BY VON LOZON
Restaurant owner Norman Aiyash has been eyeballing the Downriver area, specifically Woodhaven, for as long as five years. He wanted to establish his 10th Leo’s Coney Island in Woodhaven. Finding the right location was the tricky part, but after five years of patience he finally opened his new location at 23305 Allen Road near West. (read more…)
BY PAT ANDREWS
“A chapter might be finished, but the story goes on…”
Debra “Debbie” Vollenweider believes the phrase is the only appropriate way to sum up her husband’s 52-year career at a Downriver landmark. The Detroiter Truck Stop in Woodhaven recently changed owners when it was sold to James Haslam III. He is the CEO of the Pilot Flying J truck stop chain and owner of the Cleveland Browns football franchise. More importantly, he is a longtime friend of the current owner, Bill Vollenweider. Turning over a legacy is always difficult, but Bill said he is confident that his father and founder, the late Edward Vollenweider, would be pleased that an old friend has taken the helm. (read more…)
BY MELANIE YOUNG
A project near and dear to Woodhaven Mayor Patricia Odette’s heart was approved at the Aug. 3 Woodhaven City Council meeting. A few years ago, Odette recalled how she was in the city’s playground at Civic Center Park and saw a young girl with different abilities just watching the other kids playing because she couldn’t use the equipment.
“It broke my heart,” she said. “I never wanted to see that again.”
The process of building a playground that is appropriate for kids of all ages and abilities was set in motion. The playground will be located right next to the existing playground at Civic Center Park with the current fencing extending to include the new area.
The project will occur in two phases. The cost of Phase 1 was approximately $150,000, with most of the funds coming from the city’s Community Development Block Grant fund. Odette is currently working with grant writers seeking grants for the second phase. (read more…)
BY RICK SCHULTE
It’s no secret many school districts — including the Woodhaven-Brownstown School District —have had to roll up their sleeves and come up with creative means for funding. That’s because traditional revenue sources have had less to offer in recent years.
The Woodhaven-Brownstown Education Foundation has grown to become as innovative as the projects it helps to fund. While many items are covered through annual funding, there are some items geared toward adding to the educational experience. (read more…)
BY MELANIE YOUNG
The month of August was busy for the Woodhaven City Council and Mayor Patricia Odette, as several new measures were addressed. The mayor was excited to see a couple of projects she has been working on for years finally come to fruition. (read more…)
BY MELANIE YOUNG
Downriver families looking for fun won’t have to travel out of the area when a new entertainment venue opens up later this year in Woodhaven. It will be located in part of the former Kmart building on West Road.
According to General Manager Zach Johnson, Rev’d Up Fun will have six primary attractions, including laser tag, a ballistics playground, ropes course with zip line, Spin Zone bumper cars, a 5D Theater ride and a redemption arcade.
The laser tag arena will be a two story professionally designed course that will be called the Junkyard Wars Laser Tag. The Ballistics playground will include three levels of climbing structures and will include foam balls and blasters that are similar to an indoor water park’s water blasters but with foam instead of water. The area will be large enough so parents will be able to interact with their children.
The Spin Zone bumper cars will be just like regular bumper cars, go forward and backward, but will spin if bumped in certain areas. The ropes course and zip line will be indoors, as will all of the attractions. (read more…)
Southpoint Church last month kicked off a nearly month-long celebration beginning April 19, the date of its opening in Woodhaven High School on Easter Sunday 1992.
The church started with 257 people in attendance by inviting people over the phone. It grew to become a spiritual home for thousands of people over the years, with more than 3,200 people being baptized. It is now one church in multiple locations with a campus in Trenton, another in Allen Park, and its most recent one meeting in Huron High School. (read more…)
BY MELANIE YOUNG
Kimberly Mott is a well-known business owner and community volunteer in Trenton who built her successful business from the ground up — and gained a little faith along the way.
Mott is the owner of Colors by Kim Hair Salon and Day Spa. Located at 3259 West Road, Trenton, Colors by Kim is a full-service salon and spa that offers a wide variety of services including cuts, color, special occasion styling, as well as nail services, skin care, hair removal and massages. According to the salon’s website, the business also specializes in color and hair artistry. (read more…)
BY ASHLEY SWORD
Mimi’s Mission, a local non-profit organization based in Woodhaven, has been involved in making a difference in the lives of Downriver residents. The organization has assisted thousands of people in just four years since it was established by Lisa Missler Vilella, a Wyandotte resident who owns an insurance agency in Woodhaven.
Vilella said an intricate part of Mimi’s Mission is the role local businesses play in making the dreams of the people in need come to life. Most recently, Vilella said she received a message from a mother who said her son has Spina Bifida. Due to his condition, she has to ensure he stays out of the heat because it will make him feel ill. She told Vilella that the air conditioning in her van hasn’t been working, so she was looking for some assistance in getting it fixed after being told it would cost her over $1,200 at an auto repair shop. (read more…)
Annual event returns July 7-10
BY BRIAN RZEPPA
One of Downriver’s biggest events of the summer, the Uncle Sam Jam, returns to Civic Center Park in Woodhaven July 7-10.
The Uncle Sam Jam has developed a strong following over the last seven years and the event’s organizers hope to build on that this year, with possibly the biggest music lineup that they’ve had to this point.
The legendary Vince Neil, former frontman for Motley Crue, will be headlining the musical performances with Great White on Saturday, while .38 Special will appear Friday and perennial Downriver favorite 50 Amp Fuse will close things down on Sunday.
Joe Nieporte, the owner of Funfest Events, the company responsible for organizing the Uncle Sam Jam each year, says that festivalgoers should be expecting the same great event they have experienced over the years.
“It’s been very successful and we don’t want to change too much,” Nieporte said. “As the saying goes, ‘If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.’ We’ve always leaned heavily toward classic rock bands and we’re doing that this year with .38 Special, Vince Neil, Great White and 50 Amp Fuse, so we feel that we have quite a lineup that people will really enjoy.”
In addition to the musical performances, the carnival will be another big hit with families, as will the petting zoo and monster truck rides.
While the event may be the same in terms of the classic music and other attractions, the layout will see a bit of a shift. With weather being a major factor in last year’s event, Nieporte and the rest of his crew chose to switch things up a bit.
“We’re flip flopping everything over. The carnival was in the southern part of the park over by the hill and soccer fields, but we’re moving it to the north side toward the parking lot. We had so much rain last year that it was a swamp and we had 18 trucks of wood chips brought in to fill the puddles, but even that wasn’t enough. We figured it’d be a better idea to have it on the paved parking lot.”
With 75,000 to 80,000 or more expected to be on hand throughout the four days, the Uncle Sam Jam has quickly become one of the more popular weekend events in southeastern Michigan.
As Nieporte noted, the event’s rise to popularity comes with the feedback and support of both the city of Woodhaven and the Downriver community as a whole.
“The reception has been incredible,” he said. “The community down there absolutely embraces it and the city of Woodhaven is phenomenal to work with. The mayor, the police chief, the fire chief and everyone down the line is 100 percent on board and supportive of us. We do events in other towns and some of them just couldn’t care less, but the whole Downriver community has supported this better than we could have ever dreamed of.”
The Uncle Sam Jam has seemingly gotten better each and every year that it has been in operation and with the loaded music lineup, the Friday night fireworks and a variety of other entertainment options, this year should have no problem continuing that trend.
For more information on the attractions and Uncle Sam Jam schedule, visit www.funfest-events.net/uncle-sam-jam/ or find them on Facebook at “UncleSam JamFest”.
Uncle Sam Jam Friday, July 8, Headliner
From: Jacksonville, Florida
Biggest Hits: “Hold on Loosely,” “Caught Up in You,” “If I’d Been the One,” “Teacher Teacher” and “Back Where You Belong”
Formed by neighborhood friends Don Barnes and Donnie Van Zant, .38 Special got its name from the Lynard Skynyrd song ‘Saturday Night Special’ which features the lyrics, “Shoots him full of .38 holes.”
Van Zant is the brother of Ronnie Van Zant, the late vocalist for Lynard Skynyrd.
Barnes is the only original member still with the band, with each of the others joining him in 1987, 1988, 1997 and 2011, respectively.
Over the course of the last 42 years, the band has sold more than 20 million albums
In 2012, the band was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame with country stars Sugarland and Blues legend Johnny Jenkins, among others
The band has had two albums reach No. 1 on Billboard’s Album Rock Tracks chart and multiple other top five singles
They appear in over 100 cities each year
Within the last decade, they have opened for Hank Williams Jr., Lynard Skynyrd, Styx and REO Speedwagon as part of two different nationwide tours