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

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    The Ypsilanti Township Fire Department responded to an apartment hallway fire Wednesday afternoon and a stove fire early Thursday morning.

    A light fixture in the hallway on the 4th floor of an apartment building in the 1500 block of East Clark Road caught fire Wednesday afternoon. The fire set off a sprinkler head located directly above it.

    The Ypsilanti Township Fire Department responded to the initial call reporting smoke and flooding from the sprinkler head at 3 p.m.

    According to Lt. Keith Harr, more damage was caused by flooding from the sprinkler system than the original fire that set it off. He said the majority of damage was sustained on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the building.

    Four volunteers from the Washtenaw-Lenawee County Chapter of the American Red Cross responded to the fire and provided two families, four individuals total, with food and lodging. There were no injuries reported from the incident.

    The Ypsilanti Township Fire Department also responded to a small stove fire Thursday in an apartment building in the 700 block of Redwood Avenue, which required mutual aid by the Superior Township Fire Department.

    The initial call was placed around 1:30 a.m. Thursday by gas workers from DTE Energy who were in the building at the time the fire started, Harr said. After smelling smoke, the workers pounded on the door until the resident, who had fallen asleep while cooking, woke up.

    The fire alarm had been detached and disabled. There were no injuries from the incident.


    View Fire in a larger map

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


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    Frank_Temple.jpg

    Frank Temple

    Courtesy of Washtenaw County Jail

    The 50-year-old Ypsilanti man accused of pulling a knife on a group of 13-year-olds was arraigned Wednesday on assault charges, police said.

    Frank Temple was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, resisting arrest and assault and battery, court records indicate.

    Police used a stun gun to subdue Temple when they were called to Ypsilanti's Riverside Park around 7:45 p.m. Monday and found him swinging a pocket knife at the kids, Sgt. Thomas Eberts said.

    The man, who was intoxicated, took notice of the kids while they were fishing, police said.

    “He was bothering them and wouldn’t leave them alone,” Eberts said.

    Temple became upset, pulled out a small pocket knife and began swinging it at the Ypsilanti boy, Ypsilanti Township boy, Ann Arbor boy and Ypsilanti girl, all 13 years old, according to police.

    Temple ignored warnings from police and refused to drop the knife, so the stun gun was used, Eberts said.

    He was taken first to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital and then to the Washtenaw County Jail. Temple was arraigned Wednesday and had a preliminary examination hearing set for July 2.

    Jail records indicate Temple posted bond and is not currently in custody. Jail officials did not immediately know what the bond amount was but said Temple posted it and was turned over to Detroit police on warrants. The amount also was not available in court records.

    Felonious assault is punishable by four years in prison or a fine of not more than $2,000, or both.

    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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    Ypsilanti will increase its police force by three officers and retain all 17 firefighter positions in fiscal year 2014.

    A new budget the Ypsilanti City Council approved Tuesday evening also includes funding for half of an officer dedicated to the city’s three downtown districts. The other half will be funded by the Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority, pending approval by its board.

    The cost of three new officers is approximately $80,000 each, and the city will pay for $40,000 of the dedicated downtown officer. The city previously had an officer dedicated to the DDA districts in 2010, but that officer was pulled off the beat and put on road patrol when staffing levels were reduced.

    The Ypsilanti Fire Department has 15 firefighters but is beginning the process of hiring two more.

    The city also will re-allocate $100,000 from the South Grove Road paving project to North Prospect Street's design engineering plan.

    Those are the bright spots on the balanced budget city council unanimously approved.

    But Council Member Pete Murdock continued to raise the same concerns he has throughout the budget process - the city will drain around $11 million in reserves over the next five years and he says nothing is being done to address that issue.

    “From the perspective that we stemmed the tide of reducing public safety personnel, and maintained 17 firefighters in the fire department - there was talk about reducing them to about 14 - to that degree we’ve improved the situation,” Murdock said. “But we haven’t improved the situation overall budgetarily.”

    The city balanced its general fund expenditures and revenues at $14,212,947 for fiscal year 2014. But Murdock noted that $1.5 million of those revenues are a transfer from its reserves, including its motor pool, workman's compensation fund and general fund balance.

    Murdock said the city’s current five-year plan leaves it with close to no reserves after five years.

    “In five years, all our reserves will be gone and (City Manager) Ralph Lange will have retired,” he said.

    Ypsilanti has just over $13 million in its motor pool, workers' compensation fund and general fund balance. According to a five -ear plan presented by Lange in May, the workman's compensation and motor pool fund will be wiped out by the end of fiscal of year 2018 and the city will be left with $2.2 million in its fund balance.

    The bulk of that is drained by Water Street debt.

    The city owes $24,764,695 on the Water Street debt. To date, the city has paid $4.6 million of the debt. The payments, and interest rate, are expected to increase as the city continues to pay through 2031.

    The next payment, $435,070, is due Nov. 1.


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    Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County officials have come out in opposition to two major highway expansion projects in Southeast Michigan — the reconstruction and widening of Interstate 94 in Detroit and Interstate 75 in Oakland County.

    Both projects — which are expected to cost more than $4 billion — are slated to begin in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

    MLive_highway_photo_062013.jpg

    The proposed widening of I-94 in Detroit and I-75 in Oakland County has drawn scrutiny from advocates of public transit who call the $4 billion projects wasteful and burdensome.

    MLive file photo

    The Ann Arbor City Council and Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners both passed resolutions objecting to inclusion of the projects in the region's official transportation plans.

    The two projects are part of $50 billion in projects in the Southeast Michigan Council of Government's 2040 Regional Transportation Plan and its 2014-17 Transportation Improvement Plan.

    SEMCOG's general assembly is expected to vote at 4:30 p.m. today, June 20, to approve the two plans at a public meeting in Detroit.

    SEMCOG's executive committee voted to approve the plans at its May 16 meeting, but the vote wasn't unanimous, The Detroit News reported.

    Executive committee member Yousef Rabhi, chairman of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, voted against them, saying the state can't maintain the infrastructure it already has, so it shouldn't be spending money on expanding highways. Rabhi said he will vote against the plans again but he still expects them to pass, The News reported.

    SEMCOG Executive Director Paul Tait told The News his agency's vote is important because the action taken by SEMCOG will make the projects eligible for state and federal funding.

    Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje and fellow City Council members unanimously passed a resolution this week opposing inclusion of the highway expansion projects in the 2040 long-range plan.

    They argue SEMCOG's proposed plan has many good elements — including support for nonmotorized transportation, public transit, pavement maintenance and repair, and sustainability enhancements — but too much money is going to the expansion of I-94 and I-75.

    Communities across Southeast Michigan face a shortage of funds to maintain and repair existing roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure, the resolution states, adding there are more than $82 million worth of unfunded high-priority projects in Washtenaw County.

    Ann Arbor officials are asking that the money programmed for the two highway expansion projects be redirected to preventive maintenance and rehabilitation of existing roads and bridges.

    MLive reported widening I-94 from Conner Street to I-96 in Detroit would take the stretch from six lanes to eight and cost about $2.7 billion, while adding a lane to I-75 between 8 Mile Road and M-59 in Oakland County would cost about $1.3 billion.

    Transportation for America, a coalition working on transportation reform, released a report this week indicating Michigan has more than 1,300 bridges rated "structurally deficient" — bridges that could become dangerous or closed without repair, including 17 percent of Washtenaw County bridges. About 12.3 percent of bridges statewide are rated "structurally deficient," according to government standards, slightly above the 11 percent national average, according to the report.

    The report is based on a national database of bridge inspections maintained by the Federal Highway Administration. While the Michigan Department of Transportation and local officials have been working to make improvements, moving nearly 100 bridges off the structurally deficient list in the past two years, the group argues progress is hindered by lack of funding.

    "Bridge projects are continuously delayed and deferred because there are simply not enough resources to meet our needs," said Ryan Buck, director of the Washtenaw Area Transportation Study, the agency responsible for overseeing transportation funding in Washtenaw County.

    Buck noted that more than 20 percent of bridges under the jurisdiction of the Washtenaw County Road Commission have posted weight restrictions, in addition to two bridges that are closed.

    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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    Starting Thursday night, there will be a single lane closure on northbound U.S. 23 at 8 Mile for bridge work.

    The closure near the Washtenaw-Livingston county line will take place overnight and will last through the weekend.

    Closure times are listed below:

    • Thursday between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. Friday
    • Friday between 11 p.m. and 9 a.m. Saturday
    • Saturday between 8 p.m. and 10 a.m. Sunday


    View Larger Map

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


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    More specific requirements on timing of emergency drills and limits on how many can be done in the same day might be in the works for schools, according to an MLive report.

    An MLive Media Group investigation in March revealed some schools are not doing enough fire, tornado and lockdown drills, occasionally bunching them together in one day or simply not doing them. A task force organized by the Michigan State Police is currently determining recommendations on more specific regulations for schools to follow.

    According to the report, lawmakers may increase the number of required lockdown drills while decreasing fire drills, specify when drills must be done, ban bundling multiple drills in a day and waiting until the end of the school year to do many of the drills.

    The task force is a part of Gov. Rick Snyder’s larger school-safety effort in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn. in December.

    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 massive $37 million demolition and cleanup of the former General Motors Willow Run Powertrain Plant is set to begin this summer.

    But the former GM plant also is the former “Arsenal of Democracy”, and township officials say they don’t want the property’s owner, Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust (RACER), to forget the factory's place in local and national history.

    80344-1.jpg

    The B-24 bombers were produced there by Ford Motor company from roughly mid-1942 until mid-1945 — when this picture was taken.

    Taken by Ford Motor Company and property of Yankee Air Museum

    That could be a sticking point when it comes time for the township to approve the demolition.

    The RACER trust took control of the site and GM plants in 14 other states when the company went through government-sponsored bankruptcy.

    In late April, the Yankee Air Museum, which operates out of an adjacent property, announced it was trying to raise the funds to purchase and preserve 185,000-square-feet of the plant where the B-24 Liberator bombers rolled off the assembly line during World War II.

    “For us, it’s not just about demolishing a 5-million-square-foot factory; it’s also a major part of our history that’s being wiped out,” Township Attorney Doug Winters said. “People don’t realize the emotional fervor it strikes in people who were born and raised in that plant. And you’re talking about one of the most iconic industrial complexes in the world that was instrumental in defeating Nazi Germany in World War II.”

    If the money is not raised by the deadline, that part of the plant will be demolished.

    “It is going to be hard for us at the township to sign off on a demolition plan that includes the area of that plant that the Yankee Air Museum is trying to save," Winters said. "That would be totally unacceptable from our standpoint. There has to be some kind of value to the role that plant played.”

    Per an agreement with the RACER Trust, the museum has until Aug. 1 to raise the $6 million necessary to complete the project. But some township officials contend the short time frame and amount of money to be raised are difficult targets. They are hopeful RACER will continue to work with the museum to make the project happen.

    "It is our hope that the RACER trust gives the Yankee Air Museum the assistance they need to make the project a reality and preserve the history of Ypsilanti Township and our country. Their proposal will create jobs and they will be a major player in the redevelopment (of the plant)," Township Supervisor Brenda Stumbo said.

    Bruce Rasher, RACER’s redevelopment manager, said the trust must consider certain criteria in any sale of trust property, which includes that a purchasing party must have the funds to carry out their plans and renovate the property in a manner that complies with state and local codes.

    “Those terms were discussed at length with the Yankee Air Museum, and they understand that this is the opportunity,” Rasher said, adding the trust is supportive of their fundraising efforts and has granted access to the area the museum is trying to save.

    The renovated 185,000-square foot building would allow the Yankee Air Museum to store all of its planes and other items under one roof. Currently flyable planes and the museum are in separate facilities, and around 15 airplanes sit outside where they can’t be viewed during winter for lack of space in their current 40,000-square-foot building.

    Yankee Air Museum founder Dennis Norton said the museum is making progress on its campaign. It has raised $150,000 through small donations, and meetings with potential large donors who could put six or seven figure donations into the campaign started this week.

    "Both are important, but to reach the $5 million to $6 million mark, we've got to find a half dozen or so people who can drop a $1 million who think this is just really cool and saving this plant is a thing to do," Norton said.

    He said RACER has been helpful with some cost savings efforts such as saving parts of the infrastructure that brought the cost of the project down by several million dollars. The time frame hasn't been an issue, Norton said.

    "They gave us a certain amount of time and we're thankful we have that time to do it," he said. "One of the things a short time frame does is make it urgent, so that's part of our marketing.

    "And by God, we'll do the best we can."

    Anybody wishing to donate to the cause can look for more information at savethebomberplant.org.

    Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter. Contact the AnnArbor.com news desk at news@annarbor.com.


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    I first learned to pivot while playing in the youth basketball league at the YMCA.

    Keeping one foot grounded to avoid a traveling violation — a frequent problem for 6 year olds — a player can pivot by twisting and turning their body to find new and better vantage points for a more open shot or pass.

    For startup companies and entrepreneurs, pivots can be slightly more painful and dramatic experiences. Typically, a pivot occurs when the founders’ original idea runs up against a wall.

    Justin_Dimmel_I_Corps.jpg

    Justin Dimmel presents ScenarioSketch at the Michigan I-Corps showcase Wednesday at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.

    Ben Freed | AnnArbor.com

    “It can be very demoralizing,” said John Springmann, a University of Michigan Ph.D. candidate.

    “We felt really stuck. At that point we were thinking ‘what are we supposed to do?’ The idea didn’t work so we were re kind of out of luck.”

    Springmann, along with fellow Ph.D. candidate Ben Kempke, is a participant in the first Michigan I-Corps program. The six-week course, which culminated with team showcases Tuesday at the U-M Ross School of Business, pushes researchers with new ideas and inventions to aggressively seek-out potential customers to determine the true demand for their products.

    I-Corps is funded by the National Science Foundation and operated by the Center for Entrepreneurship in the College of Engineering. The program first came to the U-M in 2012, when teams from across the country came to Ann Arbor to participate in the program. The most recently completed course was the first to be made up entirely of teams from the state of Michigan.

    Springmann and Kempke are two satellite experts who initially thought there was a market for ground stations that could communicate with smaller satellites in orbit.

    “But we found that the market for that technology will probably be there in the future, but it really just isn’t mature enough yet for a scalable company,” Springmann said.

    As part of I-Corps — short for Innovation Corps — a business mentor accompanies each team and helps them “pivot” to new markets, as well as customers, when the going gets tough.

    Justin Dimmel and Patricio Herbst, both researchers at the U-M School of Education, have pivoted a number of times with the help of their mentor Brice Pilz. The animated training software the pair created originally was meant for teachers, but they attempted to sell the system to hotels for personnel training.

    “For me the hotel industry ended up as a sacrificial draft,” Herbst said.

    “We went there because we thought that we needed a market that controlled its own disposable cash… The thing that made me realize that it probably wasn’t going to work was that our technology is based on simple graphics and they were looking for extreme detail.”

    Dimmel said the team, working under the name ScenarioSketch, has returned to the education spectrum, where there is evidence that extremely high levels of realism in simulations do not guarantee better results.

    “The folk wisdom we’re up against is that the best thing would be some kind of virtual reality first person environment where the situation is almost re-created pixel by pixel,” he said.

    “You don’t want to enter a market where the first thing you have to do is spend half an hour arguing with your customer that what you will actually do the job.”

    Springmann and Kempke have taken a different track. Faced by the lack of an available market, they went back to the drawing board and pulled out a different technology to market. They are now back in customer-discovery mode, looking to sell data collected by small satellites to large telecommunication companies.

    “Luckily, it seems like you hit the wall fast,” program director Jonathan Fay told the team during their presentation.

    While in most situations that might not sound ideal, in the entrepreneurial world, it means the ‘no-go’ decision was handled both quickly and efficiently.

    “Not every good idea is a viable business,” program coach Adrian Fortino said.

    “Having a ‘no-go’ come out of the I-Corp experience can be an extremely positive outcome.”

    Having founded of a number of both successful and unsuccessful startups, Fortino has realized the value of knowing when something is not going to work as originally planned. Now an investor with the First Step Fund in Detroit, he works with startups to navigate the customer discovery process, which can be jarring for innovators who are not used to the world of entrepreneurship.

    “The mood-swings in customer discovery are huge,” Springmann said.

    “You can have a conversation with one customer who says what you’re doing is good and you’re think ‘this is going to work!’ Then the next day you talk to someone who says it’s not going to go anywhere and it can really knock you back down.”

    What can you say? The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.

    Similarly, the best ideas of entrepreneurs often do not realize their intended market value. It doesn’t mean they aren’t good ideas — they might just need a little pivot.

    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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    Press-Pink-Martini-02.jpg

    Pink Martini

    In 2011, the last time Pink Martini played the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, it was without original chanteuse China Forbes, who was off having surgery to correct a problem with her vocal cords.

    When the Portland, Ore.-based group returns to Ann Arbor Tuesday night at the Power Center, Forbes will be back as lead singer, performing the eclectic group’s multi-lingual repertoire.

    “I’m feeling great,” Forbes reported. “It’s been two years since I had my vocal cord surgery and it went as well as it could have ever gone. I’m really glad I made the decision to do it because to not do it meant that I would risk hemorrhaging over and over and over again and risk having scar tissue on my vocal cords. So I took the chance and got the surgical procedure and now it’s as if I have brand new vocal cords. They’re pristine.”

    As it turns out, Forbes’ appearance in Ann Arbor is something of a lucky break for us. Since her surgery, she only performs part-time with the band—Forbes and singer Storm Large now alternate as Pink Martini vocalists.

    “I have a 4-year-old son, it was too much touring for me,” she explained. “(When I was off) it was the first time I realized I could miss a show and the show would still go on. Now, the pressure I felt is gone and it makes a huge difference. When I came back, I came back with a very different attitude about touring and singing and being in a band.”

    PREVIEW

    Pink Martini

    • Who: Multi-genre band with vocalist China Forbes. Presented by the Ann Arbor Summer Festival.
    • What: Spirited blend of Brazilian samba, '30s Cuban dance, Parisian cafe sensibility, and world-music flair.
    • Where: Power Center, 121 Fletcher.
    • When: 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 25.
    • How much: $35-$55. Tickets and information: a2sf.org/.
    Influenced by Latin music, jazz, cabaret, cinema scores and more, the retro-pop ensemble brings melodies and rhythms from different parts of the world together to create an eclectic, modern sound.

    Other than a retrospective album, it’s been a few years since the group has released a new recording, a situation that will be remedied this year with “Get Happy,” coming out in September. Forbes said the disc will feature many different singers, including herself, Storm Large, NPR’s Ari Shapiro, Rufus Wainwright and the late comedienne and actress Phyllis Diller.

    “She does a very beautiful version of Charlie Chaplin’s ‘Smile’ - she does it her own way,” Forbes said of Diller’s contribution.

    The group was founded in 1994 by Thomas Lauderdale, a Harvard graduate and classically-trained pianist, to play political fundraisers for progressive causes. He remembered vocalist Forbes from their Harvard days and convinced her to set aside her own singer-songwriter career join the band. They eventually began to write music and lyrics together and their first song, the bouncy "Sympathique" - with the chorus “Je ne veux pas travailler”(”I don’t want to work”) - became a huge hit in France.

    The album "Sympathique" was released in 1997, "Hang On Little Tomato" came out in 2004, "Hey Eugene!" followed in 2007 and "Splendor In The Grass" in 2009.

    A recent Pink Martini side project involved working with Japanese vocalist Saori Yuki, and Forbes said the Ann Arbor show will probably include her rendition of “Mayonaka no Bossa Nova (Midnight Bossa Nova),” performed with the group’s Timothy Nishimoto.

    For the Power Center show, Forbes may spot a few familiar faces in the crowd. Her aunt and uncle (John Woodford, former executive editor of the U-M alumni publication “Michigan Today”) live in town, and Forbes said she spent two weeks in Ann Arbor when she was 10 going to school with her cousin.

    This is Pink Martini’s fourth Ann Arbor Summer Festival appearance.

    “For our 30th season, we wanted to bring back some of the festival's most popular artists, and so that definitely meant a return engagement with Pink Martini,” said Robb Woulfe, Ann Arbor Summer Festival executive director.

    “Ann Arbor just loves this band and they always draw a diverse audience, from jazz and classical aficionados to hipsters,” he added.


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    The Ann Arbor Summer Festival this week offers a special attraction for kids at Top of the Park, the festival's outdoor component: "Tangle."

    It's described as "a huge, messy, fun, interactive elastic weaving event created live by children and their families. It’s part spectacular visual arts installation, part performance, part playground, part dance party and all chaos."

    Photographer Courtney Sacco captured these images. "Tangle" continues through Sunday, with $5 wristband admission; see the AASF website for details.

    A time-lapse photo video of "Tangle"'s development Thursday:


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    Fleetwood_diner.jpg

    Police say a man pulled a knife on the staff at the Fleetwood Diner early Friday morning.

    AnnArbor.com file photo

    A 51-year-old man was taken into custody early Friday morning after police say he pulled a knife on the staff at the Fleetwood Diner in Ann Arbor.

    The man had previously been banned from the diner, according to a release from Ann Arbor police.

    "He was angry with the staff for asking him to leave, so he pulled a knife on them," the release stated.

    Ann Arbor police were called to the diner, located at 300 South Ashley Street, at 3:24 a.m. for the incident and the man was taken into custody.

    No one was injured. The man could face charges of felonious assault.

    Police could not be reached for further comment Friday morning.


    View Larger Map

    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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    What do frogs, turtles, snakes and rabbits have in common? They're living the in the Critter House at the Leslie Science Center, and they want your attention!

    lsnc barn owl 2.jpg

    Barn owl at the Leslie Science and Nature Center.

    The LSC has brought many interesting creatures to places such as your local libraries, so why not check them out in their home location?

    Their animals include species native to the region, as well many unique and exotic animals that have been donated by supporters. See some adorable and and *ahem* unusual animals and that will help kids develop an appreciation for the incredible diversity of the natural world.

    It will be good for the adults, too.

    Sundays, June 23 and 30, 2013. Noon-3:00 p.m. The LSC is at 1831 Traver Road, Ann Arbor. 734-997-1553.


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    June21crash.jpg

    A view of the accident scene taken from Wolverine Tower.

    Photo submitted.

    Two vehicles were in an accident at roughly 9:30 a.m. Friday at East Eisenhower Parkway and South State Street in Ann Arbor, police said.

    One of the vehicles rolled over in the crash, Ann Arbor police said.

    Police were still on scene at 10:20 a.m. There were no injuries, according to officials.

    This story will be updated with more information as it becomes available.


    View Larger Map

    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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    photo-5.JPG

    The enormous tree limb that has taken up residency in our garage - and will likely continue to do so for quite some time.

    Photo by Jenn McKee

    On a recent Monday, while I was at work, I got an email from a neighbor who was concerned about some limbs and branches that had fallen from our old cottonwood tree on Saturday, shortly after we’d hosted a backyard birthday party for our (now 5-year-old) daughter, Lily.

    The limbs had fallen onto a section of my neighbor’s garden, near the "bounce house" we’d rented for the weekend. And right when the limbs broke off, my neighbor came to let me know (I’d been inside the house, doing post-party clean-up), and then she helped me lug the biggest limbs onto the grass, a few feet from her garden.

    Since then, I’d left them there, assuming my husband Joe and I would get around to breaking them down when we got the time. Ha, ha.

    But Monday’s evening forecast called for rain, so my neighbor was afraid - probably justifiably - that a truckload of little cottonwood saplings would spring forth in both our yards if I didn’t take action right away.

    “OK,” I thought, still seated at my work desk. “Change of plans.”

    I called Joe and asked if he could come home a bit early, before I got our two daughters from preschool. The answer was “no.” But he insisted that I wouldn’t be able to do the job myself, and that it would take me at least an hour.

    He should have never underestimated the determination of a mommy willing to cut corners.

    Yes, I proved my husband wrong on both counts. I arrived home from my commute at about 4:30, and because I usually get to the girls' preschool at about 5 p.m., I went to work immediately.

    Whirring with activity while still in my work clothes, and breaking off branches while holding limbs to the ground with my foot, I packed three yard waste bags as a cloud of cottony fluff funneled around me. When I’d broken down all I could - in a half-baked manner, naturally, with big branches sticking out over the tops of the bags - I dragged the paper sacks into the garage, leaving an enormous, 15-foot, stripped hunk of tree on the ground.

    Though it had taken the strength of both me and my neighbor to move it two days before, I thought it worth trying to move by myself, now that it was a leaner version of itself.

    So I squatted down, grabbed it at the thickest section, and stood with it in my arms, pulling it into the garage.

    And at about that moment, the nearby clock chimed five o’clock.

    Ka-BAM.

    I tell this story not to underline how fierce I am - though that would be an awesome bonus - but rather to explain how this experience is emblematic of my day-to-day life since becoming a parent.

    Though I have always been a very thorough, meticulous person, who - despite having a penchant for tardiness - was generally on top of things, I have, since Lily’s birth, become a scattered mess and a notorious corner-cutter.

    Not because doing things the right way is no longer important to me, but because doing things the right way is, frankly, no longer an option.

    Taking care of little ones who need just about everything from you, all the time, gives you approximately 63 new things to remember and consider and decide each day. I’m not ashamed to admit I get lost; I forget things; I take shortcuts - let me amend that: I take LOTS of shortcuts.

    But I give myself full permission to do so, because the important, bottom-line things in our day-to-day life now are that all family members are fed (even if it’s a dinner of yogurt and Cheerios), clothed (maybe in dress-up clothes, for all I care), well-rested (Mommy and Daddy, not so much), healthy (hello, random ER visits), and loved, and that Joe and I can still do our jobs competently enough to hold onto them through all the bumps and surprises that inevitably arise during these crazy, chaotic years.

    This list may sound relatively simple, but a thousand little details go into maintaining these basic tenets - details that I’m not so great at packing into my head in a meaningful way.

    Even so, on most days, these basics are covered. It’s not always pretty, and it’s not at all the way I would do things if I was just taking care of myself, but by nightfall, I can usually at least check the “bare minimum” box in my head.

    I consider myself a parenting version of a M.A.S.H. unit. My life is often all triage, all the time. If something doesn't have to be taken care of immediately, it's probably not going to get my attention. End of story.

    Which is what the phrase “putting the tree in the garage” has come to mean to me since Monday. Not doing something right, exactly, but doing just enough to maybe buy more time. A shortcut. A band-aid. A means of getting us all through the day, each day.

    So when I throw Lily’s friend’s birthday present into a gift bag, unwrapped, without a card, just as Lily’s going out the door to that party, I’m “putting the tree in the garage.”

    When neither I nor Lily have brushed our hair before friends and family arrive for her party, and I resign myself to this reality, I’m “putting the tree in the garage.”

    When I fail to separate the laundry into whites, colors, and darks, because I’m just not that invested anymore - or when I decide to break out the paper plates on a night when we’re ordering pizza, even though we have plenty of clean dishes - I’m “putting the tree in the garage.”

    And when I throw half-read newspaper sections and (maybe still clean?) clothes into my closet and close the doors on that morning, once a month or so, when a cleaning crew works over our house, I’m “putting the tree in the garage.”

    This new way of life doesn’t come naturally to a reformed Type-A like myself. But over the last five years, I’ve had no choice but to adapt.

    And the fact that there’s a hulking 15 foot tree limb in our garage now bothers me not at all. One day, eventually, we’ll break out the saw, and we’ll cut that monster to bits.

    Won’t we?

    Oh, who am I kidding? If it happens, it will likely be months from now - maybe the night we’re staring down Michigan’s next big snowfall, when Joe and I are desperate to tuck our cars into the garage once again. (Because we really don’t want to brush and scrape snow from our windows in the morning, of course.)

    But even then, something tells me that the two of us will be out there as night falls, panting and shoving the giant limb around the garage, trying to find a way to fit it alongside the cars.

    Or maybe we’ll just yank it back into our backyard for a while.

    I seriously wouldn’t put it past us.

    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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    Ypsilanti police on Thursday arrested a 23-year-old Belleville man for a home invasion after they spotted him running from the scene.

    Ypsilanti police officers responded around 9:30 p.m. to a report of an unknown person attempting to open the door of a residence in the 100 block of Miles Street. According to a press release, responding officers witnessed the suspect running from the scene.

    Officers detained the man, who was in possession of several valuable items, including a laptop, a cellphone and cash. Also recovered were a Wii video game system, an electric drill, a watch and a handbag with items in it. The property had been stolen from another residence on the same block that had a window forced open, police said.

    The suspect was arrested for home invasion and multiple warrants at 11:30 p.m. It was not immediately clear what the other warrants were for.

    No weapons were involved in the incident and no injuries to the victim or the suspect were reported. If you have information regarding the case, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK UP.


    View CRIME in a larger map

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


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    brawlwillharris.jpg

    Three students were charged in the Oct. 12, 2012 football game melee between Pioneer and Huron high schools.

    Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com

    The 17-year-old Pioneer student who rejected a plea deal back in April accepted the same agreement in the Washtenaw County Juvenile Court Friday when he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor assault charge for his involvement in last fall's football fracas.

    A jury trial that was set for Monday was subsequently canceled.

    Judge Donald Shelton also agreed to a deferred sentencing in the case, which essentially means the teen's record will be wiped clean if he fulfills all the requirements of his probation.

    Felony charges of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, assault with a dangerous weapon and aggravated assault will be dismissed at disposition, the equivalent of sentencing in juvenile court, which was set for July 23.

    The outcome of the case is similar to two other teens charged in the brawl who were convicted on just one assault charge out of several and received deferred sentences.

    Bashir Garain, the 18-year-old Pioneer student accused of swinging a crutch during the fight, was sentenced in May to four months probation after pleading guilty to a felony assault charge. As a part of a plea deal, a second count of assault with a dangerous weapon and two misdemeanor counts of assault and battery were dismissed.

    On April 30, a second 17-year-old Pioneer student was sentenced to six months probation and a $50 fine. He was found responsible on one count of misdemeanor assault and battery on Feb. 6. He originally was charged with assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, assault with a dangerous weapon, aggravated assault and assault and battery.

    At the time of his disposition, his public defender, Shelia Blakney, told AnnArbor.com the boy likely would appeal and that he likely would get a different attorney for that process. Court records indicate no appeal has been yet filed.

    Police said the two 17-year-olds kicked a Huron High School football player in the face during an on-field fight with the Pioneer squad. The brawl started when coaches from Huron and Pioneer met after the game Oct. 12 and began a verbal altercation that turned physical when assistant coach Vince Wortmann shoved Huron head coach Cory Gildersleeve.

    Wortmann was not charged because prosecutors ruled he believed he was defending Pioneer head coach Paul Test.

    Wortmann was fired after the incident. Both head coaches have since resigned.

    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: Ypsilanti is joining Ann Arbor as a member of the new Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority — or as some are calling it, the "A3TA."

    The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority is poised to morph into a multi-jurisdictional entity with a new name after the AATA's board on Thursday approved adding Ypsilanti as a member.

    AATA_062113_RJS_001.jpg

    An Ann Arbor Transportation Authority bus rolls down Fifth Avenue in downtown Ann Arbor on Friday morning.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    That expands the existing authority's footprint, increases the board from seven to nine members (Ypsilanti will get one representative), and it means voters in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti might be looking at a new transit tax on the ballot this November to expand local transit services.

    "I think it's a great step forward — not only for Ypsilanti, but really for the whole county," said Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber.

    "Having a voice at the table for the eastern side of the county is really good for the AATA, and this is a good building block for improving transit in the future," he added. "I think Ypsilanti needs the AATA and the AATA needs Ypsilanti … so it's a great regional step for everybody."

    Schreiber said he's hoping people will start referring to the new authority as "A3TA." It's likely the authority also will retain the AATA's longstanding brand name "The Ride."

    The city councils of both cities already approved the changes to the AATA's articles of incorporation, and Thursday's action by the AATA board was the next step in making the changes official.

    The amended articles of incorporation now are being filed with the Washtenaw County Clerk's Office and the Michigan Secretary of State.

    Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti are uniting to form a stronger transit authority within the county's urban core after plans to create a broader countywide authority fell apart late last year. Schreiber said he thinks the AATA maybe tried to "bite off" too much at once with the countywide plan.

    053112_Paul_Schreiber.jpg

    Paul Schreiber

    File photo

    Ann Arbor residents already pay about 2 mills and Ypsilanti residents pay about 1 mill for AATA services. The A3TA could ask voters to approve a new transit levy on top of those taxes.

    Schreiber said he expects the new tax would be significantly less than 1 mill, but the amount hasn't been decided yet.

    AATA CEO Michael Ford recently told AnnArbor.com a few steps remain before a millage could go to voters, but he's expecting those steps to be taken this summer. A decision would need to be made by late August in order to put the question of a new transit tax to voters this fall.

    Schreiber noted Ypsilanti voters approved a perpetual charter millage to pay for AATA transit services by a 3-to-1 margin in 2010, so he's confident they'll do the same to further expand services.

    "I think there's a lot of support for increasing the bus service," he said, adding many people would like to see more frequent trips between the two cities and longer hours of operation.

    But the details still need to be worked out.

    "We need to concentrate on getting our voice at the A3TA table," Schreiber said. "I think we're going to have to do some planning and communicating with council members."

    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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    Michigan-based venture capital firm Huron River Ventures announced the closing of its first fund this week.

    The firm, which operates offices in Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids, capped the fund at $11 million.

    Huron_River_Ventures_Partners.jpg

    Tim Streit (left) and Ryan Waddington founded Huron River Ventures in 2010 with an eye towards investing in Michigan startups.

    Photo Courtesy Huron River Ventures

    “We started working on this fund in 2010 and we had our first close at $7.5 million in March 2011,” managing director Tim Streit said.

    “… That’s also when we began investing. We continued to fundraise simultaneously in order to grow the fund as much as possible.”

    Venture capital funds typically have “life spans” of about 10 years, Streit said. The first five or six years after the closing of a fund are spent investing in companies and the last four to five is considered a “harvest” period.

    “We’re a little over two years into a 10-year fund and we’ve deployed about 30 percent of our capital, so we’re about on pace,” Streit said.

    “We have seven investments right now and we plan to make six to eight more over the next two to three years to end with a portfolio of about 15 companies.”

    Streit said the firm typically makes investments in the low hundreds of thousands in early stage companies, but holds a significant amount of additional capital for add-on investments. Once a firm is invested in a company, it is often invited to participate in later rounds of funding which can maintain or increase its equity stake in the startup.

    The recently closed fund is the first for the VC firm founded by Streit and Ryan Waddington. The pair met at the University of Michigan where Streit was an undergraduate student and Waddington was getting his masters degree at the business school.

    The fund’s focus on Michigan companies helped it receive $6 million from the State of Michigan as part of the Accelerator Fund Program. The program is administrated by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. with money from the Michigan Strategic Fund.

    The goal of the program is to seed early stage venture capital funds that focus investment on Michigan companies. Streit said his firm fits the bill.

    “We’re a perfect fund for Michigan,” he said.

    “We’re here, we want Michigan deals, and that’s what we focus on… we invest in Michigan-based companies or companies that have a strong presence in the state. Almost all of our capital is from the state or investors who are from Michigan or still live here.”

    While the firm initially billed itself as “clean tech” venture capitalists, Streit said the term has been so misunderstood that he now explains their focus different.

    “We’re particularly interested in enterprise and business-to-business software that makes things more efficient,” he said.

    “… When we said clean tech people thought we were looking at old-school energy or power generation. Energy is a theme in our investments in that we look at software that can make businesses more energy and cost efficient.”

    The fund’s current portfolio includes Ann Arbor-based companies FarmLogs and Covaron Advanced Materials. The company is looking to make further investments, and hopes that having a closed fund will help develop new leads.

    “Announcing that the fund is closed is a formality,” Streit said.

    “It’s a way to say to entrepreneurs that we’re here, and we’re looking to invest in people who want to change the world. If you think you’re one of those, then get a hold of us.”

    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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    It's that time again. Things are heating up in both on both the thermometer and the events page. Along with the Top of the Park, it's time for the Ann Arbor Jaycees Carnival at Pioneer High School.

    Thumbnail image for 061712_carnival.jpg
    There will be rides, games and everything you could want from a carnival. It's the one time when you can eat cotton candy and deep fried anything and not feel bad about it.

    The Ann Arbor Jaycees are young adults ages 21-40 who want to make a positive difference in the community.

    Wed., June 26-Fri., Jun 28, 4 p.m.-11 p.m.; Sat, June 29, Noon-11 p.m.; Sun, June 30, Noon-9 p.m. Get more information at carnival@a2jaycees.org


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    US Open Local Qualifier 04.JPG

    Mike Ignasiak of Saline hits a ball inches from the hole from a bunker on Hole 18 during a local qualifier for the U.S. Open on Monday, May 13, 2013 at Warwick Hills Country Club. Ignasiak shot a 71 on 18 holes, one under par.

    Jake May | MLive.com

    Mike Ignasiak of Saline is the last Washtenaw County player standing in the 102nd Michigan Amateur, being played this week at the Muskegon Country Club.

    Ignasiak won a Friday morning match to advance to the tournament quarterfinals, scheduled for Friday afternoon, weather permitting.

    Ignasiak, a former professional baseball player, won his round-of-16 match 6 & 5, and is now one of eight players remaining of the more than 150 that started the tournament Tuesday.

    Three area golfers advanced through stroke play to the 64-player match play portion of the tournament. Casey Baker, the vice president of golf shop operations at Miles of Golf in Ann Arbor, advanced to the round of 16 before losing a close match, 2 & 1, to Brad Bastion. Mark Brinkman of Ann Arbor lost in the first round of match play, 1 up to Jake Losey.

    Andrew Tindall of Manchester also participated in the tournament, but did not advance through the two-day stroke play portion into match play.

    The biggest upset of the tournament so far was scored by a former University of Michigan golfer, Andrew Chapman, who upset former champion and stroke play medalist Tom Werkmeister in the opening round of match play.

    Live scoring for matches is available through the Golf Association of Michigan's website.

    Kyle Austin covers sports for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at kyleaustin@annarbor.com or 734-623-2535. Follow him on Twitter @KAustin_AA.


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