April 21, 2022

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

I, for one, think that a late-April snowstorm is a bit much, but I suppose I don’t make the rules. Regardless, hopefully all of you managed to stay warm during the ephemeral window Monday when it looked like November had returned to pay us a visit.

Ann Arbor is soliciting feedback on a proposed Sustainable Energy Utility, the AADL is offering a “seed sampler” program for gardeners, and William St. is closed for construction. In Washtenaw County Circuit Court a man pleaded guilty to a murder, while in Detroit a disgraced former U-M violin professor received five years in prison. A sixth Starbucks location opted to hold a union vote, the Slurping Turtle reopened, and Monty’s Public House is set to open its doors.

Dayton Hare, editor

Wurster Park during the snowstorm last Monday. Photo: Dayton Hare.

The News...Briefly

The county’s Covid-19 snapshot reports 1,625 new confirmed cases in the two weeks ending yesterday. The weekly case rate per 100,000 residents climbed to 308 and the weekly test positivity rate to 8.8 percent, according to MI Safe Start. With a case rate of 480 per 100,000, elementary students are hardest hit right now. The county is still in the CDC’s “medium” risk level.

In the wake of a federal court decision Monday, TheRide has suspended its mask mandate. Voluntary masking on buses is still encouraged. In Washtenaw County Circuit Court, the Ann Arbor Public Schools has been added to an anti-masking lawsuit, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive). Initially filed in February against the county health department, the lawsuit asserts that neither the department nor AAPS have the “statutory or legal authority” to require masks. The county’s mandate has expired, but the district’s remains in force.

Former SMTD violin professor Stephen Shipps has been sentenced to five years in prison on a federal conviction for transporting a minor across state lines for sex in 2002, the Michigan Daily reports. The sentencing is the conclusion to a decades-long pattern of sexual abuse first exposed by a Daily investigation in late 2018.

A man pleaded guilty to 2nd degree murder this week, MLive reports. Duane Tyreese Hatch, who shot his ex’s new boyfriend seventeen times in her Ypsilanti apartment building last July, will be sentenced on May 10.

Ypsilanti Township is considering the purchase of automated license plate readers, MLive reports. Such systems have been used to aid criminal investigations, and most large cities have them, but critics often raise privacy concerns. Sheriff Jerry Clayton says any decision on implementation would take these into account.

The city wants feedback on the creation of a Sustainable Energy Utility. The potential utility is one avenue by which Ann Arbor hopes to meet its ambitious A2ZERO climate goals of carbon neutrality by 2030, and would create “microgrids” to share electricity from solar panels and eventually, heating and cooling via geothermal wells.

Manchester Township hosts a public hearing tonight on a proposed 160-acre solar array, MLive reports. The developers say the 20-megawatt solar farm would increase the township’s tax revenue by $4.6 million over its thirty-five-year lifespan, but approval is not guaranteed: The article notes that “neighboring Bridgewater Township leaders voting to kill draft rules that would have opened to door to utility-grade installations in the area after a wave of opposition from some residents last year.”

William St. is closed between 5th and Division until May 5 to construct a corner bump-out for the DDA's William Street Bikeway Project. ​Chapin St. between W. Huron and Miller will also be closed April 25-29 for water-main work.

Former Starbucks employee and labor organizer Hannah Whitbeck demonstrates after her firing earlier this month. Photo: LR Nuñez.

Employees at a sixth Ann Arbor Starbucks have filed for a union election, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive). The move came not long after the county board of commissioners passed a resolution of support for the employees’ labor organizing campaign. Organizer Hannah Whitbeck was fired in what she described as retaliation for her efforts, making national news.

The U-M women’s gymnastics team placed last in the NCAA semifinals last Thursday, the Daily reports, in a shocking upset. The No. 3-ranked team, after victories at the Big Ten and Regional championships, had been a favorite to advance to the finals, so being knocked out early put an otherwise stellar season to a bitter end.

The AADL has launched a “seed sampler” program, Concentrate reports. The initiative is geared toward fostering gardening knowledge throughout the county, and Washtenaw residents can order up to ten packets of seeds from the library’s seed catalog.

Chelsea’s Washtenaw County Clean Up Day is this Saturday, Chelsea Update reports. The county-sponsored events let residents dispose and recycle household items in a safe and sustainable manner.

Ann Arborite Annette Janik has been creating elaborate Eastern European Easter eggs to raise money for Ukrainian charities, the Detroit Free Press reports. The eggs, called pisanki, are decorated with intricate layers of colored wax. Janik has selected Polish Humanitarian Action and Fight For Right to receive the proceeds from their sale.

Annie Rauwerda started the popular Instagram account @depthsofwikipedia as a U-M sophomore. Now she’s got writeups in the New York Times and the New Yorker. Intrigued by a Wikipedia page on cow tipping, she started sharing strange snippets of Wikipedia articles on Instagram and has since expanded into Twitter and TikTok.

A pisanka created by local artist Annette Janik, who has been designing the decorative eggs to raise money for charities in Ukraine. Photo: Annette Janik.

Marketplace Changes

Slurping Turtle reopened this week, ClickOnDetroit reports. The popular Liberty St. Japanese restaurant closed in September for an anticipated six to eight weeks: Seven months later, they’re back with a redesigned dining room and menu.

Monty’s Public House will take the old spot of Banfield’s Bar and Grill, which closed in 2020 after a nearly forty-year run, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive). Opening Monday, Monty’s will serve elevated English-American food, including fish and chips, bangers and mash, and shepherd's pie.

Blaze Pizza closed its Washtenaw location suddenly this month, Micki Mayard reports in the upcoming May Observer. The restaurant didn’t respond to requests for comment, and its telephone number forwarded callers to a Blaze store in Conway, Arkansas. The Eisenhower location remains open.

Things to Do

By Jennifer Taylor

22 Friday: See the Burns Park Players perform Eric Idle and John Du Prez’s multi-Tony-winning 2005 musical Spamalot, lovingly ripped off from the classic film comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The score includes the favorite “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” 7:30 p.m. Michigan Theater. Mask & proof of vaccination (or negative Covid test within past 72 hours) required. Tickets $20-$30 in advance & at the door. 763-8587.

23 Saturday: Hear poetry and prose at Chelsea’s Annual Midwest Literary Walk, a day of readings by 3 writers at different Chelsea locations highlighted by beloved former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins (4 p.m.), a frequent New Yorker contributor and Guggenheim fellow whose poems explore complex ideas in hospitable and clear language, holding moments of delightful, lyric surprise. Also, crime novelist Don Winslow (1 p.m.), and Ashley C. Ford (2:30 p.m.), the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Somebody’s Daughter. 1–5 p.m., various downtown locations, Chelsea. Free.

24 Sunday: Celebrate our planet at the Leslie Science & Nature Center Earth Day Festival. This family-oriented zero-waste festival includes an all-species parade (come dressed as your favorite animal), chalk art by celebrated local artist David Zinn, music by Joe Reilly, live-animal viewing, craft activities, guided hikes, and a drum circle drop-in with Lori Fifthian and Drummunity. Limited parking; all encouraged to carpool, bus, bike, or walk to the festival. 1:304:30 p.m., Leslie Science and Nature Center, 1831 Traver Rd. Free. 7946627.

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

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