2020: the year in review

As time was running out on 2020, Leader reporter James Hanlon was able to get this photo of the clock in Centennial Park.

Part 2: July-December

Compiled by James Hanlon

July 1
Grads honored at virtual awards night.
Oxford Community Schools shared a link to Oxford High’s Senior Award Ceremony Friday night, June 26. The virtual ceremony was a pre-recorded video created by OHS counselor Kendrea Shenfeld, from clips submitted by the presenters of each award.
Congratulations to the 2020 Oxford Cup winners, Dane VonAllmen and Sarah Tyrrell. For the first time in Oxford Cup History, 90 years, the cup was awarded at the winners’ homes.

Four scenarios to fall back on.
Oxford Community Schools administration is putting together a return to school road map that plans four possible scenarios for what the 2020-21 school year might look like:
Fulltime in-person learning, switching back and forth between in-person and remote learning, a hybrid of seated instruction with social distancing and remote learning, or beginning the school year with fully remote learning.

Oxford Township parks back in full swing
The Oxford Township Parks & Recreation Office re-opened their administrative offices for business on Monday, June 15. The following Monday, June 22, the offices opened back up to the public. Many events and activities have been cancelled this summer, but the Splash Pad in Seymour Lake Township Park is open.

July 8
OHS holds real life commencement ceremonies
It was an epic, marathon day of commencement ceremonies for Oxford Community Schools. Administrators spent most of Tuesday, June 30 graduating seniors in shifts from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the sunny Wildcat Stadium. Oxford High School honored 463 seniors over four sessions at 12 p.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Oxford Virtual Academy (OVA) honored 37 graduates at 10 a.m.
To allow for social distancing, each session was limited to no more than 130 graduates and two guests per graduate. Graduates sat in chairs spaced six feet apart on the football field.

Kingsbury becomes self-managed school
Kingsbury Country Day School is taking over its own management, beginning this month. Previously, the public charter school located at 5000 Hosner Rd. in Addison Township had employed Charter School Partners, a company based in Brighton, to handle its management responsibilities.

July 15
Longtime Addison Township Clerk passes
Mary Ann Thompson, the Addison Township Clerk for two decades from 1976-96, passed on June 18 at 77-years-old. She is remembered for her kindness, smile and love of community.

Local volunteer receives national recognition
Mike Gresham, a foster volunteer at Oxford’s K-9 Stray Rescue League, was one of 22 people across the country to be recognized as a National Foster Hero by the Petco Foundation and BOBS from Skechers during their celebration of June’s National Foster a Pet Month. Over the last 12 years, Gresham has fostered over 200 dogs.

July 22
Truck vs. Pole: Pole down, power out
Beginning at 10:30 a.m., last Thursday (July 16), motorists near the area of W. Drahner and Pontiac roads were inconvenienced by road closures and many residents living in the proximity suffered a loss of power for several hours. These issues were the result of a flatbed semi-truck attempting an ill-advised turn.
The driver of the truck tried to make a right turn from Drahner to head north on Pontiac Road, striking the telephone pole located at the intersection in the process. Fortunately, no one, including the driver, suffered any injuries because of the incident.

Oxford 7 under new ownership
Last week, the New York-based real estate partnership of Masson Asset Management and Namdar Realty Group acquired most Goodrich Quality Theaters (GQT) properties, including the GQT trademark and the Oxford 7 multiplex.
The regional theater chain had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late February, ahead of the COVID-19 shutdown. The “New GQT” hopes to be screening flicks in a few weeks.

Township receives positive fiscal report for fiscal year ending 2019
During their regular monthly meeting on July 8, the Oxford Township Board of Trustees and community members were given a thorough review of the township’s financial activity for the year ending December 31, 2019. The two largest takeaways were healthy increases in the township’s general fund balance and investment earnings.

July 29
100-year-old redbrick storm drain found
A beehive-shaped mound of bricks was unearthed during construction downtown. The unusual structure turns out to be a storm drain (or catch basin), estimated to be about 100 years old. The object was too large to go into the museum across the street, so it was moved to Weigh Station Park, a 0.16-acre rest area along the Polly Ann Trail between Division St. and Louck St.

DDA awards micro-grants
With generous donations from the community, the Oxford Downtown Development Authority was able to raise money through its LoveOxford crowdfunding campaign to support downtown businesses through the current crisis.
The campaign raised $5,250 from over 90 patrons. The funds were enhanced by an additional $4,000 match from Main Street Oakland County, bringing the total up to $9,250. The DDA used the money to provide micro-grants to 17 businesses that were otherwise unable to receive funding through other grant programs.

August 5
COVID-19 preparedness plan approved
Oxford Community Schools released the most in-depth details thus far of its plans for the 2020-21 school year. The Board of Education approved the COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan, a 49-page document prepared by the district cabinet, at a special July 28 virtual meeting.

Daily appointment at Tim Hortons
For residents who frequent the Tim Hortons/Cold Stone Creamery location at 590 N. Lapeer Road, the group of senior citizens sitting in lawn chairs in front of the store has become a familiar sight. This group, which usually ranges from six-to-ten people, has been meeting for their 9 a.m. coffee, and some Timbit doughnut holes, for nearly a decade.

August 12
Increased voters for Primaries . . . Both in Addison and Oxford
Turnout in the Aug. 4 primary was up from the March 10 primary in both Addison and Oxford Townships.
In the Oxford Township Republican primary, incumbent Treasurer Joseph Ferrari beat challenger Anne Marie Roop, 1,920 to 1,432 votes. Running for four board of trustee seats, William Dunn, Rod Charles, Margaret Payne and Jonathan Nold beat Patti Durr. The $9.1 million Oxford Public Library bond proposal to expand the library failed by 47 votes (2,679 to 2,632).
In Addison Township, incumbent Treasurer Lori Fisher beat Jacob Newby 889 to 514. Running for four trustee seats, Ed Brakefield, Karen Geibel, Charles Sargent and Linda Gierak beat Nick Barnhart, Joel King and Erich Senft.

COVID-19 in camp leads to new protocols
An individual involved with the Oxford Wildcat football program tested positive for the coronavirus. This individual’s last contact with the high school football program came on July 29, and he was not present during the two-day Oxford Youth Football Camp on July 28-29. The individual will be quarantined away from the program for two weeks, until at least August 12 in this case, and must record two consecutive negative COVID-19 tests before returning to action.

August 19
Car, gravel hauler collide in Oxford, injuries avoided
At approximately 8:45 a.m. on Friday, August 7, motorists and residents in the area observed a collision between a truck hauling gravel and a car at the Lakeville Road and Glaspie Street intersection. Due to road construction on Washington Street, the driver of the gravel hauler attempted to make a right turn onto Glaspie Street by swinging his truck out wide to the left to make the tight turn, at which time, a car in the right turn lane, perhaps unaware of the truck’s intentions, tried to turn onto Glaspie Street at the same time. Both vehicles are drivable and there were no injuries.

M-24 southbound traffic to travel on east side of highway
Beginning this Friday, Aug. 21, southbound M-24 traffic will be shifted from the west side of the road onto the new pavement on the east side (northbound lanes). This will allow crews to begin construction on the southbound lanes on the west side of M-24.

August 26
Schools have rare Saturday meeting
At an emergency school board meeting Saturday, Aug. 15, the board voted 6-0 to cut short the enrollment deadline for School of Choice students from Aug. 26 to Monday, Aug. 17.
The change was in response to Michigan House Bill 5913, which had bipartisan support in the state legislature. Locally, the Oxford School Board expressed strong opposition to the bill, which could result in Oxford Schools losing millions of dollars in state funding.

Our Sasquatch Squash Sheriff keeps humans and animals away!
Paul and Cindy Marshall won the Oxford Leader’s scarecrow contest, with their eight-foot Sasquatch cutout dressed like a scarecrow.

September 2
Village President resigns
Oxford Village President Joe Frost announced his intention to resign “with great consideration” from the village council on his Facebook page last week, since he and his family are moving to Bay City. Frost submitted his letter of resignation “effective at the adjournment of the next Village Council meeting (September 8, 2020)” to the village clerk. Frost’s term as village president expires November 2020, while his council seat expires November 2022.

Yoga in the park, at the bar, on a paddleboard
Yoga instructors Brittni Ummel and Jess Dues have been creative in finding safe outdoor settings to classes this summer. Ummel teaches outside HomeGrown Brewing and at Upland Hills Farm, while Dues teaches yoga on paddleboards on Stony Lake.

September 9
In-person a success — the first week of school 2020-2021
After 170 days, most Oxford area students went back to school in-person last week. Over the summer, Oxford Community Schools administration has worked meticulously on the COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan to ensure a safe and effective return to school in-person. For the first two weeks, the schools are running at 50 percent capacity, with students attending every other day according to last name.

Kingsbury, Upland Hills return to school outdoors
As schools across the country struggle to find a safe way to return school with limited classroom space for social distancing, two schools in Oxford have a solution: have class outside as much as possible. Outdoor education has long been part of the educational philosophy of both Kingsbury Country Day School and Upland Hills School, where they plan to hold to class almost entirely outdoors this year, even in the winter.

September 16
Open alcohol allowed downtown?
The Oxford Downtown Development Authority is working on an application that would allow for the open consumption of alcohol in public places downtown. Michigan House Bill 5781, which passed this summer, allows municipalities to apply for “social district” designations from the state. The hope is that it would stimulate sales for restaurants and taverns to help make up for lost revenue this year.

Deceased woman found in Addison
At approximately 8:25 a.m. on Thursday, September 3, Oakland County Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to a home in the 1800 block of Rochester Road to perform a welfare check. The homeowner, an 81-year-old man, contacted a neighbor, seeking medical attention for himself. While there, deputies discovered the deceased body of his 61-year-old wife inside the residence. According to reports, the husband is currently battling the onset of dementia, among other mental illnesses, which severely impact his competency and decision-making. Foul play is not suspected and an initial autopsy did not reveal any suspicious activity.

September 23
Wildcats Return To The Gridiron
Oxford’s varsity football team was without a team to play last Friday, September 18, when scheduled opponent Lake Orion dropped out because of COVID-19 issues. Then the administrations of Oxford and L’Anse Creuse North, whose opponent also dropped out, agreed to play each other. In his first game as head coach, Zach Line’s Wildcats defeated the L’Anse Creuse North Crusaders, 34-0.

Townships ballot drop boxes ready
A new drive-up drop box will collect absentee voter ballots in front of Oxford Township Hall at 300 Dunlap Rd. The drop box will make it easier for voters to return their ballots since it will be available 24-7.

Youth Assistance continues support through the pandemic
Although many Oxford-Addison Youth Assistance (OAYA) programs have been suspended, caseworker Karen Wonsowicz is still readily available making frequent contact with her clients over Zoom or phone calls, sharing resources and support.

September 30
Schools report COVID-19 cases
Oxford Community Schools has reported eight cases of COVID-19 since school began, Aug. 31. As of last weekend, there are at least five active cases: two at Oxford High School, one at Oxford Bridges High School, one at Oxford Virtual Academy and one presumptive case at Oxford Elementary. There is no evidence of transmission within the schools, however.

M-24 project pushed back to December
The M-24 construction project will not be finished until early December, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) announced in a Sept. 25 press release. The project, which began in mid-April had been scheduled to finish in mid-November. The project has been delayed mainly because of unexpected utilities encountered while installing storm sewer.

October 8
OHS creates new EMT program with Oxford, Addison
It has been a long standing goal to have an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) curriculum at Oxford High School and that goal has finally come to fruition. A memo of understanding was signed between Oxford Community Schools and Oxford and Addison fire departments in a ceremony on Sept. 25, creating a course for eligible high school seniors.

LaMacchia State House campaign well-funded

Oxford Democrat Jody LaMacchia’s campaign for Michigan’s 46th State House District has raised more than twice as much money as incumbent John Reilly (R-Oakland Township). According to the post-primary campaign finance statement filed with the Michigan Secretary of State, LaMacchia had raised a total of $101,948.14 since launching her campaign in early 2019. While Reilly had leftover funds from his last campaign, he had only raised $44,595 for this election cycle.

October 14
OMS closes after rise in COVID-19
Oxford Middle School closed for three days last week due to a trend in positive COVID-19 cases. The decision came late in the afternoon Tuesday, Oct. 6. The school district had reported two positive cases, one on Oct. 2 and another Oct. 5, and were waiting on test results of three more presumptive cases, which Oakland County Health Division later confirmed. All five cases were students, and two appeared to be linked.

Arrested going wrong way on M-24
At 9 p.m. on October 4, Oakland County Sheriff’s deputies were alerted of an older model white van, identified as a 1990 Dodge Ram van, traveling northbound on S. Lapeer Road. According to witness statements, the van was driving all over the road, striking construction barrels, and had rear-ended another vehicle and fled the scene.

October 21
Evergreens has new location downtown
A long-vacant storefront downtown has been filled by a familiar face. Evergreens Coffee and Bakeshop has relocated to 9 South Washington St. in historic downtown Oxford.

Oxford Township receives COVID-19 Response Grant
On September 23, Oxford Township was awarded a $6,178 COVID-19 Response Grant from the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL). The grant covers election-related expenses incurred from June 15 through the end of the calendar year, including staffing, training, and necessary equipment. Township Communications and Grants Manager C.J. Carnacchio completed and submitted the application.

October 29
Royalty Crowned
While there wasn’t a parade or a packed-with-fans Wildcat Stadium, there was still pomp and circumstance in Oxford last Friday night for Homecoming 2020. During half-time ceremonies, royalty was crowned. The King and Queen are Trent Brown and Jordan Hung. For the Homecoming game, Oxford fell to the Southfield A&T Warriors, 21-0.

Drive-thru trick-or-treating
The annual Jack-o-Lantern Jamboree continued this year as a unique drive-thru trick-or-treating experience hosted by the Oxford Township Parks and Recreation Department at Seymour Lake Twp. Park on the evening of October 19. Staying in their vehicles, families in costumes followed the trick-or-treat trail to collect trinkets, treats and a pumpkin from the Great Pumpkin Patch. It was chilly and rainy, but that did not stop 144 costumed kids from attending.

November 4
Oxford 7 reopens after bankruptcy, executive orders
After seven and a half months, Oxford’s movie theater is screening films again. The iconic Oxford 7 at 48 S. Washington reopened Friday, Oct. 30.

M-24 W. Burdick intersection torn up (again)
The west half of the Burdick St./M-24 intersection in downtown Oxford was closed for another three days from Friday, Oct. 30 to Sunday, Nov. 1. The closure was to allow crews to remove and replace a faulty leveling course (second layer of asphalt) that had just been laid. This extra work was done at contractor cost

Fuel tanker slides off Newman Road, injuries avoided
Newman Road was closed down last week for about seven hours. Shortly before 10:30 a.m. on October 28, a diesel fuel tanker slid off the road just south of Mill Pond Drive, ending up on its passenger side in a ditch on the east side of the roadway. Thankfully, the driver, a 64-year-old Clarkston man, was able to the remove himself from the truck before emergency crews responded and was unharmed.

November 11
Local election results
Both Oxford and Addison saw large turnout in the Nov. 3 general election, with about 60 percent of voters voting absentee.
Lori Bourgeau and Ashley Ross were elected to Oxford Village Council, making it the first all-women council in the village’s history. Oxford Fire Department’s millage passed by a large margin, with 8,230 voting “yes” to 4,553 voting “no.” In Leonard Village, incumbent president Michael McDonald beat Chris Rayner by a margin of 15 votes, 110 to 95.
Republican Joe Kent, an Addison resident, lost his race for Oakland County Treasurer against Democrat Robert Wittenberg. For 46th District State Representative, Oxford Democrat Jody LaMacchia lost to Republican incumbent John Reilly of Oakland Township.

Remembering Veterans
On Sunday, Oxford Cub Scout Pack 366 paid tribute to the more than 200 veterans of the United States Armed Forces buried in Ridgelawn Memorial Cemetery. Each gravesite was marked with a brand-new American flag in honor of Veterans Day.

November 18
Oxford Village Council elects new president
Oxford Village’s new council selected Kelsey Cooke to be its new president and Allison Kemp, president pro tem.

Gives out 1,100 bags of popcorn for kindness month
To do something extra kind for their teachers and fellow students, Oxford High School’s mentorship class and social skills class popped, bagged and gave out 1,100 bags of popcorn during lunchtime, as a part of “kindness month.”

Delivery van wedges into Boulder Pointe tunnel
An Amazon delivery van became wedged in the tunnel used to transport carts under Lapeer Road at Boulder Pointe Golf Club at 2:35 p.m. on Saturday, November 7. The van, a Ford Transit-250, was driven by a 24-year-old man from Detroit, who was unfamiliar with the area. Thankfully, he was not physically harmed during the incident.

November 25
After 21 years, Dunn hosts final Board meeting
In what was the final session for Bill Dunn as Supervisor, the Charter Township of Oxford had their monthly Board of Trustees meeting, via Zoom video conference, on Wednesday, November 18. At the end of the meeting, Dunn gave thank-you’s and some emotional reflections on his time in office.
VFW makes holiday meal donations
For the sixth year in a row, the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 334 has stepped up to help out Oxford-Addison senior citizens. On Monday morning, they donated 40 “holiday bags” for 40 Meals on Wheels recipients in Oxford and Addison.

December 2
FISH taking food donations again
Oxford-Orion FISH Food Pantry received some unexpected large turkey donations just before Thanksgiving. The pantry made sure they went to large families in need. After a change in CDC guidelines, the pantry is now taking food donations again, after only accepting monetary donations since March.

Small Business Saturday: Serving up hot cocoa to help warm up customers.
With occupancy limits at 30% capacity for retail stores, Michigan businesses were looking for ways to keep customers walking through their doors. In Oxford, Caveman & Pip treated their overflow customers with hot cocoa while they waited to enter the home décor shop on Small Business Saturday.

Let there be light!
Last Tuesday (Nov. 24) the Oxford Area Chamber of Commerce lit up the night sky over Washington Street for the holidays. Excel Cleaning Brothers did the work of putting up lights on the Larry Obrecht Bridge.

December 9
Leonard conducts simple tree-lighting
Leonard Village continued its tradition of lighting a Christmas tree outside Rowland Hall, last Friday night. There were no refreshments or other activities, however. About 20 residents turned out for the quiet ceremony.

A better road ahead: M-24 construction nearly finished
Northbound M-24 traffic was restored last Friday, Dec. 4, ending the official detour route through Glaspie St. The project will be wrapping up over the next few days. Crews will be back for about a month in the spring for some streetscape and touch-up work.

Sleigh the Day!
It was an afternoon of physically-distanced holiday fun in downtown Oxford, Saturday, Dec. 5, as the Oxford Chamber of Commerce set up tables by the gazebo in Centennial Park, and handed out Santa letter writing kits and goodie bags from local businesses.

December 16
Volunteers rally to keep market open
When Harvest Time Market & Pet Stuff had to close temporarily at the height of Christmas tree season after a number of the market’s workers were exposed to COVID-19, a former employee and some volunteers stepped up to keep the small business open by running the store for a day.

Families share ‘tears of joy,’ smiles thanks to ‘heroes’
Instead of taking local children in need to pick out gifts from the store for their annual Shop with a Hero event, Oxford Village Police had families meet the Heroes in shifts at the police station throughout last week. Families received Meijer gift cards so they can shop for what they need at their own pace and time, while minimizing exposure for the officers.

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