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Volume 165 Number 283

Friday-Saturday, November 26-27, 2010 50¢

The road out of deficit for
Brighton Area Schools: $6.2 million Reductions in salary and
benefits for teachers. $2 million Savings from increasing
class size by 15 percent. $170,000 Reducing the administra-
tive ranks by one post.


More schools join Brighton in red ink

District’s way out has doubters, newcomers when it came to size of its
deficit last year, which was $2,396,282. Its
deficit has now grown to an estimated $8.5
“We are going to turn this thing around. It’s
not going to spin like NASCAR.”
but officials will try to erase debt million.
When looking at the entire list, the
largest deficits belong to Detroit Public — Greg Rassel
By Jim Totten of Education, 14 schools became deficit Schools, facing a $218 million deficit; and Vice president, Brighton Area Schools Board of Education
DAILY PRESS & ARGUS districts in 2009-2010, with deficits rang- Benton Harbor Area Schools, facing an
ing from $4,216 to $218 million. A total of $11.6 million deficit. time a district is in deficit is two to four remains in debt. The district is preparing to
Brighton Area Schools is one of a grow- 41 school districts were in deficit last year, How long Brighton stays on this list years. submit an amended plan for 2010-2012
ing number of Michigan school districts and this list is expected to grow this year by depends on how quickly it successfully Brighton filed its first plan last year and that will eliminate an accumulated debt of
falling into debt. another 12 districts. completes its deficit-elimination plan. accomplished a number of reductions, but
According to the Michigan Department Brighton ranked second on the list of 14 State officials said the average length of it’s required to submit a new plan since it Continued on page 4
‘Nightmare’ fire
hits family one
day after move
‘Everybody has
been a really big
help,’ mom says
By Jason Carmel Davis

For a Howell family, the “big-

gest dream” of moving into a new
home turned into the “worst night-
mare” within 24 hours.
The family is “doing fine,”
according to Desiree Robertson,
even though they lost their unin-
sured downtown Howell home to a
Nov. 12 fire.
“We had only been in the house
exactly 24 hours,” said Robertson, File photo by GILLIS BENEDICT/
who, with her boyfriend and their
three children, had just moved into Howell Area Fire Depart-
Photo by ALAN WARD/DAILY PRESS & ARGUS the home in the 300 block of West ment members battle flames
Brighton Rotary Club members Mark Sweatman, left, Tom Coates, right, and others prepare turkey in the kitchen Washington Street, a couple of at a Howell home Nov. 12. A
of Crystal Gardens banquet center for delivery to needy families in the community. With direction from Crystal blocks south of Grand River couple and their three chil-
Gardens executive chef James Casper and several volunteer employees, the Rotarians prepared 38 24-pound Avenue. dren had just moved into the
turkeys, an estimated 500 pounds of potatoes, 60 gallons of gravy, 180 pounds of dressing and 20 gallons of “We saw our biggest dream and place one day earlier.
cranberry sauce. The food was then packaged and made ready for delivery to needy residents Wednesday. our worst nightmare over the
course of 24 hours.” ed $100,000 in damage, fire offi-
COMMUNITY An electrical fire that started in cials said. Fire officials also said it
the kitchen of the family’s home appears the home is a total loss

Groups try to bring spread throughout the house and

rendered the home inhabitable.
The family, Robertson said,
did not have insurance on their
due to the fire.
“I probably should have had
(insurance) on the house before

home. The fire caused an estimat- Continued on page 4

Thanksgiving to all This Weekend’s Best Bets

Gardens banquet center for executive chef
Big dinners require James Casper.
“He starts at 2 a.m., and his staff comes in
Fantasy of Lights takes over Howell
The Howell Area Chamber
special commitment on their day off to help out,” said Brighton
Rotary President Jeremy Jones. of Commerce Foundation
Nearly all Brighton’s Rotarians pitched in presents the annual night-
By Sarah K. Norris to help with the meal throughout the day, and time Fantasy of Lights
DAILY PRESS & ARGUS hand-delivered dinners to families in Liv- Parade at 7 p.m. today in
ingston County on Wednesday night, with
Cooking Thanksgiving dinner for a family plenty of time to spare before Thanksgiving downtown Howell. The
gathering of 10 can be daunting — but dinner. parade that traditionally
organizing a dinner for 500 people is an In their fifth year of the effort, they expect- draws thousands of peo-
effort that requires a special commitment on ed to serve 400-500 people, with the help of ple to Howell on the day File photo by ALAN WARD/DAILY PRESS & ARGUS
Thanksgiving. donations and discounts from Crystal Gar- after Thanksgiving begins
Both Cornerstone Evangelical Presbyter- dens, Banana Jacks produce, ASB Bread The Fantasy of Lights Pa-
ian Church in Brighton Township and the Distributors and Sysco Detroit. at Citizens Insurance on rade will happen tonight.
Brighton Rotary Club pooled their collective Volunteers and congregation members Photo by SARAH K. NORRIS/DAILY PRESS & ARGUS
Grand River Avenue at reindeer and a display of
resources to put together Thanksgiving din- managed to carve out a chunk of their day Sofia Byrum, 10, mixes milk with Byron Road and heads gingerbread houses. A 5K
ners for hundreds of people. to help out with preparing a sit-down dinner east on the avenue toward (3.1-mile) run starts at 6
Preparation for the yearly Rotary dinners
ranch dressing mix to help prepare
for Cornerstone Evangelical Pres- Elm Street. Other events p.m.; find out more on
began early Wednesday morning at Crystal Continued on page 4
byterian Church’s fourth annual begin at 4 p.m., including page 1B. Call (517) 546-
community Thanksgiving dinner. entertainment, Santa vis- 3920 or see www.howell.
Cornerstone, in Brighton Township, its, cookie decorating, live org for more details
“It’s our way of giving back. You see the joy on everyone’s faces, offers a free meal to members of its
and it teaches our kids a good lesson about what’s going on in the congregation as well as needy and Holiday program slated for the kids
homeless people in Livingston The Livingston Players is for kids 10 and younger
world today.” — Sue Byrum, volunteering at Cornerstone Evangelical Presbyterian Church for Thanksgiving County. Junior Theater group pres- with a responsible adult.
ents 90 minutes of singing, Tickets are $5 each and
dancing, stories, puppetry must be purchased in

Today is Black Friday, and
At, see video
and crafts with Santa’s elves
in the Ho Ho Holiday pro-
gram at 3 p.m. Saturday
and Sunday at the City of
advance at the center or at
the Greater Brighton Area
Chamber of Commerce,
131 Hyne St. in Brighton.
massive crowds are expected of rehearsals from the Hartland Brighton Arts, Culture and Other shows are set for the
to surge into retailers. Pick up Players Encore Youth Theater pro- History Center, 202 W. Main next two weekends; see
some shopping tips on page 3A. duction of “A Christmas Carol.” St. in Brighton. The program more at

Classified . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2D Obituaries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4A
Contact Us Snow showers
Comics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6B Opinion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6A For home delivery: 1-888-840-4809 High 34
Crossword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6B Real Estate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1D
Health & Fitness . . . . . . . . . . . .9A Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1B To report news: 517-548-2000 or 517-552-2828 Low 22
Horoscope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6B State . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5A
Lottery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2A Television . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2C To place a classified ad: 1-888-999-1288 Weather - 2A
Nation & World . . . . . . . . . . . . 7A The Weekender . . . . . . . . . . . . 1C
4A DAILY PRESS & ARGUS-Friday, November 26, 2010


District sets sights on shedding $8.5M debt

Continued from page 1 “This is a very aggressive plan to cation Association, expires next

$8.5 million, which includes $7.2 “The plan we’re looking at is a very aggressive
achieve in one year,” school board summer.
Vice President Greg Rassel said. Rassel said the district has BRIGHTON
million in debt accumulated from
the previous two years and a pro-
jected $1.3 million deficit for the
plan, and we all know that.” Can it be done? accomplished a lot in the last two
“I would be surprised it we years, including closing two build-
achieved it in one year,” ings, eliminating teacher
current year. — Cheryl Leach Rassel said. What do positions and privatizing While Brighton might spend a
Several Board of Education President, Brighton Area Schools Board of Education He said some of the you think? its janitorial services and few years as a deficit district, it cer-
members said they don’t believe items — increased class Share it at bus drivers. tainly isn’t headed toward setting
Brighton can eliminate $8 million sizes and reductions in livingston- Although the district the record for length of time on this
in one year, but they view the plan • Increasing class size by 15 per- to be negotiated, and the district teacher pay and bene- had reduced its expendi- list. That title belongs to Madison
as a goal they will work toward cent, a $2 million savings. will give it a “good go to try and fits — will have to be set- tures significantly, Rassel District Public Schools, in Madison
achieving. • Reductions in salary and bene- accomplish it.” tled through negotiations. said the district is like a battleship Heights in Oakland County. State
“The plan we’re looking at is a fits for teachers, a total of $6.2 mil- Leach said the district has made “Hopefully, we’ll be more being turned in a new direction. It figures show that district spent 17
very aggressive plan, and we all lion in savings tremendous progress in the last successful than we have in the takes time. Still, he’s confident it years in deficit before finally get-
know that,” board President Cheryl • Reducing the administrative year, cutting more than $7 million past,” Rassel said about teacher can be done. ting off the list in 2009.
Leach said. ranks by a post, a total savings of in expenditures. She said the dis- negotiations. “We are going to turn this thing Contact Daily Press & Argus
The new deficit-elimination plan $170,000 in salary and benefits. trict kept those cuts away from the The district’s contract with its around,” he said, adding. “It’s not reporter Jim Totten at (517) 548-
calls for the following: She said many of the items need classroom. teachers’ union, the Brighton Edu- going to spin like NASCAR.” 7088 or at

Tips on smart holiday spending

Continued from page 3 45-inch flat-screen TV offered at one store and might sound worth it. But remember that retail-
much better odds for the less spectacular bargain ers promote their store cards because they come
retailers on social networking sites likes Twitter down the road. Planning is important throughout out ahead on interest and late fees. Interest rates
and Facebook, and retailers are taking full the shopping season. Check the Web site of each of more than 20 percent are quite common.
advantage. It’s much easier for businesses to store you plan to visit for the latest bargains, and That’s what you’ll find at the Gap and Macy’s,
launch and retract deals online, where matching make a list of what you want to buy from each among many others. Signing up for a store’s
inventory with demand is less of a challenge. store. credit card and then canceling after a short peri-
Coupons and last-minute offers can arrive as e- od, even if you pay it off on time, can harm your
mail alerts or through social network accounts. credit score. If you apply, be very selective.
Smart phone apps like Coupon Sherpa also pro- Gaps on gift cards
vide in-the-moment help. It enables iPhone
users to search coupons by category or store Give gift cards another look if you’ve spurned Exposing your ID
name, and find the nearest location. According buying them because of fees and other issues. File photo by GILLIS BENEDICT/DAILY PRESS & ARGUS
to Deloitte Research, nearly one in five shoppers Thanks to recent rule changes, this is the first Grab deals from the comfort of your living Flames shoot from the roof of a home in the 300 block of
plans to use a cell phone during the shopping holiday season in which any gift card purchased room but take precautions to avoid becoming a
process. cannot expire for at least five years. What’s victim of identity theft, which costs U.S. con-
West Washington Street in Howell in fire that destroyed
more, inactivity and other fees are banned in the sumers more than $50 billion a year. Only do the second floor and roof Nov. 12. A father and an infant
first year. Still, you should beware of buying gift business with Web sites that are properly secure. who had just moved in were hospitalized for smoke
Extended warranties cards through online auction sites or classified A common indictor that it’s OK to enter confi- inhalation. The mother says the family is doing fine now.
ads. They may be counterfeit and could have dential information is the presence of a padlock
Here’s when to buy an extended warranty,
said Greg Daugherty, executive editor of Con-
sumer Reports: “Basically never.” The manufac-
been obtained illegally.

Shipping costs
in the address bar on the checkout page. This
means that the data you input will be properly
encrypted for your protection.
Family recovering
turer’s warranty should protect you against any
defect for up to a year, and the cost of protection
beyond that generally isn’t worth it. Instead of
wasting anywhere from tens to hundreds of dol-
Free shipping is easier than ever to find. Giant
retailers are dangling it as an inducement to
Fear of negotiating after fire hits home
lars on an extended warranty, put some extra spend. Walmart, Target and J.C. Penney are Prices frequently are negotiable in electronics, Continued from page 1 County EMS, the Howell Police
cash in your emergency fund to help cover pos- among the retailers promoting free shipping jewelry and department stores. Consumer Department and the Livingston
sible repairs or replacements. programs. More than 1,000 merchants also are Reports surveys on haggling have found that we walked through the door, but I County chapter of the American
participating in Free Shipping Day ( shoppers are successful more often than not never thought we’d lose it in 24 Red Cross responded to the scene. on Dec. 17. Even if you don’t when they ask for a better price. Make the nego- hours,” Robertson said. The Red Cross is assisting the dis-
Bargain blunders get free shipping, don’t wait too long or you’ll tiations friendly. Daugherty suggested saying The fire sent Robertson’s placed residents.
blow your budget to ship to out-of-town friends something like: “I’d like to buy this but the price boyfriend, Chris Oslund, and their Robertson on Monday said she
Black Friday can be a shopper’s dream. But and family. is over my budget. Can you do any better?” 9-month-old son, Brayden Robert- has talked with area real estate
long lines and overzealous crowds can really Often, the manager can if the clerk cannot. son, to the University of Michigan agents about rental properties. The
wear you down and make it harder to spend “You’re not going to embarrass yourself,” he Medical Center in Ann Arbor for family, she said, is staying with
wisely. So map out a plan in advance and read Store credit cards said. “They’ve heard it before.” Along the same treatment of smoke inhalation. The family and friends. The Red Cross
the fine print on door-buster deals. At 5 a.m., lines, ask the cashier if there’s a discount on your infant was released Nov. 15, and aided the family, Desiree Robert-
you may have a slim chance of landing the lone Saving 20 percent on a single large purchase item even if you don’t have a current coupon. Oslund was released the next day, son said, by supplying them with
Desiree Robertson said. Oslund blankets and money for new
Groups bring Thanksgiving feasts within reach suffered a burn on his arm during
the fire, but is healing, Desiree
Robertson said.
clothes and food.
“Everyone has been a really big
help to us,” she said. “There’s a lot
Continued from page 1 gram began with Cornerstone hosting the Sal- the world today.” Desiree Robertson and another of people I’d like to thank.”
vation Army’s Responding Everyday Against Organizers at Cornerstone say their dinner is adult female in the home at the time The Big Boy restaurant where
on Thanksgiving Day at Cornerstone. Community Homelessness program seven about more than helping the less fortunate; it of the fire were not injured. The the mother works is accepting
“We have easily 250 volunteers coming in years ago, which it continues to do. gives people with nowhere else to go some- two older Robertson children — financial donations for the family
and out,” said Karen Leaf, the church’s caring “For our first dinner, we had about 30 peo- where to spend the holiday. A.J. Robertson, 3, and 6-year-old while Howell Bowl-E-Drome has
ministries facilitator. This is the fourth year the ple,” said the Rev. Brian Tweedie, pastor of car- “People who’ve experienced a tragedy often Matthew Robertson — were not held 50-50 raffles on a number of
church has opened its doors to the community, ing ministries and deacons. “This year, we start- can’t conceive of how to go through a holiday,” home at the time of the fire. nights since the fire.
as well as the needy, for a Thanksgiving meal. ed getting reservations for the dinner in August.” Tweedie said, noting that families who have Chief Andy Pless of the Howell Mike Robertson of the Big Boy
“We don’t want it to be a soup-kitchen envi- Sue Byrum has been volunteering at Corner- recently experienced divorce or deaths often Area Fire Department said flames at 2222 E. Grand River Ave. in
ronment, ever,” said Leaf. stone’s Thanksgiving meal for four years, visit Cornerstone on Thanksgiving. were through the roof on the rear of Genoa Township said the restaurant
The church works hard to create a homey along with her children. Family dinners are “You don’t want to do what you’ve always the home and heavy smoke was also is accepting household items
atmosphere, filling a room with tables set for something her family experiences year round, done, so this helps people get through a trauma showing when firefighters arrived for the family. Anyone interested in
eight and decorated with fall flowers. but this Thanksgiving meal is a special oppor- or transition,” he said. “You may just do it for a at the home late Nov. 12. A neigh- making a donation is asked to visit
In addition to volunteers and congregation tunity for them. year, to get through a tough time.” bor called 911 about the fire about the restaurant. He asked that any-
members, Cornerstone reaches out to more “It’s our way of giving back,” she said. “You Contact Daily Press & Argus reporter Sarah 11:27 p.m. that night, Pless said. one donating a household item call
than 1,100 families in Livingston County see the joy on everyone’s faces, and it teaches K. Norris at (517) 552-2847 or at sknorris@ “The fire was in the wall in the first. The restaurant’s phone num-
through Love In the Name of Christ. The pro- our kids a good lesson about what’s going on in kitchen. It burned the roof right off ber is (517) 548-1800.
and gutted the second floor,” Pless Contact Daily Press & Argus

Secondhand smoke kills 600K yearly, study says said.

In addition to Howell firefight-
ers, personnel from Livingston
reporter Jason Carmel Davis at
(517) 552-2857 or at jcdavis@
LONDON (AP) — Secondhand 379,000 deaths from heart disease, real toll of tobacco,” said Armando “The mix of infectious diseases
smoke kills more than 600,000 165,000 deaths from lower respira- Peruga, a program manager at the and secondhand smoke is a deadly
people worldwide every year,
according to a new study.
In the first look at the global
impact of secondhand smoking,
tory disease, 36,900 deaths from
asthma and 21,400 deaths from
lung cancer a year. Altogether,
those account for about 1 percent
World Health Organization Tobac-
co-Free Initiative, who led the
study. He said the approximately
603,000 deaths from secondhand
combination,” Peruga said.
Children whose parents smoke
have a higher risk of sudden infant
death syndrome, ear infections,
Passages Obituaries, Memorials & Remembrances

Call 888-999-1288 or Email

researchers analyzed data from of the world’s deaths. smoking should be added to the 5.1 pneumonia, bronchitis and asthma.
View Passages Online:
2004 for 192 countries. They found The study was paid for by the million deaths that smoking itself Their lungs may also grow more
40 percent of children and more Swedish National Board of Health causes every year. slowly than kids whose parents
than 30 percent of nonsmoking and Welfare and Bloomberg Phil- Peruga said the WHO was partic- don’t smoke. OBITUARY POLICY SEAN PATRICK O'BRIEN
men and women regularly breathe anthropies. It’s being published ularly concerned about the 165,000 Peruga and colleagues found the Age 41, a resident of Novi and for-
in secondhand smoke. today in the British medical journal children who die of smoke-related lowest rates of exposure were in the The first seven lines of an obit- merly of Brighton, died in the care
Scientists then estimated that Lancet. respiratory infections, mostly in Americas, the Eastern Mediter- uary are published free of of his family on November 24, 2010.
passive smoking causes about “This helps us understand the Southeast Asia and Africa. ranean and Africa. He is survived by his wife, Diana;
charge. After that, there is a fee daughters, Morgan, Ashley, Caitlin,

Woman wins $100 Meijer gift card as puzzle prize of $3 a line. Pictures may be
published for $25.
Delaney; parents, Kevin & Donna
O’Brien; brothers, Kevin Jr., Chris
(Ellen); grandmother, Sophie Dubs
*Deadline for obituaries is and loving aunts, uncle, nieces,
For the second week in a row, a Nature center color firs, pines and spruces will
nephews, cousins and dear friends.
woman from Brighton was the
winner of the Puzzle for Prizes NEWS BRIEFS opens tree farm be available for purchase. Prices
range from $39 to $89. Wreaths,
4:30 p.m. Monday through
Thursday for publication in the
A Memorial Service will be held at
Brighton Christian Church, 4309
contest that appears daily in the roping and poinsettias will also next morning’s newspaper. Buno Rd, Brighton on Saturday,
Livingston County Daily Press & the paper from Sunday through be for sale. Obituaries received Friday or November 27, 2010 at 11 AM. Pas-
Argus. Friday. Readers need to collect The Christmas tree farm will Proceeds benefit the nature tor Joe Kohler to officiate. Friends
Wanda Usher’s name was the six puzzle pieces and deliver open for business starting today center. Saturday by 1 p.m. will be
may gather from 10:30 until time of
drawn from about 700 entries of them or mail them to the newspa- at the Howell Conference and Visitors to the tree sale can also published in Sunday’s newspa- Service. A luncheon will follow at
people who correctly pieced per office, 323 E. Grand River, Nature Center, south of Howell see live wildlife presentations, per. the Church. Memorial donations
together a puzzle of a familiar Howell MI 48843. at 1005 Triangle Lake Road in take a hayride, enjoy hot refresh- may be made to the Sean O’Brien
Livingston County landmark. She Deadline is 4 p.m. Wednesday. Marion Township. ments and shop at the Nature For more information, Memorial Fund. For further informa-
wins a $100 Meijer gift card. There will be six $100 weekly The tree farm will be open Cents Gift Shop. call 888-999-1288, tion please contact Lynch & Sons
There is a different contest each prizes. All entries will then be eli- daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until For more information, call the or contact your funeral home. Funeral Directors, Brighton at 810-
week for six weeks with puzzle gible for the grand prize, which is all the trees have been sold. center at (517) 546-0249 or visit 229-2905 or visit www.LynchFu-
*Holiday deadlines are subject to change.
pieces appearing somewhere in a $500 Meijer gift card. Douglas firs, Fraser firs, con-

to all
Monument Co.
Advertise your Since 1895

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€ Dinner Specials
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• Overnight Packages 2”x2” color ad
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216 W. Grand River • Howell, MI 48843
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December 8, 2010 12th, 19th & 26th, 2010 Serving Michigan Families Since 1895