Hometown Heroes on display at Southland Center

The firework ceremonies in our hometown may be officially over, but Southland Center of Taylor still has reason to celebrate. The shopping center announced the next round of Hometown Heroes. July’s honorees range in age from 18 to 81. Their pictures and complete stories can be seen along the construction barricade wall, which stands at the site where Best Buy will be added to the property. Here is a snapshot of their heroic efforts: 

Taylor Fire Department
On June 6, 2006, the Taylor Fire Department responded to a major rollover accident on the I-94 freeway in Taylor that resulted in a total of 15 victims. The first team of responders quickly began caring for the seriously injured. Five patients were rapidly transported to Detroit Receiving Hospital, a level one trauma facility. Under the direction of Battalion Chief Mike Brennan, Taylor and other fire-based ambulances (both municipal and private) were dispatched in a timely fashion, which resulted in no fatalities. Detroit Receiving Hospital recognized the heroism with a letter to the Wayne County Medical Control Authority.  We salute Battalion Chief Mike Brennan, Lt. Dan Doran and Firefighters Ron Evina, Zoe Metro, Robert Lankton and Dennis Marshall, Capt. Jeff Morrow, Alex Roman, Bill Dudek, Ron Howard, and John Mesky. Working dispatch at the Midtown Fire Station and available for other response in the city were Capt. Jeff Fall, Lt. Tim Grapentien and Firefighter Shannon Threlkeld. 

James Flannigan, Allen Park
James Flannigan is a true American hero. In World War II he was known as “Fearless” Flanagan. A year after entering the Army right out of high school, he was with the 4th Infantry Division in the D-Day invasion of Normandy, landing on Utah Beach on June 6, 1944. He fought countless battles in France, Germany and Belgium, serving as a “forward observer,” a soldier that goes with the attacking infantry company. He faced machine gun fire and saw thousands of fellow soldiers die. He was responsible for saving many lives as well. Flannigan earned the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism—the second highest honor presented by the US government for “gallantry in action while volunteering to go through enemy lines to deliver a message to headquarters.” He also received two Bronze Stars with a “V” for “Valor,” a Silver Star, a Purple Heart and a Presidential Unit Citation. His arrowhead for the Normandy invasion has five battle stars. He received a Croix de Guerre from the French government in 1945 for “exceptional services of war rendered in the course of operations for the liberation of France.” Flannigan, now 81, was honored during Memorial Day ceremonies in Taylor. He plays down his heroics, saying, “There were 13 million men in World War II. I was lucky. I made it through and a lot of them didn’t.” 

Kyle Terpak, Riverview Community High School
Kyle, one of Downriver’s top athletes capped a stellar senior season with a Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 2 victory in the 400-meter dash. He also scored at the state level in the 100-meter dash (fifth) and the 1600-meter relay (sixth). Terpak earned his way to the state finals by winning all of his races at the regional level and helping his Pirates’ relay team to a runner-up finish. Overall this season, he was beaten just twice during individual races. He will head for the University of Michigan this fall. 

Amy Peterson, Lincoln Park
Amy Peterson celebrated the Fourth of July by heading to the African village of Humjibre, where she will be serving as a volunteer with the Ghana health and Education Initiative this month, teaching classes on malaria prevention and other health initiatives. Peterson, 27 has worked as a project director for the Karmanos Cancer Institute for the past three years. She’s currently working on her master’s degree in communication at Wayne State University. Her goal is a career in public health education. No stranger to volunteering, during her high school years, Peterson volunteered at a local soup kitchen with her brother.

Southland congratulates all heroes for going above and beyond the call of duty. Previous winners with Taylor ties included Taylor Police Officers of the Year, Cpl. Scott Atkinson and Detective Rick Hopper; the Harry S Truman High School varsity basketball team, which went 21-5 during the year; and Rhonda Taylor, 23rd District Court clerk, whose quick actions helped save the life of a man who was threatening suicide. Colonel Sara Phoenix of Woodhaven also was honored. She was the highest-ranking female Marine in Iraq. 

The “Hometown Heroes” program is sponsored by Southland Center, The News-Herald and the City of Taylor. Each month, we will team with our sponsors to select four local “heroes,” either a person or a group of people who have gone above and beyond the call of duty. Each hero will have his or her photo, along with a brief explanation as to what he or she did to bring them this distinction, displayed on the “Hometown Heroes” wall for the month. The recipients will also receive a $25 Gift Card and be mentioned in The News-Herald and on www.cityoftaylor.com

Nomination forms are available at the site. Please turn in your entry to the Southland Management Office, attention Bob Collis. The heroes program continues as the mall winds its way toward the holiday opening of Best Buy. 

Southland Center is owned and managed by General Growth Properties, Inc., the second largest U.S.-based publicly traded Real Estate investment Trust (REIT). General Growth currently has ownership interest in and management responsibility for, a portfolio of 210 regional shopping malls in 44 states, as well as ownership in planned community developments and commercial office buildings. The company portfolio totals approximately 200-million square feet of retail space and includes over 24,000 retailers nationwide.  A publicly traded Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), General Growth Properties is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol GGP. For more information on General Growth Properties and its portfolio of malls, please visit the company web site at www.generalgrowth.com.