September 01, 2022

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

This week, I’ve been making the rounds to say goodbye (for now) to all my Ann Arbor friends before moving to the East Coast tomorrow for a master’s degree. While I certainly look forward to the next couple years, I’m already starting to feel homesick for Michigan. At least for a while, I’ll still keep you up-to-date with Washtenaw County news from afar.

In Ypsilanti, an arrest was made in the abduction and sexual abuse of a child, a cleanup site on Water St. received $4.3 million from the state, and the sheriff’s department endorsed the installation of license plate readers in Ypsi Township.

In Ann Arbor, a suspected bank robber returned to the scene of the crime, a developer unveiled plans for a S. Forest highrise, and construction is slated to start at Bandemer Park and on Scio Church Rd. A U-M law professor sued the university for alleged discrimination, the softball program announced Bonnie Tholl as its new head coach, and the first football game of the season kicks off at noon Saturday.

Dayton Hare, editor

J.J. McCarthy is pressing Cade McNamera at quarterback. McNamera is an excellent game manager, but McCarthy is remarkably fast and can run the ball as well as throw it. Photo: Bryan Fuller.

The News...Briefly

The county’s Covid-19 snapshot reports 1,284 cases in the two weeks ending yesterday, down slightly from last week’s 1,340. The county’s CDC community level remains “high,” and the weekly test positivity rate is 13.6 percent, down from last week’s 15.1 percent.

Several readers let us know that our Covid survey wasn’t working for the first few hours after we sent it out last week. We apologize for the problem, and hope you’ll share your thoughts on how you’re dealing with the pandemic and how you’d like us to cover it.

A man has been arrested for kidnapping and sexually assault in Ypsilanti, MLive reports. Brandon Hutson allegedly kidnapped an eleven-year-old after the child snuck out of their home in May. A lengthy investigation culminated in Hutson’s arraignment on August 24. Police are not releasing further details due to the sensitive nature of the crime.

A suspected Ann Arbor bank robber returned to the same Fifth Third Bank he stole from in July, MLive reports. The teller recognized the man, fled to another room, and notified police. The man is suspected to have robbed the bank on July 29 and could also be linked to the Chase Bank robbery on July 16.

“We’re here to accomplish a wide range of things,” mayor Christopher Taylor tells James Leonard in the September Observer. Taylor, whose slate swept the August primaries, says their priorities will include “substantial improvement in the roads,” rebuilding the water treatment plant, an unarmed emergency response program, maintaining parks and natural areas, building affordable housing, and “achieving the moral imperative of our carbon neutrality goals” with a 20-year, $150 million millage on the November ballot.

TheRide also won big at the ballot box when voters approved a 2.38-mill tax request,  Leonard reports. The millage tripled the tax rate for regional services in the area, and officials have big plans for the funds, including hiring more bus drivers and starting an express line between Ann Arbor and Ypsi.

The Lonely Death of Stadium Steve. Homeless and wary, he haunted the west side for decades, yet when he died in March, even his true name was unknown. James Leonard reports for the August Observer on the life of the man police identified as Raymond Rebone, and how the county’s homeless outreach team had tried to help him.

A U-M law professor sued the university and law dean Mark West for alleged race and gender discrimination Friday, the Michigan Daily reports. Professor Laura Beny, who was hired in 2003, alleges that she has faced derogatory comments and harassment throughout her time at U-M, including from West. A U-M spokesperson called the allegations “meritless” and vowed that the school would “vigorously defend itself.”

A developer unveiled plans for a student-focused high rise on S. Forest, MLive reports. The proposed eleven-story building would replace the five-story Forest Place apartments, and would contain 631 beds and eighty-seven structured parking spaces. The developer offered to donate to the city’s affordable housing fund or provide affordable units in the building in exchange for approval of planned use development (PUD) zoning.

Cooperative entrepreneur Dave Friedrich dreams of federal infrastructure funding for an expanded freight train tunnel that he believes could turn Detroit into a global transit gateway. Photo: J. Adrian Wylie.

Dave Friedrichs–Ann Arborite, cooperative entrepreneur, and founder of Homeland Solar–now sets his sights on Detroit’s “Tunnel of Dreams,” Cynthia Furlong Reynolds reports for the August Observer. Characterizing his work life as “D2-E2-I2: Diversity & democracy; Equality & economics; Inclusion & infrastructure,” Friedrichs is lobbying for federal infrastructure funding to revive decades-old plans for a bigger freight train tunnel that he believes could turn Detroit into a global transit gateway.

The Bandemer Park vehicle and pedestrian bridges close for reconstruction Tuesday, Ann Arbor Parks & Recreation announced on Facebook. The replacements for the deteriorating bridges are expected to be finished in late fall.

A $2.9 million construction project starts soon on Scio Church Rd., MLive reports (subscriber exclusive). The project includes resurfacing the road from Seventh St. to Maple Rd., filling in sidewalk gaps, installing three new crosswalks, and converting on-street parking into bike lanes. The project is expected to begin in late Sept. and be finished in the spring, with road and lane closure updates posted online.

Construction on a sidewalk between Eisenhower Pkwy. and Briarwood Circle continues through Sept. 9. Watch for intermittent closures of the right lane southbound on State Street and the intersection at Mall Drive while work is in progress.

The I-94 west onramp from Hamilton St. in Ypsi closed this morning for construction, MLive reports, joining two other ramp closures. Expected to last until mid to late October, the closure is part of an $11 million resurfacing project that also includes the installation of a non-motorized pathway on the bridge over I-94 at the interchange. After Labor Day, Washtenaw Ave. in Ypsi will see intermittent full and lane closures for utility work. During that period, drivers entering the city from the west are advised to take Hewitt Rd. to Michigan Ave.

Cleanup of the contaminated site on Water St. in Ypsi received $4.3 million from the state, MLive reports. According to economic development director Joe Meyers, the funds “will allow us to clean up most if not all the major sources of contamination on the property.” The city doesn’t have a current partner for developing the site, but state senator Jeff Irwin, who obtained the earmark, is hoping to see housing built there after the lead, PCBs, and industrial chemicals are removed.

The sheriff’s department gave the go-ahead for license plate readers in Ypsi Township, MLive reports. Despite strong opposition in an online poll of residents, officials claim in a report they saw no “push back” when they explained the plan in community meetings. The cameras, covering entrances and exits from township roadways, would automatically capture vehicle information and can be helpful in solving crimes. City of Ypsilanti leaders called the readers an “invasion of privacy” and last week advanced the first reading of an ordinance banning them within city limits.

Storytelling initiative Let Me Tell You allows incarcerated people to share their experiences, Concentrate reports. The initiative works with other organizations to help end mass incarceration in Michigan, and has already shared the stories of people like Mark McCloud, whose life “spiraled out of control” after he was a victim of gun violence at age fifteen.

Ypsi-based Project Mow uses sheep to mow lawns, Concentrate reports. Yuko Frazier began the project in 2016 when her sheep needed more land for grazing, and her clients include folks looking for entertainment or sustainable solutions, as well as the city of Ypsilanti, which uses the sheep to mow hard-to-reach spaces. (Kati Shanks’ 2017 Observer article noted that the flock’s services also include “the euphemistic ‘soil enrichment’”).

U-M named Bonnie Tholl as head coach of its softball program after Carol Hutchins announced her retirement last week, the Michigan Daily reports. Tholl, once a Michigan shortstop, is entering her thirtieth year on the program’s coaching staff, with the last twenty of those as associate head coach.

Ann Arbor is the second-best mid-sized city in the U.S., according to Livability, which chooses its scores based on data in categories ranging from civics to amenities. Second to Madison, WI, A2 earned its spot based on “Well-designed trail systems, a passion for the arts, worldly restaurants, plus friendly, smart residents who are civically engaged.”

The Michigan Theater and State Theatre are offering $3 tickets on National Cinema Day, Sept. 3, ClickOnDetroit reports. Viewers have a choice of nine movies that day, including Nope, Bodies Bodies Bodies, and Casablanca.

The U-M faces Colorado at noon Saturday at the Big House. In the September Observer, Craig Ross reports on how the team has fared in recent years, from its disappointing performances in 2019 and 2020, to its best showing in twenty-five years last season, to what might be in store this year.

Co-owner Saeed Ebrahim and manager Jaden Cato at 19 Drip's new Jackson Rd. location. The expansion was mostly turnkey—equipment, furniture, and even Cato carry over from the former Songbird Café: West Side. Photo: J. Adrian Wylie.

Marketplace Changes

Businesses on Jackson Rd. have recently seen “a flurry of changes,” Shelley Daily reports for the September Observer, including the openings of second locations for 19 Drips Coffee & Tea and CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice, the reopening of Kasoa Africa Market, and a name change from Nicola’s Books to Schuler Books,.

Fox Motors opened a new Hyundai dealership on Jackson Rd., MLive reports. The location includes a showroom, twelve service bays, and two EV charging stations–Ann Arbor-based Car and Driver just picked the Ioniq 5 as its EV of the Year. The previous Fox Hyundai location will be demolished.

Known for decades only as "Stadium Steve," Raymond Rebone was killed by an SUV last spring. James Leonard reports on the little that could be learned of his life, and how the county's homeless outreach team had tried to help him. 
Illustration: Tabi Walters.


Garrett’s Space hosts their 2022 Virtual Fundraiser Sept. 11 and 12. Proceeds from the 24-hour livestream, featuring musical performances, speakers, and classes on yoga, fitness, and meditation, support the nonprofit’s suicide-prevention and mental wellness programs.

Evictions hit an all-time low during the pandemic, according to the Washtenaw County Office of Community Economic Development’s annual report.  OCED distributed more than $12 million in rental, utility, and internet assistance to 749 households last year, with 73 percent of the funds going to BIPOC households.

Things to Do

By Jennifer Taylor

2 Friday: Immerse yourself in the 86th Saline Community Fair, featuring agricultural and craft exhibits, rides, and special events, including a dog of the year contest (Sept. 2, 5:30 p.m.), a talent show (Sept. 2, 6:30 p.m.), the USA Auto Cross Championship Derby (Sept. 4, 7 p.m., $5 additional admission), livestock shows and auction, tractor and draft horse pulls, live music, and more. Schedule at Aug. 31–Sept. 4, 10 a.m.10 p.m., Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds, 5055 Ann Arbor–Saline Rd. $5 (Wed.), $7 (Thurs.–Sun.), & free (Mon.) admission. Ride armbands available. 6497814.

3 Saturday: See Ann Arbor Civic Theatre’s production of “We Will Rock You,” Ben Elton’s long-running West End sci-fi jukebox musical featuring more than 20 hit Queen songs including “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You,” and “We Are the Champions.” The plot follows 2 revolutionaries as they try to save rock ’n’ roll and individual expression in a dystopian and conformist future. 8 p.m. Runs Sept. 14. 8 p.m., U-M Walgreen Drama Center Arthur Miller Theatre, 1226 Murfin. Tickets $28 (seniors age 60 & over, $25; students, $15) in advance at, by phone, & at the door. 9712228.

4 Sunday: Play new and old board games and meet new friends at Sylvan Factory’s Open Board Gaming. noon6 p.m., Sylvan Factory, 2459 W. Stadium Blvd. Free., 9295877.

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

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