February 23, 2023

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

Hi everyone,

The reverberations of the Valentine’s Day shootings at Michigan State continued over the past week with funerals, gun reform rallies, fundraisers, and moments of remarkable grace. We again extend our sympathies to Spartans everywhere, as well as our pride in how the Ann Arbor and U-M communities have shown their love and support. If you’re still looking for a way to contribute, scroll down to our Helpers section for several links.

This week’s news includes plans for a mosque and Muslim community center, U-M’s first new freshman dorms in 60 years, and a Church St. high-rise. A dramatic move by Ypsi’s city manager promised to produce a potentially explosive public political spectacle until it didn’t, a Milan woman is alleged to have waved a gun to win an argument over a parking space on E. Liberty, and apparently Michigan’s campus is a haven for bees. Good for them.

We hope everyone made it through this week’s storm intact. I thought it was kind of the weather gods to have all that ice hang around a bit longer than expected so we could all take a few pretty pictures.

Have a great week.

– Steve Friess, editor

Rendering shows a planned U-M housing project looking west from Hill St. In all, the project will include five new buildings and represents perhaps the most significant change to Central Campus in decades. Courtesy: Robert A.M. Stern Architects.

The News...Briefly

U-M embraces MSU: Some criticized the decision to have Michigan State play men’s basketball again so soon, but having the team return to the court in an away game at Michigan presented a moving opportunity for the rival schools to stand in unusual solidarity,  the Michigan Daily writes. From the Spartan-green light bathing Crisler Arena during a moment of silence to Michigan’s band playing MSU’s alma mater to U-M students wearing “Michigan Basketball Stands with MSU” shirts with green ribbons pinned to their chests, emotions ran high on Saturday, Detroit Free Press columnist Shawn Windsor wrote.

A2 Council calls on Lansing to act on guns: In a unanimous vote, councilmembers demanded the legislature respond to the MSU tragedy by enacting new safe-storage laws as well as requirements for universal background checks, and the restoration of local control over firearms on public property, MLive reports. Councilmember spoke movingly about their experience with gun violence and their support for reforms.

Plans for 2,300-bed quad unveiled: The five-building array is expected to cost between $490 million and $540 million and include a 900-seat dining facility, the University Record writes. It will be the first new dorm built for freshmen since 1963 and will rise on the current Elbel Field on S. Fifth Ave. between Hoover Ave. and Hill St. U-M expects the first 1,300 beds to be available by fall 2025 and the rest by 2026. Meanwhile, the regents approved a $15.4 million plan to relocate the U-M marching band’s practice area to  the former Fingle lumberyard at E. Madison and S. Fifth Ave. The new facility -- which will also be called Elbel Field -- should be ready in time for the  2023 football season.

A2-area mosque, community center approved: The plans for the 58,000-square-foot facility at the intersection of Ellsworth and Golfside received unanimous support from the Pittsfield Township Board after more than a decade of controversy and legal action, MLive reports (paywall). The Hidaya Center will include gym and multi-purpose rooms as well as 11 duplexes that may house elderly community members. 

Developer to present high-rise to planning commission: Austin-based LV Collective hopes to build a 19-story high-rise with more than 1,000 bedrooms at 711 Church St. across from U-M’s East Quad dorm, MLive reported (paywall). As recently as December, MLive reported that a 108-bed townhome complex was expected to be built at the same location by different developers. LV Collective is expected to appear before the commission this week.

Sartorius asking for OK for second flex-tech building: The German pharmaceutical and lab equipment supplier’s 130,000-square-foot building at the Ann Arbor Research Park is still under construction, but the firm is already seeking permission  to build a 112,000-square-foot one next door. MLive reports (paywall).

City, U-M to work on new design for E. Medical Center Dr. bridge widening: Council voted 7-1 to approve $500,000 toward an expected $2 million budget for working with the university on a plan that would avoid narrowing sidewalks when the bridge gains an additional turn lane, MLive reports (paywall). 

Road construction narrows Packard until March 4: A water and sewer project has reduced the road between Whitewood St. and Carpenter Rd. to one  lane in each direction. The upgrades will serve the Brightdawn Village development on Burton Road, a $26-million, 120-unit project planned for eight acres along U.S. 23 north of Packard, MLive reports.

U-M eases Covid vaccination rules: In a nod to “a new phase of the pandemic,” students living off-campus and most employees no longer must report whether they are up to date on their shots, according to an email from U-M president Santa Ono and chief health officer Robert Ernst. Students in university housing, employees at Michigan Medicine facilities, and some others involved with specific programs  must continue to provide proof of their jabs, but low Covid case numbers and near-universal vaccination rates have prompted the broader change, the memo said.

Norovirus on the upswing in Washtenaw: County health officials say they’ve seen several clusters in recent weeks of the highly contagious virus, WEMU reports. The illness, which causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, was suppressed by social distancing and masking during the pandemic, officials say.

New presidential primary date could be bad for U-M, EMU: While state Democrats are generally excited about Michigan becoming an early voting state in 2024, MLive reports that the Feb. 27 date will likely  reduce student turnout in the county because it falls during spring break for Michigan and Eastern Michigan. Supporters say the state’s nine days of early voting should alleviate that issue.

Dexter Republican announces U.S. Senate run: State Board of Ed member Nikki Snyder is the first candidate of either party to launch a campaign to succeed retiring senator Debbie Stabenow. Snyder, thirty-eight, won an eight-year term on the board in 2016. In 2020 ,she sought the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, but failed to gather enough signatures.

Mediator to work with Ypsi city manager, councilmember: Frances McMullan alleges in a written complaint that councilmember Steve Wilcoxen created a hostile work environment by making public references to McMullan’s annual review, MLive reports. Wilcoxen denied the allegations in a statement at Tuesday’s council meeting, and the two sides agreed to private third-party conflict mediation rather than hold a public hearing.

Bees are happy critters on the U-M campus, where several student projects that aim to provide havens for pollination and habitat have earned the school recognition. Credit: Savanna Delise

Community Mental Health’s crisis management team fields 10,000 calls a month: James Leonard writes in this month’s Observer about how CMH strikes its balance between what requires a police response, when sending a mental health professional would be the better choice – or when both are optimal. “Let’s not be afraid of having police and clinicians together,” sheriff Jerry Clayton says of his pilot program in Ypsilanti Township. “You cannot separate the two. We interact with the same population.”

Woman arrested after drawing gun during parking spat: Candice Huddleston, twenty-five, of Milan was apprehended late Saturday following an argument over a spot on E. Liberty, ClickOnDetroit reports. Huddleston, charged with felony counts of carrying a concealed weapon and assault with a dangerous weapon, was parallel parking when another motorist slid in to stop her, prompting Huddleston to get out of her car and brandish the gun, police say.

Police seek help finding suspect in Old West Side armed robbery: A 28-year-old reported that he was shoved to the ground and threatened with a gun near W. Madison and Second St. at about 8:30 p.m. on Feb. 15, CBS Detroit reports. The victim’s phone was taken but recovered a block away, police say. Anyone with information can call (734) 794-6920.

$55M in gifts prompts renaming of U-M School of Education: It’s now the Marsal Family School of Education in honor of Kathleen and Bryan Marsal and their children, Megan Kirsch Marsal and Michael Marsal, who most recently gave a $50 million gift that dean Elizabeth Birr Moje calls  “one of the largest gifts to any school or college of education in the country,” the Record writes. Kathleen and Megan are both alumnae of the school. Bryan Marsal, who holds two degrees from U-M, is CEO of the global consulting firm Alvarez & Marsal.

Alum gives $1M to scholarships for debaters: Lee Hess, who was on the debate team as an undergrad in the 1960s, donated the gift because he wants the activity to provide “future participants with the same valuable skills, experiences, and friendships that it gave me,” the Michigan Daily reports. Debate director Aaron Kall hopes the money will help recruit top-ranked prospects.

U-M slips to third in nation for research spending in 2021: Johns Hopkins is still tops, but Michigan’s fell behind UC-San Francisco, which spent $1.71 billion, or a 3.6 percent increase, according to data released by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. U-M’s $1.64 billion was a 2 percent drop from 2020 but kept the school near the top among 910 ranked schools.

Princeton scholar takes over Bentley Historical Library: Alexis A. Antracoli will head one of the state’s most significant archives starting May 1, the Record reports. Atracoli, who has a Brandeis history PhD and an MS in information from U-M, has held a variety of roles at Princeton University Library since 2015.

Campus earns bee-friendly designation: Bee Campus USA says U-M deserves kudos for myriad efforts to support “comprehensive pollinator planning and outreach,” the Record reports. Among them is a 2020-21 masters project in the School of Environment and Sustainability that installed a 1,700-square-foot garden featuring 17 native plant species under the pedestrian bridge next to the Museum of Natural History.

The upside of a moment in the national spotlight: Seventy-two-year-old bass player and event organizer Randy Tessier was in mourning over the losses of a best friend and his son when the New York Times ran its January feature about the seniors-dominated Friday night dance parties he hosts at the Live nightclub. The story about what the Times dubbed “geezer happy hour” went viral, bringing Tessier calls from other national media outlets. “I’ve always been a legend in my own mind,” he tells Jim Leonard in this month’s Observer. “So I guess it’s leaked out!”

Logo unveiled for A2 bicentennial: With nods to U-M, the Huron River and the city’s nickname as Tree Town, the image will become ubiquitous as Ann Arbor heads toward its 200th birthday next year. The logo was designed by Kindling Creative and can be seen via the city’s website here.

As Main Street gets torn up for extensive roadwork, businesses in the area are stepping up efforts to keep customers coming by through monthly deals posted online. Courtesy: Main Street Ann Arbor Instagram.

Marketplace Changes

Main St shops offer deals to combat construction woes: The area’s business group has an ongoing list of specials to encourage customers to brave a massive water main and resurfacing project that will cause detours into the summer. February offers include ten percent off the bill at Of Rice & Men, free coffee with purchase of a food item on weekdays at Bitty & Beau’s, discounts on William S. Burroughs tomes at Third Mind Books, and more. 

New owners take over Mediterranean Market: Longtime owners Feras and Nariman Al Shobaki sold the Middle Eastern bakery and grocery at Stone School and Ellsworth roads to Emad Alkhateeb and Mohammad Hassan, Alkhateeb tells Dave Algase in this month’s Observer. The new owners have moved the entrance and checkout counter for easier access.

Floor & Decor opens next door to Cinemark theater: The superstore’s Pittsfield Township spot is the fast-growing chain’s third Michigan location. Contractors and DIYers will find an exhaustive selection of floor and wall tile, laminates, vinyl plank, wood, stone, and accessories. Installation materials and tools, as well as free design services, are also available, Algase writes in the Observer.


Ways to donate in the wake of MSU shootings: The university itself is overseeing the Spartan Strong fund “to provide support for the evolving needs of the individuals most critically impacted. Verified GoFundMe campaigns are collecting donations to help the family of slain student Arielle Anderson, injured students Nate Statly, Guadalupe Huapilla-Perez and John Hao, and dispatcher Aimee Barajas, who handled the 911 calls amid the active shooter crisis.  Still other fundraisers support the families of slain students Brian Fraser and Alexandria Verner. Be careful, though; attorney general Dana Nessel is warning of scammers out there.

Winterfest raises $210,000 for area causes: The annual U-M Greek Life Community fundraiser, which culminated with a Broomball tournament on February 19, rustled up $70,000 each for the Autism Alliance of Michigan, the Women's Center of Southeast Michigan and Fisher House Michigan. Members of dozens of chapters of fraternities and sororities contributed to the effort.

Take Back The Night gala tickets on sale until March 10: The March 25 bash to raise money for the A2 chapter of the sexual violence awareness group as well as the Standing Tough Against Rape Society starts at 5:30 p.m. at Zingerman’s Greyline. Tickets cost $75 per person, which include a raffle ticket for a gift basket. Folks unable to attend can pay $10 by March 17 to take part in an online auction instead. Click here for more information.

Things to Do

By Jennifer Taylor

24 Friday: Catch opening night of the 36th Annual Storytelling Festival with the Ark’s First Annual Liar’s Contest: six contestants will each tell a well-crafted, entertaining ten-minute story designed to seduce listeners into crediting it as fact. The winner gets a $100 bill and a trophy. 8 p.m., The Ark, 316 S. Main. Tickets $10 in advance at the Michigan Union Ticket Office or theark.org, at the door or by phone at (734) 763–TKTS. Festival runs Feb. 24 to 26.

25 Saturday: Build something at “Brick Bash 2023,” a public LEGO building party at Skyline High School that includes a DUPLO play area for young kids and displays of models by LEGO hobbyists from around the country. It’s a fundraiser for Skyline bands. Sat. only: a performance by the Skyline Drumline at 2 p.m. Sale of LEGO products, custom sets, and publications. Concessions. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Sat.) & 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Sun.), Skyline, 2552 N. Maple. $5 (family, $20) at the door. brickbash.com.

26 Sunday: See trees tapped and sap being made into maple syrup at Hudson Mills Metropark’s “Journey to the Sugarbush.” Most of the program is y outdoors and includes an off-trail walk. $5 (kids, $3). 10 to 11 a.m., 11 a.m. to noon, noon to 1 p.m., or 1 to 2 p.m. Hudson Mills Activity Center, 8801 North Territorial Rd., Dexter. $5 (kids, $3), preregistration required here by 4 p.m. Saturday. Metropark pass or $10 vehicle entry fee required. 

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

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