March 31, 2022

Did you know April 1st is National Walk to Work Day? Click the image for resources.

Well, it wouldn’t be a Michigan spring without a late March resurgence of chilly weather. Let’s hope that earlier this week was winter’s last gasp for the year.

In city news, Ann Arbor appointed a new administrator, federal funds were earmarked for green energy in affordable housing, and Eli Neiburger was named the new AADL director. A car got stuck on a bikeway barrier and protesters at a luxury home development site were arrested, while on campus U-M’s regents unveiled a $165 million plan for a rec center and Hash Bash turns fifty.

Dayton Hare, editor

Josie Parker's twenty-two year tenure as AADL director came to an end last month. Check out Sarah Innes's illustrations and read about it (subscriber exclusive) in the Observer. 

The News...Briefly

Washtenaw County’s Covid risk level is “high,” with MI Safe Start reporting 132 cases per 100,000 residents in the week ending on Monday. In the 24 hours ending yesterday at 10 a.m., the county health department reported eighty-four confirmed cases, twenty-four probable cases, no hospitalizations, and no deaths, not quite double the case numbers from the same period a week ago. The weekly test positivity rate is 4 percent, up from last week.

A school board meeting went into recess last week after a group of people removed their masks, MLive reports. District policy requires face coverings be worn while on school property, and after about fifteen people took theirs off, the meeting was delayed for about thirty minutes until the last protestors left after discussions with AAPD officers. The incident recalls last month’s rescheduling of a meeting for a similar reason.

The AADL’s longtime director Josie Parker recently retired: Check out Sarah Innes’s “scrapbook” (subscriber exclusive) of Parker’s transformative tenure in the April Observer. Parker will be succeeded by deputy director Eli Neiburger, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive), who has worked at the library for twenty-five years and was selected after a national search. He starts tomorrow.

Last week city council unanimously approved Milton Dohoney Jr. as the city’s permanent administrator, the Michigan Daily reports. Dohoney has been serving as interim administrator since August 2021, when he took over from interim John Fournier. Fournier (who returned to his previous role as assistant administrator) had stepped in following the forced departure of Tom Crawford–himself a former interim following the surprise firing of Howard Lazarus in February 2020.

$3 million in federal funds was earmarked for solar panels on the city’s public housing thanks to Rep. Debbie Dingell, MLive reports. The money will be used to help meet the city’s 2030 A2Zero carbon neutrality goal.

A car got stuck on the barrier protecting the First St. bikeway last Friday, MLive reports. The protected bikeway is one of several added around town in recent years, with more to come, and from personal experience as a cyclist, I can say this isn’t the first such incident as drivers learn to adapt to the change. According to an email from transportation manager Raymond Hess, the city and the Downtown Development Authority are working on “installing some additional delineators” to alert drivers to bikeways.

Two protesters were arrested after chaining themselves to a mulcher on Monday, MLive reports. The chained pair and others were protesting the destruction of landmark trees for the upcoming Concord Pines development. Monday’s incident is a continuation of protests that started Friday (subscriber exclusive).

A man impersonating a letter carrier was arrested while stealing mail, MLive reports. He was arraigned this week on two federal felony charges for the theft and impersonation, and appears to be part of a ring targeting checks. The Observer has had troubles with mail theft as well recently, and consequently our new mailing address is PO Box 1187, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106.

Ann Arbor is now taking non-emergency police reports online, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive). The county unveiled its new tool—the Online Citizen Police Reporting System (OCPRS)—on March 18. The system is best for incidents in which there is no known suspect.

U-M settled a lawsuit brought by students over the university’s handling of sexual misconduct, the Daily reports. The university agreed to create a Coordinated Community Response Team (CCRT) to add transparency and help address misconduct on campus. The team will include thirty campus and community representatives who will advise U-M on its decisions and policies on sexual violence, and will be co-chaired by an external advisor.

Last Thursday the U-M regents approved a $165 million plan for a new rec center, MLive reports. The plan supplants one from 2018 and adds $15 million to the initial cost estimate. The planned 200,000 square foot building would replace the current Central Campus Recreation Building on Washtenaw Ave., which is scheduled for demolition in January 2023.

U-M women’s basketball advanced to the elite eight for the first time in program history, the Daily reports, before being knocked out of the tournament by Louisville. Meanwhile, the men’s team ended the season in the same round, with a 63-55 loss to Villanova. In the rink, the hockey team defeated Quinnipiac to advance to the Frozen Four. They face off against Denver in the semifinals next Thursday.

Hash Bash celebrates its fiftieth anniversary April 2, MLive reports. The organizers this year are hoping to emphasize the marijuana festival’s original role in advocacy and activism. In addition to music, speakers include Rep. Debbie Dingell and Washtenaw County prosecutor Eli Savit. There will be a criminal record expungement booth to help people clear past marijuana convictions, and starting from today there is a tie-in treasure hunt at local purveyors to help raise funds for expungement.

The Sunday Artisan Market returns this weekend. It runs from now until December. Photo: Carissa Van Heest.

Marketplace Changes

The Sunday Artisan Market opens for the season on Sunday. The weekly arts market features works from more than thirty artists, and will run 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Sunday until December 19 (except for Easter) at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market on Detroit St.

Custom jeweler Alex Gulko is open for business in Traver Village, Micki Maynard reports for the Observer. Gulko closed his previous shop on Main St. to relocate two years ago, a process that was prolonged by the pandemic.

My cat Cleo and I have been enjoying our new West Side apartment this month. Photo: Grey Grant.


Supporting Ukraine is personal for Lisa McDonald and Marc Hewko. The son of Ukrainian World War II refugees, Hewko and his wife are working to raise funds for the country through their business TeaHaus. Read more about them in Cynthia Furlong Reynolds’ article in the April Observer.

The Ark is hosting an April benefit concert to support humanitarian aid for Ukraine as well, setting a goal of raising $10,000 for World Central Kitchen, a charity providing meals to Ukrainian refugees. The show is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. April 19, and will feature performances from Madcat Ruth and the C.A.R.Ma Quartet, Jive Colossus, Jerry Mack and The Terraplanes, and others.

Meanwhile Community Action Network executive director Derrick Miller is heading to the Ukrainian border. An ex-Marine, he’s joining a fellow Iraq War veteran on a personal mission to provide “direct financial and logistical support” to war refugees at the Polish border, he emails. Anyone interested in supporting their work can reach him at

Things to Do

By Jennifer Taylor

1 Friday: View the work of incarcerated artists and learn about the lives of newly paroled prisoners at the U-M Prison Creative Arts Project Exhibition keynote talk by Reuben Jonathan Miller, a University of Chicago sociology professor. Miller discusses his new book, “Halfway Home: Race, Punishment and The Afterlife of Mass Incarceration.” 7 p.m., Chrysler Center Chesebrough Auditorium, 2121 Bonisteel, North Campus. Mask required. Free. 763-0032.

2 Saturday: Roll up your sleeves, remove invasive plants, and help maintain Hannah Nature Area at Ann Arbor Preservation Division’s Volunteer Stewardship Workday. Wear long pants and closed-toe shoes and bring heavy gloves; tools, snacks, & know-how provided. 9 a.m.-noon, Hannah Nature Area, meet at the west end of Bath St., west of 7th. Free. Pre-registration recommended. 794-6627.

3 Sunday: Don’t miss the return of FestiFools, a gigantic public art parade along a State Street route (new this year), featuring magnificent, huge, bizarre papier-mâché puppets that range from animals and fantastical creatures to local and national celebrities. Community members in costume are invited to join the parade; to participate, email 4-5 p.m., State St. from South University to William. Free. 763-7550.

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

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