March 30, 2023

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

As much as I love the winter, I also am uplifted when flowers start to bud, grass turns green, and geese return to our retention pond. The real charm of all seasons, when you think about it, is in their onset, in the physical and emotional transformations they bring.

I’ve also been thinking about transitions because the legendary Detroit News sportswriter Jerry Green died last week at ninety-four. Jerry came to Michigan as an Associated Press correspondent in Ann Arbor in the early 1950s, but he’s best known as the only print reporter to cover the first fifty-six Super Bowls. I wrote in 2022 for Newsweek about how that was likely his final trip to a Big Game, and his declining health proved me right. Six weeks ago, I watched Super Bowl LVII with him on TV and wrote about it for PlayUSA.  Yesterday, I attended his funeral.

But, as Green knew all too well, time and the news marches on. This week, we have U-M’s graduate students striking, a new agreement regarding the Gelman dioxane plume, Wolverines vying for a national title in ice hockey, and the curious case of $100,000 in missing mess hall utensils and dishes. Also, Peach The Sorority Dog is back home with her sisters after four lost months.

As I cross my fingers that the rain holds off this weekend long enough for us to take the kids to Parker Mill Park for the first of many riverside strolls this year, I wish you all a lovely start to April.

Steve Friess, editor

The Graduate Employees’ Organization rallied on the Diag on Wednesday as it launched a strike aimed at landing a large pay raise and other enhanced benefits. Credit: Jenna Munson.

The News…Briefly

Grad students strike, U-M say classes to continue: The Graduate Employees’ Organization walked out on Wednesday to back up their demands for a 62 percent raise in base pay to $38,537 as well as improvements in health benefits, the Michigan Daily reports. In response, the university filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission, noting that state law prohibits public employees from striking and that the GEO’s contract says they cannot strike while the current agreement is in effect, the Detroit News reports. Provost Laurie McCauley wrote in a statement that U-M will use “substitute instructors, alternative assignments, and other means for delivering instruction” during the strike.

State, Gelman agree to deal on plume monitoring, cleanup: Attorney general Dana Nessel announced an agreement whereby the former Wagner Rd. filter manufacturer must clean up groundwater to less than 7.2 parts per billion of dioxane. The county and city have been in court for years trying to toughen enforcement, but suffered a setback last fall when an appeals court overturned a local court’s order in the case. Gelman will also install more wells to monitor the plume’s spread.

Man found guilty of killing man he targeted through Facebook: A jury convicted Melvin Willis Jr. for the robbery and murder of Henry Peoples Ross in March 2021, MLive reports. Ross believed he was meeting a female date when he was shot to death by Willis and left in a crashed car in Ypsilanti Township. The woman was Willis’s girlfriend; she pleaded guilty to armed robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery and testified against him.

Local gun deaths up over past decade: A county health department analysis finds firearm deaths up 75 percent in the five-year period 2017-2021 versus 2012-16, MLive reports. In all, 254 people were killed by gun violence in the decade, health department director Juan Marquez told the board of health last week, with steep increases in both gun-involved homicides and suicides. 

Car robberies at gym prompt warning from police: Two cars were broken into on March 22 in the parking lot of Orangetheory Fitness, 2246 S. Main and personal belongings stolen via smashed windows. In a tweet, the AAPD urged people to put valuables in the trunk or take them inside when they go to work out because fitness parking lots are especially attractive to thieves.

Bomb threat disrupts Motor City Furry Con: The opening ceremonies for the gathering of fans of dressing as real or fictional animals came to a halt when the Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest was evacuated, the Detroit Free Press reports. The events resumed after a property sweep found no explosives.

Man who shot wife’s dog sentenced to probation: Christopher Finney, fifty, was originally charged with a felony, but pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of careless discharge of a firearm causing property damage greater than $50, MLive reports. Finney was sentenced to eighteen months’ probation for the shooting death in December of a 70-pound Cane Corso.

County extends hotel stays for eighty-nine homeless families: The Emergency Family Hotel Program was set to expire on Saturday, but a county spokeswoman says those families have been notified that they can stay, WEMU reports. The county commission is expected Wednesday to take up the question of how much longer to lodge the more than 250 adults and children in the program administered by the nonprofit Michigan Itinerant Shelter System Interdependent Out of Necessity (MISSION).

Gault Village Shopping Center faces demolition: The 145,000-square-foot commercial plaza south of I-94 along Ford Lake was once a busy retail center, but the Ypsilanti Township board last week approved a $587,000 bid to knock it down, MLive reports. (paywall) The township is hoping that Washtenaw County judge Carol Kuhnke’s will authorize it to raze the building after years of litigation between the township and the Kentucky-based owners of the blighted property. 

Renderings emerge for more luxury condos downtown: Savarino Properties launched a website this week with images of 212 Miller and floor plans for its seven units ahead of an upcoming groundbreaking. Each unit gets a private garage with an EV charging station, a lobby and an elevator, according to the site. It does not give prices, but Savarino currently lists a unit in developer Tom Fitzsimmons’ 309 N. Ashley next door at $1.495 million.

Grove of trees to be cleared for townhome complex: The eleven-building, 78-unit project is planned for the west side of Platt Rd. just north of I-94, MLive reports. (paywall) The planning commission unanimously blessed Auburn Hills-based Trowbridge Companies with the go-ahead, which does not require council approval. Hundreds of trees will be removed; six landmark trees will be replaced with twenty-seven “mitigation trees.” 

Why 2020 election turnout numbers seem worse than they are: Officially, just 59 percent of A2 residents voted in the last presidential election, a tick below Ypsilanti’s 60 percent and York Township’s county-high 87 percent. But county clerk Larry Kestenbaum says because Ann Arbor’s population is more transient: many no-shows were people who’d moved away but were still  on the voter roll, James Leonard reports in this month’s Observer. “The number you should pay attention to is the number of people who voted,” Kestenbaum says. “The number of registered voters is arbitrary. The number of voters is absolutely solid” — and the city’s voter count has risen dramatically over the last dozen years.

Council to require all rentals to have CO detectors: The proposed law, which passed its first vote unanimously last week and will be finalized on Monday, would fine landlords to up to $500 if units don’t have carbon monoxide detectors and threatens anyone who disables one with the same fine and up to 90 days in jail. New rentals are already required to have CO detectors.

WAVE plans to deploy county’s first all-electric public buses: The Western-Washtenaw Area Value Express, which links Chelsea, Dexter and other outlying areas to Ann Arbor, hopes to replace its fifteen gas-operated vehicles using money from MDOT and the federal government, MLive reports. The agency expects to have its first new buses as soon as October.

astor academy ad

After wandering for four months, Peach seems relieved and happy to get some rest back home at U-M’s Kappa Delta house. The pooch went missing around Thanksgiving and was found near Bird Mills Nature Area last week. Photo caption goes here. Credit: Kappa Delta’s Instagram page for Peach.

U-M hockey skates into Frozen Four: The Wolverines are off to the semifinals of the NCAA championships for a league-record 27th time after beating Penn State 2-1 on Sunday in overtime, the Free Press reports. U-M takes on Quinnipiac next Thursday in Tampa. 

Softball stadium renamed for Carol Hutchins: Known as Varsity Diamond when it was built in 1982, the facility is now Alumni Field at Carol Hutchins Stadium in honor of the winningest coach in NCAA softball history. Hutchins retired in 2022 after thirty-nine seasons as head coach all but one of them at U-M. Under her leadership, the team won twenty-two Big Ten titles, made the NCAA tournament twenty-nine times, and won it all in 2005, according to the University Record

New sports facilities coming to North Campus: The regents approved $14 million to build two 125-yard artificial-turf recreational fields for intramural sports programs and club sports practices among other uses, according to the Record. The fields are planned for space between Broadway St. and Hubbard Rd., but some students are expressing concern about the environmental impact. “We are losing (and have already lost much of) very conservatively, over 6 acres of greenspace” writes U-M student Vic Fong in an email to the Observer. Fong, who lives at the nearby Escher Cooperative House on Gilbert Ct., says, “Many of us simply loved the woods and the way we had a bubble of nature right outside our doorstep … and are saddened that it is being taken away.”

Dexter soccer phenom signs pro contract, Adidas deal: Chloe Ricketts, fifteen, became the youngest person to join the National Women’s Soccer League when she signed a three-year contract to play with the Washington Spirit earlier this month. Now a contract with Adidas means she’s also the youngest American female soccer star to sign with the apparel company, WJLA-TV reports.

San Diego Aztecs head coach was U-M assistant: For college basketball fans looking for someone to support in this year’s topsy-turvy Final Four, MLive reminds us that San Diego State is led by Brian Dutcher, an Alpena native who was an assistant coach at U-M for most of the 1990s. Dutcher’s Aztecs play Florida Atlantic University on Saturday in Houston for a berth in the Finals.

Santa Ono to perform with A2SO in season finale: The new U-M president, also an accomplished cellist, is scheduled to join the ensemble for Johannes Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 1 as the orchestra wraps up its season on April 22, according to a press release. Tickets are available for between $20 and $90 here.

How a Carter-era Ann Arbor fridge ended up in a current MoMA exhibit: It all dates back to 1978, when photographer and art professor Joanne Leonard moved to Pomona St. while working on a project called “Technology in American Life,” Jan Schlain writes in this month’s Observer.  Leonard befriended neighbor Ruth Reynolds, who allowed her to photograph her kitchen. Leonard included “Ruth’s Kitchen,” a black-and-white photograph of the refrigerator with a radio on top, and “Pantry Shelf,” a shot of Reynolds’ pantry, in a new exhibit called “Interiors.” Reynolds died last year.

U-M researchers develop lightweight 3D-printed concrete: The method developed at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning’s DART lab can produce intricate, lightweight forms, potentially reducing the cost and environmental impact of construction, according to a press release. It “reduces weight by 72% as compared to conventional, solid concrete of the same size, and is leading to new partnerships and patents beyond U-M,”

Mysterious brick tunnel unearthed amid Main St. overhaul: City officials don’t know the story behind the arching brick structure found upon the excavation of Main and Liberty streets, MLive reports (paywall). Locals, however, have filled social media with theories ranging from the vestiges of an ancient fire-fighting system to a network of tunnels connecting underground vaults.

Chelsea named a Pure Michigan Trail Town: The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recognized Chelsea’s its plethora of outdoor options including its proximity to the Pinckney and Waterloo state recreation areas and the DTE Trail system, MLive reports.  The designation puts Chelsea’s outdoor amenities onto Pure Michigan maps, and branded signage will go up around town.

Trans flag to fly Friday at county administration building: For the third year in a row, the pink, blue, and white flag will be raised for International Transgender Day of Visibility outside 220 N. Main St. “We know that the challenges faced by transgender people in our county are often invisible,” commissioner Katie Scott said in a press release. A flag-raising ceremony is scheduled for 9:30 a.m.

U-M spends $100K a year to replace flatware, dishes: That’s up from about $40,000 a year in 2011, but a big cheese at MDining reassures the Daily that the expense is not responsible for driving up tuition. By the numbers, that’s the cost of replacing 22,000 pieces of flatware, 4,000 plates, 5,000 bowls and 2,000 cups. Some of it is theft, some is physical damage, some is students accidentally throwing away items.

Peach, a sorority’s missing dog, found: The five-year-old golden retriever, who lives at U-M’s Kappa Delta house on Tappan Ave., ran away while being watched by a sitter near Stadium and Pauline boulevards during Thanksgiving break, MLive reports. Peach’s owner and Kappa Delta house director Cindy Steinhauer said that last week, residents near Bird Hills Nature Area “heard a bunch of ruckus,” found Peach stuck in a hole, and remembered seeing notices on

Merkel ad in teal

Marketplace Changes

Burlington opens Friday at Maple Village with special offers: Early arriving customers on Friday and Saturday can score a scratch-off prize revealing a dollar amount to deduct from their purchases, Dave Algase reports in the April Observer. A giveaway of branded canvas tote bags awaits shoppers on Sunday, too. The apparel and home decor store, which used to be known as Burlington Coat Factory, took over the 33,000-square-foot space vacated by Steinmart.

La Marsa Cuisine to open in Dexter: The Middle Eastern restaurant, which has eleven locations in southeast Michigan including in Brighton and West Bloomfield, expects to start serving up falafels and shawarma by May, MLive reports. The new eatery marks a return for the chain to Washtenaw County, which had  a location on S. State St. from 2011 to 2015.

Root promises early-spring return: The underground cocktail bar at 201 S. First St., closed abruptly in late January, but the owners say they will be back, Algase reports in the April Observer. It opened in late 2021 beneath the affiliated Circ Bar in a recently renovated nineteenth-century brewery.


Child Abuse Prevention Month includes Wear Blue, Pancakes for Prevention part of efforts: The Washtenaw Area Council for Children asks locals to wear U-M’s favorite color on Friday to show support for abuse survivors and to sign up for a pancake breakfast fundraiser on April 27 at the Ann Arbor City Club. The meal is free, but “donations are accepted at any time,” the website says.

Tickets on sale for Arbor Hospice fundraiser: The Barley, BBQ & Beats event, which will benefit the local end-of-life service, features cocktails from local distilleries, food from local pit masters and live music. It is scheduled for Sept. 21 at The Valley, with tickets costing $50 in advance or $75 at the door. More information can be found here.

15th annual Amazing Race supports families impacted by cancer: Teams will canvas the city on April 15 solving a series of clues and seeking local landmarks in a competition to raise money for the Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor. Participants pay $50 per person, which covers race registration and attendance at a post-race party. Click here for more information and to sign up.

Rent observer office ad with picture of building

Things to Do

By Jennifer Taylor

March 31 Friday: See Ann Arbor Civic Theatre’s production of Duncan McMillan’s 2014 one-person play, “Every Brilliant Thing,” that The Guardian (UK) reviewer Betsy Reed calls “one of the funniest plays you’ll ever see about depression,” adding that “there is something tough being confronted here—the guilt of not being able to make those we love happy—and it is explored with unflinching honesty.” Fri. and Sat., 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. A2CT, 322 W. Ann St. $15 online here or at the door up to half an hour before each performance. 

April 1 Saturday: Catch the last day of Roof Top Arts’ “Funky Rivertown Fest,” a new five-day festival dedicated to original music. Tonight: Country-folk by the Linden Thoburn Trio and blues-flavored rock ’n’ roll by the Billy King Band. Today’s program also includes a matinee (2:30-5:30 p.m.) featuring the alt-Americana roots-rock jam band J Michael & the Heavy Burden and the country-flavored folk-rock Americana quartet Poor Player. 7:30 to 10:30 p.m., Riverside Arts Center, 76 N. Huron, Ypsi. $20 per show in advance here and at the door if available. Contact

April 2 Sunday: All invited to come make luminaries, costumes, puppets, and more at FestiFools Community Artmaking events to get ready for FoolMoon next Friday, April 7. This year’s theme is UFOs (Unidentified Foolish Objects). 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. AADL Downtown.

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.