Last week the Byrd Center became the county’s newest local historic district, MLive reports. The 180-year-old farmhouse overlooking Lohr Rd. is named for David Byrd, a “renaissance man” and civil rights advocate who restored the building in the ‘70s. Last month, the farmhouse was purchased by the African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County, an organization that David Byrd’s widow, Letitia, helped to found in 1993.
How did a humble potter’s studio behind Sava’s metamorphose into a five-story apartment building? Jan Schlain recounts the history of J.T. Abernathy’s workshop in the January Observer, from the 100-year-old artist’s upbringing in Oklahoma, to the studio’s 1956 founding, to its replacement by the workforce-oriented midrise apartments–the “Little Brother” to developer Howard Frehsee’s nineteen-story “Big Brother” student high-rise going up on Washington.
TheRide will get $7 million in federal funds to help expand the Ypsilanti transit center, according to a press release. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell requested the funds as part of the FY2023 omnibus appropriations package, and the money will take a hefty chunk out of the estimated $18–20 million price tag for the project scheduled to begin construction in 2026.
Ann Arbor-based May Mobility plans to remove safety drivers from its autonomous cars and expand to new cities this year, the Detroit News reports (paywalled). In contrast to many AV companies, May focuses on contracting with governments and operating in smaller geo-fenced areas, including a downtown Ann Arbor loop.
W. Summit St. closed Monday between Main and Wildt/Hiscock for utility work, MLive reports. Traffic is being detoured via Main, Miller, and Spring; the closure is expected to end Feb. 6.
The Graduate Employees’ Organization rallied for wage increases outside the Michigan Union, the Michigan Daily reports. GEO wants $38,500 annually for its members, a 57 percent increase from the current $24,500 grad student worker salary. A U-M spokesperson countered that for “roughly eight months of part-time work… [the current pay scale is] equivalent to a wage of roughly $35 per hour.”
The Ann Arbor School Board elected Jacinda Townsend Gides as president, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive), after an arduous fifteen rounds of voting. Newcomers Townsend Gides, Rima Mohammad, and Susan Ward Schmidt join reelected trustee Susan Baskett and incumbents Krystle DuPre, Jeff Gaynor, and Ernesto Querijero on the seven-member board.
The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum and Leslie Science and Nature Center named Susan Westhoff as their new executive director, according to a press release. Westhoff headed the science center before its merger with the museum, and was COO of the combined entity.
For the second time in a year, Ypsi city council chose Evan Sweet to fill a vacancy, MLive reports. The former chair of Ypsi’s parks and rec commission, Sweet last year filled a seat left open by Anthony Morgan’s resignation. Now, he’ll take over for Annie Somerville, who was elected to the county board of commissioners in November.
Superior Township farmers Tonya and Rich Lockwood are on the cutting edge of farm-to-bottle distilling, Cynthia Furlong Reynolds reports in the January Observer. The U-M grads, who opened Motor City Gas distillery in Royal Oak in 2010, have developed a line of single-barrel whiskeys made with their own organic grains.
A new art installation drawing attention to plastic waste opened Tuesday, Julie Halpert reports in the January Observer. The “Plastic Bag Store” at the 777 Building is the brainchild of artist Robin Frohardt, who constructed a grocery store and its inventory using nothing but discarded single-use plastics–a pointed commentary on our culture of consumption and convenience. Tickets ($30, students $12) are available here.
WEMU reports that Ann Arborites are getting a little better at recycling, according to the results of the city’s “Feet on the Street” study. Since the program began notifying residents of recycling faux-pas last summer, Ann Arbor has seen a 20 percent reduction in recycling contaminants. As James Leonard reported last June, no-nos include “tanglers” like hoses and plastic bags that jam the machinery at the Materials Recovery Facility.
Police and firefighters rescued a dog from the icy waters of the Huron Tuesday, MLive reports. The dog, a Labrador mix named Frankie, fell through thin ice after chasing a swan at Gallup Park. Rescuers were able to clear a path through the ice for Frankie to return to shore, and warmed him up in a police cruiser.
Aficionados of civil rights history and LEGOs alike can take joy in a new MLK LEGO mural at the AADL, MLive reports. Creator Aaron Liepman, an EMU biology professor, constructed the mural to draw people of all ages into the message and legacy of Dr. King. The artwork depicts the civil rights leader arm in arm with fellow activists during the historic 1965 Civil Rights march from Selma to Montgomery.