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Glimmer of hope in 2010


Despite tough economy some area businesses hang on, expand



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December 29, 2010
TRI-CITY AREA — The year 2010 was a mixed bag of news. Economics was foremost in everyone's thoughts, the debate over local control of medical marijuana started early and a variety of crimes made headlines.

Here's our take on some of the biggest attention-grabbing stories from the last 12 months.

Business on the mend—

While politicians and pundits argue over whether this country has begun to recover from the 'Great Recession,' a review of news headlines from 2010 seem to suggest that things are looking hopeful in the Tri-City area.

In the past year, a number of businesses have either opened, expanded or celebrated significant milestones.

•Topping the list for their impressive comeback story is Champion Bus. A devastating fire in February crippled production at the Imlay Twp. facility on Graham Road but the company quickly rebounded and within weeks blueprints for the 90,000 square foot rebuild were drawn up and eight months later, the construction project was virtually complete.

•A handful of local businesses decided 2010 was the year to grow, literally.

Mike Pirrone Produce in Mussey Twp. constructed an 18,000 square foot storage building. The Kroger grocery store in Imlay City confirmed their plans to add on to their Cedar Street location sometime in 2011. It's one of more than 20 high-performing stores in Michigan that the grocery chain will invest in.

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Bruce Milnes in showroom after GM announcement that his dealership stands.
•In May Imlay City's Milnes Chevrolet learned that they'd won an appeal to keep their dealership open. The 22 year-old business was put on the chopping block by General Motors after the company accepted bailout monies from the federal government and was forced to scale down the number of dealerships. Owner Bruce Milnes credits community, customer and employee support for keeping the doors open.

•Longtime automotive manufacturer Toyo Seat celebrated 20 years in business this fall. The company employs 130 people and recognized 28 of those at a special ceremony in September who've been with the company since it opened in Imlay City in 1990.

•Grocery Outlet and More braved the bleak economy and opened for business in February in the former Imlay City IGA location.

•In March Pinnacle Foods announced that they had just emerged from a record production year in 2009. The Imlay City Vlasic pickle was dubbed 'most improved' by its parent company, the Blackstone Group.

Medical marijuana

controversy

After a dispensary quietly opened up in the village of Dryden, municipalities began scrambling to pass zoning ordinances to prohibit similar businesses from opening in their communities.

Following raids in Oakland County by Sheriff Michael Bouchard, Lapeer County Sheriff's deputies and investigators padlocked the Dryden dispensary, seized marijuana, cash and other items and forwarded their findings to the courts to decide.

For detailed accounts of the impact of the new medical marijuana law on our area, see sidebar beginning on 1-A.

Crimes rattle

communities

A variety of seemingly random crimes in 2010 kept police busy. A few cases were marked as having lengthy investigations. In some instances, it took weeks and even months to find the alleged suspects. At other times, the criminals literally came to police.

•Shots rang out in the early morning hours on Glassford St. in Capac in October. The school district cancelled classes for the day out of safety concerns. A 49 year-old man was hit by two bullets but not seriously injured.

It took investigators several weeks, but in December, a 55 year-old Holly woman, Jill Day, was arrested. The St. Clair County Sheriff's Department alleges she pulled the trigger but won't divulge any additional details about the case until hearings begin next month.

•An Imlay Twp. teenager is facing trial on open murder charges in Sanilac County in 2011. In August, 15 year-old Trinidad Paredes Jr. was arraigned on charges related to the stabbing death of a 24 year-old Croswell woman.

Paredes Jr. was an Imlay City Venture High School student, slated to begin his sophomore year this fall.

•Some tense hours followed a shooting in June in the Maple Grove mobile home park in Imlay City. Thirty-three year-old Juan Carlos Castillo turned himself into police a day after he allegedly shot a 34 year-old man in the chest who survived his injuries. Castillo was charged with assault to commit murder.

•A masked, armed robber stormed into the BP gas station in Capac in May and fled the scene with an undisclosed amount of cash. In November, police pegged Lynn Twp. resident Peter Browning as the culprit. He's also suspected in several armed robberies that occurred in Macomb County.

•Lapeer County resident Alan Miller's run from the law in January put the community of Attica on edge for several days. The 49 year-old was wanted on assault and other charges when he resisted arrest and drove onto the frozen Elk Lake before fleeing on foot into the woods. Special response team units from neighboring counties were called in to assist Lapeer County law enforcement. Some 26 hours later, Miller was located inside an Attica Road home and surrendered to police. In March, Miller pled guilty and agreed to pay a more than $19,000 restitution bill for the extra police presence his capture required.

Maria Brown joined the Tri-City Times staff in 2003, the same year she earned a bachelor's degree in English from Calvin College. Born and raised in Imlay City, she now resides north of Capac where she enjoys working on the farm, gardening and reading.
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