BY SAMANTHA ELLIOTT
The Grosse Ile Athletic Boosters held its annual Comedy Night on March 4 at the Stone Creek Banquet Center in Flat Rock. This year’s event, the fourth annual comedy night, raised $6,500 for the athletic boosters’ general fund.
The comedy night is one of two main fundraisers for the Athletic Department each year. In the fall it holds a golf outing that also raises money for the general fund.
Comedy Night chair Chuck Wojno says the night is a great event for the community for everyone to enjoy themselves while raising money for the athletes.
“The festival-type atmosphere allows parents as well as a few school teachers here and there to let their hair down, which we usually don’t see in the normal course of the day,” he said. (read more…)
BY GAIL ALBIN
Even though Grosse Ile had a rather mild winter, most of us welcome spring. It will be fun to get outside and do some yard work. Not everyone lives in a place where yard work is required. Many have mentioned that they miss that at times.
The Grosse Ile Nature & Land Conservancy recently sent out eye-catching large cards with wonderful pictures inviting us to meet our “Neighbors.” The pictures are of wildlife here on beautiful Grosse Ile.
“GINLC has many outdoor volunteer opportunities. Everyone is invited to participate in these events. Children must be accompanied by an adult.” Peter Kantz, president and stewardship chair, said. “GINLC supplies all the necessary tools and supplies for these events, although you can bring your own tools if you like. (read more…)
BY PAT ANDREWS
Volunteers. All work and no pay. And that is just the way that the membership of the Knights of Columbus fraternal service organization has operated internationally for more than 195 years. Its strength comes from a simple vision; that in every community there are people to help and projects to complete.
Sacred Heart Council No. 13475 based on Grosse Ile stands out for a number of reasons, among them a long list of council-supported activities made possible by fundraising activities throughout the year. One, the operation of fish fry during the Lenten period, began as a fairly well-kept secret. They began three years ago in the kitchen and gymnasium of Sacred Heart School and soon the migration of islanders and mainlanders filled the facility to capacity. At the final dinner of the season on April 14 more than 450 hungry visitors were fed, including those who drove to the school, ordered “out” and piled back into their cars. (read more…)
By Ethel Yops
Grosse Ile Recreation Commission
The golf course awaits. Time to get those irons polished up and ready to “Swing”!
It is the “Merry Month of May” where warm breezes blow and the sunny days call you to come out and renew your spirit. Mother’s Day is May 14, a day to honor all mothers and show your Mom you love her. Just in case you haven’t said it recently, “I love you Mom” will make her day. (read more…)
New CEO sees bright future for airport
BY MICHAEL McCONNELL
The next time you fly through Detroit Metro Airport, if you enjoyed the amenities of the McNamara or North terminals — and even if you didn’t — you might want to think of Joseph Nardone.
The 56-year-old Taylor native and current Grosse Ile resident was named permanent CEO of the airport authority in December and he couldn’t be more excited about the Romulus facility’s future. Passenger traffic is up, revenues are steady and airlines continue to add routes and make investments. (read more…)
BY FRANK KOOTSILLAS
As I sit here listening to the plans of my grandchildren, preparing for their prom this May, I realize how different times are now. There were no stretch limos, reserved hotel suites or glitzy tuxes. Our class was all hands-on. (read more…)
BY KATHY KANE
When you own a business on an island, you must have the support of the island residents. Grosse Ile Hardware has been doing just that since 1954, the last 15 years under the ownership of Ray and Laura Biddle.
On Macomb Street, there are only a few true family businesses left. One of those happens to be the hardware store, which has been a family business since its founding. Over the years three families have owned the store, lived on the island and raised their families on the island. The current store has undergone many changes over the years; some parts of it were a doctor’s office, veterinary office and lately a portion of it is a free lending library for the casual reader.
“At this hometown store, our customers often tell us our pricing is competitive with the big box stores,” Ray Biddle said. “Some of ours is slightly higher and some are slightly lower; their comment is our service and product knowledge far exceeds the other box stores so there is no reason to leave the island.” (read more…)
Nick Piunti rediscovers his musical roots
BY MELANIE YOUNG
Grosse Ile resident Nick Piunti, a songwriter and musician for 30 years, works hard to balance his music career and his work at his family’s decades-old business in Trenton.
Piunti grew up in Riverview and joined his first band, called Dwarf, when he was just 12 years old. They wrote music and performed at middle school and junior high dances around the area. In 1975, at age 15, he released his first single, and on March 22, 1976, his band was the first band to play at the Trenton Theatre. (read more…)
BY SHEILA R. McAFEE
One of Downriver’s first summer festivals is Islandfest, a three-day celebration on the grounds of the Grosse Ile Municipal Airport June 2, 3 and 4.
Organizers are packing the weekend with attractions and activities for all ages, including a planned Friday night fireworks display that officials here expect to be the region’s best pyrotechnics show of the year.
“There will be no better place to be that weekend,” township Supervisor Brian Loftus said.
Adding to the excitement surrounding the fireworks, a V.I.P. ticket package is available for $60 apiece, and includes reserved seating, a buffet dinner and adult beverages, according to Chad Novak, Islandfest committee chairman. (read more…)
BY TONY KRUKOWSKI
“These old ballparks are like cathedrals in America. We don’t have big old Gothic cathedrals like they do in Europe. But we got baseball parks.”
— Jimmy Buffett
The latest interview relates the experiences of 78-year-old Grosse Ile resident and baseball aficionado Bill Carver.
How long have you been a resident of Grosse Ile?
My wife, Ethel, and I moved to Grosse Ile in 1971.
What is your first memory of living on the Island?
We were immediately taken by how quiet and peaceful it is on Grosse Ile. It is like being in a different world once you cross the bridge. My wife who is a farm girl at heart also liked the large lot sizes and the wide expanses of undeveloped property.
What was the Island like when you first came here?
When we first moved to Grosse Ile the roads as a rule were in poor condition. Forty-six years later they are starting to look that way again.
Have you ever lived anywhere else?
My wife and I moved to Michigan from Brilliant, Ohio, which is located about 40 miles west of Pittsburgh. We moved so I could take a job with Great Lakes Steel. We intended to stay a couple of years, but we fell in love with the area. Initially, we lived for seven years in Taylor. When we moved to Grosse Ile we felt we had found our permanent home.
Is there something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
I am a person who enjoys having unique experiences. For example, in 2004 I decided that I wanted to visit the baseball parks of all 30 major league teams. Considering that I visited a few ballparks as a youth and that some teams like Pittsburgh and Cincinnati have had three ball parks over the years, I have racked up visits to 46 ball parks. My largest concentration of visits occurred when I attended ball games at five ballparks — Detroit, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland — over a six-day period. On one day during that six-day period I saw one game during the day in Pittsburgh and another game at night in Cleveland.
I thought that what I was able to do was impressive until I met a young man who had recently graduated from college and who intended to accomplish the same feat before starting a new job. He managed to visit the stadiums for all 30 major league teams in a span of 36 days.
What are some of your observations about the ball parks you have visited?
My two favorite ball parks are in Pittsburgh and Baltimore. The parks are very architecturally pleasing to the eye, and they have done many things to make them fan friendly. Pittsburgh especially has a great view of the city, is at the confluence of three rivers, and the city shuts down a major roadway/bridge so that fans can cross over to the park from the downtown area.
Comerica Park has its own charm with a beautiful view of Downtown Detroit. I enjoy wandering around the park to take in the baseball memorabilia located in the hallway areas leading to the seats. My least favorite park is in Oakland. That ball park is really showing its age and needs to be replaced. The Texas Ranger ball park is an interesting combination of features from other parks. Parts of the ball park look like old Tiger Stadium, old Yankee Stadium, and the Brooklyn Dodgers Ebbets Field.
If you like baseball nostalgia, the parks to visit are Fenway in Boston and Wrigley in Chicago. However, tickets at these two parks can be difficult to obtain due to the popularity of the teams and the smaller seating capacity of the parks. As far as food, Milwaukee and Cincinnati have the best beer and bratwurst, Seattle the best fish sandwiches, the Dodgers have the best hot dogs, and Baltimore the best crab cakes.
What are your favorite memories associated with going out to the ball parks?
I have spent a considerable amount of time watching baseball at ballparks because I have not only visited them all but I have been working at the Detroit Tiger games at Comerica Park since 2001. Working at Comerica I have witnessed a no-hitter by Justin Verlander and another no-hitter that was taken away from Armando Galarraga by the first base umpire who called a runner safe when he was obviously out. The Galarraga near-perfect game was the most exciting game I have ever witnessed.
Traveling to other ball parks I witnessed a home run hit by San Francisco Giant’s Barry Bonds that took him within one of tying the major-league record. Attending a game in Toronto, I witnessed another no-hitter by Justin Verlander.
However, what has probably impressed me the most is how friendly the fans from these other stadiums have been to me. While I was attending a game in Seattle I struck up a conversation with a fan who ended up getting me some free tickets to events at my next stop in San Diego. On another occasion when I asked some Milwaukee fans for directions they not only helped me find my way but also offered me some beer and hamburgers at their tailgate party.
Have you had any other unique experiences that were not associated with baseball?
I have also worked for the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Because of my associations with Comerica Park and Ford Field I have had the opportunity to work at seven Super Bowls located in Phoenix, Tampa, Miami, Dallas, Indianapolis, New Orleans and Detroit. The football stadium in Phoenix is domed and has a real grass field. After a game, they actually move the grass in sections out to the parking lot so it can get some sunlight.
These associations with Comerica and Ford Field also gave me the opportunity to work at concerts for notable entertainers such as Eminem, Madonna, Kid Rock and Paul McCartney.
Calendar year 2012 was especially exciting for me. I was able to attend the New Year’s celebration in New York City, the Daytona 500, the Kentucky Derby, and the World Series featuring the Detroit Tigers and the San Francisco Giants. Regrettably, the Giants swept the Tigers in four games.
Finally, my wife has asked that I widen my horizons beyond stadiums and sports. In recent years, we have volunteered at the Opera House, and I find that I really enjoy the experience.
As I mentioned before, I am a person who enjoys having unique experiences, and I feel that I have been able to accomplish that in my life.
Island Beacon: Conservancy