October 15, 2020

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This week

Washtenaw County broke its record for most Covid cases in a single day, with 76 reported Wednesday morning. Infections among children are low but climbing, making efforts to return students to school uncertain. 

A massive effort to get out the vote is underway, with political ads cramming the airways, mailboxes, and front steps. The City Clerk is making it as easy as possible to vote absentee.

Trilby MacDonald, editor 

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In the News

Washtenaw County set a new record for Covid cases Wednesday, with seventy-six new infections confirmed. “We will also be reporting a similarly high number of cases today,” Susan Ringler-Cernigila of the Washtenaw County Health Department said on Thursday. After a surge in college-age infections, “our epidemiologist suspects we are now seeing more cases in other age ranges,” she added by email. WCHD’s two-week demographic snapshot will be updated at 5 p.m. Thursday. 

Father Gabriel Richard High School shifts to online classes. At the recommendation of the Washtenaw County Health Department, the Catholic school at Domino’s Farms cancelled in-person classes and all extracurricular and athletic activities after several students tested positive for Covid-19. MLive. 

Twenty-nine school administrators representing public, charter, and private schools issued a joint letter with the WCHD urging the community to observe safety measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 so schools can continue to move toward face-to-face instruction this fall and winter. 

Monday Oct. 19 is the deadline to register to vote online. Check here to verify your registration and voting location. The deadline to request an absentee ballot online is Friday Oct. 30. Ann Arbor voters can also request an absentee ballot by email or in person at the City Clerk’s office in City Hall, 301 E. Huron, or its temporary satellite office at the U-M Museum of Art, 525 S. State. At both locations you can register to vote, request an absentee ballot, fill it out, and cast it the same day. 

The City Hall office has extended hours from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m.- 4 p.m on the Saturdays leading up to the election (Oct. 24 and 31). Click here for the hours at UMMA. Not in Ann Arbor? Click here to find your local clerk’s office. 

Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than Monday Nov. 2. They can also be deposited directly in six new ballot drop boxes across the city as late as 8 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday Nov. 3. 

U-M students work to ensure that everyone can vote safely. Students are networking with campus organizations, professors and administrators to increase voter turnout. They are also signing up to be poll workers, filling the gap being left by senior citizens.

Ann Arbor faces class action lawsuit over water charges. The lawsuit alleges the city of imposing charges “far in excess” of what’s necessary to cover the city’s actual costs of providing water, sewer, and stormwater services. Law firm Kickham Hanley PLLC filed the case on behalf of Ann Arbor resident and class representative Sandra Hahn. MLive. 

The Ride announced this week that it has launched a new contactless mobile ticketing app called EZfare to make riding public transit safer and more convenient.

Some Healthy Streets closings canceled. The outgoing “Back to Basics” council majority voted to remove the temporary bicycle lanes on Packard, between Platt Road and Eisenhower Parkway; the Broadway Bridge; and S. Main between Pauline and Stadium. Mlive

Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama blankets UMMA’s Frankl Family Wing with jute sacks once used to haul cocoa beans and other commodities. The installation “celebrates the often-invisible labor of Black and brown people behind global exchange and commerce while acknowledging the troubling histories of colonialism and slavery in the Western world.” In-Between the World and Dreams is in partnership with the U-M Institute of Humanities and Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, where Mahama’s work will also be shown. 


A local woman’s online boutique expands to Briarwood Mall. As a career woman, Pennie Bailey couldn’t find the modest, elegant clothing she was looking for, so she began selling clothing and accessories for young professional women online. Sophisticated Lifestyle is the first storefront for the mother of two, who is juggling business management with her children’s online school. Click on Detroit.

Also new to Briarwood, Tee’Licious Dessert Creations beckons chocolate lovers with hand dipped grapes, potato chips, bacon, and even custom made chocolate high-heeled “shoes”. Store owner T'andra Reeves loves chocolate as a medium for artistic expression. "I make it my own," she says. "I like creating masterpieces." 

Ann Arborite Patricia Majher published One Hundred Things to Do in Ann Arbor Before You Die, a guide to all things Ann Arbor. For townies, there are few revelations, but if you are new to the area it’s a solid rundown of the usual suspects. Available at Nicola's Books

The Michigan Renaissance Festival has reinvented itself as an eerie, light-filled series of installations populated by strange creatures and creepy sounds. “A Haunting in Hollygrove: Phantasm of Lights” runs Thursday-Sunday through Halloween.

Ann Arbor real estate firm Oxford Companies launches “Oxford Instant Office” for businesses that are downsizing and need office space quickly. The leasing process is simplified and terms are available for six months or more, with utilities and janitorial services included.

Photo courtesy of Tee'Licious Dessert Creations. 


By Ella Bourland

Friday: Tune in to U-M Poverty Solutions’ online talk about life in Michigan during Covid-19, with Michigan Health and Human Services director Joneigh Khaldun and Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist (1:30 p.m.).

Saturday: Hear in-person outdoor talks on “Getting Real About Race in Washtenaw County” by a host of speakers including congresswoman Debbie Dingell, Washtenaw County prosecutor candidate Eli Savitt, and others (2–6 p.m.). Enjoy an online performance of Brahms’ Horn Trio and Clarinet Trio by members of the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra recorded in the Kerrytown Concert House (5:30 p.m.). 

Sunday: Learn about the significance of certain Michigan trees to indigenous people in a guided hike through the Leonard Preserve (2 p.m.). Or, for a hands-on nature experience, help remove invasive plants at Black Pond Woods (1–4 p.m.).

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

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