Keiser’s Role: A column by Trevor Keiser

‘Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct.? ~ Thomas Jefferson
If the Oxford Board of Education were sitting in my classroom and I graded them on transparency, I would have to fail them.
The April 1 school board meeting is a perfect example of the ‘lack thereof.? This was the meeting that has been highly publicized where school board members were going to talk about central office administration contracts, which included a possible extention of Supertintendent Dr. William Skilling’s contract to 2019. A topic that has been highly debated because four seats are up for election in November and some feel that a decision of this magnitude should be voted on by the the new board, which I strongly agree with.
Not only did my ‘sniff test? start smelling a little ripe when the board started changing meeting dates all around, but it got a little got more stinky when I found out they planned a special meeting at 5 p.m. (how nice, since most people don’t get off work until 5 p.m.) According to the special meeting agenda that I printed off the school’s website, ‘Central Office Administrators Contracts? was number 5 on the discussion list. However, when I showed up for said meeting. I was handed a new agenda and told the board was going into closed session ‘to consider the purchase or lease of real property…? No where on the new special meeting agenda or the regular meeting agenda (which was for 6:30 p.m.) was there any mention of contracts.
So I went to the room where the regular meeting was going to be held and waited for the board to come out of its closed session. The board arrived to the regular meeting about 15 minutes late and Board President Colleen Schultz requested to add a motion ‘to approve central office administrators contracts as amended? under Board of Education matters.
When they finally ‘discussed? the topic and voted 6-0 to approve the contracts and Skilling’s extension, it became very apparent that a conversation by board members about contracts took place somewhere else behind closed doors. In an interview I had with a few board members on April 4 I was told ‘they discussed the contracts a lot.? Well, apparently they didn’t want anyone to hear the debate of the pros and cons of the contracts they were approving, because if they wanted to be transparent, they would would have had those discussions in an open public meeting with members of the press, the community television station and members of the public there to listen as board members gave their thoughts. I have witnessed other school boards and governing bodies do this.
Will the contracts be made available to the public. Yes, I am sure through some hunting and searching you can find them on the school website somewhere (whenever they decide to post them). But will the public ever know the conversation that led to the perfect vote? Probably not and that’s a shame.
For Oxford Schools, transparency is just another buzz word, but true transparency requires action before a public whom you are accountable to. I am sorry board members but you failed the test. I wish you better luck next time.
Until then, what lesson does this teach our students?

‘Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters? ? Albert Einstein
Over the past several weeks, I’ve received several phone calls and had many conversations with members of the public (including other public officials) inquiring about whether or not Oxford Schools Superintendent Dr. Bill Skilling has sold his Oxford Village home and is moving to Georgia ? a move that could happen as soon as December, according to some sources.
Instead of letting the rumor mill run rampant, being the good reporter that I am, I decided to try to get the facts. I e-mailed Skilling on July 24 about the rumors and told him I wanted some clarification. Unfortunately, I got an autoreply message stating he was out of the office until July 30.
I sent Skilling a text message letting him know I had e-mailed him and needed to talk to him. He responded that he ‘wasn’t leaving Oxford,? but moving his daughter down to Georgia for college. I replied, ‘OK, we’ll talk Wednesday.?
Well, interestingly enough, Skilling returned to work and never e-mailed back or called to give response on July 30 or 31. So, by Friday Aug. 1, it was time to take what I call ‘the direct approach.? I went to his office. As I entered, he was sitting at his computer typing away.
He looked over at me and said, ‘What is this about?? When I told him it was about the questions I had e-mailed him, Skilling informed me he wasn’t going to answer those questions because he no longer trusts me due of the story I wrote on his house being listed for sale on Craigslist. He’s sticking by his original stance ? ‘it’s none of the public’s business.? Skilling’s refusal to answer questions finally led to him shutting a door in my face.
Some may be wondering why is the superintendent selling his home and possibly moving out of state is considered newsworthy or important? Well, let me explain.
First, the board just extended Skilling’s contract this past April. Instead of expiring in 2016, it will now expire in 2019. According to that contract, Skilling is expected to be the superintendent until 2016 when, at which time, ‘it is expressly understood that the Board of Education may assign/transfer the superintendent, commencing July 1, 2016 or any time thereafter, to the position of Superintendent Emeritus of International Programs, Global Outreach and Fund Development.?
So, according to his contract, he has at least two more years in the superintendent role, then possibly another three years under the new title. However, that doesn’t stop the school board from opening up his contract early and amending it, as they have done in the past.
Secondly, Skilling made his moving into this community a big deal when he got the superintendent job back in 2007. He also wanted to make sure everyone knew Oxford was where he planned to retire.
According to a May 23, 2007 Leader article, ‘My wife (Nancy) and my children are not only excited, they’re ecstatic about coming to Oxford,? Skilling said. ‘This is a place where my wife and I would like to finish my career as superintendent, retire, and have our grandchildren someday visit us there.?
So, if his moving here was so important, his moving away should be equally important, especially if Oxford tax dollars are going with him.
Third, Skilling is a PUBLIC OFFICIAL, bottom line. When one is a public official, almost everything they do and say is open to scrutiny. And by the way, selling a house, or even buying a house, is not a ‘private matter.? There is such a thing as ‘public record,? and home ownership is a part of local, county and state public records.
In all fairness to Skilling, he did send me a text message stating the following:
‘Trevor: To answer a fair question you asked related to my position as superintendent, I am not retiring in December nor have I made plans to retire. When I decide to retire, I will share it publicly well in advance of the retirement date. I really enjoy my work as Superintendent of Oxford Community Schools.?
That statement still doesn’t answer the question of whether or not he is moving to Georgia. We all know that the superintendent could easily pack his bags, move to Georgia and take his six-figure salary across state lines because nothing in his contract requires him to live here while working for Oxford.
If Skilling moves, how can he give his ‘full attention? to Oxford, while living in another state? If he were to take the emeritus position early, how happy would you, the public, be sending nearly $164,000 to support him in another state?
I believe certain board members have knowledge of the superintendent’s plans and they have an obligation to be forthcoming with that information. For those members who may not know what’s going on, they have a duty to press the superintendent in public and demand explanations from him.
If the superintendent has nothing to hide, then he should have no problem explaining to the public why his Oxford home was allegedly sold, why a 7-acre farm has been purchased in the Peach State and why there is talk of him leaving in December. Sources close to Skilling stated all this is true.
All we want are some honest answers, but I guess truth, honesty and transparency are way too much to ask from Oxford’s highest paid public official.

I am a huge football fan. I will not miss a University of Michigan football game. If I have something to do on Saturday, I try to work it around the game.
If I can’t watch the game, I tape it and tell everyone I come in contact with not to tell me anything. You also know it’s football season because I will be sporting my Maize and Blue Michigan tie.
This Saturday, I got to go to the’Big House? and see the Wolverines? home opener as they took on Utah .
Even though they lost, 23-25, it was a very exciting game for me because it was my first time at the stadium, surrounded by thousands of fans in blue and gold, and amazingly enough, there were plenty of Utes fans there as well.
I am not sure what I think of Rich Rodriguez’s new style of offense. It didn’t seem to be working. As most Wolverine fans know, with a new coach and style of play , along with Chad Henne, Mike Hart, and Jake Long all gone to play with the ‘Big Boys? in the NFL and many of last year’s players gone to play for different teams, this season and probably the next will be a time of ‘rebuilding.?
Rebuilding or not, I will support my team, loud and proud.
Now for a cheer:
‘They are here, triumphant!
‘Here they come with banners flying, In stalwart step they’re nighing, With shouts of vict’ry crying, We hurrah, hurrah, we greet you now,Hail!
‘Far we their praises sing. for the glory and fame they’ve bro’t us Loud let the bells them ring. For here they come with banners flying Far we their praises tell.
‘For the glory and fame they’ve bro’t us Loud let the bells them ring. For here they come with banners flying Here they come, Hurrah!
‘Hail! to the victors valiant Hail! to the conqu’ring heroes Hail! Hail! to Michigan the leaders and best!
‘Hail! to the victors valiant Hail! to the conqu’ring heroes Hail! Hail! to Michigan, the champions of the West!
‘We cheer them again We cheer and cheer again For Michigan, we cheer for Michigan We cheer with might and main We cheer, cheer, cheer With might and main we cheer!
‘Hail! to the victors valiant!
‘Hail! to the conqu’ring heroes!
‘Hail! Hail! to Michigan, the champions of the West!?

I am a huge football fan. I will not miss a University of Michigan football game. If I have something to do on Saturday, I try to work it around the game.
If I can’t watch the game, I tape it and tell everyone I come in contact with not to tell me anything. You also know it’s football season because I will be sporting my Maize and Blue Michigan tie.
This Saturday, I got to go to the’Big House? and see the Wolverines? home opener as they took on Utah .
Even though they lost, 23-25, it was a very exciting game for me because it was my first time at the stadium, surrounded by thousands of fans in blue and gold, and amazingly enough, there were plenty of Utes fans there as well.
I am not sure what I think of Rich Rodriguez’s new style of offense. It didn’t seem to be working. As most Wolverine fans know, with a new coach and style of play , along with Chad Henne, Mike Hart, and Jake Long all gone to play with the ‘Big Boys? in the NFL and many of last year’s players gone to play for different teams, this season and probably the next will be a time of ‘rebuilding.?
Rebuilding or not, I will support my team, loud and proud.
Now for a cheer:
‘They are here, triumphant!
‘Here they come with banners flying, In stalwart step they’re nighing, With shouts of vict’ry crying, We hurrah, hurrah, we greet you now,Hail!
‘Far we their praises sing. for the glory and fame they’ve bro’t us Loud let the bells them ring. For here they come with banners flying Far we their praises tell.
‘For the glory and fame they’ve bro’t us Loud let the bells them ring. For here they come with banners flying Here they come, Hurrah!
‘Hail! to the victors valiant Hail! to the conqu’ring heroes Hail! Hail! to Michigan the leaders and best!
‘Hail! to the victors valiant Hail! to the conqu’ring heroes Hail! Hail! to Michigan, the champions of the West!
‘We cheer them again We cheer and cheer again For Michigan, we cheer for Michigan We cheer with might and main We cheer, cheer, cheer With might and main we cheer!
‘Hail! to the victors valiant!
‘Hail! to the conqu’ring heroes!
‘Hail! Hail! to Michigan, the champions of the West!?

A couple weeks ago Steve Ronk was named ‘Fire Chief of the Year? by the Michigan Association of Fire Chiefs.
Over the past year I have had the honor of getting to know Steve a little bit and I can tell you he is one of the most genuine men I know.
President Dwight Eisenhower once said, ‘The qualities of a great man are ‘vision, integrity, courage, understanding, the power of articulation, and profundity of character.?”
This is a definition I believe defines the type of man Chief Ronk is. A man of vision, integrity, courage, understanding, profound character and the power to articulate it all.
He is not one who seeks out the spotlight, but instead attributes his success to the lessons his father ‘Tink? Ronk taught him.
“The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example,? said Benjamin Disraeli, prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1874-1880.
For Steve it’s not about self, but about team effort.
One of the things I have noticed about Steve is that he will not go before the Independence Township Board with a project until he has completely thought it through and found the best and most proficient way to accomplish his vision.
I also had the opportunity to talk to each of his kids (Andrea, Rob, and Tommy) and I was touched by the respect and the way each of them looked up to their father.
Andrea said, ‘Anyone who knows him has to respect him. They may not agree with him all the time, they may not love him, but they have to respect him because he’s just phenominal at what he does and he’s just an amazing human being.?
His son Tommy explained a firefighter as an ‘everyday hero?
‘Not a superhero like in a cartoon, but a real life hero who helps people everyday.?
I am thankful for the men and women who are the ‘everyday heroes? of our communities. The firefighters, the police, the paramedics, and the soldiers.
These are men and women who pledge their lives and their services to the improvement and wellness of mankind.

With the political season well on its way, Indepedence Township Board meetings just keep getting hotter.
For the past several weeks, there has been a ‘grudge match? between Neil Wallace (a member of the six-member slate) and Mike Clark (campaign supporter for Supervisor Dave Wagner).
However, I think the back and forth name calling and slamming has gone on far enough. I see nothing gained by any of it other than wasted minutes during public comments.
I know the First Amendment protects freedom of speech, as well as the Open Meeting’s Act, but I would argue the public-comment portion of a township board meeting is for comments concerning the township, not bashing political candidates.
If you want to ‘duke it out? and debate one another, find another place and time to have ‘fight night.? This back and forth between Mr. Clark and Mr. Wallace is absolutely ridiculous and very childish.
I will also note that at the last board meeting, Mr. Clark accused The Clarkston News of being ‘prejudiced.? Considering I am the one who writes the stories concerning Independence Township, I believe he was pointing his finger at me.
Well, Mr. Clark, I would like to say my co-workers and I take our jobs as journalists with great pride and respect. It is not a responsibility we take lightly, but instead spend hours making phone calls double checking our facts and our quotes to make sure they are right. We make sure we cover ‘all sides? to a story so the readers can make there own decisons according to facts.
The first dean of the Missouri School of Journalism, Walter Williams, wrote ‘The Journalist Creed? in 1914. A portion of that creed states: ‘I believe that the public journal is a public trust; that all connected with it are, to the full measure of their responsibility, trustees for the public; that acceptance of a lesser service than the public service is betrayal of this trust.?
‘I believe clear thinking and clear statement, accuracy and fairness are fundamental to good journalism.?
I take the declaration of that creed with heartfelt passion and do my best to abide by it and I will continue to do so.

Last Saturday evening, I attended the ‘Closing the Technology Gap in Education? awards ceremony held at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills.
First, I would just like to congratulate Mrs. Kyle Hughes of Clarkston High School for taking first place at the high school level. I had the opportunity to meet Mrs. Hughes for the first time the other night and I can tell she is a wonderful teacher as well as passionate about math, science, engineering and technology.
Before dinner was served and awards handed out, I was able to roam through the museum and look at all the old cars. There were some beauitful muscle cars like the Charger, Road Runner, and Baracuda, but then I saw my favorite sports car of all time, the Dodge Viper. If I was planning on being a bachlor for the rest of my life and was going to own a sports car, the Viper would be it.
I enjoyed seeing how automobiles have changed over time, not only in style, but in technology as well. I have always been interested in cars and car movies. However, I can’t tell you anything about them other than I like what the car looks like or it’s a fast car with a lot of power. Oh, and as far as fixing cars or knowing what is wrong with them, don’t ask me because I can’t help you.
Speaking of cars, I almost forgot, I got a professional photo of me sitting in a Plymouth Prowler. I thought it was a cool souveneir
During dinner, I sat next to Gerald Scott, a reporter for Detroit Auto Scene newspaper. I asked him ‘what got you into writing about cars?? He replied, ‘In Detroit, you either write about cars or you write about sports. I chose cars.? I told him I thought it would be fun to be able to test drive all the new cars that came out.
I also had the privilege of meeting and interviewing Frank Fountain, president of Chrysler Foundation, as well as meeting Channel 4, WDIV Detroit’s own weatherman Andrew Humphrey.
Overall it was a great night. I looked at cars, I met some new and interesting people, ate some good food and celebrated Mrs. Kyle Hughes? first place award.

With 16 of the 19 non-union township workers deciding to unionize and Beaumont once again denied by the planning commission, politics in Independence Township are heating up; and it’s just the beginning of a long summer.
I am glad there is a lot happening in the township politically because it is keeping my hands busy at the keyboard, but I must admit I hate the dirty side of politics.
I hate all the finger pointing, and back stabbing behind the scenes. I think more issues could be settled and fewer started if everyone communicated more.
I don’t mean sitting in a room and yelling at each other, pointing out what so and so is doing wrong, but honestly listening to what each one has to say and taking those words into consideration.
For those running for township offices or trustee, I encourage you to simply run for your position. Let the public know who you are, what you want to accomplish, and why, without bashing your opponents. Then let the public vote on who they think will do the best job.
A person’s integrity and honesty will stand out more among the crowd, in my opinion, than those who bash each other for personal gain.
There are four people, I know for sure, who are running for township treasurer. I am still trying to figure out why that position seems to be the hot seat.
As far as other positions go, I know both Clerk Shelagh VanderVeen and Supervisor Dave Wagner are running for re-election to their current positions. I haven’t heard confirmation of anyone running against them for either of those positions other than what’s been rumored. Same for those running for trustee, all I’ve heard is rumors.
If anyone out there is running for any township or city position for Independence, Springfield, or Clarkston, and want your name in the paper, call us at 248-625-3370 or e-mail us at

It’s nearly 11:30 p.m and I have been sitting at my desk typing for the past 12.5 hours and now I have just begun my column without a clear thought of what to say or where I am heading.
It’s amazing how when you stare at your computer screen for so long you begin to fade into a semi-comatose state, where you just keep typing, but your brain isn’t really registering the words on the page.
After concentrating all day your brain feels like mush, your eye balls burn with pain from staring at same thing all day. Your hands begin to cramp, your legs begin to tighten, your back begins to ache from sitting in the slumped over typing position.
Slowly but surely the madness sets in and you wonder ‘how did I get to this point,? but you keep telling yourself. ‘I love writing.?
This takes me back to my early days of college when I did not start my 20 page paper until midnight, or I sat with my Critical Writing book wrestling with the minds of Plato, Aristotle, Immanuel Kant and many other great minds, or pacing back and fourth trying to find the meaning of the poem in my poetry book, so that I could have something intelligent to say about it the next day.
Now, I know longer wrestle with 20 page papers, early critical writers, or finding the meaning of a poem. Tonight I wrestle with my thoughts, or the lack of. I wrestle against seconds, minutes, and hours of needed sleep. I wrestle with an empty stomach that longs for dinner sitting at home. Soon, I will wrestle for 45 minutes until I reach the destination of my house.
Only then will my madness be settled as I fill my stomach with food, and I lay my head to rest for a few hours, until I awake to start another day. Oh wait, the day has already started, for the clock has struck midnight. And I have yet to offer you any sane words.
However, my friends tonight or today, or this week, I offer you no words of wisdom or deep thought. Perhaps, the thought of wondering what I am talking about, which as I said in the beginning I don’t know where I am heading, but I have found my end.

Webster defines love as a ‘strong affection or a warm attachement.? Used in a verb tense it means ‘to cherish or to feel a passion, devotion, or tenderness for.?
Love is something that every human heart desires, something everyone longs to have, and to feel, as well as something every girl dreams about about hearing from boyfriend, fiance, and husband.
It is something that every guy thinks about telling a girl when he gets down on one knee and opens a box with a sparkling diamond ring, in hopes that she loves him enough to answer his question with a ‘yes, I love you and want to marry you.?
But did you know that there are different kinds of love? In the Greek there are four types of love: Eros, Sorge, Philia, and Agape.
Eros- is where we get our English word ‘Erotica? from. This is a love relationship based purely on sexual attraction. Which sounds more like lust than ‘love? to me.
Unfortunantly, this is the only love that some people, and couples have experienced, which is why I think the divorce rate is so high, because couples built there relationship based on sex and didn’t know the deeper levels of love.
This brings me to the next type of love, Storge: often times described as ‘family love.? The love relationship between mother, father, brothers and sisters. This love shows a committment to family.
Next is Philia, which is ‘brotherly love? as many of you know the city of Philiadelphia is called ‘the city of brotherly love.?
This kind of love is not a family brother to brother love, but a brothlerly love in the sense that you love and care about your fellow man, co-workers, and friends.
Finally there is Agape: this is the strongest form of love. It’s what is known by preachers as ‘the God type of love? or ‘unconditional love.? Agape love is the love that is supposed to be in a Marriage.
It’s the love that expresses ‘no matter what, I will be faithful and stick by you untill the end.? It’s a love of commiment. It’s the type of love Webster defined as ‘to feel a passion, devotion, or tenderness for.?
According to Christian belief, Jesus told his disciples that the two greatest commandments were ‘to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul. and the second is to love your neighbor as yourself.?
That’s the kind of love people have when they lay down their lives and die for someone else.
As you go about your Valentines Day, think about what kind of loves you possess, and the kind of love you desire. And guys don’t forget to take buy your girlfriends, fiances, and wives some candy, flowers, or perhaps both!

Last Friday night, I spent the entire night flipping between C-Span and Fox News, trying to get some information on presidential candidates and listening to the candidates speak.
I must admit I was very proud of myself because I am not one who watches television news, even though I am in the news business. And I have never really cared much for politics.
To be honest, I never took the time to find out what each candidate stood for, I was ‘too busy? with school, life, sports, and everything else. Instead when it came time to vote I would just ask my parents who they liked and why, then vote accordingly.
This year I decided to watch some news, check some websites, listen to some speeches/ debates and educate myself on who the candidates are and what they say they hope to accomplish in office, so that I may make a vote according to who I think would be a good president.
Perhaps, I have also started taking an interest because of my job. Since I’ve been a reporter I have been pushed into the world of politics, at least at the local goverment level and a little at the state level.
From my twice monthly Independence Township Board meetings, to my stories concerning part-time legislature, I am finding myself more aware of how the world and politics work. How each decision at any level of government affects the general public.
Maybe because I am dealing with politics first hand as opposed to just reading it out of a book that my interest has been gained. Regardless of the reason, all of this has caused me to reflect upon our great nation and the road layed by our founding fathers for government to be ruled by the people. And with that ruling is our right to vote.
The revolutionary war took place between 1775-1783, it was estimated that 25,000 American Revolutionaries died during active military service. During that war on July 4, 1776, 56 men signed the Declaration of Independence, claiming their freedom from Great Britian and marking a new beginning. As it was written 232 years ago:
‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ? That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, ? That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.?
Though I still believe politics in general are very corrupt and by no means do I think that America is a ‘perfect nation? without fault.
I am still proud to call myself an American and and thank God for the freedoms and liberties we have in this country as well as the men and women in the Armed Services preserving those freedoms everyday in the wars they fight.

I remember as a kid liking snow a lot more than I do now, maybe it was because a few of those snow showers led to a couple of snow days, which meant no school and sledding down dead-man’s hill.
Of course I do remember a few snow days in high school as well. Snow in high school meant three things.
Number one, wrestling season. Oh, how I can I forget driving to school on Saturday at 7 a.m. in my 1995 Ford Taurus, trying not to die on the icy unpaved roads.
Number two, doing doughnuts, fish tales, power slides, and racing cars in the back of the school parking lot late at night after wrestling. Once again, I am glad no death or injuries occured.
Number three, going to my best friend Josh’s house to place ice hockey on his pond, sled, and flirting between the lines of fun and stupid on the four-wheeler.
It was always an adventure, trying to stay on the sled while being pulled. Let’s just say I only stayed on the sled until we started moving. From there on out, it was cold snow covering my fogged up goggles and trying not to hit trees or get run over by the four-wheeler while doing doughnuts on the pond.
There was this one time though, when Josh and I decided to forget the sled and just ride down the driveway together on the four-wheeler. We thought fish tailing the entire way down was a good plan and we would just lean the opposite direction so not to lose control.
Was it a good plan? It started out good until we neared the bottom and spun into a 360 spin and one of the tires happened to hit the only patch of dirt visible in the entire yard, causing the four-wheeler to flip. Josh threw me off before we were crushed. Once more, I am glad I didn’t die.
But as I think back to those old snow days, I am also led to think of the season, which is Christmas. A time filled with holiday cheer, Santa Claus, lights , presents, and good will towards men.
However, the true spirit of Christmas goes beyond all the hype, hustle and bustle of shopping for the ‘perfect gift.? Because the perfect gift already came and transformed the world forever. Heaven’s perfect gift came to earth as a baby born in a manger.
I have a hard time thinking about Jesus as an innocent little child because we often think of him in his later years all grown up, walking in full power of the Holy Spirit and his father’s will.
But I wonder, when was it exactly that Jesus understood who he truly was and the cost his life was worth? I don’t have the answer, but I enjoy thinking about it.
As you go through out your holiday remember to share some love with everyone you meet I wish you all a Merry Christmas as well as a safe and Happy New Year!

I remember coming home one day in the first grade and telling my mom, I learned the Pilgrims came over on the ‘Maple Flower? instead of the ‘May Flower.?
I love it when we start getting close to Thanksgiving and I begin to dream about eating turkey, sweet potatoes, mash potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, and of course my favorite, pumpkin pie with lots of whip cream.
Oh and let’s not forget the traditional Detroit Lions game. Maybe they will win this year? We can hope they bounce back after losing to the New York Giants last Sun. 16-10.
Thanksgiving is about much more than just lots of good food and football, it’s a time to give thanks for those sitting around you at the table and reflect on the importance they play in your life. I often get a little emotional when I start thinking about all the things that I am thankful for. I am truly thankful for my family; I have two great parents and a great older sister. I am thankful for all my friends and how each one of them has touched my life in a special way.
I am thankful for my job at The Clarkston News and my fellow co-workers that are able to laugh and joke around a little bit.
I am thankful for the men and women who have died fighting wars to preserve our freedom in this nation.
And most of all, I am thankful to God for the many blessings he pours out daily.
I am glad that we are given a holiday entitled ‘Thanksgiving? so we can take a moment and remember what is most important to us.
It’s not the amount of hours we work and the money we make, but the people that surround us and enrich our lives everyday.
I would encourage all of you as you sit down to your Thanksgiving meal, just to go around the table and each person say one or two things they are thankful for.

The other day my co-worker was telling me about a spiritual experience she had while taking pictures of a statue of Jesus, watching a leaf fall from the sky, and hearing church bells play her favorite hymn.
She asked me if I thought of it as a ‘spiritual experience.? I told her, I most definitely did.
I call those ‘God moments.? Those moments that point us back to the right perspective. The creator and the created, that we were created for God’s pleasure and His specific purpose for each of our lives.
I often have God moments when I am outside. I tell people I feel the closest to God, when I am looking at the farthest thing away- the stars. How about listening to the wind blow through the trees, seeing a flower blossom, watching a sunrise or set. Wondering what the birds are chirping about in the early morning.
Creation is a reflection of God’s character. Genesis tells us at the end of each creation God looked at it and said ‘It is good.? Why was it good? Because God is a good God, He is a loving God, but too often we let ourselves become so busy and consumed with life, we don’t take time to breathe in the fresh air and have a reflective God moemnt.
We forget the true reason why Adam and Eve were created, they were created because God wanted relationship. Adam didn’t just have a God moment here and a God moment there, but Adam walked and talked with God each and everyday, just as we should be doing.
David reminds us in Psalms 103:1-3 that when our days our rough we need to remember the goodness and graciousness of God.
‘Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul and forget not all his benifits- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life with love and compassion.?
There is nothing that compares to the love, joy, and peace, which can only be found in relationship with the creator. He reminds us each and everyday that He is good and loving all we need to do is take a look around at the creation that surrounds us.
Until next time God bless!

Lots of exciting news has been happening in Independence Township, especially in the past two weeks.
The township approved a $2.7 million deal for a new township hall, which kept Clarkston News phones ringing off the hook.
Citizens of the township expressing their disgust that the board would make such a deal ‘behind closed doors without public comment.?
I even had one lady call me asking if what they did was legal. I told her the board is able to make negotiations behind closed doors concerning real estate purchases.
I don’t think anybody is going to disagree there certainly is a need for a new town hall, considering the current building they’re in was built in 1910, and is not up to code with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations. Not to mention the supervisor is in a separate building due to room.
As far as negotiations go, I do agree the deal came off as ‘sneaky? to me as well and I do believe the public should have been given some sort of notice prior to. I was shocked when I heard the news.
At the same time I know the board has been labeled as ‘lame duck.? But they’re is still a job to be done and issues to be voted on until the new board takes their seats on Nov. 11. Whether the current board made the deal a year ago or two weeks ago they are doing what they were elected to do, which is make decisions big or small that they think are best for the township.
On the other hand, I do know Dan Travis left the closed session because he did not feel it was right for the board to make such a decision at the current time, nor did he feel he had enough time or information to make a solid ‘yes? or ‘no? vote. For that, I have to congratulate him and give him my respect for sticking by his morals and beliefs as a board member.
Citizens of Independence Township wishing to hear more concerning the township hall can show up at the Independence Township library on Oct. 7 at 7:30.
On a side note: I would like to congratulate the members of the planning commission on their 4-2 vote for final site approval of Beaumont Hospital.
Also Congrats to Eric Hunt and the Beaumont staff. I know it’s been a long time coming.

As I showed up to the restaurant to celebrate my grandparents 59th anniversary I saw at each place setting two gold rings tied together with ribbon.
I picked them up and began to ponder the beautiful symbolism behind those two gold rings. I thought about the vows my grandparents said to one another before their family and before God.
They pledged their love for another through all facets of life. ‘For better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from that day forward until death do them part.?
It’s a love that I have admired my entire life, a love that I hope to share one day with my future wife.
While at the party my Grandpa looked across the room at his beautiful wife and began to tell the story of how he met her at age 16 to my cousin and I. I told my Grandpa that Grandma was blessed to get such a special man and he looked at me and said ‘Yeah, but I got the better end of the deal.?
He tells me all the time ‘I love her more today then I did when I first married her? and I know she feels the same towards him.
I would like to say ‘thank you? to my grandparents for showing me the greatest example of God’s love lived out before my eyes.
A love that is patient, kind, not jealous, nor boastful, not self-seeking, but always putting the other first, a love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and most of all endures all things.
As election day draws near there are many issues to be decided upon:
Who will be our next president and vice president? Will marijanua be a legal for the use of medical purposes? Will the state constitution be amended in order to expand the use of human embryos and stem cell research? In the Clarkston area, will you vote yes or no on a .45 tax for the preservation of more open space?
These are issues to be decided and I encourage you all not be persuaded by political ads, news media, friends or even family. I urge you to vote according to your own heart.
‘Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.? – John Quincy Adams.

First off I would like to say ‘thank you? to Sharron Catallo, Art Pappas, Jim Wenger, Dan Travis, Collin Walls, and Nancy Stroll.
Each one of these people dedicated anywhere between 12 to over 30 years of service and dedication to the community they love.
British comic writer Douglas Adams once said, ‘To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.?
As I was thinking this week about our local government leaders who are retiring. I thought the words service and integrity were ones that connected them all.
Many of these leaders came from the same era of my grandparents, which I think is a special generation. It was a generation where the word ‘integrity? was not just a word loosely used, but it was a word that was reflection of who they were.
A word that defined the way they walked, talked, and lived their lives. Not just while they were in the spotlight, but among friends and family as well.
It saddens me how with each passing generation integrity and character become less and less seen. That is not to say our newly elected and re-elected officials do not have character or integrity, but a hope that the new government officials will continue on the roads paved for them by the labor of love and dedication of the previous generation.
With these leaders retiring also comes the loss of wisdom and decades of knowlege, which is vital for current officials to understand the reasons why prior boards voted on certain decisions the way they did.
It is these leaders who will forever hold a piece of history in the community in which they lived, worked and helped shape.
‘It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.? – Robert Kennedy.

As many of you are probably reading this on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas.
As I was reflecting upon our current economic situation with the number of homes in foreclosure, the increasing number of people without jobs, as well as the questionable future of the American Auto Industry I figured this Christmas would probably be a little harder financially then those of the past.
I imagine many people’s wish list has become more of a “need list” than a “want list? and I am proud of all the members of the Clarkston community who donated time and/or money to bless someone who was in need of a little extra help this season.
Whether it was donating a toy for Toys for Tots, Santa’s Kids, giving money to the Salvation Army, Lighthouse, giving a gift basket of food to a neighbor or shoveling their driveway. All of those things are important.
I know we at the Clarkston News adopted a family this year instead of our usual gift exchange among co-workers. I was glad to give my money towards gifts for a family I knew really needed it.
Albert Einstein said, “The value of man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.”
I believe our giving is not only of money and material possession, or time spent at an event for a good cause, but truly giving of ourselves to another person.
That’s when our gift stretches beyond just a “random act of kindness,” into a full act of love. Sitting down with them and listening to the cares of their heart. Finding out about their life, their family, and their current situation.
It’s an amazing feeling when you know someone genuinely cares about the things that are happening in your life and they are willing to cry, laugh, and relate with you.
God showed the world what giving was all about when he sent his son Jesus Christ to be born in a manger, which will always be the greatest gift of all.
Merry Christmas everyone and God bless!

This past Friday I showed up at Coats Funeral Home in Ortonville to pay my respects and to give my support to the family members of a gentleman by the name of Bill Cobb. Mr. Cobb passed away on Jan. 11 at 92 years old. He was a 71-year resident of Independence Township.
He served as the Independence Township assessor and building inspector, as well as a World War II vet of the U.S. Army Air Corps, serving as a B-24 pilot in India. He was also a longtime member of the Clarkston United Methodist Church where he was a member for over 50 years.
Last June, I had the opportunity of sitting down and interviewing Mr. Cobb. He gave me a brief history of his life story, which I did my best to capture in the story I wrote. (See ‘Diligence, dedication define Cobb’s life,? June, 18, 2008, Clarkston News archives).
I was so glad I had the opportunity to meet him and get to know him a little bit.
Bill stopped by the Clarkston News office three or four times to say ‘hello? and to invite me to walk with him across the street for a cup of coffee at Village Bake shop. Unfortunately, I only got to have a cup of coffee with him once, but I remember that day vividly. As we sat in the bakeshop sipping on our coffee, Bill pointed to some shelves on the wall that had special coffee mugs on them. He said, ‘The old timers all had their own mug.?
I asked him if he had his own mug. He said he didn’t, but he knew a lot of the men who did. ‘Most of them are probably dead now,? he said.
Then Bill told me how he remembered when there was only one voting precinct in Clarkston both for the Village of Clarkston and Independence Township. It was held at the law offices next to Clarkston State Bank.
‘The Mayor would come out ring the bell and say ‘hear ye, hear ye, the polls are now open,?? he said.
Even though I only had the opportunity to have coffee with Bill once, I at least got to chat with him for a few minutes the other times he came in. He would read some of the stories I wrote concerning Independence Township and he wasn’t afraid to give his thoughts and opinions on politics. I enjoyed hearing how he felt on the current issues of the day.
Bill took on a grandfather type figure to me and talking with him I could tell he was a man of character, wisdom and dedication
At the funeral service I learned that Bill’s biggest hobby was fishing on Whipple Lake. On each side of the picture of Bill and his wife Mae, was an old fishing pole and rowboat oar. It was evident the fishing rod had caught many fish. There was also a piece of wood with fish drawn on it included was the length, weight, girth, type of fish, the year it was caught.
His daughter Betty told me it was his way of recording the biggest fish he caught.
‘If he caught one bigger the next time. He would erase and draw the bigger one,? she said.
Being on the lake was Bill’s way of getting away from the busyness of life and enjoying time with God. For him, nature was the best way to connect with his creator, which I know his faith had an impact on others.
For the family and friends who are left behind may God bless you all and give you peace. As for me, I will always remember the sweet old man whose life was a testimony of faith, character, wisdom, and dedication.

No more snow. Cold.Hats. Gloves. Scarfs.Heavy coats.Long Johns. Barren
trees. Gray skies. Icy breath. Bad driving conditions. Bah humbug.
Instead think of Blue skies. Green grass. Flowers blossom. Rays of sunshine. Refreshing rains. Smiling faces. Birds chirping.
I love how just a few adjectives can paint a picture in your mind and get your imagination rolling and then you begin to believe that what your imagining is true. But reality quickly sets in when you step outside and you realize spring is not here yet.
If you can’t tell already, I have spring fever. I get so frustrated when Mother Nature of Michigan decides to give us a tease of spring like the few days we had a couple weeks ago.
I can always tell when spring is getting close because my cats Max and Shiloh start to get spunky. During the seasons of birds and butterflies, the boys enjoy sitting on the bench seat in my mom’s office looking out the window ‘barking? as birds and butterflies fly by.
Right now they just stare out the window hoping to see something move.
Then out of boredom Shiloh licks the cold sweat off the window. Crazy cat is probably going to die from mold.
With only three days left until March I leave you with a poem entitled
‘March? by English Romantic Poet William Wordsworth:
The cock is crowing,
The stream is flowing,
The small birds twitter,
The lake doth glitter
The green field sleeps in the sun;
The oldest and youngest
Are at work with the strongest;
The cattle are grazing,
Their heads never raising;
There are forty feeding like one!
Like an army defeated
The snow hath retreated,
And now doth fare ill
On the top of the bare hill;
The plowboy is whooping- anon-anon:
There’s joy in the mountains;
There’s life in the fountains;
Small clouds are sailing,
Blue sky prevailing;
The rain is over and gone!

I was very sad to hear the Seattle Post Intelligencer, after 145 years, was putting out its final print edition and becoming a strictly online ‘paper.?
On Monday, I was talking with Planning Commisioner Joe Lawrence, who told me it was the first morning he had woken up and there was no Detroit Free Press sitting on his kitchen table.
Both the Free Press and the Detroit News along with Flint, Saginaw and Bay City daily papers are only delivering three times a week.
‘I’ve tried to go and read it online,? Lawrence said. ‘It’s not the same.?
I couldn’t agree more. To me, there is something about ink on a page. It takes the events of the day or the week and locks them in history. After so many editions are printed, you have a history book.
You want proof? Come to the Clarkston News office. We have our archives dating all the way back to 1934. We have plenty of readers come in to browse through the old archives and photocopy stories and pictures of the past.
I can’t begin to imagine trying to look at 75 years of history on the internet. Even if I did, it would cost me. You can’t hardly look at a major newspaper story online older than a day without having to pay for it.
It used to be, a person would grab their coffee and read through their morning newspaper, go to work and discuss that morning’s headlines with co-workers. Later that night, they may turn on the evening news. That was usually enough news for one day, until the next morning’s paper arrived on their porch. Not anymore!
Now, we want instant gratification, we must know what is happening every second of everyday. We are now consumed with 24-hour news. Newspapers have to update their websites every hour if not quicker to keep up with FOX, CNN and MSNBC.
As much as I love and use the internet and my computer, I don’t want to use it for everything. It’s not just newspapers. It’s everything, books, magazines, and documents.
I don’t want to sit and wait at the doctor’s office with my laptop because their are no magazines or newspapers laying around to pick up, I don’t want to curl up with my laptop on the couch and download a book everytime I want to read one. I don’t want to drink my coffee in front of my computer to read my NEWSPAPER either. I prefer my ink on a page.

For the past five or six months I have been covering Tuesday night board meetings of Independence Township and let me tell you they are not getting any better. In fact they’re getting worse.
I figured with a new board they would need a couple months to settle in and previous board members would eventually warm up to the newly elected trustees and treasurer, but boy was I wrong.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much dysfunction in my entire life. I constantly get phone calls, comments, and e-mails from members of the public who see it, too.
One person said to me, ‘they are the biggest bunch of losers I could have ever assembled. I would be lying if I told you that I wouldn’t fire every single person within the first hour of working for me.?
I must admit I see very little being accomplished by this board. I see lots of talk, but very little action. I’ve watched meetings that used to average about two hours, now average close to three and four hours. So we’re there longer and yet I leave scratching my head wondering if they accomplished a single thing.
Looking back at the previous township board administration I was glad to see decisions were made and things were accomplished and there was movement forward.
Now, one could argue that the previous board made some poor decisions on certain items. Whether they were good or bad decisions is up for debate; however, at least things were getting done.
I see the current board more consumed with debating amongst themselves
and being ‘right.? That I have a hard time really seeing where the taxpayers are truly the best interest of the board.
Back in January the Clarkston News printed an editorial and the last line read ‘You don’t have to be on the same team, but you still have to talk to each other.?
Well I personally disagree with that
statement. If you don’t learn to put aside personal feelings, personal agendas, and truly work as a team, you certainly won’t get anything accomplished.
Instead the current administration will l be remembered for long meetings, meaningless debates, and doing nothing because of fear of making the wrong decision.

As many know, the last few months at the Clarkston News have been super busy for me as I have tried my best to keep up with all the big stories surrounding Independence Township board/ administration.
I found a quote online from Earl Wilson who said ‘Vacation is what you take when you can’t take what you’ve been taking any longer.?
Well just like everyone else, months of hard work catch up to me and the word vacation sounds sweeter and sweeter to me.
This past week I got just that. My best friend Josh came home from MO. to visit with his wife Nicole, and daughter Jeweli.
It’s been a couple years since I last seen my friend, but whenever we get together it’s like we’ve never been apart. Part of that is probably because I talk to him almost every day on my 40 minute drive to work, so we keep up with the daily events of each other’s lives.
It worked out that I had a few vacation days to use, so I packed my bags and headed up north with Josh and his family to his parent’s cottage, located between Midland and Grayling. Only about an hour and half drive, but far enough to recuperate from the busyness of home and work.
My time with Josh included bowling, videogames, time relaxing in the sun out on the pontoon boat, good food, and of course lots of laughter.
As much as I try to avoid the inevitable, I always seem to forget to put sunblock somewhere and end up becoming an enemy of the sun. Such was the case this time as well. I forgot to put some on my face and somehow missed the spot between my swim shorts and my upper knee (a typical burn spot when I mow the lawn.)
Despite coming home part lobster, it was refreshing to get away for a few days and relax a little bit. Morris Fishbein said ‘A good vacation is over when you begin to yearn for work.?
I’m not quite sure if I would say I was gone long enough to use the word ‘yearn? yet, but I will say I do feel refreshed from being away and I am ready to get back in the grind of the daily routine.

Warren E. Burger told the Ohio Judicial Conference on Sept 4, 1968, (nine months before being named Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court):
‘A court which is final and unreviewable (the Supreme Court) needs more careful scrutiny than any other.
“Unreviewable power is the most likely to self-indulge and the least likely to engage in dispassionate self-analysis – In a country like ours, no public institution, or the people who operate it, can be above public debate.?
I thought of that as I sat at the Aug. 18 Independence Township board meeting, surrounded by more than 50 people, passionately ready to debate whether the local government should enter the trash business or whether The People should still have a choice on who hauls away their garbage.
I sat there and thought, ‘I wish it was this packed for every board meeting.? I wish more people would voice their opinions, their criticisms, and their praise more often to elected officials.
The key word in that last sentence is ‘elected.? The seven members of the township board were elected by The People, to represent The People and should ultimately be accountable to The People.
Despite the fact, many probably feel your opinions and thoughts don’t matter Governmental leaders will do whatever they want, so what’s the point?
The point is, I still believe in the voice of the people and citizens should engage government.
This is why I think people should vote’yes? to have a state constitutional convention, so that the door to critique (and hopefully improve) laws that govern us can be opened. This is also why as many people as possible should pack the seats at Clarkston Jr. High’s
Performing Arts Center Thursday night, to listen and let their voice be heard concerning the CCIRF garbage debate.
If you don’t speak out, your government will assume they are doing a good job. If enough people continue to voice concerns.Officials will get the message and when it comes time to vote, the outcome will be a vote of the people.
Why? Because the people let
their voice be heard.

This past week has been busy as far as news and meetings go. Tuesday was the usual ‘township party? at Independence Township Hall.
The good news is the meeting was just under three hours long. Thanks for the extra few hours of sleep.
The major topic of debate was ‘car allowances? (see story on page 4A). It seems the longer a topic is discussed, the more confusing board members get, which relates to my last column ‘Too much talk.?
There was a lot of back and forth as whether car allowances were considered a ‘stipend? or ‘salary.? It’s in moments like this when no one can agree, you ask your township attorney to render an opinion. This way there is one final opinion for the entire board instead of everyone saying ‘well I talked to this person and they said…?
I personally believe there should be no car allowances for anyone full-time elected or township employees. Either use the township vehicles or write your mileage reimbursement like everyone else who works for the township does.
When the clerk treasurer, and supervisor are making between $70,000 to $80,000 a year, I’m pretty sure they can afford gas, insurance, and regular car maintenance.
I hope the thoughts and comments from various board members Tuesday night will urge the three elected to give up their car allowances and save the taxpayers a little money.
* * *
My other meeting last week was the ‘Recall Wagner? meeting (story on page 1A) headed up by Henry Woloson, Mike Powell, and Joel DeLong.
With over 50 people in attendance and more who have shown an interest through e-mails and phone calls, it sounds to me like many people are sick of the status que they are recieving from their township officials.
What I gathered from talking to a few of the residents who attended was they were frustrated because they feel the leadership is not listening to the taxpayers and there needs to be more transparency and accountability. As to what will happen we will have to wait and see.
Also thanks to all who responded to my last columun.

Being the watch dog of the community is not always an easy task, nor is it always a ‘fun? one either, but as a journalist it is my duty.
Since my last column ‘Who’s slaughtering who?? (April 14 edition) I’ve recieved many e-mails, calls, and comments from various readers, some who loved it and gave me a high-five others who thought I should have took a more ‘civil? approach.
I can guarantee you the paper version was much nicer than the original I had penned and looking back at my column, I can understand the opposing viewpoints.
However, I still believe I said what needed to be said and it’s not the first time I’ve written such opinions and I’m sure it’s not the last either. I’ve singled out other board members when I felt their words or actions were unjustified, heck, I’ve ranted and raved about the board as a whole more times than I’ve wanted to as well.
I will be the first to tell you I don’t enjoy writing about what I consider to be an inept board or politician, but sometimes I feel I have to.
I know the majority of the public doesn’t have the time to sit and watch five hour meetings close enough to understand what’s really going on in their community, or to question and challenge the board/board members, so they rely on newspaper to provide such information. If I didn’t question what was said or decisons made, I wouldn’t be doing my job.
Former Austrian born journalist and Editor in Chief of TIME Magazine Henry Anatole Grunwald said ‘Journalism can never be silent: that is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph and the signs of horror are still in the air.?
Just a reminder Mother’s day coming up on May 9, don’t forget to show your appreciation with a gift or get a card, with I would like to send a shout out to my own mom.
Thanks Mom for always being there for me, loving me, and caring for me. Your prayers with tears have never gone unnoticed. I am thankful each and every day to have such a wonderful mom who’s first and foremost concern was for her children. I LOVE YOU, MOM!

Our office phones rang of the hook after our last editorial hit news stands.
Even Independence Township Trustee Neil Wallace came into our office Wednesday morning looking for a paper. Unfortunately, they had not been delivered yet.
When I heard Mr. Wallace had stopped by, I was rather surprised, since he has taken a vow of silence towards the News since 2008, when we editorialized against the professional-manager slate, of which Wallace was a part. Now, he can’t even answer a simple e-mail.
The reactions we get are interesting. We’ve already written the pros and cons on each of the millage proposals and now, it was our turn. Whether we are right, wrong, or indifferent, we’re entitled to our opinion just as much as the next person.
As I have said in the past – one cannot just be persuaded by political ads, news media, friends or even family, but you must vote according to your own heart.
As far as the millages are concerned, I, personally, am glad both police and library millages passed in Independence Township. It would have been a hard hit to lose eight to 12 more officers.
It’s funny to me looking back how many meetings the board debated the language for the millages. They were worried the small amount from the millages that goes to the Sashabaw Cooridor Improvement Authority would cause voters to vote them down. The voters proved the board member’s doubts wrong by passing the millages with flying colors.
Springfield Township voters also found it as important to keep their park land intact with the park and recreation millage.
As far as the City of Clarkston’s general five mill increase, a seven vote difference certainly told strong feelings were both for and against. Considering 11 voters did not vote on the millage proposal at all it makes me wonder what way they would have voted had they done so.
I think the city would have had a great success had they had a designated ‘police millage,? as opposed to a general millage to ‘save the police.?
I guess we’ll never know.