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December 16, 2021

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This Week

Lights in the courtyard at the Kerrytown Market & Shops. Photo: Micki Maynard

One of my favorite free activities at this time of year is to drive or walk downtown and look at the holiday lights. When my mother was alive, we attended the early Christmas Eve mass at St. Francis of Assisi, then swung down Main St. to enjoy the softly lit trees and pretty store fronts. Sometimes, we detoured over to Kerrytown to enjoy the lights there.
 
This year, with the deaths of loved ones and community leaders, and the continuing struggle against Covid, these cheerful lights are needed more than ever. Even though their illumination is limited to combat light pollution, we can still enjoy them in the hours that they are aglow. Holiday lights are a nice connection between Ann Arbor’s past and present, and a few snowflakes make the scene even prettier.

Micki Maynard, editor

The News ... Briefly

Covid cases. On Wednesday, the Washtenaw County Health Department reported 132 cases of Covid-19, one hospitalization, and six deaths in the previous twenty-four hours. The county’s weekly positivity rate was down a bit to 8.2 percent, according to MI Safe Start, compared with the statewide rate 16.5 percent. The statewide rate peaked at 20 percent for the week ending December 2.

Meanwhile, the Delonis homeless shelter on Huron St. has dealt with a Covid outbreak during the past two weeks, MLive reports. Cases emerged in the shelter around Thanksgiving, said county health department spokeswoman Susan Ringer-Cerniglia. Staffing shortages have shelter managers working overnight, or taking double shifts. 

Potential Tesla purchase. Tesla is interested in purchasing the Jackson Rd. site of Bel-Mark Lanes, the bowling alley says, although the deal is not a given. “IF this is approved by the township in January, and IF the transaction is finalized by mid-January, Bel-Mark would conclude its final season in the spring of 2022,” Bel-Mark posted on Facebook. “As of now, this is a maybe. If the sale does not go through, we will see you all for another season in the fall.” 

Updated Amazon plans. Amazon has updated plans for a $10 million warehouse and delivery hub it plans to build on 60 acres in Pittsfield Township just south of I-94, according to MLive. A new traffic signal will be installed on Carpenter Road, and employee shift times will be scheduled to avoid conflicts with school traffic. 

Afghan refugees at EMU. Eastern Michigan University and Jewish Family Services of Washtenaw County announced that the school will host about a dozen refugee families from Afghanistan in its campus apartments as a first step toward resettlement to the United States. JFSWC is looking for EMU student volunteers to help the families get settled and act as mentors. 

One of the perks of being a Saline Hornet. Former Michigan Men's Basketball Coach and Detroit Pistons advisor John Beilein has tips for the 3rd grade travel basketball team at a recent practice. Photo: Saline Community Education


Iceman honors. EMU announced that it has named its Convocation Center for basketball great George “Iceman” Gervin and GameAbove, a group of  donors and alumni. GameAbove, named for donor Keith Stone’s venture-capital firm, donated $2.7 million to EMU athletics, bringing its total donations to the school to more than $25 million. 

U-M Innovation Center. U-M says it will now build the Detroit Center for Innovation in the District Detroit, not far from Comerica Park and Ford Field. The $300 million research and education center was originally set for the former site of the Wayne County Jail. Funding includes a $100 million donation from major U-M funder Stephen M. Ross. 

Forsythe closure. Forsythe Middle School was closed Wednesday because of an unspecified incident that took place Tuesday, Ann Arbor Schools Superintendent Jeanice K. Swift said in a message to parents. She said the district is working with Ann Arbor police to investigate.  

Gold-level cycling. Ann Arbor received a top Bicycling-Friendly Community award from the League of American Cyclists, the group announced. It’s the first Michigan community to get the group’s gold-level award, and one of only twenty-four in the U.S. 

Curbside pickup continues. City council extended curbside pickup spots outside downtown restaurants until May 31, MLive reports (subscription required). The program, which began in March 2020, was supposed to end on December 31. There are 148 spots set aside for use by customers and delivery services. 

Park bathrooms are closing. The city said on Facebook that it is closing most park bathrooms this week for the season. Bathrooms will remain open at Bandemer, Olson, and Gallup parks. 

Glittering tree ornaments were a major attraction at Kresge's on Main Street (now home to BD's Mongolian Grill) in December 1953. Photo: Washtenaw County Historical Society.

Helpers

Ann Arbor’s Office of Sustainability and Innovations is looking for volunteer A2ZERO Ambassadors to promote sustainability efforts. Applications for the 12-week program training are being accepted through Jan. 18.

Congratulations to students at Community High, who raised more than $77,000 in their annual campaign for Food Gatherers. With the $82,000 collected in 2020, that means Community students have raised more than $150,000 for Food Gatherers during these two pandemic years.

Marketplace Changes

Plate has transformed a pottery studio into a restaurant. Photo: LR Nuñez

Plate opens. Plate Sushi & Chicken has opened on Broadway in the former Yourist Pottery space. Founded by the former owners of Totoro, it features a full lineup of sushi and sashimi, including bento boxes, as well as Korean fried chicken. Counter service is available at lunch, and sit-down service at dinner.

New Culver’s: Chelsea now has a Culver’s on the site of the former Big Boy on S. Main. Based in Wisconsin, the chain is known for its butterburgers and frozen custard, as well as soups and salads.

New owner for Lily Grace. Cyndi Clark announced the sale of Lily Grace Cosmetics to Kathleen London, who owns London Beauty in Brighton. Lily Grace celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, and Clark has elected to retire from the Main St. shop. “I searched for a successor to continue the business and support our community,” Clark said on her website.

White Pine Kitchen closes. White Pine Kitchen, the weekly food delivery service in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, has closed. It was reviewed in the October Observer. White Kitchen co-founder Bryan Santos is selling all its equipment. Interested buyers can contact him at bryan@thewhitepinekitchen.com

Things to Do

17 Friday: Come play improv games, then watch performances in various styles by area improv groups at the Ann Arbor Civic Improv’s Improv Jam & Show. 6–9:30 p.m., Civic Theatre, 322 W. Ann. For the participatory jam, pay what you can; for the show, $15 at the door only. Proof of vaccination and masks required. CivicImprov@gmail.com.

18 Saturday: Come count birds as part of the Washtenaw Audubon Society’s 76th Annual Christmas Bird Count. Everyone from novices to experienced birders is invited for all or part of the day, either as a field observer or (if you have a bird feeder) as a feeder watcher. The count area is a 15-mile-diameter circle centered on Ann Arbor; its 8 regions must be counted in a single day. This makeshift census may be off by thousands, but much useful information is gained by comparing the results from year to year. Some regions also conduct predawn searches for owls. All day, visit here for contact numbers and event updates.

19 Sunday: Learn something while you listen to “All About the Trio” at Kerrytown Concert House. U-M jazz piano professor Ellen Rowe presents the 2nd in this annual series of programs that cover different aspects of jazz trios. Today, she is joined by vibes player Cary Kocher in “Ring ‘dem Bells!” a program of reimagined holiday classics by Cal Tjader, Milt Jackson, Bobby Hutcherson, and Gary Burton. With bassist Paul Keller and drummer Pete Siers. Livestream available. 2 p.m., KCH, 415 N. Fourth Ave. Tickets $13–$50 in advance online and at the door. Mask & proof of vaccination (or negative Covid test within past 72 hours) required. 769–2999.

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

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