July 1, 2021

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This week

A blowout following a water main break on Maple by Jackson causes consternation, delays, and considerable expense. Some wonder whether a gigantic new housing development proposed for the city's last large plot of land will have a similar effect on the north side neighborhood. 
Three U-M gymnasts head to the Olympics, but teenaged running sensation Hobbs Kessler misses the mark. Teens were asked to dream up their ideal after school programs, and Generator-Z gave them wings with a series of grants for local nonprofits that will put them into action.

I often wonder why kids are not asked for their input more often, particularly on matters that impact them directly. I'd be delighted to see more submissions from young people to this publication. Let them have a voice, if not always a say. 

Trilby MacDonald, editor 

Generator-Z is a program of the Detroit-based Wilson Foundation to inspire and create innovative after school programs for teens. Find details at the bottom of the News section. Image courtesy of the Wilson Foundation.

The News...Briefly

As of yesterday morning, there were two confirmed Covid-19 cases, one hospitalization, and no deaths in the previous twenty-four hours. 

Federal stimulus funds saved Michigan Medicine’s pandemic budget. The health system was “dealing with losses greater than $3 million per day in spring 2020 after being forced to almost shut down non-emergency care,” emails spokesperson Mary Masson. “Those losses contributed to the organization missing its fiscal 2020 target by $167 million.” A boost of $135 million in stimulus money in fiscal year 2020 and $266.5 million in fiscal year 2021, which ended yesterday, put it $339 million in the black. 

Crews from the city and Michael Andrews Concrete were on S. Maple this morning to assess the massive blowout from last week’s water main break. “We’ll have it fixed up for you right quick,” one promised, but Maple  may remain closed from ​Jackson to the Vets park lot for another six weeks. A formal detour is still being established, and cost estimates range from the mid to upper six figures.

Plans submitted for 561-unit housing development on Ann Arbor’s north side. Bloomfield Hills-based Robertson Brothers plans for “The Village of Ann Arbor” call for 320 market-rate rental apartments and 241 condos. The sixty-seven acre property, the last large undeveloped site within the city limits, would need to be annexed from Ann Arbor Township. The former gravel pit and landfill is now mostly forested, but part is a brownfield requiring remediation; ten acres would remain in woodlands. MLive (subscriber exclusive)

Beginning today, TheRide lifts capacity restrictions, and opens fixed-route and demand-response service for all travel. Face masks will still be required. It’s currently accepting comments on a fare change proposal that would trim fares on fixed-route service but greatly increase them on door-to-door Gold Ride service. TheRide

A suspect in a 2018 murder in Ypsilanti was found dead in his cell at the county jail on Sunday. Foul play is not suspected, but an investigation is still underway. Orlando Whitfield had been released on bond pending his trial. He returned to custody on June 22, five days after cutting off his tether. Whitfield was identified as a person of interest in the double homicide of a Detroit couple in their home on Monday, June 21. MLive

Saline and Chelsea join Dexter in lifting the mask mandate for children’s summer programs thanks to minimal community spread. “Should we see increases in community transmission or evidence of outbreaks, we may need to reinstate the mask requirement,” Saline school superintendent Steve Laatsch cautioned. The districts haven’t yet determined whether masks will be required for the 2021-2022 school year. MLive

The Hive Project purchases land previously owned by Henry Ford to found a center for art and innovation. The 215 acres and seventeen buildings that formerly served as a Ford experimental farm, and then Boysville, a school for troubled boys, is becoming a state-of-the-art space where tech, music, and nonprofits can come together. Founders John Goodell and Kim Tucker-Gray aim to transform the land into a “campus of art, innovation, and sustainability." The Observer’s Cynthia Furlong Reynolds has our story. 

Peace Neighborhood Center closed for just one week during the pandemic, then went back to work taking care of its “family” with food, shelter, emergency stipends, summer camps, tutoring, and support groups. With anxiety and depression on the rise, they’re adding a “clinical arm” to offer therapy on site. Executive Director Bonnie Billups Jr. explains that this plan had been on his radar, but the pandemic “pushed it forward.” They aren’t trying to “reinvent the wheel,” Billups says, as many staff members are already licensed therapists. The Observer’s Eve Silberman has our story. 

Three U-M gymnasts heading to the Olympics. Former Wolverine men’s gymnasts Sam Mikulak (’14) and Uche Eke (’19) will be representing the United States and Nigeria respectively in Tokyo later this month. U-M senior Cameron Bock will be an alternate. Mikulak has six United States all-around national titles, and competed in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics but has yet to pick up an Olympic medal. Eke is currently a graduate assistant coach to the Wolverine gymnastics team, and will be competing against his own students. Michigan Daily 

Former Ann Arbor Skyline runner set a record but will miss the Olympics. Hobbs Kessler qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 1,500 meters last month with a record time for a high schooler of 3:34.36. He finished eighth in his semifinal heat on Friday evening in Eugene, ten seconds off his previous time, and will not advance to the finals. The seventeen-year-old turned pro last Thursday when he signed with Adidas. Detroit Free Press

Washtenaw County teens win grants to launch the after-school programs of their dreams. Generator-Z, an "ideas lab" sponsored by Detroit's Wilson Foundation, asked teenagers to come up with concepts for after school programs that nonprofits could use to create funding proposals. Generator-Z gave grants to seven organizations in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, including $64,000 to the Student Advocacy Center of Michigan to create a space where students will receive homework help and self-advocacy training. MLive

Marketplace Changes

HOMES Brewery faces a lawsuit from Imprint Beer Co. over their summer drink sensation “Smooj.” Last year, the Ann Arbor brewery introduced their fruit-based alcoholic seltzer smoothie Smooj, which has become a hit, inspiring knock-offs across the country. Imprint has a line of beers called “Schmoojee” and is suing HOMES for trademark infringement. HOMES’ founder, Tommy Kennedy, has no intention of changing the name. Detroit Eater  

M-36 Coffee Roasters will be moving into a prime campus space previously occupied by Espresso Royale. The company was co-founded by two former employees of Espresso Royale shortly after the closure of the coffee house chain early in the pandemic. Until now, it had only roasted coffee for sale at local markets. This will be their first location open to the public, at 1101 S. University. MLive

Maniacal Mead is inviting farmers market-goers to sample their meads. The brewery was started in 2017 by two friends with the goal of “expanding the world of mead to a broader audience than ever before.” Now the Ypsi-based company is offering free samples of their honey and fruit-based mead wines at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. The Observer’s Micheline Maynard has our story. 

Zingerman’s Deli is offering a series of virtual food classes that unlock the secrets of tinned fish, take students through NYC’s Crown Finish cheese caves, analyze the building blocks of the perfect sundae, and more. Participants can order food curated for each class to taste along from home. Zingermans

"Summerscape" Steel, 12'x6'x4', 2020 by Robert Georgic, Belleville, MI $5,000. This and all other works in Chelsea's SculptureWalk are for sale and will be on display through May, 2022. 

Play On

Three Washtenaw Community College digital video students win first-place in the Michigan chapter of the National Association of Television Arts & Sciences during its 43rd annual Student Production Awards show. Patricie Scott won in the Non-Fiction Short-Form category for “To All the Songs I’ll Never Finish,” Tyler Ferrell tied for first place in the Director category for “My 2020 Experience,” and John Sherry won the animation category for “Captain Calculator: Train Freeze.” WCC

Sixteen original sculptures are on display in Chelsea’s SculptureWalk 2021. The artworks, many by Michigan artists, are for sale and can be viewed in downtown courtyards and streets through May, 2022. The Chelsea Area Festivals & Events, which also puts on the Sounds and Sights performance series on Thursday evenings, received a grant from Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs to expand the program, the largest in its twelve-year history.

Things to Do

By Ella Bourland

1 Thursday: Gather a team of up to six people to participate in Conor O’Neill’s pub quiz, during which local high school English teacher Barry Aherne throws out questions for anyone to answer at this popular outdoor weekly trivia fest. 7:30 p.m. or so, Conor O'Neill's, 318 S. Main. $5 team fee that goes to the winning team. 665-2968. 

2 Friday: Attend the first outdoor performance of the Ypsilanti Frog Island Jazz Concert Series (every Fri., July 2-September 3, except July 23). Celebrated veteran local jazz guitarist John E. Lawrence opens each night by playing a song off his new CD, Masterpiece Vol. 1, with the featured artist. Tonight it’s dynamic Ypsi trumpeter Rayse Biggs. Bring a lawn chair or blanket to sit on. 7 p.m., Frog Island, 699 Rice St., Ypsilanti. Free. 635-5446,

3 Saturday: A huge professional fireworks display highlights an evening of family fun put on by the Manchester Men’s Club. Lots of carnival treats available. Beer tent opens at 6 p.m. or so, with live music by local bands beginning at 9 p.m. Fireworks usually start around 10:15 p.m., but the park is open all day. Carr Park, 600 W. Main, Manchester. Donation.

See Ann Arbor's longtime unofficial house band George Bedard and the Kingpins close out the Summer Festivals “Live Here Now” series. They play a range of honky-tonk dance tunes from swing to vintage blues, country, rockabilly, and early rock 'n' roll classics, with some memorable originals penned by guitar genius Bedard. 7 p.m., for location preregister at A2SF. Free, but donations accepted. 

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


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