Sterling Heights city council meeting causes controversy

Sterling Heights City Hall. Photo by the City of Sterling Heights

Controversy arose during Tuesday’s Sterling Heights City Council meeting. The City Council Chambers were full of dozens of citizens for the October 3 meeting.

Several attendees voiced their concerns about recent posts from officials in the community. Jazmine Early, who is currently running for City Council, suggested that Geoffrey Gariepy be removed from the Sterling Heights Planning Commission in light of a recent, inappropriate post on his Facebook page. Gariepy’s post included a photo which depicted bodies of Muslims hanging, and the post suggested that it was what should be done to people who speak at city council meetings during public comments sections.
Residents Nick Cavalli, Joe Judnick and Sanaa Elias, who is also running for City Council, agreed that the post was inappropriate. Gariepy apologized for the post, and stated that he would be making a donation to UNICEF (The United Nations Children's Fund) to help Syrian children.
“I take full responsibility for this error in judgement,” Gariepy said. “Tonight, I’m here to apologize to anyone who was offended by it.”
During the meeting, a few citizens, such as Sterling Heights citizen Giulio Russo, expressed their concerns about large truck traffic on Merrill Road. Russo stated that large trucks back in to businesses off Merrill Road, blocking driveways in nearby neighborhoods. He says they often speed while driving, raising concern for parents whose children play near the roads. Sterling Heights citizen Mike Davidson added that Merrill is not a road designed for commercial traffic, and speeding trucks often “shake the house like an earthquake.” Councilwoman Maria G. Schmidt said that trucks backing in off Merrill Road will be fined, which will help to cut down on problems in the neighborhood.
A number of awards were given out to various members of the community during the meeting.
Fire Chief Christopher Martin of the Sterling Heights Fire Department awarded a Survivor’s Coin to 15-year-old Robert Brown the Third. Robert is the ninth recipient of a Survivor’s Coin. Brown went into cardiac arrest while dining at the Country Cabin restaurant. Susan Molnar (née Pendygraft), a Bank of America executive, performed CPR to revive Robert until paramedics arrived. Molnar was awarded the Exceptional Civilian Service Award from the city of Sterling Heights for her actions.
“I was happy you were there at the right place at the right time to save my life,” Robert said, addressing Molnar. “Thank you, Susan.”
Robert is expected to make a full recovery. Xhuliano Gjonaj, the owner of the Country Cabin restaurant, organized a fundraiser to benefit Brown. During the city council meeting, Robert was presented with a check for $850 from Gjonaj.
“When you do good things, good things happen to you,” Gjonaj said.

Related story: Woman who saved teen in cardiac arrest 'really happy' she was able to help

Additionally, the 2017 Beautification Awards were given out by Gary Isom, the Chairperson for the Beautification Commission. Beautification Awards are used to encourage residents and business owners to improve their properties for the sake of improving the appearance of the community as a whole. Commercial properties, churches, gas stations, single- and multi-family properties are eligible for nominations. Of the nominees, the city of Sterling Heights chooses the ‘Best of the Best’ winners.
This year’s winners were the BP gas station at 17 and Van Dyke, Aberdeen Gardens Condominiums, St. Matthias Volunteer Gardeners and the Maraccini household. The full list of winners can be seen here.
“We take great pride in our city because our citizens and businesses do,” Mayor Michael C. Taylor said.

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