When I was first asked to reflect back on 2012, it was hard not to focus on one date: March 15, 2012.
In Dexter, that date needs no introduction or explanation. Few will forget the devastation that occurred that evening as a tornado wrecked its way through the Dexter area. In a true miracle, no lives were lost and many will remember and talk about the community spirit, the togetherness and the positive energy that followed perhaps more than the event itself.
2012 was the year Dexter was front page news on CNN and every other news outlet across our nation.
As I think back, 2012 was very unique in a lot of ways, perhaps most notably the weather. January and February led off with very little snowfall. March brought the tornado, but immediately followed with one of the nicest weather weeks we could ask for. A week or 10 days of 60 to 70 degree weather immediately following the tornado allowed the cleanup effort to occur in temperatures so mild that you thought early summer was in full stride.
Normal April showers turned into an early summer heat wave. May and June were very hot and very dry. Residents were encouraged to water their lawns at non-peak times due to the high demand and use of public water. July and August weren’t their typical months either, as they recorded less than normal temperatures and surprisingly less humidity than we are used to during our typical late summer months.
Fall was fairly typical, however, it seemed like the leaves were there one day and gone the next. As we round the corner into 2013, Mother Nature has reminded us once again that the snow does fall here in large quantities from time to time in our little town adjacent to the Huron River.
Within the village limits, 2012 was a very productive year. This year saw the opening of the new Westside Connector trail. The trail’s grand opening on March 24 was well attended and doubled as a fundraising effort, as the Chelsea Wellness Foundation generously donated $20 per person that signed up and registered for the community walk. I believe more than $10,000 was raised for the Dexter Relief Fund on that day, as the community walked together in a strong statement of togetherness, good health and support for our family, friends and neighbors in need of help.
Infrastructure improvements continued in 2012. Downtown Dexter received a fresh facelift in April and May as Main Street from Baker to Jeffords Street was resurfaced. Eleven decorative concrete crosswalks were installed (along with push button and American Disability Act ramp upgrades) to improve both the function and aesthetic appearance of our walkable community.
The Memorial Day activities in late May were quickly followed by Civil War Days in early June in support of raising funds for Gordon Hall.
July brought more construction to the village as Central Street from the Mast Road Bridge to Second Street was reconstructed, with new decorative crosswalks and decorative lighting added in this area in anticipation of the new county pathway along the railroad tracks from Central Street to Dexter-Huron Metropark.
Following the Dexter Daze parade in early August, the village’s new Mill Creek Park was officially opened and dedicated. The new park was completed nearly four years after the removal of the old dam and Main Street Bridge project, and now serves as a daily destination for residents and visitors to relax or exercise, as well as a further enhancement of our western gateway.
As summer turned to fall, I recall LaFontaine Chevrolet completing the construction of its new dealership here in Dexter, and the Chelsea Wellness Foundation beginning construction on the new Dexter Wellness Center behind the Dexter Pharmacy on Baker Road. These large private sector projects are a positive example of all the good in our community and further reinforce that Dexter is a wonderful place to live, work, learn and play.
The public and private investment together serves as a reminder of how lucky we are to live in a community where opportunities are plentiful and people care about their community.
In late fall, the village kicked-off another round of improvements at our wastewater treatment plant (sludge handling equipment) and finished yet another connecting piece of sidewalk to provide a safe pedestrian crossing between the Westridge Subdivision and the Cedars of Dexter.
Overall, I would have to say that 2012 turned out to be a very positive year. As a community, we survived a horrible act of nature and have grown closer in many ways. On behalf of the entire village council and staff at the village of Dexter, I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and a safe and prosperous 2013!
God bless all of you. I look forward to seeing you around our town!
Dexter Village President