July 28, 2022

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

My time over here in France is coming to a close in a few days, and I’m looking forward to coming home after a two-week stopover in Alaska. While I love to travel, there are times when the familiarity of home is what you really want.

The city planning commission delayed consideration of a large northside development, and Ann Arbor Township officials moved to rezone a property to prevent it from being developed into a mobile home park. In higher education news, the U-M Board of Regents met in the Upper Peninsula for the first time, incoming U-M med students protested an anti-abortion keynote speaker, and Washtenaw Comunity College reached an agreement with its faculty union.

The AAPD will appoint an interim chief Sunday, the U.S. State Department proposed a deal to free Washtenaw County native Paul Whelan, Rick Snyder is taking a CEO job in town, and the mountain biking “local loop” may become an official trail.

Dayton Hare, editor

Regents Kathy White and Sarah Hubbard walk with vice president and general counsel Timothy Lynch at Camp Michigania in northern Michigan. The regents had their first-ever meeting north of the Mackinac Bridge last week. Photo: Eric Bronson, Michigan Photography. 

The News...Briefly

The county’s Covid-19 snapshot reports 1,449 cases in the two weeks ending yesterday, just slightly down from last week’s 1,463. Washtenaw is still at a “medium” CDC risk level. The weekly test positivity rate is 13.7 percent, up by about a percentage point from last week. There are 224.4 cases per 100,000 residents.

Ann Arbor’s planning commission delayed consideration of a large housing development on the north side, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive). Planning commissioners asked the developers to further consider sustainability measures at the Village of Ann Arbor, but development team representatives called them too costly and impractical. The “Brewer property” between Pontiac Tr. and Dhu Varren is the biggest undeveloped parcel in the city – but it’s also a former city landfill that a planning report estimates could cost $20 million to mitigate.

Ann Arbor Township officials are moving to rezone 94 acres along US-23 to prevent the construction of a planned mobile home park, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive). Developers won a court settlement in the 1970s permitting a manufactured housing community with hundreds of units, but a judge recently declared it unenforceable. While the developer appeals that ruling, last week township leaders took a step toward zoning the property for single-family residential instead.

At the U-M Board of Regents’ first-ever meeting in the Upper Peninsula, President Coleman virtually announced she had Covid, the Michigan Daily reports. The locale was significant, as there has been an 18 percent increase in enrollment from the UP over the last five years. The University Record reports that one-third of undergrads from northern Michigan and the UP come from households earning less than $65,000 a year; ninety-eight percent of those received grant support, and ninety-one percent paid no tuition. The regents also acknowledged the university occupies land ceded in the 1807 Treaty of Detroit, and the subsequent gift of land by the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Bodewadmi nations that helped fund the establishment of the Ann Arbor campus.

Dozens of incoming med students walked out of U-M’s White Coat Ceremony to protest a keynote speaker who’s opposed to abortion, ClickOnDetroit reports. Hundreds of students had petitioned to remove Kristin Collier, who heads the school’s Program on Health Spirituality & Religion, but Michigan Medicine spokeswoman Mary Masson told the Daily that the university “does not revoke an invitation to a speaker based on personal beliefs.”

Washtenaw Community College and its faculty union reached a new contract last week, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive). The three-year agreement includes a 3 percent wage increase this school year and 2 percent per year in 2023 and 2024.

The Biden administration has offered to swap Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Americans Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner, the New York Times reports. Whelan, an Ann Arbor native, has been imprisoned since 2018 on espionage charges in what the U.S. regards as a “wrongful detention.” Read Jan Schlain’s article about his case in the May Observer.

Aimee Metzer will be appointed interim police chief this Sunday, ClickOnDetroit reports. Metzer has been an officer at the department since 1999, and is the first woman to fill the role of chief. The department will conduct a nationwide search before it chooses the next permanent chief.

S. Main St. will be closed between Packard and William all next week, according to the city’s road closure page, to repair pavement damaged by utility work for The Standard apartments. Promoted as “premium student living,” it plans to move in its first tenants at the end of August.

The city’s autumn controlled burn season begins Aug. 1. The Natural Area Preservation unit will conduct burns in city parks and nature areas until Dec. 22 to suppress invasive plants and promote fire-adapted native species. Neighbors can sign up for email notices, and signs will be posted on burn days.

Former Michigan governor Rick Snyder will head an Ann Arbor IT firm focusing on cybersecurity, the Detroit Free Press reports (subscribers only). Since he left office at the start of 2019, Snyder and his wife have moved from their downtown condo to an outlying neighborhood closer to their children, including their first grandchild, and formally adopted their 30-year-old son last Friday. The Michigan Supreme Court recently tossed the indictments against Snyder and eight others over their conduct during the Flint water crisis, but BridgeMI.com reports that attorney general Dana Nessel’s office plans to refile, and the former governor didn’t comment on the legal battle.

The mountain biking “local loop” may become an official trail, MLive reports. The eighteen-mile loop has been an unofficial trail for decades, but last year the route appeared on the Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation website. The city has not recognized the parts of the trail that travel through private property or over the railroad - the website notes that taking these paths is illegal, and can be avoided with short detours on city streets.

A local children’s furniture business has made it big, Cynthia Furlong Reynolds reports for the July Observer. Run by U-M alumni Blake Ratcliffe and Sherri Moore, The Makers Creative constructs “mid-century modern” styled children’s furniture using Michigan hardwoods. The pandemic posed challenges for the business, but a recent social media post boosted sales and now the company is “ready for big-volume business.”

Last week we published a photo mistakenly identified as the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the Original. As reader Tom Wieder pointed out, it was, in fact, of the North University portion of the State Street Art Fair.

Saxophonist Daryl Beebe will take the stage tomorrow as part of the John E. Lawrence Summer Jazz Concert Series at Ypsi's Ford Lake Park. Photo courtesy of the John E. Lawrence Summer Jazz Concert Series.

Marketplace Changes

Nicola’s Books on Jackson Avenue has been renamed Schuler Books, the store announced yesterday. Nicola Rooney sold the store to Grand Rapids-based Schuler in 2014, but the name remained unchanged until now. The store is also in the process of expanding into the former Old Siam restaurant, which will create space for a larger children’s section once completed.

Casey’s Tavern may get outdoor seating after the demolition of old sheds across from Wheeler Park, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive). The sheds, which have been unused since the restaurant opened in the onetime office of Washtenaw Lumber yard office, were demolished last week, and while no plans have been submitted to the city yet, their spot potentially provides room for outdoor seating.

The 777 building on Ann Arbor’s southside has two new restaurants, Oxford Companies announced in a release. Kanbu Sushi and The Thrivery juicery have both opened branches in the landmark high-rise at Eisenhower and State.

Ypsilanti drive-in “Kluck’s” may be demolished and replaced with a marijuana dispensary, MLive reports. Leoni Wellness LCC recently received approval of a site plan and special-use permit for a new building on the site of the onetime A&W.

The old lumber sheds behind Casey's Tavern were recently demolished, opening up new outdoor possibilities. Photo: John Hilton.


Saline Area Social Service holds its first Food Truck Festival fundraiser this Saturday, with nine trucks at Millpond Park from 4-8 p.m. T-shirt sales and $40 “Taste the Fest” samplers benefit SAAS, with a matching donation from the Real Estate One Foundation.

Washtenaw United Way and Washtenaw County employees lead the “Stuff the Bus” campaign next week. Donations of school supplies ranging from backpacks to pencils, paper, and more, can be dropped off between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Target stores on Carpenter Rd. and Waters Rd.

The first Knightfest next Thursday benefits suicide-prevent nonprofit Garrett’s Space. Hosted by the Ray & Mary Knight Foundation, the $300-per-person event at Knight’s on Dexter Rd. includes dinner, drinks, and dancing. Garrett’s Space is also a beneficiary of Yoga at the Big House the following Saturday; that’s already sold out, but its own Go24 twenty-four-hour livestream fundraiser follows on September 12-32.

Things to Do

By Jennifer Taylor

29 Friday: Catch relatable Chicago-based comic Damon Williams at the Original Cottage Inn. The Kings of Comedy tour veteran has fresh observations on such topics as thugs wearing flip-flops and how to stretch a gallon of gas. Alcohol is served. July 29 & 30. 7 & 9 p.m., Cottage Inn, 512 East William St. $60 (table for 2)-$120 (table for 4) reserved seating in advance at bit.ly/damon-cottage.

30 Saturday: Take a walking tour of a historic grain mill and learn about Manchester’s 19th-century black culture by signing up for “Manchester Mill: The Underground Railroad and African American Culture in Manchester.” Then catch a concert of 19th-century music by Robert Jones, an accomplished Detroit singer and guitarist whose repertoire draws on Delta, Texas, Chicago, and other blues traditions. Boxed lunch available ($10, preregistration required). 10 a.m.–2 p.m., Main Street Mill, downtown Manchester. $15. Capacity limited; RiverfolkMusicAndArts@gmail.com.

31 Sunday: See family-friendly Cirque Italia’s “Water Circus Silver,” their new show of international contortionists, aerialists, jugglers, and acrobats who perform an array of acts, many of which involve tight ropes, planks, nets, and more to do twists and flips over a 35,000 gallon tank of water. Concessions (cash only). No pets. July 28–31, 7:30 p.m. (Thurs. & Fri.); 1:30, 4:30, & 7:30 p.m. (Sat.); and 1:30 & 4:30 p.m. (Sun.). Briarwood Mall parking lot, 100 Briarwood Cir. Tickets $25–$50 (kids ages 2–12, $10–$45) in advance (recommended) online and at the gate. (941) 704–8572.

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

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