life-threatening moment. Firefighters had to scramble to get a ladder set up in seconds flat and start bringing the tenants down, which included two children.
No one was injured in the fire, which according to firefighters was a small miracle.
Kickball isn’t just for kids any more.
In yet another trend of adults re-inventing games from their childhood – check out dodgeball – kickball leagues were the growing rage around the country last summer.
And Hamtramck was also rolling with it.
Adult kickball made its debut at Playfair Field, thanks to a new program by the Hamtramck Recreation Department. There were six teams, each a mix of men and women.
And judging by that debut we were happy to report that kickball was – ahem – a ball of fun.
Hamtramck joined a growing number of communities making it illegal for local businesses to sell synthetic marijuana products.
The most well known product was called K2, which was sold as herbal incense. The products, which also went by the names Spice, Hayze, Black Magic and bath salts, were mostly sold in party stores and gasoline stations.
Despite being labeled not for human consumption, people were smoking the products. There were numerous cases of drug overdoses, as well as other serious health issues, such as heart attacks, strokes and mental instability.
For the first time in who knew in how many years, the Hamtramck High School boys’ varsity baseball team won their first district championship.
Adam Mused, the coach of the team, said that the general consensus was that it was the first district title in 27 years.
Something was growing on the city’s southend.
A farm, that’s what.
Dubbed “Hamtown Farms,” over 100 volunteers showed up at an empty lot on Lumpkin to help set up gardening beds, clean off bricks for paths, and, of course, start some planting.
The deal was, the city allowed the farm project to take root on nine empty city-owned lots.
The plan was to cultivate a small patch of Paw Paw trees and allow residents to plant their own gardens with seeds freely provided.
It was all about greening up the city, and allowing folks to grow and eat their own food.
Thanks to Wayne County and a federal grant, by this October residents without a primary doctor or insurance won’t have to go to an emergency room just to treat routine medical ailments.
Wayne County’s Department of Health and Human Services announced that it obtained a $1.2 million federal grant under the Affordable Health Act to open a medical clinic in Hamtramck.
“The Hamtramck Health Center will enable residents to have a ‘medical home’ to receive regular, routine health care services instead of frequenting costly hospital emergency rooms for ailments best treated by a primary care
physician,” said Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano in a press release.
“It will help area families receive the quality health care they need and deserve regardless of their health insurance status.”
The county said a site for the clinic has not been determined.
Come back next week for a look back at the second half of the year.