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AnnArbor.com's News section covers government, crime, education, health and the environment across Washtenaw County.

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    Michigan Theater CEO and executive director Russ Collins

    Lots of people in Ann Arbor already consider the Michigan Theater's executive director and CEO Russ Collins to be "kind of a big deal," but Collins' inclusion on Indiewire Influencers list would appear to make it official.

    Here's an excerpt from a press release issued by the Michigan Theater.

    Michigan Theater executive director Russ Collins has been named to the inaugural Indiewire Influencers list, along with 39 other film industry movers and shakers such as Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Forest Whitaker, Robert Rodriguez, and Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League. According to Indiewire, this "list of the smartest, most innovative and forward-thinking filmmakers, content producers, distributors, financiers and curators who are turning the creative world on its head" includes "people and companies who are bending technology to their creative wills, and, in turn, providing filmmakers and film lovers with the tools that allow the best content to be created and discovered in the 21st century." Read more at indiewire.com/article/welcome-to-the-2013-indiewire-infuencers and check out Russ' interview at indiewire.com/influencers/collins-russ.

    Jenn McKee is an entertainment reporter for AnnArbor.com. Reach her at jennmckee@annarbor.com or 734-623-2546, and follow her on Twitter @jennmckee.


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    The annual FestiFools parade every April in downtown Ann Arbor encourages all kinds of foolishness.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    The Ann Arbor Public Art Commission has announced the winners of this year's Golden Paintbrush Awards, recognizing community members for their contributions to public art.

    There are two awards this year — one shared by Jeri Rosenberg and Vic Strecher, and another going to John Carver.

    Spirit_of_Ann_Arbor_June_2013_RJS.jpg

    The "Spirit of Ann Arbor" as it looked on a recent afternoon.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    Strecher and Rosenberg are being honored for their role in starting and sustaining two annual public art events — FestiFools and FoolMoon.

    Carver is recognized for commissioning an artwork by Detroit artist Charles McGee for the Carver-Gunn Building, which he owns on Liberty Street in downtown Ann Arbor.

    The artwork is titled "Spirit of Ann Arbor" and is a 16-foot-tall artwork made from cut powder-coated aluminum. It is a composition of abstracted human forms, depicting figures as if dancing.

    The Golden Paintbrush Awards honor individuals, businesses and organizations that have contributed to outstanding public art projects in Ann Arbor.

    The awards are in recognition of artworks that add interest to the cityscape, beautify the community and create a sense of place, said Bob Miller, chairman of the Public Art Commission.

    Miller presented the awards at Monday night's City Council meeting, joined by Aaron Seagraves, the city's public art administrator.

    Miller noted McGee's artwork is in many national and international collections, including a significant public work outside the Detroit Institute of Arts. McGee also was an art instructor at Eastern Michigan University for 18 years.

    Strecher and Rosenberg are described as strong supporters of local organizations whose missions help to serve the city's youth, the elderly, the arts, education, health, and the environment.

    They are said to have generously given to the University of Michigan Pediatric Cardiology Department at Mott Children's Hospital, the U-M Nursing School's Julia Strecher Scholarship Fund, the Steven Gradwohl Art of Primary Care Award, the Ann Arbor Community Foundation, Safe House, the Huron Valley Humane Society, and Project Grow.

    Additionally, Rosenberg is one of the founding members of WonderFool Productions, a nonprofit dedicated to encouraging public art education and presentation.

    Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at ryanstanton@annarbor.com or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.


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    The man and woman injured Monday when the motorcycle they were riding crashed into a Toyota Prius were in serious but stable condition as of Monday night.

    Emergency crews were dispatched at 12:47 p.m. Monday to the intersection of Huron River Drive and Loch Alpine Drive. Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Geoffrey Fox said the crash took place when the woman driving the Prius pulled out in front of the motorcycle, attempting to make a left turn from Loch Alpine onto Huron River Drive.

    Fox said there was not enough time for the westbound motorcycle to avoid the crash and the two people on the motorcycle were tossed during the collision.

    The 22-year-old man driving the motorcycle ended up on the hood of the Prius and the woman ended up on the pavement, Fox said. The man is originally from Georgia but is temporarily living in the area and the woman is from Albion, but also is temporarily living in the area.

    The investigation into the crash is ongoing, Fox said.

    “They are doing followup today with the elderly driver,” Fox said. “I don’t believe any citations were issued yesterday.”

    The age of the woman driving the Prius was not immediately available.

    Both people on the motorcycle were wearing helmets. Fox said they were in serious, but stable, condition Monday night and a status update had not come in for Tuesday.

    Both the man and the woman had surgery Monday. Fox said he didn’t know what kind of surgery the pair needed. They're both being treated at University of Michigan Hospital.

    The motorcycle was traveling the speed limit, Fox said.

    “There’s no indication the motorcycle did anything wrong,” he said.


    View Larger Map

    Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at kylefeldscher@annarbor.com or you can follow him on Twitter.


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    A SAES and Mole tag from William Street looking south down the Ann Arbor Railroad tracks.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    A 16-year-old Pioneer High School student was ordered in court Tuesday to spend six months on probation and pay $13,591 in restitution for spray-painting his moniker 'Mole' throughout Ann Arbor.

    The restitution in 10 of the 11 counts the teen admitted responsibility to last month will be shared with the 15-year-old Ann Arbor boy accused of being behind the SAES tags.

    The 16-year-old, who appeared in court with his mother, also admitted responsibility to two additional counts of property destruction before Washtenaw County Juvenile Court Referee Julia Owdziej Tuesday. The two additional counts alleged the teen used a marker to scrawl "Mole" on a University of Michigan container in the 1500 block of South State Street and a U-M building in the 900 block of South University Avenue.

    The incidents occurred between November 2012 and April 2013, Owdziej said.

    The teen admitted responsibility -- the equivalent of a guilty plea -- to a count of malicious destruction of property causing between $1,000 to $20,000 in damage and a count of malicious destruction of a building causing between $200 and $1,000.

    Owdziej offered the boy deferred sentencing on the two new counts, as well.

    Both cases were disposed after the plea. The boy will be on probation until at least Dec. 19, when a hearing was scheduled in juvenile court. If he complies with all the requirements of probation, the cases will be expunged from his record because of deferred sentencing.

    Owdziej also ordered the boy to pay $13,591 in restitution for the 11 counts. The restitution in the two additional counts will be determined within 60 days. The teen will share $13,338 of the restitution with the SAES tagger.

    The boy's mother said her family will do their best to make timely payments.

    "We're going to do everything we can to get it done," she said.

    If codefendant SAES pays half of the restitution, then the other teen will only have to pay half. If either teen fails to meet their financial obligations, the other teen will be on the hook for it.

    The teen received glowing reports from the probation department in court Tuesday. A representative from the department said the 16-year-old had been "exceptional" under court supervision.

    The teen also was ordered to perform 40 hours of community service and write separate letters of apology to each victim in the cases.

    The 15-year-old Ann Arbor boy already charged with 16 counts of property destruction for allegedly spray painting his moniker SAES throughout the city was recently released from the youth home and will appear in court later this month.

    John Counts covers cops and courts for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at johncounts@annarbor.com or you can follow him on Twitter.


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    It's official: the Ypsilanti Grizzlies are born.

    Ypsi-Grizzlies copy.jpg

    Official Grizzlies logo.

    The Ypsilanti Community Schools has revealed its district and mascot logos that will be used to represent the consolidated Ypsilanti and Willow Run school system, which launches July 1.

    The images were finalized at Monday's unified Board of Education meeting and were formally unveiled in a press release issued after the meeting adjourned.

    The district logo already has been appearing frequently on community-wide communications, web and social media sites, T-shirts, uniforms and banners. This logo was designed to embody the heritage of both communities and reflect a bold and confident future, district officials said.

    Ypsi-new-logo copy.jpg

    Official YCS district logo.

    The logo encompasses a large prominent 'Y', reminiscent of the current Ypsilanti Public Schools logo, as well as the wings of the current Willow Run Community Schools Flyers logo. The wings are a nod to the B-24 bomber airplanes manufactured in the community during World War II.

    The mascot, the Ypsi Grizzlies, was crafted as a strong, fierce figure — communicating a force to be reckoned with, district officials said in the news release. Students in the Willow Run and Ypsilanti school districts were given the final vote in the selection of the district's mascot.

    Gail Nicklowitz of GN Communications designed the YCS district logo and Gerry Barnett of Lynn Graphics customized the Grizzly image.

    Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for AnnArbor.com. Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at daniellearndt@annarbor.com.


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    Eastern Michigan University's governing board on Tuesday is expected to approve a 3.75 percent tuition increase, which will bring in-state tuition at the Ypsilanti college to $9,364 per year.

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    Students traverse Eastern Michigan University's Ypsilanti campus.

    AnnArbor.com file photo

    The increase hits the cap imposed by the Michigan Legislature, which tied tuition increases to state appropriations in its fiscal 2014 higher education budget.

    "We do not take any increase lightly," EMU's Chief Financial Officer John Lumm said. Full-time EMU students will pay $338 more per year.

    The eight-member board is to vote on the proposal during a 1:30 p.m. public meeting Tuesday.

    In an interview before the vote, EMU Board of Regents chair Francine Parker called the increase responsible and said it was necessary for the school to fund building improvements and new academic programs.

    "I like that we've been able to maintain the modest increases that we have," Parker said. "We're still down at the bottom of the pack, but I think it's responsible."

    The increase is coupled with a proposed $296.4 million general fund budget, which funds the university's personnel costs, administrative expenses, academic enterprise and some of its athletic costs, and a $44.4 million auxiliary budget, which includes housing, parking and dining costs. The auxiliary budget is self-funding.

    The athletic department will adopt a $10.73 million budget, with $9.24 million funded using the school's general fund.

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    Francine Parker

    Melanie Maxwell I AnnArbor.com

    This year's hike follows a 3.95 percent increase last year, a 3.65 percent increase in 2011-12, a tuition freeze in 2010-11 and a 3.8 percent increase in 2009-10. The five-year average for tuition increases at EMU is roughly 3 percent.

    "It beats all the other public universities here in the state, so that in itself is a testimony of Eastern Michigan's commitment to holding the rates and fees and tuition increases down and making it affordable," said recently appointed EMU regent Mary Treder Lang, an accountant.

    During the past decade, tuition rates have been raised a total of 66.4 percent for in-state tuition in-total.

    Past EMU in-state tuition rates:

    • 2013-14: $9,364
    • 2012-13: $9,026
    • 2011-12: $8,683
    • 2010-11: $8,377
    • 2009-10: $8,377
    • 2008-09: $8,069
    • 2007-08: $7,490
    • 2006-07: $6,935
    • 2005-06: $6,541
    • 2004-05: $5,762
    • 2003-04: $5,627

    Parker said the board would have liked to increase tuition more substantially, but could not because it would have lost state funding made going above the 3.75 tuition restraint cap imposed by the legislature.

    "When you see what other universities have done, they're now doing some of their cuts. But we have been steadily cutting," Parker said. "So it's almost like because you did it early, you're not able to make up some of the ground with the [state-imposed cap]."

    EMU will receive $66.5 million in state funding this year. The tuition increase, coupled with a 1 percent projected enrollment increase, is expected to bring $6.2 million in new revenues to the university. Officials are anticipating $218.4 million in tuition and fee revenue next year.

    Lumm said officials expect that students will enroll in 534,000 credit hours next year.

    About $198 million of EMU's anticipated $296.4 million general fund budget will go toward financing personnel costs.

    The general fund budget also allots for an 11 percent increase in centrally awarded student aid. Financial aid levels will rise $3.8 million, to $39.2 million. Six years ago the university awarded $21.4 million in aid.

    "It's making coming to Eastern affordable and more attractive for the students and parents, depending on their financial restraints," Treder Lang said.

    Fiscal 2014 begins July 1 and ends June 30, 2015.

    In the fall, classes at Western Michigan University will cost $327 per credit and $370 per credit at Central Michigan University. The cost at EMU will be $266 per credit.

    Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for AnnArbor.com. Reach her at kelliewoodhouse@annarbor.com or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.


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    Rusty Mewha and Rhiannon Ragland star in the world premiere of Don Zolidis' "Miles and Ellie" at the Purple Rose Theatre.

    photo by Sean Carter Photography | courtesy of the Purple Rose Theatre Co.

    A romantic comedy is defined as "a funny movie, play, or television program about a love story that ends happily." Indeed, summer romance is in the air this week’s theater listings, with four great date-night shows.

    Whether you’re in the mood for a nostalgic comedy about young love revisited, or a sexy, crazy comedy about new love gone wrong, this weekend is a great time to grab a babysitter and get out for a night on the town!

    After the first week with kids home from school, who doesn’t need a mom and dad’s night out?

    Show: “Much Ado About Nothing” by William Shakespeare, through June 23
    Company: Shakespeare in the Arb
    Type of Company: Higher Education, Community
    Venue/location: Nichols Arboretum, box office is located at 1610 Washington Hts., Ann Arbor
    Recommended ages: 6+
    Description: An environmental staging of Shakespeare’s comedy about love and loyalty. Directed by Kate Mendeloff and played by University of Michigan students and local actors, the beloved Shakespeare in the Arb draws thousands of devoted Shakespeare fans every summer from Ann Arbor and beyond. What makes Shakespeare in the Arb unique is the way the productions are staged, with scenes and audience moving through the Arboretum during the play. All the Arb’s a stage!
    http://www.annarbor.com/entertainment/review-shakespeare-in-the-arb-much-ado-about-nothing/
    Fun fact: After the theaters re-opened during the Restoration, Sir William Davenant staged "The Law Against Lovers" (1662), which inserted Beatrice and Benedick into an adaptation of "Measure for Measure." Another adaptation, "The Universal Passion," combined "Much Ado" with a play by Moliere (1737).
    For tickets and information: http://www.lsa.umich.edu/mbg/
    Special ticket offer: MBGNA members get a discount and can purchase tickets at 5 p.m., before others at 5:30 p.m. Tickets for Shakespeare in the Arb are sold directly before each show. Limited seating available; arrive early. For ticket updates follow us on Twitter. Parking is available after 5 pm in University blue lots on Washington Hts., or in the U-M Hospital P2 parking structure on E. Medical Center Dr., or in metered spots on Washington Hts. or Observatory. Ann Arbor city buses also pick up an drop off on Washington Hts and E. Medical Center. Visit the AATA website for more information.

    Show: "Cymbeline," by William Shakespeare. Regular performances June 14-29 at 7 p.m.
    Company: The Blackbird Theatre
    Type of Company: Professional non-Equity company employing Equity actors under guest contract
    Venue/location: West Park Band Shell, 300 N. Seventh St., Ann Arbor.
    Recommended ages: 13+
    Description provided by the company: "Shakespeare's brutal, dark, and wildly funny epic comes to Ann Arbor's West Park Band Shell. A cast of six brings the madness to life in Michigan's most beautiful outdoor venue. The story: Chaos breaks out across Europe when King Cymbeline (Lynch Travis, Member of Actors Equity Association) learns that his daughter Imogen (Jamie Weeder) has married poor courtier Posthumus (Alastar Dimitrie). She flees the wicked Queen (Qamara Black) and her depraved son (also Alastar Dimitrie) for the wild countryside. Imogen's conniving page Pisanio (Jesse Arehart-Jacobs) has unwittingly poisoned her, while the exiled Posthumus falls under the spell of a corrupt and dangerous Italian (Dan Johnson). In the days leading up to the Roman invasion of Britain, secrets and lies will lead everyone down a path of self-destruction. Heads will roll as the disasters unfold." Directed by Barton Bund. Set design by Joshua Parker. Costume and special effects makeup by Jeannie Arquette. Patrons are encouraged to bring chairs, blankets, picnics.
    Preview from AnnArbor.com
    Facebook event page
    Tickets: $15-$20. All tickets available at the gate.

    Show: “Becky Shaw” by Gina Gionfriddo, through July 28
    Company: Performance Network Theatre
    Type of Company: Professional Equity SPT
    Venue/location: Performance Network Theatre, 120 E. Huron, Ann Arbor
    Recommended ages: 16+ (contains adult language and content)
    Description: The New York Times called it “a tangled tale of love, sex and ethics…as engrossing as it is ferociously funny, like a big box of fireworks fizzing and crackling across the stage.” Step-siblings Suzanna and Max couldn’t be more different. When the shy sister fixes the cocky brother up with her husband’s sexy and sweet co-worker, the blind date takes a dark turn and crisis and comedy ensue. Mixing sharp wit and humor with the taut suspense of a psychological thriller, this comedy of romantic errors keeps audiences on the edge of their seats.
    http://www.annarbor.com/entertainment/performance-network-to-showcase-family-dysfunction-in-becky-shaw/
    Fun fact: Playwright Gina Gionfriddo has been a writer on television series "House of Cards," "Law and Order" and Cold Case
    For tickets and information: 734-663-0681, www.performancenetwork.org

    Show: “Miles & Ellie” by Don Zolidis, through August 31
    Company: The Purple Rose Theatre Company
    Type of Company: Professional Equity SPT
    Venue/location: The Purple Rose Theatre Company, 137 Park Street, Chelsea
    Recommended ages: 17+ (contains adult language and content)
    Description: Miles and Ellie are two teenagers in love when a youthful misunderstanding breaks them apart. Flash forward 20 years and a disenchanted Ellie has come home for what she expects to be a typical dysfunctional family Thanksgiving. Not long into the family shenanigans, however, Ellie learns that Miles is still in town and carrying a torch for her. Is it possible to get a second chance at your first love? This charming romantic comedy will make you wonder “what if?”
    http://www.annarbor.com/entertainment/purple-rose-tweaks-romantic-comedy-with-don-zolidis-world-premiere-miles-and-ellie/
    Fun fact: This world premiere comedy was written by the same author as last season's "White Buffalo."
    For tickets and information: purplerosetheatre.org, 734-433-7673


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    Family of the Year

    When California folk-pop group Family of the Year plays the Sonic Lunch series downtown Thursday at noon, it will be a special occasion for co-founder Sebastian Keefe.

    “It’s my birthday,” he said, almost like a footnote to a conversation about the band’s recent string of accomplishments. And how old will he be? “Somewhere between 18 and 40,” he finally allowed (a May story in Interview magazine pegged him at 28). Besides drummer/vocalist Sebastian Keefe, Family of the Year consists of his brother Joe Keefe (vocals/guitar), Jamesy Buckey (guitar/vocals) and Christina Schroeter (keyboards).

    Keefe said the band, which formed in 2009, spent a summer living “like a big family” in an old warehouse (and) we started to act like a family. … But we dug the name out of an old song that Joe had written and it had a good ring to it … we didn’t want to have something too obscure and we felt there was a pretty good basis for relating to that.”

    In 2009, Family of the Year was picked out of 700 artists by Ben Folds and Keith Lockhart to open for Folds and The Boston Pops at Symphony Hall, a big deal for the Keefe brothers, who were born on Massachusetts’ Martha’s Vineyard. They’ve also hit the road with Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros in support of FOTY’s debut album, “Songbook,” played at the 2012 Lollapalooza and been named an MTV Artist of the Year.

    PREVIEW

    Family of the Year

    • Who: California folk-pop band.
    • What: Melodic male/female vocal harmonies and folk pop-style lyrics offer a feel- good summer sound, presented by the Bank of Ann Arbor's Sonic Lunch series.
    • Where: Liberty Plaza, corner of S. Division and E. Liberty streets.
    • When: Noon Thursday, June 20.
    • How much: Free. Info: www.soniclunch.com
    Recently the band was on “The Tonight Show,” and snagged the top spot on USA Today’s adult-alternative airplay chart. Considering that the group will play several festivals including Lollapalooza and Summerfest this year—just a few of the gigs on a busy touring schedule the next few months—Keefe agreed things are really starting to happen for the group, which early on received comparisons to The Beach Boys.

    “This is definitely a really exciting summer for us. I can definitely feel all the hard work that we and a lot of other people have put into this starting to turn into something,” he said.

    FOTY’s latest CD, “Loma Vista,” released last summer and featuring the acoustic single “Hero,” has been getting positive reviews from the likes of Rolling Stone and Spin, and the group has found a fan is Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, who likened Family of the Year to “the Mamas and the Papas on acid.”

    The comparison leaves Keefe a bit perplexed, but he’s still happy to have Tyler as an admirer.

    “We just took it as some form of a compliment,” said Keefe. “I feel more like it’s Mamas & the Papas with a bottle of wine, personally. It’s very flattering that he knows that we exist.”


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    Eastern Michigan University adopted a $10.72 million operating budget for its athletic department.

    AnnArbor.com file

    Eastern Michigan University will adopt a $10.73 million operating budget for its athletic department, with $9.24 million funded using the school's general fund.

    The athletic department will fund about 14 percent of its own expenses, down from roughly 18 percent in fiscal 2013 when its operating budget was $10.45 million. The amount the general fund supports the department's budget will grow by $460,000.

    022711_SPT_EMU_vs_WMU_MRM_1.JPG

    EMU President Susan Martin at the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center during a basketball game against Western Michigan.

    AnnArbor.com file photo

    The operating budget does not include $7.1 million in scholarships for student athletes, which also are funded by the general fund.

    EMU's eight-member Board of Regents approved the athletic budget and other budgets — including a 3.75 percent tuition hike — during a Tuesday meeting.

    The dent EMU's athletic department makes on the school's general fund has long been controversial on campus. Some faculty and staff think the school should instead spend tuition dollars and state funding —which comprise the general fund— solely on academics and criticize EMU's revenue sports, which include football and basketball, as poor performing.

    EMU's basketball team had seven wins and nine losses in the Mid-American Conference this year. The football team had one win and seven losses in the conference.

    "I think it's clear that Eastern Michigan University spends too much money on athletics," said EMU business professor and head of the school's faculty union Howard J. Bunsis during the Tuesday regents meeting. "The dream of filling Rynearson stadium... is never going to happen."

    He added: "The faculty is not against sports... but we just think it's too much money."

    EMU's athletic department has the highest level of general fund support of any athletic department in the MAC, according to a USA Today database.

    University President Susan Martin has been a strong supporter of EMU's athletic programs, saying sports create a dynamic college experience for students and are on their way toward becoming more self-supporting.

    "We're a Division I program and we do spend money on athletics, but certainly it's fair to say that we hope the revenue-generating sports can generate more revenue," Martin said, also projecting changes to the MAC will bring in more money from TV spots.

    "Everybody has an opinion about athletics. A lot of students come to schools that have athletics because they want that experience, whether to play or to participate as a fan," she said. "So you'll never have complete agreement about athletics on any campus, but I believe it's an important part of the college experience."

    The most expensive team to operate on EMU's 21-sport roster is the football team, which annually costs $2.47 million. The least expensive team? Women's swimming, which costs $92,200 a year.

    The department is expecting $1.68 million in revenue, down $185,000 from the 2013 fiscal year. That's in part because, per EMU's contract with Pepsi, the company pays EMU $150,000 every other year and on alternate years buys about 50,000 football tickets so the school can comply with NCAA attendance requirements.

    EMU expects to receive $550,000 for playing Penn State during the 2013 football season, $850,000 for playing Rutgers University and $150,000 for playing Army. That money is counted outside the operating budget and is used for capital projects, MAC membership dues, marketing and select athletic expenses, such as bowl costs and a women's basketball tournament.

    EMU basketball coach Rob Murphy annually makes a base salary of $210,000, with the possibility of bonuses, and football coach Ron English is the highest paid individual at EMU, bringing in $367,920 in 2011.

    Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for AnnArbor.com. Reach her at kelliewoodhouse@annarbor.com or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.


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    Ypsilanti is one step closer to joining the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority.

    On Tuesday, the City Council voted unanimously to approve an amendment to the authority’s articles of incorporation that would make it part of the organization.

    The Ann Arbor City Council recently approved the amendment and the AATA board will vote on it at its meeting on Thursday.

    The authority is being renamed the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority — or AAATA.

    Ypsi_Transit_Center.jpg

    The Ypsilanti Transit Center

    Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com

    “This is a big deal,” said Council Member Pete Murdock. “When you think about how long there has been an effort to regionalize the transportation system in Washtenaw County, it goes back quite a ways.

    “I’m really pleased that we’ve reached this stage in the development of (the AATA).”

    The most significant benefit to Ypsilanti will be a voice on the AATA board. Ypsilanti will now have a seat and a vote, and the city of Ann Arbor will receive another seat as part of the change. That will expand the board from seven to nine seats.

    The Ypsilanti representative will be appointed by the mayor with approval from the city council.

    It’s not yet clear how the new arrangement will affect what the city of Ypsilanti pays into the system. The city currently contracts for AATA services through a purchase-of-service agreement.

    Ypsilanti voters approved a 0.9789 transit charter millage by a 3-1 margin in 2010. That millage generated $308,000 in fiscal year 2013 and is projected to generate $278,000 in fiscal year 2014.

    “A contract will be negotiated between the city and authority for our contribution to the system,” City Attorney John Barr told city council.

    The changes will not directly impact riders or routes immediately, but Murdock said it gives the overall system more cohesion. The system’s busiest routes are between Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, and Murdock highlighted that the Ypsilanti routes generate significant revenue for the authority.

    “If they or we want to expand services in the area, the AATA will probably be more willing to go for some of its own funding beyond what’s there now,” Murdock said.

    He added that it creates a framework for other municipalities join the authority.

    “This is a huge step forward,” Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber said.


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    The new owner of Mr. Greek's restaurant on South State Street is changing the restaurant's name to RJ's Coney Island.

    Lizzy Alfs | AnnArbor.com

    The former Mr. Greek’s restaurant on Ann Arbor’s South State Street has a new owner, revamped look and a new name: RJ’s Coney Island.

    R.J. Rzeppa, along with his wife and son, Anne Marie, and Nathan, acquired Mr. Greek’s, at 215 S. State St., in November when the restaurant’s former owner retired. The Rzeppa family is completing cosmetic changes to the 2,000-square-foot restaurant and plans to roll out a new menu and signage in July.

    rjs_coney_island.jpg

    The restaurant plans to host a grand opening celebration on July 20.

    Lizzy Alfs | AnnArbor.com

    “I always wanted to own my own business and give back to the community,” Rzeppa said. “If this restaurant were located anywhere else, in this economy, I probably wouldn’t have done this.”

    Rzeppa has a background in sales and marketing, but he said the Mr. Greek’s location — just steps away from the University of Michigan’s campus — was appealing. He said U-M students account for about 75 percent of business at the restaurant.

    “There’s so much potential here that the previous owner left untapped,” Rzeppa said.

    During the past several months, Rzeppa said he renovated the restaurant “from top to bottom.” He repainted the interior and exterior, added outdoor seating and ordered signage.

    New menus also are being printed and will be rolled out in July. RJ’s Coney Island will have the same type of fare, but with some updates.

    Rzeppa said he might expand the restaurant’s hours to stay open for the late-night crowd. The current dining rush at the restaurant is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., he said.

    Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for AnnArbor.com. Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at lizzyalfs@annarbor.com. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lizzyalfs.


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    A group headed by two Ann Arbor women is appealing an order by the Michigan Public Service Commission approving DTE Energy’s use of radio-disabled advanced meters for customers who chose to “opt-out” of the smart meter service.

    051712_smartmeter.jpg

    DTE is in the process of installing the new advanced meters on homes and businesses in their coverage area which includes most of Eastern Michigan.

    File photo | AnnArbor.com

    The Smart Meter Education Network has filed a claim with the Michigan Court of Appeals claiming the MPSC did not properly consider the evidence presented by critics of the new meters before reaching their decision.

    “The commission and the judge completely ignored our extremely detailed argument on the cost of installing the radio-disabled meters,” organizer Linda Kurtz said.

    “… And all of the health testimony we had was barred. One of the big things is that these so-called 'opt-out' meters do not solve the health problems for people who experience them.”

    The new meters are designed to collect more accurate measures of power usage by DTE customers and are equipped with a radio device that allows for remote meter readings.

    “It fully transforms our customer and service reliability options,” DTE spokesperson Scott Simons said.

    “For one thing, they allow us to get true meter readings, which eliminate estimated bills. The meters also allow us to quickly locate and reduce the length of a power outage as well as more quickly connect and disconnect service.”

    Simons said the ability to remotely connect and disconnect service can be extremely important for the company in assisting firefighters and other first-responders. “When there’s a house fire, the first responders will get there much more quickly than we can,” he said.

    “With the new meters, they can give us a call, tell us where the address is, and then we can disconnect service to remove any potential hazard for them.”

    After a meeting Tuesday, Simons said DTE will be adopting a number of changes to make customers more aware of their ability to opt out and receive the radio-disabled devices.

    “We’re going to put the program information in a more prominent place on our website,” he said.

    “Additionally, all of the letters that we send to people letting them know that we’re going to be installing the advanced meters in their neighborhood will provide opt out information. It’s been just a little over one month since the commission order so it’s something that’s a continuous improvement process.”

    Kurtz believes DTE customers should be allowed to keep their older digital or analogue meters rather than having to switch to the new smart meters. The MPSC decision allows the company to charge customers who choose to have the radio-disabled meters an extra installation fee and monthly meter-reading fees.

    MPSC spokesperson Judy Palnau said the public service commission’s attorneys would respond to the appeal and defend the commission’s order.

    “This might not be over quickly though,” she said. “I’ve been told that the appeals process can be lengthy.”

    Kurtz is unsure what decision the court will come to, but she hopes the health concerns she and others have expressed will be taken into greater consideration. Members of the network claim a variety of maladies — most notably insomnia and ringing in the ears — result from the installation of smart meters with or without the radio signal.

    “Some people say that it’s all in our heads,” she said.

    “But I have no reason to want to feel this way. I have no reason to want these effects on my body because it has limited my life to an extreme degree.”

    There has not been conclusive evidence to scientifically prove the claim that smart meters have an effect on human health.

    Ben Freed covers business for AnnArbor.com. You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Get in touch with Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at benfreed@annarbor.com. Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2


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    Friends, family, 2013 board members of the Ann Arbor Public Schools district and retirees gathered under a tent at the heart of the Top of the Park festivities Tuesday night to celebrate the 693 years of service accumulated by the 27 faculty members being honored.

    The Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation and the Ann Arbor Public Schools District came together to host the10th annual retirement celebration.

    While 37 people in-total are retiring from the district this year, there were 27 being honored in the program and seven total were at the Tuesday evening ceremony.

    This year, 16 of the retirements were teachers, three were office professionals and three were principals.

    Superintendent Patricia Green announced the names of the seven retirees in attendance and thanked them for their dedication and years of hard work.

    “All that collective service,” Green said. “You leave your legacy behind — thank you so much.”

    Green, who also is retiring from the district this year, said it is important to her and to the district that people be honored for what they have given to the program and for the standards they have set.

    “When you have people on staff that give so much of themselves to the children and the district, it’s important to honor them and what they’ve done,” Green said. “We do this to celebrate lives well-spent.”

    Retiring from Slauson Middle School, physical education teacher Barbara Newell said she has mixed feelings about leaving her students behind.

    “There have been up's and down's, but we’ve always been all-in for the kids,” Newell said. “I’ve had a wonderful ride with this great district.”

    After 37 years teaching in Ann Arbor schools, Judith Hart said she is leaving to take care of her dad who is having medical issues.

    “My experience with this district has been great,” Hart said. “Our kids are fabulous and it’s been a lot harder to leave than I thought it would be. It’s just hard to say goodbye.”

    Hart pulled out her phone to show a picture of her students stacking cups in one of her physical education classes. She smiled and said she would miss having the opportunity to help them learn.

    Although retiring can be bittersweet, Louise Wallner, a former music teacher from Bryant Elementary School who retired last year and was honored Tuesday, said it has been a good experience.

    “It’s energizing,” Wallner said. “You learn to live without the everyday stress and I can use the energy for me now. I’ve lived on a school calendar since I was 5 years old.”

    Wallner taught for Ann Arbor Public Schools for 36 years and was honored this year because she declared her retirement late last year and was unable to be included in the ceremony.

    “I wanted to be a part of all this,” Wallner said. “I wanted to see everyone again and be recognized for the work I have put in.”

    Guests of the event ate, listened to Detroit Pleasure Society’s dixieland jazz playing at an outdoor stage a few yards away and reminisced with colleagues about their years of experience with the district.

    “I’m here tonight to catch up with the people I’ve worked with for years and it’s such a beautiful setting to do that in,” retired school social worker Gloria O’Neill said. “It’s the perfect Ann Arbor way to honor retirees.”

    Former president of the Ann Arbor Public Schools Board, Martha Krehbiel attended the event to show her continued support of the district. Krehbiel retired in 1989 after serving seven years on the board, one of which she was president.

    “We enjoy the summer festival and to combine it with this celebration of achievements is just a great opportunity,” Krehbiel’s husband Dave said.

    Retirees expressed the difficulty of leaving behind students, but were optimistic about the road ahead.

    “I’m excited and nervous at the same time,” said Shirley Eagen, retiree from Forsythe Middle School. “It was sad leaving my students and it will be sad not seeing them in the fall, but I’m ready.”

    Chelsea Hoedl is an intern reporter for AnnArbor.com. She can be reached at choedl@mlive.com.


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    detroitstreetcontext.jpg

    This rendering shows the Detroit Street development in the context of its surroundings.

    Rendering by Marc Rueter

    Plans for a new three-story, mixed-use building in the Old Fourth Ward Historic District are moving forward after winning approval from the Ann Arbor City Council.

    Dan Williams of Maven Development intends to demolish the 560-square-foot former gas station at 544 Detroit St. and construct a 4,077-square-foot building in its place.

    detroit_street_gas_station.png

    A rendering of the proposed project at 544 Detroit St. in Ann Arbor.

    Rendering by Marc Rueter

    The first floor is expected to contain 857 square feet of office space, while the second and third floors contains 1,557 and 1,663 square feet of residential space, respectively.

    The plans show one condominium on the second floor and one on the third floor. Each story is expected to have steel balconies featuring metal work by a local artist.

    The City Council separately approved a site plan Monday night for two retail buildings totaling 8,490 square feet at 3945 S. State Road.

    That includes a one-story, 1,700-square-foot Jimmy John's with drive-thru facilities, and a one-story, 6,790-square-foot retail building behind the restaurant.

    The property is northeast of the State-Ellsworth intersection; it's between Research Park Drive and the new Tim Hortons.

    The flatiron-style building proposed for Detroit Street won approval from Ann Arbor's Historic District Commission in October, and then received Planning Commission approval in December. The plans include four covered and one uncovered parking spaces on the ground level.

    Modifications were approved to allow the developer to exceed the 35-foot height limit by 3.5 feet, to reduce the front setback requirement along Detroit and Division Streets from 10 feet to 5 feet, and to reduce the rear setback from 30 feet to 7.5 feet. City Planner Jill Thacher said the lot's configuration would render it unbuildable without setback modifications.

    A landscape modification also was approved to reduce the conflicting land use buffer along the rear property line.

    The city's Brownfield Review Committee recommended approval of a brownfield plan for the project in late May, and the City Council gave its blessing Monday night.

    The brownfield plan now advances to the Washtenaw County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority to authorize tax-increment financing to reimburse the developer for costs associated with the project.

    The overall investment for the project is estimated at $1.5 million, with "eligible activities" for reimbursement in the brownfield plan totaling $698,773. That includes soil remediation ($174,620), infrastructure improvements ($70,350), and vapor mitigation ($32,000).

    The property qualifies for brownfield financial incentives because of the presence of petroleum hydrocarbons in the site's soil and groundwater.

    Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at ryanstanton@annarbor.com or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.


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    Previous coverage:

    The window to apply for the Ann Arbor Public Schools superintendent position closed Friday. And while the final application count has not been released, the search firm hired by AAPS is optimistic about the candidate pool.

    Patricia Green.JPG

    AAPS Superintendent Patricia Green is retiring July 9. The Board of Education is in the process of hiring her replacement.

    William Newman, the national executive director of Iowa-based consulting firm Ray & Associates, said the Ann Arbor Board of Education has not been notified yet of the outcome of the superintendent posting. The number of applicants will be made public once Ray & Associates converses with the board.

    Newman said consultants with the search firm are screening the initial candidate pool this week and plan to communicate with the board by Friday about the applications.

    "We would consider (the posting) to have been successful. … The numbers don't matter anyway," Newman said. "It's really about how many quality applicants you receive. What we're doing is screening the applications to get down to those that really are qualified."

    He said the consultants do background checks as well as interviews before communicating with the board.

    "The Ann Arbor board was really serious about having a good match between their needs and the candidates' qualifications," Newman said.

    He added that the board developed an extensive list of criteria, and Ray & Associates is comparing the applications yielded by the posting with that criteria.

    Among the set of qualities the board stated it desires in a new superintendent is the ability to handle criticism and to build personal relationships with the school community. The board also specified the superintendent should have a "visionary drive" and experience working with media outlets and social media sites.

    A representative from Ray & Associates is expected to be in Ann Arbor June 26 to meet with the school board in executive session to discuss the applications that make it past the initial screening. Following the 2 p.m. executive session meeting, the board will convene a regular meeting beginning at 7 p.m., at which the board will announce the semifinalists for the position.

    The board is planning to schedule visits to the district and onsite interviews with each of the semifinalists the week of July 7, with finalists being announced at the end of the week and finalists' interviews taking place the week of July 14.

    The Board of Education will conduct four community forums/feedback sessions on Wednesday, June 19, starting at 9 a.m. and stretching until 9:30 p.m.

    The board wants to hear from community members about what they would value in the district's next superintendent, what qualities and career credentials the schools could benefit from as well as what questions the board should ask each of the candidates.

    The board hopes to have a new leader in place in time for the start of the 2013-14 academic year this fall.

    AAPS Superintendent Patricia Green will be retiring effective July 9 after two years in the district. She was hired in July 2011 on a five-year contract for $245,000. She resigned at around 1:30 a.m. on April 11.

    The next superintendent will make between $180,000 to $220,000, the school board decided.

    Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for AnnArbor.com. Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at daniellearndt@annarbor.com.


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    nickfarnhillridgeback.jpg

    Flickr photo by Nick Farnhill

    I was lucky enough to be born and raised in Michigan, and I have to say that summers here in The Mitten are unsurpassed for fun and weather, no matter your pleasure.

    Michigan is a destination for visitors from all over, and many want to bring their four-legged friends with them on their travels. It's no surprise — pets are a big part of our lives, and wanting them to share in the fun is natural.

    I recall many years when Gretchen was able to tag along on trips to the Traverse City area.

    In fact, I get a lot emails and phone calls from folks across the nation inquiring on pet-friendly restaurants in the area — but I cringe when I have to tell them that there are none. For many, they say that may make or break their decision to come here and spend time (and money!).

    But one piece of proposed legislation may enable restaurant patrons to bring their dogs when they dine.

    The bill would give cities the oversight to decide whether they wanted to pass such an ordinance. Restaurants could make their own choice whether or not they wished to allow pooches within their outdoor seating areas.

    Canines would not be allowed inside these businesses, save for service dogs.

    The measure, House Bill 4335, was introduced in February by Rep. Margaret O'Brien, R-Portage.

    O'Brien emphasized that the proposal wouldn't be mandatory for every establishment; those outside of tourism areas may not find it to be a fit.

    “We didn't want to step on any toes.”

    But there's no doubt that many would consider the idea to be attractive.

    “We've become a destination state,” said O'Brien.

    “We just want to make sure Michigan has one more tool in the tool belt.”

    The idea of allowing pets to join their people at Michigan eateries would follow the lead of other states, like Florida and California that are lucky enough to have an abundance of tourism.

    Lorrie Shaw leads the pets section for AnnArbor.com. Catch her daily dog walking and pet sitting adventures or email her directly and subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.


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    The Ypsilanti City Council approved a $96,000 tax abatement to assist a local gear manufacturer with an ongoing expansion.

    American Broach is in the midst of investing $1.4 million in a 42,800-square-foot facility at 535 S. Mansfield St.

    The company originally intended to build a new facility, but found it would be cheaper to purchase a neighboring building at 575 S. Mansfield Street in the Ypsilanti West Business Park.

    “We’re pretty happy to be in Ypsilanti,” American Broach President Ken Nemec told the Ypsilanti City Council on Tuesday.

    Nemec, who lives in Ypsilanti Township, says the expansion will help the company add 20 new jobs by the end of 2015, though he noted his personal goal is to add 50 jobs over the next five years.

    American_Broach.jpg

    American Braoch is promising to bring high paying jobs as it continues to grow.

    Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com

    According to its annual report, American Broach saw $8.4 million in revenues last year. It builds intricate cutting machines that produce gears, with the auto and defense industry making up the majority of its revenue base. The 2012 revenue is up $3 million over the previous year.

    Nemec highlighted that the jobs American Broach will add pay well and the company provides excellent working conditions. Employees doing factory work average around $45,000 annually and are provided full benefits and vacation days.

    “It’s not a Walmart job,” Nemec said. “These are the kind of jobs we want in Ypsilanti.”

    “Our shop is representative of what a new factory is,” he added.

    City Planner Teresa Gillotti said the positions meet the city's living wage ordinance and two-thirds of the jobs expected to be created between 2011 and 2015 will qualify as high-tech jobs per Michigan Economic Development Corporation guidelines.

    When American Broach moved to Ypsilanti in 2008, the company had 21 employees and it now has 51, Nemec said. According to its annual report American Broach, added 13 new full-time jobs and two part-time jobs in 2011 and 2012.

    Nemec said the average age of company employees was over 60 when he was hired in 2006 and that many of the employees are now under 30. Many of the older employees have retired.

    But Nemec said finding skilled workers is one of the company’s challenges. The skills needed to perform jobs at American Broach disappeared from the workforce when manufacturing jobs began going oversees, Nemec said. There are very few skilled workers who can perform the work between 30- and 55-years-old in the area, he said, and added that it takes five to 10 years for the company to train new tool-makers.

    “There are no skilled people available. What we do is pretty specific,” Nemec said adding that the company has also had a difficult time finding young people willing to do the work.

    “You would be surprised. A lot of these kids really don’t want to do it.”

    American Braoch has a history of utilizing incentives at the state and local level. It was previously approved for exemptions in 2008 and 2011 worth $450,000 and $430,000, respectively.

    In 2011, the company also received a state tax credit of $527,000 over 7 years.

    Among the equipment listed in the personal property list for the new building is standard office equipment like lighting, an HVAC unit and duct materials.

    The company is also planning to purchase two jib cranes for $60,000; a grinder at $600,000; a lathe for $30,000 and a sharpener for $634,000.

    American Broach moved in 2008 from its decades-long home on Jackson Road to a 22,580-square-foot facility on South Mansfield.

    Nemec said American Broach held several million dollars in debt and was losing $500,000 annually when he was hired in 2006. He said he recommended to the company’s board of directors that they file for bankruptcy and shut down after he spent a month in the position.

    The board of directors objected and ordered Nemec to find a way to make the company profitable. He said he consolidated three plants under one roof in Ypsilanti as part of that process.

    “We got down to where we could afford to live, and now, over the last six years, we really built it back up,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of customers who are pounding on our doors.”

    City Manager Ralph Lange said he toured American Broach’s factory and was impressed by its operation and clean conditions.

    “It’s really an extraordinary place,” he said. “This isn’t a typical factory; this is the new era of manufacturing.”


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    A pair of food-loving University of Michigan student friends first told me about Belly Deli, open since April near the corner of South U and Washtenaw. I was intrigued by their description of a place to get "Asian-ish" food. I wouldn't have guessed from the name that the Belly Deli serves "gourmet Asian salads and sandwiches. And I also didn't expect the clean, modern lines, the single stainless steel communal table, the fun monster wallpaper, or the dozen shades of gray that inform the aesthetics of the small space.

    RESTAURANT REVIEW

    Belly Deli
    1317 S. University Ave., Ann Arbor, MI
    734-669-8888
    http://www.a2bellydeli.com
    • Hours: Monday - Sunday 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.
    • Plastic: Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Discover
    • Liquor: None
    • Prices: Inexpensive. Sandwiches $7-$8, salads $7-$9.
    • Noise level: Moderately loud.
    • Wheelchair access:Yes.
    The Belly Deli's Asian fusion food is influenced most by Vietnam (with banh mi-style "sammys,") and Korea (with bulgogi beef, kimchee, and bokum balls), and to a lesser extent by Japan (with chicken katsu) and China (with pork char siu). The Belly Deli's streamlined menu offers a refreshingly few choices of salads, sandwiches and sides, all designed for carryout and served in disposable (but recyclable) containers to a mostly student crowd.

    Among the best options on the Belly Deli menu are the yummy sides. The chicken salad in a creamy curry dressing was delicious, and I loved the various textures of white meat chicken chunks, crunchy almond bits and sweet and chewy dried cranberries. They have a chicken curry sandwich with this too.

    Also worthwhile, the bokum balls and "Sea Fu" balls are like Asian arancini; golden, deep-fried rice balls that come three to an order. The bokum balls are slightly fishy, flecked with bits of kimchee and pork, lightly glazed with spicy sriracha ketchup. The Sea Fu balls are sweeter, with shrimp, "krab" and corn, and a bit of horseradish mayonnaise. Both of these options are tasty and affordable.

    The signature "Belly Sammy" sandwich comes with interesting filling options like spicy chicken gochujang, beef bulgogi, pork char siu, and tofu soy-garlic. The "Sammy" is something like a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich, but served on a large fluffy submarine bun rather than a crisp french baguette. All of the sammy fillings are pre-cooked in the morning and kept warm (pork, chicken, fried tofu) and some are re-cooked on a flattop to melt the cheese (the cheese steak and the kimchee sausage). The sammy comes accessorized with sprightly cilantro, pickled strips of carrots and radish, and a slick of mayo. If you want to increase the banh mi authenticity quotient, add the mild chicken liver-based pate for an extra 50 cents.

    The kimchee sausage sammy is a hot mess, so to speak. It's another fusion-y combination that puts slices of a spicy Dearborn red hot dog inside a big squishy roll together with grilled onion, red pepper, sauteed kimchee and lots of melted provolone cheese. While it may not be a good choice for those with delicate sensibilities (or in tidy whites), I thought the mouth-punching flavor combination worked. Especially washed down with some of their Puck's Handcrafted Sodas with cane sugar. Both the black cherry and the birch beer were delicious.

    Not that anyone has asked for it yet, but a Dearborn red hot (or any of the other meats) is available as an add-on for each of the three salads on the menu. The Asian Cobb Salad was huge, with vegetables nicely cut into manageable pieces; I hate when you order a salad and have to struggle to get giant hunks of crudites into your maw. The box of salad was filled with crisp romaine and thinly sliced napa, matchsticked cucumber, fried strips of wonton crispies, and a perfectly cooked and sliced boiled egg.

    Although most of the salad was tasty, I was nonplussed with the few leaves of wilted basil that appeared to have died a wrinkly death. As for the large pieces of cold congealed bacon, "I cut them with effort, and swallowed them with regret," in the manner of another intrepid food writer. The ginger miso vinaigrette also tasted odd to me—I wasn't able to discern either ginger or miso in the flavor.

    The Szechuan stir-fry salad was very similar to the Asian Cobb, replacing the basil and bacon with a few flavor-free cooked green beans and pea pods. I thought the sweet and garlicky soy-based dressing on this one was tasty though.

    The food at the Belly Deli is not subtle or delicate — even with all the salads, the vibe seems somehow masculine to me. Flavors are bold, the music is pop-y, portions are large, and 90 percent of the staff we saw was male. There's a prep kitchen in back, but much of the "cooking," or at least the assembling happens up front where you can see the fast-food pace and techniques. The staff at Belly Deli was friendly and accommodating, but their focus is definitely on speed, like the pit crew at the Indy 500.

    The Asian-mod ambiance of the small space is unique and appealing, but since their business is take-out, it's not particularly comfortable to sit (or stand) and eat there. I hear they are planning an expanded menu for later this summer, and are testing out options now in an effort to be ready for the students to come rushing back in the fall. Until then, Belly Deli seems like a good place for townies to grab a picnic on the way to the Arb.

    Kim Bayer is a freelance writer and culinary researcher. Email her at kimbayer at gmail dot com.


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    Robert_Addie.jpg

    Robert Addie

    Courtesy of WCSO

    Police recently released the video of a 39-year-old Ypsilanti man swiping a Pittsfield Township police officer in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant last winter.

    Robert Addie had a blood alcohol content of .25 and was considered "super drunk" by Michigan law when he went through the Burger King drive-thru on Michigan Avenue across the street from the Pittsfield Township police department at 1:38 p.m. on Valentine's Day.

    Police said they were called to the restaurant because Addie and another man in the 2003 Ford Taurus were "causing a disturbance with employees."

    A minute-long video recently obtained from the Pittsfield Township Department of Public Safety via a Freedom of Information Act request shows one officer talking to the passenger in the Taurus as its parked at the drive-thru window while another officer stands in front of the vehicle.

    As the officer in front of the car tries directing the vehicle to pull over to the side of the parking lot, Addie makes a break for it, swiping the officer who stumbles and falls to the ground.

    When Addie was sentenced 2-5 years in prison last week, the prosecution and defense had two different versions about what happened.

    Assistant Washtenaw County Prosecutor John Vella pointed out Addie was a serial drunken driver and portrayed the incident as being one step away from something more serious. He said Addie might have faced stiffer charges had the officers not gotten out of the way.

    "Otherwise, this may have been a murder case," he said.

    Assistant Washtenaw County Public Defender Christopher Renna said Addie didn't aim the car at the Pittsfield Township police officer.

    "(The officer) had an instinct to stand in front of the car to stop it from going forward," he said. "This is a knee scrape."

    After hearing the arguments, Judge David Swartz sentenced Addie to 2 to 5 years on operating while intoxicated, third offense, 2 to 4 years on one count of assault with a dangerous weapon and 1 to 2 years on resisting arrest charges. The sentences will run concurrently.

    In previous court proceedings, it was revealed Addie also was convicted of drunken driving in 1994, 1999, 2001 and 2006.

    The remainder of the video shows police following Addie down Michigan Avenue, where patrol vehicles swarm his in front of the police station. He resisted, but was subdued and arrested on the spot.

    John Counts covers cops and courts for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at johncounts@annarbor.com or you can follow him on Twitter.


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    The Sylvia Studio of Dance will celebrate 80 years with "Time Dances On" at the Ellen Ewing Performing Arts Center of Saline High School.

    400w_GrabbedFrame15.jpg
    The performance will feature dancers from three years to advanced levels. There will be costumes and live piano accompaniment. The Ann Arbor Civic Ballet will give a guest performance.

    Sylvia Studio of Dance provides professional dance instruction and progressive training programs in ballet and jazz. In 2008, they were awarded the 2008 Best of Ann Arbor Award for Dance instruction.

    Sunday, June 23, 2013 4 p.m. Child (9 & under) $5, Student/Senior (65 & up) $12, Adult $15. 1300 Campus Parkway, Saline.


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