October 27, 2022

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

Happy Halloween week, everyone. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been stocking up on candy in anticipation of trick-or-treaters.

This week Ann Arbor’s city council reluctantly approved a contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield, the county health department announced a new “health equity council,” and Mayor Taylor came under fire for environmental hypocrisy. FBI agents arrested an Ypsilanti man for alleged security clearance application falsehoods, and police are asking for assistance locating a missing teen. Santa Ono attended his first U-M regents’ meeting as president, and the Wolverines are set to square off with MSU this Saturday.

—Dayton Hare, editor

Promising “sophisticated style,” Avant on Maple Rd. will have 256 apartments with 418 bedrooms spread over nineteen buildings. The Southfield developer hopes to have them done by the end of next year. Photo: Mark Bialek.

The News...Briefly

The county’s Covid-19 snapshot reports 851 cases in the two weeks ending yesterday, up from last week’s 780. There are 117.2 cases per 100,000 residents, down a hair from 120.8 last week, and the test positivity rate is 10.1 percent, up from 9 percent. The CDC community level is still "medium," and will update at 8 p.m. tonight.

The county health department announced a “health equity council,” the Michigan Daily reports. The body’s initial focus will be stemming the tide of Covid-19 cases in Washtenaw’s hardest-hit zip codes, whose demographics have disproportionately large shares of minority residents.

After years of failed projects, an apartment complex at Ann Arbor’s highest point should open by the end of next year, James Leonard reports in the October Observer. Avant, a 256-unit project on S. Maple at Pauline occupies a site once owned by Grace Bible Church, which is using the $5 million sale proceeds to build a 34,000-square-foot expansion.

Ann Arbor City Council approved a $9 million contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield, MLive reports, even while criticizing the company over an employee PAC’s contributions to Michigan politicians who propagate the “big lie” that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election. Council members said they regretted having to approve the contract, which covers pharmacy benefit-management services for city workers, and rallied with the Defend Black Voters Coalition beforehand.

Mayor Taylor is catching flak over hypocrisy on the city’s carbon neutrality goals, MLive reports. Home electrification is central to Ann Arbor’s A2Zero plan, but building records show Taylor installed a new gas fireplace in the Burns Park house he purchased last year. It’s “a very bizarre thing to indulge in if you really are making the claim that you’re trying your best to get off gas,” said councilmember Elizabeth Nelson, who lost an August primary to a Taylor-backed candidate.

New U-M president Santa Ono sat for his first interview with the Michigan Daily, where he touched on his hands-off approach to labor negotiations, the importance of listening to community members, plans to address sexual misconduct on campus, efforts to boost lagging enrollment at U-M’s Flint campus, and more.

U-M’s regents had their first meeting since Ono started the job last Thursday, the Daily reports. The group convened at the Flint campus, which has been plagued with declining enrollment and low graduation rates, and discussed the Flint Transformation Plan, along with a new building for the College of Pharmacy on Huron St., and the creation of an independent ethics, integrity and compliance office.

FBI agents arrested an Ypsi man accused of lying when applying for secret security clearance, the Detroit News reports. Yifei “Phillip” Chu, a NOAA employee, is alleged to have falsified documents and lied about contacts in the Taiwanese navy when applying for a job with the U.S. Navy. His attorney told the paper that “Dr. Chu … is looking forward to clearing his name once he gets his day in court."

Police want help locating a runaway teen who may be a danger to herself, MLive reports. Fourteen-year-old Samyah Setin Nundley was last seen Oct. 19 and left behind a concerning note. She is 5’ 2” and weighs 135 pounds; anyone with information should contact the police at 734-794-6930, extension 49311, or email.

Local voters were allegedly misled by circulators of GOP-backed ballot initiatives, a Daily investigation found. People interviewed by the paper claim that petition circulators for the Let MI Kids Learn and Secure MI Vote initiatives provided them with false or misleading information about the initiatives in order to procure a signature.

Environmental regulators issued a violation notice to Arbor Hills Landfill over high methane levels, MLive reports. The landfill, which buries Ann Arbor’s garbage, exceeded the “action level” for methane emissions on thirty-four separate days this summer, violating a consent judgment reached last spring.

Local officials marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Clean Water Act on the banks of the Huron, MLive reports. Among them was Rep. Debbie Dingell, whose late husband John Dingell was one of the principal actors in the landmark law’s 1972 passage.

The Joy Rd. US-23 overpass will be closed for maintenance until Wednesday, MLive reports. Traffic is being detoured via Gleaner Hall, Whitmore Lake, and Warren roads.

A roughly 180-year-old farmhouse in Pittsfield Township is under consideration to become a local historic district, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive). A prime example of the “upright and wing” configuration popular in southeastern Michigan during the 19th century, it was rehabbed by architect David Byrd and WCC construction students in the 1970s; it’s now being used to store artifacts for the African American Cultural and Historical Museum, and may be acquired by the museum.

Hosting guests for Sukkot celebrations helped Nehama Stampfer Glogower find resilience in her battle with cancer, she recounts in the October Observer. A Jewish holiday commemorating the decades in the desert after the exodus from Egypt, Sukkot serves as a reminder of the fragility of life, but also how people can flourish in all climates.

Larry and Lucie Nisson have been instrumental in the recent proliferation of murals around town, Chris Hippler reports in the October Observer. Fifteen have been completed in the last three years through the A2AC Murals program, an effort which the art-loving retired therapists helped bankroll.

Glowing art installations and a dance party are coming to Ypsi tomorrow for YpsiGLOW, MLive reports. Hosted by WonderFool Productions – of Festifools fame – this year’s event takes its theme from the celebrated children’s book Where the Wild Things Are, and will feature a maze, a glowing botanical garden, a dancing alien, and more.

The Old Fourth Ward Association has put together a video tour of the historic district. Blending drone video and street-level photos, it’s available on YouTube.

Huron High faces Saline High Friday night in a district semifinal game at Saline.  The Detroit News has published the statewide matchups.

The Wolverines face off with MSU Saturday night at the Big House. State has won the last two matchups, but Michigan is undefeated so far this season, and is favored to end the night victorious.

New Chelsea neighbors: Mary Baude moved Whitetail from Dexter, while Julie Konkle’s FarmSudz emerged from basement digs across the street. Photo: J. Adrian Wylie.

Marketplace Changes

Drip House Coffee Co. on Stadium and Main abruptly closed last Wednesday, according to a Reddit post. A sign posted to the door said the entire staff had quit “due to wages, labor and general mistreatment.” A subsequent post on Saturday said the business had reopened, with owner Russ Furrha working himself.

After 130 years as a clothing store, the former Vogel’s & Foster’s in Chelsea has a new life, Shelley Daily reports in the Fall Winter 2021-2022 Community Guide. Mary Baude moved her design, home, and lifestyle shop Whitetail from Dexter to share the 5,000-square-foot space with FarmSudz, Julie Konkle’s handmade natural skin-care store.

Fox Ann Arbor Hyundai opened its new 18,000 square-foot facility on Jackson Rd., Shelley Daily reports for the October Observer. Fox Motors now owns nearly fifty locations, including Hyundai, Acura, and Nissan dealerships in Scio Township.

Ann Arbor Scooter Co. is expanding into East Lansing, MLive reports. Services offered in the city of U-M’s rival will be similar to the original Ann Arbor location, including electric and gas scooter sales, helmets, locks, accessories and repairs. Owner Adam Zemke knows the Lansing area well: He’s a former state representative.

Public-art patrons Lucie and Larry Nisson with Jacob Dwyer’s mural on N. First. Photo: J. Adrian Wylie.


SOS Community Services is asking people to sponsor families in need during the holiday season. People can donate $10-25 gift cards to major retailers so parents can provide their children with items like food, clothes, and toys.

U-M hosts a medicine take back event Saturday at West Willow Community Resource Center in Ypsi from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., ClickOnDetroit reports. Accepted medications include pain medicine, sedatives, antidepressants, ADHD medicine, muscle relaxants, and pet medicines.

Things to Do

By Jennifer Taylor

28 Friday: Hear bestselling novelist and short fiction writer George Saunders, heralded in Time magazine as “the best short-story writer in English,” discuss his hotly anticipated new collection, Liberation Day. Known for his unsentimental, wickedly funny, and exquisitely tuned prose, Saunders frequently places ordinary, relatable protagonists into increasingly surreal circumstances to shine light on the darker aspects of being human, with profound, and often unsettling results. 7 p.m., First United Methodist Church, 120 S. State. Hosted by Literati Bookstore. Mask required. Tickets $30 (includes a signed copy of the book) in advance online. 585–5567.

29 Saturday: Celebrate Halloween at Hudson Mills Metropark’s “Thrills at the Mills” event, which includes a dog tug-of-war and a dog costume contest (winners announced at 5:30 p.m.) and trunk-or-treating (5-6:30 p.m.) at official park vehicles, including a dump truck, police car, and tractor. The day ends with a drive-in style movie screening (7 p.m.) of the animated haunted house film Monster House (Gil Kenan, 2006). Refreshments for sale. 3:30–8:30 p.m., Hudson Mills Metropark Activity Center, 8801 North Territorial Rd., Dexter. Preregistration required for dogs and trunks online by 4 p.m. the day before the program. $10 vehicle entrance fee. 426–8211.

30 Sunday: Get rowdy at the U-M School of Music’s Halloween Concert. This annual tradition features the University Symphony Orchestra and the University Philharmonia Orchestra hamming it up in costume while performing such ghoulish works as Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre or Mussorgsky’s A Night on Bald Mountain. A large portion of the audience comes in costume. Note: Tickets often sell out in advance. 4 p.m., Hill Auditorium. Tickets $8 & $12 in advance at the Michigan League & online, and (if available) at the door. 7642538.

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

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