Top 2020 Farmington area stories

A tragic accident, COVID-19 actions, and a downtown business eviction are among the Farmington Voice stories that generated the most interest this year.

Derek Westbrook
Derek Westbrook (

Police identify Farmington pedestrian crash victim

Derek Westbrook, 49, died on December 11 after he was struck by a vehicle in the parking lot at CVS Pharmacy. The popularity of this story reflects how beloved Derek was in the Farmington community and at his Farmington Hills workplace. His Farmington Brewing Company Run Club friends held a December 15 memorial walk to raise funds for his family, who have given his faithful companion Twiggy a new home.

As of this writing, no charges have been filed against the 25-year-old driver who struck Derek after accidentally hitting the gas instead of the brake as she backed out of a parking spot at the downtown Farmington business. Funeral arrangements have been set for Mr. Westbrook.

UPDATED: Learn more about Oakland County candidates

Thousands of readers referred to August primary candidate interviews completed by the Oakland County Times. We compiled a list that included only those candidates who were on Farmington and Farmington Hills ballots.

Early morning eviction surprises Fitness 19 in Farmington

The Downtown Farmington Center space formerly occupied by Fitness 19 still sits empty two months after a sheriff and court officers showed up on October 13 to oust the business. Assistant manager Kim Engelhardt said Fitness 19 had fallen behind in rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but company representatives had been negotiating repayment with strip mall owners.

UPDATED: Oakland County releases COVID-19 map

Over the past nine months, we have followed local COVID-19 pandemic trends using an Oakland County map released in late March. It originally showed recent cases, diagnosed over the past 30 days, and total cases in each ZIP code, and has expanded to include cases in school districts. The map shows where those with the virus live, not where they contracted it.

Here’s what the map looked like on March 30:

Oakland County COVID-19 map

Here’s roughly the same view now:

Oakland County COVID-19 map

Farmington superintendent, trustees resign; Smith censured

The three resignations and censure came during November 16 Board of Education special meeting. Supt. Bob Herrera’s contract, which would have expired in 2022, now ends on January 22, 2021. His exit package included a $105,000 payment; he will serve as a consultant through June 30, 2021.

Terry Johnson, who did not seek re-election, resigned 45 days before the end of his term. Pam Green’s term doesn’t expire until 2024. Cheryl Blau and Mable Fox, who both won six-year terms in November, are filling in until the end of the year. Trustees will wait until January, when Claudia Heinrich, who won a 2-year term, joins the group, to interview board candidates and decide on the hiring process.

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