March 16, 2023

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

I may jinx us all, but this was an unusually calm week. I mean, how bad could things be if the lead news item is a massive interstate crash in which nobody got hurt?

That relative peace gave those of us who care extra time to stew in the humiliation of the U-M men’s basketball squad sitting out this year’s NCAA Tournament. Meanwhile, ex-Wolverines are playing in the Big Dance for Virginia Commonwealth University and Arizona State. And while I said last week I’d transfer loyalty to MSU this year if necessary, that was before I realized my alma mater, Northwestern, is playing for only the second time ever. I even got my son some NU jammies and everything. Also, as we get to below, there's the U-M ice hockey and women's basketball teams to cheer on in their NCAA tournaments.

In local non-sports news, besides the big collision that shut down a vital piece of I-94 all week, we have two new housing developments moving forward, some real star power on tap for U-M’s commencements, a key animal ER shutting down its overnight operations, EMU perhaps regretting its privatization efforts, and video evidence of a local 8-year-old able to recite a surreal amount of pi. But does he clean up his room without being asked? Hmm?

As I try (and probably fail) to convince two toddlers to let me watch college basketball instead of Cocomelon or Ms. Rachel, I wish you a winning week.

-Steve Friess, Editor

The semi-truck that smashed up the Liberty Road bridge on Monday caused a weeklong I-94 shutdown and other transportation headaches. Courtesy: Ann Arbor Police Department.

The News...Briefly

Eastbound I-94 may reopen Monday after semi-overpass crash: That will be a full week after the accident in which a 54-year-old Wyandotte man hit the Liberty St. bridge and was ticketed by Michigan State Police for having his truck over height. The street and highway have been closed ever since to stabilize and repair the bridge. All of this postponed the start of a $3.6 million resurfacing project that will shut down Scio Church Rd. between S. Seventh St. and S. Maple Rd. for at least two months. That roadwork is now scheduled to begin on Monday but with the Scio Church-S. Maple intersection staying open to vehicle traffic turning left onto South Maple Road or right on to Scio Church Road to help relieve traffic congestion., according to the city.

A2 struggling to pick up ice storm debris: Public works crews have been slow to haul off downed trees after telling residents to have them prepped and on their curbs by March 6. Repeated snow events are interfering, and the city said it had only taken away five percent by March 10, according to a press release. To hasten the process, the city has contracted with Davey Tree Expert Company to help.

As dissatisfaction with DTE rises, is divorce an option? Long before the debacle of last month’s ice storm outages, Ann Arbor leaders had been weighing alternatives in their quest to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, Jim Leonard reports in this month’s Observer. Options include continuing to work with the private utility,  creating a “supplemental energy utility” (SEU) linking private solar arrays and batteries in local “microgrids,” or divorcing DTE and forming its own municipal power company. Says mayor Christopher Taylor, “We need to explore all of our options with respect to greening our grid.” At Monday’s meeting, council will discuss a staff recommendation to begin negotiations over the renewal of DTE’s gas license, which expires in 2027, MLive reports (paywall).

Four injured in stabbings on Miller Ave: Both incidents took place in the 700 block as the result of apparent arguments, police say. The first came on March 1 when a forty-six-year-old man suffered significant stab wounds to his neck and a twenty-nine-year-old man had a large cut on his hand. The younger man told police he was pushing his three-month-old in a stroller and defended himself when the older man became violent. On March 6, a fifty-two-year-old man was critically wounded and a thirty-nine-year-old woman cut in a confrontation with an acquaintance. Only the fifty-two-year-old required hospitalization; as of last weekend he remained in critical condition, MLive reports.

Suspect in 2020 homicide pleads no contest: Benjamin Anthony Craft, who was seventeen at the time of the crime, pled to one count of second-degree murder in the shooting death of twenty-two-year-old Aundre Smith at a pool party in July 2019, MLive reports. The case was delayed by a dispute over whether Craft was competent to stand trial.

Settlement clears way for 191-unit subdivision south of A2: Developer Ivanhoe Companies and the owners of 78-acre property, two Geddes family trusts, sued Pittsfield Township over a 2021 rezoning request denial that stalled the project, MLive reports. (paywall) A settlement reached earlier this month allows the housing project, known as Geddes Vista, to proceed with fewer units than originally proposed as well as the preservation of more than half the land as open space.

Seventy-nine-unit apartment building on N. Maple gets initial OK: City council rezoned the 3-acre site just south of M-14 where A2 Collaborative LLC plans to build an all-electric complex, MLive reports. (paywall) The project includes a four-story apartment building, a one-story clubhouse, e-bike charging stations and 65 parking spaces.

Ex-sheriff’s deputy launches run for top job: Ypsi native Alyshia Dyer  hopes to succeed incumbent sheriff Jerry Clayton, who is not seeking another term. Dyer, a one-time teen runaway who served as a WCSO officer from 2012 to 2022, will compete with Derrick Jackson, the department’s director of community engagement, and former DEA agent Ken Magee, who challenged Clayton unsuccessfully in 2016 and 2020.

Four-term Pittsfield supervisor won’t run for re-election: Democrat Mandy Grewal came to the U.S. as a foreign student and believes she was the first immigrant to hold elective office in the county. In her retirement announcement, Grewal cited her work creating “a blueprint for suburban sustainability” in the township, diversifying its board, and rethinking its public spaces.

U-M, local high school teams gear up for busy post-season week ahead: There’s lots of action in coming days, starting Friday afternoon with U-M women’s basketball taking on UNLV in the first round of their March Madness tournament. On Saturday, Michigan ice hockey faces Minnesota in the Big Ten final, with both teams are likely to compete in the 16-school NCAA tournament that starts next week. Meanwhile, the boys basketball teams at both Huron High and Chelsea High play in state quarterfinal games on Tuesday. Chelsea, which beat Tecumseh on Wednesday in overtime, faces Romulus Summit Academy (paywall) in Division 2 while Huron plays (paywall) Detroit Cass Tech in Division 1. The divisions are based on the school’s sizes. Oh, and if you care, the U-M men’s basketball team is still in the NIT, playing Vanderbilt on Saturday in the second round of the NCAA’s main consolation tournament.

Chef Andre Bouldin oversees a sprawling effort to keep U-M's 960 student-athletes, their coaches, and staff fed. Credit: Mark Bialek.

Marsalis named as U-M commencement speaker, to get honorary doctorate: The artistic director for Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York is among four expected to receive honorary degrees, along with former U-M president Mary Sue Coleman, the playwright Dominique Morrisseau, and philanthropist Phil Hagerman, according to the University Record. Coleman, who served from 2002 to 2014 and returned as interim in 2022 after her successor Mark Schlissel was fired, is scheduled to speak at the Rackham commencement on April 28. Marsalis will address spring commencement at Michigan Stadium the following day.

EMU issues notice of default to parking-structure developer: The school privatized management of its parking system in 2018, but now it is frustrated by the ongoing closure of one of the structures, MLive reports. This dispute comes as EMU presses forward with a plan to privatize its dorms.

AAPS looking into anti-trans allegations: Parents and a student at Pathways to Success told the school board at last week’s meeting that the administration had failed to respond to bullying and hate speech in the hallways directed at trans kids, MLive reports (paywall). A student says school staff also told trans students not to use gender-affirming restrooms.

Booksweet’s Banned Book Club launches second season: The reading assignment for the April 14 session is Alison Bechdel’s memoir Fun Home, which is in a restricted area of the Milan High library and requires parental permission to check out. The bimonthly meetings are free and open to the public but registration is requested.

The strategy and skills of U-M’s chef to the athletes: You can’t spell “team” without “eat,” so Andre Bouldin has a monumental task of making sure all 960 Michigan players — and their coaches, managers, recruits, and, occasionally, parents — are fed. The chef, a one-time Pioneer High football player who started as a kitchen cleaner, now oversees the dietary program for a  division of Sodexo, Cynthia Furlong Reynolds reports in this month’s Observer. He says Jim Harbaugh’s favorites include “honey stinger chicken, sloppy joes, honey-baked ham, pasta with ragù, and hot dogs — but he absolutely loves steaks.”

Ann Arbor Animal Hospital halts overnight ER service: Citing a dearth of medical personnel, the veterinary practice ended its 24-hour emergency clinic on Tuesday. “The veterinary industry is changing: there are simply not enough people entering the veterinary professions, and too many are getting burned out and leaving for other fields,” the AAAH wrote on its website.

Owner of closed Ypsi crematorium sues state for $25M: O’Neil Swanson II says his business was damaged when attorney general Dana Nessel pursued criminal charges – later thrown out – that the business mishandled a corpse at Tri-County Cremation Services. According to the Detroit News, Swanson asserts that the state’s regulatory agency failed to provide the permits to dispose of the body in a timely manner and Nessel’s public criticism “besmirched my good name and cost me a lot of money.” The state previously closed Swanson’s funeral home in Flint for health and safety violations.

A2 puts $305K into preventing evictions: The money goes to the Ann Arbor Housing Commission to help families stay in their homes, MLive reports. Councilmember Chris Watson says the number of families homeless in December was up 20 percent from December 2021.

New ‘No Turn On Red’ signs appearing downtown: A2 officials are adding the traffic restrictions to reduce intersection “conflict points”, the city tweeted. The move follows up on a plan approved by city council last year to prohibit turns on red in the area bounded by Kingsley St., State St., Hoover Ave. and First St., ClickOnDetroit reports. 

MDOT to hold open houses on self-driving I-94 lane: The first two, both on Wednesday, will explain and take feedback on an environmental study of the plan, which would designate a 25-mile lane between Detroit and A2 for autonomous vehicles and other new technology. The open houses, which will feature officials from MDOT and contractor Cavnue, are scheduled from noon to 2 p.m. and from 4 to 7 p.m. at WCC’s Morris Lawrence Building.

Scio Twp fire station gets solar panels: The 40-kilowatt freestanding array was installed last week after the township approved a $79,300 plan for it last year, MLive reports (paywall). The fire department is considering electric vehicles for its inspectors, too, but hasn’t found affordable ones yet.

Dexter art teacher honored again: Jane Montero of Creekside Intermediate School will receive her second Outstanding Teacher Award from the National Art Education Association at a ceremony in April in San Antonio, according to a school district press release. Montero, who has taught in Dexter since 2001, is being honored for her innovations in integrating technology into teaching art. 

Burns Park Elementary custodian needs votes for national honor: Abdul Akeely is among ten finalists in this year’s Custodian of the Year contest sponsored by Cintas Corp. The winner gets $10,000 and $5,000 in Cintas and Rubbermaid products and services for their school. Voting does not require any registration and is open here until April 14.

Eight-year-old A2 boy can recite almost 1,300 digits of pi: Teacher Michael Wilson challenged his after-school math club students at the Emerson School to see who could memorize the most places. Third-grader Keshav Hebsur won that contest and kept going, the Detroit Free Press reports. (paywall) Now Keshev aims to match a famed Japanese engineer who recited 100,000 pi digits in 2006. 

William Henderson was assistant manager at Ann Arbor’s previous La-Z-Boy store. He was recruited back to run the new one. | Photo: J. Adrian Wylie

Marketplace Changes

La-Z-Boy returns to A2: Twelve years after the chain closed its location on Briarwood Circle, a new 15,900-square-foot store opened last month on the site of the long-vacant Joe’s Crab Shack, Dave Algase reports in this month’s Observer. Store manager William Henderson says customers can special-order pieces with different features, functions, and “unique fabrics that are not just your normal grays, taupes, and beige.”

The Farm at Trinity Health offers produce subscriptions: The hospital system is accepting registrations for a range of packages of vegetables and fruit from more than twenty local growers starting April 12. Full and partial “farm shares” range from $192 to $1,050, with an income-based sliding scale. Spring packages include spinach, radishes, lettuce, peas, kale, honey, and oats.

Takeover, new addition shake up local pot world: Sticky Ann Arbor has replaced Huron View at its store on Packard near Platt, the fifth location for the chain that started in Ypsilanti in 2009. Meanwhile, a party store near University Townhouses on Ellsworth is now Dispo Ann Arbor, a marijuana dispensary, John Rosevear reports in this month’s Observer.


United Way offers free tax prep: Filers who have a household income below $60,000 can make an appointment to come to 2305 Platt Rd. on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Mondays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or 5 to 9 p.m. between now and the federal tax deadline on April 18. For more information, click here or call 211 from a phone with a 734 area code.

Harbaughs headline fundraiser for Hope Clinic: The U-M football coach and his wife, Sarah, are set to appear March 23 at a 7:30 a.m. breakfast at the Kensington Hotel. Tickets cost between $250 and $1,000 with proceeds going to the local nonprofit that provides free health and dental care to uninsured people.

Streisand tribute show to benefit Jim Toy Center:  Local tenors Jay Kaplan and Jeffrey Willets take the stage at the North Star Lounge Saturday at 7 p.m. (sold out) and 9 p.m. to perform classics by the legend accompanied by pianist Nick Frederick and percussionist Jessie Gibbs. Tickets are $10 and go to support Ann Arbor’s LGBTQ+ community center. 

PTO Thrift, not Ann Arbor Thrift: Last week’s Helpers item on the Ann Arbor PTO Council’s GoFundMe for less-resourced schools mistakenly said that the Ann Arbor Thrift Shop was offering a matching grant. The grant-maker is the Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop at 2280 S. Industrial Hwy. Our apologies to both shops.  

Things to Do

By Jennifer Taylor

March 16 Thursday: Hear bestselling Russian-born writer Gary Shteyngart, whose irreverent stories blend irony, absurdity, and wit, read from and discuss his work. Shteyngart’s 2021 novel, Our Country Friends, takes inspiration from Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya to tell the story of a group of friends riding out the Covid-19 pandemic in a Hudson Valley country estate. Followed by a signing and Q&A. U-M Judaic Studies Department Belin Lecture. 5:30 to 8 p.m., Weiser Hall, 10th fl., 500 Church. Free. (734) 763–9047. 

March 18 Saturday: Join the Washtenaw Audubon Society’s “One-Road Challenge,” a friendly birding competition where teams pick one road in the county and see how many birds they can count in a morning along it. Register as a team or be matched up. Everyone welcome to join the teams for lunch and a tally at 11:30 a.m. at the Alpha Diner, 4389 Jackson Rd. Midnight to 11 a.m. Free. Preregistration required here.

March 19 Sunday: Visit the Builders & Remodelers Association of Greater Ann Arbor’s Annual Home, Garden, & Lifestyle Show, which has more than 120 area exhibitors showing and demonstrating products and offering information on home improvement services. Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds, 5055 Ann Arbor–Saline Rd. Admission $5 (age 12 & under, free) cash only.  

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

Share Share
Tweet Tweet
Forward Forward

Tell a friend about a2view

Question, comment, or tip? Email us at

For Sponsorship and Advertising information 


Did this email get forwarded to you? 
Sign up to receive a2view direct to your inbox.

Copyright © 2023 Ann Arbor Observer, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.