Ypsilanti Citizen Community Sidetrack

Volunteers prepare for Ypsi PRIDE Day
By Mark Tower
May. 13, 2010   ·   7:09 a.m.

Volunteers and W.H. Canon employees plant flowers in Depot Town while Ypsilanti resident Mike Labadie repairs the planter's brick work on Ypsi PRIDE Day last year.

Each year, residents in and around the city of Ypsilanti carry on a tradition started by a group of community members enrolled in a city leadership program, a sort...read more

Bicycles zoom as flowers bloom
By Citizen staff
Apr. 30, 2010   ·   2:11 p.m.

Riders from last year's spring ride come in after a long trip. Bike Ypsi’s 2010 Spring Ride and Festival is from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Sunday at Recreation Park (1015 Congress Street).

The weather has turned, the trees are budding and the flowers are popping out of the ground; time for a cruise through town. But don’t be so quick to hop in the...read more

Sheriff Clayton visits Ypsilanti Township
By Mark Tower
Apr. 29, 2010   ·   12:59 p.m.

Ypsilanti Township resident Kathleen Hanadel takes notes as her and other residents attempt to asses WCSO services Tuesday evening at a community forum held at the township's community center.

About 50 Ypsilanti Township residents gave the Washtenaw County Sheriff Office their input about law enforcement in the community Tuesday evening.

The information...read more

Local photographer raising funds for Ypsi Project exhibit
By Adrienne Ziegler
Apr. 20, 2010   ·   2:20 a.m.

Ypsilanti resident Nicholas Beltsos his grandson Demetrios were photographed by Project Ypsi photographer Erica Hampton during a bike ride she took Monday. A former EMU economics professor, Beltsos and his family moved to Ypsi from Dearborn in 1967.

Ypsilanti has many faces, and Erica Hampton wants to share a few of them with you.

Over the past year, Hampton created the The Ypsi Project, a series of portraits...read more

Savoy taking shape as live music venue
By Dan DuChene
Apr. 17, 2010   ·   2:38 p.m.

Local funk band Third Coast Kings play in Ypsilanti's newest live music venue, Savoy, Friday night.

Ypsilanti's newest concert venue is preparing for its grand opening weekend April 23, more than a month after its soft opening March 13.

Formerly Club Divine,...read more

Ypsilanti firefighters look to grant to save jobs

The Ypsilanti Fire Department is currently faced with the prospect of losing a third of its staff to layoffs. However, a federal grant could allow them to keep their staff. Photo by Adrienne Ziegler

The Ypsilanti Fire Department is currently faced with the prospect of losing a third of its staff to layoffs. However, a federal grant could allow them to keep their staff.
Ypsilanti Farmers Market

Chief asks residents to send letters of support

By Adrienne Ziegler
Feb. 10, 2010    ·    1:32 p.m.

Ypsilanti Firefighter Michael Loria prays every night the department receives a federal grant to save his job.

“When you work somewhere for ten and a half years, you don’t really expect this type of thing to happen,” he said.

Loria is just one of six Ypsilanti firefighters and five police officers slated to be laid off July 1 due to $1.4 million in city budget shortfalls.

However, when the Ypsilanti City Council began considering layoffs to public safety personnel, the YFD applied for a $818,000 grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency that would allow them to recall all six firefighters said Fire Chief Jon Ichesco.

The Staffing for Adequate Emergency and Fire Response (SAFER) grant is offered through FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program. If awarded, it would cover the cost of salary and benefits for those six firefighters through 2011.

The SAFER grant was designed specifically to help communities maintain the number of firefighters necessary to uphold federal safety standards like the two-in, two-out policy. The policy requires that in order for a firefighter to enter a burning structure, he or she must be accompanied by another firefighter with another two outside for emergency support. A supervisor should also be outside to help coordinate.

As currently scheduled, YFD layoffs would reduce the number of firefighters from 18 to 12, creating two shifts of four firefighters with alternates. According to Ichesco, that’s just not enough to stage a quick and aggressive attack against a fire.

“You have to wait until enough people arrive then try to zap the fire,” Ichesco said, meaning the department would rely heavily on mutual aid from other departments in the area, many of which are also experiencing possible budget cuts and personnel shortages.

Loria, 35, has worked with the Ypsilanti Fire Department since 1999. With a 10-month old baby and another child due in May, he said he is concerned about supporting his family if the grant is not approved. He said he's looked for other firefighter jobs in Michigan, but with so many people unemployed the competition is tough.

“I’d have to start looking for some other type of work and in Michigan that’s going to be difficult,” he said. “Packing up our kids and moving out of the state is not something we want to do.”

Loria also said that as a 35-year-old firefighter, it would be tough to start over with another department.

“I would be working against kids potentially half my age,” he said.

YFD Union President Ken Hobbs said he is still hopeful that they can avoid the layoffs altogether through mediation with the city.

“I’m an optimist,” he said. “There’s still a possibility that we can avoid this. We have good community support.”

For now, Loria said he just hopes to keep his job whether it’s through mediation or the federal grant.

“It’s going to be tough to feed our kids and take care of our house and do all those things we’re supposed to do,” Loria said. “If [the grant] goes through, it will hopefully save my job.”

Ichesco asked Ypsilanti residents to write letters to FEMA in support of the SAFER grant. Letters can be sent to:

Mr. Timothy W. Manning, Deputy Administrator
DHS/FEMA/National Preparedness Directorate
500 C Street, SW
Washington, DC 20472

Letters may also be faxed to 202-786-9938.

Related article:
City eyes 11 layoffs in public safety

The Rocket

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