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

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    The Mega Guide: Full coverage of the 2013 Ann Arbor Art Fair

    071713_NEWS_StateStArtFair_MRM_09.jpg

    Fairgoers stroll down Liberty Street on Wednesday.

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

    The Ann Arbor Art Fair opened Wednesday for four days of art, crafts, shopping, walking, live music, heat, food, and all the other traditions.

    Destin Wellman, from New Zealand, was visiting the Art Fair with his great-aunt, Ann Arbor resident Lucie Nisson.

    "He's an artist-in-the-making himself," said Nisson (preferred medium: drawing). "He does everything," she said, pointing at the red and yellow braided plastic bracelet on his wrist.

    Nisson comes to the fair every year. Her experience so far? "It's like every other year. But we love the Art Fair. We're artists ourselves—we're retired, so it's a hobby, not a profession for us. And I'm out here looking for Ann Arbor artists interested in showing their art in local homes for the Westside Neighborhood Art Hop."

    Sharon and John Cahill of Pittsfield Township have been coming to the fair every year for 30 years. This year, they got downtown at 9:30—"on the first bus," John said.

    "We used to come when the art was just on South U. … If that tells you anything about how long we've been coming," he noted as the couple took a break at the Michigan Theater.

    "I sometimes come every day," Sharon Cahill added. They particularly like looking at pottery and ceramics.

    The day was notable for heat and a brief shower—both of which are typical for the art fair. This year's forecast calls for a high temperature around 90 Thursday and Friday, along with a chance of rain; for Saturday, the final day, expect a high closer to 80.

    Check out full coverage of the 2013 Ann Arbor Art Fair here


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    The Ann Arbor Art Fair got back into action Wednesday, with crowds of visitors lining downtown streets.

    These photos come from the State Street Area Art Fair, one of the four fairs that run concurrently. The fair continues through Saturday; find full coverage here.


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    A newly reconstructed Fourth Avenue opened just in time for this year's Ann Arbor Art Fair — as city officials promised — but some finishing work still remains.

    After the fair is over, the street — one of downtown's main north-south passages — will close once again next week as a temporary traffic control plan goes back into effect through Aug. 2.

    Starting July 22, Fourth Avenue will be closed to through traffic between Huron Street and Liberty Street in order to complete the restoration of brick pavers, adjust structures, place the final layer of asphalt, and place pavement markings, city officials said.

    Fourth_Avenue_n_071613_RJS_001.jpg

    A car passes down Fourth Avenue on Tuesday evening.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    Northbound traffic on Fourth Avenue will be directed east on Liberty Street, north on Division Street, west on Huron Street and north on Fourth Avenue.

    Southbound traffic on Fourth Avenue will be directed east on Huron Street, south on Fifth Avenue, west on Liberty Street, and south on Fourth Avenue. Access to all driveways will be maintained during the construction. Pedestrian traffic on Fourth Avenue will be maintained at all times as well.

    AnnArbor.com reporter Ryan J. Stanton captured the images above over the course of the past several weeks, showing the progress so far on the project.

    Crews have replaced the existing water main with a new 12-inch water main along Fourth Avenue from Huron to Washington; installed a new stormwater management system; and replaced curbs, gutters, curb ramps, some sidewalks; and reconstructed the street between Huron and Liberty.

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


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    University of Michigan police are investigating two thefts of copper materials from campus medical buildings reported in the past week that authorities believe are possibly related.

    The first incident was reported at 8:32 p.m. Friday at the University of Michigan Hospital, 1500 E. Medical Center Dr. Maintenance staff at the hospital reported a few dozen copper cables and connectors were stolen from a maintenance area.

    According to police, the theft occurred between 5 p.m. June 24 and 9 a.m. July 8. No suspect description was released for that theft.

    The next theft was reported in the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital. The theft was reported at 9:21 a.m. Tuesday at the hospital, 1540 E. Hospital Dr..

    According to police, new copper wire and brass fittings from a maintenance room were stolen between June 24 and July 8.

    Police didn’t have initial suspect descriptions to release for that theft. In the university’s crime summary, police stated the theft “may be related to earlier report of thefts from University Hospital.”

    Anyone with information on these incidents is encouraged to call the University of Michigan Police Department at 734-763-1131.


    View University of Michigan Health System in a larger map

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


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    University of Michigan's governing board will decide Thursday whether to amend the school's requirements for receiving in-state tuition rates to allow unauthorized immigrants and the military the reduced rate.

    UofMCampus_JT_04_walking_student.jpg

    The University of Michigan

    The board will discuss the potential change during a 3 p.m. public meeting Thursday in the North Atrium of Building 18 at the North Campus Research Complex. The governing board, composed of six Democrats and two Republicans, is expected to approve the changes, which were recommended by administrators after a year-long consideration of U-M's residency requirements.

    Under existing practices, unauthorized immigrants who grew up in Michigan pay the out-of-state rate to attend the state's flagship university. Under new guidelines, students who attended Michigan middle and high schools will have the ability to pay in-state rates, although they still won't be eligible for federal financial aid.

    Students from Michigan pay $13,142 a year, while non-residents pay $40,392.

    The university's residency requirements have been criticized as making it difficult for veterans from Michigan to receive the in-state rate if they were stationed overseas for a long period of time. The proposed changes will ensure all active military and honorably discharged veterans will receive the in-state rate.

    Regents are also set to approve an application for a temporary liquor license that would allow beer to be sold at the Jan. 1, 2014 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium.

    The hockey game between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs originally was scheduled for New Year’s Day, 2013, before the NHL lockout pushed it back one year. The lease agreement between Michigan and the NHL was approved by the regents in March.

    Next steps in a number of construction projects at the university — including a renovation of West Quad and a new Field Hockey center — will also be discussed by regents.

    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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    As a September demolition date looms for the former Willow Run Powertrain facility in Ypsilanti Township, fundraising efforts to save a portion of the attached Willow Run bomber plant are about $4.7 million short.

    With two weeks until an Aug. 1 deadline to come up with the funds, the Yankee Air Museum is pursuing large individual and company donors across the country to make up the difference.

    071713_WILLOW-RUN-BOMBER-PLANT2.JPG

    The last Ford bomber, the B-24 "Liberator" rolls out of the Willow Run plant with Henry Ford II driving the tow in June 1945. The plant was built with an eye toward wartime production in 1940.

    Eck Stanger | The Ann Arbor News

    The Willow Run plant rolled out more than 8,700 B-24 "Liberator" bombers in World War II — a testament to the strength of Detroit’s automotive industry that Yankee Air Museum founder Dennis Norton wants to see preserved.

    “(The Willow Run bomber plant) was the focal point of the entire arsenal of democracy,” Norton said. “Detroit won the war and we can’t let that story die.”

    Should the museum fail to reach its $6 million goal, the entire bomber plant will be razed with the rest of the Powertrain facility.

    Renovation too costly

    The entire facility contains 4.6 million square feet and was being marketed to industrial companies for reuse by its owner, Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response, or RACER, Trust.

    In the wake of General Motors' ’s 2009 bankruptcy, the RACER Trust was formed by the federal government in 2011 to liquidate GM’s holdings and clean up the environmental contamination at its 89 sites across 14 states.

    In Michigan, the largest of those sites is the Willow Run facility.

    With the mission of helping communities hurt by the closure of the GM plants, RACER Trust has a strict set of criteria that future buyers have to meet before it can sell a property.

    “We feel we only get one shot,” said Bruce Rasher, redevelopment manager for RACER Trust.

    At first, most of the offers for the Willow Run plant would have resulted in companies demolishing the facility for the scrap metal and then abandoning the property, Rasher said.

    After two and a half years in which they fielded 40 inquiries from interested parties but got no commitments, RACER Trust officials recently announced that the entire building would be torn down.

    The Willow Run property will now be marketed to investors as vacant land — a move that Rasher thinks will make a huge difference in attracting interest.

    Renovating the facility would exceed the cost of new construction, he said.

    It will also be cheaper for the trust to manage in the future, as the Willow Run site was the costliest for the trust to carry since it took over 2011.

    To date, $15 million has been spent to provide heat, light and security, and to pay taxes on the facility. Electric bills for the plant cost on average $75,000 to $80,000 per month, as the building is not insulated.

    Rasher said one party is seriously interested in the property, though the trust continues to market it to companies in the automotive, aerospace and defense and manufacturing sectors.

    Rasher has high hopes for the site, as its access to the highway, rail system, Willow Run Airport and proximity to the University of Michigan, industries in southeast Michigan and Canada make it the “crown jewel” of properties the trust manages.

    The bomber plant

    071713_WILLOW-RUN-BOMBER-PLANT.jpg

    B-24 "Liberator" bombers roll out of the Willow Run plant in Ypsilanti Township in 1945. The bombers were produced there by Ford Motor company from roughly mid-1942 until mid-1945.

    Taken by Ford Motor Company and property of Yankee Air Museum

    The Yankee Air Museum must raise a total of $6 million to save a portion of the former bomber plant, which is in the southeast corner of the former GM Powertrain plant.

    The section the museum is trying to save is 160,000 to 180,000 square feet of the original 3.5-million-square-foot bomber plant. That portion contains the two two massive hangar doors where the new bomber planes rolled off the line and on to the tarmac.

    Because the RACER Trust has been tasked with a long-term mission for the properties it controls, it is requiring the museum to front the funds for repairs for the bomber plant to ensure its success.

    Norton said the trust is offering the section of the bomber plant to the museum at a “minimal cost” below the $6 million figure.

    Originally, the trust asked the museum to front $8 million, Norton said.

    Negotiations between the two parties dropped that to $6 million, as the trust re-engineered its demolition plan to preserve the electrical lines. Rewiring the electrical lines would have cost about $2 million, Norton said.

    Norton said the total required by RACER Trust may be less in the end, as the trust is looking for ways to preserve some of the utility lines so the museum can reuse them.

    “(The trust) has bent over backwards to make some changes to make this work for us,” Norton said. “They want to see this thing work. They’ve been very helpful.”

    The Yankee Air Museum has established a website and an aggressive campaign in the approximate three months it was given to raise the $6 million: fliers, lawn signs and billboards have been drawn up with an image of "Rosie the Riveter" and the text “Save the bomber plant.”

    “I’m very hopeful,” Norton said. “We are talking to a number of people that could put us up to that point right now … I’m confident but not over confident.”

    Should the museum be successful in raising the funds, it would face a continued fundraising task to pay for a new heating system and renovation costs.

    The museum may also be in a position to acquire one of the four remaining B-24 Liberator bombers produced at Willow Run that are still in existence if it acquires part of the bomber plant, Norton said.

    Demolition details

    RACER Trust is now reviewing bids from demolition contractors and expects demolition to begin in September. Officials estimate the work will take 12 to 18 months.

    Rasher declined to disclose the cost of demolition. Through the contract agreement, the contractor will pay RACER Trust a lump sum for the right to demolish the building.

    The value of the scrap metal in the former Powertrain plant is high enough that Rasher anticipates it will more than pay for the cost of demolition.

    The contractor will be responsible for paying for the safe disposal of asbestos insulation materials that cover most of the steam pipes throughout the building.

    Razing the building will also mean that thousands of pieces of equipment still inside the plant will be sold to the contractor. RACER Trust conducted three auctions to liquidate much of the equipment inside, but not all of it was sold.

    The concrete slab that forms the building’s 83-acre footprint will remain intact during demolition — a vital measure to keep the 4.1 million gallons of industrial solvents, oils and chemicals that have spilled into the ground below from being disturbed. The average thickness of the slab is 12 inches.

    The building’s storm water system underneath the slab is collecting the pollution as it seeps through the groundwater. The contaminated water is piped to a water treatment plant on the property — a system that will remain in place throughout demolition, said Grant Trigger, cleanup manager.

    The trust has a $35.8 million budget to address the long-term environmental contamination on the site, which will continue after the sale of the property.

    071713_WILLOW-RUN-POWERTRAIN.jpg

    The portion of the former GM Willow Run Powertrain facility -- which is colored yellow -- that the Yankee Air Museum is seeking to buy is designated with the number two and is colored in red.

    Courtesy of the Yankee Air Museum

    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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    This story has been updated with comment from Walberg's communications director.

    Former state Rep. Pam Byrnes, a Democrat from Washtenaw County's Lyndon Township, announced Thursday she's running for Congress to help fix a "broken system" in Washington.

    Byrnes is seeking the 7th District seat held by Tim Walberg, a Republican from Tipton who unseated Democrat Mark Schauer in 2010 to regain the seat.

    Pam_Byrnes_2013.jpg

    Pam Byrnes

    Tim-Walberg-110609.JPG

    Tim Walberg

    Walberg held the seat in 2007 and 2008 before losing to Schauer in November 2008.

    Byrnes will take her shot at unseating Walberg in 2014.

    "Washington is broken and Tim Walberg is part of the problem. He puts special interests and corporations ahead of middle-class Michigan families," Byrnes said in a statement.

    "I have a track record of working across the aisle to get things done and create opportunities to help middle-class families thrive."

    Byrnes pointed to her past work on a cottage food bill to help local farmers and small entrepreneurs, and legislation to cut her own pay and end lifetime healthcare for state lawmakers.

    In response to Byrnes' announcement, Sarah Kuziomko, a spokeswoman for Walberg, released a written statement.

    "Congressman Walberg is focused on building a healthy economy and working with colleagues to help hardworking taxpayers by making government live within its means, improving education and workforce training, stopping the IRS from abusing citizens, and repealing the government takeover of health care that is raising costs and hurting families," Kuziomko said.

    Byrnes lost to Ann Arbor Democrat Rebekah Warren when she ran for state Senate in 2010. Byrnes then headed to China in 2011, taking a position as executive director of the University of Michigan’s joint institute with Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

    Byrnes told AnnArbor.com she's back from China now.

    Byrnes said having a broken system in Washington means middle-class families are falling behind, and politicians still are giving tax breaks to corporations that ship American jobs out of the country while making it more expensive for children to get a good education.

    "I believe the economic and educational needs of the middle-class should come before special interests and big corporations," she said.

    Byrnes, a lawyer and small business owner, lives on a small farm outside of Chelsea with her husband, Kent Brown. She is the former director of Washtenaw County Friend of the Court.

    In her more recent role in China, she oversaw a program that provides University of Michigan students and faculty a platform to engage in engineering education and research in an international setting, often collaborating with Michigan businesses, such as General Motors and TRW.

    Walberg was a pastor for nearly 10 years. He was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in 1983 and served until 1999. As an elected official, he has been a voice for less government spending, lower taxes, fewer regulations and calls himself a defender of traditional values.

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


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    cvsrobberysurveillance.jpg

    Anyone who recognizes this man, who robbed a CVS store in Scio Township on July 6, is encouraged to call deputies.

    Courtesy of WCSO

    Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office deputies released surveillance photos of a man who robbed a Scio Township CVS on July 6 and are encouraging anyone who recognizes the man to contact investigators.

    The robbery took place about 9:40 p.m. July 6 at the CVS, 5445 Jackson Ave. The man walked into the store as it was about to close and showed an employee a gun tucked into his waistband, deputies said.

    The man stole cash from the cash register drawers and the store’s safe before walking out of the store. In the parking lot, the man confronted a woman who was in her car and demanded her phone, according to deputies.

    The woman simply rolled up her window and refused to give the man her phone. He then walked away from the vehicle and was last seen heading around the south end of the CVS building.

    The Ann Arbor Police Department was called in to track the suspect with a dog. But the dog was only able to track the man in the parking lot, deputies said.

    The man is white. He was wearing a brown hooded sweatshirt, black jeans, tennis shoes, black scarf on his face, green surgical gloves and and was carrying a handgun.

    Anyone who recognizes this man is encouraged to call the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office anonymous tip line at 734-973-7711 or Detective Craig Raisanen at 734-973-4924.

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


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    The Mega Guide: Full coverage of the 2013 Ann Arbor Art Fair

    Nelson-erstling.jpg

    A work by Jeffery Nelson & Eric Erstling

    The Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair—one of four that collectively make up the Ann Arbor Art Fair—has named its winning artists for this year's fair.

    The winners and their booth numbers are:

    Best in Show: Jeffery Nelson & Eric Erstling - Wood Functional D204
    First Place: Fred Wiesener - Ceramics D251
    Second Place: Peter Stolvert - Painting D306
    Honorable Mention:
    Jd Dennison - Digital Art C018
    Richard Bond - Glass C141
    Ari Gradus - Printmaking Paper D241
    Judy Goskey - Jewelry Precious D336


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    A heat advisory in effect since noon Tuesday has now been upgraded to an excessive heat warning for the Ann Arbor area.

    The National Weather Service out of Detroit issued the warning Thursday morning and it is in effect until 8 p.m. Friday.

    071713_NEWS_StateStArtFair_MRM_19A.JPG

    The heat index is expected to reach 105 degrees today in Ann Arbor, which has prompted the National Weather Service to issue an excessive heat warning.

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

    Temperatures are expected to reach into the mid-90s Thursday and Friday. High humidity will push the heat index — a measure of how hot it feels — to about 105 degrees. The heat warning includes much of southeast Michigan and the Thumb.

    Health officials are warning people spending time outdoors this week to stay hydrated and to take breaks in the shade or air conditioning to avoid heat-related illnesses.

    Washtenaw County Public Health has announced a list of buildings that are welcoming the public to cool down in their air-conditioned spaces this week.

    Thursday morning, Washtenaw County officials were reviewing weather conditions to gauge weather they warranted the implementation of the Heatwave Community Response Plan, said Cindra James, the health department's emergency preparedness administrator.

    The plan would mean that certain public buildings -- like schools -- would be opened as cooling centers where the public could rest in air conditioning and find food and water. Emergency transportation to cooling centers would also be available.

    The emergency response plan is only activated after two to three days of a continued heat advisory, or one day of an excessive heat warning, in addition to power outages.

    James said the county is considering the hot weather this week to be a "minor heat wave."

    Friday night the heat wave is expected to break near midnight, when thunderstorms are expected to hit southeast Michigan. Saturday will be much cooler with a high near 78.

    For up-to-date weather information, visit AnnArbor.com's weather page.

    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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    A man was held up at gunpoint Wednesday morning in Superior Township by two men, Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office officials said.

    Deputies responded at 5 a.m. Wednesday to the 1500 block of Ridge Road for a report of an armed robbery. They said a man was going to his car to get some items when two men approached him, one from in front of him and one from behind.

    The suspect who approached the man from behind tried to reach into his back pocket, but the man struggled against him. While the man was trying to stop the theft, the second man pulled out a handgun and pointed it at the victim.

    The victim then stopped resisting and the two men fled on foot with his wallet.

    A detailed description of the armed robbery suspects was not available from investigators on Thursday.

    Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Geoffrey Fox said it’s not clear if the robbery is related to thefts from several cars that also occurred in the 1500 block of Ridge Road about 4:30 a.m. Wednesday. The area is one of several hit by a rash of vehicle break-ins during the last few days.

    Anyone with information on this robbery is encouraged to call the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office anonymous tip line at 734-973-7711 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK UP (773-2587).


    View Larger Map

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


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    Ypsilanti police arrested a 43-year-old man Wednesday who led them on a foot chase through the city after he stole eyeglass frames.

    Police responded at 2:20 p.m. Wednesday to the first block of North Hamilton Street. A pair of glasses was reported stolen and the man was last seen headed north on Hamilton.

    Police followed him on foot. After a few minutes, they caught up to the suspect and arrested him.

    He was processed and arrested, pending warrant approval by the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office. The frames were returned to the store, according to police.


    View Larger Map

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


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    The Mega Guide: Full coverage of the 2013 Ann Arbor Art Fair

    The State Street Area Art Fair—one of four that collectively make up the Ann Arbor Art Fair—has named its winning artists for this year's fair.

    The winners and their booth numbers are:

    2-D Best of Show: Emerson Matabele, Photography, B620-621, New Orleans, LA
    2-D Honorable Mention: Alla Tsank, Painting, B246, Encinitas, CA
    2-D Honorable Mention: Amy Dallas, 2-D, B423, Grafton, WI
    2-D Honorable Mention: Teresa Howley, 2-D, B351, Jupiter, FL
    2-D Honorable Mention: John Scanlan, Photography, B218, Glenwood, IA

    3-D Best of Show: Robert Deurloo, Sculpture, B201, Salmon, ID
    3-D Honorable Mention: Richard Turner, Sculpture, B401-402, Newton, KS
    3-D Honorable Mention: Michael Wolfe, Metal, B252-253, Ann Arbor, MI
    3-D Honorable Mention: Scott Causey, Sculpture, B531, Sarasota, FL
    3-D Honorable Mention: Joe Peck & Susan Elliott, B357, Dunnellon, FL


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    The city of Ann Arbor is working to restore domestic partner benefits for city employees after a recent court ruling striking down the state's ban.

    The City Council's labor committee met earlier this week, and on the agenda was restoring health care benefits for "other qualified adults," including gay and lesbian partners of city employees.

    Steve_Powers_headshot_July_12_2011_b.jpg

    Steve Powers

    "Given the city's past support for domestic partner benefits, I expect expeditious movement to restore the benefits through the collective bargaining process," said City Administrator Steve Powers.

    Powers said the process will include memorandums of understanding, not reopening contracts, and when that happens will depend on the availability of the unions' negotiators.

    Lisa Dusseau, whose partner Kathleen Summersgill has worked for the Ann Arbor Fire Department for 21 years, said she's hoping the benefits will be restored soon.

    U.S. District Judge David Lawson declared the state's ban on domestic partner benefits for public employees unconstitutional in late June.

    "To date, though, nothing has changed for Ann Arbor city employees," Dusseau said. "I don't think it's fair that this discriminatory situation is allowed to continue."

    The ban, which affected local governments and schools, was approved in 2011 by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican-led Michigan Legislature. They called it a matter of fiscal responsibility and said taking away the benefits would help address spiraling health care costs.

    Dusseau spoke at Monday night's City Council meeting and urged city officials to work with their attorneys to immediately remedy the situation so Ann Arbor can retain its "stellar reputation of being the city that embraces equality and nondiscrimination for all of its residents and employees."

    Lisa_Dusseau_Kathleen_Summersgill.jpg

    Lisa Dusseau with her partner Kathleen Summersgill at the Big Chill at Michigan Stadium.

    Courtesy photo

    Dusseau said she and Summersgill have been together for 19 years, they enjoy their lives together and have a deeply committed relationship.

    "We share a house and finances, everything a married couple commonly would. However, there is one thing my partner cannot share with me and that is her health insurance," she said.

    Dusseau said her current employer does not offer health insurance that meets her needs, so she was forced to find insurance on her own. But she recently found out one of her medications is not covered under her policy, she said, and a 90-day supply costs more than $1,000.

    Dusseau noted there was a nine-month period in 2009 when she was unemployed and she was covered under her partner's insurance through the city, and for that she was grateful.

    Council Member Chuck Warpehoski, D-5th Ward, said the issues of equality that Dusseau raised are close to his heart.

    "It was bad news when the state Legislature took away our ability to provide benefits for same-sex partners and good news when the courts gave that back," he said. "So my understanding is that there are efforts to address that going on ... and I'm sure we all feel the sooner the better there."

    Up until the state ban took effect, the city for many years offered domestic partner benefits as long as the employee and "other qualified adult" lived together for 18 months. At the time the ban was approved in late 2011, 12 people were receiving such coverage from the city.

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


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    Not every single person wants to meet at a bar, or online.

    So why not try at a triathlon?

    Triathlon-team.jpg

    The "He Tried, She Tried, We Tried" triathlon/duathlon is scored as a team even.

    Photo courtesy of Greg Sadler Photography

    That’s the approach Ann Arbor-based company Epic Races is taking for the “He Tried, She Tried, We Tried” triathlon and duathlon (run, bike run) on Sunday. Organizers are using the race as a possible way for singles to meet up.

    “We wanted to do something a little different so we figured what if someone wants to meet singles who are interested in the same thing you are?” said Epic Races founder and CEO Eva Solomon.

    Solomon hopes the marriage between Iron Man and eHarmony possibly could lead to an actual marriage.

    “That would be our dream,” Solomon said.

    The “He Tried, She Tried, We Tried” triathlon/duathlon — which will be at Portage Lake Beach in the Waterloo Recreational Area in Grass Lake Charter Township — is scored as a two-person team race, where participants’ times are combined together. While many sign up with partners, someone can sign up as an individual and get paired up at the race. If someone signs up as an individual, they are given a series of questions and paired up with someone based on common interest.

    There is also an option on the registration form for individuals if they’d possibly like to meet up with their partner after the race.

    “Some people might just want to meet up with someone with common interests, maybe not romantically, maybe just meet a friend,” Solomon said. “So often we wish our husbands or partners liked the same things we do, well here’s a way to meet someone who does.”

    he-she-medals.jpg

    The "He Tried, She Tried, We Tried" medals snap together to form one.

    Photo courtesy of Greg Sadler Photography

    Of the 133 participants signed up so far, 30 have chosen the meet-up option. Sunday will be Epic Races’ second go at the unique approach. Solomon said she hasn’t heard of any success stories from last year, but hopes that changes in the future.

    “We did have one couple that was engaged shortly after the race, but they were already together, so we can’t take credit for that one,” Solomon said.

    While Solomon may not be able to take credit for bringing David Kennedy and Stefanie Fluke (the couple Solomon referenced) they are an example of why Solomon thinks the concept could catch on.

    “I think it’s a cool idea," Fluke said. "it’s a good way to find someone with common interest,” .

    Online registration is available at on the race's website until 4 p.m. on Thursday and participants can also register by phone or at the race on Sunday morning. Call 734-531-8747 for information.

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


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    Tool_lending_library_grosse_pointe.jpg

    Ralph Mandarino looks for a tool to check out at the Grosse Pointe Central Library in Grosse Pointe Thursday, July 18. In a number of communities across the U.S., it’s possible to borrow tools, musical instruments, fishing poles and much more from the local public library.

    Paul Sancya | The Associated Press

    Books and DVDs weren't what Ralph Mandarino wanted when he went to the Grosse Pointe Public Library.

    The 75-year-old retired businessman checked out a tree lopper and a tape measure, two of the more than 100 tools available to patrons of the suburban Detroit library.

    In a number of communities across the U.S., it's possible to borrow tools, musical instruments, fishing poles and much more from the local public library. The trend expands the traditional role of the library as a community resource for free knowledge. Libraries see the programs as a new way to offer residents a chance to learn — just not necessarily with a book.

    "It doesn't make sense to buy it and then to have to store it," said Mandarino, who used the lopper to trim branches on his nearby property.

    AADL_downtown_library_December_2011.jpg

    The Ann Arbor District Library offers a collection of "unusual stuff to borrow."

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com file photo

    Libraries in Ann Arbor; Oakland, Calif.; Burlington, Vt., and Skokie, Ill., among others, feature what Ann Arbor District Library Associate Director Celeste Choate calls "unusual collections."

    "What we want to do is provide an added benefit to the community and provide them with things they might not have access to otherwise," said Choate, whose library offers telescopes, art prints, energy meters and drums among its varied holdings.

    According to Carolyn Anthony, president of the national Public Library Association, libraries are not offering specialty items as part of an effort to stay relevant in an ever-changing world. Rather, she said, they simply are adhering to the long-stated mission of the public library to have jointly owned resources available to the community.

    While that pool at one time may have consisted almost exclusively of books and periodicals, it now might include a heat gun and a putty knife, both of which are available at the Oakland Tool Lending Library.

    "This has been going on for a long time. It's not like we're suddenly threatened and have to do something about it," said Anthony, who also is the director of the Skokie Public Library.

    Still, the growing popularity of e-readers and online resources probably has played some role in spurring libraries to get creative with their offerings.

    "I can tell you this: You can't download a telescope," Choate said.

    Anthony likes to tell the story of how her library's non-book offerings aided a girl's entry into the entrepreneurial world.

    Lily Born noticed that her grandfather — who has Parkinson's disease — kept spilling his drink, so she created a non-spilling ceramic cup at a local pottery studio.

    Encouraged by her father, Joe, to take the cup into wider production, Lily and her dad created a video using the tools (video camera and editing software) available at the Skokie library's Digital Media Lab.

    That video was posted to the crowd-funding site Indiegogo, which helped the Borns raise the necessary cash to make their Kangaroo Cup business a reality.

    "We can't be everything to everyone, but we can provide a lot of opportunities to people to try out new things," Choate said.

    That's exactly what happened at the Oakland library following a 1991 firestorm that ravaged the Oakland Hills section of the San Francisco Bay area, destroying 3,000 homes and killing 25 people.

    The library's Temescal branch established a small Home Resources Collection to help residents with their rebuilding and repair projects following this disaster.

    A tool-lending library was considered as an extension of those efforts and was launched in 2000 thanks to seed money from a community development block grant.

    Of the 5,000 tools available to patrons, the most popular items by far are the weed whackers, said Sharon McKellar, community relations librarian, who added that hedge trimmers and lawn mowers also are in seasonal high demand.

    Tools — more than 130 of them — also are available to patrons of Burlington's Fletcher Free Library, which additionally offers tennis rackets and world flags.

    The 2-foot-by-3-foot flags came in handy recently for the Hartford (Vt.) High School class of 1978, which used them to decorate a float in the town parade.

    "The patrons who use the tools are always very grateful, and we do have a small budget to replace worn and broken items each year, so the tools are definitely here to stay," said reference librarian Robert Resnik.


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    Chelsea-based star of stage and screen - the big and small variety - Jeff Daniels has earned an Emmy nomination for his work on the Aaron Sorkin HBO drama, "The Newsroom."

    Nominations were Thursday morning, and Daniels is among some heavy hitters in the category of Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad"; Hugh Bonneville, "Downton Abbey"; Damian Lewis, "Homeland"; Kevin Spacey, "House of Cards"; and Jon Hamm, "Mad Men."

    Daniels plays prickly anchorman Will McAvoy on "The Newsroom," a moderate conservative who, after suddenly going on a rant during a college campus panel discussion, must re-build his show with a new team.

    Daniels has previously earned a Golden Globe Award nomination, as well as a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, for the role.

    Find out if Daniels wins when the 2013 Emmy Award ceremony airs at 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22 on CBS.

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


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    A man reported Tuesday that his wallet was stolen by pickpockets while he walked toward his Superior Township home, the third theft crime reported on the same block in two days, deputies said.

    Deputies responded at 5:40 p.m. Tuesday to the 1500 block of Ridge Road for a report of a robbery. The man told police he got out of his car and was walking toward his house when he felt someone take his wallet and checkbook out of his back pocket.

    The man said he saw four men in their late teens running away from him.

    The incident is another report of a crime committed on the same block of Ridge. Vehicles were reported broken into Wednesday morning, and a man reported being held up at gunpoint and having his wallet stolen during an armed robbery shortly after the vehicle break-ins were reported.

    The incidents have all occurred in the Westridge Mobile Homes Park.

    Sgt. Geoffrey Fox said the man who was hit by the pickpockets and the man who was robbed on Wednesday are not the same person.

    Fox added that it's not clear if the people who were breaking into cars were the same suspects in the armed robbery. The number of pickpockets does not match the number of suspects in the armed robbery.

    Anyone with information on these incidents is encouraged to call the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office anonymous tip line at 734-973-7711 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK UP (773-2587).


    View Larger Map

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


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    A crash was slowing traffic on westbound Interstate 94 near Zeeb Road west of Ann Arbor Thursday afternoon.

    The crash, in Scio Township, happened around 1:30 p.m., a dispatcher with the Wastenaw County Sheriff’s Office said. Michigan State Police were on the scene, and a wrecker had been called, the dispatcher said shortly before 2 p.m.

    Further information about the crash, including whether anyone was injured, was not immediately available. A Google map showed a traffic backup in the area.


    View Crash 071813 in a larger map


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    The Ann Arbor Art Fair rolled into its second day Thursday, under hot conditions but mostly sunny skies. These photos come from the Summer Art Fair, sponsored by the Guild of Artists and Artisans and one of the four fairs that run concurrently. The event continues through Saturday; find full coverage here.


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