May 5, 2022

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

I’ve been taking advantage of this mild weather to go on long walks this week, up and around Argo Park and across the dam. Springtime strolls – often with the solo string music of Bach’s playing in my ears – have always been one of my favorite seasonal activities. I hope that all of you have managed to make some time for yourself to enjoy the season.

This week U-M will be hosting a comeback commencement ceremony for the 2020 and 2021 graduates who missed out on their original celebration due to the pandemic. In town, street closures for restaurants resume today, the city administrator outlined ambitions for cleaning up the downtown, and protestors demonstrated against the likely overturn of Roe v. Wade. Crime is back up from its pandemic dip, a man pleaded guilty to murder, and a pretrial hearing is set for a man accused of soliciting nudes from minors online.

Dayton Hare, editor

It's migration season again, and one of the Observer's staffers managed to catch a glimpse of this red breasted grosbeak. Photo: Sarah Pinkelman.

The News...Briefly

The county’s Covid-19 snapshot reports 2,096 cases in the two weeks ending yesterday. The weekly case rate per 100,000 residents rose again to 392, and the test positivity rate to 11.7 percent, the first time it’s broken 10 percent since early February. The county nevertheless still falls within the parameters for a “medium” CDC risk level.

Saline Area Schools adjusted its mask requirements, MLive reports. Students and staff exposed to outbreaks must wear a mask for ten days regardless of vaccination or prior Covid status. This week saw a sharp uptick in school outbreaks across Michigan, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive), including cases at Saline elementary, middle, and high schools.

About fifty people protested downtown after news of the likely overturn of Roe v. Wade broke, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive). The crowd gathered outside the Federal Building Tuesday evening to express outrage over the leaked majority opinion draft that will likely upend a half century of jurisprudence. Due to a 1931 ban still on the books, abortion would immediately become illegal in Michigan if the draft becomes an official court opinion.

The city thinks it can mitigate the lead risk from water lines sooner than anticipated, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive). City officials last year predicted that replacing privately owned galvanized service lines might take twenty years: Now, with $2 million in stimulus money, they think they can do it in five.

Researchers at U-M found that firearms are now the leading cause of death among young people nationally, the Michigan Daily reports. Their April 20 article in the New England Journal of Medicine shows a change from 2018, when motor vehicle accidents caused the most deaths among children and adolescents. The shift to firearms made international news.

Crime around town is back after its pandemic plunge, James Leonard reports in the Observer. During the pandemic years, crimes tracked by the Observer’s Crime Map dropped to the lowest levels since it began. Now, mirroring a national trend, Ann Arbor crime – particularly violent crime – has sprung back.”There’s just a lot of angry people out there,” says police chief Mike Cox.

A man pleaded no contest to second degree murder for shooting his roomate in 2020 after arguments about Covid precautions, MLive reports. The man contended that the killing was self-defense, but evidence appeared to suggest otherwise. Sentencing is scheduled for May 23.

An Ann Arbor man will face trial for allegedly soliciting nudes from minors online, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive). The man was arraigned in February after the state police found evidence he had contacted a minor online and asked them to send him nude images. He faces felony charges of accosting a child for immoral purposes, child sexually abusive activity, and two counts of using a computer to commit a crime. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for June 2.

Meanwhile, emergency phone numbers are proliferating, James Leonard reports in the Observer. The county currently uses the standard 911 emergency number for fire and police, Community Mental Health has a busy intervention line, and this summer will begin fielding calls to the new 988 suicide prevention number. A group lobbying to manage the city’s unarmed emergency response also wants its own number.

“That is one of the scariest bills in this legislature in terms of mental health that I’ve seen,” says Trish Cortes, the county’s director of Community Mental Health. 
Photo: J. Adrian Wylie.

“This legislation is bastardry of the highest order,” emails county commissioner Andy LaBarre. He’s talking about Michigan senate majority leader Mike Shirkey’s bill to route funding for public mental health services through commercial health insurers. Supporters say it would make it easier for people to access care, the Observer’s James Leonard reports, but a local provider calls it a “money grab.”

City administrator Milton Dohoney wants to clean up downtown, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive). In a proposal to city council, he said that Ann Arbor should focus on improving roads, limiting trash, and providing public restrooms to make downtown more inviting.

Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation is updating its master plan and wants your feedback to identify goals, needs, and priorities for the next five years. The survey closes June 5.

Summer street closures for downtown restaurants resume today, MLive reports. Initially a pandemic social distancing measure, the popular seasonal change allows restaurant seating to expand past the sidewalk and for pedestrians to traverse the street freely. Portions of Main, W., and E. Liberty will be closed from 4 p.m. Thursday through 6 a.m. Monday, starting today.

Olympic gold medalist Jayde Riviere has signed with AFC Ann Arbor. Riviere, a rising senior at U-M and a fullback on its women’s soccer team, played with the Canadian national team at both the 2019 FIFA World Cup and the delayed 2020 summer Olympics in 2021. The semi-pro AFC women’s team will play their first game of the season on Saturday in Flint. (See Things to Do, below, for the men's home opener the same day).

Five Wolverines were drafted to the NFL this week, the Michigan Daily reports, led by Aiden Hutchinson, who was the second overall pick and will be joining the Detroit Lions. Other players will be heading to the Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans, and New England Patriots.

U-M’s 2020 and ‘21 comeback commencement ceremonies are this Saturday, Bridge reports. Because students from those classes had their original commencements limited due to the pandemic, they are now invited back to celebrate their achievements in person. Anthony Fauci is slated to speak at the comeback ceremony, and Maria Shriver spoke at the 2022 ceremony last week.

Redden remembers standing across the street with friends and looking at the Fourth Ave. building, willing his dream to come true. Photo: J. Adrian Wylie.

Marketplace Changes

Chris Redden fulfilled a dream with the opening of Olympia Skate Shop’s Ann Arbor store, the Observer’s Micki Maynard reports. He’d wanted to be here when he first laid plans for the business five years ago, so even after opening in Ypsilanti he kept an eye out. When Real Irish took a break from retail and its spot on S. Fourth Ave. became available, he jumped at the chance.

No, not those cookies: a corporate cannabis giant made a splash with the frenzied grand opening of Cookies Ann Arbor, John Hilton reports for the Observer. Though led by the California-based rapper/CEO Berner, the chain is owned by a publicly traded Canadian company; the W. Stadium store, its third in Michigan, offers a variety of Cookies and Gage branded cannabis products, along with "Cookies" hoodies, “734” T-shirts, and “Everybody vs Injustice” beanies.

In Saline, Mickey’s Dairy Twist may become the town’s first dispensary, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive). The proposal passed its first hurdle at the planning commission last week, and while some residents expressed dismay at the potential loss of the ice cream staple, owner Bonnie McComb says that she’s ready to retire.

Washtenaw Ave. lost two chain restaurants recently, Micki Maynard reports in the Observer. First came the closure of the all-day breakfast spot Denny’s in late March, but a few weeks later it was followed by the sudden shuttering of Blaze Pizza. The Eisenhower Blaze location remains open.

Things to Do

By Jennifer Taylor

6 Friday: Hear U-M voice professor Chelsea Packard in “That’s My Style,” celebrating the music of iconic pop and jazz singer and songwriter Peggy Lee, at Kerrytown Concert House with accompaniment by Tyler Driskill. An accomplished and moving vocalist, Packard has appeared in the Broadway productions of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Wicked, and Promises, Promises. 8 p.m., KCH, 415 N. Fourth Ave. Limited to 60% capacity. Mask & proof of vaccination (or negative Covid test within past 72 hours) required. Livestream available at Tickets $13–$50 in advance online and at the door. 769–2999.

7 Saturday: Tour the Waterloo Farm Museum, with its 10-room farmhouse, log cabin, and forge. Docents are on hand to answer questions. Part of a larger event with free admission at several Jackson-area museums. Also, a Spinner’s Flock Fiber Market, with demonstrations by hand spinners throughout the day and sale of Michigan-grown fibers for spinning, felting, and handspun yarns. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Waterloo Farm Museum, 13493 Waterloo-Munith Rd., Chelsea. Free. (517) 596-2254.

8 Sunday: Watch the local semi-pro soccer team Men’s AFC Ann Arbor—2017 & 2018 conference champs—open its home season after a 2-season hiatus as it plays United Soccer League Two rival Oakland County FC. 4 p.m., Saline High School Hornet Stadium, 1300 Campus Pkwy, Saline. Tickets $10 in advance (kids, $8), $12 at the gate. Group discounts available. 408-1627.

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

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