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

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    jaycees-carnival-game.jpg

    One of the many addicting games at the annual Ann Arbor Jaycees Summer Carnival at Pioneer High School

    Courtney Sacco | AnnArbor.com

    The annual Ann Arbor Jaycees Carnival is happening at the Pioneer High School parking lot until Sunday. The carnival has everything one could possibly want in a summer night of fun: rides that offer the prospect of puking, injury or death; and deep-fried foods that put you on the fast track to diabetes.

    Sign me up.

    I’ve been battling an intense over-competitiveness that makes me the go-to scorekeeper at “just for fun” games of family whiffle ball and a mild gambling addiction for basically my entire life. In other words, I’m the perfect mark for a carnival game operator. I have an overwhelming desire to win games that mean absolutely nothing and am willing to reach in my wallet to do so.

    When I heard the sweet sounds of iron clanging at the corner of Stadium Boulevard and Main Street earlier this week, my eyes lit up like the seizure-inducing lights on the tilt-a-whirl.

    The carnival games beckoned me.

    Somewhere inside my over-competitive self is a rational voice telling me I shouldn’t take out a second mortgage in pursuit of oversized stuffed animals and that I’m no less of a man if I can’t knock a stack of beer bottles off of a table with a baseball.

    Her name’s Katie. We’ve been married for two years.

    So I gave myself a $5-per-game budget and set out to conquer the carnival games. The weather interrupted, so I wasn’t able to hit them all, but here’s a summary of the games available at the Ann Arbor Jaycees Carnival.

    The carnival is open though Sunday, I’d highly recommend attending.

    Beer Bust

    Level of difficulty: Extremely high
    Level of addiction: High
    Chance of winning: Extremely low

    “Beer Bust” or as I like to call it “throw a baseball, break-a-bottle, win a prize” has everything you expect from a carnival game: It’s highly addictive, extremely difficult and highly addictive.

    The concept is simple enough: five dollars gets you six baseballs that you throw in an attempt to break empty beer bottles. The bottlenecks are threaded through wooden shelves in order to keep them still. Break two bottles and you win a fairly large stuffed animal. Break three, and you get something that would make Clifford the Big Red Dog blush.

    carny-games.jpg

    Stuffed prizes entice many a carnival-goer.

    Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com

    Some might consider hurling baseballs at empty beer bottles juvenile, but if I stumbled upon a bag of baseballs and a row of empty beer bottles happened to be nearby, I might not be seen or heard from for days.

    Perfect place to start.

    The game operator at Beer Bust went by the name Country and said one in three participants wins. Thursday had been slow because of the weather, so he hadn't seen any winners.

    My time to shine.

    On my first throw I hit a bottle square, but there was no indication that my throw would ever break it. However, the bottle nearly fell from the rack, so I shifted my strategy to try to knock a bottle out of the rack and have it break on the ground rather than from my throw itself.

    This proved more difficult than expected.

    “That wood ain't gonna break,” Country sarcastically quipped as my pitches flew off target.

    As my arm grew tired and the bottles sat unblemished, Country - no doubt sensing how little of a threat I posed - offered me a free game. My pitch count mounted and velocity plummeted, but I finally knocked a bottle out of the rack, shattering it on the pavement below.

    As the shattering sounds of victory reverberated through the tent, I began to reach for my wallet for another go when Country deadpanned, “Bottles gotta break in the rack to count.”

    Defeated. I moved on.

    Balloon darts

    Level of difficulty: Low
    Level of addiction: Low
    Chance of winning: High

    Five dollars gets you three darts in "Balloon Darts" and there’s truly nothing difficult about it. Pop three balloons with the darts, win a huge prize; pop two balloons, win a small prize.

    Pop one or less? Get in your car and go home.

    I popped a balloon on my first throw with relative ease, as I gathered any functional human being should be able to. This provided a jolt of confidence after the Beer Bust disaster.

    My next two throws missed, putting me at an exclusive level of loser reserved for people who can’t pop a balloon with a dart from four feet away and Cubs fans.

    Luckily Brian, the fast talking carnival veteran of 16 years explained to me that I qualified for the "adults only" bonus shot because I was over 18, and I made good of my second life.

    After hitting the adults only bonus shot I qualified for the $5 trade-up shot, of course. If I popped a balloon with the trade-up shot and then gave Brian $5, I could have one of the small stuffed animals.

    What a deal!

    I missed the trade-up shot, but luckily Brian threw in another one. For free.

    “No charge,” Brian said and I threw what was now my sixth dart in pathetic pursuit of a stuffed animal and finally popped another balloon. “There ya go, now take out five dollars.”

    I got three extra throws, won a stuffed Monsters Inc. doll and was only $5 over budget.

    Success.

    Shoot Out the Star

    Level of difficulty: High
    Level of addiction: Extremely high
    Chance of winning: Low

    Perhaps it was an ominous sign when Michelle—the young, blonde carnival worker at “Shoot out the Star”—handed me a BB gun and the power went out.

    shoot-the-star.jpg

    Shooting out the star is easier said than done.

    Pete Cunningham | AnnArbor.com

    Standing in the dark with a loaded weapon, something was telling me to walk away.

    But no amount of torrential weather could make me resist firing 100 shots out of a machine-gun style BB gun at a paper target. Destroy the red star on the target, win an oversized stuff animal.

    My $5 got me one clip, but one round simply isn’t enough. I thought I had won, but when Michelle reeled the target in for me to see, there were specs of red staring back and mocking me, so I handed her another $5.

    “I thought you were doing just $5,” my wife kindly reminded me.

    But I had a strategy; I couldn’t quit now! Another 100 shots later and again tiny specs of red remained on what I thought was an annihilated target.

    I wanted to reach for another $5, but I somehow managed to resist. Three games in and I was $10 over budget with nothing but a pity stuffed animal to show for it.

    Balloon Dart Roulette

    Level of difficulty: Low
    Level of addiction: High
    Chances of winning: High

    I had proven poor at darts earlier, which made the opportunity to redeem myself at “Balloon Dart Roulette” particularly enticing. Behind every balloon sat a chip affiliated with a different prize. I assumed the biggest prizes would be hidden behind the balloons that were toughest to hit.

    But wait, maybe the workers knew I’d be thinking this, so they hid the chips for the biggest prizes behind the balloons easiest to hit?

    My strategic planning session wasn’t the only thing causing me to go cross-eyed as the bright lights surrounding the game flashed like strobe lights at a dubstep concert.

    “I’m used to it,” said Michael—the carnival worker in charge of the game—of the lights. “I’ve been doing it for 13 years,”

    I hit two of the three shots and behind each one was a token for a “medium" sized prize. I chose an oversized smiley face with arms, legs, a graduation cap and a shirt that said “Rad Grad,” which I’m sure my cousin who recently graduated from high school will appreciate as a graduation gift.

    Who needs money for books and beer when you could have a stuffed animal that says, “I still think you’re eight years old.”

    Mini-basket Free Throws

    Level of difficulty: Debatable
    Level of addiction: High
    Chance of winning: Debatable

    Mini-ball. Mini-basket. Mini-prizes.

    smiley-monster.jpg

    Two stuffed animals for the low price of $35!

    Pete Cunningham | AnnArbor.com

    Simple enough, right? Wrong.

    As not much of a basketball player in the first place, it’s hard for me to say how much my 0-for-4 performance had to do with my lack of skills and how difficult the game actually was.

    In defense of me as a shooter, the balls are rubber and inflated to the point where it feels like they might actually explode at impact. Working against me was the fact that my fourth shot completely missed the backboard and rim altogether.

    Five dollars gets you three shots and you need to make at least two to win. Speaking from personal experience, if you miss the first three, the carnival worker will throw you a pity ball.

    “You gotta make at least one,” Michael said, handing me a bonus fourth ball, which I promptly air-balled.

    No, apparently you don’t.

    More information available at the Jaycees website. Pete Cunningham covers sports (and occasionally carnival games) for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at petercunningham@annarbor.com. Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.


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    WheelsinMotion.jpg

    Wheels in Motion is expanding its shop by 9,740 square-feet after the purchase of the store space next door.

    Chelsea Hoedl I AnnArbor.com

    Wheels in Motion is nearing completion of a major expansion project on Washtenaw Avenue that will make it the largest bike shop in Ann Arbor.

    The bike store has been family owned and operated since 1933, and originally was located on Ann Arbor's Depot Street and known as Campus Bike & Toy. The shop moved to its home at 3400 Washtenaw Ave., in 1988 as part of its first expansion project. Now, the store continues to grow by taking over the building next door.

    The shop's new space previously was owned by Naked Furniture, a store specializing in real wood furniture that moved into the former Blinds to Go building at 3570 Washtenaw Ave., in January 2013.

    Owner DeWight Plotner was born into the Wheels in Motion family, and now works in the store alongside his son, Travis Plotner, and his daughter, Chelsie Plotner.

    “We’ve been planning to expand for a few years,” DeWight said. “We were just waiting for the right time to do it. We felt that now was the proper time financially and our business has been growing steadily.”

    Wheels in Motion bought the neighboring 9,740-square-foot space for $855,000 in late August 2012 — more than quadrupling the size of their previous 2,500-square-foot shop.

    After purchasing the vacated space, Wheels in Motion began construction in late March and DeWight said he expects the new portion of the store to be completed by July 15. Work is being done both to the interior and exterior of the building before it will be open to customers.

    "We haven't been able to do a lot of the things we wanted to do in our store because of size limits," DeWight said. "This gives us the opportunity to have more of the products we carry actually visible in our showroom and offer space for the cycling public to use."

    The new space will feature a conference room open for the cyclists in the area to hold meetings. It also will have room for spinning classes in the winter, Plotner said.

    The new conference room will provide Wheels in Motion opportunities to expand the already significant role it plays in the local cycling community. The shop already sponsor events such as the Worst Day of the Year Ride and the Fun Promotions Fat Bike Race at Rolling Hills Park. They also provide support for events like Eco Ride by offering tune-ups and on-site bike checks.

    DeWight said despite community engagement, the store is first and foremost a bicycle shop, operating a showroom where customers can browse through a variety of models and customization options. Tune-ups and free adjustments also are available.

    While construction is underway, the original store will remain open regular hours, which are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

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


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    Although the rains that inundated Ann Arbor Thursday were quite heavy, possibly qualifying as a 50-year storm event, the flooding that ensued was not a new phenomenon in the city.

    Flooding problems in Ann Arbor trace back many years, and they'll take many years to address, said Evan Pratt, Washtenaw County's water resources commissioner.

    "It took us 100 years to create these problems, and they're not going to go away in two years," he said on Friday. "These are things you have to chip away at, and you have to eat the elephant one bite at a time."

    Pratt said Ann Arbor's storm drainage system wasn't designed to handle the kinds of major storms the city is witnessing with increased intensity in recent years.

    FloodI.jpg

    Students took to kayaking in the street during Thursday's flood in Ann Arbor.

    Courtesy of Judy Ramos

    "Most of the city was built before stormwater was handled or managed," he said. "What we're finding is the places where we've got flooding problems, the vast majority of them don't have much, if any, detention/storage, so whatever hits the ground ends up having an impact on people."

    Unfortunately, Pratt said, it's difficult to try to retrofit stormwater storage into areas that were built out decades ago without stormwater in mind.

    In a way, he said, "We're kind of paying for the sins of our fathers."

    Matt Kulhanek, who was the city's acting public services administrator on Friday, said parts of the city saw up to 2.5 inches of rain during the storm that rolled through Thursday.

    City crews were out Friday morning addressing gravel roads that were eroded, and working with residents on seven reported cases of sewage backups.

    Kulhanek said some manhole covers also were displaced during the storm, but those had been replaced and secured, and all traffic signals were functional.

    Matt Warba, the city's interim field operations manager, said two of the sanitary sewer backups reported to the city as of Friday morning were on South Forest, two were on Oakwood, one was on Whitewood, one was on South Main and one was on East University.

    Mayor John Hieftje noted the backups weren't in some of the other areas of the city that have been affected in the past.

    "The other thing we know is the rain was intense in some small areas, and maybe not in others, and most of it came down within a half hour, which was interesting," he said. "It looks like in some parts of the city it was what's called a 25-year storm, and maybe even more in others."

    University of Michigan weather observer Dennis Kahlbaum said Friday his calculations indicated the storms were "approximately a 50-year event, with some areas approaching a 100-year event." A 50-year event is one that has a 1 in 50 chance of happening in a calendar year.

    Jennifer Lawson, the city's water quality manager, said residents are encouraged to contact the city about basement flooding and storm damage. She said residents' observations, including photos and videos, are helpful to the city to understand stormwater behavior in different areas.

    Residents can email photos or video to stormmodel@a2gov.org.

    The city of Ann Arbor, in close cooperation with the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner's Office, has multiple efforts underway that involve taking a close look at the city's stormwater and sanitary sewer systems and related flooding problems.

    FloodJ.jpg

    Flooding in the First and William parking lot in downtown Ann Arbor on Thursday

    Courtesy of Celia Haven

    That includes a two-year study that involves monitoring and evaluating stormwater behavior throughout the city.

    The study includes intensive data gathering to fine-tune or calibrate the city's existing stormwater model, which will be used to develop recommendations for improving the city's stormwater system.

    "The stormwater system we have in Ann Arbor was put in before the Korean War," Lawson said, noting design requirements were different back then.

    "We have a lot of pipe that either needs to be changed, rebuilt or improved, and this model project is the first step in that process of really building the science behind our stormwater management system so we can make sound decisions on future improvements to the stormwater system."

    Lawson said the city's engineers are constantly looking for innovative techniques for managing stormwater, but the city's philosophy remains that larger pipes are not necessarily the best solution, because all they do is push the water downstream.

    In looking at the actual inlets into the storm sewer system, Lawson said, there are areas where there maybe aren't enough inlets or there are inlets that are clogged.

    The city is looking at possibly adding new inlets in some areas, and modifying street sweeping and catch basin maintenance programs to combat clogging.

    "And as we move forward with any capital improvement projects, we do require stormwater management as a part of these road projects," Lawson said. "Before, oftentimes roads were put in without stormwater detention or stormwater infiltration."

    FloodA.jpg

    The scene on Clark Road on Thursday.

    Reader photo

    Pratt said the city is doing a good job of incorporating stormwater management into major street reconstruction projects.

    He pointed to the ongoing reconstruction of Fourth Avenue downtown, which includes the installation of a stormwater management system that will allow rain to collect in a stone reservoir located under the street surface and infiltrate back into the ground, thereby removing flow from the city's storm sewer system. Water essentially will hit the pavement, flow to the curb, find its way into the nearest catch basin, and then follow a pipe with holes in it and drain into the bed beneath the road.

    "Conceptually they're soaking the water into the ground rather than sending it into a pipe," Pratt said. "And they're soaking the water into the ground while they're using traditional pavement."

    The city also has plans for major stormwater improvements when it reconstructs Madison Street this summer, replacing the existing composite pavement (asphalt over concrete) with a new full depth section comprised of sand, stone and asphalt layers. The design uses infiltration and detention techniques such as bio-retention (rain gardens) and perforated/upsized storm sewer pipe to achieve improved stormwater quality and reduced flows into the Allen Creek.

    Pratt said he also wants to see heightened stormwater standards for new development that reflect the increasing intensity of storms.

    His office is working to change its own standards to require ground infiltration for at least the first inch of rain that falls — thinking the more rain that can soak into the ground, the better.

    Pratt said he hopes to see more development like the apartment complex that's been approved for 618 S. Main St., the former Fox Tent & Awning property.

    Stormwater detention for a 100-year flood is proposed there, with three rain garden/bio-retention areas on the west side of the site. The project increases the property's drainage surface by more than 18,000 square feet, which will be used for stormwater infiltration.

    Pratt noted the site is designed so that no stormwater will be discharged into the city's storm sewer system — an improvement over the current system that sends the water into the storm drain for the Allen Creek, which drains out to the Huron River.

    Evan_Pratt_headshot_2012.jpg

    Evan Pratt

    "The city is trying to do their part, and we're trying to work with the city to up the development standards and require soaking it into the ground," Pratt said. "Somebody taught me a long time ago, there will always be a bigger storm — no matter what you design, build or think up. If you build a bigger pipe, there will always be a bigger storm."

    Pratt's office recently beta-tested an online flood-reporting application to allow people to use their mobile devices or computers to quickly report flooding problems.

    The app is up and running, and can be found here, but it's still being fine-tuned.

    The app asks people to enter their name and contact information, time and date of flooding, and description of the flooding. It also allows for uploading photos.

    "It was a pretty wet night," Pratt said, summing up Thursday's storm. "I haven't gone back and looked at it, but before that 6 o'clock second burst hit, we already were seeing rain gauges pushing something equivalent to a 50-year storm.

    He added, "We are having more intense storms more frequently."

    Pratt said progress is being made on possible solutions for the flooding problems around Lansdowne and there will be a public meeting in August to discuss the benefits of different options.

    He noted a complete reconstruction of Scio Church Road from Main Street to east of Seventh Street already is planned for 2015 and is expected to include major stormwater management upgrades that will reduce the amount of water that moves over the road into the neighborhood.

    That's on a new list of 20 projects related to water quality in the Huron River watershed that Pratt's office is trying to get state funding for right now.

    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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    It's common knowledge that the voice of Darth Vader and the Queen of Pop went to the University of Michigan.

    But did you know that Alice from "The Brady Bunch" studied in Ann Arbor? Or that Selma Blair —of "Legally Blonde" fame— studied photography at U-M?

    While James Earl Jones and Madonna are jewels in U-M's crown of celebrities and successful attendees, they're far from alone. AnnArbor.com considered some of U-M's notable alumni and found seven people you probably didn't know went to the school.

    celeb_7.jpg

    While everyone knows Darth Vader and Madonna went to the University of Michigan, they're not the only ones who have claimed some fame after their Tree Town education. Clockwise from top left: Selma Blair, of "Legally Blonde," Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees, Ann B. Davis, the lovable maid on "The Brady Bunch," and James Wolk, of "Mad Men."

    AP and file photos

    For example, you probably know the founder of Google and the CEO of Twitter went to U-M, but did you know the creator of the iPod studied engineering at the school in the 1990s and is now a vice president at Apple?

    Selma Blair

    If you've watched "Legally Blonde" and found yourself cursing the annoying and evil Vivian Kensington, who actually turns out to be quite nice by the movie's end, then you've actually cursed a U-M graduate. Or at least a character portrayed by an actress who graduated in 1994 with degrees from U-M's College of Literature, Science and Arts and the School of Art and Design.

    Blair, a 1995 graduate, grew up in Southfield and transferred to U-M from a school in New York City. She moved back to the Big Apple a week after graduating. She's acted in "Cruel Intentions" and "The Sweetest Thing."

    Ann B. Davis

    Alice Nelson might not have shared the last name Brady with the Brady Bunch clan from the 1970s hit TV series, but she was definitely family. She's also a 1948 graduate of U-M's School of Music, Theatre and Dance who lived in Stockwell Hall. Davis originally thought she would study medicine, but ended up switching her studies to performance art. And it was well worth it: the New York native has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

    Tony Fadell

    Have you ever owned an iPod? The iPod revolutionized the way people listened to music on the go, and it was created by a 1991 U-M graduate who studied engineering. Fadell is from Grosse Point and was a member of the Psi Upsilon fraternity during his time at U-M. He also lived in East Quad. He now serves as senior vice president of Apple's iPod Division.

    Derek Jeter

    Before Jeter wore New York Yankees pinstripes, he wore maize and blue. To be fair, the famous Yankees shortstop only attend U-M for a semester in 1992, but according to rumor he still makes it to Wolverine home games from time to time.

    Jeter grew up in Kalamazoo and took classes in the College of Literature, Science and Arts before leaving Ann Arbor - and a full athletic scholarship— to go pro after being drafted by the Yankees. He lived in Couzens Hall. Due to his father's urging, the Yankees reportedly promised Jeter his college expenses would be covered if pro baseball didn't work out and he wanted to go back to school.

    “I never got my degree from Michigan because my baseball career took off,” Jeter told Sports Illustrated a decade ago. “But I’d like to return some day, like Rodney Dangerfield did in ‘Back to School.’ I’m not sure if I could see myself sitting in classes when I’m 40 years old, though.”

    Betty Smith

    The “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” novelist didn't receive a high school degree, but she did attend classes at U-M when she moved to Ann Arbor with her first husband, a law student, in 1919. They lived on Hill Street. Smith had two daughters while living in Ann Arbor and won the school's prestigious Avery Hopwood Award. She later divorced her husband and moved to North Carolina.

    William Shawn

    Shawn is another successful Wolverine who left Ann Arbor before graduating. Shawn was editor of The New Yorker for 35 years, from 1952 to 1987, a time when the literary news magazine's influence grew substantially. He attended U-M in the mid-1920s and lived at 408 Thompson St. The notoriously private editor died in 1992.

    James Wolk

    Wolk is a 2007 graduate of U-M's theater program who has found success in television hits like "Mad Men" and USA's "Political Animals." Wolk originally intended to be a stage actor, but he landed the lead in a Hallmark television movie soon after graduating. Wolk is from Farmington Hills.

    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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    Note: the story has been changed to correct the age of one of the characters

    BeckyShaw2.jpg

    Sarab Kamoo and Performance Network's Artistic Director, David Wolber

    photo by Sean Carter | courtesy of Performance Network

    What’s love got to do with it?

    When it comes to romantic relationships - or, heck, even families, why not? - it all depends on how you construe the L Word. In one way or another, just about every damaged character in playwright Gina Gionfriddo’s dark, mordant “Becky Shaw,” a Pulitzer Prize finalist that opened Friday night at Performance Network, has the same transactional definition of the word: Love is the coming together, as one character says, of two people, each of whom has something the other person wants.

    How Gionfriddo’s fivesome jockey and connive—verbally and psychologically—to get that something is the play’s strong suit, but it’s one the players and director Phil Powers reveal only intermittently in this production.

    The play focuses on a dysfunctional family and a blind date gone more wrong than most. Susan (Dorrie Peltyn), who has MS and a serious case of acerbic attitude as well as a feckless boyfriend, is a recent widow; her husband apparently has left a financial mess and other mysteries in the wake of his death. Her daughter, Suzanna (Sarab Kamoo), is still distraught about her father—and mad at just about everyone, it seems. No way she, her sarcastic adopted brother, Max (David Wolber) or her mother can even agree over how long ago dad died: one says 3 months, another 6 months, another a compromise 4.

    Beyond the date of dad’s death, Suzanna and Max clearly have never sorted out their feelings for each other; the complications only grow when Suzanna, clueless about herself but now studying to be a clinical psychologist, of course, marries Andrew (Keith Kalinowski). A barista-poet, Andrew’s a hopelessly nurturing soul who brews up trouble when he sets up Max with the play’s title character, the not-as-helpless-as-she-seems and seriously troubled Becky Shaw (Maggie Meyer).

    In two acts played out in bedrooms, living rooms and cafes, all with black-and-white photo backdrops in Monika Essen’s set design, the characters trade secrets and lies and lots of zingers. They ricochet off one another, constantly repositioning themselves as the balance of power shifts.

    If Gionfriddo has lots of serious stuff to say about love and marriage—and dysfunction, social class and moral character—she leavens the dough with shooting-star barbs and witty repartee. And that’s where things fall short for now in this production.

    Suzanna is 35, but Kamoo plays her as a harridan in the making, rather than a neurotic; she’s constantly in a tantrum. And opposite her, Wolber, making a Performance Network acting return after six years directing, is a little leaden and heavy footed as Max. There was little chemistry between the two, and a fair amount of stepping on lines Friday—that may change as the run goes on; still, lots of the bon-mot lines Gionfriddo gives the pair would gain the loft needed to power this play if they were lobbed rather than hurled instead.

    Peltyn finds a good psychological place and pace with her clear-eyed, tell-it-like-it-is Susan, and Kalinowski’s softie of an Andrew, if occasionally overdrawn, has lots of heart.

    Most expertly painted is Meyer’s Becky, at once psychologically delicate and quite strong, sad and snappy. She translates her character’s contradictions with vocal nuance, fine timing and fluttering hands. And as a character, Becky’s the one to keep your eye on. She’s not the title character for nothing; she doesn’t get as much stage time as Suzanna or Max, but she’s the primum mobile, and everything circles back to her in the end.

    "Becky Shaw" continues through July 28 at Performance Network. For tickets, see the website.


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    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com file

    Full list of local Fourth of July activities

    Here’s an Ann Arbor tradition that shouldn't be missed: The Ann Arbor Jaycees hosts the 23rd annual Fourth of July parade Thursday morning in downtown Ann Arbor. The parade features floats, walking groups, music and more.

    The parade starts at 10 a.m. at the corner of State and William streets. The approximately mile-long route goes north to Liberty, west to Main, then south one block back to William before ending at William and Thompson. The parade line-up starts at 8 a.m., and judging in the children’s bike decorating contest will begin at 9:30 a.m.

    Children who want to ride in the parade are encouraged to decorate their bikes with the patriotic theme “Parade of Stars.” A panel of judges will determine the winners. Judging will be done by age group (less than 5 years, 5 to 8 years, and 9 to 12 years.)

    The parade’s Grand Marshal is Mike Bottom, head coach of the University of Michigan men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs. Don’t forget to wear red, white and blue.

    The Ann Arbor Jaycees sponsor the annual Fourth of July parade on Thursday starting at 10 a.m. downtown (State, Liberty, Main, and William streets). For a map of the parade route and more information on the entrants in the parade visit www.a2jaycees.org/parade or call 734-531-9626.


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    People flew, flipped mid-air, and threw energy balls across the facade of the Burton Tower, on Friday night. At least digital projections of themselves did. An interactive experience, at the intersection of video gaming and art, is happening at Ann Arbor Summer Festival's Top of the Park, this weekend.

    Burton Tower is being transformed into an enormous videogame screen for "Superhero" by Madrid-based group Wildbytes.

    The interactive experience will happen on the side of Burton Tower twice more, from 9:45 p.m. to 11:45 p.m., on Saturday, June 29, and Sunday, June 30.

    "SuperHero" utilizes Kinect cameras - the movement mapping cam is used with Xbox 360 - and projects real-time video images of participants onto the sides of large buildings.

    Put your arms up straight and your character will launch into the air. Lean back and forth to change direction. Other movements create a force field or make a character throw balls of light.

    Like in video games, crossing over special items on the screen triggers things to happen. Fly through a red mushroom to make yourself bigger. Aim for a tube of toothpaste to watch it explode. What happens in the projection is at the whim of the participant. One criticism, although the backgrounds and objects on the screen change, there could have been more. After watching for a while, the repeating palette started to seem somewhat limited.

    Many of Friday night's participants were young children with their parents. Those parents that spoke with AnnArbor.com at the event said they were glad they kept the kids up.

    Two of the first kids to take a try, Jillian and Griffin White really liked seeing themselves projected on Burton Tower.

    "It was really cool to see myself actually flying," Griffin said after taking his turn as a superhero. He especially liked the part when his character multiplied into a hoard of him.

    Jillian was impressed by how well it worked, and she found it easy to do. "It was even better than I thought it was going to be," she said.

    Gabriel Wolmark, 9, jumped off the game platform with an excited look in his eyes. "I thought it was awesome!" he exclaimed.

    Adults enjoyed it too. Kathleen Engel and Liz Barry had a go on Friday. "It was something different to do, so different," Engel said. Barry had fun trying to fly over special objects - toothpaste, a DNA strand, a cell. "After you get your bearings, then it's fun to try to be more deliberate about it," she said.

    The "Superhero" experience is one of the events happening "Superhero weekend," at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival's Top of the Park. All weekend long, you are encouraged to dress like a superhero.

    On Sunday, June 30, the U-M Museum of Natural History will test super powers at the Top of the Park's "KidZone."

    The Power Center will cap off the weekend with "The Intergalactic Nemesis in "Book One: Target Earth," a sci-fi themed theatrical experience, on Sunday, June 30, at 5:00 p.m.


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    Justin Dozier

    Courtesy of Washtenaw County Jail

    A suspended University of Michigan wrestler pleaded guilty Wednesday to making Molotov cocktails after the NCAA national championship basketball game in April, court records indicate.

    Justin Dozier, 20, pleaded guilty to two counts of explosives: possessing/manufacturing Molotov cocktails under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, which allows a judge to place a youth between 17 and 20 in prison or on probation without a conviction to avoid a criminal record.

    Dozier and fellow U-M wrestler Rosario Bruno were charged in May with making Molotov cocktails the night the basketball team lost the national championship game to the University of Louisville.

    According to Ann Arbor police, Dozier and Bruno made them in the early hours of April 9. The Molotov cocktails were found in the 1100 block of White Street, the scene of at least two fires after the loss.

    Police arrived at the scene of a mattress fire in the 1100 block of White, extinguished it and then found a bottle with a flammable liquid inside. Police said they linked Dozier and Bruno to up to four bottles made that way, AnnArbor.com previously has reported.

    Dozier’s address is listed in the block where the bottles were found and Bruno was taken to the hospital by Huron Valley Ambulance from a home on that block the same night.

    Both men were indefinitely suspended from the U-M wrestling team when the charges were brought.

    Bruno is set to appear in front of Judge Archie Brown July 17 for a pretrial hearing. Dozier is scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 14.

    They remain free on personal recognizance bonds.


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    About 3,000 DTE Energy customers were still without power in Washtenaw County Saturday morning after thunderstorms rolled through the area Friday afternoon.

    About 29,000 customers were without power in the company’s service area in southeast Michigan, down from 130,000 at the height of the outages after storms raked the area Thursday.

    DTE spokesman Alejandro Bodipo-Memba said the utility hoped to have power restored for all but a handful of customers by sometime Saturday.

    The storms Friday, which hit shortly after noon, knocked out power for several thousand DTE customers in Washtenaw County. The bulk of the remaining outages Saturday appeared to be concentrated on the south side of Ann Arbor, according to the DTE Energy power outage map.

    Friday’s storms followed severe thunderstorms Thursday, which brought significant rainfall and flooding to the Ann Arbor area.

    powerout_062913.jpg

    Outages are shown in orange, green and purple.


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    Elmore Ray

    Courtesy of Pittsfield Township police

    The 28-year-old Ypsilanti man accused of shooting at cars on the freeway with a sawed-off shotgun had his case bound over to the Washtenaw County Trial Court Wednesday, according to court records.

    A district court judge ruled there was enough reason to believe a crime was committed and Elmore Ray was responsible for them to send the case to circuit court on 11 counts, the records indicate.

    Ray stood mute to the charges.

    He faces four counts of assault with intent to murder, four counts of assault with intent to commit great bodily harm, possession of a short-barreled shotgun, carrying a weapon with unlawful intent and possession of a firearm in commission of a felony.

    He is accused of being the gunman witnesses said used a sawed-off shotgun just after midnight Feb. 27 to shoot at multiple vehicles on U.S. 23 near Michigan Avenue south of Ann Arbor. No cars were hit and there were no injuries. Pittsfield Township police arrested Ray at gunpoint as he walked west from the area. No motorists were injured.

    Ray's defense has raised issues of whether or not he is competent to stand trial. Court records show he was found competent June 18.

    A pretrial court date Aug. 1 was scheduled. He remains in the Washtenaw County Jail on a $20,000 cash or surety bond.

    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 aftermath of a fatal crash east of Manchester Thursday evening.

    Courtney Sacco | AnnArbor.com

    Police have released the name of a Clinton woman killed in a two-vehicle crash east of Manchester during a thunderstorm Thursday evening.

    Catrina Lacoss died when her car collided with an oncoming automobile on Austin Road near Ernst Road, Michigan State Police said in a news release Saturday. Police said heavy rain was a contributing factor in the accident.

    LaCoss was driving east on Austin Road about 5:45 p.m. Thursday when she lost control of her vehicle while navigating a curve, police said. Her car crossed the centerline and collided with another automobile.

    Thunderstorms that moved through the area Thursday brought nearly 2.5 inches of rain in half an hour to some areas.
    View Larger Map


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    The Saline Area Schools Board of Education recently approved a balanced budget for the 2013-14 academic year that restores $97,215 to the district's fund balance, or primary savings account.

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    After four consecutive years of budget deficits, cuts, reducing staff and even considering privatizing some employees, Saline quietly passed its nearly $52 million operating budget and with little fanfare this year.

    The Saline Board of Education has a policy that if its fund balance drops below 5 percent of its operating budget, the district has two years to restore it, which the district achieved this budget cycle. The additional $97,215 placed into the district's fund equity brings the total account balance to $2.59 million, equaling 5.13 percent of Saline's general fund.

    Board President David Holden in a press release praised school employees and officials for helping the board take this step toward creating long-term financial stability at Saline Area Schools.

    "You don't have to look far to see the negative impact on providing quality education to students when finances are mismanaged," Holden said in a statement. "The board acknowledges the cooperation we have received from the collective bargaining units. Their support has been a key element in restoring financial stability."

    Superintendent Scot Graden said the district is in a much better position than in recent memory. But Graden added the district still must be cautious moving forward.

    "We have weathered the economic downturn and look with confidence into the future," he said.

    This is the second year in a row Saline schools has not had to issue layoff notices to staff and during these past two years, the district actually has hired 26 teachers, according to the news release.

    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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    A franchisee planning to open a new Subway restaurant in Saline expects to begin construction in the next few months, The Saline Post reports.

    The restaurant will be on East Michigan Avenue near The Oaks Plaza and is expected to open early next year, the website reported.


    View New Subway, Saline in a larger map


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    The board of the new Ypsilanti Community Schools district is considering name changes for several buildings, radio station WEMU reported.

    Among ideas being considered are changing Ypsilanti High School to Ypsilanti Community High School Campus and Willow Run Middle School to Ypsilanti Community Middle School Willow Run Campus.

    Those and other potential changes were discussed at a board meeting Thursday, the station reported. The new district was formed out of the consolidation of the Ypsilanti and Willow Run school districts.


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    Wanted: chief executive to oversee a multibillion-dollar enterprise that employs thousands, educates tens of thousands, pushes cutting-edge research and medical care, and fields national-caliber sports teams that are often a headline or two away from controversy.

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    Penn State University President Rodney Erickson plans to step down in a year.

    AP photo

    Must be skilled at fundraising and political tightrope walking and have an appreciation for funny-looking mascots. Working 24/7 is expected; ability to walk on water is a plus.

    "The joke is frequently told in these searches that you're looking for God on a good day," said Tom Poole, vice president of administration at Penn State and executive secretary of the university's search for a new president.

    At Penn State, Rodney Erickson will leave in a year, triggering a search for a successor who, on top of the regular responsibilities of running such a big university, must also deal with the ongoing aftermath of the sex abuse scandal involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Erickson took over in 2011 after former university President Graham Spanier was forced out.

    In Ann Arbor, University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman announced in April that she would step down in July 2014.

    Ohio State President Gordon Gee retires Monday after his second stint as OSU president for a total of 15 years in Columbus. He announced his retirement last month just days after The Associated Press first reported on remarks he'd made months earlier jabbing Roman Catholics and Notre Dame and demeaning the academic integrity of Southeastern Conference schools.

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    Mary Sue Coleman at the University of Michigan Board of Regents meeting in April.

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

    The Ohio State provost has been tapped as interim president. Details of a search for Gee's replacement haven't been announced.

    Any of the responsibilities of a modern research university president would be enough for one person — whether it's building strong academic programs for undergraduates or running a university hospital system. The combined duties can seem staggering.

    Penn State, with a $4.3 billion annual budget, has a total of about 85,000 students, including undergrad, graduate and professionals, spread over 24 campuses, including its online school, World Campus.

    The University of Michigan Health System alone has more than 26,000 faculty and staff, 120 clinics and offices throughout Michigan and northern Ohio, and $490 million in research funding.

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    Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee is retiring Monday.

    AP photo

    Ohio State, with a $5.2 billion budget and more than 63,000 students, has 168 undergraduate majors, 93 doctoral programs and seven professional programs, including the medical, law and pharmacy schools. It also has nearly 500,000 alumni worldwide, many of them with strong opinions.

    When considering candidates, it helps to brainstorm about the skills a new leader should bring to the job, even if the results seem far-fetched at times, said Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education.

    "Talking about what in the ideal world the next president could be and do, you get a long list that you think amounts to 'walks on water,'" said Broad, former president of the University of North Carolina.

    "But it's a process that helps you formulate in your mind, among all these important potentials, which ones are absolutely essential," she said.

    Seeking candidates for such demanding jobs is one thing. But who would want the job, given the hours and the stress?

    Penn State, for example, is wrapping up a $2 billion fundraising campaign, an effort high on the list of presidential priorities.

    Campus meetings start early and athletic events go late. Weekends off are exceedingly rare. Presidents are often required to sit on corporate boards, meaning extra time and travel.

    Nevertheless, there's no dearth of candidates for such jobs, largely because "they're wonderful institutions," said Hunter Rawlings, president of the Association of American Universities, which represents 62 leading public and private research universities in the U.S. and Canada, including Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State.

    "Highly regarded globally, they have, as you know, international student bodies, international faculties, their influence extends throughout the world, and so it's no wonder that you have a lot very talented people who have a desire to head those institutions in spite of the difficulties," Rawlings said.

    No wonder, either, given the compensation for such work. Spanier, Gee and Coleman all made the Chronicle of Higher Education's list of the top 10 highest compensated public college leaders. Spanier topped the list, at $2.9 million for the 2011-12 school year before his departure. Gee ranked No. 3 at $1.9 million and Coleman was No. 6 at $900,000.

    Coming up with a short list of candidates is usually turned over to executive search firms. Ohio State hired Chicago-based Heidrick & Struggles when it started the search in 2006 that ended with Gee. Penn State hired executive search firm Isaacson, Miller, with offices in Boston, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., to look for Erickson's replacement.

    In Michigan, the search will be made easier — at least for the university — by the state's Sunshine laws, which shield the names of applicants for the University of Michigan job from the public. Penn State is also confident it can shield candidate names under Pennsylvania law.

    "You're simply going to have fewer candidates, certainly fewer sitting president candidates, if the search is a public search," said Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the former Michigan State University president. "That isn't what campuses would prefer to do, but it is a problem if you don't do it that way."

    Then there's the matter of cleaning up messes. At Penn State, Erickson was criticized in the wake of the Sandusky scandal for handling talks with the NCAA over the severe sanctions on the football program, which included scholarship reductions, a four-year bowl ban and a $60 million fine.

    At Ohio State, Gee left under the shadow of a warning from trustees in March that any more offensive comments — he referred to "those damn Catholics" at a December meeting of the university's Athletic Council — could lead to his dismissal.

    Concerns about walking into such situations are outweighed by the lure of these top jobs, Rawlings said.

    "When you've had some difficulties, that really gives the new person a chance to start afresh with her or his own agenda," Rawlings said. "And that's often seen by candidates as an opportunity."


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    The Ann Arbor Summer Festival has announced that has forced the cancellation of the 7 p.m. act at Top of the Park Saturday night.

    The Joe Summers Gypsy Jazz show was canceled, Top of the Park announced on its Facebook page.

    Plans for the rest of the evening are to be determined. This is the fifth day in a row weather has forced the cancellation of part of Top of the Park.

    Events scheduled for the rest of the night include:

    8 p.m.: Tumbao Bravo - Rackham Stage
    Ann Arbor’s Tumbao Bravo is a Latin jazz combo that brings the rhythms of Cuba to life with congas, timbales, sax, flute, trumpet, keyboard, and bass.

    9:30 p.m.: Orquesta RITMO - Rackham Stage
    The Latin dance party continues as headliners Orquesta RITMO take to Rackham Stage to spread their love for the electrifying genre of Latin music.

    9:45 p.m.: Superhero - South Ingalls Mall
    A digital art exhibition at Top of the Park over multiple nights, festival-goers will be able to fly over the historic facade of the Burton Memorial Tower while enjoying a number of super powers, which they can control with natural gestures.

    11 p.m.: After Dark w/ DJ Chill Will - Grove Stage
    A Hip Hop and Break Beat set by Ann Arbor-based DJ Chill Will.

    Top of the Park takes place in the area around East Washington Street at Ingalls Mall.


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    A crash was partially blocking the eastbound lanes of Interstate 94 near Scio Church Road on the southwest side of Ann Arbor.

    Traffic was able to get by in the left lane, a dispatcher with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office said shortly before 8 p.m.

    No further information was immediately available.


    View Crash 062913 in a larger map


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    "Willkommen" was the greeting hundreds of people entering German Park in Northfield Township heard Saturday afternoon. It wast the park's first picnic of 2013 and its 75th anniversary.

    "There are second and third generations of Germans here today because we take pride in our heritage," said Klaus Kummer, a member of the German Park Recreation Club, who estimates as many as 4,000 guests would show up Saturday. "They come hungry and they come thirsty!"

    The park hosts three picnics a year on the last Saturday of the month in June, July and August.

    Immigrants from Germany began coming to the Ann Arbor area in 1830, which led to many German businesses in the area as well as German churches, choirs and even a German cornet band. It was 75 years ago in 1938 when a group of German immigrants got together to buy a piece of property north of the city that became known as German Park.

    "The founders of German Park wanted to create the German atmosphere," explained Martin Boos, president of the German Park Recreation Club. "They bought the dance hall (Thompsen Halle) and over the years have added buildings as well as a new dance hall with a pavilion and a new kitchen and bar."

    "I'm here for a fun time and the beer," said Leslie Stalker from Hamburg Township in Livingston County.

    Her husband Scott Stalker has been coming to German Park since he was a little boy.

    "I used to play cribbage with my parents here," he said. "This place is always busy."

    "I've been meaning to come for years," Stacy Stephens from Ypsilanti said. "I heard that it's a riot."

    Doreen Groth came Saturday with her husband and children. She's from Lake Orion but originally from Germany.

    "I was surprised to find a place like this here," said Groth.

    There are currently 120 members in the German Park Recreation Club as well as a number of honorary members, which means that they are over 70-years-old. The club offers golf tournaments and trips, including some to Germany.

    Saturday's German Park Picnic was scheduled to run from 4 to 11 p.m. The other picnics this summer are scheduled for July 27 and Aug. 31.

    The dance band Die Dorfmusikanten was performing Saturday along with the German Park Trachtengruppe Dancers.

    Another draw is the Deutsch Küche, which offers traditional German foods like bratwurst, knackwurst, sauerkraut, spatzen, potato salad and strudel. A variety of German beers and wines is also available.

    Boos, whose job transferred him to the Ann Arbor area in 1997, discovered German Park thanks to his wife.

    "She brought me here, and It reminded me of home," he said. "I enjoy the camaraderie."

    Boos says the location for German Park, which is at 5549 Pontiac Trail, was chosen because the founders wanted a big piece of land located in Washtenaw County close to Ann Arbor.

    To what does Boos attribute the longevity and popularity of German Park?

    "Tradition has been passed on and we keep it alive," said Boos. "We are one big family, and we still have the kids of the founding members here."

    Nana Glauch came from Ann Arbor to hear her parents play in the band Die Dorfmusikanten. She brought her cousin Max Smieskol, who is visiting from Baden, Germany.

    "This place looks more like Germany than Germany," said Smiskol.

    Learn more about German Park at its website.


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    Here's the schedule for tonight's Top of the Park, the free (donations welcome), outdoor component of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival. Descriptions provided by the festival. Top of the Park takes place in the area around East Washington Street at Ingalls Mall, except as noted.

    1 p.m.: Kids Music Workshop with The Not-Its - Ann Arbor District Library
    In this hands-on music creation workshop, music lovers and fans get a chance to learn how The Not-Its! combine crunchy guitars with smooth, four-part harmonies, to create up-tempo, power-pop hits families love.

    5 p.m.: KidZone: Ann Arbor District Library - KidZone Tent
    Come to the KidZone Tent and try out this one-of-a-kind experience of dueling set to the tempo of music, and see if you can tag your way to victory!

    5 p.m.: Retreat: Yoga for Health - Power Center Lawn
    Refresh and reset in this unique slow vinyasa flow yoga class led by health reporter and yoga instructor Lila Lazarus of Saint Joseph Mercy Health System.

    5 p.m. The Intergalactic Nemesis in “Book One: Target Earth”; Power Center
    With over 1,000 projected graphic novel panels, three actors voicing dozens of characters, a Foley artist creating sound effects, and a keyboardist playing an original score, The Intergalactic Nemesis is a spectacle unlike any other and a show for the kid in everyone.

    5 p.m.: Ralston Bowles - Grove Stage
    An award-winning songwriter, his carefully arranged songs rise out of the traditions of Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young.

    6 p.m.: Jen Sygit - Grove Stage
    Jen Sygit is an acoustic folk artist from Lansing known for her stunning vocals and studied guitar and banjo playing.

    7 p.m.: The Not-Its - Rackham Stage
    The Not-Its! combine crunchy guitars with smooth, four-part harmonies, all nestled within “fantastic danceable pop gems about gettin’ fancy, birthday parties, bath time, and intergalactic play dates.”

    8:30 p.m.: Drivin' Sideways - Rackham Stage
    Veteran local band Drivin’ Sideways is “real country music” fueled by Pontiac Pete Ferguson’s alternately soulful and ornery vocals.

    9:45 p.m.: Superhero - South Ingalls Mall
    Superhero is an interactive projection mapping experience in which participants are transformed into superheroes using Kinect cameras and customized software.

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    "The Iron Giant"

    10 p.m.: Movie: "The Iron Giant" - Rackham Stage
    Jennifer Aniston, Vin Diesel, and Harry Connick Jr, star in this animated feature about an innocent alien giant robot that falls to Earth and frightens the residents of a small town in Maine in 1958.

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    Kristina Zalewski is the AnnArbor.com 2013 Washtenaw County softball Player of the Year

    Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com file

    Kristina Zalewski
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    Kristina Zalewski

    School: Saline
    Class: Senior

    Notable: Kristina Zalewski was the focal point of a Saline softball team that made history, going 19-2 record in the circle with a .695 ERA, 218 strikeouts against only 24 walks in 141 innings. The senior helped the Hornets to an undefeated league season and outright SEC Red title, as her team went 33-3. The Hornets were ranked as high as No. 8 in the year in the coaches rankings, and won a regional title for the first time in school history. Zalewski’s individual highlights included an eight-inning no-hitter in her team’s district final win against Monroe, a performance her coach called “phenomenal,” and getting within one out of a perfect game against Chelsea during the regular season. She also gave up three combined runs in a pair of regional wins, and struck out 10 batters against Skyline while hitting a solo home run. “We ride behind her, and she’s a great leader,” Saline coach Alicia Seegert said after the Hornets’ state quarterfinal loss to Mattawan. Zalewski will play at Michigan State next season.

    Player of the Year schedule:

    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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