July 30, 2020

Can you guess what is pictured in the photo above? Click the image above for the answer and more.
The Democratic primary is next week, when most local offices will be decided in Democratic Ann Arbor. Election officials are anticipating an avalanche of write-in ballots which could delay results. After a spike following the 4th of July weekend, the rise in new Covid cases is slowing-- but Packard Health's backlog of tests for asymptomatic people is so great that results are useless for contact tracing. 

Recycling got a boost this week when a local nonprofit won a bid to reboot Ann Arbor’s materials recovery facility. Ann Arbor Pride goes virtual on Saturday, two new restaurants rise from the ashes of restaurants that failed, and a local tech company beats the odds. 

Trilby MacDonald, editor

In the News

This election matters: because Ann Arbor always votes Democratic in November, most local offices will be decided in the August 4 primary. The dominant “Back to Basics Caucus” and the recently deposed “Activist Coalition” are again battling for control of city council, with Democratic Socialists and an anti-Israel activist as wild cards. The Observer’s James Leonard has our story

Criminal justice issues are also at stake: primary voters will choose the county’s next prosecuting attorney, and narrow the field for Judge of the Washtenaw County Trial Court. 

Hundreds marched through downtown Ann Arbor on Saturday and gathered outside the Federal Building on East Liberty St. to protest police brutality and the use of federal agents to arrest and detain protesters in Portland. Politicians including Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor, activists, and civic leaders addressed the crowd on topics including social justice, racism, and police brutality. Click on Detroit. 

Renters looking for affordable housing have two opportunities to apply for subsidized housing this week. On Monday, July 27, began taking applications for eight units in the new Beekman on Broadway complex. And the Ann Arbor Housing Commission will reopen its waitlist for affordable housing and Section 8 subsidies on Monday, August 3. AAHC manages 400 newly renovated and rebuilt units.  

Police officers will no longer be assigned to Ypsilanti Community Schools. The YCS school board terminated contracts with the YPD and Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office, which each provided one school resource officer to the district. Superintendent Alena Zachery-Ross cited the impact of Covid-19, the district’s financial constraints, and “changing values related to police officers in schools.” Read the YCS press release here. 

Ann Arbor City Council voted unanimously to award Recycle Ann Arbor a 10-year contract to run the city’s materials recovery facility, which was shut down in 2016 for unsafe working conditions. The local nonprofit will invest over $5 million in optic sorters and ballistic separators and other state-of-the-art technology, and expects to recoup costs by charging fees to regional municipalities and businesses that send the recycling to the facility. Michigan Radio

Packard Health is experiencing a dramatic increase in tests administered at its drive-through site at the Perry Early Learning Center in Ypsilanti. Quest Diagnostics Lab processes Packard's tests, and has been mandated by the federal government to prioritize tests from current hotspots (Michigan is no longer one), people with symptoms, and those in hospitals. Consequently, test result wait times can be over two weeks. For more, and faster, options, visit the Washtenaw County Health Dept.

As of July 29 the cumulative total of laboratory-confirmed and probable cases of Covid-19 in Washtenaw County stood at 2433, with 32 new confirmed cases in the last 24 hours (as of 7/29 at 11 am.)  


James Beard Award-winning chef Alex Young’s dream French restaurant, the Standard Bistro & Larder, has closed. His former protege, Allie Lyttle, is running a  weekend diner popup, Lala’s, while weighing long-term plans for the space. The Observer’s Micheline Maynard has our story also lists dessous among the Covid-19 casualties. The “modern French Indian” remake of the onetime Melange Underground Bistro was next door to the Blue LLama Jazz Club, which has taken the space for its popup, the elegant Asian fusion Of Rice and Men. Click on Detroit.


By Ella Bourland & Maggie McMillin

Thursday: Watch livestream storytelling and more at Big Hearts for Seniors’s “Big Hearted Stories: Experiences of Aging” (6:45 p.m.). Emcee is U-M Public Health professor Vic Strecher.  

Friday: See Leslie Science & Nature Center staffers dissect a cow eye and discuss how it works with the brain to make visual images (noon). 

Saturday: Join the Ann Arbor Virtual Pride celebration (11 a.m.-11 p.m.), with livestream music, poetry readings, drag and burlesque performances, and more. Or check out the Creature Conservancy’s  live-animal show (1 p.m.) featuring a kangaroo, a blue-tongued skink, and a dingo.

Sunday: Help the City’s Natural Area Preservation Division remove invasive plants in Barton Nature Area (9 a.m.).

See our online calendar for more information about local events.

The Pivot 

Small company, big change
By Trilby MacDonald

With the sudden halt to spring athletic seasons worldwide, Michigan’s Best Small Business of 2019 Akervall Technologies saw sales for its main product, the SISU Mouthguard, plummet. Then they had a brilliant idea. The Observer’s Trilby MacDonald has our story
Left: The SISU Extend faceshield. Right: The SISU Mouthguard.
Photo credit: Akervall Technologies

Play On 

Bells Ring On
By Stephanie Sorter

Carillon concerts have been entertaining Ann Arbor since Burton Memorial Tower was completed in 1936. The Summer Carillon Series has been providing entertainment when nearly everything else is canceled. The Observer’s Stephanie Sorter has our story.
The Ann and Robert H. Lurie Tower on North Campus.
Photo credit: Stephanie Sorter

The Helpers

By Ella Bourland

The American Red Cross has launched an emergency appeal for plasma donations by people who have recovered from Covid-19. “Convalescent plasma” contains antibodies that might help patients who are actively fighting the virus. Blood and platelet donations also are urgently needed – and now include antibody testing to learn your Covid-19 status.

About five times a week, mother and daughter Carolynn and Anna Hayman set out from their home in Burns Park, equipped with trash receptacles and giant “tweezers” to pick up neighborhood litter. Your Trashy Friends walk for hours, snagging debris from storm drains, removing abandoned Solo cups, and methodically cutting down hundreds of moldy shoes from electrical lines. It’s quality fun for all, they say – a good way to get exercise and see the neighborhood, “but we don’t know if it’s making any behavioral changes in the end.”

For more news on local businesses and people that are helping the community, click here.

The Hayman’s use a long-handled tree pruner to carefully cut down what shoes they can reach. Photo credit: Carolynn Hayman.
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