March 11, 2021

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This week

Washtenaw county is bucking the state trend with relatively few new Covid cases and an infection rate that continues to drop. Our penchant for pot is paying off, making Ann Arbor the top earner in the state for cannabis tax revenue. March is Women's History Month, and we will be honoring a different woman each week who has made an important contribution to our life and culture. 

Spring! Warm, sunny days are bringing everyone with a pair of sneakers onto the streets. Team tryouts are taking place, and summer camp registration is in full swing.

With nowhere to go except outside, last summer was all about the small world. We knew all the comings and goings of every bird and bunny in the backyard. I liked the slowness of it all and am not rushing to fill our days with a full slate of activities this year. What are your plans?  

Trilby MacDonald, editor 

Covid-19 Updates

On Wednesday morning, the Washtenaw County Health Department reported fifty-two new infections, eight hospitalizations, and no deaths in the previous twenty-four hours. The weekly positivity rate is still dropping and is now 1.5 percent.

As of Tuesday, 24.6 percent of county residents, and 65.6 percent of seniors, had received at least one vaccine dose. 

The health department opened a new mass vaccination site Tuesday at Chelsea’s Pierce Lake Elementary School. The collaboration with St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea hospital and the Chelsea School District will provide about 324 vaccinations per day, adding additional days as supplies allow. 

The department will receive additional vaccine doses through a project targeting  communities with a high ”social vulnerability index” and Covid-19 mortality rate. Black people have received 8 percent of vaccinations in the county despite accounting for 12.3 percent of county residents, 13 percent of coronavirus cases, and 22 percent of deaths. Vaccinations have reached 2.5 percent of Latinx residents, who account for 4.8 percent of the population. 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is distributing a total of 35,800 doses through twenty-two projects across the state. According to Washtenaw County Health Department spokesperson Susan Ringler-Cerniglia, “The county will receive 2,500 additional first doses through the program and we will be working with partners to site [distribution] locations.” MDHHS 

Vaccine Survey

a2view wants to hear about your experience with the Covid-19 vaccine. If you’ve been vaccinated, where and when did you get your shot, and what steps did you take to get it? If you qualify but haven’t been vaccinated, what are you doing to try to get on the schedule? And if you’ve chosen not to get vaccinated, we’d like to know what led to that decision. 

The News...briefly

Ann Arbor gets the state’s biggest municipal payout from the Marihuana Regulation Fund, $476,022. According to a report by Leafly, Michigan doubled its number of legal cannabis jobs last year, and there are now more pot workers than cops in the state. The Michigan Department of Treasury reports that $11.6 million in cannabis taxes and fees will go to the School Aid Fund for K-12 education and another $11.6 million to the Michigan Transportation Fund. 

To help the city reach its A2Zero carbon and waste reduction goals, city council’s environmental committee is developing a proposal to reduce trash pick up from once a week to every other week. The proposal was floated back in 2011 as a cost cutting measure and was dropped after strong public opposition. It’s no less controversial today. MLive (subscriber exclusive)

The city continues to invite input on another controversial proposal that would allow more accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in residential neighborhoods. A public hearing continued from March 2 resumes at 7 p.m. on Tuesday; questions and comments can be submitted in advance by emailing

Michigan marked a somber anniversary this week when it passed a year since the first cases of Covid-19 appeared in the state. Since then, 246 people in Washtenaw County have died and thousands were sickened, hospitals were stretched to the limit, many businesses went under, and more struggle to survive. Among the hard stories, we found much that gave us hope and pride in our town. Observer writers caught up with nine Ann Arborites we covered over the year to see what their lives are like now. Click here for our story. 

United Way of Washtenaw County is accepting applications for the Opportunity Fund, making grants to nonprofits whose work benefits people with low incomes, communities of color, and marginalized people. United Way 

County commission funds equity and diversity positions in the sheriff’s department and prosecutor’s office. The sheriff’s office position will recruit diverse staff at all levels and foster increased community engagement. The prosecutor’s office will hire an administrator and prosecutor for the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion / Deflection Initiative, which provides alternatives to arrest for people with behavioral health or substance use issues. 

Ann Arbor gets a “silver” rating from the national SolSmart program. In addition to longstanding efforts to promote solar power, the rating recognizes city initiatives to expedite residential solar permits, reduce fees for commercial solar development, allow more rooftop solar, and create a community solar discount program, Solarize.

Both women's and men's Wolverine basketball teams headed to the Big Ten tournament today. The men's team is ranked fourth in the number one seed, and the women's team ranked thirteenth in the number four seed. The U-M women's basketball team lost to Northwestern this afternoon and is out of the Big Ten Tournament. The U-M men play their first game tomorrow vs Maryland at 11:30 a.m. 

Marble Angels watch over St. Thomas Cemetery, resting place of a surprising number of Ann Arbor centenarians. The Observer's Tim Athan uncovered some of their stories. Photo by J. Adrian Wylie. 

Marketplace Changes

Bubble tea abounds in Ann Arbor. If you’re near campus, you needn’t walk more than a few blocks in any direction to get your fix. Sharetea is one of the latest boba places to bubble up, taking over the Get Your Game On spot on 3 State St. at North University. With splashy flavors like mango mojito and watermelon lemonade with alyu jelly, it’s sure to be a trendsetter. Sharetea

After closing in 2017, the American Apparel storefront on E. Liberty has stood vacant: a gaping hole in a high profile stretch of campus-area commercial real estate. At last, a new tenant has announced its arrival. QMIN, an Indian-Asian fusion restaurant, has painted a sign on the papered windows as it prepares the space for its grand opening. 

Great Dames

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ll be profiling an inspirational woman in each of the next four issues who has changed our community for the better. We’ll start with Sarah Power, a U-M Regent and human rights activist who worked for the United Nations, the U.S. State Department, and the Democratic Party. She was instrumental in increasing the diversity of tenured faculty positions at the university. Ann Arbor Observer

Bitty Batter Up!

Tryouts for Ypsi Arbor Little League (YALL) this Saturday. Founded in 1953, YALL is likely the oldest Little League in Michigan, and is the first Little League in the world to include a female player, Carolyn King, who played in 1973. T-ball, coach pitch, minors, majors, and juniors team games run from May through June at Rec. Park and Candy Cane field in Ypsi. All Skill levels are invited to join and scholarships are available. Evaluations are this Saturday, March 13. Minors (8-10) from 9-11 am, and majors (10-12) from 11-1 pm at the Cage in Ypsi. Covid-19 protocols will be enforced. Preregister here.  

Things to Do 

By Ella Bourland

Thursday: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day (Wednesday, March 17) at home by watching an online double screening billed as “the cinematic equivalent of the next morning hangover” (9 p.m.-12:30 a.m. or so). Featuring Ireland’s first martial arts film, Fatal Deviation (1998), and The Ritual (2000), in which a haunted archeologist discovers an ancient pre-Celtic amulet. Free, for URL see 8 Ball Movie Night. 

Friday: Watch an abridged virtual production of Jane Martin’s 1982 Drama Critics’ Circle Award-winning play “Talking With” to benefit the Children’s Creative Center (available 7 p.m. tonight through Sunday at midnight). Local veteran director Cassie Mann directs actors from around the country in a series of comic monologues in which women of various backgrounds (six in the abridgement) talk about their lives. They include an auditioning actress, a deluded housewife, and others. Free, but donations requested. Online at Children’s Creative Center. 

Saturday: Go maple sugaring in Dexter (10 a.m.-3 p.m., every hour on the hour). Follow a Hudson Mills Metropark naturalist on a hike to a stand of maple trees to see how they are tapped, then take a trip to an evaporator to learn how sap is turned into syrup. To-go pancake and sausage breakfast ($6 per person; family of four, $26) available until 1 p.m. Masks required. $6 (kids 1 & under, free). Preregistration required at Hudson Mills Metropark.

Stroll through St. Thomas cemetery. The Observer’s Tim Athan uncovered some of the personal histories behind the moss-covered headstones in our March My Town. 

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

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