The county’s Covid-19 snapshot reports 687 cases in the two weeks ending yesterday, almost identical to 691 last week. There are 110.7 cases per 100,000 residents, and the test positivity rate is 10.7 percent, down slightly from 11.4 percent last week. The CDC community level is “medium,” and will update at 8 p.m. tonight.
Vice President Kamala Harris is in town today to talk about combating the climate crisis, the Detroit Free Press reports. She appeared with former Michigan governor and current U.S. energy secretary Jennifer Granholm and U-M professor Kyle Whyte, an indigenous philosopher and climate/environmental justice scholar, to discuss environmental justice, other structural social inequities, and Michihgan’s role in shaping a post-fossil fuel future.
Masks are mandatory in Ann Arbor schools for the two weeks after winter break. Superintendent Jeanice Swift announced the requirement in an email Sunday, updating the district’s prior position that masks were “strongly encouraged.” Several schools had to close in the days leading up to winter break due to staff illnesses.
AAPS won’t be purchasing fifty-two acres near Arborland after all, MLive reports. Last June, the board allocated $13.5 million to buy the property near the shopping center and the Woodcreek housing development, but this month a spokesperson confirmed the property was no longer being considered.
Men suspected of robbing Saline Speedway were arrested after a high-speed chase and crash Sunday night, the Saline Post reports. A black sedan speeding north on Ann Arbor-Saline Rd. crashed into another vehicle between I-94 and Eisenhower Pkwy., where police arrested three suspects and took them to the hospital to treat non-life threatening injuries. A fourth suspect is still at large.
A woman was sentenced to ten to fifteen years in prison for causing the 2020 deaths of two construction workers on I-94, MLive reports. Ryann Danielle Musselman pleaded guilty to a second degree murder charge a week before the case was set to go to trial, resulting in a lighter sentence that the victims’ families believe is too lenient.
A pedestrian was killed by a train in Ypsi Thursday night, the Detroit News reports. Amtrak 352 was traveling from Chicago to Pontiac when it struck a person trespassing on the tracks in Ypsilanti. Paramedics called to the scene found the person already dead. Passengers were transferred to chartered buses to complete the journey.
Ann Arbor’s effort to create a pathway under the E. Medical Center Dr. bridge is a non-starter for now, MLive reports. The path is the city’s preferred solution to safety concerns about the bridge’s proposed lane expansion, but building it requires an easement from MDOT, which owns the railroad tracks the bridge crosses. The agency is waiting on its own study of ways to increase safety along the tracks.
For the second year in a row, a state audit found “violations of statute” in Scio Township, MLive reports. The township has been without a finance director for more than a year, and has had trouble retaining a permanent administrator in a long-running conflict between the board majority and clerk Jessica Flintoft. Scio now has thirty days to submit a corrective plan or risk the revocation of legal status that could impair its ability to borrow money.
The zigzagging sidewalks the city recently installed at Arborview Blvd. intersections aren’t long for this world, MLive reports. Meant to increase pedestrian safety, many walkers instead found them to be a frustration and ignored them. Now, Ann Arbor has decided the redesign is a failure and plans to undo it.
Earhart Rd. will get new buffered bike lanes, mini traffic circles, and more, MLive reports. In addition to bike lanes and roundabouts, Ann Arbor plans to add new sidewalks, narrow the road from four lanes to two, and repave the road’s entire length within city limits. The project is expected to last all summer.
Ann Arbor municipal offices will be closed in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, the city announced. Trash and recycling pickups will continue as usual.
“(R)evolution” is the theme of U-M’s MLK Day symposium, the University Record reports. The keynote memorial lecture will feature a panel discussion on King’s evolving focus from segregation to housing and health inequities, and the symposium will also feature a performance of a new “hip-hop and electronic mini-opera/oratorio” depicting MLK and Malcolm X in dialogue.
The U-M’s diversity report shows progress, but some Black students want more, the Detroit News reports (paywall). Since “DEI 1.0” was launched in 2016 the number of Black students has increased by 6 percent, but because total enrollment also grew the percentage of U.S.-born Black students slipped from 4.9 to 4.7 percent - less than one-third of the Black share of the state's population.
Last week’s rumors are this week’s reality: Jim Harbaugh interviewed with the Denver Broncos Monday, the Free Press reports, and the Michigan football coach is reportedly a “top candidate” for the Colorado team’s vacant head coach position. Less than a week before, Harbaugh released a statement that he expected to be “enthusiastically coaching Michigan in 2023” – qualifying that “no man knows what the future holds.”
Meanwhile, U-M’s football program is in hot water for potential NCAA rule infractions, Yahoo Sports reports, including an allegation that Harbaugh obstructed the association’s investigation of contacts with potential high school recruits during a pandemic-related contact “dead period” and whether off-field staff violated rules by doing on-the-field coaching at practices.
U-M football star Mazi Smith was sentenced to a year probation today after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge, the Free Press reports. Smith was charged with carrying a concealed weapon without a license after he was pulled over for speeding in October, a felony that was reduced to a misdemeanor as part of a plea deal.
Ann Arbor Muffler faced a trial by fire after an arson in 2021, James Leonard reports in the January Observer. The auto repair shop finally reopened in October, but its insurance company ordeals continue.
Ypsi-area commissioner Justin Hodge has been named chair of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, MLive reports. The U-M clinical assistant professor of social work takes over from Sue Shink, who’s now a state senator.
A Kansas-based internet provider specializing in rural areas is coming to the county, MLive reports. Mercury Broadband has contracted to extend “hybrid” wireless and fiber-optic service to parts of Bridgewater, Dexter, and York townships, advancing Washtenaw’s ambition to be the first Michigan county to extend high-speed broadband county-wide – a goal that picked up steam after the pandemic hit, as Trilby MacDonald reported in the June 2021 Observer.
Lovers of Wordle have Ann Arborite Tracy Bennett to thank for keeping the game running, Ann Hilton Fisher reports in the January Observer. Long a copy editor at Mathematical Reviews, Bennett joined the New York Times as an associate puzzle editor in 2020 and added the popular word-guessing game to her duties in November. The role has earned her newfound fame, including a Today Show interview on Monday.
Michigan Creative photographer Daryl Marshke has a talent for eye-catching storm photography, MLive reports. With a portfolio of U-M landmark photos with extreme weather in the background, Marshke became a certified storm chaser in 2021. “My passion is just about the natural beauty and power of nature,” he says.
Fourteen-year-old cellist Bhargava R. Kulkarni won the Ann Arbor Symphony’s Young Artist Competition, the orchestra announced in a press release. Chosen from seven finalists who competed in December, Kulkarni will receive a $500 prize and perform with the symphony in a concert later this year.
“Geezer Happy Hour” at Live has caught the attention of the New York Times. The free-spirited weekly dances with live music, and their organizer Randy Tessier, got a write-up in the internationally-read daily this week as the “coolest rock show in Ann Arbor.”