Mission Accomplished – Bill Schimmel’s book about the life of Jacob Tipsico

November 27, 2012

Bill Schimmel was a long-time Milford Township resident and member of the board of directors for the Milford Historical Society. Bill passed away this year after a long bout with cancer, but not before finishing a project that he had worked on, off and on, for the last ten years – a book based upon the life of a local Native American member of the Chippewa tribe – Jacob Tipsico. Yes, this was the man for which Tipsico Lake was named and subsequently Tipsico Lake Road.

Bill was always interested in Native American history and memorabilia. He was part Native American himself, based upon research into his family history that revealed a Cherokee relative several generations back. Bill was a collector of local arrow heads and there is an exhibit of some of those at the Milford Historical Society Museum. Bill became interested in tracing the man and his family for which Tipsico Lake was named after he stumbled upon the lake while out Christmas tree shopping years ago. His interest eventually turned into a passion and then into a mission to do the research and gather the information necessary to document the life of this local Native American. Bill enlisted the aid of a friend and artist, Thomas Bem, to provide illustrations of events for which pictures could not be found and he enlisted local writer Joyce Clark to act as editor for the book.

Bill was himself an interesting man of many interests and talents. He was a Metallurgical Engineer for fifty years, working on the development of metals for the automotive and aerospace industries. He held several patents and had written many technical papers during his career. One of his proudest achievements was while he worked for Rocketdyne in California on the team that contributed to the landing of the Apollo 11 Mission, when man first walked on the moon. He retired as Director of Materials from Williams International, a local manufacturer of small jet engines in Walled Lake, Michigan, after working there for 31 years.

Most of us will probably not take the time or have the passion that Bill had to turn his interest in Jacob Tipsico into such a mission and then to devote so much time and energy into pursuing that mission. We are, however, better off that he did pursue his dream and now we have his wonderful book about the life and family of Jacob Tipsico. Tipsico was not listed as a chief in the documentation of the time that BIll could find and confirm, so Bill does not call him that either; but Tipsico was related to a long line of Chippewa chiefs and was perhaps the last vestige of what by then was a by-gone era.

Much of Bill’s book documents what was happening in that time to the Native American population and might make you cringe a bit today, but it is history worth knowing and Bill does a good job in the telling. They don’t teach about the “Trail of Tears” in school history classes, but Bill’s book contains a good lesson on that dark period in our nation’s history. Bill does a good job of setting the larger context of Native American life at that time and then goes on to document Jacob Tipsico’s life and family within that context.

The book – Jacob Tipsico – A Michigan Chippewa, His Life, His Family and the End of an Era – will be available at the Milford Historical Museum and selected local Milford retail stores. It is only $10 and should be a must-read for those interested in the history of the local area or in the history of the Native American population and what they endured as they were displaced by the invasion of white European settlers. Get a copy for yourself or as a gift for someone for Christmas. You can pair it up with a copy of Ten Minutes Ahead of the Rest of the World, the history of Milford, Michigan, to make a great coffee table set.

Have you had your hug today?

November 26, 2012

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this little gem to start the week – “A hug is a great gift. One size fits all, and it’s easy to exchange.” (Unknown).

Hugs are quite common is some cultures and relatively rare in others (such as ours), especially for men. Women in all cultures seem to be much more comfortable with (and prone to) hugging as a greeting. In some cultures hugs are accompanied by kisses on both cheeks; although that too has evolved into a sort of air-kiss bobbing of heads these days.

Deciding whether to hug or just shake hands can be awkward, especially if one party has already stock out their hand for the shake and the other has extended both arms for the hug. My general rule of thumb is to go for the hug, if either side has initiated it. Again, women seem more comfortable turning the greeting into a hug than men. Men seem to reserve hugs for the camaraderie of memorable sports moments or for special occasions like weddings or funerals; whereas women see hugs and a natural everyday thing to do.

I suppose it’s possible to have a heartfelt handshake with someone, but not nearly as effective as the warm embrace accompanied by some whispered sentiment that a hug allows. Of course whispering between men is another no-no in our society, unless it is at that special occasion. I guess men have substituted the pat on the back or slap on the butt for hugs. Those don’t work as well for people that you don’t know well or outside the euphoria of celebrating a special moment.

The really nice thing about a hug is that it usually makes both people feel better about themselves and the other party. So, greet someone with a hug today. They’ll feel better and you will, too.

Was that my last watch?

November 23, 2012

I’ve gone through a number of watches in my life, most of them relatively inexpensive (one could say cheap, but how crass is that) watches from Timex and the latest from Gruen. The newest watch, the Gruen, was I believe about $30 at Kohl’s. It has a Quartz-based time-keeping mechanism, so I assumed ti was fairly accurate. It seemed to be while it lasted.

The watch is still ticking away accurately but the cheap expansion band that it came with has broken. At $29 for the whole thing, it is likely not worth trying to get the band repaired and I’ve started thinking maybe this is the time (no pun intended, although hat was a good inadvertent one) to get rid of wrist watches for good.

Almost no one younger than 20-25 wears a watch anymore. They look at their phone instead. Modern smartphone, and for that matter almost all phones these days, have the time displayed when they are in idle mode. So not only do modern kids do everything on importance to them through their phones, they also use it in place of a watch.

So, now I’m faced with the dilemma of what to do about telling me the time. I almost always have my phone with me; so checking it will give me that information; however, I find myself constantly checking my non-blank wrist to see what time it is. Old habits like that die hard.

I may just have to break another old habit and move along with the tide of the 21st Century. I’ll let you know if I can get along without my wristwatch. Hey, by the way , do you know what time it is?

Get help for your parties

November 21, 2012

We’re entering the heavy party season, which will last right through New Year’s Day. I recall when I used to party hardy, but now I hardly party. Some of that is because of the work involved in throwing a party and some due to concerns about getting a ticket (and heaven forbid a DUI) for driving home after a few too many.

As a service to my Web site visitors (and to my readers here), I have posted some Seasonal Business Referrals on my Move to Milford Web site. Check them out if you need help throwing a great party that everyone can enjoy without worrying.

As you are planning your party you will probably come up with a list of things that you need, but don’t have – extra tables and chairs and other things that you really only need once for the party. Don’t run out and buy anything. Call Paula Phaneuf at Uncle Buck’s Party Rental – 248-666-5432 or visit them on the Web at www.unclebucksparty.com and rent it for the night. There’s probably not anything that you need that Paula can’t supply to make it a memorable party.

The first is for a local catering service – Two Women and a Tray. Milford-based  Wendy Brown can not only cater the food for your party, but she can also supply servers, if needed. Check the company out at http://www.freewebs.com/twowomenandatray/  You can relax and have a great party if you don’t have to worry about the food.

Contact Wendy at 248-894-0531 or email her at wb2womenandatray@comcast.net

Another great touch to add class to a party and some peace of mind is to have a SafeServ certified bartender to serve your guests and keep and eye out for someone who is having too much. Heather Marquis is a professional (and Michigan ServeSafe Certified) bartender who will bring that little extra to your party. She can mix up specialty cocktails or just be there to serve your guests beer and wine – all with a smile that will light up the room.

You can reach Heather on her Web site – http://heathershappyhour.weebly.com/ or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/heathershappyhour or call her at (248) 242-3887

The final service that you may wish to consider or recommend to friends involves the driving home part. No one wants to get pulled over and perhaps get a DUI ticket on their record. The local business SnowBird Drivers has a service that provides drivers for the night. Snowbird Drivers was co-founded by George Hayden and Rick Tymoc originally to provide the service of driving people’s cars to Florida or other warm climes in the winter. They have since added quite a few services, including fleet car moves and this designated driver service. They use you car and basically drive you to and from the party. They don’t go to the party and don’t drink while on duty, so you get a sober driver to make sure that you get home safely. The cost is certainly less than what a DUI will cost you. Call 248-381-4099 or Toll Free: 866-381-4099.

So, get out of your hardly party rut and party hardy again! With the help of these folks you can relax and enjoy your party as much as your guests do.


Choose yor own market update

November 19, 2012

My company – Real Estate One – has always been at the forefront of the Internet wave and now they’ve introduced a new tool that I can make available to you, so that you can choose which local markets for which you’d like to see an update. Just click on the Graphic below to be taken to a site where you’ll get to make your choice of local markets.

The market updates won’t give you specific data about sales in the area but focus more on the trends like whether more or less homes were listed or sold. For specific data on sales in the markets that I track, you’ll still need to go to my Web site www.movetomilford.com and click on the link “What have homes in this area sold for?”

The site above will give you soem good info on the trends inteh area and tracks many more marekts than I do. I have put this site on both my Move to Milford site and my www.themilfordteam.com site. Enjoy!

Dealing with Dumb and dumber…

November 17, 2012

It is so tiresome to have to spend my time fixing Microsoft’s problems. One would think that after 30+ years of making PC operating system software Microsoft could get it right enough to keep the system operating, even if there are upgrades to stuff (especially if it’s Microsoft stuff to begin with). Yet I have struggled for two days, going to on-line forums and trying the advice that I found there to get sound back on my HP laptop – all to no avail.

Sound which was working a few days ago just stopped  working recently. Oddly enough there was also one of those Annoying Microsoft Updates that took place just at about the same time. Now I’m trying to get sound back. It says it’s working when I do all of the recommended  troubleshooting, but no sound is coming out of the speaker or the headphones if I plug them in. I’ve uninstalled and reinstalled the CODEX driver for sound – nothing. I’ve run all of the recommended trouble shooting software  – nothing. I even bought RegCure to fix the registry (it found 1024 problems ion my computer and fixed them, but none had any impact on the silence).

I’m not sure what is next. It would be to junk this Microsoft/Intel  PC and get into an Apple PC, if I could afford it. Alas I’m stuck with this MicroTel mess that the modern PC has evolved into.

Today, after having tried for two days to fix the mess of Dumb, I hit Dumber from Comcast. All of a sudden my internet stopped working…sort of. I could get to some things but not others. I could get email but I couldn’t “see” my own web sites. At first I thought it must be the host for my sites, but they quickly responded that everything on their end was OK. So, I call tech support for Comcast and eventually got them to admit that the problems that I am experiencing were because of “the outage”. I asked what “the outage” was and of course it is the problem that is causing my problems…no explanation of where or why or when it will be fixed… just the vague explanation that things should be good in 2-3 days, unless I want to buy some chargeable tech support and then everything could be better right away. Now, I really didn’t buy into that, but it seemed a sleazy thing to even offer at the time.

So, I’m still suffering through “the outage”, which means that internet service comes and goes and is relatively random, in terms of what it is when it works. Now I have a mute PC that can only sometimes connect to the Internet and I’m at the mercy of Dumb and Dumber to make things better. I may have to move to an Apple PC on a 4GL public carrier network to get these problems resolved. I certainly have little faith that MiccoTel and Comcast will provide any real help. They are the problem, not the solution.

Milford Area Market Report

November 15, 2012

There are lots of articles about the national real estate market and the occasional article about the Michigan market; but how are we doing locally? Here’s my attempt to give you a snapshot of our local market. I invite you to visit my web site www.movetomilford.com if you want to see all of the statistics that I have been collecting all year long. I’ll use a combination of charts from Altos Research and my own local market data from the Multi-List Service, which I update and report weekly.

The Milford market (Township and Village) –

Year-to-date Stats thru November 11 –

Key – SEV = State Equalized Value (what the assessors thought they were worth), DOM = Days on Market, the last two are what the sellers ask and got per square foot for the homes

The Commerce Township market –

Year-to-Date Stats –

The Highland Township market –

Year-to-Date Stats

The White Lake Township market –

Year-to-Date Stats

Great stats and charts, but what does this all mean?

You can see just in four markets that are right next to each other how volatile and variable the real estate market is right now. The Milford market is generally up in home sales values; however the chart also points to both inventory and average sale values falling. That is because so much of the middle of the normal market is still frozen and what is selling lately has been mainly on the lower end. That inventory has fallen too, so right now it’s just hard to find a good house in Milford.

The Commerce market, which includes data from Walled Lake and Wolverine Lake, has sort of flat-lined out at the current level. At least that level was generally higher than the market has been, but the Commerce market is still dominated by lower end sales and enough foreclosures and short sales to keep values under $100/Sq Ft for the year. The Commerce market actually broke through the $100/Sq Ft barrier in October and you can see that if you go look at the archive of monthly stats that I keep at the www.movetomilford.com web site.

Highland Township’s market looks to be following a traditional supply vs. demand curve, with average sale values going up as the inventory comes down. The Highland market has actually been over $100/Sq Ft for three months now, but it was so depressed for a long while that it will take a bit before that is reflected in the Y-T-D stats. You can still get a fairly good deal on homes in Highland.

The White Lake market trails the rest and has yet to react to the falling inventory by showing higher average sale values. White Lake is another market that has been greatly impacted by foreclosures and short sales. The market is still about 40% distressed sales and you can still finds homes for under $90/SqFt. You will also find more lower-priced homes in White Lake than in the other three.

Give universally but help locally…

November 12, 2012

There are so many very good causes begging for our attention and contributions these days. Almost all are legitimate, although some charity appeals come from fund-raising companies that keep as much as they pass on to the actual underlying charity. The really big causes – cancer, heart disease, muscular dystrophy and such – have huge fund-raising machines going all of the time. They are worth causes and giving to them will make you feel better; however, it’s a short-lived feeling because you just ship your donation off to somewhere and don’t really see how it’s used or any results from your small contribution to the cause. Still, we all need to support those big efforts because they will benefit us all.

There are also lots of local charities and organizations doing good works right in our community. With those, there are not only opportunities to give money; but, also lots of opportunities to o hands-on service work; the kind of work that will give you good feeling that will stick with you for a long time, because you get to see the results.  A couple examples in our area are the Community Sharing Outreach Center Food Pantry and the local Meals on Wheels group.

The Community Sharing Outreach Center appears to be a local group that was started back in 2004 as an outgrowth of programs being run by local churches. It has expanded and added services and now offers the following services:

  • Food/Pet Food – Available once a month and in emergencies
  • Clothing – Available during open hours
  • Emergency financial assistance – This includes evictions, utility shut off and other emergencies.
  • Case Management- Needs assessment, advocacy, networking with and referrals to other agencies for optimum assistance for clients.
  • Educational Assistance – Tutoring in core subjects (K-12), assistance for adults preparing for GED testing.  Tutoring is available for all Huron Valley Schools students who participate in the Federal Lunch Program. You do not need to be a client.
  • Focus Hope – Monthly food distribution site for those over 60 and under 6.
  • The Emergency Food Assistance Program – TEFAP distribution site providing extra food to clients quarterly.

It has been noted here before that the Community Sharing Pet Food Pantry is the only one of its kind in the state that also provides pet food to needy families that otherwise could not afford to keep their family pets.

The Community Sharing Outreach Center is located in Highland at 2029 N. Milford Rd in the old middle school building. They also have a Milford location, which is a community vegetable garden, at the corner of Milford and GM Roads. You can learn more about the Community Sharing Outreach Center and the opportunities that it offers to serve at their web site – www.community-sharing.org .

The local Meals on Wheels organization is part of a larger, national effort to make sure that food gets to shut-ins and seniors. You may visit the national web site at http://www.mowaa.org/  . Locally the web site is http://www.mealcall.org/meals-on-wheels/mi/milford.htm .

This is a simple idea, to make sure that seniors and shut-ins don’t go hungry; however it takes a lot of work by a lot of volunteers and a lot of contributions to buy the food that is needed. I’ve put a flyer on my Move to Milford web site about the volunteer opportunities for Meals on Wheels at http://www.movetomilford.com/meals_on_wheels.html .

People who need meals can call two locations – the Milford Senior Center at 248-685-9008 or directly to the Meals on Wheels coordinator at 248-684-0705. If you are able and interested there are plenty of opportunities to help with this effort. I can tell you, based upon my personal experience of delivering food baskets to needy family through my church, that nothing will give you a better feeling that seeing the smiles of people who were facing another day of hunger if you weren’t there with some food. Call them today and volunteer to make, pack or deliver food to those who are shut-in.

Another avenue for local volunteering that will make you feel great is through the many local organizations with a focus on programs for children and families, such as the Carl’s Family YMCA, the Milford Library, and the Community Education and Recreation through the Huron Valley School District. There are links to all three of those organizations and their program calendars on my web site – www.movetomilford.com. I’m sure that all of them can always use more help.

Local, membership-based service organizations like the Rotary Club and the Optimists, as well as organizations like the Knights of Columbus also have multiple fund raising events for worthy causes throughout the year. And, of course, all of the local churches are always working quietly behind the scenes to help families in need. Churches run on volunteer help, so ask how you can help at your church.

There is an old saying that I’ll paraphrase by saying “you get back by giving.” No amount of money in your paycheck can make you feel as good as you’ll feel by volunteering for organizations like these and helping others. Yes, we still need to give money to these and other worthy causes, both local and national; but it’s these local organizations that need and can use your help and time to make a difference. Call one of them today and ask how you can volunteer. So, rather than just hand off some money; get the hands-on experience of actually doing the work. It’s great!

Milford in the 20th Century – New Book Project

November 9, 2012

The Milford Historical Society has as its mission to collect, preserve and share the history of Milford, Michigan. Recently the Society announced plans to create a New Book about the history of Milford. The Society has already published one book – “Ten Minutes Ahead of the Rest of the World” – which was completed in 1978 and focused mainly on the founding and growth of Milford, Michigan in the 19th Century, from the first settlers in the 1830’s up to the early years of the 1900’s.

The new book, which is being researched and written under the working title “Milford in the 20th Century”, will focus upon the history of the Milford area (Village and Township) from 1901 until 2000. The Milford Historical Society is calling for local area residents to share pictures, stories, memorabilia and other things that might contribute to understanding the history of Milford during that time fame.  The framework of the book is organized initially around the decades of the twentieth century and will place the history of events in Milford within the context of what was going on in the world at the time. It is particularly important to find old pictures that show how Milford looked in each decade or which document significant events in Milford’s history and long lost buildings or venues.

There are places long gone that existed during this era, such as the old Milford High School, many of the Mills of Milford (which were all demolished during this era), the Milford Hotel and Movie House. There are also great stories about the days when Milford used to host the Oakland County Fair and when there was horse racing and car racing in Milford. We need to capture and document all of that. There were places that had nick-names like Little Egypt and Baby Town that we want to understand and share the stories of for future generations.

There are events that occurred in Milford that reflect how the local scene was impacted by the larger context of what was going on in the world, like the WPA sidewalk project during the Depression that brought work and new sidewalks to many Milford streets. There was the creation of the General Motors Proving Ground that was cobbled together out of many Milford and Brighton Farms. Of course there was the Ford Carburetor Plant in Milford, a part of the Ford Village Industries program that Henry Ford initiated early in the 20th century. Milford had many other manufacturing companies in the early part of the century that are all long gone. We’d like to document them.

Life and lifestyles changed quite a bit during this time span, too; and we’d like to understand and share those changes. The impacts of the railroad and the automobile were profound on Milford and the lifestyles of the Milford residents. Tell us stories about that and maybe share pictures. Several churches in the area grew and moved about during this century, we’d like to hear about that, too. Several school building came and went during this timeframe, if you have any picture and stories. Let us know. Although many of the building remained in place, there were changes to the downtown as stores came and went. There were car dealerships and drug stores and grocery stores on North Main Street at one time. Do you have pictures or stories about them? The train used to stop in Milford; do you have pictures from the old train station?

It is our hope that we can find and preserve as much of the photographic history of Milford in the 20th Century as possible and also capture and preserve the oral history that many life-long Milford residents have about this era. We will be drawing quite a bit of our research from our own archives, but we have only collected a very small portion of the items that likely exist in our community to document Milford in the 20th Century.

You may call or email to discuss what you can contribute. Call the Museum at 248-685-7308 and speak to the Museum Staff or leave a message with your name and a phone number,  if no one answers. We’ll get back to you as quickly as we can. You can also email us at NewBook@milfordhistory.org . If you have scanned images of pictures or a written story about Milford during this time span you can attach it to the email. If you have only the original picture of something, we’ll arrange to get it scanned into a digital image and document what the picture is about and then give it back to you (unless you wish to donate it to the Museum). Our hope is to spend the next two years collecting and documenting the history of Milford during this era and then get the new book published sometime in 2015. Please help.

In Short Sales Ignorance is Risk

November 7, 2012

In my real estate business I run into a lot of people who seem to fit the old saying, “Ignorance is bliss.” I’d probably put it a different way – Ignorance is risk. Because I run a web site called MIShortSales.net, I get to talk to a lot of people who have already made some bad decisions or who have had some bad turn of events in their lives that have left them in distress. We start out talking about the possibility of doing a short sale, but I usually am quick to try to educate them on some things that can only compound their problems and about which many people are blissfully ignorant.

Many times I find that the distressed homeowner has moved on, usually to pursue work somewhere else. Almost all of them are too far underwater to be able to sell at a market price that would cover what they owe. Some have rented out their homes and some have friends or relatives living there. Some have just locked the place up and are leaving it sit empty. Many of these people just rent somewhere else, but some have actually bought another house. What almost none of them understand are all of the risks that have come into play, based upon that decision.

For those who have actually established residency in another state or area, there are several issues that are raised about their old home. One issue that is most often overlooked is that fact that once the old place isn’t your primary residence anymore the Homestead Tax Exemption needs to be revoked. For most, I suspect that this is a decision that was made overtly and not a case of ignorance; the homeowner just doesn’t want the taxes to go up 30-40% based upon it now being viewed as an investment property. That is risky because it is illegal and there are fines and penalties involved if the local taxing authority finds out. In the past local Townships and cities didn’t have any focus on this issue, but now all are looking for any extra revenues that they can find; so don’t take the risk that, “they’ll never find out.”

Insurance is another thing that is often overlooked, mostly out of ignorance. Insurance companies write normal homeowner policies for owners who actually live in the house. If the house is now a rental a different policy is required (to cover the structure) and the tenant should be required to have their own policy to cover their possessions and their own liability. If the place is sitting empty, there is yet another,  different  insurance policy that can be written to cover that scenario. Vacant home policies are more expensive, but better than having no coverage, which is what ends up happening, if the insurance company finds out based upon a claim that the house was empty. Empty houses are still being targeted by copper thieves and vandals, neither of which would be covered for a vacant house under normal homeowner policies.

Another risk for homeowners who choose to lock the place up and let it set is that of plumbing damage in the winter, should the heating system fail. As a realtor, if I take on a vacant property in the winter, I require that the place be properly winterized. Michigan winters can be harsh and the amount of damage that can be caused by frozen and split pipes pales in comparison to the $200-$300 to have the house winterized. Winterization involves completely draining the plumbing system and putting anti-freeze in all elbows. Even if you have a brand new furnace, it isn’t worth the risk to just turn the heat down to 50° and hope that the power stays on. I’ve lived through too many multi-day power outages to be comfortable with that strategy.

Finally there is ignorance of the changing real estate landscape. A few years ago it was common practice for Realtors® and even lawyers to advise clients to stop making mortgage payments, in order to get the proper attention from the lender for a short sale attempt. The attitude of lenders has changed as the recession and housing bust have played out. Now they would much rather deal with clients who have, in good faith, tried to keep up with the mortgage, but who are just tapped-out now.  The lenders also have more refinance options and more latitude to use programs that encourage proper behavior on the part of the homeowner, rather than the vindictive and destructive behavior that has been displayed in the past. Lenders even have the ability to offer the distressed short seller a small amount of money to help with their move to somewhere else.

In Michigan, leaving a vacant house and getting behind bring up another risk – seizure. Lenders have the right to try to determine if the property has been abandoned. They hire people to do nothing more than travel around peering into windows to see if there is anyone still living in the property. If they don’t see furniture and people around they will normally post a notice on the front door that states that the owners should call the lender within 48-72 hours. If the lender doesn’t get that call (and they won’t if you’re not there to see the notice) they have the right to seize the property, change the locks and immediately foreclose on it.

One thing that most people are also complacently ignorant about is that the law that made it illegal to issue a 1099 Tax Form for the balance that was forgiven in a short sale is set to expire January 1, 2013. That 1099-Form treats the amount that was forgiven as if it were income that you earned but upon which you paid no taxes. The current Congress recessed without acting on bills that have been introduced to extend that law. There will be a “lame-duck” session before the end of the year in which this might be taken up and passed, but that is not assured. You should let your Congressman (woman) know that this is an important thing for them to renew. Otherwise, short sellers whose sale doesn’t close until sometime in 2013 could be facing the ugly surprise of a big tax liability.

So, now you aren’t ignorant on these issues anymore and hopefully you understand the risks involved. The choice to take the risks or to take action to mitigate these risks is still yours to make. In every case the cost to mitigate is far less than the cost if the risk is realized.