June 30, 2022

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

I’m traveling in France this month for a music festival, so, if you want, think of me as your foreign correspondent for a while. Today I’m writing to you from the Norman capital of Rouen, which Victor Hugo called the “city of one hundred steeples.”

I was happy to hear from some of you last week about your favorite summertime activities. Reader Bridget Held wrote to share her enthusiasm for Top of the Park, with its wide range of events, and points out that people should hurry to see it before its last day on July 3. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell emailed that she dreams of floating down the river like she used to: When I went tubing last week, I unwittingly stumbled across Shakespeare in the Arb on my way back, which returned this year after a two year hiatus and is another cherished summertime activity.

This week Ann Arborites turned out in droves to protest the overturn of Roe v. Wade, and in Ypsilanti a teenager was shot to death. Officials discovered that pollution from the Gelman plume is more widespread than believed, repairs on two historic bridges are set to begin, city council allocated funds to repair bridges in Bandemer Park, and a traffic circle is going in on Liberty and Zeeb. Ypsi approved two affordable housing projects, and the John E. Lawrence Jazz fest returns at a larger venue.

Dayton Hare, editor

People took advantage of the warm weather last week to kayak and tube at the Argo cascades. Photo: Caron Valentine-Marsh.

The News...Briefly

The county’s Covid-19 snapshot reports 1,224 cases in the two weeks ending yesterday, up from the previous snapshot’s 1,151. Despite this uptick, Washtenaw is now at a “low” CDC Community Level. The weekly test positivity rate is 11.7 percent according to MI Safe Start, and there are 192.3 cases per 100k residents.

Abortion rights supporters protested in Ann Arbor last Friday after Roe v. Wade’s overturn, the Michigan Daily reports. The protesters held a vigil at the Diag and then marched to City Hall. U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell and county prosecutor Eli Savit both spoke at the event, where Savit announced that Washtenaw County will not be prosecuting abortions.

Eighteen-year-old Sean Longoria was shot and killed in Ypsilanti Township last week, MLive reports. Police don’t know the motive, and are asking for information regarding the incident. Contact Det. Tom Boivin at boivint@washtenaw.org or 734-973-4625.

Pollution from the Gelman dioxane plume reaches further north than was believed, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive). A sampling program  undertaken by Scio Township found traces of the likely carcinogen in drinking water wells more than a mile beyond the previously known extent of the plume, including in wells near the Huron, Ann Arbor’s main source of drinking water.

U-M is raising tuition 3-4 percent for the coming school year, MLive reports. The Board of Regents approved the increase in a seven-to-one vote, citing rising inflation rates as its reasoning. Housing rates will increase 4.6 percent.

Students accused a Stamps professor of repeated microaggressions, according to a Michigan Daily investigation. The complaints to Art & Design administrators and the U-M’s Office of Institutional Equity cited Phoebe Gloeckner’s inclusion of racist or misogynistic cartoons in the curriculum of her comics class.

U-M’s director of hockey operations coach retired last week after being linked to a “toxic and discriminatory environment” in the program, MLive reports. Rick Bancroft retired on June 20 after thirty years in the program. Head coach Mel Pearson is currently working without a contract, but Athletic Director Warde Manuel “anticipate[s] him being our hockey coach next year.”

TheRide has a 2.38 mill tax request on the August 2 ballot, James Leonard reports in the July Observer. “We understand the magnitude of this ask,” AAATA CEO Matt Carpenter says. The online article has the details and includes important corrections–including the date of the election!

Protestors demonstrating against the overturn of Roe v. Wade gathered in front of City Hall following the Supreme Court's decision last Friday. Photo: John Hilton.

Ypsilanti greenlit two affordable housing developments last week, MLive reports. The combined 354 units are the first planned under a 2018 community benefit ordinance that gives residents more say in new developments.

Construction on the Liberty and Zeeb roundabout begins Tuesday, according to the Washtenaw County Road Commission. The intersection will be closed for around eight weeks, and a detour will be posted.

Two bridges over the Huron will be closed for rehabilitation next Wednesday. The bridges–on E. Delhi Rd., in Scio, and Maple Rd., in Ann Arbor Township–are among the oldest in Michigan.

City council approved a $506k contract to repair side-by-side pedestrian and vehicle bridges in Bandemer park, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive). Dating from the mid-’90s, the bridges are visibly deteriorating, and officials say that ​​repairs must begin this year to “ensure its continued structural stability and performance.”

A new initiative provides assistance for black youth in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, MLive reports. Co-founded by Lefiest Galimore and Bill Henderson, the Washtenaw Education Metrics Institute prepares high school students to take standardized tests and to apply to college.

The Walk Friendly Communities program recognized Ann Arbor as a Gold Level city for walking. WFC recognized twenty-three cities and towns in 2022, and Ann Arbor is one of four to earn gold status. The city has created “94 crosswalks, 28 pedestrian refuge islands and 49 rectangular rapid flash beacons” since 2007 and “11.1 miles of new sidewalks” since 2013, according to a city dashboard, with another two miles under construction this year.

The John E. Lawrence Summer Jazz Concert Series returns tomorrow, Concentrate reports. The series, which originated in Ypsi’s Frog Island Park, moves to Ypsi Township’s Ford Lake Park this year to accommodate its growing audience. Free concerts featuring a variety of artists continue every Friday until Labor Day.

Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti celebrate the Fourth of July Monday. The annual Ann Arbor Jaycees parade returns after a virtual parade in 2020 and a hiatus in 2021, ClickOnDetroit reports: It starts at 10 a.m. and follows a new route due to road closures. At 11 a.m. Ypsi's own parade will start from the corner of Oakwood and West Cross St. before marching to Depot Town. Ann Arbor’s municipal offices will be closed, curbside trash pickup will be delayed, and the city reminds residents to be responsible with fireworks.

Marketplace Changes

Best in Games Entertainment Center opened last week, MLive reports. The three-level center in Pittsfield Twp. boasts an arcade, virtual reality rides, laser tag, ninja star and axe throwing, putt-putt with selfies, football bowling, bumper cars, and electric karting.

Wolverine Pickleball opened its doors on Jackson Industrial Dr. Southeast Michigan’s first dedicated indoor pickleball venue, Wolverine welcomes players of all abilities to try their hand at the ping pong/badmitten/tennis hybrid sport, offering clinics, round robins, tournaments, and more.

A Mediterranean rotisserie will take over Chela’s old downtown location, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive). Detroit-based chef Brad Greenhill plans to open the new restaurant, whose working name is Spiedo, this fall, featuring a variety of rotisserie meats and vegetables, griddled breads, shakes, and canned cocktails.

Chela's former downtown location on S. 5th Ave. is set to be replaced by a Mediterranean rotisserie. Photo: Nicholas Moore.


Give blood, get a tote: The Red Cross typically sees a decline in donations around holidays, so it’s offering a Red Cross recycled-cotton tote bag to anyone who donates from June 30 to July 10. To schedule an appointment, visit RedCrossBlood.org.

The non-profit National Stewardship Action Council has partnered with the county and U-Haul on a refillable propane cylinder project, aiming to transition residents from single-use containers to refillable ones. Residents who bring in an empty one-pound cylinder will receive a coupon for a free reusable cylinder Monday through Friday next week at the Washtenaw County Home Toxics Center on Zeeb Rd.

Buhr Park and Veterans Memorial Park are hiring swim instructors, lifeguards, and day camp counselors. Swim instructors and lifeguards must possess an American Red Cross Lifeguard certification. According to Ann Arbor’s job portal, employees can earn between $16.93 and $19.15 an hour.

Ann Arbor fire fighters hold a demonstration of fire fighting tools, with the chance to cool off, on Maynard and East William following a past Ann Arbor Jaycees July 4th parade. Photo: Courtesy of the State Street District.

Things to Do

By Jennifer Taylor

1 Friday: All invited to try kirtan, an ancient yogic spiritual practice that involves singing and chanting. Accompanied by live music on tabla, harmonium, cello, violin, and finger cymbals. The program ends with silent meditation and homemade chai. 6:30 p.m., Island Park Pavilion B, 1420 Island Dr. Free, but donations accepted. 476-2621.

2 Saturday: Bring your kids ages 5 and up to a hands-on demo, “How To Become a Fossil,” at the U-M Natural History Museum. The 20-minute program explores how fossils form, what parts of animals can become fossilized, and many other fossil-related things. 3 p.m., Natural History Museum, 1105 North University. Free. 764–0478.

3 Sunday: Catch the final night at the “Top of the Park,” with Chicago “garage cabaret” quartet The Claudettes (7 p.m.) playing a fusion of Chicago piano blues, rockabilly, and punk, as well as rockabilly, blues, rock ’n’ roll, and honky-tonk from George Bedard & the Kingpins (8:30 p.m.). The music is followed at 10 p.m. by West Side Story, Steven Spielberg’s 2021 adaptation, with a screenplay by Tony Kushner, of the Leonard Bernstein–Stephen Sondheim musical. 7 p.m.–midnight, Ingalls Mall at Washington. Free, but donations accepted. a2sf.org, 994–5999.

4 Monday (Independence Day): Cool off at the Firefighter Spray Park put on by the Ann Arbor Fire Department. This demonstration of firefighting tools by local firefighters gives you a chance to run through water hose streams, and to spray real fire hoses yourself. 12:30 p.m., immediately following the annual Jaycees’ Ann Arbor 4th of July Parade. On Maynard St. at East William St. Free. contact@statestreetdistrict, 646–1500.

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

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