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

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    Rubble is all that remains after crews demolished the remnants of a house, located on Gattegno Street in Ypsilanti Township, that exploded on Sunday, July, 7.

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

    Officials who have been sifting through the debris of the house that exploded Sunday in Ypsilanti Township have made several interesting discoveries, officials said Tuesday.

    Ypsilanti Township Fire Marshal Vic Chevrette, who was still at the scene Tuesday afternoon, said officials discovered hundreds of boxes containing thousands of 15-ounce canisters of butane, which is still being investigated as a cause of the explosion.

    An assault rifle and bags of marijuana were taken away from the home on Gattegno Street Monday, as was a pit bull, who was trapped underneath a collapsed wall but rescued by authorities, Chevrette said.

    The 25-year-old man who fled from the home with his clothes on fire remains at U-M Hospital, where he was listed Monday in critical condition.

    The woman and infant seen running from the home are still unaccounted for, Chevrette said.

    The investigation into what caused the fire continued Tuesday, but a large cache of butane might be the cause. Officials said drug dealers use the butane to essentially extract THC from all parts of the marijuana plant to make what is called hash oil.

    Butane-extracted hash oil is emerging in stoner culture as a way to achieve an intense high, described as “cosmically baked,” according to a June 2013 Rolling Stone article.

    It also can be easily made at home: Marijuana is packed into a tube and a solvent, such as butane, is forced through it.

    The liquid is collected and the solvent is evaporated — leaving a highly concentrated THC-laced resin that can vary in its final consistency from hard crystals to earwax-like goop.

    The majority of the canisters were found in the garage, where the hash oil-making process was definitely going on, Chevrette said.

    Authorities were still sifting through the rubble Tuesday to see if it was also going on in the basement, which could have caused the house to explode from something as simple as lighting a cigarette, Chevrette said.

    “This house was pretty tight,” he added.

    One of the implements related to making the hash oil was already located in the basement, leading authorities to believe there was some butane in the house as well as the garage.

    But officials are not ruling out other possible causes of the fire, many of which are also related to the 25-year-old man's alleged marijuana grow operation, which was scheduled to be raided along with 21 other location across southeast Michigan Monday morning.

    The house blew up before a search warrant could be executed, police said.

    Chevrette said any number of items recovered by officials could be related to the explosion: the water heater, the hydroponic grow lights, furnace and the grow operation's filtration system.

    The cause has been narrowed down to the butane or to natural gas inside the home, not in the gas lines leading to it, Chevrette said. A final determination of the cause should be made within a week, he said.

    Michigan State Police continue to investigate. They could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

    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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    Former Michigan basketball captain Zack Novak and several members of the current Wolverines squad trained the next generation of basketball stars on Tuesday at the Zack Novak Dexter Shooting Academy at Dexter High School.

    Daniel Brenner is a photographer for AnnArbor.com.

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    Former University of Michigan player Zack Novak leads a a youth basketball camp at Dexter High School on Tuesday, July 9.

    Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com

    Former Michigan basketball player Zack Novak blew the whistle around his neck on Tuesday and every game being played on the courts at the Dexter High School gym came to a halt. On Day 2 of the Zack Novak Dexter Shooting Academy, the ex-Wolverine captain was calling the shots.

    Novak doesn’t have that type of control games of the NBA summer league, but they’ll determine how he proceeds with his professional basketball career, nonetheless.

    “My agent’s working on it right now. He’s already talking to some teams,” Novak said. “We’re going to wait for the (NBA) summer leagues to end and then we’re probably going to sit down and have a conversation.”

    Novak, 23, played for Landstede Basketbal Zwolle in the Netherlands last year - his first as a professional - and was the team’s second leading scorer with 17.8 points game. Novak has said before that he's considering trading his high-tops for wing-tips and entering the business world, and that if he were to return to Europe he’d like it to be in a better league. He said nothing has been decided yet on Tuesday.

    “Right now I’m looking at all my options. Either way, I’m really exploring business. Just trying to network, meet as many people as can, see what kind of opportunities come up,” Novak said. “I haven’t shut the door completely (on continuing to play in Europe). It’s still open.”

    Novak said that outside of basketball he’s looking into being an entrepreneur. If the popularity of his basketball camp is any indication, he should do just fine.

    “They’re having a great time. I enjoy that and to see the kind of fun they’re having is the best reward,” said Novak while surrounded by campers and several of his former Michigan players, who were working as counselors. “The kids really enjoy seeing all the guys from the team.”

    Two of Novak’s former Michigan teammates who weren’t working as counselors for obvious reasons were Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., who were both recently picked in first round of the 2013 NBA Draft. Novak couldn’t quite match the millions they’re now set to make after both signing with their respective teams -- Burke with the Utah Jazz, Hardaway Jr. with the New York Knicks -- last week.

    Novak said he couldn’t have been prouder than he was to his former teammates get selected on draft night.

    “It was kind of unbelievable to see Timmy and Trey both go in the first round. It’s just another step for the program,” Novak said. “It’s been a long time since they had two first rounders and it was just awesome.

    “I know both those guys and I’ve seen the work they’ve put in, seen how much they’ve grown as players and people, so to see their dreams come true, I couldn’t have been happier for them.”

    Pete Cunningham covers sports for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at petercunningham@annarbor.com. Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.

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    West Liberty Street was closed between South Seventh Street and Eberwhite Boulevard in Ann Arbor due to downed trees after Tuesday night's storm.

    Cindy Heflin | AnnArbor.com

    A brief but fierce thunderstorm had Washtenaw County fire crews responding to downed tree branches and electrical wires Tuesday evening, officials said.

    Ann Arbor police said at 6 p.m. they were dispatched to the intersection of Liberty and Seventh for downed branches in the road.

    West Liberty Street was reportedly closed between South Seventh Street and Eberwhite Boulevard around 6:30 p.m. At 6:50 p.m., Ann Arbor police said Liberty was still closed. The issue was expected to be resolved Tuesday night, police said.

    Police also said a home on Glendale Drive sustained damage when it was crushed by a tree that fell on it just before 6 p.m.

    The Ypsilanti Fire Department was responding around the same time to wires down on garages and a vehicle near North Congress Street, officials confirmed.

    DTE Energy spokesman Alejandro Bodipo-Memba said about half of about 1,500 customers affected had their power restored by 6 p.m. The rest were expected to have it back by 7 p.m.

    Officials with the Dexter Area Fire Department said that area did not get hit as bad as Ann Arbor and that there were wires down here and there, but nothing major.

    Ann Arbor Township Fire Department did not get called out on any runs due to the storm, neither did Pittsfield Township.

    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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    Ann Arbor school board superintendent candidate and Roberto Clemente High School Principal Ben Edmondson is interviewed at the Courtyard Marriott in Ann Arbor on Tuesday, July 9.

    Daniel Brenner I AnnArbor.com

    The Ann Arbor Public Schools board interviewed six candidates Monday and Tuesday in its search for the next district superintendent to replace Patricia Green. Following the interviews, the district selected Jeanice Kerr Swift and Brian Osborne to move on as finalists in the hiring process.

    Recap the AnnArbor.com live blogs featuring questions posed by district officials in the links below, then vote for which candidates you would have selected in the poll below.

    Monday interviews:

    • Jeanice Kerr Swift, assistant superintendent of Colorado Springs District 11 in Colorado Springs, Colo.
    • Brian Osborne, superintendent of South Orange-Maplewood School District in New Jersey
    • Richard Faidley, superintendent of Derry Township Schools in Hershey, Pa.

    Tuesday interviews:

    • Henry Hastings, instructor at Eastern Michigan University College of Business
    • Sandra Harris, retired superintendent of Oak Park School District in Oak Park
    • Benjamin Edmondson, principal of Roberto Clemente High School in Ann Arbor

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    Ann Arbor's Board of Education has chosen a New Jersey district superintendent and the assistant superintendent in Colorado Springs as finalists for the top leadership position in Ann Arbor public schools.


    Jeanice Kerr Swift and Brian Osborne


    The board interviewed six candidates, including three from Michigan, and narrowed the pool to two: Brian Osborne, the superintendent of the South Orange-Maplewood School District in New Jersey who worked for the New York City Department of Education, and Jeanice Kerr Swift, the assistant superintendent of instruction, curriculum and student services for the Colorado Springs School District in Colorado.

    The interviews took place Monday and Tuesday and the board made its decisions on finalists Tuesday evening.

    The board did not chose local candidates Sandra Harris, Benjamin Edmondson or Henry Hastings.

    The board expects to visit the finalists' school districts later this week. While in finalists' current districts, board members will seek references for the candidates.

    Then early the next week the board plans to bring candidates to Ann Arbor for questioning. During those days there will be a session where constituents can ask the finalists questions.

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    Now that the 4th of July is past, you might call these the Halcyon Days - OR - the Dog Days of Summer, depending on your perspective. Hot, sticky, muggy, buggy - OR - lush, sultry, relaxing, steamy - your descriptors may vary depending on your mood.

    One way or another, you’re going to need some theater. Whether you love the experience of it, need a date night out with a spouse or loved one - OR - just want to escape to the cool darkness, a night at the theater is a great way to escape FROM the great outdoors.

    Show: “The UFO Show,” one-time event, July 11 at 7 p.m.
    Company: Emergent Arts
    Type of Company: Pre-Professional
    Venue/location: Washington Street just North of Michigan Ave., next to Bona Sera Cafe, downtown Ypsilanti
    Recommended ages: 12+
    Description: Ypsilanti- Emergent Arts, in conjunction with the Downtown Association of Ypsilanti, will present the first installment of The UFO Show (Unidentified Funny Objects), an evening of standup and sketch comedy. M.C.’d by retired Ann Arbor Police Detective and professional standup Khurum Sheikh, the outdoor event will feature comedians Marty Smith, Andy Jentzen, Mark Johnson, David Kleitch and more, and feature Shelly Smith’s Improv troupe Gorillas In Human Suits.
    Fun Fact: The event is free and open to the public. Donations will be gratefully and enthusiastically accepted. Go to www.emergentarts.com for up-to-date listing of featured performers.
    For tickets and information: info@emergentarts.com, 734-985-0875, www.emergentarts.com

    Show: Backstage Cafe with Sarab Kamoo, star of “Becky Shaw,” one-time event, July 14, immediately following the matinee (about 4:15 p.m.)
    Company: Performance Network Theatre
    Type of Company: Professional Equity SPT
    Venue/location: Performance Network Theatre, 120 East Huron, Ann Arbor
    Recommended Ages: 12+
    Description: Backstage Cafe is a series of in-depth, on-stage conversations, exploring the nuances of making theater from the artist's perspective. Join us in the Performance Network Theatre’s lobby for an in-depth conversation exploring the nuances of making theater from the artist’s perspective while sipping complimentary coffee from Mighty Good Cafe. Associate Artistic Director Carla Milarch interviews Sarab Kamoo on how she has managed to have a full career as an actress on stage, on television, and in film without ever leaving the state of Michigan.
    Fun fact: Sarab Kamoo’s career as a professional actress has led her to the silver screen and numerous Michigan theaters. She has been seen alongside A-list celebrities in films such as “The Giant Mechanical Man” with Jenna Fischer from “The Office,” “Conviction” with Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell, and “Stone” with Robert DeNiro. Kamoo has performed at Performance Network Theatre (most recently “God of Carnage”, “Sonia Flew”, and “9 Parts of Desire”) as well as the Purple Rose Theatre Company, Meadow Brook Theatre, Williamston Theatre, the Jewish Ensemble Theatre, and Tipping Point Theatre. For upcoming projects and full film bio check out her IMDB page at www.imdb.com/name/nm1310335/
    For tickets and information: www.performancenetwork.org/, 734-663-0681

    Show: “Rounding Third” by Richard Dresser, through July 27
    Company: Carriage House Theatre
    Type of Company: Pre-professional
    Venue/location: Carriage House Theatre, 541 Third St, Ann Arbor
    Recommended ages: 12+
    Description: In a small town, coaching little league is no walk in the park. Michael joins on as assistant coach to Don, who's been coaching baseball for years, and whose philosophy is simple: Win. Don’s son is the star pitcher on the team, while Michael’s son, like Michael himself, is new in town and very inexperienced in baseball. The two coaches struggle to employ their differing philosophies on winning the game and enjoying the game. Can the two philosophies coexist? And what changes when the men's personal lives are drawn into the game?
    More information
    Fun fact: Dresser was inspired to write “Rounding Third” by his own coaching experiences and by his son's Little League coach, who ignored parents' objections and cheated in a playoff game.
    For tickets and information: carriagehousetheatre.org

    Show: “Little Me,” book by Neil Simon, music by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh, through July 27
    Company: The Penny Seats
    Type of Company: Professional Non-Equity
    Venue/location: The West Park Band Shell
    Recommended ages: All ages, though please note, there is some burlesque-type humor and innuendo
    Description: The Penny Seats’ third annual West Park Summer offering is the farcical autobiography of Belle Poitrine, supposed star of stage, screen, and sinking ship. From her humble origins as Belle Schlumpfert on Drifter's Row, to her adventures (and misadventures) in achieving wealth, culture, and social position, to her many mates and her one true love, all are here. Neil Simon's script is a scream and the music sparkles. Better still, the Penny Seats’ Roy Sexton will attempt a comic tour de force originated by Sid Caesar and designed just for this show: he will play no fewer than 7 characters.
    More information
    Fun fact: This show grew out of Neil Simon’s relationship with Sid Caesar, for whom he wrote a number of shorts on Caesar’s hit T.V. series, Your Show of Shows. The play was an adaptation of Patrick Dennis’s 1958 bestseller spoofing the celebrity tell-alls that were in vogue in the 60’s. Dennis’s original book was called Little Me: The Intimate Memoirs of That Great Star of Stage, Screen and Television, Belle Poitrine, as told to Patrick Dennis. And in a tip of the hat, Patrick Dennis himself makes an appearance as a character in the musical.
    For tickets and information: www.pennyseats.org, 800-838-3006.

    Show: “Becky Shaw” by Gina Gionfriddo, through July 28
    Company: Performance Network Theatre
    Type of Company: Professional Equity SPT
    Venue/location: Performance Network Theatre, 120 E. Huron, Ann Arbor
    Recommended ages: 16+ (contains adult language and content)
    Description: The New York Times called it “a tangled tale of love, sex and ethics…as engrossing as it is ferociously funny, like a big box of fireworks fizzing and crackling across the stage.” Step-siblings Suzanna and Max couldn’t be more different. When the shy sister fixes the cocky brother up with her husband’s sexy and sweet co-worker, the blind date takes a dark turn and crisis and comedy ensue. Mixing sharp wit and humor with the taut suspense of a psychological thriller, this comedy of romantic errors keeps audiences on the edge of their seats.
    Review from Encore Michigan
    Fun fact: Gina Gionfriddo is an American playwright and television writer. For her writing she has received an Obie Award, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the Helen Merrill Award for Emerging Playwrights, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Gionfriddo's most recent production, “Rapture, Blister, Burn” premiered at Playwrights Horizons in June 2012.
    For tickets and information: 734-663-0681, www.performancenetwork.org


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

    Show: “Miles & Ellie” by Don Zolidis, through August 31
    Company: The Purple Rose Theatre Company
    Type of Company: Professional Equity SPT
    Venue/location: The Purple Rose Theatre Company, 137 Park Street, Chelsea
    Recommended ages: 17+ (contains adult language and content)
    Description: Miles and Ellie are two teenagers in love when a youthful misunderstanding breaks them apart. Flash forward 20 years and a disenchanted Ellie has come home for what she expects to be a typical dysfunctional family Thanksgiving. Not long into the family shenanigans, however, Ellie learns that Miles is still in town and carrying a torch for her. Is it possible to get a second chance at your first love? This charming romantic comedy will make you wonder “what if?”
    Review from Encore Michigan
    Fun fact: The play is set in 1991 and the #1 song for that year, according to Billboard charts, was Bryan Adams - (Everything I Do) I Do It For You.
    For tickets and information: purplerosetheatre.org, 734-433-7673.

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    Workers at the scene of a water main break in Ypsilanti Wednesday morning. Eastbound Washtenaw Avenue was shut down at Ballard Street.

    11:30 a.m. update: One lane of eastbound Washtenaw is now open. Jeff Castro, director of the Ypsilanti Community Utilities Authority said the break should be repaired shortly. No customers are without water and a boil water advisory will not be necessary, he said.

    Authorities in Ypsilanti shut down the eastbound lanes of Washtenaw Avenue between Perrin and Ballard streets for a water main break Wednesday morning.

    The Ypsilanti Community Utilities Authority was believed to be at the scene, Ypsilanti police said shortly before 7:30 a.m.

    It was not clear how long the road would be closed.

    No further information was immediately available.

    View Water main break 071013 in a larger map

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    Luke Winslow-King

    As it turns out, Luke Winslow-King and another member of his New Orleans-flavored swing band, Esther Rose, have a sweet spot in their hearts for Ann Arbor. The two musicians met and fell in love here about three years ago, and it is where they will return to perform Thursday in the latest installment of the weekly Sonic Lunch series. (Winslow-King will also play the Acoustic Routes concert series in Saline on Aug. 3.)

    “I’ve been hanging out there since I was in high school and Esther, who is featured on our album and sings and plays washboard, lived in Ann Arbor for a few years,” explained Winslow-King, a Cadillac native. “That’s actually where we met and fell in love, so that’s a special place for us.”

    Winslow-King and the band play danceable, New Orleans-flavored swing. They’ve opened for alt-rocker Jack White, opened at The Ark for Taj Mahal (and played there on their own several times), have been regulars at The Circus and were last in town to play at the Blind Pig’s most recent Hash Bash weekend show in April.

    The group’s sound is an eclectic mix, taking in delta-folk, classical music, ragtime, and rock, juxtaposing their original songs with those from a bygone era.

    Besides Winslow-King and Rose, the group includes Cassidy Holden (bass) and University of Michigan School of Music alum Ben Polcer (trumpet). All will be present for the Sonic Lunch show, playing songs from their well-received third album “The Coming Tide,” as well as some new tunes from a soon-to-be-released follow-up disc.


    Luke Winslow-King

    • Who: Bank of Ann Arbor’s Sonic Lunch outdoor concert series.
    • What: Danceable, New Orleans-flavored swing from this one-time Michigan musician and his band.
    • Where: Liberty Plaza, corner of S. Division and E. Liberty streets.
    • When: Noon Thursday, July 11.
    • How much: Free.
    • Also: Winslow-King plays the Acoustic Routes series at Mangiamo Italian Grill in Saline on Aug. 3. Details on the Acoustic Routes Facebook page.
    So how did a Michigan guy with an interest in the music of Woody Guthrie and Miles Davis wind up in the Crescent City? The band was on the road and their car and instruments were all stolen there. While that might tend to sour most people on a city, it was just the opposite for Winslow-King.

    “I stuck around enough to fall in love with the place,” he said. “I was there for a couple of weeks and I saw the great music community they have there and how alive the music was in the air. I decided to audition for the University of New Orleans music composition program and I was accepted so I moved down the next fall.”

    Winslow-King said he’s always been into blues and jazz, and his relocation to New Orleans meant he was in a good position to further his musical education.

    “I was into Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Chicago blues, and I was into Miles Davis and more modern New York jazz and more contemporary forms of blues and jazz. Then I moved to New Orleans and found the root of that music,” he said.

    “It really appealed to me because its improvisational just like Miles Davis but it has elements of people’s music like Woody Guthrie, and those are the things I was really into when I was 18-19. I came to New Orleans and discovered Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton and a lot of the great performers there from around the turn of the century. … It was the combination improvised music with great lyrics and melodies you could remember and that you could dance to.”

    He sees himself and his bandmates as keepers of a flame.

    “We’re really careful not to be rehashing old standards. If we do play an old tune we try and learn it, internalize it and make it our own so that we can offer something new,” he said. “But we also feel a responsibility to keep the old ways kind of preserved with authenticity. … (We are) also keeping these old genres alive by writing new material. The delta blues remains a living form as long as people are writing new delta blues songs. …. The original torch is still lit, although it has been passed down.

    “We’re not the only ones doing it, and we don’t claim to be an authority, but we do our best to do our part,” he added.

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    Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of this man.

    Courtesy of Chelsea police

    A $1,000 reward was issued Wednesday for information leading to the arrest of the man who broke into Chelsea's Pancho Villa Restaurant last week.

    Chelsea police released a wanted poster featuring a picture of the masked suspect, who reportedly smashed out the lower half of a double-pane glass door with a crowbar to gain entry at 2:19 a.m. July 1.

    The Mexican restaurant is located within the Chelsea Clocktower Commons in the 300 block of North Main Street. Police didn't initially release the name of the business.

    The suspect was wearing a heavy, hooded Carhart coat, knit hat, glasses, gloves and a bandana over his face, according to the poster.

    He made off with an undisclosed amount of cash, credit card transactions and gift cards.

    Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers of Michigan by dialing 1-800-SpeakUp. Calls can be made anonymously.

    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 Big Salad, which opened in April, is intended to attract business from the hub of professionals who work on the north side of Ann Arbor, near the University of Michigan's North Campus Research Complex.

    "A lot of people come out of their offices and head over here for a healthy alternative," said Justin Marshall, a manager at the restaurant. He said the The Big Salad provides another option besides the many fast-food restaurants in the area. There are currently four other big salads, in Grosse Pointe, Troy, Royal Oak and Novi; others are set to open in Rochester and Northville within the next year.

    The ambiance is basic but sunny and bright, with orange walls. The Big Salad offers soups along with 12 different pre-made salads and eight types of sandwiches. In addition to prepared choices, you can be the "architect" of your own salad or sandwich. You choose from baby spinach, iceberg or romaine lettuce, along with dozens of toppings and dressings. While there is a large variety of meats, cheeses and vegetables to choose from, most of the ingredients are basic.

    Servers behind the counter take your order and put on a frenzied display of chopping. They use a special utensil to slice your salad ingredients into tiny pieces. The final product is placed on a sparkling white plate and then you're handed a black tray to take it to your table.


    The Big Salad
    2793 Plymouth Road, Ann Arbor
    • Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
    • Plastic: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover.
    • Liquor: No.
    • Wheelchair access: Yes.
    • Prices: Inexpensive
    We were told there's a big lunch rush around noon, so we made sure to arrive early. During this time, the place runs like a model of efficiency, and we received our salads right away. But, within a few minutes of noon, the place grew very crowded, with a line running to the door; I'd advise trying to avoid the lunchtime rush if you're in a hurry. At 1 p.m., on our second visit, there was no line.

    On our first visit, we decided to try the pre-made salads. The Alaskan King consisted of crab, broccoli, peas and chow mein noodles on spinach, topped with wasabi dressing. I liked the tangy dressing, but the salad hardly made for a substantial lunch. Though the portion was large, I had to hunt for the scant sprinkling of crab pieces hiding in the spinach.

    The California was served with bell peppers, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, red onions, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, carrots and dried cranberries; it was tossed with spinach and romaine in a raspberry vinaigrette. It was fine, though I recommend ordering a heartier, bolder dressing instead of the raspberry vinaigrette.

    The Cobb I ordered was prepared differently than the traditional version. Instead of laying the various ingredients, like hard boiled eggs, turkey, bacon and blue cheese, in sections on the greens, these were so thinly chopped it was hard to decipher what was inside, except for the delicious chunks of creamy avocado. As a result, the flavors were muted. While this was definitely a more healthful option, I prefer a Cobb that showcases the individual ingredients, both by sight and by taste. And though the chardonnay vinaigrette was a nice, light option, I would order this with bleu cheese dressing the second time around to add flavor, texture and richness.

    The tomato basil soup we tried was wonderful—rich, creamy and nicely seasoned. I preferred it to the watery, bland tasting clam chowder.

    We found the portion sizes to be inconsistent. While my Cobb salad was gigantic, my friend's California was a far more modest size, even though it cost only $1 less. I thought the prices of the salads, which range from $6.95 to $9.95 for the "gourmet" salads, were reasonable, given the generally ample size. The sandwiches are also inexpensive, with most costing $6.95.

    You can have your sandwich made on an Italian baguette, ciabatta square, multi-grain bread or a lavash wrap. On our second visit, my daughter wanted to be the "architect" of her sandwich and ordered the garden turkey with provolone cheese and tomatoes on multi-grain bread. The fresh multi-grain was far superior to the Italian and ciabatta square, neither of which tasted fresh-baked. The turkey, as well as the capicola, ham and salami in the Italian sandwich, all tasted processed and were overly salty.

    I did enjoy the roasted red peppers and banana peppers on the Italian, though. More dressing would have made this dry sandwich even better. The filling in my chicken Caesar was delicious, especially the moist, perfectly seasoned chicken squares.

    Though there is only one dessert offered, it's a great one. The chocolate chunk cookies, from usfoods.com, didn't suffer from being pre-packaged and were soft and chewy, with huge pieces of chocolate chips.

    Servers were eager to please, but some were still learning. On my second visit, a server gave me a deer-in-the-headlights look when I asked what kinds of ingredients were available for the sandwich; he was so baffled that a more experienced server stepped in to take over. However that server forgot to include the tomatoes on my daughter's sandwich and gave me a small size when I ordered a large.

    I don't think the salads are any better than those you get at restaurants around town that offer plentiful salad bars. The same goes for the sandwiches; they're OK, but not outstanding. But the restaurant seems to be attracting crowds as a healthful, inexpensive dining option on the northeast side of town.

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    Julie Halpert reviews restaurants for AnnArbor.com.

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    Can there be anyone around Ann Arbor not familiar with bluegrass band The RFD Boys?

    The RFD Boys - long considered the house band of The Ark - return to that venue for a show Saturday night. The foursome has been entertaining southeastern Michigan audiences since 1969 (anyone else recall their sets at the long-gone Pretzel Bell downtown?) with their musicianship and sly, between-song humor.

    Despite the loss of fiddler and founder Dick Dieterle in 2012, the band continues on with David Mosher as its newest member. Expect a lively show, and they may even play a request or two that you can drop in their official red RDF mailbox. Chances are they’ll end with the "Orange Blossom Special,” the granddaddy of all train tunes.

    With with songs recorded by the likes of the Country Gentlemen, and with performances alongside bluegrass greats like Bill Monroe and Ralph Stanley, the RFD Boys are Ann Arbor’s contribution to America's bluegrass tradition.

    The RFD Boys play at The Ark, 316 S. Main St., at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 13. Tickets are $11. Details at www.theark.org or 734-761-1800.

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    Lookout Brendan Gibbons. You've got some competition for best kicker in the nation — and it's coming from just down the street.


    Eastern Michigan kicker, Dylan Mulder.

    Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com file photo

    Eastern Michigan sophomore kicker Dylan Mulder, a Saline High School alumnus, was named to the watch list for the 2013 Lou Groza College Place-Kicker Award on Wednesday. Gibbons is also one of the 30 players on the watch list.

    Mulder appeared in 10 games for the Eagles last season as a true freshman. Mulder was 10-for-11 (90.9 percent) on field goal attempts, which was the sixth best field goal percentage in the Football Bowl Subdivision for kickers with at least 10 attempts. He also was 24-of-27 on extra-point attempts. Mulder was Eastern's leading scorer with 54 points and made three field goals from 40-plus yards including a 43-yarder against Western Michigan.

    Mulder graduated from Saline in 2012. He was a perfect 58-of-58 on point after attempts in his high school career including a 34-for-34 senior season. He made 6-of-9 field goal attempts as a senior, with a long of 47 yards, and had 39 touchbacks on 42 kickoffs.

    The Lou Groza College Place-Kicker Award list will be narrowed to 20 semifinalists on Monday, Nov. 4 and then to three on Monday, Nov. 25. The winner will be announced on Dec. 10. Mulder is the first Eastern player named to the watch list since Andrew Wellock in 2006. Wellock was a four-time semifinalist and runner-up for the award in 2004.

    Dylan Mulder high school highlight reel:

    Pete Cunningham covers sports for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at petercunningham@annarbor.com. Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.

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    A fire destroyed a mobile home in Ypsilanti Township early Wednesday morning, but the residents escaped safely.

    Ypsilanti Township firefighters responded to a call at 2:07 a.m. Wednesday reporting a kitchen fire at the home in the 9000 block of Joan Circle in the Lakeview mobile home park.

    Firefighters could see flames shooting from the trailer when they arrived. The residents had fled the home. Firefighters weren't sure how many people were in the home at the time.

    Firefighters quickly knocked the blaze down and had it under control by 2:30 a.m., said Fire Capt. Dave Crescio. Firefighters were on the scene for about two hours making sure the fire was completely out.

    The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, Crescio said. The home was declared a total loss.

    The Washtenaw-Lenawee chapter of the American Red Cross said it had provided a family of four with food, infant formula and clothing.
    View Fire 071013 in a larger map

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    A branch from this tree fell on an Ann Arbor woman during Tuesday night's storm and sent her to the hospital.

    John Counts | AnnArbor.com

    A 61-year-old woman was hospitalized with a mild concussion and a knee injury after dodging a falling tree branch in her west side Ann Arbor neighborhood during Tuesday evening's storm.

    The woman and her 63-year-old husband, both of whom did not want to be named, were walking their cockapoo in the 400 block of Glendale Drive near Charlton Avenue around 5:30 p.m. when they were caught unawares by a downpour, the husband told AnnArbor.com.

    It wasn't raining when the couple left their home in the 500 block of Glendale to walk the dog about 10 minutes earlier, the man said.

    But by the time they reached Charlton down the block, however, the storm was blowing in. It was pouring so hard, the couple sought out umbrellas from a neighbor, the husband said.

    The woman ran ahead of her husband and the cockapoo in an attempt to get home and out of the rain as quickly as possible. She was headed south on Glendale when a branch from a tree was ripped from the trunk and fell on her, he said.

    Kristen Salla lives in the home next to the tree. She said she could hear the branch falling on the vehicle parked in her driveway.

    "We saw the wind and the rain come through and then heard this huge crack," Salla said. "I looked out and saw the tree fall on our car. I ran to the door and heard this really high-pitched screaming."

    Meanwhile, the woman's husband was rounding the corner with the cockapoo when he saw his wife on the ground.

    Salla ran out to help and found the woman lying on her back behind the car on the sidewalk under the branch, which she described as "huge" and probably about "two feet in diameter." The branch was suspended on the vehicle.

    "She was saying, 'Call an ambulance,' " Salla said.

    The woman's husband said the branch fell on her, but may not have directly hit her, adding that the mild concussion and twisted knee were likely sustained from the fall.

    The woman was taken to the University of Michigan Hospital for the knee injury.

    Joyce Williams with Huron Valley Ambulance confirmed paramedics were called to the block and took a patient to the hospital in unstable condition at 5:30 p.m.

    The husband said Wednesday morning his wife was still in the hospital with a tibial plateau fracture in the left knee. She was expected to be released in a day or so, but full recovery could take weeks, he said.

    The husband stopped by Salla's house Wednesday morning to give her an update on his wife's condition and thank her for the help.

    "All the neighbors have been really nice," he told AnnArbor.com. "It's a really nice and caring neighborhood."

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    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 White House says that seven students from Michigan or attending universities in the state have been selected as summer interns.


    President Barack Obama

    AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File

    The Obama administration announced the names Tuesday of the 147 participants in the summer 2013 White House Internship Program.

    Four of the interns attend the University of Michigan. They are Adam Miller of Grandville; Stefanie Rubinstein of Northbrook, Ill.; Brittany Smith of Detroit; and Nora Stephens of Silver Spring, Md.

    Jacob Santangelo of Holland attends Michigan State University, while Laura Neme of Dearborn attends Michigan State's College of Law.

    And Luke Burns of Troy attends Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

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    Buhr Park Sharks swimmers, ages 6-16, hit the pool Wednesday morning for more than just competition.

    The swimmers racked up hundreds of laps all in the name of ALS during the 3rd annual Lou Gehrig's disease fundraiser. While the final donation results have yet to be tabulated, the organization is hoping to reach between $3,500 and $5,000.

    The nonprofit Ann Arbor Active Against ALS supported the kids with music, dancing, food and custom Buhr Park Sharks fundraising items, according to a news release.

    Staff photographer Melanie Maxwell captured these images.

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    The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the Ann Arbor area until 8 p.m.


    The watch area is shown in pink.

    National Weather Service

    The watch area includes southeast Michigan as well as much of Ohio, and parts of Indiana Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

    The weather service said storms could produce isolated tornadoes as well as damaging wind gusts up to 75 mph and large hail up to two inches in diameter.

    A severe thunderstorm watch means conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area. Persons in these areas should be on the lookout for threatening weather conditions and listen for later statements and possible warnings.

    The watch follows storms on Tuesday that downed trees and knocked out power in the Ann Arbor area.

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    The historic and quaint charm of the Dixboro community, just east of U.S. 23 and Ann Arbor, is maintained by the area’s ability to keep developers away and a desire by residents to maintain the historic feel, Concentrate reported.

    Thumbnail image for lofgrendixborochurch.JPG

    Dixboro maintains its historic charm.

    Dixboro, an area within Superior Township, has found a way to grow without expanding or compromising its historic feel.

    Lack of a sewer system, municipal water and modern municipal services deter developers, especially when a city open to development is so close by, the report said.

    In addition to natural constraints to development, a design review board is in place to make sure growth comes from redevelopment and restoration.

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    Joseph Starr

    Courtesy of WCSO


    Leah Keaton

    Courtesy of WCSO

    A 19-year-old woman and 22-year-old man, both of Ypsilanti Township, are facing charges after police say they used racial slurs toward their black neighbors last week.

    Leah Ashley Keaton and Joseph Jonathan Starr, who are both white, were charged Tuesday with one count apiece of ethnic intimidation. Keaton also is charged with assault for allegedly shoving her neighbor, a 23-year-old black woman, July 3 in the 1100 block of Hull Avenue of Ypsilanti Township, said Sgt. Geoff Fox of the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office.

    Starr faces an additional count of disturbing the peace.

    Deputies were called to neighboring homes on Hull Street around 1 a.m. July 3 for a dispute, Fox said.

    The 23-year-old told police that she overheard Keaton and Starr through an open window using a racial epithet when referring to her, according to police. The woman said after hearing it about eight to 10 times, she went next door to ask them to stop.

    "It is alleged that Keaton pushed the victim to the ground and then closed the door," Fox said.

    When police arrived and knocked on the suspects' door, no one answered. Officers left, but were then called back to the same houses two hours later after receiving reports Keaton and Starr were outside singing songs about killing black people and were throwing rocks at the 23-year-old's house, Fox said.

    The two once again refused to answer the door when police came to question them. Officers continued to investigate and learned Keaton and Starr had been using the same racial slur with the 23-year-old woman's 63-year-old father and also neighborhood children of Asian descent, Fox said.

    Police caught up with the suspects on July 7 and arrested them without incident. Both were given $10,000 cash bonds and no contact orders protecting the alleged victims and neighbor children. They continue to be held in the Washtenaw County Jail, according to jail records.

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    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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