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- 06/03/13--02:45: _ Community taking s...
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- 06/03/13--02:45: _ Top Scholars 2013:...
- 06/03/13--02:45: _ Ann Arbor DDA says...
- 06/03/13--02:45: _ Emerging from the ...
- 06/03/13--02:45: _ Shakespeare in the...
- 06/03/13--02:45: _ No injuries report...
- 06/03/13--02:45: _ 10 Mac computers s...
- 06/02/13--12:00: _ Living Water Commu...
- 06/03/13--02:45: _ Woman accused in f...
- 06/03/13--02:45: _ Roundabout constru...
- 06/03/13--02:45: _ Saline police conc...
- 06/03/13--02:45: _ Huron High School ...
- 06/03/13--02:45: _ Juggling, a 'sicke...
- 06/03/13--02:45: _ Michigan softball ...
- 06/03/13--02:45: _ Foodies sample fla...
- 06/04/13--03:27: _ Backpack and headp...
- 06/04/13--03:27: _ 2 men considered '...
- 06/04/13--03:27: _ U-M Health System'...
- 06/04/13--03:27: _ Man convicted of r...
- $55 million renovation of the Taubman Health Sciences Library
- $39 million dedicated to outfitting the interior of the new Northville Health Center thatâs under construction by a private developer at the corner of Seven Mile and Haggerty roads
- $3.6 million renovation of a 17,413-square-foot space at 2205 Commonwealth Blvd. in Ann Arbor for Pediatric Speech Language Pathology, Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy services
- $2.34 million for a new wound care clinic in 9,325 square feet of the Dominoâs Farms Office Park on Frank Lloyd Wright Drive in Ann Arbor Township
- 06/03/13--02:45: Ann Arbor DDA says streetscape project could help South U's comeback
- 06/03/13--02:45: Shakespeare in the Arb will make 'Much Ado' about something
- 06/03/13--02:45: No injuries reported in small Ann Arbor garage fire
- 06/03/13--02:45: 10 Mac computers stolen Saturday night
- 06/03/13--02:45: Woman accused in fatal stabbing of boyfriend will head to trial
- 06/03/13--02:45: Huron High School students celebrate prom night 2013
- 06/03/13--02:45: Foodies sample flavors during Taste of Ann Arbor 2013
- 06/04/13--03:27: Backpack and headphones stolen during Ann Arbor home invasion
- 06/04/13--03:27: 2 men considered 'armed and dangerous' wanted in shooting
- 06/04/13--03:27: U-M Health System's cash reserves top those of OSU hospital
- 06/04/13--03:27: Man convicted of raping prostitute to spend up to 90 years in prison
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
This multi-jurisdiction project is just one of a series of similar efforts in the Ann Arbor area. The city is working to develop a vision for the South State Street corridor; a task force is discussing ideas to improve the North Main / Huron River corridor; and a proposed "road diet" for Jackson Avenue remains in play. Running parallel to and in conjunction with these efforts, earlier this spring Ann Arbor released a draft update to its Non-Motorized Transportation Plan. Meanwhile, some of the same concerns are being kept in mind as Ypsilanti reconsiders its master plan.
Taken together, it can all seem overwhelming. And in fact, all the ideas and proposals do represent an awful lot of potential change.
But these projects are vital parts of maintaining the vibrancy of the Ann Arbor community. In particular, the emphasis on keeping the needs of pedestrians, bicyclists and mass transit in mind, as well as individual drivers, should serve the community well as we move into the future.
As the nationwide "Complete Streets" initiative has noted, for decades, infrastructure improvements in the U.S. focused largely on efficiently moving individual automobile traffic, all too often at the expense of other types of transportation. In recent years, however, a realization seems to be taking hold that maybe a somewhat more balanced perspective would improve our communities.
Make no mistake: Despite the sometimes over-the-top objections to the recent transportation ideas here and elsewhere, nobody seriously suggests individual automobiles should go away, or even that their needs shouldn't be considered and accommodated. We as a society do a lot of driving, and we're going to continue to do so. Most of us drive to work every day, and to the store, and to leisure-time activities.
But most of us walk, too, even if only after parking our cars. And an increasing number get to work by bicycle. In Ann Arbor, census figures indicate more than 20 percent of the population either walks or bikes to work. The city's Nonmotorized Transportation Plan update notes that bicycles rose from from 2.4 to 3.5 percent of total commuting trips between 2000 and 2006. And test counts of bicycle use before and after new bike lanes were added at two locations (Liberty and Seventh, Miller and First) showed increases of 38 and 30 percent from 2006/2007 to 2011.
With gas prices stuck at historically high levels and shifts in attitudes toward commuting alternatives, it's hard to imagine these numbers doing anything other than rising in future years.
Not every idea now being considered will become reality. Some will probably happen soon; others years from now; others never. That's appropriate. The important thing is that the conversations are taking place, and taking place now. The country is changing, and our community will be better served by leading than by following.
Courtney Sacco | AnnArbor.com
A $163 million retrofitting of the former C.S. Mott Childrenâs Hospital facility to create a new Neuroscience Hospital has been delayed, as has a $17.5 million renovation of a building at U-Mâs North Campus Research Complex.
Both projects received approval by the U-M Board of Regents last year and were slated to move forward immediately.
However, UMHS revised its long-term financial planning goals in the first months of this year -- and the capital investments required for the Neuroscience Hospital and the building at NCRC were shifted to the back burner for three years, records show.
UMHS has an annual budget of about $3 billion, which accounts for one-third of U-M's overall budget.
The health systemâs cost-containment plan has a targeted reduction of $120 million over the next five years, according to documents obtained by an AnnArbor.com FOIA.
In the 2013 fiscal year, the budget requires ongoing reductions and re-allocations totaling $30 million.
Creation of the Neuroscience Hospital is a part of UMHSâ adult inpatient capacity expansion project -- and it is already denoted on an official map of the health systemâs campus as such even though the project hasnât happened yet.
The change to the campus map was made after the regents approved the project in April 2012, said Pete Barkey, director of public relations for UMHS.
Plans called for the renovation of about 163,000 gross square feet of the old Mott, former womenâs hospital and Mott expansion. The old Mott facility is about 500,000 square feet.
Eight operating rooms, a new imaging suite, 95 patient beds and a 25-bed intensive care unit are planned as a part of the project.
An additional 104,000 gross square feet inside the old Mott are also slated for conversion into office space for faculty and staff.
The Board of Regents appointed Hobbs & Black Architects to the Mott backfill project on April 19, 2012. This March, the project was removed from the health systemâs list of projects in active planning -- which Barkey said was due to a number of factors that officials took into consideration.
âIt is a part of a very large, overall picture,â Barkey said. âWe revised the timing of it Â but itâs still very much on the table.â
Vacated by patients in late 2011 upon the opening of the new Mott Hospital, the former childrenâs facility wedged inside the middle of UMHSâ Ann Arbor campus is being used by various departments displaced by other renovation projects.
Though there are parts still being unused, most of it is being utilized as office space by staff and faculty. The health systemâs inpatient child and adolescent psychiatric department is still in the former Mott facility, as well as its outpatient Pediatric Speech Language Pathology, Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy services that occupy part of the second level.
At NCRC, about 68,000 gross square feet in the east wing of Building 20 was slated for renovation. Infrastructure in the building dates to its 1956 construction date. Lab facilities -- last updated in 1995 -- were also slated for upgrades.
The $17.5 million project will be funded out of U-Mâs Medical School budget, and was initially given a projected completion date of winter 2014. Officials touted the project as an investment in NCRCâs research space and as a continued commitment by U-M to repurposing the former Pfizer facility.
However, the health systemâs review of its finances and capital investments this year caused the renovation to be delayed for up to three years as well.
UMHS has continued to invest in capital projects:
However, priorities change as new financial investment opportunities present themselves, Barkey said.
âWeâre making significant investment in capital projects,â Barkey said, noting that the health system expects growth in the Ann Arbor market and elsewhere.
Other major capital projects on the health systemâs radar include a new facility for University Hospital, which officials have previously said could be underway in about 10 years.
âItâs still one of the many things under discussion,â Barkey said. âWeâre working toward that goal.â
Barkey declined to discuss the financial investments the health system chose to prioritize over the neurosciences hospital and NCRC renovation, or to comment on the budget outlook for UMHS.
One year ago, the organization was planning to end this fiscal year with a 0.5 percent positive operating margin. For the past two years, the health system has operated on a deficit -- mostly as a result of the $754 million price tag to construct the new Mott Hospital.
âMeeting the financial targets will always be a challenge in our ever-changing environment. I do appreciate the fact that this is a constant conversation within the health system Â â said U-M President Mary Sue Coleman in an August 2012 letter to health system CEO Dr. Ora Pescovitz, obtained by an AnnArbor.com FOIA request.
âThe expansion of patient care brought about by rebuilding Mott was central to our overall strategic plan, another success I attribute to your leadership,â Coleman wrote to Pescovitz. âÂ Since the health system is such an important component of the overall University budget, it is really important that you keep closely aligned with our progress and opportunities in the new health care environment.â
Friday, Pescovitz published a post to her blog, Medicine that Speaks, that made mention of the issues the health system is facing.
âThis year, we have faced significant financial challenges, and when we put out a call to action, you stepped up and implemented improvement strategies that have already had substantial positive impact,â Pescovitz wrote. âWe have more work to do and we need to prioritize ongoing good stewardship of our resources, but based on what weâve already accomplished in these last several months, I am confident that we will weather the storm brought about by increasing competition, sequestration, health care reform and other challenges. This is not easy work, and it takes great courage.â
UMHS will publicly unveil its fiscal status June 20 at the Board of Regents meeting.
Here are the top scholars from the 2012-2013 graduating classes of Washtenaw County's high schools.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
But what might have been good urban design in the late 1980s doesn't work well anymore, said Susan Pollay, executive director of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority.
The DDA is thinking it might be time to get rid of those planters â and replace them with much smaller ones â as it looks to give South U a makeover.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
"It's probably one of the most compelling, simply because of the street activity we're not getting because of the trees," she said, suggesting the planters take up too much space on the sidewalks and stand in the way of businesses being able to offer more outdoor seating for customers.
"With the more people we're adding to this neighborhood who are living here as residents, that's one of the elements that we need to be thinking about," Pollay said, "because the overall vitality is coming back, and what can we do to help?"
Maggie Ladd, executive director of the South University Area Association, agrees that getting rid of the planters and giving South U a makeover is needed.
"This streetscape is very old and tired now," she said. "The reason we need to redo the streetscape is because the infrastructure is failing."
Ladd said the trees that were planted years ago have overgrown their planters, and in some cases their roots are now causing the brick pavers around them to heave.
"We just have mulch in the planters and that's because we can't plant anything because the roots have taken everything up," she said.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
"I think it would take away from South U," he said. "It's a staple for the city of Ann Arbor. It's tree city â Tree Town."
Mary Holt, a recent University of Michigan graduate, said she mostly comes to South U to go to Pizza House. She said she wouldn't mind trading the planters for more outdoor seating at restaurants.
"They look nice, but I don't have an extreme attachment to them," she said. "I think more outdoor seating is always good."
While the planters have become characteristic of South U, Ladd said, it's not a good characteristic. People leave their cigarette butts in them, some people sleep in them, and dogs even jump up to go to the bathroom in them, she said, "so they're not ideal."
'It's the comeback period'
Ladd believes the timing is right for a change as more and more people are calling South U home with new high-rise developments going in â mostly student apartments at this point.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
"We have a similar zoning to the rest of downtown now," she said. "You can see there are different projects coming online. And there are a few more in the pipeline I think, so we're really in a very exciting time for this area. It's the comeback period."
In 2006, new zoning encouraging high-density commercial and residential development was adopted to reinvigorate South U. Within months, the city approved a 10-story apartment building known as Zaragon Place to replace the historic 1923 Anberay Apartments on East University.
The nearly 250 beds Zaragon brought has helped fuel what Ladd describes as a comeback for South U. The area welcomed another 600-plus beds last year with the 14-story Landmark high-rise, and another 14-story high-rise approved above Pizza House promises at least 175 more beds.
"If you put another 1,000 people down here, you're going to see the difference," Ladd said, tallying up the bed count for those new developments.
Most of South U is now zoned to allow buildings up to 150 feet tall. Ladd said it's difficult to predict the market, but she sees a lot of potential for more dense development.
"Which is good," she said. "Before we changed the zoning, it was all one- and two-story buildings. You couldn't do anything else. Sometimes you couldn't do more than one if you had a basement â they counted that. It was so restrictive that we couldn't get anything done down here."
Asked where the next high-rise might go on South U, Ladd said there's definitely strong interest in some properties, but she's not able to discuss that.
Starting the process
The DDA has funded a number of major streetscape projects in the downtown over the years from Liberty Street to Fourth Avenue, and more recently Fifth Avenue and Division Street.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
Pollay said the DDA hasn't priced any of the work yet, but she guesses it could be in the $1 million to $2 million range if infrastructure like water mains and fire hydrants are addressed.
Pollay said DDA officials also might need to talk with DTE Energy about electrical capacity on South U to make sure there's enough to meet future needs. Ladd also raised concerns about water pressure.
"There isn't enough pressure to allow us to water plants, which is bothersome to me," she said. "It makes me wonder Â is there enough water pressure if there was an emergency?"
Ladd and Pollay both suggested it might make sense to draw inspiration from State Street when it comes to the kind of tree planters that could replace the ones on South U â something less overpowering, yet still enough to support trees along the street.
Pollay said they also need to be thinking about trash and recycling receptacles, and the number of bike hoops along the street.
"One of the elements we haven't figured out yet is we want seating for people who may not want to be at a cafe â they may just want to be talking to a friend," she added.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
"We think that's where reinvesting in it gives the overall message that people care, this is a neighborhood, we believe in our future," she said.
In some cases where brick pavers around the planters have cracked, Pollay noted, they've been filled in with cold patch.
"Increasingly you're going to start to see more and more cold patch, because we don't have replacement pavers," Pollay said. "It's only going to get worse, so now is a good time to start thinking about what to do to take the place of the pavers ... and what kind of sidewalk does work well."
Pollay said she loves the large trees along South U just like everybody else, but it's only a matter of time before they go, so now is a good time to start talking about what to do.
"Streetscapes in our town take years to go through a design process, an approval process and finally an installation process, so what we're saying is it's time to begin the design process," she said.
The changing face of South U
Ladd has been observing the changes on South U for decades. She and her ex-husband owned and operated a jewelry store on South U from about 1982 to 2005.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
Ladd said the revitalization process started in the late 1990s, just prior to the DDA building an 854-space parking garage on Forest Avenue.
"We had a dilapidated parking structure that was literally being condemned floor by floor," she said. "Businesses were fleeing because they couldn't bring their customers in."
Ladd said it wasn't until around 2003 that they finally realized zoning was the problem.
She acknowledges South U has become a largely student-centric corridor with many bars and restaurants that cater to a college crowd. But as new development occurs, she said, there's room for new businesses, and she thinks there's a market for more diversity.
"Not just diversity of housing, but diversity of businesses," she said. "And we think one will follow the other with new business spaces being available in the bottom of these new buildings."
Ladd said her experience on South U in the 1980s was that it was more of a "university area," as opposed to a "student area."
"It was a real downtown area with all sorts of retail shops, galleries, a variety of restaurants, a variety of service businesses," she said. "There was a movie theater down here, a gas station.
"You could come and get your shoes fixed. It was very much the downtown area for the residents from around here."
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
"We have Middle Earth now, and that's the only business that's left from that era," she said.
Over the years, Ladd said, bad decisions were made at vital points that hurt South U.
"I mean, when you put a Burger King, a McDonald's and a Taco Bell in one block, you've changed the look of the area, the feel of the area, the people who visit the area," she said, adding those kinds of changes contributed to the decline of South U in the 1990s.
But she believes South U is coming back. And she points to boutiques like Motivation and YCI Clothing and Launch as examples of its diversity.
"I'm looking at this street and you've got one-of-a-kind owner-occupied restaurants and retail again," Pollay added. "I didn't see this 10 years ago."
Ladd said it's been "very impactful" to have hundreds of new residents walking up and down South U every day to get where they need to go.
"Businesses here survived this last year while East Quad was closed. They maintained their business levels, and we think it's because of the people living down here," she said. "So this coming school year we're expecting to see a rise in profitability of the businesses because East Quad will be open."
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at email@example.com or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
By: Lizzy Alfs and Ben Freed
Editors Note: Follow AnnArbor.com throughout this week for "Survival Strategies" profiles of recession-beating companies in the Ann Arbor area.
Slim down or double down? Invest and innovate or hunker down and liquidate? When the economy started to plummet in 2007, Ann Arbor area companies responded with a variety of strategies that helped the region bounce back more quickly than most in the state.
Not every local company survived the downturn, but six years down the road, Washtenaw County has more jobs than ever before and the companies that made prudent decisions in the face of the crises are reaping benefits.
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
âIt has been a building game,â said Steve Sarns, vice president of sales and marketing for exercise equipment manufacturer NuStep.
âOur sales can tend to look like the stock market. It takes a long time to get back to where it was after a big drop.â
NuStep â which designs and manufactures devices that allow those with low mobility to exercise more easily â saw its big drop in business in mid-2007, when sales decreased by 50 percent in one month.
âBut, just like the stock market, weâve recoveredÂ It took us a few years to get there, but in late 2011, we made it back to where we were in 2007 and now weâre continuing to build,â Sarns said.
For some Washtenaw County-based companies, the economic downturn dealt a blow too harsh to survive. As part of its 2011 liquidation, book chain giant Borders Group Inc. shuttered its Ann Arbor headquarters and laid off hundreds of workers. Meanwhile, owners of some independent stores in the region, such as Tree Town Toys, Riderâs Hobby and This & That candy store, cited economic factors in their decisions to close. Nationally, many chains downsized, while some - like Circuit City - closed, leaving thousands unemployed.
But like NuStep, many Ann Arbor area companies are rebounding after the region experienced four consecutive years of job losses, growing unemployment rates and stagnation in the real estate market.
According to an economic forecast conducted by University of Michigan economists, Washtenaw County employment levels are at an all-time high, surpassing its previous peak level of employment from 2002. Fueled by job gains across most major sectors, the forecast predicts the region will add 12,961 new jobs from 2013 to 2015.
âItâs sort of remarkable how quickly we have turned around,â U-M economist Donald Grimes told AnnArbor.com in March. âI donât think we would have expected that three years ago.â
While individual companies took different approaches to challenges presented by the economic downturn, Ann Arbor SPARK CEO Paul Krutko said that many businesses were able to deal with the recession more easily thanks to forward-thinking economic development in the area that began more than 10 years ago.
âThe weathering of the recession here had more to do with the structure of the Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County economy than what individual companies did,â he said.
Krutko said that the diversity of the local economy and the focus on providing goods and services to customers outside the region meant that even during difficult times, new capital was constantly making its way into the area. The rising tide of export-driven industry helped to raise ships in the local service sector that was harder-hit in other areas of the state and the country.
Art Trapp, executive director of the Saline Area Chamber of Commerce, said the improving economic climate is also helping to attract new businesses into Saline and smaller outlying communities in Washtenaw County.
While the regionâs overall economic health may have softened the hardest blows of the recession, many local businesses were still forced to adapt and make significant changes. Some of the most forward-thinking local businesses have found that decisions they made during the depths of the crisis have positioned them to grow at an ever-increasing pace as the local, state and national economies continue to recover.
Efficiency is the name of the game
For Ann Arbor real estate firm Charles Reinhart Company, the steep real estate market decline forced a reduction in expenses.
â2007 to 2009 were years of great cost cutting for us, but we tried very hard to project a steadiness in the marketplace,â said Reinhart president Dave Lutton.
âOur sales declined 25 percent and our average sale price dropped by 27 percent. Over a three-year period, we couldnât cut expenses fast enough or deep enough to get ahead of the revenue loss.â
Countywide, home values started falling in 2006, punctured by the loss of Pfizer in 2007. According to the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors, the average home sale price fell from $266,600 in 2005 to $182,287 in 2009.
Reinhart decided to cut expenses by reducing employee salaries and closing offices in Ypsilanti Township and Jackson County. The efforts allowed Reinhart to reduce expenses by about 22 percent, Lutton said.
Other local companies, especially in the vibrant Internet and software startup community, were able to take advantage of the fact that they were already smaller than their competition.
âIf youâre a very lightweight capital efficient software startup company you can deliver products in ways that big companies canât because theyâre bloated and inefficient,â Duo Security CEO and Tech Brewery co-founder Dug Song said. âThe bigger companies end up passing those costs on to customers and theyâll turn to newer small companies that can do more innovative work.â
Ann Arbor-based coffee shop chain Espresso Royale was able to slash expenses by relocating corporate offices from downtown Ann Arbor to Whitmore Lake, closing underperforming stores, and cutting corporate positions. Owner Marcus Goller said the changes helped the company to grow sales year over year, even as many consumers reduced their coffee purchases.
âWe really liked our office on Main Street, but it was more money than we needed to spendâ he said. âYou do what you have to do to make the business work.â
Taking advantage of available talent
One companyâs trash can be anotherâs treasure. When the economy takes a dive and bigger employers look to cut costs, opportunistic businesses can swoop in and collect top employees and executives who are suddenly out of a job.
Few companies go on hiring sprees during a recession, but those that are able to identify talented individuals who fit positions of need often come out stronger and better prepared to deal with revamped demand.
âWith the downturn, there was a lot of talent available, so we took the approach at the time to bring in really good people who wouldnât have been available otherwise,â NuStep vice president Sarns said.
Strategic hiring â like Reinhartâs of Realtor Dawn Foerg, who became the leader of a new Ann Arbor office in 2008 â also sets the foundation for further growth. Lutton said Foergâs office now has more than 40 sales agents and the company as a whole has boosted its employee count by 20 percent from its pre-recession level.
âWe emerged with a larger organization and a much-larger share of the market,â he added. âWeâve been able to build on that, and now have the largest market share in our history.â
Meanwhile, Sarns said employment at NuStep is up to 95 people at its Pittsfield Township headquarters and manufacturing facility, after reaching a low of about 78 in 2007.
âThe customer is in a recession, tooâ
The average American spends more than $20 a week, or $1,040 per year, on coffee, according to Accounting Principalsâ 2012 Workonomix survey. But as peopleâs discretionary spending decreased during the recession, coffee shop purchases dropped slightly.
To remain profitable, Espresso Royale raised average prices twice â by 3.2 percent in 2010 and 1.25 percent in 2011 â but Goller used customer loyalty programs, daily sales and coupons to target the deal-savvy customer.
âPricing is an art and I think we do a good job. To raise prices much more would be dangerous,â he said. âWe canât act like a gas station and put up a new price every day."
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
âYou had to respond to what people wanted,â he said. âAs people became very, very cautious â especially in the early years of the recession â they were often trading down in what they might have purchased previously.â
The company also pushes its weekly sales, and in 2010, it launched its online loyalty program called MyWay, which allows members to create lists, check sale prices and place online orders.
Smaller companies attempting to increase market share can also flourish during recessions when the economic conditions can make survival difficult for competitors who have more built-in costs. Duo Security, an Ann Arbor startup offering two-factor authentication services, was founded at the tail end of the recession and has grown from 5 to 35 people in the past year.
âThe authentication industry has been around for 20 years and is dominated by one company that is basically on autopilot,â CEO Song said.
âYou have to remember that when you are in a recession, so are your customers. We can charge a lot less on average than our major competition can and we offer great solutions.â
Duo Security is now used by nearly 1,500 companies in more than 80 countries and has attracted venture capital from local firm Resonant Ventures and California-based Google Ventures.
âI prefer to start businesses and build during recessions,â Song said. âIt clears the playing field of competition and gets a lot of the wannabes out of the way.â
Photo by Aleah Douglas
âI took a walk down to the prairie (in the Arb),â said Mendeloff. âIt was in the winter, and I was suddenly falling and sliding on the ice. And while lying on my back, I thought, âWouldnât it be great to have a horse gallop through this big space?â The prairie offers the opportunity to have this kind of thrilling ride in the show, so in (the 2003 production of âMuch Adoâ), we did it, and it was wonderful. So I thought, âLetâs do that again,â even though I knew I wouldnât block it in quite the same way. Some trees that were there before are gone now, Â but we always need to adjust to whateverâs there. Â And I have an actress who owns a horse. So why not?â
Why not, indeed.
âMuch Ado,â of course, is one of Shakespeareâs most popular comedies. Focusing on two couples: young, earnest Hero and Claudio, who fall in love upon first meeting each other; and the more mature and wry Beatrice and Benedick, who verbally, comically spar as rivals before being tricked into a romance.âAt the core, itâs a true romantic comedy, but it also has this serious and kind of disturbing plot,â said Mendeloff. â Â Thereâs such an interesting contrast between the couples. Â Benedick and Beatrice know each otherâs faults. Â They accept each other for who they are, while Hero is more an image in Claudioâs mind. He has no idea who she is. Â Heâs in love with love, not with her.â
Claudio and Heroâs love is tested, with terrible results, by meddling Don John, Claudioâs half-brother who embraces the role of villain.
âHeâs been trying to get his brotherâs respect, Â but his brother has a favorite thatâs not him, and he doesnât trust him, so I think the idea that heâs a bastard, and so in some way not really seen as Claudioâs brother - (Don John) is lower, yet heâs put in the position of being an aristocrat and despised as âother.â And this clearly motivates his behavior.â
Shakespeare in the Arb, a theater company that includes U-M students as well as community members, consists of about 40 people this year, with several roles double- (or even triple-) cast for the course of the showâs run.
Mendeloff said that there were lots of new faces this year, but both sets of Beatrice and Benedick are, fittingly, SITA veterans. Plus, Mendeloff is excited about how sheâs staging Heroâs (spoiler alert?) fake funeral.
âThere will be music Â and tiki torches, and it will be at a time of night when itâs quite dark,â said Mendeloff. âI think it will be kind of haunting.â
Of course, these are the kind of elements that can make environmental theater so special; and Mendeloff has had great weather, for the most part, for the productionâs 4-5 weeks of rehearsal.
But then sometimes, there are loud trains and helicoptors to contend with.
âYou just have to adapt when you do environmental work and say, âOK, how can I be creative with this?ââ said Mendeloff.
Rest assured that Mendeloff, after 13 years at the helm of SITA, almost always finds a way.
The Ann Arbor Fire Department arrived at a house Sunday morning to discover smoke coming from an attached garage.
Firefighters arrived at the houses on the 3000 block of Valencia Circle, in Ann Arbor, at 5:55 a.m. Sunday after a residential fire alarm went off.
The fire was contained to the garage and extinguished quickly, according to Battalion Chief Randy Menard.
Menard said no one was injured in the small fire and occupants self-evacuated the residence before firefighters arrived. The incident resulted in minimal damage.
Huron Valley Ambulance and the American Red Cross also were at the residence to assist.
The cause of the fire is unknown and continues to be under investigation.
Cole Bertsos is a news producer and copy editor for AnnArbor.com. Reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (734) 623-2567.
Ten Mac desktop computers were stolen from a location on the 600 block of Armstrong Drive sometime during Saturday night, according to the Ypsilanti Police Department.
Police reported that the unknown suspect gained access into the building through an unlocked window to steal the computers and the location's alarm was not activated.
There are no suspects at this time, but police continue to investigate the incident.
Anyone with information on this incident is encouraged to call the Ypsilanti Police Department at 734-483-9510 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK UP (773-2587).
Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Pipe
The Rev. Clark Cothern, pastor of Living Water Community Church, sums up his churchâs mission in one acronym - R.E.A.C.H.
It stands for Recognize Everyone And Communicate Hope, and the Ypsilanti-area Baptist church has been successful in achieving that mission, Cothern says.
âEverything that we try to do is communicate temporary hope for those who might need it Â and then help people find the hope they can have for eternity through Jesus Christ,â he said.
But the congregation is hoping to expand on its current success with the help of a new 14,000-square-foot building in Ypsilanti Township.
Living Water wants to begin construction on Bemis Road just west of Whittaker Road by fall.
Living Water is attempting to raise $300,000 and has already received site plan approval from the Ypsilanti Township Planning Commission as well as extensions on those plans.
Living Water is approaching its 11th year, during which time it has rented space from local schools. The first eight were spent at Lincoln High School and it has rented a gym on Sundays from South Arbor Charter Academy in York Township for the last three years.
Cothern explained that the church also wants its message to reach a broad spectrum of people. He added that while Living Water is conservative theologically, it is not conservative methodologically. And that helps it reach people who may have some reservations about becoming a part of the church.
Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Pipe
To that end, Living Water would like to expand their programming, which would be possible in a new building, Cothern says. The church plans to offer a âFinancial Peace Universityâ which provides financial management training. It also wants to offer a wide variety of youth programming, AWANA program, basketball and cheerleading to help attract kids and introduce them to the church at an appropriate age.
âThere are a number of opportunities that we donât currently have that we could have and would help get the community involved,â Cothern said.
âWe feel that there are some practical things we could do to help people that would provide some temporary hope and communicate what we think is the source of eternal hope.â
The move will allow the congregation to grow beyond the approximately 130 members who worship there.
Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Pipe
âThere are some challenges space-wise. I think weâve maxed out with the numbers of people we can have, which is a good problem,â Cothern said.
Cothern said being in the gym has worked out so well that plans for phase one of the new church call for a worship space that is similar to a gymnasium and can be used for the expanded programming during weekdays.
Cothern started Living Water after serving as a pastor in Adrian and on staff at what is now the Crossroads Community Baptist Church in Ann Arbor.
Living Water maintains strong relationships with those âsisterâ churches, he says, but during his tenures there he always hoped to establish a church in the Ypsilanti Township area.
Cothern said he is pleased with the progress and dedication from the congregation.
âItâs really a pleasure when youâre a pastor and your personal vision lines up with that of the congregation. You feel like youâre all in this together,â he said. âIâve never been so happy with a congregation.â
Courtesy of the WCSO
The 47-year-old woman accused of fatally stabbing her boyfriend following an argument at an Ypsilanti apartment will head to trial in October.
Donna Turner appeared briefly Thursday in the Washtenaw County Trial Court with her court-appointed attorney, Erane Washington.
Washington asked for and was granted a jury trial after a lengthy bench conference with Judge David Swartz and Assistant Prosecutor Blake Hatlem.
Swartz set a jury trial date for Oct. 7 and an Aug. 22 final pretrial date.
Turner is charged with one count of open murder in the death of Keith Walton on Dec. 4 at her apartment in the 400 block of South Huron Street. The 45-year-old man was reportedly leaving the apartment after arguing with Turner when she stabbed him once in the abdomen with a large kitchen knife, police said. The stab severed Waltonâs femoral artery and he died at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital.
Turner is held in the Washtenaw County Jail without bond. She faces a maximum of life in prison if sheâs convicted.
Amy Biolchini | AnnArbor.com
Crews working for the Washtenaw County Road Commission will begin a four-month-long, $2.4 million construction project Monday to convert the stoplight-controlled intersection into a two-lane roundabout.
Officials initiated the project as a way to better manage traffic flow along the busy State Street corridor - an issue they projected would worsen with the 2012 opening of the Costco store on Ellsworth Road just west of State Street.
Road closures wonât begin right away while the preliminary site work is conducted for the first one to two weeks.
The Road Commission anticipates the first road closures will begin in mid-June. One lane of traffic in each direction on State Street will remain open throughout the project, though sections of Ellsworth Road will be completely blocked to drivers.
Drivers are advised to avoid the construction zone, as delays are anticipated.
The western section of Ellsworth Road will be the first road closure, which will begin in mid-June and last for about a month.
Detours will be posted directing drivers along Airport Boulevard.
In mid-August, the eastern section of Ellsworth Road will be closed until the end of the month. The posted detour will be along Research Park Drive.
Though the Ellsworth Road closures are expected to end in the beginning of September, the project wonât be completed until mid to late September.
Mandy Grewal, Pittsfield Township supervisor, said the township is pursuing ways to help senior drivers learn how to safely use the new roundabout.
Grewal said the township is planning on public forums and will be looking to partner with driverâs education schools to provide guided training sessions.
âItâs our responsibility to do the best we can to try to alleviate the concerns,â Grewal said. âWeâre doing our best to really engage with them and make sure theyâre as comfortable as possible.â
The project is being funded through a conglomerate of sources, the bulk of which will be paid for by two federal grants. Costco is contributing $500,000 to the project, while the remainder will be split between the city of Ann Arbor and the Road Commission.
A separate $42,000 part of the project -- which involves stamping concrete on portions of the roundabout to make it more visually appealing -- will be split between the city of Ann Arbor and Pittsfield Township.
View Washtenaw County Road Commission work in a larger map
After two incidents involving the same man huffing inhalants earlier this month, Saline police are warning the public to watch out for signs of abuse of the drugs in friends and family.
According to a Saline police report, the same 25-year-old Clinton man was arrested May 19 and May 20 after inhaling a large amount of fumes from an dust remover and compressed air cans. The inhalants left the man passed out in a Mexican restaurantâs bathroom on May 19 and convulsing in the back of a taxi cab on May 20.
The report stated police were called at 3:34 p.m. May 19 to Cancun Mexico Grill, 405 E. Michigan Ave. for a report of a person passed out in the bathroom. According to the report, the Clinton man appeared to be passed out with a can of dust remover in his hand.
The next day, police would get a similar call. Detective Don Lupi called the incidents âdisturbing.â
âWatch for friends and family who have these materials around the house and are not using them for legitimate purposes,â Lupi said.
When police found the man in the bathroom of the restaurant, he woke up when police attempted to remove the can of dust remover from his hand. According to the report, âhe yelled âYou cannot have this!â when officers tried to take it.â
The man was put in handcuffs and taken to the University of Michigan Hospital for treatment. It wouldnât be his last trip to the hospital.
The man was discharged about noon on May 20 and picked up by a taxi driver for a ride home to Clinton. On the way, they stopped in Saline and the Clinton man instructed the driver to stop at Meijer.
He came back in the cab with a can of compressed air, according to the report. The cab driver witnessed him inhaling the fumes and stopped the vehicle, calling police.
Police responded at 1:02 p.m. May 20 to a Speedway at 134 E. Michigan Ave. They found the man drooling and convulsing in the back seat of the cab. When officers approached him, he refused to give up the can and repeatedly took long inhalations of the fumes, according to the report.
An officer attempted to subdue him by pressing a pressure point, but the man did not appear to feel pain, according to the report. He eventually was subdued when a second officer arrived on scene and got the can away from him.
The man was once again taken to University of Michigan Hospital and the report stated there was concern from medical officials that the incident was a suicide attempt. A warrant will be pursued against the man for assaulting, resisting or obstructing a police officer.
Lupi said people who are high on inhalants often give the impression they are drunk. They also sweat and have slurred speech he said. Items that are commonly used as a drug are hair spray, paint cans, gasoline, glues, dust remover, correction fluid and markers, he said.
Ann Arbor Huron High School held its 2013 prom at the Eastern Michigan University Student Center Ballroom Saturday night, June 1.
AnnArbor.com Freelance photographer Chris Asadian was there to capture these images from the evening.
Nearly every one of the 5,420 participants at the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run on Saturday had a look of accomplishment when crossing the finish line on Main Street in downtown Ann Arbor on Sunday. The cheers along the home-stretch and at the finish line certainly added to the enthusiasm of the runners.
But there was one 10K runner whose race was a subtle reminder to everyone around him that no matter how spectacular your accomplishment, thereâs someone out there doing something more.
Pete Cunningham | AnnArbor.com
âItâs called drubbling because it combines juggling, dribbling and jogging,â said McLincha.
McLincha, 62, finished the race in one hour, seven minutes and 36 seconds, which is a 10:52 pace. McLincha said without the basketballs he could run at about an 8:30 pace.
But why would anyone who can juggle three basketballs while running want to jog without juggling three basketballs?
McLincha, who is from Clio, said he started drubbling about 20 years ago and has drubbled in five marathons. He is the world record holder for the fastest mile while drubbling.
Half marathon winners
Lake Orionâs Clint Verran, 38, won the half-marathon for the second straight year, as well as the fourth time overall. Pushing the pace with Verran for the entire race was 24-year-old Alex Russeau, from La Salle, who was making his half marathon debut. Verran finished in one hour, seven minutes and 50 seconds, 30 seconds ahead of Russeau
Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com
âI had a little surge and that was enough to get ahead. It was a great race and I love coming down here,â Verran said. âThe course was in perfect condition, we even had a little tail wind.â
Russeau - who used to run at Michigan State - may be 14 years Varrenâs junior, but the veteran won the mental game to pull ahead at the end.
âI kept trying to break him and those little surges, you only get so many in a race and I think I ate them all up (too early),â Russeau said. âI knew it might come down to a kick and I think it just played in my mind too much, I was just waiting for it.âHe sensed I was slowing up and just took off and I was too slow to react and he just put it on and I wasnât ready for that.â
Molly Watcke, 42, of New Bremen, Ohio, won the womenâs division with a time of 1:18:07. A former runner for Michigan, it was Watckeâs first Dexter-Ann Arbor Run.
âThese are my old stomping grounds. Any excuse to come back to Ann Arbor Iâll take,â Watcke said. âBeautiful day, beautiful course.â
Joaquim Martins, 41, has lived in Ann Arbor for three-and-a-half years, but Sunday was his first time participating in the Dexter-Ann Arbor run. He finished in 23:26, which is a 7:32.5 mile pace.
Not bad considering he was pushing a stroller containing his 3-year-old daughter, Yara.
âMy daughter, when I push her she kept saying âdaddy faster, daddy faster.â I thought thatâd be good (motivation),â said Martins, whose wife, Sandra Martins also motivated him as she ran in the 10K with a time of 1:06.13. She is training for a 20K.
The motivation of his wife and daughter worked and hurt Martins at the same time. He was the first person pushing a stroller to finish the 5K, but he also threw-up immediately after crossing the finish line.
Running for two
Martins wasnât the only one running for two on Sunday. Fifteen members of the Michigan Running Club, also known as M Run, didnât push themselves for personal bests on Sunday. They pushed others instead.
âItâs an organization that aims to help disabled people participate in events, like 5Ks, that they otherwise could not,â Stephanie Resis. âItâs a really fun experience for everyone.â
Resis ran the 5K pushing Alex Darr. Normally the club has three runners per cart, but Resis and fellow Michigan student Michelle Lapin manned Darrâs by themselves.
âUsually we have more people switching off, so it was a challenge this year,â Lapin said. âItâs always been a great experience. Itâs very fulfilling.â
Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com
Several members of the fitness class Gamble has taught at the YMCA for 42 years were at the finish line to cheer him on, including Donald Proud, who ran in the first Dexter-Ann Arbor run with Gamble.
âIt was really nice,â Gamble said.
Kimberlee Souza's infield single in the sixth inning ended up bringing in the go-ahead run when it was misplayed by Michigan, and Washington beat the Wolverines 4-1 Sunday in a Women's College World Series elimination game.
Related content: Boxscore
Souza's grounder deflected off of Michigan pitcher Sara Driesenga (31-9), and shortstop Sierra Romero threw home too late to catch Victoria Hayward at the plate. Catcher Lauren Sweet then fired to second to try to keep Souza from advancing, but Romero dropped the throw and pinch-runner Marki Creger-Zier scored to make it 2-1.
Kylee Lahners tacked on an RBI double and Whitney Jones had a run-scoring groundout to extend the lead for 11th-seeded Washington (45-16), the 2009 champion. Bryana Walker (20-7) pitched a four-hitter.
"You can't keep a good team down very long," said Huskies coach Heather Tarr, whose team was shut out by Tennessee a day earlier and scored only seven runs in its previous four games.
"For us to be able to find the ways to stay in the games that we were staying in, to be able to win them, I think that says a lot about our team. It was just only a matter of time for our team to be able to have a big, four-run inning."
The Huskies advanced to face top-seeded Oklahoma on Sunday night, needing to beat the Sooners twice to reach the finals.
Jaclyn Crummey had an RBI infield single in the fifth for No. 8 seed Michigan (51-13), which didn't get done with its previous game until 2:28 a.m. and wasn't back at the team hotel until nearly 4 a.m.
"When you're in the World Series, I don't really think that sleep matters. I think sleep is overrated," Romero said. "Whatever it takes, you're going to do it. I think we did a great job last night and I think we fought really hard today, so I'm happy with it."
Romero was charged with an error on the game-changing play, when she went deep into the hole to track down the re-directed grounder. She then hustled to cover second base and was called for obstruction for preventing Souza from going to third after the ball had trickled away.
"It was just a good landing spot. There was nobody playing there. I got to the ball as fast as I could, and we just had to try to get outs," Romero said.
Churros, curry goat, skewers of swordfish, carrot cake, hot dogs and much more were available downtown during Taste of Ann Arbor on Sunday.
Nearly 45 local restaurants occupied Main and Liberty streets and supplied a wide-variety of food selections. Tickets were sold for 50 cents and most food items cost three to eight tickets. Along with tasty treats, a handful of bands performed on a stage in the middle of downtown as well. "It's culture at its finest," said Matt Altruda host of Tree Town Sound. "Pulling everyone together to enjoy what they love."
Bands started playing at 11 a.m. and finished at 5 p.m. Many of the groups were not local but all are from Michigan.
"I looked at the opportunity to bring in the hottest bands in Michigan and give Ann Arbor a taste," Altruda says. "They crushed it."
AnnArbor.com photographer Daniel Brenner was there to capture these images,
A 21-year-old Ann Arbor man reported that his backpack and a pair of Bose headphones were stolen Sunday morning from his room in the 900 block of Oakland Avenue, according to police.
The man told police he awoke in his room around 5:43 a.m. when he had a feeling someone was looking at him, a release from Ann Arbor police stated.
"He thought he saw a figure leaving (through) the doorway of his bedroom," the release continued.
Police do not have a suspect at this time.
Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to call the Ann Arbor police anonymous tip line at 734-794-6939 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK UP (773-2587).
Courtesy of Pittsfield police
Courtesy of Pittsfield Township
The time of the incident has been corrected.
Pittsfield Township police issued a wanted poster Monday afternoon for two Ypsilanti men wanted in connection with a shooting Sunday night.
Ricardo Von Palmer, 38, and his brother Lester Jay Palmer, 39, are considered armed and dangerous, according to police.
Police believe the two men are responsible for the shooting of a 45-year-old man in the 3500 block of Fieldcrest Lane around 10:59 p.m. Sunday, said Pittsfield Public Safety Director Matt Harshberger.
The shooting incident was preceded by an argument the 45-year-old victim had with his girlfriend. Three men -- including the Palmer brothers -- soon ended up at the residence, Harshberger said.
âIt started out as a domestic violence situation with the victim and a woman at the residence,â Harshberger said.
The man was shot once through the legs, according to police. The three suspects then fled.
The victim and suspects were known to each other, but Harshberger did not want to elaborate on their relationship.
Police are looking for the Palmers and trying to identify the third suspect. The Palmers are believed to frequent several locations in the Pittsfield and Ypsilanti area, Harshberger said. Ricardo Palmer is about five foot eight inches tall and 215 pounds. Lester Palmer is six foot two inches tall and 250 pounds.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Pittsfield Township police non-emergency line at (734) 822-4911 or the anonymous tip line at (734) 822-4958.
The Columbus Dispatch conducted an analysis of the ability of nine top academic medical centers in the country to operate without bringing in more revenue.
In 2008, UMHS would have been able to operate for 329 days -- which has since decreased to 191 days in 2012, according to the Dispatch report.
OSU's hospital landed near the bottom of the list, as it would be able to operate for about 59.5 days in 2012 with frozen revenues. In 2008 that figure would have been 55.8 days.
The analysis also compared earnings and debt-service charges between UMHS and OSU, as well as University of Alabama-Birmingham, University of California-Los Angeles, University of California-San Francisco, University of North Carolina, University of Washington and University of Wisconsin.
UMHS has been in the midst of a difficult budget year: Its bond rating was downgraded in late 2012 and its CEO Dr. Ora Pescovitz emailed health system employees asking them to look for ways to cut expenses.
The man convicted of raping, slashing and beating a prostitute in a March 2009 attack will serve up to 90 years in prison but plans to appeal his conviction.
Courtesy of WCSO
A jury found Anthony Chandler, 41, guilty on charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, assault with intent to do great bodily harm and assault with a dangerous weapon last month. On Monday, Washtenaw County Trial Court Judge Darlene OâBrien ruled Chandler will be spending most of his life in prison.
On the criminal sexual conduct charge, OâBrien sentenced Chandler to between 40 and 90 years in prison. On the assault with intent to do great bodily harm charge, he was given between 40 and 60 years in prison. Heâll serve between 10 and 15 years on the assault with a dangerous weapon charge.
Washtenaw County Assistant Prosecutor Robyn Liddell said Chandler deserved whatever sentence OâBrien gave him. Liddell said she knows Chandler is a man of faith, but should only expect mercy in the afterlife.
âI hope that God has mercy on his soul, but this court should show him no mercy,â she said.
On March 29, 2009, a now-44-year-old woman was grabbed while she stood near a baseball field on South Harris Street in Ypsilanti Township. The woman said she was dragged at knifepoint to nearby woods where Chandler raped her on a mattress. At one point, Chandler slashed the womanâs hand with a knife while she was trying to defend herself.
Chandler and the woman had previous contact, said David I. Goldstein, Chandlerâs attorney. This is contrary to the woman and Chandlerâs initial statements to police.
Washtenaw County Sheriffâs Office deputies called to the scene of the assault interrupted the incident. The suspect fled and the woman emerged, bloodied and beaten, from the woods. The investigation stalled after the incident.
"She's going to have a lifelong physical ailment as a result (of this crime)," O'Brien said.
Three years later, DNA evidence found from semen on the womanâs coat and on a glove found in the snow near the scene pointed investigators toward Chandler. He was previously convicted of stealing a vehicle and his DNA was on file with the state.
Investigators interviewed the woman again after the DNA evidence made Chandler a suspect. The woman identified Chandler in a lineup and a warrant was issued for his arrest on July 10. He was arrested during a traffic stop on Aug. 2.
Appearing in court Monday, dressed in a green Washtenaw County Jail uniform and with his hair pulled back into cornrows, Chandler declined to say anything in his defense before OâBrien. Goldstein said Chandler plans to appeal the conviction.
âMy client maintains his innocence,â Goldstein said.
The victim in the case submitted a written impact statement to OâBrien and did not appear in court Monday.
In addition to the prison term, Chandler will be required to pay $1,936 in costs and fees.
Liddell said the three charges were Chandlerâs eighth, ninth and tenth felony convictions. The case is something that will always stick with Liddell, who said the victim was moments from death.
âSome cases truly shake you to the core,â she said. âSome cases you will never forget, and, for me, this is one of those cases.â