September 16, 2021

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

This week

Hello, everyone!

I’m excited to be taking over a2view from Trilby MacDonald, who did an imaginative job in launching the Observer’s weekly newsletter. Jim Manheim and John Hilton are pitching in temporarily to help with the transition.

I was born at the old University of Michigan Hospital, and I’ve lived all over Ann Arbor - Burns Park, two neighborhoods on the west side, and two condo communities on the northeast side, where I now reside. 

Through journalism, I’ve also had the privilege of living in least ten other places, including Tokyo, Phoenix, Chicago, Washington, New York, and Boston. So you’ll be hearing from someone who can compare Ann Arbor with other places, but who’s very happy to be home. 

Thanks for reading a2view,

Micki Maynard

U-M president emerita Mary Sue Coleman joins president Mark Schlissel, LSI director Roger Cone, and Board of Regents chair Jordan Acker for the September 9 announcement that LSI's building has been named in her honor. Coleman was the university's first female president, and Mary Sue Coleman Hall is the first academic building on the Ann Arbor campus to be named for a woman.
Photo by Austin Thomason, Michigan Photography.

The News...Briefly

Covid-19: As of Wednesday morning, there were fifty-two confirmed cases, three hospitalizations, and no deaths reported in Washtenaw County in the previous twenty-four hours. The positivity rate is continuing to inch up, to 4.2 percent.

Ann Arbor’s city council will interview two finalists for interim city administrator. The city has gone through three administrators in the past five years as control of council swung between the factions blogger Sam Firke calls the Strivers and the Preservers. In a subscriber-exclusive article, MLive’s Ryan Stanton reports that council members discussed putting off the search for a permanent replacement till after next year’s election, “so candidates considering the position then can have a sense of the political makeup of council for the next two years.” Council will choose between former Phoenix assistant manager Milton Dohoney and consultant Peter Burchard later this month.
The city is moving ahead on plans to rebuild its drinking water plant, and “no matter what it’s going to be expensive, MLive’s Stanton reports. Staff recommends spending $108 million to rebuild the Sunset Rd. plant - but also looked at connecting to Detroit’s water system at an estimated cost of $355 million. The city won the first round in a lawsuit challenging plans to pay for some of the work by building up utility reserves in May, when the suit was denied class-action status. Curious about how the city tests its water for safety? See our profile of city environmental laboratory analyst Lea Monaghan from the Observer’s 2021-2022 City Guide.
The U-M lecturers union scored another huge victory, reaching a tentative contract that increases base pay at the U-M Dearborn and Flint campuses by $10,000 a year, the Michigan Daily reports. In 2018, LEO won a nearly 50 percent increase in starting pay for Ann Arbor lecturers, to $51,000; the new agreement increases pay at the other campuses to match. According to the University Record, it “also addresses ‘leapfrogging’ concerns about the salaries of long-serving lecturers to stay ahead of newer lecturers, adds longevity pay to the contract and provides significant annual increases on all three campuses."

Westside traffic, already snarled by the Liberty St. closure between Seventh and Crest, is going to be getting worse, not better. From Monday through Wednesday next week, Liberty will close from Fourth Ave. to First St. for storm sewer rehab. Eastbound traffic will be detoured via Fourth and Washington, westbound Liberty via William and Fourth Ave. Meanwhile, a resurfacing project has reduced Plymouth Rd. to one lane in each direction between North Campus and the Broadway Bridge.

Readers chasing the warm weather south (or just going to Toledo) need to know that U.S.-23 will be closed for several weeks between Milan and Dundee after a truck hit a railroad bridge. Detours are posted, but backups are long at peak hours, and residents of the two towns have been talking about the heavy traffic. If you don't mind a dirt road, you can find total calm in the cornfields by taking Petersburg Rd. south from Mooreville Rd. west of Milan (Saline-Milan Rd. lets you out near it)—it runs all the way to the town of Petersburg, past the closure, and a left turn brings you quickly back to U.S.-23.

Rental scams pop up at this time of year, and with U-M students strapped for housing due to a large unfinished complex it may be worse than usual this time around. Monique Weemstra recently posted on Nextdoor that "[t]his morning a distressed lady showed up at our door. She was under the impression she was going to rent one the vacant apartments next door and had paid a deposit. However, the person to whom she paid a deposit wasn't the owner so she lost the money (for now...)." A commenter noticed that the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors is now watermarking photos on the Multiple Listing Service in hopes of making such scam listings more difficult.

The federal government's Covid eviction ban has been lifted, but MLive reports that the county has $14 million in state rental assistance that's available—and that it's scrambling to spend. If you or someone you know is behind on rent and makes less than 80 percent of the county median income, they’re eligible. The application is online, with instructions here

Johnny Cash had a song about a hardware store that's sold out of flagpoles, and the twentieth anniversary of the September 11 attacks brought a similar situation to mind for Brad Cook. Stadium Hardware was on the case. Cook posted on the Ann Arbor Townies Facebook group:  "In the days following 9/11, like many people we wanted to fly a flag in support of America. Unfortunately our flagpole had broken a few years prior and the stores had already seen a rush on flags and poles so there were none to be found. We wound up going to Stadium Hardware where they had also run out of flagpoles and so they were fabricating them from electrical conduit, eyebolts and chain hardware. Twenty years later we still proudly fly the flag from our conduit pole!" The hardware store does, too - its flag was featured in Steve Gilzow’s July Observer cover.

Marketplace Changes

The State Street Target’s almost here: Ann Arbor’s newest Target is set to open on September 26. It’s taking the retail space previously occupied by Urban Outfitters, downstairs from the State Theater at the corner of Liberty and State. This Target falls under a growing category for the Minneapolis-based chain: stores near college campuses. We had one at Boston University when I worked for the NPR show Here & Now, which is based at WBUR. If this target follows that model, look for the store to have groceries, school supplies, apparel and accessories. We’ll have a full report in the November issue.

Black farmers seek funding: There are 2,134 farmers in Washtenaw County, but only eighteen identify as Black, according to a new report by the Washtenaw County Black Farmers Fund (WCBFF). The group, which includes farmers, nonprofits and community members, has kicked off its first fundraising effort, aiming to raise $50,000 by October 8 to support five to ten farmers. The money will be used for down payments, reduce farm debt, purchase farm equipment and cover other expenses. Find more details here

The Helpers

Michigan Medicine is again collecting food, toiletries, and money for Food Gatherers through drive-up and online donations. “The prolonged pandemic has revealed significant food insecurity and other gaps in basic needs, leading to record-high demands for food, diapers and other basic supplies,” says Tony Denton, chief operating officer for University of Michigan Health. Collection continues through September 26.  

Things to Do

By Ella Bourland

16 Thursday: Watch a dubbed screening of Hiroyuki Imaishi’s 2019 anime adventure Promare, about an epic battle between humans and flame-wielding mutants. 7 p.m., Ann Arbor 20 (4100 Carpenter Rd.). Tickets $12.50 in advance online (recommended) & at the door. (734) 973-8424.

17 Friday: See the premiere of NYC playwrights Jeremy Kareken, David Murrell, and Gordon Farrell’s briskly entertaining 2019 comedy, The Lifespan of a Fact (every Thurs.–Sun., Sept. 17–Oct. 10), about a fact-checker for a renowned essayist who finds himself in an all-out battle with the writer pitting factual truth vs. creative license. Based on a book by the same name that documents years of dickering over intentional and unintentional inaccuracies in John D’Agata’s 2010 essay, “What Happens There,” the play is praised by a Variety critic for its “terrifically funny dialogue.” Stars Andrew Huff, Justin Montgomery, and Diane Hill. 8 p.m. (Thurs.–Sat.) & 2 p.m. (Sun.), Theatre Nova, 410 W. Huron. Tickets $22 in advance at and (if available) at the door. Masks and proof of vaccination required. (734) 635–8450, 

18 Saturday: Join a frank conversation (by way of Zoom) about death, hosted by The Dying Year owner Merilynne Rush with the help of Diana Cramer and Rachel Briggs. 10:30–noon, for URL email Merilynne at Free. 

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

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