October 29, 2020

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This week

The dreaded second surge has materialized, and Covid cases are hitting unprecedented highs. Students are taking their stay-at-home orders seriously, and though they are allowed to vote, early voting among U-M students is way down. 

Most of the executive orders issued by Governor Whitmer have been replaced by legislation and directives from the health department that accomplish similar objectives. In a city that is overwhelmingly Democratic, this news comes as a relief for most. But for the few Trump supporters, voicing dissent is a risky proposition. 

Against the odds, the arts scene is rebounding with more events and a new youth-centered arts organization in Ypsilanti. 

Trilby MacDonald, editor 

In the News

Washtenaw County continues to set records for Covid-19 infections, with seventy six new infections confirmed yesterday.  There were 838 new cases between 10/8 and 10/21, sixty-two percent among 18-22 year olds. Fatalities continue to be low, with 121 total in the county since the pandemic began. 

Early voting among U-M students down after stay-in-place order. Students are allowed to leave their residences to vote, but City Clerk Jackie Beaudry is concerned about the large drop in turnout at the Clerks’ satellite office in the U-M Museum of Art. MLive.

New Michigan laws replaced Whitmer’s overturned executive orders. The new laws include extension of unemployment benefits, allowance for K-12 schools to remain virtual, liability protections for businesses, and protections for employees from being fired for taking precautions to prevent exposure. MLive. 

Washtenaw County ballot proposals include a ten-year renewal of the county millage to preserve farmland and natural areas; it would raise $4.4 million the first year. Ann Arbor’s affordable housing millage would raise $130 million over the next twenty years to create 1,500 affordable housing units. Other communities will vote on twelve proposals, including renewal of the Chelsea School District operating millage and a limit on the sale of public property designed to block a Dexter affordable housing development

What’s it like to be a Trump supporter in Ann Arbor, where 86 percent of voters rejected him in 2016? “I don't even feel like I can say I'm a Republican because the hatred and the intolerance spill over,” says one. Observer.

A county report estimates that it will cost between $41.7 million and $61.3 million to expand broadband service to 8,000 homes and businesses in fourteen townships. Burying the cables would be more costly than aerial construction but offers greater stability. WEMU.

Ypsilanti couple launch arts organization for creative youth. Yolanda and Keith Ragland’s nineteen-year-old son Brandon Cross was an artist, but his life was cut short by gun violence. Yolanda was “devastated that I wouldn’t be able to back his career.” In honor of Brandon, the Raglands formed the arts education nonprofit Elevation Youth Corp to help young people develop skills to pursue careers in the arts. Concentrate

The Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry L. Clayton will serve on the National Police Foundation (NPF) Council on Policing Reforms and Race. The Council will address issues such as enhancing accountability and how cultural attitudes affect policing. WCSD Facebook.


Knight's has now reopened both of its locations after several front-of-the-house employees tested positive for Covid-19. The family-owned steakhouses closed Friday to Tuesday. Click on Detroit

Jessica’s Apothecary leaves Kerrytown for Main Street. After eight years in their Kerrytown location, the botanical skincare company will move on November 7 to a suite at 415 N. Main St. In an Instagram post, owner Jessica Goniea explains that “The pandemic has been full of many challenges for us all… the overhead of running the business in my current location is greater than we have the capacity for.”

CameraMall dodges a highrise and expands to fill a beautiful new space. Relocating the family owned camera shop to 2275 W. Stadium was not their choice, but the owners landed on their feet. The Observer’s Micheline Maynard has our story. 

Marijuana dispensary Information Entropy opens its doors in a former church that was both a flower shop and a daycare center. “It’s a flower shop again,” jokes Marcus Hart, who owns the business with old friend Drew Hutton. The Observer’s Micheline Maynard has the scoop on three new Ann Arbor pot shops


By Ella Bourland

Friday: Drive along a marked path around Domino’s Petting Farm, stopping to watch original Halloween-themed theatrical scenes from your vehicle. Ann Arbor Civic Theatre and Dexter Community Players (7–11 p.m.).

Saturday: Watch a free online screening of Mariam Ghani’s 2019 documentary What We Left Unfinished, which features newly restored footage from lost fiction films shot during Afghanistan's Communist era from 1978-1991. Ann Arbor Film Festival (available any time). Or, see an in-person screening of Hocus Pocus, Kenny Ortega’s classic children’s Halloween film that stars Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy as a group of zany witches resurrected on Halloween night determined to wreak havoc in Salem, Massachusetts. Michigan Theater (7 p.m.).

Sunday: Listen for free online to Jewel Heart resident spiritual advisor Demo Rinpoche reflect on Tibetan Buddhist teachings on such matters as wisdom, generosity, patience, and enthusiasm, and discuss how to implement them in ordinary life. Jewel Heart (11 a.m.–noon). 

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

Hard Math 

Food Gatherers pivots to meet rising needs with fewer resources 

Job losses due to Covid-19 have caused record numbers of people to seek food assistance, many for the first time. But meeting that need during a pandemic has been a herculean task. “Pretty much overnight we lost half of our food supply and most of our labor,” says Eileen Spring, president of Food Gatherers, Washtenaw County’s food pantry and food rescue organization. Spring marvels at how, against the odds, the need continues to be met. The Observer’s Trilby MacDonald has our story.  

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