December 22, 2022

Can you guess what is pictured in the photo above? Click the image for the answer and more.

We’re battening down the hatches for tomorrow’s winter storm as we prepare to celebrate the holidays and close out the year. We’ll be taking next week off, but look for a2view back in your inbox in the New Year.

This week, several Ann Arbor schools were closed because of staff illnesses, an ex-sheriff’s deputy was sentenced to probation, and police are looking for the driver of a car hauler that scraped the roof off a Jeep at an Ann Arbor overpass.

A lane on N. Fifth is closed until 2024, the Michigan football offensive line won the Joe Moore Award, and Venue opened a new market and cafe. Festifools has been called off this year, and a nearly fifty-acre property on the Saline River may soon become a nature preserve.

—Dayton Hare, editor

Daryl Hurst enlisted five fellow balloon artists to inflate 10,000 balloons for the 1997 national championship celebration, hand-knotting each one. He had to coax them out onto Crisler Arena’s catwalks to do the drop, but the result was as spectacular as he’d hoped. Photo courtesy of Daryl Hurst.

The News...Briefly

The county’s Covid-19 snapshot reports 986 cases in the two weeks ending yesterday, an increase from 871 last week and a continuation of this month’s upward trend. There 151.5 cases per 100,000 residents, up from 119.2, and the test positivity rate is 10.8 percent, up from 10.1 and back to the level of two weeks ago. The CDC community level is “medium” and will update at 8 p.m. tonight.

A winter storm warning is in effect this evening until Saturday evening, the National Weather Service has announced. Blizzard conditions and wind gusts over fifty mph are possible, and there could be more than six inches of snowfall.

Several Ann Arbor schools closed due to a “very high” number of staff illnesses on Friday and Monday, ClickOnDetroit reports. The district had to close three schools Friday — the day after superintendent Jeanice Swift sent out a health advisory urging the AAPS community to take precautions — because they didn’t have enough staff to operate safely; two others were closed Monday. All schools will be closed for the next two weeks for winter break.

“Schools across the county are experiencing high rates of illness, and it seems to be from multiple causes,” reports the health department’s Susan Ringler-Cerniglia: Covid, flu, and RSV are all circulating. She urges anyone with symptoms to stay away from others if possible, and to mask and increase ventilation if not. And she recommends that everyone get vaccinated against flu and stay up to date on their Covid vaccine.

Ann Arbor municipal offices will be closed for the holidays from Dec. 23 to 26, and again from Dec. 30 to Jan. 2. Trash and recycling pickups will continue on their regular schedule.

An ex-sheriff's deputy was sentenced to two years of probation after allegedly sexually assaulting a minor, MLive reports. Kevin Kerry Deacons, who said he hadn’t known the victim’s true age, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault.

Police are seeking the driver of a car hauler that hit an I-94 overpass Thursday, the Ann Arbor Fire Department reports on its Facebook page. The top of a new Jeep and evidence of a collision with the bridge were found by firefighters called to the scene. WILX TV posted a colorful dashboard video of the accident.

One lane of N. Fifth Ave. is closing between Detroit and Catherine until summer 2024 to permit construction of a five-story condo on Detroit, ClickOnDetroit reports.

The fire department says a sprinkler system stopped an Ann Arbor fire from getting out of hand. The blaze began when an apartment resident put a container of hot ashes on a balcony wood pile. Firefighters said that without the sprinkler the flames would have spread to the attic and caused major damage.

The AAPS board is considering new rules governing social media use by members, MLive reports. The new measures would prohibit the use of social media during board meetings, and most members spoke in favor of the changes. However, board member Jeff Gaynor — who has been criticized by colleagues over his social media use for years — expressed concerns that the changes would be “too restrictive” and “too prescriptive.”

Workers at several Ann Arbor Starbucks locations joined a nation-wide walkout over the weekend. Photo courtesy of Hannah Whitbeck.

Workers at Ann Arbor Starbucks stores joined a nation-wide walkout last weekend to draw attention to stalled union negotiations, WEMU reports. Local organizers hope the walkout will encourage other locations to join the unionization effort.

A nearly fifty-acre property along the Saline River could be the county’s next nature preserve, MLive reports. State officials announced last week that the acquisition is in line to get more than half a million dollars from the Michigan Natural Resources Fund, pending the legislature’s and governor’s approval. County officials hope to complete the purchase in 2023.

Arbor Hospice closed its Saline in-patient facility earlier this month, MLive reports, after EHM Senior Solutions declined to renew its lease at the former Saline Hospital. The vast majority of the nonprofit’s care consists of house calls, serving about 250 people a day.

Lower-income households can apply for $5,000 grants to expand a business through the county’s new Small Business Growth Activator program. Along with the CARES Act funds, selected businesses will be assisted by one of five growth programs offered in partnership with local organizations.

Festifools is canceled for 2023, MLive reports. Assembli, the umbrella group that runs the festival, says it’s deciding how to move forward after the U-M’s Art in Public Spaces class pivoted away from creating the giant puppets that have traditionally starred in the April event. The FoolMoon luminary parade, however, is still a go.

The Wolverines face TCU in a College Football Playoff semifinal on New Year’s Day. With the team undefeated and contending for its first national championship in twenty-five years, Daryl Hurst recollects his role in the 1997 celebration: dropping 10,000 maize-and-blue balloons from the rafters at Crisler Arena.

The Michigan Football offensive line won the Joe Moore Award for the second year in a row, MLive reports. The honor recognizes the line as the best unit in the country, and this is the first time a school has ever won the award back-to-back.

The Buhr Park and Veterans Memorial ice arenas released their holiday public skate schedules, ClickOnDetroit reports. The outdoor and indoor ice arenas will be open frequently throughout the holiday season.

The Regenerate! Orchestra is reimagining orchestral music, James Leonard reports in the December Observer. The ensemble is dedicated to performing new repertoire in accessible settings. “It’s really about community — connecting with other people over music,” says the group’s founder.

Jasmine Bubble Tea owner Zhaojian Li says he and his wife Cheng were just “one step behind” ChaTime the last time the Maynard St. storefront was available. Photo: L. Marquette.

Marketplace Changes

Venue opened a new market and cafe on Monday, ClickOnDetroit reports, offering coffee, breakfast sandwiches, grab-and-go meals, and more. The restaurant and bar also added brunch service earlier this month.

ChaTime’s spot on Maynard St. was quickly taken over by Jasmine Bubble Tea, L. Marquette reports in the December Observer. In addition to bubble tea, Jasmine offers hot snacks like Shanghai scallion oil noodles.

Ypsilanti Indian fusion restaurant Wok Mandu closed its doors last week as its owners prepare to move out of state, MLive reports. The restaurant, open since 2019, offered Nepalese/Indian fusion fare.

An unconventional orchestra with unconventional repertoire, Regenerate! picks unconventional performance spaces as well. Photo courtesy of the Regenerate! Orchestra.


The city is seeking snow-shoveling volunteers for its new “A2 Snow Match” program, ClickOnDetroit reports. The volunteers will clear sidewalks for elderly or disabled neighbors. Anyone interested can sign up online starting tomorrow.

The Community Action Network is hosting a food and household supplies drive, ClickOnDetroit reports. Donations of non-perishable food, laundry detergent, dish soap, and other household items can be dropped off at Buhr Ice Arena, Veterans Ice Arena, the Ann Arbor Senior Center, and the Ann Arbor Farmers Market through the end of the year.

United Way’s equity challenge kicks off Jan. 9, ClickOnDetroit reports. During the free, twenty-one day challenge, participants spend 10–15 minutes a day learning about themes such as self-care, white supremacy, voter suppression, and honoring Michigan’s First People. Anyone interested can sign up online.

Things to Do

By Jennifer Taylor

22 Thursday: See “Pickleball,” before the run ends tomorrow. Actor-playwright (and Purple Rose founder) Jeff Daniels’ comedy about America’s fastest growing sport tells the story of four below-average players trying to overcome their own limitations. Every Wed.–Sun., Sept. 30–Dec. 23. 3 p.m. (Wed., Thurs., & Sat.), 8 p.m. (Thurs.–Sat.), & 2 p.m. (Sun.). Purple Rose Theatre, 137 Park St., Chelsea. Tickets $34–$52 in advance at and by phone, and (if available) at the door. 433–7673.

23 Friday: Join your kids in watching the University Musical Society's digital presentation of “Anansi the Spider: Re-Spun,” a free streaming presentation by three members of the Unicorn Theatre (London)—Afia Abusham, Sapphire Joy, and Juliet Okotie—who present classic West African and Caribbean tales using story, song, and dance. Recommended for kids from 3 to 9. Register at Free., 647–4010.

24 Saturday: See the First Congregational Church’s outdoor Living Nativity, with sheep, a camel, and other animals. Followed by a family Christmas pageant (5:30 p.m.) and a candlelight service (8 p.m.) with carols & lessons. 4 p.m., First Congregational Church, 608 E William. Free. 662–1679.

See the Observer’s online calendar for many more local events. 

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