June 10, 2021

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

This week

Summer appears to be here for real, with sweltering temperatures sending many of us to the Huron River, local lakes, and Up North in search of relief. City council had a busy session, approving Valhalla Glen, two affordable housing developments, and a new transportation plan. 

Culture buffs will rejoice in the hybrid return of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, art shows, and the opening of Encore Theater's glorious new space in the historic Copeland building. And with only one new reported case in the county yesterday, Covid-19 may no longer need its own section. Not yet a full return to life as normal, but I'll take it!

Trilby MacDonald, editor 

The Copeland building before the 1936 renovations. Sadly, the clocktower was torn down to make a parking lot, but the internal archway was restored in the 2021 renovation. Photo courtesy of the new owner, the Encore Theater. 

Covid-19 Updates

As of Wednesday morning, there was one confirmed case, no hospitalizations and no deaths reported in the past twenty-four hours. Last week’s positivity rate was 1.2 percent. Whoot!

The Say Yes! Covid Test At-Home Testing Challenge provides households with access to free, rapid Covid-19 test kits. Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti residents can order the kits at or pick them up from the Washtenaw County Health Department. The initiative is a collaboration between the National Institute for Health, the Center for Disease Control, private companies, and state and local health agencies.  

The News...Briefly

City council approves Valhalla Glen. The $100 million, 454-unit apartment complex on S. Main next to the U-M golf course has been controversial, with supporters saying it will help address the housing shortage and opponents saying it violates the city’s master plan and will cause traffic problems. One neighbor threatened legal action. MLive (subscriber exclusive)

Ann Arbor invests $1.5 million from the city’s affordable housing tax in two Avalon Housing projects. The affordable and transitional housing nonprofit will build 36 units in the second phase of its Hickory Way Apartments on S. Maple, and fifty in the planned ecovillage Veridian at County Farm Park.

Ann Arbor adopts a comprehensive transportation master plan. Vision Zero aligns with the A2Zero plan to have a transportation system that eliminates carbon emissions by 2030, promotes walking and cycling, and eliminates pedestrian fatalities. MLive (subscriber exclusive)

City council tells city administrator Tom Crawford to create a proposal for how to spend $24 million in federal stimulus money that is in line with council's stated priorities, and to return with recommendations on October 1. MLive

City council voted 7-2 to ask councilmember Jeff Hayner to resign over what members describe as homophophic and racist remarks. MLive quoted city attorney Stephen Postema as saying the resolution “has no legal consequences,” but a citizen has started a recall effort. 

County follows city in using marijuana tax to fund racial equity initiatives. Criminal drug charges can have a negative impact on employment, housing, credit, and more. “We recognize the disparate negative impact the War on Drugs continues to have on Black and Brown communities throughout our county,” states county commissioner Justin Hodge.

Physician assistants ratify three-year contract with Michigan Medicine. The U-M recognized the union last June representing approximately 340 physician assistants; PAs rallied outside the hospital during contract negotiations in early May.

Dexter will acquire a larger city hall in a historic downtown building. City council voted 5-1 on May 24 to approve the sale of $2.5 million in bonds to purchase and renovate the “old grain mill” at 3515 Broad St. The city will also use $400,000 from its general fund. MLive

Pioneer High School freshman Danika Miller moved to Ann Arbor from Florida last winter. In addition to the emotional and academic challenges of adapting to a new school and city during a pandemic, Miller says she experienced bullying and discrimination as a student with conservative political views. Read Miller’s essay in the Pioneer High School student paper, The Optimist

Wooden benches printed with funny one-liners like “sit happens” appeared in front of businesses all over town last week. So far no one’s claimed responsibility for the “bench bombing,” but business owners seem to like it. Click on Detroit

Starting Monday, capacity limitations for both lap and general swim will be increased at Ann Arbor’s Buhr, Fuller and Veterans Memorial public pools. Reservations are recommended but no longer required. Click on Detroit

Eight U-M swimmers and twenty former U-M student-athletes go to the Olympic Trials in Omaha. Athletes  compete in two waves of Olympic trials. Wave I took place  June 4-7, and Wave II will take place June 13-20. The preliminaries can be viewed here:

Marketplace Changes

Church St. from South University to Willard will be closed through August 30 to provide outdoor seating for area bars and restaurants. MLive

Salon Refugees Return. When a client showed up for his first post-pandemic haircut, Dexter barber Robin Reed didn't recognize him. Cynthia Furlong Reynolds has our story. 

Local LGBTQIA+ moms Ellen Williams and Amber Bowman open Prism Playgoods, an online toy store focusing on inclusive, high quality, eco-friendly toys that promote open-ended play. Bowman says they want “children to see themselves in their toys,” and also to learn to value diversity by playing with toys that have “skin tones, genders, and ability levels that may be different.” 

TeaHaus announces staggered reopening. The cafe and tea shop will be closed every Monday in June to prep for the reopening of the cafe on July 6. Amidst ongoing renovations, the cafe will operate with expanded outdoor seating and fewer indoor tables, and the menu will be more limited but with some new items. TeaHaus is maintaining a certain amount of hush hush around some new surprises that will accompany their grand re-opening in January, 2022. 

The newly renovated Copeland building will be home to the Encore Theater, Dexter's own community musical theater company.

Play On

Dexter's Encore Theater debuts its new space at the Copeland building, formerly a Dexter school house. Since the community musical theater company opened in a converted garage in 2008, it has entertained more than 70,000 audience members with a mix of Broadway standards and new productions. The beautifully renovated space has twice the capacity as well as a bar, lounge, and classrooms for drama students. The capital campaign is half-way to its goal. The Observer's Kathryn Pentiuk has our story.

Who Needs Ya?

Volunteers wanted for National Day of Action on June 18. United Way of Washtenaw County is looking for people with a variety of skills to help local nonprofits with everything from hands-on tasks to remote work such as advocacy, communications, and web design.

Things to Do

By Ella Bourland

11 Friday: Take part in the first night of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, a beloved summer tradition that continues this year in a hybrid format with "Live Here Now," a series of concerts in public parks and spaces throughout town, and “Tiny Tops,” a series of privately sponsored short outdoor, backyard, or driveway concerts for small groups (Tues.–Sun., June 11–July 3; preregistration required for specific locations). The Summer Festival also includes a series of various in-person and virtual events, June 15–July 3 (except Mondays) & July 13–18 (see online listings). "Live Here Now" tonight: Cold Tone Harvest, the Plymouth-based acoustic roots quartet led by singer-songwriter Andrew Sigworth. No Depression praises the group’s debut album, After You, for its "dense sound that fills every corner." With guitarist Tony Pace and bassist Ozzie Andrews. 7 p.m., for location preregister at a2sf. Free. 

12 Saturday: Catch two art shows and sales this weekend: “ArtHouse” includes mixed media assemblages by area artists, including Sam Brown Fecteau's graffiti-based paintings, Susan Fecteau's resin furniture, Ron Carnell and Leslie Sobel's prints and paintings, and more. Masks required for people not vaccinated. 5–8 p.m. (Fri.), 10 a.m.–7 p.m. (Sat.), & noon–5 p.m. (Sun.), 913 Gott St. Free admission. The “Westside Art Hop” features art and craft items in the homes and studios of several west-side artists, as well as works by more than thirty visiting (and vaccinated) artists. Masks required when social distancing is not possible. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. (Sat.) & noon–5 p.m. (Sun.), neighborhoods between W. Liberty and Pauline; map available on the website. Free admission. 757–3717. 

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

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