March 9, 2023

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

Y’know, I was feeling pretty good about things this week. The Legislature finally and formally made me and the rest of us LGBTQ+-ers full citizens. We’re expecting a fresh pile of snow tomorrow (here's your forecast) for my son to try to eat. It’s the one time of year when stores stock Brach’s black jelly beans in advance of Easter. U-M may or may not make the men’s NCAA tournament, but if not I feel OK shifting my loyalties to MSU just this one year. #SpartanStrong, right?

And then MLive comes along with this headline: “Daylight saving time is this weekend. Here’s how doctors say it can kill you.” Dang. Good luck, everybody!

Just in case the promised sleep-deprived apocalypse fails to materialize, I come bearing the news of the week anyway. U-M held a coronation for its new president, whose love of his job really is infectious and uplifting. Newsweek says we have one of the world’s best hospitals. Plans for the Hash Bash and a possible A2 central park on Library Lane are moving forward. And both the Chelsea High girls basketball squad and U-M’s gymnastics team are enjoying banner years.

Not everything was rosy, of course. Our blotter is full of some very sad incidents and accidents, at least one deadly. DTE is still in the doghouse locally because of screwy outage maps and nationally as an example of a utility unable to keep up with the weather. Fish in Huron River is still inedible. The AAPS superintendent evidently is seeking greener (emerald?) pastures. And my own township, Superior, continues to antagonize its neighbor, Salem.

As I head over to CVS to stock up on my precious beans, I wish you all a lovely, if one-hour-shorter, week.

-- Steve Friess, editor

U-M President Santa Ono heads into Hill Auditorium on Tuesday for his inauguration as the Michigan Marching Band plays The Victors. Courtesy: Austin Thomason, Michigan Photography.

The News...Briefly

With pomp, a parade, and a protest, Santa Ono inaugurated as U-M president: On the job since October, Michigan’s 15th leader was feted Tuesday in a Hill Auditorium celebration attended by dignitaries from 50 other universities, the Michigan Daily reports. Ono’s address, which can be viewed here, emphasized diversity, equity, and inclusion goals as well as student mental health and addressing climate change. “This is my dream job,” he said. The day was not without drama; protesters from the Graduate Employees’ Organization lined the pre-ceremony parade route.

80-year-old killed in snowplow collision: The man, who has not been identified, was struck by a private plow truck as it backed up on Friday night in the 500 block of W. Huron St., CBS Detroit reports. The driver told police he didn’t realize he had hit anyone until a witness flagged him down. Police do not suspect drugs or alcohol were a factor.

Repeated outages from weather draw national attention: The Washington Post (paywall) took note of the misfortunes of Chrissy and Vince O’Neill of A2 after they lost power for five days after the ice barrage and then again last week during Friday’s snowstorm. “I had barely caught up with laundry and filling the fridge” when the second outage hit, the mother of four told the paper.

Inaccurate outage maps cause further DTE controversy: The utility acknowledges its new system for helping the public keep track of where power is down “can cause confusion,” MLive reports. In some cases, a surge of outage calls from a particular area will make its system assume an entire circuit is offline, so the map may show more powerless customers than actually exist. Other glitches lead it to show power where residents remain in the dark. A2 city councilmember Jen Eyer was among the politicians chastising DTE.

126-year-old church sustains major damage in storms: A portion of a brick facade came crashing down thanks to a tree limb that hit a power line at the Community of Christ on W. Jefferson St., MLive reports. The damage to the building, which was built as the First German Methodist Church in 1897, caused no injuries. 

Newsweek ranks U-M Hospitals among world’s best: The magazine put the A2-based system at No. 33 overall and eleventh-best among U.S. hospitals in its annual survey. U-M moved up from No. 36 overall in the 2022 rankings. The rankings are based on an online survey of more than 80,000 health-care professionals, patient experience surveys, and data on treatments, staffing, and patient safety. 

Whitmer offers empathy, partnership with GOP minority: The state’s 49th governor, in an interview with CNN’s Chris Wallace at U-M’s Rackham Auditorium, says she admonished Democratic legislative leaders not to consider their super-slim majority a “mandate.” Whitmer also discussed renewed efforts to pass gun-safety legislation in the wake of the Michigan State mass shootings.

Huron River fish full of PFAS: Five years after the state issued a do-not-eat advisory for all species swimming in the 130-mile waterway, Ann Arbor-based scientists say toxic chemicals remain high and can be found in just about every part of the fish, MLive reports. Of 12 fish species tested from the Huron or Rouge rivers, each had at least one of 14 of the so-called “forever chemicals.”

Turn off your outdoor lights for the birds: Starting Wednesday, A2 residents are asked not to keep outside lighting on after 11 p.m. and to close blinds and shutters, too, because it can cause navigational confusion for migratory birds, according to a city press release. More than 250 species pass over from mid-March to the end of May, relying on the stars and moon. Light pollution can interfere with those signals.

Library Green Conservancy commits $70,000 to park design: The nonprofit hopes the money will help jumpstart long-stalled plans to build a public greenspace atop the Library Lane underground parking garage. Council budgeted $40,000 toward design work in 2018, but that wasn’t enough to field bids for a design, according to a LGC press release.

City agrees to buy mini-street sweeper for narrow bike lanes: Council approved a $129,223 allocation to split the cost with the Downtown Development Authority in an effort to improve conditions of bikeways under 10 feet wide, the Michigan Daily reports. The new equipment will make it viable for the city to add more barriers between bike lanes and auto traffic. 

New parking, traffic restrictions set for Hash Bash festival: It took councilmembers longer than usual to approve the permits for the Monroe Street Fair that takes place on April 1 alongside the marijuana rally on the Diag because police and fire officials raised concerns about  emergency vehicle access, MLive reports. The organizers agreed to close more parking meters and get more aggressive about towing vehicles that could impede ambulances. 

How hockey and motocross led to a life of yoga: At age twenty, Scott Carter rolled his eyes at folks who loved the Eastern exercise practice. Then he became an practitioner, instructor, and evangelist who can be found teaching weekly at Hoover Street Studio and StudioStudio as well as AAPS teachers through Rec & Ed, and to Google employees at their Ann Arbor office. His following was significantly enhanced by his twice-weekly Zoom classes during the pandemic, Shelley Daley writes in a profile of Carter for this month’s Observer.

LGBTQ+ activists worry about the loss of safe spaces as queer places like the Aut Bar and Jim Toy Community Center are no longer open. Courtesy: Boylesque Drag Troupe.

Unrelated hit-and-runs injure area students: In the first incident, a 21-year-old from U-M was hit by what is believed to be a 2021 dark gray Dodge Charger on Monday afternoon as she crossed the intersection of Catherine and Ingalls streets, MLive reports. On Wednesday morning, a 16-year-old Pioneer High student was struck in a crosswalk at S. 7th St. and Snyder Ave., ClickOnDetroit reports. Both victims suffered non-life-threatening leg injuries. Anyone with information can contact the police at (734) 794-6920 or via

Construction worker falls 40 feet on worksite: A 22-year-old man from Quincy was critically injured at a building site in the 900 block of S. Main St. last week, according to the Ann Arbor Fire Department’s Facebook page. He was working on a 36-unit apartment building scheduled to open by fall.

Cops publish sketch of alleged serial groper: The drawing is a composite from input from two women attacked separately minutes apart on February 26 by a man who jumped out of his car near North Campus, WXYZ reports. Police urge anyone who has information about the assailant, a young white man with a full reddish-brown beard, to contact them at (734) 794-6920 or via or

AAPS superintendent a finalist for a Seattle-area job: Jeanice Swift is expected to participate in a final round of interviews next week as one of three contenders to become superintendent of Northshore School District in Bothell, Washington, according to a press release. She’s up against a superintendent from a district in Little Rock, Arkansas, and the current interim chief at Northshore, and a decision is expected at a Northshore board meeting on March 17. Swift has led AAPS since 2013.

Closures threaten A2’s reputation as an LGBTQ+ haven: The loss of several queer-focused spaces, including the Aut Bar and the Jim Toy Community Center, is alarming activists who believe the city’s well-known progressivism and new queer-friendly mainstream venues aren’t enough, MLive reports. Groups are still unclear how a $150,000 county fund allocated last year for “community building” among LGBTQ+ organizations will be spent.

600-unit Village of Ann Arbor project approved: The council blessed the $214 million North Side plan for 68 acres of Pontiac Trail near Dhu Varren Road despite climate activists who asserted the development would run counter to the city’s A2Zero environmental goals, MLive reports (paywall). The developer, Robertson Brothers Homes, says its planned 164 homes will be all-electric, but 440 rental apartments will also have gas lines. Robertson will realize a $31 million tax rebate in exchange for brownfield remediation.

Feud between townships stalls 550-unit development: Superior Township has spent more than three years trying to block Salem Township from running a 10-mile sewer line to the Ypsilanti wastewater plant across its territory. Superior fears the pipes would put undeveloped farmland in jeopardy of being developed, but both Salem and the builders of the Salem Springs development argue Superior is being unreasonable and overstepping its authority, MLive reports. The homes are planned for property near M-14 and Gotfredson Rd.

Another utilities conflict may finally be ending west of Chelsea: Mlive reports that the city and Sylvan Township are exploring connecting their water systems. In the 1990s, Chelsea turned down the township’s offer to share nearby development in exchange for water and sewer service - only to see Sylvan run pipes all the way to Jackson County. A connection could give the city more water and make the township’s system more reliable.   

Sprawling solar farm going ahead in Augusta Twp: The planning commission’s rejection last year of a zoning application for a 500-acre array has been reversed following a settlement in what could have become a long, costly, and unsuccessful legal battle, MLive reports (paywall). The Railsplitter project, a 120-megawatt solar farm, is planned for property northeast of Milan. As part of the agreement with the township, developer Ranger Power agreed to 500-foot setbacks from nearby houses and certain landscaping and fencing requirements.

Saline gets $380,000 for downtown lot: Livonia Builders paid the city’s asking price for the 3.5-acre lot and plans to put up 20 three-bedroom houses, MLive reports (paywall). Saline bought the lot for $100,000 in 2011, sold it for $200,000 to a developer in 2017, and bought it back for the same price last year when that plan failed to pan out. 

Peace Neighborhood Center to open outpost in Ypsi Township: The new entity, the HUB (Healing, Unifying, and Building) Resource Center, is moving into the defunct St. Mark Lutheran Church on Harris Rd. That puts the organization smack-dab in the middle of the communities it has long served from its main offices on the west side of A2, Anita LeBlanc reports for this month’s Observer. Peace executive director Bonnie Billups says they’re looking to partner with existing social services when the renovated building opens this fall; a survey found needs for a food pantry, youth and senior programs, and pro bono legal advisers for people in the court system.

Oft-traveled piece of E. Huron River Dr. closed: The segment between Woodland Rd. and Chalmers Dr. is shut down “due to embankment erosion on the north side of the roadway,” according to the city. No reopening date has been announced. That stretch of E. Huron River is frequently used as an alternative route to cross U.S. 23 between Geddes Rd. and Washtenaw Ave.

Chelsea girls’ basketball makes playoff run: After crushing Ida High 71-39 on Tuesday, the Bulldogs take their 25-1 record into battle tonight against Lansing Catholic in the regional finals at Fowlerville High. The game starts at 7 p.m. and will be streamed here. If Chelsea wins, they’ll be back for a quarter final contest on Tuesday against the winner of a faceoff between Redford Westfield Prep and Detroit Edison Academy.

U-M women’s gymnastics defeats top-ranked Oklahoma: The Wolverines went into the meet on Monday at No. 2 in the nation, but that’s likely to change when the next rankings come out after a narrow victory over the Sooners at home at Crisler Center, the Michigan Insider reports. The team, which won its first national title in 2021, hopes to regain the title at the NCAA Gymnastics Championships in Fort Worth in mid-April.

Syrian immigrant accepted to 12 medical schools: Skyline High grad Lanah Almatroud, who didn’t speak English 10 years ago when she and her family arrived from the war-torn Middle Eastern nation, founded a nonprofit that provides care baskets to families in Detroit and Dearborn while she was an undergrad at U-M Dearborn, she tells ClickOnDetroit. She’s leaning toward MSU’s College of Human Medicine or Oakland University’s William Beaumont School of Medicine and hopes to go into obstetrics and gynecology.

Andrea Jones, owner of two Nothing Bundt Cakes locations including the newest one in Ann Arbor, displays a sumptuous treat.  Credit: J. Adrian Wylie

Marketplace Changes

Nothing Bundt Cakes fan becomes franchisee: Andrea Jones fell for the delectable cakes after she received one as a gift during a business trip to Dallas. She was so smitten that she left the auto parts business and now owns two Nothing Bundt Cakes stores– the newest opened on Washtenaw last month, Dave Algase reports in this month’s Observer.  They come in four sizes, from two-bite “bundtinis” sold by the dozen, to eight- and ten-inch donut-shaped cakes, and can be stacked for special occasions.

Satchel’s BBQ announces profit-sharing plan: Owner Hugh Morgan says the decision came in an effort to retain employees amid a tight and highly competitive labor market, Concentrate reports. Employees at Satchel’s will share half of the profits and get to provide input on how the restaurant is run, he says.

Presale tickets for Just Between Friends consignment event now available: This year’s five-day spring & summer sale on children’s clothing and gear at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds begins April 19 with a day and a half of paid access; tickets are free thereafter when reserved online, and $3 at the door on April 21 and 22. For more information, click here.


Shamrocks & Shenanigans 5K is Sunday: The run benefits Save a Heart, a nonprofit that funds research and pays living expenses for families who come for treatment at the Michigan Congenital Heart Center at Mott Children’s Hospital. Registration costs $34 for 5K participants and $18 for kids who do the 1K Dash. The course begins and ends on S. Ashley St. and winds around Michigan Stadium. Click here to register.

Eleven-year-old crochets animals for Food Gatherers: Amelia Mangan of Oakland County decided to create her owls, blue whales, frogs and seagulls as a way to contribute to the Ann Arbor food pantry because she was too young to volunteer in person, MLive reports. She sells them for between $7 and $15 via her online store, Art by Amelia.

Ann Arbor PTO Council raising money for less-resourced schools: They’re running a $30,000 GoFundMe campaign and plan to distribute the proceeds to parent-teacher organizations at Title I schools. As of Thursday, the month-old effort had reached half of its goal, and the Ann Arbor Thrift Shop had announced a matching grant. Donations can also be sent by mailing checks made out to the Ann Arbor PTO Council to P.O. Box 7874, Ann Arbor, MI, 48107.

Things to Do

By Jennifer Taylor

9 Thursday: Hear actor, writer, and humanitarian Cheech Marin discuss his career in entertainment as well as his work as a preeminent advocate for Chicano art. The counterculture icon is best known as one half of Cheech & Chong, which found commercial and cultural success in the 1970s and 80s with their stand-up routines, albums, and feature films. 5:30 p.m., U-M School of Art & Design Penny Stamps Speaker Series, Michigan Theater. Free. (734) 936–0671. 

11 Saturday: Take a guided walk to see various methods of collecting sap from maple trees, syrup-making demos, and a display of antique equipment at Waterloo Natural History Association’s “Old-Time Maple Sugar Festival.” 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Eddy Discovery Center, 17030 Bush Rd., Chelsea. Free. $12 ($17 at the gate) recreation passport required. (734) 475–3170.

12 Sunday (Daylight Saving Time Begins): See Washington D.C.-based dance company Step Afrika!, founded in 1994 by dancers from the U.S. and the Soweto Dance Theater of Johannesburg, South Africa. It blends percussive dance styles practiced by historically Black fraternities and sororities, traditional West and Southern African dances, and an array of contemporary dance forms to create a unique, complex, polyrhythmic dance style. 4 p.m., Hill Auditorium. Tickets $14 to $56 (students, $12 to $61) here. (734) 764–2538. 


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

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