Keeping the Dream Alive in the Huron Valley…

December 13, 2012

Today I posted information on my web site about some of the upcoming events in the Milford area in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Day, which is January21, 2013. The Huron Valley Martin Luther King Jr. Day Committee has already kicked off the events by opening registration for entries in the art, writing and performance categories. Each of these categories will judged, with awards for the best entries to be announced during the celebration on the 21st.

MLK image over DOwntown MIlfordThere will also be a parade down Main St in Milford on the 21st, with the line-up scheduled for 1 PM at the Prospect Hill Shopping Mall. The march will proceed up Commerce to Main St and down main street to Central park. Dr. King’s famous ‘I have a dream…” speech will be played as the marchers go down Main St. You can read more about the planned activities and the work that the Committee does throughout the year by going to and clicking on the link to about information concerning the celebration.

It is interesting to me, as I looked to see who was behind the Committee, that Dr. King’s Dream is today being kept alive and championed mainly by people too young to have been there when the events happened. They are championing the principals that Dr. King espoused, and not just honoring his memory. That is important; because that means that the real content of Dr. King’s Dream is living on and not just the context.

I am old enough to have witnessed the events of that era, albeit mainly from the comforts of my home on the TV. I saw the coverage of the marches and the loosing of the dogs upon the marchers. I saw Governor Wallace standing on the steps of the Alabama University, trying to deny entrance to a black man. I saw the coverage of Dr. King’s famous speech on the Capitol Mall and I witnessed the coverage of his death.  Those were trying times and times that challenged all Americans to embrace the inevitable change that Dr. King was fighting for during those marches and while giving those speeches.

It is a sad commentary that many of the most important events of the era were the deaths of the people fighting to do the most good and make the most change in America at the time – John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. represent three of the most important. I certainly hope that groups like the Huron Valley Martin Luther King Day Committee keep reminding us all of the Dream, as yet not fully realized, that Dr. King had for an America in which the color of a man’s skin would have no impact or influence on his ability to realize his full measure of the American Dream. I’ll see you on Main St on January 21st.

Compassion 2012 style…

December 10, 2012

As reported on the CNN Money site – Mortgage giants, Freddie Mac (FMCC, Fortune 500) and Fannie Mae (FNMA, Fortune 500), announced today that they will suspend all bank repossessions beginning December 17 and December 19, respectively, and will not resume the evictions until January 2, 2013. “The holidays are a chance to be with loved ones and we want to relieve some stress at this time of year,” said Terry Edwards, Executive Vice President of Credit Portfolio Management, Fannie Mae.

So, in addition to a New Year’s Day hang over you can pack up and get out. Somehow this seems less genuine that I’m sure that the Freddie and Fannie folks meant it to sound. I guess there was not good day on which to start evicting people again. Soon they’ll be able to throw them out and over the cliff, too. And you thought it was the Grinch that stole Christmas. Move over Grinch, Aunt Fannie and Uncle Freddie are here with a Christmas tease.

It’s too bad that the “Let Them Fail” crowd has only been successful with letting individual homeowners fail and not the big banks and shadow-banking institutions that helped cause this mess. Now, in my area, the debate is whether to let the City of Detroit fail and go into bankruptcy. To add to the drama, the City Council is fighting a rear guard action to prevent the state from rescuing the City; so, I guess they’ve joined the “Let Them Fail”crowd, too.

It’s Day 22 until the Boehner Recession. It’s too bad that Rodney Dangerfield isn’t with us anymore. He could have reprised one of his movie roles and done his famous triple-Lindy dive off the Fiscal Cliff before hitting the bottom of the empty pool below.

Maybe that’s called wisdom…

December 9, 2012

 “As I get older I find that I’m not smarter about the things I say, but rather smarter about the things I don’t say.” (Norm Werner)

Today’s saying didn’t come from my favorite blog – Jack’s Winning Words; but, it’s just something that I thought of recently. Maybe Jack will use it on his blog. I have been blessed (or cursed depending upon your view) with a fairly quick wit; however, when I was younger I was not always judicious with the use of the things that occur to me in response to things around me. While I always found the thoughts that would pop into my head to be funny, and many others seem to also find them to be Mouth shuthumorous; there were also many times when I later regretted blurting out that witty retort or cute double entendre remark.  Eventually, I learned to hold my tongue, at least long enough to consider whether sharing my witty thought was appropriate. I became smarter about the things that I don’t say.

That is an important life lesson, whether it concerns witty remarks or just remarks in general. These days it also has great applicability to the stage that so many use to express themselves – Social Media. Whether it be in a blog or on Facebook or Twitter, stopping to consider the thoughts that you are about to share with the world is good advice. Many people think of Facebook as just a place to carry on conversations among friends, but it has also become a favorite checkpoint for job recruiters to visit on order to find out what kind of a person you may be. The offhand remarks that you drop into your Facebook posts will stay out there forever and could come back to haunt you, especially if you’ve allowed yourself to spew vitriolic remarks at someone or some company. The same caution applies to sharing too much personal information about yourself on those sites. It’s not just scam artists that you need be concerned about, it may be that next employer who is looking up what you’ve said.

Blogs can also be dangerous. There is a tendency to think of a blog as a personal soapbox upon which everything is fair game. Certainly there are few rules governing what one can say on a blog; however, restraint and self-control are critical there, too. Blogs tend to encourage the sharing of opinions, but you really need to think about whether your opinion is important enough to share to risk offending or turning off those who do not share it. Certainly that is true in areas like politics and religion. I try to stay away from those topics. I suppose that I might have offended some politicians in Washington from time to time by referring to them as bozos or worse when they pass some bonehead law to protect us from ourselves or worse, fail to do anything useful at all. Maybe there should be a special exemption for talking about politicians, since they have usually earned the witty or scathing remarks that they draw.

I don’t feel the least bit constrained by my new found ability to stop and think about what I’m about to say in public or on a public social media site. Usually the result is better, more thought out and coherent. Sometimes the result is not to say anything at all, and that’s OK, too. The alternative is to continue to be that disruptive kid in class who blurts out everything that comes to mind. As you age it’s becomes obvious that more people than just the teacher is annoyed by that. I think realizing that and doing something about it is called wisdom – amazing what getting older can do for you.

Ribon Cutting at Schoen Insurance Agency

December 7, 2012

The Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce had a group of its members over at the Schoen Insurance Agency Thursday for a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Ribbon Cutting at Schoen Insurance

Agency owner Matt Schoen is second from the right (with the official scissors) and Denise Abram, the other agent in the office is next to him. Matt moved his office from Charlotte (just south of Lansing) back in July and has been renovating the space since then, all the while driving back and forth everyday. Now he has the office ready and as just sold his house over in the Lansing area, so I’m helping him look for a new home in this area. His wife still works in the Lansing area, so their new home will be somewhere west of Milford. Matt likes to bow hunt and would like some space on his own land for that, so it will have some acerage.

Matt has been an insurance agent for 6 years and struck out on his own a few years ago, after working for one of the big captive-agent companies. Now, he represents several companies; so he can find the best fit of coverage and price by looking at the offerings  of them all, instead of being locked into the products of only one company. The agency offers all types of insurance, including home, auto, business, life and even pet insurance. Matt also offers vacant home insurance for landlord or homeowners who have properties vacant for periods of time. I’ve put a flyer that they had at the ribbon cutting ceremony that explains their agency and its products better on line – click here to read that flyer.

Now that the hectic pace of a daily one hour commute each way is just about over and the local facility is ready to roll, Matt is looking forward to getting involved in the local community and being active in the Chamber of Commerce. For contact information  about the Schoen Insurance Agency, go to and Click on the Local Business Referrals button, The agency is under the Insurance choice. Stop in and meet Matt and Denise and tell them that you heard about them here on Norms Milford Blog.

Housing Market Speeding Back To “Normal”

December 4, 2012

A recent blog post on Trulia by economist Jed Kolko makes the claim that the housing market is 47% back to “normal.” Kolko uses three primary measurements of the market as indicators of its state – new housing starts, existing home sales and the delinquency (foreclosure) rate in the groups of markets that he tracks. Kolko compares these numbers against their worst state at the depth of the recession and their best at the pre-burst peak of the market. The data in Kolko’s blog are from October and from very reliable sources. His percentages of recovery are basically percentages of the change from the worst to the known best state for those three indicators.

According to Kolko, new construction is 41% back to normal, up 47% year-over-year against last November. Existing home sales he sees as being 59% back to normal and delinquencies/foreclosures are 41% of the way back to normal at a current rate of 10.64% nationally. He has some interesting charts in the story that show the trends, starting with his Housing Barometer. Click on the link in the first sentence to read his blog article and see the charts.

In this area, I just posted the November home sales numbers for Milford, Highland house shoppingWhite Lake, Commerce, South Lyon and West Bloomfield Townships in Oakland County and Green Oak, Brighton and Hartland Townships in Livingston County. You can see that data and the 3-5 years’ worth of data that I’ve been collecting for those markets on my web site – I think I’m going to have to start charting my data, too. It does make it easier to see the trends. I’ll start that in January of 2013 and go back a couple of years just to get the trend lines going.

Just based upon my own observations and the data that I collect and post, I can also see the recovery happening, albeit a bit slower in some markets, but quite rapidly in pockets locally. I also look at the trend in home sale values and the sold price per square foot, which have been rising in all the markets all year. Foreclosures and short sales are down to below 50% in all of the markets that I track and down close to the national average in some – good news.

Currently slowing the recovery a bit locally is the lack of inventory. Too many people still believe that they are underwater on their homes, so they are still hunkered down waiting out the market. For many the time to at least take a look at where they’re at in terms of market value has arrived – they just don’t know it yet. I’m pretty sure that we aren’t 47% back to the pre-bust “normal” of 2005-6, but our market has markedly improved and it’s definitely time for people to leave the bunkers and test the market.

The local economic news is also improving, so the economic risk factors are down for making a move, too. My advice is to at least get an informed opinion from a Realtor about what you house is worth today, so that you can make intelligent decisions about whether to go ahead with retirement plans, move-up plans or whatever plans you have that involve making a real estate change. Email or call me 248-763-2497, if you’re in this area and let me take a look at your home-value situation – you may be pleasantly surprised.

Making history while preserving history…

December 1, 2012

The Milford Historical Society (MHS) tends to focus on its mission of collecting,museum preserving and sharing the history of Milford, Michigan through educational programs at the Milford Historical Museum and out in the community. Every now and then the Society makes a little history itself by doing new and innovative things in pursuit of that mission.

If you haven’t been to the Milford Historical Society Web site – lately. You really should visit. MHS has announced that it is in the information and photograph collection process for a new book on the history of Milford. The MHS originally produced the book “Ten Minutes Ahead of the Rest of The World” in the mid-1970’s. That book, which primarily documented the founding of Milford and events through the end of the Nineteenth Century, is now in its third printing and still selling strong for local residents. The new book, which currently has the working title “Milford in the 20th history bookCentury”, will focus upon the events in and around Milford in the period from 1900 to 2000 – the 20th Century.

There were lots of significant events happening around the world and in the United State during that period – World Wars, The Great Depression the real growth of the Michigan-based automotive industry and much more. The MHS will be attempting to document in stories and pictures what was happening in Milford during those events, as well as what local things happened of impact to the citizens of Milford. Local residents and those who may have moved away are encourage to share with the MHS your pictures and stories. You may email things to or send them to me at . We have already put a link on our Web site to the wonderful Facebook page “I remember that in Milford, Michigan” and we hope that people will want us to use the stories and pictures that they have shared there.

In addition to the new book, we have put a toe into the 21st Century waters of MissionFishLogoInternet commerce by signing up with a charity fund-raising organization called MissionFish  put a link on our home page for a page on eBay where people can sign up to sell things and have a portion be donated to the MHS. You can also just donate directly from that page. We will soon be opening a Web-based store on our site where you will be able to buy the various things that we currently only sell in the Museum – books, prints of old maps and pictures and other things that we sell to support the Museum.

We have also announced the creation of an endowment, which will be set up to allow donors to put money into a fund that will be invested for the sole purpose of keeping the Milford Historical Museum operating. More on that as it unfolds. Soon patrons will be able to designate estate contributions to the Milford Historical Museum Endowment Fund. We hope to raise enough in the fund to support the on-going operation of the museum through investment earnings from this fund.

Finally there is also a link on our home page to an organization that rewards people for their volunteer efforts in support of non-profit organizations like the MHS. do-good_logoClick on the big heart with the “Do Good, Get Rewards” wording in the middle to see how you can earn rewards for donating your time to the MHS. I think it’s great that someone can report the time that they put in helping local charity and other non-profits and get rewards. Even if it’s not the MHS, you should go there to see how you can get rewards for the volunteer work that you do for all of the organizations that your support through volunteer work.