January 13, 2022

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Click the image above to learn about the U-M's MLK Symposium.

The bad Covid news just keeps on coming with record hospitalizations and skyrocketing case counts in Washtenaw County, which for most of the pandemic has been a step or two ahead of the rest of Michigan in controlling the virus. The "hospital overload" we wrote about last week has only gotten worse, with the pediatric ICU at U-M's Mott Children's Hospital down to just two available beds.   
Silver linings are hard to find, but one professional group made a virtue of pandemic necessity: Observer contributors have produced a bumper crop of books, with topics ranging from Michigan beer to veganism to police work. See Marketplace Changes, below, for a list and links—including  John U. Bacon’s new book on leadership lessons from coaching what he calls America's worst high school hockey team at turn of the millennium: the Huron High River Rats. 
James M. Manheim

The News...Briefly

After doubling to more than 600 cases last Wednesday, new Covid diagnoses doubled again, to a record 1,403 cases last Friday. There’s reason to hope that represents the peak of the current wave locally: yesterday morning, the Washtenaw County Health Department reported 598 new cases, six hospitalizations, and two deaths in the previous 24 hours. With the pandemic death toll standing at 424, the department is giving away free ten-packs of masks from 4 to 6 p.m. today at 555 Towner St. in Ypsilanti, and from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 15, at 705 N. Zeeb in Scio Township.

Pediatric Covid cases are slamming C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. "We have never seen this many children hospitalized with COVID-19," pediatric surgeon  Erika Newman says. As of Tuesday morning, Mott’s cardiac ICU was 100% full, and only two beds were available in its pediatric ICU, according to its COO Luanne Ewald. "This is a population that is extremely vulnerable to this surge," Ewald said. "We are struggling." U-M Health Blog

What's that, you need some good news? U-M immunologist Jim Baker thinks the pandemic will end this year. "This is how pandemics end; two “echo” waves each being less and less significant," he told WDIV-TV last week.

Washtenaw County continues to face pushback on its vaccine mandate from employee unions. After many extensions, county employees now face a February 9 deadline to be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing. Today's U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for large organizations may hurt the county's case. MLive (subscriber exclusive)

Meanwhile, Ann Arbor reports 100 percent compliance with its mandate. After Washtenaw County Circuit Court judge Carol Kuhnke tossed a police union's lawsuit to block it, assistant city administrator John Fournier told Mlive that two employees resigned rather than comply, and four more were terminated. MLive (subscriber exclusive)

The city wants your input on how to spend American Rescue Act funds. The first in a series of online public meetings was held this week and an online survey launches later this month. We wrote about the windfall coming to the city and county in the December Observer, and details on projects for which the money could be spent are at the city's website.

Ann Arbor is considering taking control of highway trunklines from the Michigan Department of Transportation. Because MDOT pays to construct the I-94 and US-23 business routes on Washtenaw, Huron, Jackson, and N. Main St, it also dictates how they’re used. “It is the impression of city staff that MDOT views trunklines as part of regional mobility and prioritizes vehicular and freight movement as the top priority,” interim city administrator Milton Dohoney told council in a memo. Conversely, the city views these roadways as important to local transportation and prioritizes safety, mobility, accessibility and healthy people and sustainable places as top priorities." The North Main St. corridor is a particular flashpoint, with city proposals to improve pedestrian and bicycle access stalled in the MDOT planning process. MLive (subscriber exclusive)

You can now text 911 rather than calling. Washtenaw County 911 centers and police agencies have initiated Text-to-911 service for all cities/jurisdictions in Washtenaw County. Callers might want to do this if they are deaf, hard-of-hearing, or speech impaired, or when speaking out loud would put the caller in danger. When seconds matter, a voice call to 911 remains the best and fastest way for the 911 call taker to receive and deliver life-saving information. A text message may take longer, or may not go through at all.

A U-M cardiologist has sounded fresh warnings about shoveling snow. John Bisognano, head of preventive cardiology at the Frankel Cardiovascular Center, says that you shouldn't sit at home with even slight chest pain. “If you have the abrupt onset of chest pain or chest pressure or severe shortness of breath that’s the time to go to the emergency room because sometimes shoveling snow brings out the underlying cardiovascular diseases people have and may be the first time they notice that their exercise capacity is not what it used to be the year prior,” Bisognano says. ClickonDetroit

City Christmas tree disposal closes January 17. Don't leave the tree on your lawn extension. Trees can be dropped off at Southeast Area Park, 2901 E. Ellsworth (north of the basketball court), West Park off Chapin near Huron, Gallup Park Boat Launch (off Geddes east of Huron Pkwy.), and Olson Park's parking lot (1515 Dhu Varren). The trees are turned into mulch for park trails, so please remove decorations, lights, and tinsel.

Vote for your favorite Golden Paintbrush award winner! The Ann Arbor Public Art Commission has recognized the Ann Arbor Art Center for its A2AC Murals and ArtBox program, David Zinn for his "Singin' in the Rain" mural, Ann Arbor Public Schools' Youth Art Month, and the city's unusually lively "I Voted" stickers last year. You can vote for your favorite as a Golden Paintbrush Community Voice Selection.

The Ann Arbor District Library plans a series of videos on Monday, January 17, to celebrate the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In His Own Words is a collection of quotes from speeches, articles, and correspondences that MLK delivered between 1946 to his death in 1968. AADL is highlighting one quote at the top of each hour from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

RIP architect Carl Luckenbach, who passed away last week at eighty-six. Though they may not know his name, countless Ann Arborites have experienced his work in the airy, natural spaces at the Ann Arbor District Library’s Malletts Creek and Pittsfield branches. Luckenbach even brought daylight deep into the Library Lane parking structure.

Ask a2view

Carl Smith of Ann Arbor writes: "I have been waiting for information RE: the new location, if there is one, for Armen Cleaners. I have been going to them since I moved to Ann Arbor in the early 80's. Since they had to relocate due to the environmental issues at their location I have not found where they went." 

We'll keep an eye out for any Armen reopening, but for now we pass on the news that the demolition of the decades-old building at 630 S. Ashley is underway. The demolition is aimed at giving Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy crews access to the soil below so that the carcinogenic dry-cleaning solvent tetrachloroethylene (PCE) can be removed in a $2.4 million project. MLive (subscriber exclusive) 

Got a question? Email a2view@aaobserver.com


Arbor Hospice is offering virtual grief support workshops this winter. Workshops include Winter Warmth: A Reflection on Legacy, Men Overcoming Loss (General, Grieving Dads, and Partner/Spouse), Grief After Dementia, Healing Hearts: Coping with Valentine's Day, Journaling with Ron Gries, Author of Through Death to Life, Grief Is Love Lost, and a variety of in-person social mealtime groups. You can find more information, including RSVP contacts, here.

Marketplace Changes

Which Wich on the first floor of 301 E. Liberty downtown has closed. The build-your-own sandwich place opened in 2015 and lasted longer than other restaurant tenants in the hidden-away storefront. Franchisee Manisha Patel blamed staff shortages. MLive 

The sparrow was the giveaway in this sign in the window of the former Loomi Cafe.

Sparrow Cafe is taking over Loomi’s location in Kerrytown. Sparrow Market owner Jordan Sparrow tells the Observer’s Micki Maynard that they are aiming for a mid-February opening. He’ll have more details in a couple of weeks, but there are signs up already (the bird was the giveaway). Maynard will have the full rundown in the Observer once they open.

Books from our writers: Say what you will about 2021, Ann Arbor Observer contributors finished a lot of books. Food and drink were top topics, led by a2view editor emeritus Micki Maynard’s Satisfaction Guaranteed: How Zingerman’s Built a Corner Deli into a Global Food Community; due out March 22, it can be preordered from Literati and other fine booksellers. Patti Smith’s Michigan Beer: A Heady History will be out soon at local bookstores and amazon.com. And assistant editor Michael Betzold argues that the climate emergency requires us to substantially reduce consumption of animal products in The Green New Meal: What You Eat Impacts Us All, available for preorder. In the true-crime section, Greg Stejskal’s FBI Case Files Michigan: Tales of a G-Man, follows the former head of the bureau’s Ann Arbor office from the search for Jimmy Hoffa and the identification of the Unabomber to a kidnapping in the UP and a prison uprising in Georgia; it’s available at Nicola's Books, Literati, and Amazon. Retired AAPD officer Peter Stipe shares heartfelt lessons in life and law enforcement in his memoir, Badge 112, from downandoutbooks.com. And John U. Bacon turns his sports writer’s eye inward with Let Them Lead: Unexpected Lessons in Leadership from America's Worst High School Hockey Team - that team being the Huron High River Rats, which hadn’t won a game in more than a year when he took over as coach. It’s available everywhere—see letthemleadbybacon.com—and Bacon will discuss it at the A2Y Chamber’s Early Edition on Wednesday, January 19.

“I am flabbergasted!” Sheila Rice emailed after learning that she’d won last week’s Jim Harbaugh bobblehead drawing. “Were there any other entries?”  Thirty-nine readers wanted the bobblehead, but Rice—a longtime Ann Arborite who recently moved to the Cedars of Dexter with her husband, Lou—won the random drawing.

Things to Do

by Jennifer Taylor

14 Friday and 15 Saturday:  Enter the sublime world of Scriabin at “Innovation & Audacity: The Complete Piano Sonatas of Alexander Scriabin” at the Kerrytown Concert House. Over the course of 2 nights, four Bowling Green State University piano professors—Solungga Liu, Laura Melton, Robert Satterlee, and Yevgeny Yontov—perform all the piano sonatas of this 19th-century Russian composer and mystic. 8 p.m., KCH, 415 N. Fourth Ave. Livestream available at KerrytownConcertHouse.com. Tickets $10–$45 each night in advance online and at the door. Limited to 60% capacity; mask & proof of vaccination (or negative Covid test within past 72 hours) required. (734) 769–2999.

16 Sunday: Hunt for rare treasures at the Rerun Records “Monster Ann Arbor Record & CD Collector’s Show”. With more than 50 dealers from a half dozen states selling rare and collectible used records and CDs, as well as hard-to-find new releases, you’re sure to find something you like. Includes every popular music genre, along with rock music books, rock videos, posters, and assorted popular culture memorabilia. Food and beverages for sale. Patrons may bring in a small number of records to sell. 10 a.m.—4 p.m., Weber’s Inn, 3050 Jackson Rd. $3 regular admission (children age 10 & under, free); $15 early bird admission. For information or to reserve a dealer table, contact Rod Branham at rerun45@rocketmail.com or (734) 604-2540.

17 Monday: Listen to or join in a program of impromptu song, dance, and spoken word performances, "Circle of Unity," inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. and sponsored by the U-M's Michigan Community Scholars Program. Also, performances by local singer-songwriter Joe Reilly, Detroit singer-guitarist Julie Beutel, and others. More info here3-4 p.m., U-M Diag. Free. 647-4860.

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