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

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    MayerHawthorne_WDTDG.jpg
    “This is the album I was always meant to do.” So says an enthusiastic Mayer Hawthorne about “Where Does This Door Go,” the much-anticipated follow-up to his 2011 breakthrough album, “How Do You Do.”

    Born and raised in Ann Arbor, the club-DJ-turned-singer-songwriter plays music steeped in classic soul and R&B, with a special emphasis on that marvelous Motown sound. But there’s more of a contemporary, adventurous feel to his latest effort, less retro and more exploratory. With his new release out this Tuesday and a gig supporting One Republic at Meadow Brook Music Festival on July 27, Hawthorne is primed to re-connect with his rabid fan-base in southeast Michigan.

    Living these days in Los Angeles but back in Ann Arbor last month for Father’s Day celebrations, Mayer Hawthorne spoke with me by phone to answer questions about his funky and highly enjoyable new recording.

    Q: Once an artist attains a measure of success with an album, they often just try to repeat the formula and do the same thing on the next one. That’s not what I hear on “Where Does This Door Go,” which heads in some different, more contemporary directions that “How Do You Do.” What kind of approach did you take in the studio with your new release?

    Mayer Hawthorne: Where my previous two albums were a lot about Detroit, this record is more about Ann Arbor. The only rule I had making this record is that it had to be fun. I really threw all the rules I had out the window and that was it.

    There are so many firsts on this album—the first time I’ve ever written with other writers, the first time I’ve worked with other producers, the first time I haven’t played most of the instruments myself—that’s a lot of new territory for me, and that’s where the name of the album comes from.

    Q: You spent a lot of time on the road in support of “How Do You Do.” Were you able to write much in the way of new material while touring?

    M.H.: I wrote a lot of songs on the road, but I also wrote a lot of songs on the spot in the studio. I recorded over 45 songs that we chose from for this album. Some of them, like “Where Does This Door Go,” “All Better” and “Allie Jones,” were songs I had written on a tour bus, on a plane, or in a hotel room on the last tour. “Her Favorite Song” was written in a matter of minutes on the spot in the studio.

    Most of the songs were recorded in Miami or L.A., these very sunny, tropical places, and I think that definitely comes out in the sound of the album.

    Q: The sensational British vocalist Jessie Ware is featured on “Her Favorite Song” and really helps to make that track special. How did you meet her and get her to sing on the tune?

    M.H.: I just think her music is incredible. I wanted her because I feel she’s one of the few artists out there who’s doing her own original thing and doing it extremely confidently. Originally I just sang that part myself but it didn’t feel quite right, it felt like it needed a female touch. Jesse was in town for Coachella, and was cool enough to come in on her day off from there to do those vocals for me. She was so fun about it and had such a good sense of humor; she was a pleasure to work with in the studio.

    Q: Who are some of the other special guests on your new album?

    M.H.: Pharrell Williams was a big contributor to this album. Greg Wells produced the title track. Oak from Oak and Pop was a big factor on this record; he produced “Her Favorite Song.” Kendrick Lamar is on the song “Crime,” that’s sort of my smoother version of NWA’s “F--- tha Police.”

    Q: I heard that you wanted “Where Does This Door Go” to sound like a combination of Steely Dan and the Beastie Boys. That’s quite a combination! I’m big fans of both bands, and I particularly love the fact that you dig Steely Dan, a group not on a lot of people’s radar these days.

    M.H.: My motto has always been, ‘If you don’t like Steely Dan, I don’t like you.’ They’re brilliant; it’s just some of the most incredible music ever made. At the same time, as much as I love Steely Dan, there’s nothing sexy about Steely Dan. What I tried to do was take Steely Dan and make it sexy.

    Q: How did you decide what songs would make the final cut?

    M.H.: It was impossible and changing all the time. The track list changed every day until they said, ‘You’re out of time and cut off; you can’t do any more!’ Any time we would think we had an album I would go and record one more new song and it would knock something else off. It was a really difficult process but I think what we ended up with was the best album that we could have made; it’s the most cohesive.

    Q: You worked with the legendary keyboardist Booker T. Jones of Booker T. & the M.G.’s fame on his new album “Sound the Alarm.” How did that happen?

    M.H.: I met him at Daryl Hall’s house of all places (as part of the ‘Live From Daryl’s House” web show series). When he showed up at Darryl’s house he was so confused for the first hour, he did not understand what I was doing there. He was like, ‘Who is this weird white kid and what is he doing here, what are we doing here?’ He really didn’t get it at all.

    By the end of the show he was like, ‘Oh my God, this is so much fun, I’m having the greatest time of my life.’ Of course it was a pinch-me moment for myself, playing bass on “Green Onions” with Booker T!

    Then out of the blue we got a call a couple months later saying that he had written a song with me in mind and he wanted me to sing it for his new album. I dropped everything and went in the studio with Booker and he coached me on how he wanted it to go and I’m insanely proud of what we came up with. It’s very fresh sounding, but it’s still Booker T. He had a lot of fun making the new record and you can tell.

    Q: What are your plans for the rest of this year once the album comes out?

    M.H.: I’m going to be touring all around the world and trying to get as many people as I can to party with me and sing along and I’m going be eating all the best food all around the world.

    Martin Bandyke is the 6-10am morning drive host on ann arbor’s 107one, WQKL-FM. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and at www.martinbandyke.com.


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    By now, we know the drill: During the third week in July, about 500,000 people will descend upon downtown Ann Arbor for a four-day, juried art festival that showcases work by more than 1,000 artists.

    In its 54th year, the Ann Arbor Art Fair — which is actually four simultaneous fairs running July 17-20 — has become a staple of Ann Arbor summers.

    Fair organizers report the economic impact of the Art Fair on the community is huge; it generates an estimated $78 million in shopping, hotel and restaurant spending. It’s coined one of the largest art festivals in North America, drawing artists from 38 states and four countries this year.

    crowd_old_art_fair.jpg

    Fairgoers wander the 2012 South University Art Fair. The Ann Arbor Art Fair returns July 17-20.

    AnnArbor.com file photo

    To the average fairgoer, the Ann Arbor Art Fair might have a familiar feel year after year. But behind the scenes, the fairs’ lead organizers are making constant tweaks to the event and asking themselves: What can we improve?

    An evolving art festival

    It took a half-century for the Ann Arbor Art Fair to become what it is today.

    The event started as an “experiment in arts in crafts” in 1960, featuring work of 132 artists on two blocks of South University Avenue. The original fair was later named the Street Art Fair.

    The State Street Art Fair started in 1968, followed by the Summer Art Fair in 1970. In 2000, Art Fair Village was set up on Church Street, later becoming the South University Art Fair when the original Street Fair relocated to the Burton Carillon Tower area. (Read more about the history)

    ann_arbor_summer_art_fair.jpg

    The Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair T-shirts, along with shirts for the three other fairs, are being printed at Underground Printing in advance of this year's event.

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

    Together, the four fairs now span 30 blocks of downtown and near the University of Michigan’s campus.

    But as the art fair grew in size and popularity, organizers started hearing complaints about accessibility.

    “There were many years where there was a lot of criticism about how crowded the fair was, and we take that seriously,” explained Maureen Riley, director of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair. “We look at where logs are in the traffic flow, and we fix those.”

    “Then, we looked at statements about the art fair being too big, and asked, ‘What can we do to ease or enhance our visitors’ experience?’” she continued. “That led to the development of the Art Fair Trolley.”

    This year, the fair also added a fourth shuttle option, which is located at Huron High School.

    “That’s very exciting,” Riley said. “We’re thrilled to be able to provide that service for visitors coming from that direction."

    Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair Director Max Clayton said over time, they’ve also made a number of technology updates, from introducing an Ann Arbor Art Fair iPhone application to creating a digital art category.

    “There’s this constant adaptation of what the computer means to art,” she said.

    The art fair organizers are always looking for new ways to keep fairgoers interested. Interactive artist booths and live music stages create buzz among attendees.

    Competition?

    Each summer, there are dozens of art festivals in Michigan alone. From Arts, Beats & Eats in Royal Oak to ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, the state’s art scene is thriving.

    According to the Washtenaw County Economic Impact Analysis, $114 is spent per travel party per day during the Ann Arbor Art Fair, and $263 if those visitors are staying in hotels.

    Mary Kerr of the Ann Arbor Area Convention & Visitors Bureau said many of the Ann Arbor area’s hotels reach full occupancy during art fair.

    “When you had the recession in full swing, you definitely saw art fair attendance diminished throughout the country,” Clayton said. “But what’s really incredible is that right now, attendance is better than ever and I’m seeing that at all of our events.”

    But with so many art events in the state, it raises the question: Are there pressures to compete with other festivals and attract artists to the Ann Arbor Art Fair?

    Like the Ann Arbor fair, ArtPrize in downtown Grand Rapids draws an estimated 500,000 people to the 19-day event, which is an art competition juried by the public with a $200,000 top prize. It has garnered national attention since its inception in 2009.

    “I applaud ArtPrize immensely for just the idea and implementing it,” Riley said. “It’s a different animal than the Ann Arbor Art Fair in that the art fair artists make their living by going to different art fairs to sell their work. They are small business people that travel the country.”

    2010-Ann-Arbor-Art-Fairs-Day-Two-01.jpg

    Ev Schwartz, Troy, looks at Wheaton, Ill., artist Michael McKee's pastels at the South University Art Fair on the second day of the Ann Arbor art fairs in 2010.

    AnnArbor.com file photo

    Added Clayton: “I think they are complementary, and I think what ArtPrize is doing is extremely interesting and it will be a model for a lot of new events across the country.”

    Any art-related event that gets Michigan national recognition is a bonus in the arts world, they said.

    Maggie Ladd, director of the South University Art Fair, said attracting quality artists to the Ann Arbor Art Fair has never been an issue; the majority of artists return if they are invited back.

    “(The Ann Arbor Art Fair) has quality, size and longevity,” she said. “We’ve been industry leaders for a long time.”

    Visions for the future

    Although the fair is always being improved, there is still work to do, the organizers said.

    Ladd said for the Ann Arbor Art Fair to remain “cutting edge,” they need to invest in things like an Android application, social media and a joint art fair website.

    “Keeping the fairs cutting edge and keeping up with everything we need to do to maintain our standards — that’s where the competition comes in,” she said. “Those things are all very expensive and very hard for nonprofits to pull off.”

    2010-Ann-Arbor-Art-Fairs-Day-Two-03.jpg

    One-man-band Mr. JoJangles, of Detroit, preforms for a small crowd on East Liberty Street during the State Street Art Fair in 2012.

    Melanie Maxwell I AnnArbor.com file photo

    The art fair directors also discuss other changes, like shifting the days of the fair or expanding the entertainment offerings, but that would require input from the artists, merchants and city, and it’s probably not something that would happen anytime soon.

    “We daydream a lot about what we could do,” Clayton said. “What about something where artists could display their work in various places around Ann Arbor year-round? Should we shift the days from Wednesday to Saturday, to Thursday to Sunday?”

    “I don’t think we are in a position right now to make a major change, but I think we’re in a position to assess what we’re doing and how we’re doing it,” she added.

    As for the size of the fair, the directors agreed: At the moment, it’s ideal.

    “I would never want to make this fair so big that it becomes truly hard for a fairgoer to enjoy it,” Clayton said. “But I want it to remain one of the largest fairs in the country, because that is who we are and how we built our reputation.”

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


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    07132013_NEWS_HuronRiver_DJ.JPG

    People canoe down the Huron River near Nichols Arboretum on Saturday, July 13.

    Daniel Brenner I AnnArbor.com

    Ann Arbor often finds itself on the top of many lists - and for the Huron River, it’s no different:

    07132013_NEWS_HuronRiver_DJ-1.JPG

    Ann Arbor resident Jason Talley walks in the Huron River near Nichols Arboretum on Saturday, July 13.

    Daniel Brenner I AnnArbor.com

    The Huron River is the cleanest river in southeast Michigan and is the most monitored river in the state, thanks to the coordinated efforts of about 500 volunteers with the Huron River Watershed Council.

    Though levels of the river’s biggest pollutant - phosphorus - have significantly decreased throughout the past 15 years, the biggest hazard to human health - E. coli - continues to be an issue.

    “I think (the river) is relatively healthy,” said Laura Rubin, executive director of the Huron River Watershed Council. “It’s definitely improved from where we’ve been … but the river still has a ways to go.”

    The watershed

    The watershed of the Huron River does not have combined sewer systems that discharge into it or combined animal feeding operations. It also contains a very small portion of farmland.

    “We have more wetlands than most watersheds,” said Ric Larson, watershed planner for the HRWC. “We’ve done a good job as a community region to protect those features and we can see the results in cleaner water.”

    The Clean Water Act, passed in 1972, was effective in eliminating much of the point source pollution from industrial processes and wastewater treatment plants to the Huron River. As an urban river whose landscape has been altered with dams and piped tributaries, the Huron often experiences erratic flow rates.

    Phosphorus - a common nutrient found in runoff from lawns, construction and soil exposure - is the biggest polluter to the Huron River, Rubin said. Under the right conditions and at the right levels, phosphorus can lead to algal blooms that have resulted in fish kills in the past.

    From 1995 to 2011, there was a 25 percent decrease in the total load of phosphorous the Huron River carries, according to data collected by the Huron River Watershed Council.

    Though the state has not set a numerical standard for phosphorus levels in waterways, it has set a regional target as a whole - which Larson said they’re very close to meeting.

    07132013_NEWS_HuronRiver_DJ-2.JPG

    People kayak down cascades on the Huron River Saturday.

    Daniel Brenner I AnnArbor.com

    She attributes the reduction to state bans on phosphorous fertilizer use, the restoration projects on Malletts Creek at Mary Beth Doyle Park and County Farm Park, the filtration tank underneath the Pioneer High School parking lot, increased soil erosion ordinance enforcement by Washtenaw County and education and incentives by the city of Ann Arbor for rain barrels.

    Drawn to the river

    The river’s biggest issue concerning public health is E. coli bacteria - which is known for spiking to unsafe levels during heavy rain events. As more and more people are flocking to the Huron River for recreation, E. coli awareness becomes increasingly important.

    Larson said E. coli levels in the river between Argo and Gallup are typically below the U.S. EPA’s threshold level for body contact - except in the first 48 hours after major rain events.

    Genetic source tracking of the bacteria in the river has shown that the E. coli in the river comes from a broad range of animals: Dogs, feral cats and geese, as well as raccoons and other animals living in storm drains.

    E. coli attributed to human sources accounts for a small component of the bacteria in the river, Larson said.

    Washtenaw County Public Health monitors five public beaches at area lakes for E. coli levels - but as Huron River is technically not a public beach, the department hasn’t been asked to test it.

    The health department does take reports if people get sick after being in the Huron River, and has not received any reports to date this year, said Kristen Schweighoefer, environmental health supervisor.

    Sunday, July 14

    Huron River Day

    • Where: Gallup Park, 3000 Fuller Road, Ann Arbor
    • What: A day full of events celebrating the Huron River
    • When: 8:30 a.m. 5K, 11 a.m. guided canoe trip with naturalist, noon-4 p.m. activities
    • More information on the HRWC and City of Ann Arbor websites
    Schweighofer said although many people report norovirus-like symptoms after being in contact with the river, the health department said it’s too difficult to detect because of the volume of water in the river.

    Signs are posted that recommend against swimming in untreated bodies of water, Schweighofer said.

    Use of the city of Ann Arbor’s canoe liveries on the Huron set a record in 2012, as 50,336 people rented boats, said Supervisor Cheryl Saam.

    “The canoe liveries were quite small when I took over 11 years ago,” Saam said. “The popularity of paddle sports continues to grow.”

    Saam points to the addition of the Argo Cascades - a manufactured series of small waterfalls that can be easily navigated by kayaks or inner tubes - as the catalyst for the increased activity. Trips on the cascades doubled from 2011 to 2012.

    “It’s really turned Ann Arbor to the river,” Saam said, noting she sees many people bringing their own tubes down to the Huron to travel the cascades. “It’s just opened up this whole section of the river to have this fun hangout place.”

    Rubin said the future health of the river depends on an increasing understanding of connectivity to the waterway that comes from direct interaction with it.

    “It’s definitely a trend we’re trying to promote. I definitely think it builds a sense of place,” Rubin said. “It’s an understanding that what comes off my rooftop or my driveway ends up in the river … That translates into land use policies; storm water policies.”

    Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for AnnArbor.com. Reach her at (734) 623-2552, amybiolchini@annarbor.com or on Twitter.


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    Americans, especially Michiganders, are finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel as we work our way out of this recession. But for many, simply getting back to where we were before the financial crisis is a struggle in itself. For example, before all this economic turbulence, I was living the American dream as a small-business franchisee for Domino's Pizza. Through years of hard work, I grew my business to 12 stores.

    But like many others, I was forced to downsize just to stay afloat when the crisis hit. It was a tough decision as no small businessman wants to see the fruit of one’s labor disappear so quickly. Ultimately it was the right move, and with the support of the community, I was able to weather the storm and maintain four great stores.

    As the recovery set in, I eagerly began growing my business once again. Unfortunately, just at this time, I was surprised and disappointed to learn that the 2010 health care bill specifically targets pizzerias with costly and nonsensical regulations.

    Section 4205 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act states restaurants like mine must provide nutritional information for all menu items. While I support the end-goal of this rule whole-heartedly, the authors clearly had no understanding of the businesses they sought to regulate.

    For starters, they don't realize that the majority of my business is done by delivery. The regulation requires that I maintain expensive, in-store menu boards, despite the fact that 90 percent of orders are placed either by phone or online, meaning that the vast majority of my customers will never see these menu boards, let alone act on them. Domino's implemented an online calorie counter in order to get customized information directly to these customers.

    In addition, the regulations would mandate that I label per whole pizza, instead of per-slice. But pizza is a shared meal, and most people are not thinking of having to do long division when they are eating just a slice or two. The law also requires stores to provide the calorie count for every possible type of pizza. For my chain, Domino’s, there are 34 million possible combinations (yes, we counted each one). To account for such a customizable product, I would have to provide calorie ranges capturing the lowest to highest possible calorie combination for every pizza. But since there are so many options, the ranges could be extremely wide - up to 2,000 calories in some cases. I fail to see how this overly-broad information will help consumers.

    02132013_BIZ_NewDominos_JT_05_fullsize.JPG

    David Cesarini at his recently redesigned Domino's Pizza franchise location on Plymouth Road in Ann Arbor.

    Joseph Tobianski | AnnArbor.com

    Even though my stores carry a big company’s name, my wife and I proudly consider ourselves small business owners who depend on our stores for our livelihood. This poorly-drafted regulation will be costly and is unlikely to help consumers obtain nutritional information. I now face the prospect of spending tens of thousands of dollars for unhelpful menu boards that a tiny fraction of my customers will see.   Luckily, Congress has offered a bipartisan solution - The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act. It provides restaurants like mine the flexibility to provide their customers with important nutritional information on our website, using innovative tools like the Cal-O-Meter . This would allow us to forgo wallpapering our stores with costly nutritional signage that most of our customers will never see.

    Section 4205 is a clear example of a good intention gone wrong. Unfortunately, the consequences of this regulation will make it much harder for small business owners like me to grow. The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act provides a smart, workable solution to providing calorie information to my customers, while allowing me to get back to making pizza and my pursuit of the American dream.

    Dave Cesarini of Ann Arbor is the owner of Domino's stores throughout Ann Arbor and East Lansing.


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    Two of five wards in Ann Arbor face city council elections in August, and AnnArbor.com plans to endorse a candidate in each race.

    While that may sound like “standard operating procedure” for many newsrooms, I wanted to let readers know that this is happening for two reasons: One, we published for many months without a local editorial voice; and two, it represents a change in how we generate our opinions.

    Our return to publishing a weekly editorial began in May, as I asked three colleagues at AnnArbor.com to join me as our editorial board.

    Joining me as AnnArbor.com makes editorial decisions: Bob Needham and Cindy Heflin, both news producers; and Kyle Mattson, our community engagement specialist.

    I worked with both Bob and Cindy at the Ann Arbor News in the 1990s. We all were in editing roles there, and Bob supervised the opinion page at the News in 2008-09. The three of us live within the Ann Arbor Public Schools boundaries, and two of us - Bob and I - reside within the city limits.

    Kyle gives us a slightly different perspective: He resides outside of the city, giving an objective perspective to many issues. His experience with our commenting system - and interactions with our commenters as they raise questions, add value to stories or require deletion - all give him unique insight here at AnnArbor.com.

    We’re still fine-tuning how our process works. Right now, we’re meeting monthly to share ideas and determine which topics will be the focus of an editorial. It’s a collaborative effort, and the reason the editorials are published online under an “AnnArbor.com Staff” byline.

    When AnnArbor.com launched in 2009, our editorials were influenced by an editorial board that included community leaders. They volunteered to meet monthly, discussed key issues in the community, and formed a collective opinion with our top managers. That ended in summer 2012 as I was promoted to editor and decided to restructure the format.

    What we’re doing now is similar, but minus the outside voices. I believe this group understands the community well and has seen it function for many years, and is prepared to offer a concise, weekly institutional opinion that, at least in most cases, our readership will find credible and informed.

    It’s my hope that we can eventually establish an opinion page that both represents this institutional voice of AnnArbor.com and conveys additional leadership from the same kinds of influential community members that previously joined our editorial board. I have some vision for how that will look

    But in the meantime, we’ll continue to write weekly editorials. You’ll see our candidate endorsements by the end of July. And I’d like to hear your feedback on the process.

    Paula Gardner is editor of AnnArbor.com. You can reach her by email or follow her on Twitter.


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    Ypsilanti police arrested a suspect Saturday after a woman told them she was stabbed multiple times during an altercation.

    The incident took place on the 400 block of West Michigan Avenue around 4:10 p.m., according to a news release. The woman told police she knew the suspect.

    Police offered no further information about the incident Sunday.


    View Larger Map


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    Westbound traffic on Barton Drive in Ann Arbor between Pontiac Trail and Plymouth will be detoured for construction Monday, July 22 through Aug. 31.

    Vehicles will be routed around the closed area by way of Plymouth Road, Moore Street and Pontiac Trail.

    Eastbound traffic and local access for vehicle and pedestrian traffic will be maintained. At least one side of the street will be open to pedestrians at all times.

    Residents will be notified in advance if access to their driveway will be temporarily affected.

    Work on Barton Drive will include repaving of the road to eliminate pot holes and increase the service life of the road. Storm water inlets, some concrete curb and sidewalk ramps will be replaced.

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


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    National History Day.jpg

    Students from Ann Arbor Learning Community pose with guest speaker Peter Sagal during their National History Day trip in Maryland. From left to right: Asia Korkmaz, Sophia Goebel, Peter Sagal, Melody Korkmaz and Emma Roth.

    Photo courtesy of Charles Roth

    While they may not have placed in the finals, four Washtenaw County students say they are returning from the National History Day competition victorious. The students, from the Ann Arbor Learning Community charter school and Ann Arbor’s Pioneer High School, said the experience taught them valuable skills both inside and outside the classroom that will help them later in life.

    The group, which included Sophia Goebel, Asia Korkmaz and Emma Roth from the Ann Arbor Learning Community — — and Lisa Qian from Pioneer High School— spent a week at the University of Maryland in College Park to compete in the nationwide history competition.

    IMG_2231.jpg

    The three girls competing in National History Day walk toward the Washington Monument during their visit.

    Courtesy photo

    The contest is open to students in grades sixth to twelfth and asks that they present projects demonstrating their research and understanding of history. The students must conduct primary and secondary research around a particular theme. This year, “Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, Events” and students were given the option of presenting their findings in one of five ways: a paper, an exhibit, a performance, a documentary or a website.

    “It’s the journey not the destination,” said 12-year-old Korkmaz. “I think I’m taking away life experience.”

    Korkmaz, who recently finished seventh grade, wrote a research paper titled “President Nixon’s White House Tapes: A Turning Point in Executive Privilege.” She said the project taught her high-level research skills some people might not learn until college.

    “I learned how to do deep, precise research and learned how to form my own conclusion and analyze history,” she said. “I feel that’s going to benefit me later on.”

    For students at Ann Arbor Learning Community, the contest has become part of a tradition. Adviser Abigail Kuhn said this was the school’s eighth time participating in the program and its fourth time qualifying to the national level. She teaches a “National History Day” elective every fall and runs a weekly club that meets throughout the year.

    Roth, who also just finished seventh grade, has participated in the program for the past four years, but said this was her first year competing on the national level. The 13-year-old created a performance to display her topic, “Absolute Certainty: DNA Profiling and the American Criminal Justice System,” where she wrote and acted in a three-character play about the history and ramifications of DNA profiling.

    As part of her research, Roth via email interviewed Sir Alec Jeffrey, the British geneticist who created the techniques for DNA profiling an experience she said literally had her, “jumping for joy.”

    “I just kind of felt like a part of history,” she said. “You feel like you’re actually getting to know history and how are our criminal justice system works, and now because of this, I kind of want to be lawyer.”

    Goebel, 14, said one of the best parts of the competition was meeting peers from across the country and all over the world. The competition includes students from the United States as well as American Samoa, Guam, and International Schools and Department of Defense Schools in Europe.

    roadcruise.JPG

    Sophia Goebel, Emma Roth, and Asia Korkmaz, from Ann Arbor Learning Community, following the Welcome Ceremony.

    “There’s a lot of conversing with other people and a lot of skills you gain from it so that If you didn’t do such a big competition, you wouldn’t be able to have (those experiences),” she said. “I hope I take them with me through my high school experience.”

    Goebel, who will be starting as a freshman next year at Ann Arbor’s Huron High School, said initially she was terrified when she started her project, “Monopoly, Not Just a Game: The Sherman Antitrust Act and Standard Oil,” but now is confident in her skills for writing a long-term research paper.

    For Qian, the only one to independently compete, the contest was about pursuing her own love of history and sharing her knowledge with others. The 15-year-old, who will be a junior next year, found the contest on her own through a Google search and decided to pursue it with her mother, Fang Dong, as a parent sponsor.

    “I just know there are so many opportunities for science and math but not many for history, which is something I’m interested in,” she said. “This is really the only major history program I found.”

    Qian decided to create a website for her project so she could share the information easily with others. She chose to focus her project, “Francis Perkins: The Mother of Social Security,” on a topic she thought would be particularly relevant to her generation.

    “It’s important for me to understand,” she said. “[Social Security] is something that my generation will have to deal with.”

    Kuhn said the program is a way for students to develop not only research skills, but a love for history, culture, people and a personal confidence that will them into the future.

    “I think it’s a really great program,” she said. “I’m really proud of what they’ve done this year.”


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    Related story: Huron River health: Phosphorous levels have dropped 25 percent in the past 15 years

    The 32nd annual Huron River Day drew a crowd Sunday to Gallup Park for an afternoon of sun, guided canoe tours, a 5K run/walk, live music, children's activities, demonstrations and exhibits. The event, organized by the city of Ann Arbor, is meant to encourage awareness of water quality and the preservation of the city's defining natural feature.

    Photographer Daniel Brenner captured these images in the carousel above.


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    A kayaker paddles near the shore Sunday at Gallup Park.

    Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com

    Hot and humid weather will settle in around Ann Arbor this week, with the heat index pushing 100 degrees and thunderstorms a threat through the end of the week.

    Monday and Tuesday will feel much like Sunday, only sweatier, with clouds mixed with sunshine and highs reaching the upper 80s on Monday and right around 90 on Tuesday.

    "With the humidity factored in we go well up into the upper 90s and close to 100 in the afternoon hours," said Carl Erickson, senior meteorologist with AccuWeather.

    Temperatures are expected to remain near 90 degrees Wednesday through Friday before cooling off into the lower 80s on Saturday, Erickson said.

    The best chance for thunderstorms comes Thursday along with a cold front that makes its way northeast to the area, and on Friday, when storms could be strong and accompanied by damaging winds, he said.

    For up-to-date weather forecasts 24 hours a day, visit AnnArbor.com's weather page.


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    A University of Michigan graduate student was injured in a hit-and-run accident last week while walking near her off-campus home, and police say they have no leads on a suspect.

    Navya Varshney was injured around 1:45 a.m. Wednesday while crossing Elizabeth Street at the intersection of High Street as she walked from her car to her home on nearby Kingsley Street. A motorist who was traveling north on Elizabeth attempted to turn left on High Street against the flow of traffic on the one-way street, striking Varshney.

    "When she was crossing going to the other side of the road on Elizabeth, he struck her and my daughter turned around and fell on the road and he just flew away," said her father, Niraj Varshney.

    The police report says Navya Varshney, a 23 year-old first-year student in the U-M School of Dentistry, was hit by the front of the vehicle, was rolled or thrown, and then struck again by the side of the vehicle. Her father said she fell hard on her right wrist and fingers, rendering her right hand immobile, hit her head and sustained injuries to both shoulders.

    She managed to dig out her cell phone with her left hand and called 911 and was later transferred by ambulance to the U-M Hospital, where she was discharged Wednesday evening.

    A doctor later diagnosed her with broken ligaments, cartilage and nerve damage in the fingers of her right hand and given a sling for her arm and metal braces for her fingers. She also suffered injuries to her right temple, her shoulders and back. She has been recuperating at her parents' home in Novi.

    Without the use of her right hand, "she cannot continue in this semester. She has to wait for the end of the year to join back into the college," her father said.

    Ann Arbor Police Sgt. Aimee Metzer said the police report described her as having injuries that were apparent but less severe than broken bones.

    Niraj Varshney said he has heard no follow-up from police investigators and was told on Thursday that there were no updates in the case.

    "That's one of the surprising parts is that they never called," he said of the police.

    Niraj Varshney said her daughter reported being struck by a Jeep, but there is no mention of either the vehicle make in the police report, Metzer said. There were no apparent witnesses to the incident

    "We basically have zero information on the vehicle," Metzer said.

    Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call the Ann Arbor Police Department at (734) 794-6920.


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    The finals of the 89th Ann Arbor City Tennis Tournament were played on Sunday at the University of Michigan Varsity Tennis Center. There were 161 participants in this year's tournament.

    Daniel Brenner is a photographer for AnnArbor.com.


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    Jason Kerst, 15, won the men's singles open division champion at the Ann Arbor City Tennis Tournament at the University of Michigan Varsity Tennis Tournament on Sunday, July 14.

    Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com

    Huateng Holcombe sat on the hill overlooking the courts at the University of Michigan Varsity Tennis Center on Sunday. Huateng’s husband, Sven, was playing for his fourth men’s singles open championship at the Ann Arbor City Tennis Tournament, so she came out to watch.

    Heidi Kerst sat in the stands in support of Holcombe’s opponent, her 15-year-old son, Jason. It didn’t matter if Heidi wanted to be there or not.

    She had to be. Heidi was Jason’s ride.

    Kerst may have needed a ride to and from the court on Sunday, but he certainly didn’t need any assistance on it, as he defeated Holcombe in three sets (6-3, 4-6, 6-3). Kerst pumped his fists and grinned with a mouth full of braces after Holcombe double-faulted on the final point.

    “It’s just a great feeling. I worked so hard this last year because this tournament means a lot to me and I didn’t do quite as well last year, so this is a nice result,” said Kerst.

    Kerst will be a sophomore at Skyline High School in the fall, where he was the varsity boys team’s No. 1 singles player last year as a freshman. Sunday wasn’t his first success at the Ann Arbor City Tournament, as he won the 18-and-under division when he was 13.

    city-tennis-ann-arbor2.JPG

    Jason Kerst, left, and Sven Holcombe embrace after the men's singles open division final in the Ann Arbor City Tennis Tournament on Sunday, July 14.

    Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com

    Per an Ann Arbor Area Community Tennis Association regulation, players under the age of 19 are only allowed to play in open division of the tournament, making the division an interesting mix of crafty, older players and young up-and-comers. Experience most often wins the day, but Kerst was able to buck the trend on Sunday.

    Tournament officials couldn’t remember the last time a junior-aged player won the tournament and the tournament’s archives don’t indicate the age of players.

    “He’s just getting a bit more consistent,” said Holcombe, 31, who beat Kerst in three sets last year in the round of 16. “This year he was just that extra few percentage points stronger and more consistent and I couldn’t match that.”

    Kerst’s coach, former Big Ten singles champion Peter Pusztai, said when playing an experienced player like Holcombe, the biggest challenge is being able to handle the variety of shots they can play. But Kerst handled the variety just fine on Sunday.

    “I’m fairly familiar with his game,” Kerst said. “He beat me 6-4 in the third set (last year), so winning this year in a third set and in a final is pretty great.”

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


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    Exhibitors Kristen Drozdowski and Steve Emshwiller of Ypsilanti at the 2012 Shadow Art Fair.

    Jeffrey Smith | AnnArbor.com file photo

    When this summer's Shadow Art Fair comes to a close, the bell will toll.

    "This is the last one," confirms Shadow Art Fair co-founder Mark Maynard.

    Over the last few years, the organizers of the annual one-day art and music festival have struggled with what to do with it. They have gone back and forth, trying to grow it and then shrinking it back down. In an interview last year, they played around with the idea of corporate sponsors. And they asked themselves, should it change?

    The decision, ultimately, is to discontinue it after its 15th installment since 2006.

    The final Shadow Art Fair will take place at the Corner Brewery on July 20.

    When asked why, Maynard says, "it's the right time to go out on top."

    "When we started it, it was more unique. That was before things like Handmade Detroit and a bunch of other DIY art fairs were around. There's been an explosion of things like this," Maynard says.

    Now with a number of DIY arts events around, "we felt like that niche is being served," says Maynard. That was the point of founding Shadow Art Fair in the first place, according to him. Now, when the popular blogger is rereading posts from back at the beginning, "we've accomplished what we wanted to accomplish," he says.

    "Things took root and blossomed into a lot of cool little things," Maynard says.

    PREVIEW

    Shadow Art Fair

    • Who: A variety of local artists, crafts people and other creative types.
    • What: Celebration of all sorts of unusual, offbeat and creative works, with music and more.
    • Where: Corner Brewery, 720 Norris St., Ypsilanti.
    • When: Noon-midnight Saturday, July 20.
    • How much: Donations accepted.
    Cre Fuller, who helped start DIYpsi, came to one of the first Shadow Art Fairs. "That was when he started making his robots. Then he was in a bunch of them and got an arts space at SPUR Studio. Now he is making them professionally and started DIYpsi," Maynard says as an example of the ripple effect.

    "There are concentric circles going out from this thing we started," he adds.

    But now, it's time to go off the air, "like Seinfeld—before it starts getting sucky."

    The vision of the 5 original founding members, called the Michigan Design Militia, was to focus more attention on showcasing unique art and music than making money. Every Shadow Art Fair has featured some outside-the-box, interactive art. Vendor fees only covered cost. And donations at the door were merely suggested. Some of the money, which was not spent on event costs, was spread back out into the community through mini-grants.

    "There is still a struggle," Maynard says. "Part of me thinks it would be cool to start something that keeps going and becomes an industry, like the Ann Arbor Art Fair."

    "But that's just not what we were about when we started this," he says. "We weren't about being successful like that."

    However, another event they plan, Krampus Costume Ball in winter, will still happen.

    Maynard is the only original member of the Michigan Design Militia who still runs Shadow Art Fair. The others have either moved away or decided to focus on work and family—they have all been doing it as volunteers. However, a few years ago, local artist Chris Sandon joined the fray and the two of them plan Krampus, inspired by a European myth about Santa's alter-ego.

    "I think Chris and I would both rather put our efforts into the Krampus thing. There is a lot of room to do more interesting, unique stuff there," Maynard says.

    The final Shadow Art Fair will be what fans come for. There will be vendors selling art and other wares, bands out in the back beer garden, a new Shadow Brew made by the Corner Brewery especially for the event, and funky interactive art happenings.

    Instead of seeking submissions from participants, this year, they decided to invite back some of their favorites and a few new ones - a final All-Stars show, if you will.

    Aside from the vendors and bands, several people are doing funky interactive art projects.

    Donald Harrison, former director of the Ann Arbor Film Festival, will present an interactive video booth, in conjunction with Tyree Guyton's Heidelberg Project in Detroit.

    Vinnie Massimino will fax artworks to people at an un-manned booth.

    Andy Claydon made a bike that plays heavy metal chords on the spokes when peddled.

    "It will be special for us. We just want to have a big party," Maynard says.


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    Full coverage of the Ann Arbor Art Fair

    The Ann Arbor Art Fair returns to town Wednesday-Saturday, and along with it comes the colorful posters promoting the event.

    Each of the four separate fairs that make up the overall event produces a new poster each year, showcasing the work of that fair's "featured artist." Here's a look at this year's posters:

    south-university-2013.jpg

    Ann Arbor's South University Art Fair poster, by Martyna Alexander, bird characters based on artwork by Sean Brown

    summer-art-fair-2013.jpg

    Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair poster, by John Booth

    state-street-fair-2013.jpeg

    State Street Area Art Fair poster, by Gina Krawez

    street-art-fair-2013.jpeg

    Ann Arbor Street Art Fair poster, by Geoffrey Harris

    More information on the fairs and the featured artists:

    Ann Arbor's South University Art Fair

    Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair

    State Street Area Art Fair

    Ann Arbor Street Art Fair


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    The Washtenaw County Trial Court is looking to implement a $2 million upgrade this year to its outdated electronic filing system that's on its last leg.

    As the vendor for current filing system, Enact, is out of business and the county’s IT staff member that knew how to repair it had to leave his position, there’s no safety net in place should the system crash.

    Courthouse.JPG

    The Washtenaw County 22nd Circuit Court at the corner of Huron and Main Street in downtown Ann Arbor. It's one of two courts in the county's Trial Court.

    AnnArbor.com file photo

    The 15-year-old electronic filing system is the backbone of operations for the Trial Court.

    “We’re really in a tenuous position,” said Dan Dwyer, court administrator. “There’s no vendor to fix it and there’s no in-house person to fix it anymore. ... If the system goes down, I might as well lock the front door."

    The overhaul of the court’s record system to an all-electronic, online portal would be the single biggest change to the county's court system in decades, Dwyer said.

    “This would advance us light years,” Dwyer said.

    The Trial Court is a merger of the 22nd Circuit Court and Probate Court.

    Dwyer said the court has identified a new vendor - Tyler Technologies - for the system and estimated that the upgrade would cost about $2 million.

    Court systems in Kalamazoo and Wayne County operate using the Tyler system now.

    The court’s $18.6 million budget does not have room to foot the entire bill for the new electronic filing system - and so the Trial Court will have to work with the county administration to find a funding source, Dwyer said. The Trial Court has been saving some of its funds to put toward the new record system, he said.

    The Tyler system would allow people to submit their documents electronically for a standard $5 charge instead of mailing them or hand-delivering them to the courthouse. Judges will be able to electronically sign documents through the new system.

    Dwyer said he’s anticipating a huge reduction in paper use for the Trial Court with the new system.

    Court payments also will be simpler. Dwyer said the Tyler system calculates and tracks late fees automatically -- a role that would have taken the time of two employees. The Trial Court has not been collecting late fees because it doesn't have the staff to allocate to tracking them, Dwyer said.

    Dwyer said he anticipates more revenue from late fees because people will now be more encouraged to pay on time.

    Under the Trial Court's filing system now, users have to physically come in to the courthouse to review motions filed and case actions. Case files in paper format must be physically reviewed in private kiosks.

    The system upgrade would mean that case files from the implementation date forward would be available only in electronic format on the county's servers.

    Users would be able to access court motions and a register of case actions remotely through an online portal. However, people would have to travel to the courthouse to review full case files on county computers -- a measure that Dwyer calls "practical obscurity."

    "Really, do you want someone to be able to look up your divorce when they're mad at you?" Dwyer said. "If they have to come down to the courthouse to do it, they're not going to."

    Old case files will not be put into the new electronic system because it's not cost-effective, Dwyer said.

    Dwyer said the Trial Court has been in the process of seeking a new vendor for the past several years, and has worked with the county's IT department to select Tyler Technologies.

    The Trial Court was previously a part of a pilot project initiated by the Michigan Supreme Court that was developing a new electronic court records system of its own. Washtenaw County contributed $550,000 to the effort and three years of an employee's time, who has an $80,000 salary, Dwyer said.

    The pilot project was supposed to be completed in a year and a half. After five years of no results, Dwyer said the county dropped out of the project and was reimbursed for its $550,000 contribution.

    Dwyer said the Trial Court is in the process of negotiating final costs and a contract with Tyler Technologies.

    The contract will have go before the Board of Commissioners for approval.

    The Trial Court had been waiting to submit the proposal to the Board of Commissioners until after it voted on a potential bond issue for its retiree health care and pension debts -- which had been originally slated for July 10 but is now on hold.

    Dwyer anticipated the item could be on the board's August agenda.

    The request for the electronic record system upgrade won't be affected by a July 10 vote by commissioners to postpone terminating the Memorandum of Understanding between the county administration and the Trial Court to October. The move was made to give administration more time to work with court staff on the issue.

    Commissioner Alicia Ping, R-Saline, introduced the measure in June as a way to seek more control over the Trial Court's lump sum budget agreement.

    The Trial Court submits a line-item budget to the county each year for approval, Dwyer said. Should the MOU be terminated -- which sets the ground rules for how the court interacts with the county -- Dwyer said it would give the county board no additional control over court operations.

    “Everything we do now, we do collaboratively,” Dwyer said of the Trial Court and the county administration.

    Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for AnnArbor.com. Reach her at (734) 623-2552, amybiolchini@annarbor.com or on Twitter.


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    College Inn Pizza recently closed and the restaurant space is now available for lease.

    Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com

    Ypsilanti’s College Inn Pizza has closed after three years, leaving a storefront along the busy West Cross Street corridor near Eastern Michigan University for lease.

    Mark Kashem, the property manager, said he is asking around $2,200 per month for the 1,800-square-foot restaurant.

    "It’s right by the central campus and already has a lot of the equipment for a restaurant,” Kashem said. “It’s very well maintained. It just needs a little bit of cleaning, and a good idea for it to work.”

    The lease price includes a walk-in fridge, freezer, hood system, stove and other equipment needed to get a restaurant going.

    The store has been vacant for about three months. Kashem said College Inn’s owners planned to temporarily shut down the business for renovations, then never reopened.

    “They kept saying they were renovating and they were saying that they were almost done, but they never came back,” he said.

    Kashem said a family member owns the building, at 505 W. Cross St., along with 20 residential properties in Ypsilanti.

    Prior to College Inn, the space housed a West Coast Subs.

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


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    Downtown Arbor’s newest basement bar, the Old German, plans to start serving its craft-brewed German-style beers and chicken schnitzel sandwiches this week.

    The bar, located in the basement of Grizzly Peak Brewing Company on West Washington Street, is set to open at 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 16.

    Customers will find a new spin on Ann Arbor’s original Old German: a German restaurant that first opened downtown in 1928. Bud Metzger closed the Old German in 1995, when Jon Carlson and Chet Czaplicka bought the building and business to open Grizzly Peak.

    Carlson and Czaplicka, along with their business partner Greg Lobdell, are opening the Old German.

    “This is a tribute back to the Old German and that heritage of Ann Arbor,” Czaplicka said. “Bud (Metzger) was a really nice guy.”

    old_german_sign.jpg

    The original sign from the Old German was offered to the new owners by an old friend of the Metzger family and hangs over the bar.

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

    German artifacts and beer signs line the walls of the new bar and “bierkeller,” which is 2,400 square feet and seats about 100 people. The bar has one wood table from the original Old German, and the former Old German sign is displayed.

    og_original.jpg

    Ann Arbor's original Old German closed in 1995.

    Ann Arbor District Library archives

    Two rotating “kellerbiers” will be poured straight from conditioning tanks behind the bar, and Grizzly Peak’s beers will be offered on draft. The Old German also will offer a mug club.

    From the Old German’s beer menu: “Kellerbiers: two seasonal German-style beers - sometimes lager, sometimes not, but always brewed here, conditioned in our cellar and served right out of the tank.”

    The Old German also has a full bar and “eis shooters” — alcohol served in ice shot glasses.

    The food menu includes: beer cheese soup, baked soft pretzels, German potato pancakes, kale salad, a charcuterie platter, bacon and beer bratwurst, chicken pesto bratwurst, German potato salad, a chicken schnitzel sandwich and a hasenpfeffer sandwich.

    Grizzly Peak general manager Chris Carrington said he hired a few additional employees, but most of the Old German staff will come from Grizzly Peak.

    The restaurant's regular hours will be 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday, and 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

    After the soft opening on Tuesday, there will be a grand opening celebration starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 17, with a cash bar and complimentary appetizers. There is a suggested donation of $25, and all proceeds will benefit the Vada Murray Fund for Cancer Research.

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


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    It might be less than a week before the next superintendent of Ann Arbor public schools is named, or at least a finalist is offered the job.

    Ann Arbor's Board of Education has chosen a New Jersey district superintendent and an assistant superintendent for instruction, curriculum, and student services in Colorado Springs as finalists for the top leadership position in the district.

    Jeanice Kerr Swift, of Colorado, and Brian Osborne, of New Jersey, will introduce themselves to the public during meetings in Skyline High School at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

    During initial interviews Monday, July 8, and deliberation Tuesday, July 9, the board seemed impressed by Osborne's budget acumen and by Swift's communication skills.

    The board is planning to make its final decision on who will replace Patricia Green as Ann Arbor superintendent on Friday, July 19.

    Here's four things to note about the two candidates. The information provides a snapshot of the two finalists before they visit Ann Arbor for their final interviews. AnnArbor.com has included a copies of their cover letter, resume and references.

    kerr-swift-osborne.jpg

    Jeanice Kerr Swift and Brian Osborne

    Courtesy

    Jeanice Kerr Swift

    Resume and references: Swift_Resume.pdf

    1) What's her district like?

    Colorado Springs School District No. 11 is the seventh-largest school district in the state of Colorado. The district teaches 28,500 students and directly employs 3,900 people, according to district figures. Comparatively, Ann Arbor has 16,600 and roughly 3,000 employees. In 2012 the district had 39 elementary schools, nine middle schools and 11 high schools, with four of the schools offering alternative education models. There are 21 students for every teacher. According to district documents, the district set a $367 million budget for 2012-13.

    2) What's a challenge she faced?

    Swift is experienced in consolidating schools, something Ann Arbor might experience in the near future. Swift's district has closed 12 school buildings since 2009, according to a Colorado Springs Gazette article from June.

    During her interview, Swift said prior to consolidating schools her district held 12 meetings to collect ideas. Then after the district created a draft plan, it held another roughly dozen meetings to get community feedback.

    "What's important is that we remember that we are all in this together. That sounds like a platitude but it's important to return to that," Swift said during her interview. Swift said that before a district closes a school it needs to have a plan in place for leasing or selling it.

    3) Notable endeavor:

    Swift has a strong background in curriculum. In her role she is responsible for maintaining and implementing a 'Playbook' of suggested instructional practices for teachers in her district. The document presents teachers with proven responses to scenarios they'll likely encounter, such as a student reaching subject proficiency faster than expected.

    You can check out the playbook here: Playbook.pdf and Playbook2013.pdf

    In the curriculum vein, Swift's district recently received an award from MIND Research Institute for improving elementary math achievement using a fictional character teaching tool.

    4) What did her reference say?

    "She is a master at building cultures, she is great at getting the most out of teams, she can be a bulldog to fight for approaches and programs to make sure our children are served and education. Jeanice is exactly the kind of person you want and need to lead your school district. She is a person that works well with staff, administration and parents. What sets her apart is her ability to use all these stakeholders to help her base her final recommendation on doing what is best for students." -Michael A. Poore, superintendent of Bentonville Public Schools in Arizona.

    Brian Osborne

    Resume and references: Osborne_Resume.pdf

    1) What's his district like?

    The South Orange and Maplewood School District in New Jersey is smaller than Ann Arbor. It's responsible for the education of 6,700 students and includes six elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school. For perspective, AAPS includes 16,600 students. The district had a $109 million operating budget in 2012-13. The district's high school is ranked 36th in the state in U.S. News and World Report's ranking. According to that ranking, minority enrollment in the high school is 62 percent and 43 percent of students take at least one AP test. District figures indicate there's one faculty member for every 10.6 students.

    2) What's an accomplishment?

    Osborne lobbied the New Jersey legislature for tenure reform in 2012. A 1909 New Jersey tenure law put a high burden of proof on districts firing teachers, making it difficult for districts to dismiss ineffective teachers.

    “It means people get away with too much,” he told NJ.com in 2010.

    During his interview before the Ann Arbor Board of Education, Osborne emphasized the importance of officials using their role to lobby lawmakers.

    "I do think it's important that you as elected officials from Ann Arbor, and your superintendent, that we've very vocal," he said.

    3) What's a challenge in his current role?

    It appears that Osborne has been heavily focused on reducing the achievement gap in his district. According to a Patch article, his district reduced the gap between black and white students who score well on a standard New Jersey English test from 28.1 percent in 2010-11 to 24.6 the next year. In a math assessment, that gap narrowed 1.3 percent, Patch reported.

    He has made it a goal of the district to increase the number of white students taking AP tests by 10 percent and the number of black students taking the test by 20 percent, although his district has struggled to make gains with black students. During his interview Monday, Osborne said that if a student does well in at least on AP course, it's an indicator of academic success.

    4) What did his reference say?

    "I have also seen him work with people and show humanity and toughness and understanding all at the same time. I believe he is uniquely principled in how he approaches his job. When I am in a moral or practical quandary, I call him." Andres Alonso, CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools.

    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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    There are very few issues of national prominence on which a large majority of our citizens can agree, but one notable exception is the almost unanimous disdain and distrust with which the people now view the players and the parties in today's world of politics.

    Conflict between opposing political partisans has been an integral part of the system from the very first days of our founding, but the antagonism that defines the current competitive scene has become so personal and abusive that the process has lost its value as a form of mediation and compromise and is now the accepted site for battle.

    Nevertheless, despite the antagonism it generates and its very limited contribution to orderly and effective rules of governance, its role in our system and even its warped performance is generally beneficial and irreplaceable. For example:

    For many American cities, the residential community bordering its downtown was the town's first section to be settled and now, as the city's oldest neighborhood, is often its most damaged and depressed. In the early 1950s, one of the big political issues in a great many cities was urban renewal, a plan whereby those downtown slum areas would be redeveloped and made more habitable. Implementation would be a partnership between the federal government for its financing and the local leadership for its execution. I remember it being a very hot topic in New Jersey when I moved from there to Ann Arbor in 1954 — and it was an even more contentious issue here with numerous public hearings and intense political debates.

    While this was going on, I met with the mayor of Ypsilanti, Rod Hutchinson, who favored the proposal, as did I. At the time, Ypsilanti enjoyed a non-partisan system of government, a fact that the mayor proudly threw up to me as evidence of the deep sense of community in Ypsilanti and the counter-effectiveness of Ann Arbor’s partisan political process. “See. With both your parties yelling and screaming and getting nowhere, we, with our common concern for the community, are going to pass the urban renewal bill that you—with all your bellicose partisanship—can’t even get it off the ground.”

    The battle continued for a very long period — vitriolic, often irrational and joined by just about every civic and social organization in town. Ann Arbor did finally get it off the ground and passed a seriously watered down version of what had originally been proposed, while Ypsilanti, with its generally uncontested acceptance of the wisdom of the proposal, got nowhere. Mayor Hutchinson and I were both surprised by the bill’s defeat in Ypsilanti, finally concluding that, although they had no organized opposition, neither did they have any effective organized support … so it simply died from disinterest.

    The message that we both took away from this was that political partisanship can be ugly and is often irrational and destructive, but with it we have passion and the likelihood of some level of performance, while without it we too often have a vacuum of disinterest and inaction.

    It is probably true that in an ideal world, good solutions to complex problems — even while dividing proponents with opposing views — are in the compromises reached between their honest representatives. But the world of politics seems to follow a different path. The mechanics of the democratic system of government may well be outside our preferred style of operation, but if that’s the only game in town we have no choice but to make it work.

    And that requires an active and continuing citizen participation in community affairs. ` We cannot assign responsibilities to others, then simply walk away. The nation is ours, the local community is ours — the decisions must be ours. We must remain involved, a particularly beneficial alternative for too frequently bored and inactive seniors.

    Robert Faber has been a resident of Ann Arbor since 1954. He previously owned a fabric store and later a travel agency. He served a couple of terms on the Ann Arbor City Council. His wife of more than 60 years, Eunice, died March 20. He may be reached at rgfaber@comcast.net.


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