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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 rash of summer vehicle break-ins across Washtenaw County continued this weekend, with more than nine reports of larcenies and one attempted break-in — including five in Ann Arbor.

    The incidents come on the heels of a string of vehicle break-ins in Scio Township, Lodi Township, Ypsilanti Township and Superior Township reported last week. Now, police in Ann Arbor, Pittsfield Township and Ypsilanti Township are reporting more break-ins from the weekend.

    Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Geoffrey Fox said it’s not unusual to see an increase in vehicle break-ins during summer.

    “Some of them are crimes of opportunity, people leaving cars unlocked,” he said. “It comes and goes, there’s no rhyme or reason. It’s one of those crimes you’ll see a rash of and then you won’t for a while. They pop up here and there.”

    The first few vehicle break-ins from the weekend came in Pittsfield Township and southern Ann Arbor.

    The first three reports of vehicle break-ins came from Pittsfield Township on Friday. According to CrimeMapping.com, a vehicle was reported broken into at 9:28 a.m. Friday in the 4300 block of Woodstream Drive.

    Later on that day, two vehicles were reported broken into in the 4100 block of Carpenter Road. The first report came in at 8 p.m. and the second report was made at 11:22 p.m., according to CrimeMapping.com

    More vehicles were reportedly broken into nearby in Ann Arbor a few hours later.

    In Ann Arbor, the first incident took place between 11 p.m. Friday and 7:50 a.m. Saturday in the 2500 block of Braeburn Circle. According to police, an unknown person broke a window out of a parked vehicle and stole a CD/DVD player.

    Between 1 and 10 a.m. Saturday, four vehicles parked in the 3500 and 3600 blocks of Partridge Path in Ann Arbor were broken into, according to police. Stereo/GPS units were taken out of the dashboards, police reported.

    An attempted larceny from vehicle also was reported at 2:53 a.m. Saturday in the 2900 block of Birch Hollow Drive, according to Ann Arbor police. An unknown person attempted to remove the stereo/GPS unit from the car but did not succeed.

    AnnArbor.com could not immediately reach police officials from Ann Arbor and Pittsfield Township for comment on the cases.

    During those same overnight hours, several vehicles parked in the 8800 block of Brookwood Street in Ypsilanti Township were broken into, Fox said. Those incidents are believed to be related.

    In all of the incidents, vehicle windows were broken out and various items were stolen. Radios, GPS units and other miscellaneous items were reported stolen, Fox said.

    Fox said the thefts in Ypsilanti Township did not appear to be related to the incidents reported last week.

    “It sort of seemed random,” he said. “The items that were taken just happened to be there, it’s not like these cars were targeted for anything special.”

    Suspect descriptions in the cases were not available.

    Anyone with information on these break-ins is encouraged to call the Ann Arbor police anonymous tip line at 734-74-6939, the Pittsfield Township police at 734-822-4911, the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office anonymous tip line at 734-973-7711 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK UP (773-2587).

    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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    Bill's Drive-In on Michigan Ave in Ypsilanti

    AnnArbor.com file photo

    Sylvia Rector has a post on great old-fashioned drive-in restaurants as part of the Free Press's ongoing "Freep 5" series, and Ypsilanti's Chick Inn and Bill's Drive-In made the list.

    Chick Inn, on the Ypsilanti historic registry and the site of many a first date going back to 1953, is lauded for its retro feel and delicious milkshakes. Bill's Drive-In is described as "endearingly odd."

    You can read the full post on the Free Press site.

    Are you a fan of the old-fashioned drive-in? Where do you like to go for that classic car hop experience?

    Jessica Webster leads the Food & Grocery section for AnnArbor.com, a part of the MLive Media Group. Reach her at JessicaWebster@annarbor.com. You also can follow her on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.


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    The tires of four separate vehicles were slashed on the 400 block of West Michigan Avenue in Ypsilanti Monday night, reported police.

    The Ypsilanti Police Department responded to calls on the first three vehicles to have their tires slashed around 11:30 p.m. The cars were parked overnight in a lot on West Michigan Avenue.

    In another report, the victim said a tire on his vehicle was punctured sometime after 8 p.m. Monday on the same block.

    There is no suspect at this time and police continue to investigate.


    View Tire slashing in a larger map

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


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    Sea-Monkeys.jpg
    With a name like Dr. Mike and the Sea Monkeys, you’d expect this folk/blues act to be a little off the wall, and you’d be right.

    The band, made up of Mike Ball, Scott Clauser, and a fictional advice columnist named Dr. Mike, grew around the work of humorist and nationally syndicated author Ball, who lives in Whitmore Lake. They play Saturday at Crazy Wisdom.

    Dr. Mike and the Sea Monkeys was born when Ball, a musician since the 1960s, began promoting his book "What I've Learned So Far... Part I: Bikes, Docks & Slush Nuggets," by performing original songs based on the book. Among his tunes are the tongue-in-cheek “And the Camera Went In - The Colonoscopy Song.”

    Clauser has been a multi-instrumentalist for nearly 40 years, including stints with the folk-rock group The Brakemen and southern rockers The Willies. Ball is also the founder of Lost Voices, a non-profit group that offers songwriting and performing workshops for incarcerated and at-risk kids.

    According to the band’s Web site, the shows are aimed at grown ups but are basically family friendly.

    Dr. Mike and the Sea Monkeys play at Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tearoom, 114 S. Main St., Saturday, July 27 at 8:30 p.m. Admission is free. Details at www.crazywisdom.net or 734-665-2757.


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    Jewelry and several electronic items were reported stolen from a ransacked Superior Township home Monday.

    Deputies from the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office were called to the 1200 block of Stamford Road for a home invasion believed to have occurred between 12:40 and 8:20 p.m., according to a Nixle alert.

    The suspect or suspects entered the residence through a window in the back of the residence, the alert said.

    "Once inside, the suspects went through drawers and ransacked rooms," the alert stated. "There were five to 11 black male teenagers seen in the area of the residence during the time the incident occurred."

    No further information was immediately available.

    Anyone with information regarding this incident should contact Deputy Hunt at the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office at (734) 994-2911 or anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SpeakUP.


    View Larger Map

    John Counts covers cops and courts for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at johncounts@annarbor.com or you can follow him on Twitter.


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    On Memorial Day we remembered fellow citizens who put nation before self. Earlier this month we observed the founding of a nation and recognized those who stepped forward to serve.

    According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) there are 22 million military veterans nationwide and 680,400 Michigan veterans. A 2010 DVA National Survey of Veterans shows that 68% of all veterans and 82% of post 9/11 veterans anticipate using VA health benefits.

    So it’s alarming to hear reports that nearly 900,000 veterans have pending VA benefit claims, with nearly 600,000 of these claims delayed for months, sometimes years. Analyses by the Center for Investigative Reporting show the average waiting time for benefits is nine months. Amazingly most claims are yet to be computerized and Eric Shinseki, the VA Secretary, says that switching from paper to electronic files is a goal. A goal!

    And now we hear about widespread Pentagon payroll errors. A recent Reuters report identifies a 40 year old computer system consistently generating mistakes that adversely affect thousands of active-duty personnel and discharged soldiers. Stories of families not having enough money to live on are painfully common.

    We’ve heard various explanations ranging from budget cuts to bureaucratic and technological inefficiencies. But consider other facts about the women and men who hear the call and bear the burdens of military service. In his book Justice: What’s the right thing to do? Harvard’s Michael Sandel describes the social class composition of our all-volunteer force (AVF). Young people from families with incomes between $30,000 and $60,000 (27% of American families) are significantly overrepresented. America’s median income is $61,000. The least represented recruits are from the most affluent 20% of families (making approximately $125,000 or more per year). Only 6.5% of 18-24 year olds in AVF have ever been to college.

    Clearly our military readiness heavily relies on young people from the bottom half of the country’s income distribution. Imagine if the majority of today’s veterans and soldiers had grown up in America’s most affluent families - daughters and sons of doctors, corporate executives, and political leaders. Would benefit claims and payrolls still be inefficiently processed?

    So what are long-term solutions for a clear disrespect of so many veterans and soldiers? Might we benefit from a mandatory two or three year national service for all high school graduates, regardless of social class background? Other countries expect this commitment. Our national service could provide women and men in needed civilian work (e.g. social/medical services, road and construction projects, similar to the popular 1930’s Civilian Conservation Corps), as well as military recruits.

    Would efficiency and respect finally govern the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Pentagon? Could national service - proposed as duty to community - allow people from various social class groups opportunities to work together for the common good? Might this help produce a desperately needed national unity? The long-term collective benefits of an American National Service far outweigh short-term disruptions of work and career plans. Perhaps the time is right.

    Dwight Lang is an Ann Arbor resident and teaches in the sociology department at the University of Michigan.


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    A $9 million federal grant is expected to help renovate a runway at Willow Run Airport

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    A grant of $9 million grant to help renovate the Willow Run Airport was announced by senators and congressman in earlier this month.

    Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com

    .

    The funding was announced this month by U.S. Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow and Congressmen John Dingell and John Conyers of Michigan.

    The U.S. Department of Transportation funding goes to the Wayne County Airport Authority, which runs the airport and nearby Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The hope is that the renovated runway will help Willow Run's business and cargo services.

    Willow Run is in Wayne County's Van Buren Township, about 25 miles west of Detroit. The airport is planning a number of upgrades and expansions in the next decade.


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    University of Michigan

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com file photo

    An annual Chronicle of Higher Education survey has ranked the University of Michigan as one of the best large four-year colleges to work for.

    The Ann Arbor school made the Chronicle's "Great Colleges to Work For 2013" honor roll, along with nine other large four-year colleges. The Chronicle surveyed 45,000 employees at 300 colleges and placed 97 schools on the "great to work for" list.

    This is the sixth year the Chronicle has produced the ranking, and U-M has placed on it each year.

    Employees surveyed said U-M was a good place for collaborative governance, career development programs and fair compensation. They said working at U-M allowed for job satisfaction and work-life balance, and they reported feeling respected and having confidence in senior leadership.

    They said the school has clear tenure requirements and possesses diversity, high-quality teaching environment and good facilities.

    Of the 12 areas surveyed by the Chronicle, only one did not receive a high ranking: "Supervisors or chairs make expectations clear and solicit ideas," which was assessed by the Chronicle by asking those surveyed to agree or disagree with statements like "I believe what I am told by my supervisor/department chair."

    When listing U-M's "outstanding feature," the Chronicle highlighted the school's Family Helpers program, which pairs students with staff and faculty who need elder care, child care, pet-sitting or yard work.

    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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    Police are investigating two home invasions reported Monday in Ypsilanti.

    Officers were called to the 100 block of North Hamilton Street at 6:34 p.m. for a reported home invasion, according to a crime summary from Ypsilanti police. A woman said an unknown suspect broke into her home and stole miscellanous property.

    A second home invasion was reported in the 200 block of South Grove Street at 10:37 p.m. Police said an unknown suspect broke into the victim’s apartment and stole property.

    Investigations are ongoing in both incidents.


    View Ypsilanti home invasions, July 23 in a larger map

    John Counts covers cops and courts for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at johncounts@annarbor.com or you can follow him on Twitter.


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    DETROIT -- MAC Football Media Day was held at Ford Field in Detroit on Tuesday with athletic directors, coaches and players from all 13 teams in the conference addressing the press.

    Melanie Maxwell is a photographer for AnnArbor.com. She can be reached at melaniemaxwell@annarbor.com.


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    Domino’s Pizza Inc. reported its second-quarter profit rose 19 percent with the growth of sales in existing stores and the opening of 101 new locations outside of the U.S., according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

    dominos_headquarters.jpg

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

    In the period, which ended June 16, the Ann Arbor Township-based company earned $33.3 million — or 57 cents per share — which is up from last year.

    According to a previous AnnArbor.com report, Domino’s had a net income of $28.1 million in the second quarter of 2012.

    Bloomberg Businessweek reported revenue had climbed just more than 10 percent to $414 million from $376.1 million last year. Revenue from U.S. locations in operation for at least a year rose 6.7 percent, and overseas, locations open for at least a year grew 5.8 percent.

    Stock for the company, which had a total of 10,440 locations at the quarter’s end, is up 46 percent this year, Bloombergreported.

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


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    Lady Sunshine

    Ann Arbor-based blues singer Lady Sunshine, who always draws a crowd when she and her X Band perform, brings her lively show to Guy Hollerin's Saturday night.

    Born on a plantation near the Mississippi Delta in Arkansas, Lady Sunshine moved to Ann Arbor in 1975 and began performing blues, R&B, gospel, soul and jazz professionally, with a sound reminiscent of the great Stax-Volt record label legacy.

    Lady Sunshine and The X-band won the Detroit Blues Challenge last October and competed earlier this year in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Alas, they did not win, proving that whoever judged the show clearly knew very little about great music.

    The band’s rhythm sections includes ('Slick') Rick Humesky on guitar, Michael Scott on drums and 'Smokin'Joe Aranda on bass. The horn section consists of Patricio Padilla, David Maki II and Ken Ferry.

    As if this summer needed to get any hotter, right?

    Lady Sunshine and her X Band play the Local Blues Local Brews series at Guy Hollerin's, 3600 Plymouth Road, Saturday, July 27 at 8 p.m. Admission is $5.


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    Owner of Glee Cake & Pastry, Glee Havens, died from cancer-related complications Sunday morning, according to the Chelsea Standard.

    Glee_haven (2).jpg

    Fifty-two-year-old Havens achieved her dream when she opened Glee Cake & Pastry at 117 S. Main St., in November 2011, the Standard reports.

    After Havens fell ill in November 2012, Lisa Delong took over the pastry shop and will continue to handle the business until family members decide what to do with it.

    According to the story, Havens participated in a variety of local events like Festival of Lights and Chocolate Extravaganza and supported numerous local charities.

    Havens’ family will receive friends from noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Caskey-Mitchell Funeral Home in Stockbridge, Michigan.

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


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    Two people are in custody as Ypsilanti police investigate child pornography reportedly found at a rented storage unit by a couple who won the contents at auction.

    Ypsilanti police Detective Sgt. Thomas Eberts said police are investigating after the child sexually abusive material was found at the National Storage Center, 521 Tyler Road. Eberts said one man faces charges of possession of child sexually abusive material and lying to police officers during the course of the investigation.

    Court records show that man is Tyreek Wilkerson, a 30-year-old man from Southfield.

    Eberts said Wilkerson is not the main suspect in the case. He faces charges as the result of his actions following the discovery of the illegal material, Eberts said.

    “He’s not the guy we really wanted,” Eberts said.

    Shavon Henry, Wilkerson’s fiance, said she and Wilkerson won an auction for the storage unit last week and found disturbing items there, including a photos of young girls in lingerie and a bin of children's panties, Fox 2 reported.

    Henry said she and Wilkerson didn’t immediately call police but alerted the storage center to what they found while throwing many of the items away, the television station reported.

    Police later raided the couple’s Southfield home and seized material, Henry told the TV station.

    Eberts said Wilkerson was arraigned on the charges Tuesday afternoon and received at 10 percent of $10,000 bond, which he has posted. His first hearing in the case will be a preliminary exam at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 1, Eberts said.

    Wilkerson also had a detainer hold from another police agency in Wayne County, such as for an outstanding warrant, probation violation or parole violation, records show.

    According to the Michigan Offender Tracking Information System, Wilkerson was discharged from state supervision in February. He has previous convictions for possession of a firearm during commission of a felony, receiving and concealing a stolen motor vehicle, possession of marijuana and attempted manufacture and delivery of marijuana, records show.

    The identity of the other man in custody is not known at this point. More information on the case could be released later on Tuesday, Eberts said.

    AnnArbor.com left a message seeking comment on the case with a spokesman from National Storage Center Tuesday afternoon. Attempts to reach Henry were not immediately successful Tuesday.

    This story will be updated as more information becomes available.


    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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    Washtenaw Community College's commencement ceremony for the class of 2013 held at the Convocation Center Saturday, May 18.

    Courtney Sacco I AnnArbor.com

    The Washtenaw Community College Board of Trustees will consider amending the school's residency requirements to allow individuals who qualify for the federal government's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to receive reduced tuition rates.

    The policy will allow otherwise unauthorized immigrants who moved to the U.S. prior to turning 16 and who meet certain federal requirements to receive in-district and out-of-district rates at WCC, as opposed to out-of-country rates such students currently pay.

    Such students still must prove residence in Washtenaw County or in Michigan.

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    Members from the Washtenaw Community College Board of Trustees and president during Tuesday, May 14, meeting.

    Daniel Brenner I AnnArbor.com

    Administrators proposed the change to the seven-member board in June and the proposal had enough support to be brought back to the board for a formal vote Tuesday, July 23 during a 6 p.m. meeting at the Morris Lawrence Building on WCC's campus.

    Tuition rates for Washtenaw County students are $96 per credit. Students living in other counties in Michigan pay $149 a credit hour and students from another state or country pay $194.

    “We were hoping for a more inclusive policy, but this is a step in the right direction,” said Laura Sanders, a co-founder of the Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights who has lobbied for a change in WCC's residency requirements. “It leaves out a lot of undocumented students because not everybody meets those tight requirements for DACA status.”

    Sanders said undocumented students and supporters plan to attend Tuesday’s meeting to show support for the change.

    Administrators are also proposing a change that makes it easier for military, veterans and their dependents to receive in-district tuition: waiving a requirement that they reside in Michigan for six months before receiving reduced tuition.

    Trustee Richard Landau said he plans to vote in favor of the residency change. He said when first discussed by trustees in June the change had support from the majority of trustees.

    Linda Blakey, WCC vice president for student and academic services, says the school already enrolls a small amount of unauthorized immigrants, although she said she didn't know the exact number. "I don't know if we'll get more students who come forward now what we {are putting} this in place," she said.

    She said the school first considered changing its policies after receiving requests from the public, including individuals on DACA status, and after Board of Trustees Vice Chair Patrick McLean asked administrators to consider changing residency requirements.

    Federal requirements for granting an individual DACA status include:

    • Under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
    • Came to the U.S. before reaching 16th birthday
    • Have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, up to the present time
    • Were physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making a request for DACA status
    • Entered the U.S. without inspection before June 15, 2012, or had lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
    • Currently in school, has graduated, obtained a certificate of completion from high school, a GED, or is an honorably discharged veteran.
    • Has not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors

    DACA status defers deportation for qualifying individuals for up to four years and provides them with a social security number, but does not provide them lawful status in the U.S. Individuals with DACA status can apply for permanent residency.

    Tuesday's vote at WCC comes on the heels of University of Michigan's Board of Regents approving in-state tuition rates for all unauthorized immigrants who attended Michigan middle and high school. Regents voted 6-2 to approve that measure on Thursday. They also approved in-state tuition rates for all military and veterans.

    The U-M residency change is more broad than the proposed WCC change, which applies to only those unauthorized immigrants who have been granted DACA status.

    “Schools have been doing this differently. Rather than say ‘Oh any student that’s here with no paperwork, you can come in,' we weren’t comfortable that,” Blakey said. “We wanted the student to have the DACA status where they’ve done their due diligence in demonstrating that they’re meeting the criteria.”

    Also, the U-M vote was a partisan one, with six Democrats voting for the change and two Republicans voting against it. WCC Trustees are non-partisan, meaning they do not identify a party when running for office.

    Read the action item before trustees: WCC residency requirement changes.pdf

    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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    Washtenaw County steadily continues to see new cases of whooping cough reported despite the school year being over.

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    104 cases of whooping cough have been reported this year.

    Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is caused by close contact with someone infected and is typically transmitted among school-age children, although adult cases do occur.

    As of Tuesday, there have been 104 cases of confirmed and probable whooping cough this year. According to Washtenaw County Public Health Department, this is about four times the number of cases typically seen in a year in the county.

    “Since school got out we’ve probably seen another 25 cases,” epidemiologist for Washtenaw County Public Health Laura Bauman said. “In 2010, which was our last big outbreak, we had a similar amount of cases break out in the summer as well.”

    Bauman said she had hoped with school letting out, the number of cases would decrease because there wouldn’t be as many kids congregating together and passing along contagious infection.

    “Most kids are in some kind of summer programming and so we continue to see it spread,” Bauman said.

    In 2012, there were 28 cases of whooping cough and in 2011 there were 26. Bauman said the number of cases so far this year is on track with 2010 , when there were 232 confirmed cases.

    “We’re at a similar number and we’re just going to have to wait and see if it burns itself out,” Bauman said. “In 2010, there were about 40 cases in September and another 40 in October. Hopefully we won’t see as many this fall.”

    In the state of Michigan there are 358 reported cases.

    “Washtenaw County is making up essentially a third of the cases in the whole state,” Bauman said. “Often times whooping cough doesn’t circulate equally across a whole area. We’re seeing a much more intense breakout.”

    Bauman said the reason why Washtenaw County is seeing such a high number of cases is because the vaccine being given to children only offers 80 percent coverage and about 9 percent of children in Washtenaw County don’t have one or more of the recommended vaccines.

    WCPHD is encouraging heightened awareness and alertness for symptoms, as early treatment with antibiotics can prevent the spread of illness and make the infection less severe. Vaccination also may prevent pertussis.

    Pertussis is a highly contagious disease of the respiratory tract, which got its more common name from the “whooping” sound an infected person sometimes makes when trying to breath after a coughing spell.

    According to WCPH, symptoms often appear like those of a common cold, but a doctor should be contacted if an unusual cough persists for seven days or longer, if coughing comes in bursts or if there is vomiting after coughing spells.

    Whooping cough can cause serious illness for those of all ages, but it is most dangerous for children less than 1-year-old and the majority of deaths from whooping cough occur in infants younger than two months of age.

    Early detection, vaccination and staying away from others until five days of antibiotics have been received is essential to preventing the spread of whooping cough, according to the WCPHD

    For more information visit Washtenaw County Public Health’s website.

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


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    Video: A 360 degree view of the intersection of South State Road and Hines Drive on Tuesday, July, 23.

    In order to drum up funds needed for a $30 million overhaul to its major State Road commercial corridor, Pittsfield Township is seeking to create a tax-capturing authority.

    Supervisor Mandy Grewal has been leading the charge to update South State Road since she took office in 2008, and has been working with the Washtenaw County Road Commission to develop a plan.

    “(State Road) has county-wide significance,” Grewal said. “It runs through the heart of our business district.”

    072313_NEWS_SStateDevelopment_DJB_0037.jpg

    South State Road at the intersection of West Textile Road on Tuesday, July 23. Pittsfield Township is seeking an overhaul to this corridor that would widen State Road to four lanes with a narrow median in a boulevard configuration, with new roundabouts at Morgan and Textile.

    Daniel Brenner I AnnArbor.com

    The township Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting 11 a.m. Wednesday at the township hall to vote on creating a Corridor Improvement Authority for State Road - the first of its kind in Washtenaw County.

    Similar to a Downtown Development Authority, it will allow the township to collect increases in taxable value due to new development within the authority’s bounds.

    “The hope is to leverage the only local financing tool left in our tool box to attract federal funds to do a major overhaul to this corridor,” Grewal said.

    The corridor improvement authority includes commercial properties adjacent to State Road from Pittsfield Township’s northern bounds on Interstate 94 to West Michigan Avenue.

    Grewal said the township will pursue a tax increment finance plan that will capture 50 percent of the increased property value over a 20-year period.

    072313_pittsfield-township.jpg

    Shaded areas indicate the properties that would be a part of the corridor improvement authority in Pittsfield Township. Red areas are developed and yellow areas are undeveloped.

    Courtesy of Pittsfield Township

    The township has estimated that about $12 million will be generated during that 20-year period, which Grewal said will be used only for the State Road improvement project.

    According to a plan drafted by the Road Commission in conjunction with township officials, the overhaul will include expanding State Road from two lanes to a boulevard-style four lane configuration with a narrow median from Airport Drive to Campus Parkway.

    The project would also include the installation of two new roundabouts on State Road — one at the intersection of Morgan Road and another at the intersection of Textile Road. The Road Commission is in the process of building a roundabout at the State and Ellsworth intersection at the northern end of the project’s proposed bounds.

    Bike lanes and pedestrian walkways would be installed as a part of the project. The Road Commission estimates that the overhaul, which would be completed in three phases, would cost a total of about $30 million, said Roy Townsend, managing director.

    Expanding State Road from two to four lanes would allow for an express bus to service the businesses in the corridor, which is not an option in the present configuration, Grewal said.

    “That corridor is in the same shape as it was in the 1970s,” Grewal said. “Transportation needs for the corridor have changed.”

    Townsend said State Road was last repaved in 2010 using federal stimulus dollars. Updates to State Road have been discussed for about 20 years, Townsend said.

    “That became a higher priority for Mandy when she took office (in 2008),” Townsend said. “It makes sense to us. Everyone has recognized that that’s one of the main corridors for Pittsfield Township.”

    Creation of such an authority has been publicly discussed since March 27, when a long-term tax increment financing program was first introduced.

    Trustees voted 7-0 April 24 to pursue establishing the creation of such an authority - which began a 60-day public commenting period, which ends Wednesday.

    In addition to voting to create the authority Wednesday, trustees will also vote on appointing five people to the authority’s board, on which Grewal will sit by default. Representatives are from State Road businesses within the authority's bounds:

    • Claudia Kretschmer of Gym America; one-year term
    • Roger Jackson of Tecumseh Products; two-year term
    • Bill Linfield of Costco; three-year term
    • Bill Reminder, Pittsfield Township resident; four-year term
    • David Sarns of NuStep; four-year term

    Time is of the essence for Grewal as she moves to create the authority, as the authority’s board is responsible for creating a TIF plan that must undergo a public hearing process as well. Should all go according to plan, the TIF plan will be approved before the end of 2013 so it can begin to accrue funds in 2014.

    Grewal said she anticipates 2014 will be another year of development by businesses in the corridor, and she wants to get the TIF in place as soon as possible to collect that revenue.

    “We don’t want to miss the increases in new development as the economy takes off,” Grewal said.

    072313_NEWS_SStateDevelopment2_DJB_0091.jpg

    A commercial building at South State Road and Hines Drive on Tuesday, July 23.

    Daniel Brenner I AnnArbor.com

    The TIF plan will also be used to leverage federal funds, as it shows a dedicated stream of local funding required for the money to be granted.

    Pittsfield Township has applied for a federal TIGER grant for the first phase of the project, which extends from Airport Drive to Morgan Road.

    Most federal grants require a 10 percent to 20 percent local match, which would be about $1 million to $2 million for Pittsfield Township if the project cost is $10 million.

    Grewal said the township can’t allocate $1 million to $2 million from its $11.5 million general fund budget for the State Road project because it would not be fair to the other corridor improvement projects it is involved in — including ReImagine Washtenaw.

    “We’re very particular as to how and why we’re establishing the CIA,” Grewal said. “Some DDAs gain the reputation of randomly capturing dollars. … We’re going to make a very clear commitment to each of the taxing jurisdictions that that’s where the money is going.”

    Pittsfield Township, as well as other municipalities in Washtenaw County, saw an increase in taxable value in 2013.

    In the past five years, Grewal said she’s witnessed a retention of existing businesses along State Road, as well as a number of Michigan-based businesses that have chosen to site their headquarters there, including NuStep, Tecumseh Products and Systems in Motion.

    “We’re looking at these businesses as they grow throughout the next decade,” Grewal said. “They’re going to want a better transportation infrastructure to accommodate their continued growth.”


    View Area of planned State Road improvements in a larger map

    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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    ron-english-smile.JPG

    Eastern Michigan head football coach Ron English laughs as he answers questions from the press during MAC Football Media Day at Ford Field in Detroit on Tuesday.

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

    Related:

    When Eastern Michigan football coach Ron English was asked why he named himself defensive coordinator, he delivered one of his signature scowls and a blunt, one-liner.

    “Because I can’t get a better one,” English said at MAC Football Media Day at Ford Field on Tuesday.

    Despite what the scowl might suggest, English explained that his happiness has spiked since making the move.

    “I’m just more happy going to work because I know I can influence the players and the team on both sides of the football. It’s just, I feel real excited, rejuvenated to coach the defense and I’m real excited to see if I’m any good still,” English said. “But we’ll see, we’ll see here very soon, but I think I am. I’ve done it at a high level everywhere I’ve been.”

    The reason English became a head coach is because of his defensive expertise. English was the defensive coordinator at Michigan during the 2006 and 2007 seasons and at Louisville in 2008. In his previous four years as Eastern's head coach, he was not in charge of a specific unit.

    english-michigan-dc.jpg

    Eastern Michigan head coach Ron English rose to prominence as a defensive coordinator for the University of Michigan.

    Alan Warren | Ann Arbor News file photo

    He wouldn’t go as far as to say it was a mistake, but did say he’d probably do it differently if he could go back in time.

    “I would tell any coach, coach a position on that team because that’s why you got there, that’s your area of expertise and I think that’s where you can have great influence,” English said.

    English made the switch after Phil Snow - who had been Eastern’s defensive coordinator for the past three years - left to take the same position at Temple in January. There’s nowhere to go but up for the Eagles defense, which was last in the MAC in total defense and rushing defense in 2012 while going 2-10.

    “It’s just what I like to do and when we had a change I immediately, I wanted to get back to that side of the ball anyway,” English said.

    Players have noticed a difference in English since the switch.

    “He’s always been a hands on kind of coach, but I can tell he has a kind of enthusiasm about himself at practice and I like that,” said defensive lineman Kalonji Thomas. “He is a great defensive coordinator and he really knows how to reach and touch each player to get a better reaction out of him, he really has that gift.

    “It’s working very well.”

    English will be Eastern’s third defensive coordinator in his five year tenure as head coach. His staff will also have a new offensive coordinator, linebackers, secondary, offensive line and special teams coaches during the 2013 season.

    English said the turnover doesn’t concern him because he’s happy with the end results.

    “When you’re further along in your tenure, you know exactly what you’re looking for, what kind of pieces fit,” English said. “I think we were fortunate to get pieces that fit well.”

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


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    07232013_SPT_InterclubSwimChamps_DJB_0256.jpeg

    Vets swim club member Caleb Rice competes in the 100 yard individual medley on Tuesday, July 23.

    Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com

    Note: Tuesday's diving results will be added when they become available

    On the opening day of the Washtenaw Interclub Swim Conference championships Monday, a 17-year-old record held by a former area swimming great fell.

    Tuesday was more of the same. But this time, the record was even older.

    Ten-year-old Matthew Segal of the Huron Valley Swim Club won the 50 freestyle in 27.40 Tuesday at Skyline High School. That time eclipsed the WISC record held by Matt McVittie of Chelsea since 1987. McVittie went from Chelsea to an All-American career at Florida State.

    That record falling came a day after Kai Williams of Georgetown Country Club set the 17-year-old 50 backstroke record for boys 15-17, previously held by Adam Messner of Dexter.

    Segal notched three individual wins on the day, bringing home additional titles in the 100 freestyle and 50 backstroke. He was one of two male swimmers to take home three titles, along with Brian Hussey of Huron Valley, who won the 100 individual medley, 50 butterfly and 50 breastroke.

    On the girls side, it was a good day for Abigails. Abigail Ketslakh of the Racquet Club took home wins in the 100 IM, 50 butterfly and 50 breastroke, while Abigail Mehraban of Huron Valley won the 50 and 100 freestyles.

    The 8-and-under division for swimming is set to begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday at Skyline, while the 13-and-up diving will take place at Huron Valley starting at 1 p.m.

    TUESDAY'S RESULTS
    Full Swimming Results (PDF)

    Boys 9-10 Swimming
    100 Medley Relay
    1. Chelsea (Parker Olk, Nate Bauer, Jared Atkinson, Tony Golin), 1:06.09
    2. Huron Valley (Ben Deininger, Sam Bassett-Kennedy, Cade Sachs, Matthew Segal), 1:10.07
    3. Racquet Club (Jack Bailey, Rohit Garikipati, Matthew Kozma, Alex Farmer), 1:13.10

    100 Freestyle
    1. Matthew Segal, Huron Valley, 1:01.62
    2. Tony Golin, Chelsea, 1:05.58
    3. Jack Shemke, Liberty, 1:11.49

    100 Individual Medley
    1. Brian Hussey, Huron Valley, 1:11.45
    2. Matthew Kozma, Racquet Club, 1:12.84
    3. Jared Atkinson, Chelsea, 1:19.29

    50 Freestyle
    1. Matthew Segal, Huron Valley, 27.40*
    2. Tony Golin, Chelsea, 30.18
    3. Ben Hires, Orchard Hills, 32.28

    50 Butterfly
    1. Brian Hussey, Huron Valley, 31.49
    2. Matthew Kozma, Racquet Club, 31.73
    3. Jared Atkinson, Chelsea, 33.73

    50 Backstroke
    1. Matthew Segal, Huron Valley, 33.46
    2. Nate Bauer, Chelsea, 35.12
    3. Anthony Gibbons, Lincoln, 37.36

    50 Breastroke
    1. Brian Hussey, Huron Valley, 37.19
    2. Nate Bauer, Chelsea, 40.78
    3. Anthony Gibbons, Lincoln, 41.24

    200 Freestyle Relay
    1. Chelsea (Jared Atkinson, Parker Olk, Nate Bauer, Tony Golin), 2:06.34
    2. Huron Valley (Josh Moss, Sam Bassett-Kennedy, Ben Deininger, Brian Hussey), 2:11.87
    3. Racquet Club (Rohit Garikipati, Alex Farmer, Jack Bailey, Matthew Kozma), 2:16.51

    Girls 9-10 Swimming
    100 Medley Relay
    1. Huron Valley (Lindsay Hau, Lauren Latta, Allison Haak, Hannah Jyawook), 1:07.78
    2. Barton Hills (Julia Coffman, Sophia Kunisaki, Ellen Koselka, Catrin Koselka), 1:09.69
    3. Dexter (Jacquelynn Terbush, Ella Krahn, Anna Farrell, Eva Gaetino), 1:10.75

    100 Freestyle
    1. Abigail Mehraban, Huron Valley, 1:06.87
    2. Sophia Kunisaki, Barton Hills, 1:08.58
    3. Angela Noble, Orchard Hills, 1:12.60

    100 IM
    1. Abigail Ketslakh, Racquet Club, 1:15.34
    2. Abigail Mehraban, Huron Valley, 1:17.99
    3. Cassidy Spisak, Buhr Park, 1:24.29

    50 Freestyle
    1. Abigail Mehraban, Huron Valley, 30.48
    2. Samantha Durrant, Ann Arbor CC, 30.66
    3. Julia Coffman, Barton Hills, 30.68

    50 Butterfly
    1. Abigail Ketslakh, Racquet Club, 31.93
    2. Allison Haak, Huron Valley, 32.05
    3. Angela Noble, Orchard Hills, 35.96

    50 Backstroke
    1. Allison Haak, Huron Valley, 34.47
    2. Julia Coffman, Barton Hills, 36.94
    3. Kierstan Russell, Milan, 36.95

    50 Breastroke
    1. Abigail Ketslakh, Racquet Club, 40.16
    2. Sophia Kunisaki, Barton Hills, 40.51
    3. Eva Gaetino, Dexter, 40.97

    200 Freestyle Relay
    1. Huron Valley (Hannah Jyawook, Abigail Mehraban, Molly Rettell, Allison Haak), 2:08.03
    2. Ann Arbor CC (Hailee Water, Kamille Balcom, Emma Sortor, Samantha Durrant), 2:14.50
    3. Barton Hills (Julia Coffman, Abrielle Mannino, Sophia Kunisaki, Catrin Koselka), 2:15.23

    * WISC Record

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


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    A nine-mile stretch of eastbound Interstate 94 will be completely closed to all traffic this weekend through Ann Arbor for a construction project by the Michigan Department of Transportation.

    Beginning 10 p.m. Friday, both lanes of eastbound I-94 will be closed at the M-14 junction to the Carpenter Road overpass until 5 a.m. Monday.

    As a result, entrance ramps to eastbound I-94 at Jackson Avenue, Ann Arbor-Saline Road and State Street also will be closed.

    Traffic will be diverted to M-14 and U.S. 23 as a detour.

    It's the second full closure of eastbound I-94 for the resurfacing project this summer.

    MDOT anticipated the resurfacing project would close each direction of the freeway separately for four weekends. Closures will not take place on weekends when major events in the Ann Arbor area are taking place.

    Drivers on north and southbound U.S. 23 still will be able to access eastbound I-94 during the weekend closure.

    However, this weekend MDOT is closing the ramp from westbound I-94 to southbound U.S. 23 from 10 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday.

    The posted detour will be through the U.S. 12 (Michigan Avenue) interchange at exit 181.


    View MDOT I-94 construction in a larger map

    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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