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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 8-and-under swimmers and 13-and-up divers took to the pools Wednesday in Ann Arbor for the third day of the Washtenaw Interclub Swim Conference championships.

    Courtney Sacco is a photographer for AnnArbor.com


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    It is unknown how a 25-year-old University of Michigan student died Wednesday and the Ann Arbor police are investigating the incident as a “suspicious death” according to a crime alert from the University of Michigan Police Department.

    072413_NEWS_BodyFound_MRM_03A.JPG

    Ann Arbor police detectives are investigating the death of a man found in a home on Ingalls Street Wednesday.

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

    The investigation into the man’s death began just after noon at a home in the 200 block of North Ingalls Street, a building identified as the Phi Rho Sigma fraternity. Phi Rho Sigma is a co-educational society of U-M medical students.

    Ann Arbor police investigators at the scene Wednesday confirmed the man was found dead and that detectives were investigating. A U-M crime alert was sent out just before 11 p.m. Wednesday stating a cause of death was still undetermined.

    The Washtenaw County Medical Examiner’s Office is also participating in the investigation according to the crime alert.

    Medical school officials sent out an email to students and faculty notifying them of a student’s death Wednesday afternoon. Police have not confirmed to AnnArbor.com that the student is the same man found dead in the Ingalls home.

    The home had been taped off by investigators, both uniformed and plainclothes, Wednesday afternoon along with the area around the parking lot.

    The crime alert was sent out by the U-M Police but the Ann Arbor Police Department is the agency investigating the man’s death because it occurred off-campus.

    Anyone with information on this incident is encouraged to call the Ann Arbor police anonymous tip line at 734-794-6939, U-M Police at 734-763-1131 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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    percy-pryor.jpg

    Longtime cook at Ann Arbor's Cafe Marie, Percy Pryor, says "thank you" to the community and his co-workers for all of their love and support during his cancer treatments.

    Courtesy of Facebook

    Previous coverage:

    Percy Pryor, a longtime cook at Ann Arbor's Cafe Marie, is waiting for a bone marrow transplant to complete his treatment cycle for an aggressive form of cancer.

    After more than 12 years of frying up the "best darn eggs and omelets" customers say they have ever tasted and never missing a day of work, Pryor found himself isolated to a hospital bed, faced with chemotherapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

    The waiting game for Pryor, as a black man, to receive a bone marrow transplant could be a long one. Doctors say matching rates for individuals of minority ethnicities are significantly lower than for individuals of Caucasian descent.

    Pryor already had one possible match fall through.

    Dr. Dale Bixby, Pryor's primary hematologist at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, said that one reason matching rates are so low is because African Americans and other minorities have lower participation rates on the National Bone Marrow Registry than whites.

    Cafe Marie — which Pryor calls his extended family — is not much for waiting, and the staff plans to do everything it can to speed the process up and raise awareness of low participation rates among African Americans.

    Starting at 7 a.m. Thursday through 3 p.m. Aug. 3, the cafe, located at 1759 Plymouth Road, will be hosting a bone marrow drive to support Pryor and hopefully add someone to the registry that could be a match for him.

    Rebecca King, the marketing and promotions coordinator for Cafe Marie, said it's a completely painless, quick and easy process to join the National Bone Marrow Registry. "All it takes is a simple mouth swab."

    12282012_BIZ_PercyPryor_JT_.JPG

    A Cafe Marie cook for 12 years, Percy Pryor, center, was diagnosed with leukemia. The staff at Cafe Marie, pictured here in January, helped to raise money for Pryor and his family, who also lost their home and are consumed with medical bills.

    Joseph Tobianski | AnnArbor.com file photo

    She said it's not messy and the swabs are immediately secured in an enclosed bag. People also will be swabbing themselves, so it's not awkward, King said.

    King and other Cafe Marie staff have been trained by Delete Blood Cancer DKMS, the organization the restaurant received its cheek-swabbing kits from, on how to handle the swabs. The cafe's goal is 100 cheeks in a week, which is the Delete Blood Cancer DKMS' mantra.

    King stressed that joining the registry is not the same thing as saying you will definitely be a donor, nor does it necessarily mean there is a match out there for you.

    In addition to hosting the weeklong bone marrow drive, Cafe Marie has been raising money for Pryor, his lifelong companion Rachal Potter and their three children to help with medical and personal expenses. Pryor's cancer has taken a toll on the family's financial and living situation.

    To date, the cafe has collected donations for Pryor amounting to $13,657.68. A fund was established for Pryor through the Ann Arbor State Bank: "The Percy Pryor Fund." A website also was set up at YouCaring.com.

    The restaurant has worked to raise money to support leukemia research as well through the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It is selling red wrist bands that say "relentless" on them and raffle tickets for $10 apiece to win a seven-night vacation for two to Hawaii. The proceeds all go to LLS, King said.

    Pryor was first diagnosed with adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia in November 2012. He began an aggressive treatment plan almost immediately and has since had about nine months worth of intravenous chemotherapy, Bixby said. Bixby, who has been with Pryor through every step of the process, was authorized to speak on Pryor's behalf.

    Pryor has one cycle of chemotherapy remaining in his treatment plan, Bixby said.

    Bixby said with his type of leukemia, there is "a giant unanswered question" around what the best method of treatment is because this form of cancer has such a high rate of relapse. But he said research does show that a bone marrow transplant and chemotherapy combined can increase a patient's chance of beating the cancer 20 to 30 percent over chemotherapy alone.

    Patients with acute leukemia already will have to be on a chemotherapy pill, taken once a day, for the rest of their lives in an attempt to minimize the risk of relapse, Bixby said.

    In addition to participation rates being low for minorities on the National Bone Marrow Registry list, Bixby said blacks have the highest diversity of all nationalities of the hereditary proteins that are needed to qualify someone as being a bone marrow match for another person.

    "So it's a double whammy for people like Mr. Pryor," Bixby said.

    He explained bone marrow matching is not based upon a person's blood type, but rather a set of 10 proteins, which are located on the surface of white blood cells and other tissues in the body. There must be a 10-out-of-10 match in order for someone to be an eligible bone marrow donor for another person.

    People inherit these proteins from their parents, Bixby said, making siblings the best chance for a match. He said siblings have a 1-in-4 chance of matching.

    Part of the dilemma with matches today is family sizes are smaller than they used to be, he said. People are having fewer children, meaning fewer chances for a match. Bixby said when you add in siblings from different mothers or fathers, the chances become much lower that a patient will have a match within their own family tree.

    Patients have a one-in-10,000 chance of matching with their own offspring, Bixby said.

    Bixby praised Cafe Marie owner Jeanne Loveland for how hard she has worked to help Pryor and to raise awareness of his cancer.

    "Leukemia is not breast cancer," Bixby said. "There seem to be those cancers out there that a lot of individuals want to advocate for ... and that are in the limelight more often than others. Leukemia is one that is not understood as great and a significant amount of research and support is still needed."

    He said joining the bethematch.org National Bone Marrow Registry is a way to get involved that requires minimal effort.

    "There is a constant need and it's a beautiful way for those of us who are healthy and fortunate to help."

    Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for AnnArbor.com. Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at daniellearndt@annarbor.com.


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    071913_NEWS_FordLake_Body_MRM_06_display.jpg

    The Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office continues to investigate the death of Anthony Zellars, 55. Investigators said Wednesday there were no signs of foul play in the preliminary autopsy.

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

    Preliminary autopsy results show no signs of foul play in the death of Anthony Zellars, who was reported missing Thursday and found dead Friday in Ford Lake.

    Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Geoffrey Fox said Wednesday the preliminary autopsy shows the cause of death appears to be “accidental drowning.”

    “Official word is pending blood (toxicology) results,” Fox said in a text message. “No signs of foul play.”

    Zellars, 55, was reported missing Thursday after he was last seen about 10 p.m. July 17 at a cookout near the Lake Pointe Apartments, in the 5900 block of Bridge Road in Ypsilanti Township. Deputies released a missing person poster Thursday evening.

    About 11 a.m. Friday, an employee of the apartment complex reported seeing a body floating in the water. Two-and-a-half hours later, Zellars was pulled from the water and taken to the Washtenaw County Medical Examiner’s Office.

    An autopsy was performed on Saturday, Fox said. The official cause of death won’t be known in the case until the toxicology report is finished, a process that can often take weeks.

    Zellars lived in the apartment complex for years. Neighbors said he lived there with his wife and was a friendly, quiet neighbor.

    It’s still unknown at this point how Zellars ended up in the lake. Detectives from the sheriff’s office continue to investigate the case.

    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’s City Council has directed its city manager to prepare legislation that would allow the city to offer domestic partner benefits to its employees.

    At its Tuesday special meeting, the City Council voted 6-0 to direct Ralph Lange to bring back the legislation to the Aug. 6 meeting. Council Member Lois Richardson was absent.

    Beth_Bashert.jpg

    Beth Bashert

    Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com

    Ypsilanti resident Beth Bashert, who lives with a domestic partner and has co-chaired several equality campaigns in the past in the city, noted that the courts have opened up an opportunity to allow municipalities to provide benefits for both adults in a household.

    “It’s not just a privilege, it’s a need everyone has, and I’m glad the city is offering it to hardworking employees who ... can have health care for their partners whether in a traditional marriage or in a relationship that is not recognized by the state,” she said.

    A federal judge recently struck down as unconstitutional Michigan's ban on offering public employees domestic partner benefits.

    Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber said said he believes the state is going the wrong direction on the issue.

    "I think there are people who are getting discouraged in Ypsilanti or Michigan who are thinking about moving somewhere else, or to some other state that offers benefits and recognizes marriage," he said, adding that it's up to local governments to do it differently. "It was a unanimous vote by council and I'm proud of that fact."

    Because the city council was directing Lange to draft legislation, there are no details on what the legislation will look like. Lange wasn’t immediately available for comment.

    Thumbnail image for Brian_Robb.jpg

    Brian Robb

    Council Member Brian Robb said some council members have been pushing for the legislation for five years and pointed out that the city’s own non-discrimination ordinance says it can’t discriminate against anyone on health care benefits.

    “This is something council has been working on for four or five years, but never happened because of pushback from city administration,” he said. “Prior to Michigan law change in which the state prohibited this kind of benefit, we violated our own human relations ordinance.”

    Bashert noted that the city “has a proud history of being a leader in protecting all of its citizens from discrimination.”

    In 1998, when Ypsilanti and 10 other municipalities in the country passed a non-discrimination ordinance, the ordinance was challenged via referendum by a group opposed to it. Bashert co-chaired a group supporting the ordinance, and they won the election by 12 points. It was only one of two ordinances that were upheld that year.

    In 2002, The American Family Association and Tom Monaghan worked to get language inserted into the city charter that said no protections would be provided to anyone who is gay, lesbian or bi-sexual. Voters defeated that measure by 26 points.

    Bashert said she is pleased to see the efforts continued.

    ‘It was exciting to see no matter what ward city council members represented, they were representing all their citizens by voting yes,” Bashert said.

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


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    The 4th Ward race for the Ann Arbor City Council pits a 14-year incumbent against a challenger who says neighborhood residents deserve better representation.

    Marcia Higgins, who is defending her seat against challenger Jack Eaton in the Democratic primary on Aug. 6, said there's still important work to be done on issues ranging from neighborhood flooding to downtown zoning and design guidelines, and she wants to stay on the job.

    Marcia_Higgins_072213_RJS_002.jpg

    City Council Member Marcia Higgins, D-4th Ward, is joined by Mayor John Hieftje at the doorstep of David Rossiter while campaigning on a recent evening. Higgins said she's knocking on doors two or more nights a week.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    "It's an important race because we still have problems we're dealing with in the city," she said. "It's about finding solutions and working toward those solutions. I hear my opponent talk about all the things that are wrong or that we didn't do well, but I never hear him talk about solutions."

    Eaton, a Southfield-based labor attorney who has lived in the 4th Ward since 1998, said he'd bring a more sensible approach to city spending and get back to basics.

    He's literally wearing out a pair of shoes this summer (they're starting to tear) as he's going door to door five or six nights a week delivering his message to voters.

    "I'd like to get on council and change our spending priorities and pay more attention to our core services like police and fire and our infrastructure," he told voters this week. "We should fund public safety before we do adventures like train stations."

    Eaton came close to defeating incumbent Margie Teall, Ann Arbor's other 4th Ward representative, last August — losing by 18 votes.

    Jack_Eaton_072413_RJS_004.jpg

    City Council candidate Jack Eaton, right, chats with 4th Ward resident Brad Hamilton and his wife Melanie. Hamilton considers himself a "dyed-in-the-wool Republican" but said he's supporting Eaton because he'd bring some accountability to the city.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    Teall and Higgins are allies of Mayor John Hieftje, who sees Eaton as a threat to his agenda of getting a higher density of people living and working downtown. Eaton opposes the mayor's push for a new Amtrak station on Fuller Road to go along with Ann Arbor-to-Detroit commuter rail.

    Hieftje, who battled one of Eaton's political allies — Pat Lesko — to retain his seat in 2010, is actively supporting Higgins and has been out knocking on doors with her.

    "I think she's done a great job getting us where we are," the mayor told voters this week. "Ann Arbor has the lowest unemployment in the state, we made it through the whole recession, and our millage rate is actually a little lower than when we started out."

    Eaton is close allies with Council Members Mike Anglin and Sumi Kailasapathy, and he supported Jane Lumm in her successful bid to oust Stephen Rapundalo, one of Hieftje's allies.

    "Recent City Council elections have added new, responsive members to council," Eaton said. "I'd like to join those representatives and help bring common sense to our budgeting."

    Eaton is picking up support from residents who want to see more police and firefighters, more focus on maintaining roads, and more resistance to large-scale developments that negatively impact residential neighborhoods. He also has crossover appeal, winning support from some Republicans who appreciate his fiscal conservatism.

    "There are some things in a local community that we all share in common, and I think one of the primary ones is the desire for a safe neighborhood and good streets — just the basic fundamental services," he said. "You can't justify understaffing your public safety departments at the same time that you're spending millions of dollars on a train station that's going to be built on parkland."

    Marcia_Higgins_072213_RJS_007.jpg

    Higgins and Hieftje chat with 4th Ward voter Sari Mills on White Street while Trixie the cat mingles.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    Higgins, who was a Republican until switching parties in 2005, is drawing distinctions between herself and her opponent, suggesting Eaton fears change.

    Eaton prides himself on being a neighborhood activist, Higgins said, but all the neighborhood groups he's helped form have just opposed new development.

    "I think Jack has a very difficult time embracing change of any kind," she said. "Friends of Dicken Woods, it was a neighborhood group they formed to prevent development. When he did South Maple, it was a group that was in direct opposition to 42 North. When they did the Neighborhood Alliance, that was all the people who are against any type of change in the downtown."

    Asked whether he fears change as Higgins suggests, Eaton said he's not even sure Ann Arbor will see much growth in the years ahead.

    "There will be change, but I think you have to stop and identify what it was that attracted the people who are here to be here, and a lot of it is the character of this town," he said. "There's this really unique blend of small-town feel and big-town culture that we have to be especially protective of, so I'm not afraid of change, but I don't think we should incentivize change just for change's sake."

    Higgins, who oversaw the A2D2 process that brought new zoning with height limits and design guidelines for downtown, said the community decided it wanted density in the city's core.

    She thinks the A2D2 changes have worked out pretty well, though she's glad the city is reviewing them to see if there's room for improvement.

    Jack_Eaton_072413_RJS_002.jpg

    Eaton says hello to Preston the dog and chats with 4th Ward resident Tristen Smith while out campaigning.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    Eaton said he supports density in the downtown core — just not where it has a negative impact on surrounding neighborhoods.

    He pointed to the recently approved 413 E. Huron high-rise and the Landmark high-rise built along South U as examples of bad developments that Higgins supported.

    Eaton thinks the City Council is too "gung-ho about development." Given how popular Ann Arbor is to build in, he said, the city could stand to be a little more picky.

    "We could demand more of the people who want to build here, rather than just subsidizing and opening up the floodgates for any mundane building," he said.

    Higgins said the city's zoning used to be so convoluted that it could take 24 months or more for developers to get a project through planning.

    "So we worked through A2D2 to really look at that," she said. "We streamlined processes, and we added the citizen participation piece because that was important for everyone. We put in the Design Review Board because how a building looks is important to people."

    Higgins has served on the City Council since 1999, but before deciding she was ready to seek re-election again this year, she said she had a gut-check moment.

    Marcia_Higgins_072213_RJS_004.jpg

    Higgins hands off a piece of her campaign literature to 4th Ward resident Aileen Patel.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    Now that she's commuting to work in Livonia, taking on new responsibilities, and raising her 13-year-old granddaughter, could she still be effective on council?

    "How do I balance work and life, which is pretty hectic, on top of council, which I take very seriously?" she asked herself. "Do I still have value on council?"

    Higgins, who is the city's mayor pro tem and serves on a number of committees and task forces in addition to her regular council duties, believes she does bring valuable experience to the table.

    For the past 12 years, she has chaired the Council Budget Committee. She also chairs the Council Labor Committee, Council Rules Committee and Council Administration Committee.

    Additionally, she chairs the council's new Economic Collaborative Task Force and the recently reconvened Design Guidelines Task Force. She also serves on the city's Cable Communications Commission and the Brownfield Plan Review Committee.

    Higgins was among a minority of council members who tried unsuccessfully to add more police officers in the city's budget this past spring.

    "We probably need a couple more police officers," she said. "We've made the request to the DDA to fund more beat cops in the downtown. That's probably where we need to have them."

    Eaton said he would make it a top priority to rebuild the police department so it's more proactive, but he wouldn't leave it up to the Downtown Development Authority.

    Jack_Eaton_072413_RJS_005.jpg

    Eaton hands off absentee voter application forms to 4th Ward residents Dan Mitas and Deanne Woodruff. Lending an assist is John Torgersen, a 4th Ward resident who said he supports Eaton because he's a strong advocate for neighborhoods.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    He favors placing new limits on the amount of taxes the DDA can collect and instead using some of those dollars to enhance the police and fire departments.

    Eaton said he also wants to see the city more aggressively pay down its unfunded liabilities. As of June 30, 2012, the city's pension plan was 82.7 percent funded, with $86.1 million unfunded. And the retiree health care plan was 35.1 percent funded, with $162.2 million unfunded.

    Both candidates have strong opinions about neighborhood flooding issues, as well as the city's controversial footing drain disconnection program.

    Higgins said the city has spent the last year studying stormwater management issues with the help of a lot of volunteers and they're starting to learn more about the problem.

    The city is working with Evan Pratt, the county's water resources commissioner, to see about stormwater management solutions. Higgins said city officials are hoping to hear back from Pratt in the next two to three months so they can start to deal with it.

    As for footing drain disconnects, Higgins said she stands by the program, though some residents argue sump pumps the city has made them install have left their basements flooded.

    "What we're finding through the committee that's working with the FDD right now is that they were successful," Higgins said.

    Eaton said the program has been problematic and he doesn't see how it's even legal for the city to require residents to retrofit their houses with sump pumps.

    "There's a fair amount of case law saying a municipality can't go in and force you to do something inside your house that was acceptable at the time you built it," he said. "I think there's going to be some fairly expensive litigation over the installations that have already been forced."

    election2013.jpg
    Eaton said the city should be doing everything possible to address flooding, starting with permeable pavement so water soaks into the ground, more detention ponds to hold water back so it doesn't overwhelm Malletts Creek or Allen Creek, and upsizing stormwater pipes.

    "It's going to be expensive, but we can start now with the small aspects of it like retention ponds and permeable pavement," he said. "And as the study results come back about our storm system, we can start building in better conveyance methods so pipes can handle the rain."

    Eaton criticizes the city for studying the flooding problems more than 15 years ago, identifying some solutions, and then never doing much about it.

    Hieftje said the city would be worse off if it followed the recommendations of the 1997 study that Eaton cites. He said it would have cost hundreds of millions of dollars and would have led to greatly increasing the size of the stormwater sewers to rush water to the Huron River.

    "Well, the science has completely changed since then," Hieftje said. "The idea is to slow down the stormwater, let it absorb into the ground, plant trees to absorb it. The last thing the science would say to do today is to build bigger pipes and rush the stormwater to the river. You're just adding all that runoff pollution to the river, and you're causing flooding problems downstream."

    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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    Third Ward voters have a choice Aug. 6 between two Ann Arbor City Council candidates with opposing viewpoints on downtown and new development.

    Julie Grand, chairwoman of the city's Park Advisory Commission, is trying to unseat Stephen Kunselman, who is seeking a fourth two-year term on council.

    Stephen_Kunselman_071313_RJS_009.jpg

    Ann Arbor City Council Member Stephen Kunselman, D-3rd Ward, campaigns door to door on a recent afternoon.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    Grand, who lives near Burns Park, believes there's a symbiotic relationship between the downtown and outer neighborhoods whereby a vibrant downtown benefits the entire city.

    She's a major supporter of the Downtown Development Authority, an organization Kunselman frequently criticizes.

    "What I don't like seeing is the DDA being vilified for essentially being successful at their job," Grand said. "Their job is to bring development to the downtown, and the fact that they have more money coming in just means that they have been doing their job well."

    Kunselman, who wants to rein in the DDA's growing budget and redistribute some of its wealth, thinks too much time and money is being wasted on downtown while neighborhoods suffer.

    He points to the DDA's recent decision to spend $200,000 to develop a downtown streetscape plan as an example of misplaced priorities.

    Julie_Grand_071313_RJS_010.jpg

    Julie Grand is joined by campaign supporter Ron Emaus at a voter's doorstep in the 3rd Ward on a recent afternoon. Emaus said he's supporting Grand because he thinks she has a positive vision for the city and would communicate well with residents.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    "For too long, politicians and their political appointees have been talking about building big buildings downtown and doing very little for our neighborhoods," said Kunselman, who lives near Packard and Platt.

    "It's pretty apparent that our roads are in poor condition. It's apparent in the neighborhood I live in that the water mains have not been replaced probably since the '50s, and every winter we have water main breaks."

    Kunselman added, "There has been too much deceptive politics going on in this community — too much misrepresentation — and we've seen that certainly with the DDA."

    With the primary election quickly approaching, both candidates are working hard to get their messages out to voters. Grand and a team of volunteers have been sweeping through 3rd Ward neighborhoods for weeks, knowing it's going to be an uphill battle.

    "Our philosophy all along — running against an incumbent, which we know is a tough thing to do — is to out-message and out-work," she said while knocking on doors on a recent afternoon. "So our plan is to hit every neighborhood in the ward at a minimum two times, and hopefully three times."

    Stephen_Kunselman_071313_RJS_001.jpg

    Kunselman knocks on a door while campaigning recently near Allen Elementary School. He made sure to tell residents about his role in getting a blighted garage on Dorchester Road torn down.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    Kunselman can be seen many days riding his bicycle through the ward, delivering campaign materials door to door. He said he expects to win.

    "The thing about this campaign — because it is more hotly contested — is it's pretty evident that my base of supporters are coming out in force," he said.

    "I've raised more money than any other previous campaign at this point — I almost expect to break $5,000 this time — and I've got more signs out than I've had before at this point."

    Kunselman won with 59 percent of the vote in the 2011 primary over challenger Ingrid Ault, one of Grand's political allies. Ault pulled 36 percent of the vote, while a second challenger, Marwan Issa, took 5 percent.

    Grand is reminding voters that turnout is low in primaries, and Kunselman won by a mere six votes over incumbent Leigh Greden to return to council in 2009, so every vote counts.

    Grand criticizes Kunselman when going door to door, telling voters her opponent communicates poorly and brings a combative style to council.

    "He's been a really divisive force on council and I don't think that's a productive way to get things done," she told one resident. "My approach is really to listen to the community and also do the research, look at best practices, and make decisions that way."

    Grand often asks voters if they've ever received a proactive communication from Kunselman. She said she's yet to receive a yes answer.

    Julie_Grand_071313_RJS_003.jpg

    Grand talks with Kay Drake, a Canterbury Road resident, while going door to door on a recent afternoon.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    Kunselman said he's proud of his record and he believes he's representing constituents well. If they call or email with concerns, he said, he responds.

    "I'm feeling really good because everybody has given me really good comments," he said. "They're appreciative of the fact that I'm focusing on public health, safety and welfare-type services and not spending my time downtown trying to speculate on how to build big buildings or play developer."

    Kunselman pushed to get the city to set up a blight fund and demolish a number of abandoned houses and other dangerous buildings.

    While campaigning near Allen Elementary School recently, he made sure to tell residents about his role in getting a blighted garage on Dorchester Road torn down. That made him instantly popular with neighbors who said the garage was an eyesore and had attracted turkey vultures.

    Kunselman said more blighted houses on the southeast side of Ann Arbor need to come down and those kinds of issues, along with basic infrastructure improvements, are among his top priorities.

    "Blight is an issue maybe not so much to the neighborhoods close to downtown — to the more wealthy neighborhoods — but it is certainly an issue out in east Ann Arbor," he said.

    Grand said her top priorities include infrastructure improvements with specific attention to stormwater management, improving access to information about city services, and engaging the public in the development of city-owned properties in and around downtown.

    That includes a string of public parking lots along William Street, as well as properties at 721 N. Main and 415 W. Washington where the city wants to develop greenway parks.

    Stephen_Kunselman_071313_RJS_006.jpg

    Kunselman chats with 3rd Ward resident and former Ann Arbor Police Lt. Spring Tremaine, who now supervises the county-run police dispatch center. Tremaine said she'll be supporting Kunselman because of his support for public safety over the years.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    "By development, I don't just mean buildings, but the mix of buildings, open space, different kinds of uses — how we want to see our downtown," Grand said.

    Grand said the city has an opportunity to lead by example when it comes to engaging the public to make sure what gets built on city property fits the community's vision.

    "If the city takes the lead and creates development that most people are excited about, then that can really change the attitudes toward density," she said. "And I think it's important to remember, too, there's a lot of the downtown that can't be touched in terms of development."

    Though Kunselman has been critical of some development projects like the 413 E. Huron high-rise, he said he's in favor of downtown density.

    "It hasn't turned out as we all expected, but I've voted for and supported a number of buildings downtown that I think have not caused the kind of controversies that some of the more recent buildings have," he said. "I'm proud of Zaragon and Zaragon West."

    Kunselman said Ann Arbor has seen major changes with a number of new high-rises going up, but he doesn't think that will continue.

    "We've got more buildings at one time under one cycle than ever before. I don't think that's going to be the rule for the future," he said. "Things are going to settle down."

    He said he'd like to see development happen on the former YMCA property that the city owns at Fifth Avenue and William Street, but he thinks there should be limits.

    "We could put deed restrictions on that property," he said, "and basically say to the developer, 'You know, we want to sell you this property, but it's going to be eight stories and it's going to have a minimum of 6,000 square feet of open space at the corner — it'll be a public plaza.' "

    As for other city-owned properties — like the parking lot next to the downtown library — Kunselman said he doesn't see much happening anytime soon.

    Julie_Grand_071313_RJS_009.jpg

    Grand writes a personalized message to a voter she missed while going door to door. "If you're running to be a communicator and someone who is going to work hard for you, I think the best way to show that is to be out there communicating and working hard," she said.

    "I grew up in Ann Arbor and those city-owned lots have been there for a long time, and it takes eight votes to sell," he said. "And that's a lot of time and energy — and staff money and staff attention —focusing on something with very little result. We all have to face that fact."

    As the University of Michigan has grown, Kunselman said, as has the number of students living around downtown — and "the townies got squeezed out to the edges."

    "I think the bigger issue is ensuring we're all not just pushed out, and that's why I'm focused on neighborhoods," he said. "I mean, downtown is the wealthiest center of our community and yet the property values in east Ann Arbor went down 30 percent. We've got foreclosures in the outer ring."

    Kunselman said the downtown is becoming more of an attraction for out-of-towners than local residents and it's not the same as it was in the '80s. Asked what he'd do to change that, he said those are forces beyond politics or politicians.

    But he plans to continue pushing to redirect some of the DDA's increasing tax revenues back to the city, the county, the public library and Washtenaw Community College.

    "They're going to have almost an increase of $1 million in the next two fiscal years. Some believe it'll actually be up to $4.8 million by the end of this fiscal year when these other buildings come online," he said of the DDA's tax capture. "My effort is to restrain that growth."

    Kunselman said some of the extra money the city would collect could be used to hire more police officers. Both candidates said they want a more proactive police department.

    Stephen_Kunselman_071313_RJS_008.jpg

    Kunselman chats with 3rd Ward voter John Erdevig, an attorney who handles estate planning and residential real estate transactions. Erdevig agreed to let Kunselman put one of his campaign signs in the front yard.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    "It's just a matter of understanding where it's most valuable and making sure we're not adding police officers just to add police officers," Grand said.

    Both candidates said they think the city's budget is in good shape and they're glad to see the city moving away from the controversial Percent for Art Program and talking about funding public art in a new way.

    They also support the recent expansion of the city's transit authority to include Ypsilanti, though Kunselman has been skeptical of other major transit initiatives.

    "We have to stop thinking and pushing Ann Arbor as some great metropolis — countywide transit, commuter rail," he said. "And you know this huge influx of employees — where are all these new employees? Because there's no new office buildings."

    Kunselman also is critical of projects the DDA has taken on in the downtown.

    "What we're seeing in downtown right now is more clutter in the streets," he said. "So it's not just the expansion of the patios, but it's the sidewalk signs, it's the wayfinding signs, it's the bike racks. Now they want to do bike sharing. And it's always the flavor of the day."

    Though Grand embraces the work the DDA is doing downtown, she said she'd like to see improved services throughout the 3rd Ward and wants to address people's everyday problems.

    "Right now the Bryant Community Center only serves people in the Bryant neighborhood," she noted. "But there are other neighborhoods with similar populations that are adjacent to Bryant and they can't actually use that community center, so I'd like to see some of those services expanded."

    Julie_Grand_071313_RJS_004.jpg

    Grand and Emaus go door to door together on a recent afternoon.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    Grand said she has enjoyed her six years on PAC and thinks the experience she's gained working on parks issues would make her an effective council member.

    "I've enjoyed the problem solving we do," she said. "We do some terrific community engagement on parks. And just working for parks, you get to have a direct impact on the quality of life for residents, which has been energizing, so I want to do more by serving on council."

    Kunselman, U-M's energy conservation liaison, points to his background as an environmental planner and township administrator with degrees in urban planning and landscape architecture. He thinks that makes him effective on council.

    "I'm a little bit of an atypical candidate because I've worked in local government, whereas obviously the others have not," he said. "I know the limits of local government."

    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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    The building at 414 E. William, once occupied by Maru Korean restaurant, was sold in 2012. It's still vacant, but seems like a prime restaurant corner just across the street from the Zaragon West student high-rise.

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

    The start of 2013 spurred a hot streak of retail and restaurant activity in Ann Arbor.

    More than a dozen restaurants have opened their doors this year, while both independent and national retailers are pursuing Ann Arbor as an attractive market to join.

    That’s continuing this summer as high-profile projects — such as the redevelopment of the former Borders building downtown and the construction of the Arbor Hills shopping center on Washtenaw Avenue — near completion, bringing a mix of new retailers to the area.

    ARborhillsign.jpg

    Arbor Hills, set to open Aug. 22 on Washtenaw, will bring a mix of retailers and restaurants to the area.

    AnnArbor.com file photo

    The active retail landscape also means Ann Arbor real estate is limited. Retail and restaurant vacancies in Ann Arbor are slim, according to local real estate agents, who say “high-quality” space can be hard to find.

    “We are literally running out of high-quality space in the (Class A) centers,” said Michael Lippitt, a commercial real estate broker with Landmark Commercial. “That’s why you’re going to start to see some new development.”

    Lippitt said retailers and restaurant users are attracted to Ann Arbor because sales per square foot are typically higher than the rest of southeast Michigan.

    “On the same note, the amount of retail per capita tends to be lower in Ann Arbor,” he continued. “Consequently, you get higher sales, but also higher rent. The top restaurants and retailers all want to be there, but then the mid-tier and more price-sensitive retailers are priced out of the market.”

    Swisher Commercial’s Randy Maas said real estate in downtown Ann Arbor and near the University of Michigan’s campus is “hot” in heavily trafficked areas such as South University, Main, Liberty and State. When one space is vacated in those areas, a new and optimistic business owner is often ready to fill its place.

    “We see a lot of interest, and I get calls from people asking, ‘Is there anything else?’” Maas said.

    Still, there are vacant retail spaces around town that have sparked my curiosity. Maybe the space has been vacant for a while, maybe it’s high profile, or maybe a recent sale has left me wondering: What’s next? Here are my top 5 properties to watch in Ann Arbor:

    middle_kingdom_chocolate_house.jpg

    The Middle Kingdom and Chocolate House buildings on South Main Street were sold in 2012.

    Courtney Sacco | AnnArbor.com

    1) Middle Kingdom and Chocolate House buildings, 330-332 S. Main St.: These adjacent properties on downtown Ann Arbor’s South Main Street were sold in late 2012 to related business entities, managed by Asuman Erturk. The plan, relayed in December by the new owner’s attorney Bill Schlecte, was to reopen Middle Kingdom “as soon as possible,” and to open a restaurant or a retail establishment in the former Chocolate House building. Middle Kingdom never reopened, and attempts to reach the new owner — and the owner’s attorney — have been unsuccessful. Because both properties are located in the city’s Main Street Historic District, any building alterations would require approval from Ann Arbor’s Historic District Commission.

    arhaus.jpg

    Arborland will have a 14,500-square-foot vacancy when Arhaus furniture vacates the center next month.

    Lizzy Alfs | AnnArbor.com

    2) Soon-to-be vacant Arhaus furniture space in Arborland : Arhaus furniture design center is preparing to move from its space in Arborland to the under-construction Arbor Hills shopping center in August. The move will leave Arborland with a roughly 14,500-square-foot vacant space on the eastern edge of the center, which Lippitt is marketing for lease.

    “It’s kind of an in-between box-size,” he said. “It doesn’t lend itself to splitting it up, but fortunately, there are a variety of retailers looking at it right now.”

    3) Former Maru Korean restaurant, 414 E. William: In fall 2012, a sign in the window of this Korean restaurant at 414 E. William St. read “closed for renovations.” Maru never reopened, and the building has sat vacant ever since. City records show the property sold for $460,000 in December 2012 to William and Thompson LLC, an entity registered to John Lagos. Lagos — whose family owns several Ann Arbor properties — did not respond to requests for comment on his plans, but the property seems like a prime restaurant corner. It’s situated just across the street from the newly constructed Zaragon West high-rise and NeoPapalis Pizza restaurant.

    4) Freestanding former Arby’s building, 3021 Washtenaw Ave: The Arby’s restaurant at 3021 Washtenaw Ave. closed in 2012, shortly after the 1,825-square-foot building was listed for sale. It’s located on the north side of Washtenaw Avenue, near the Huron Village shopping center and across from Arbor Hills. The property has a 2013 assessed value of $271,600, and is being marketed for sale for $550,000 with William LaKritz of Mid-America Real Estate Group.

    arbys.jpg

    Arby's closed last year on Washtenaw, shortly after the building was listed for sale.

    Kyle Mattson | AnnArbor.com

    From Mid-America’s marketing materials: “This freestanding former Arby’s is an excellent food site located near Whole Foods, between the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University. A new center is being constructed across the street. The area consists of a strong population and income.”

    5) Redeveloped building on the southwest corner of the Maple-Miller intersection: The 2,200-square-foot building on the southwest corner of the Maple-Miller intersection was redeveloped in 2008. Although Subway franchisee Mike Heffner signed a lease in August 2011 to occupy half the building at 1251 N. Maple, the restaurant has yet to open and Heffner hasn’t returned requests for comment. Construction work was underway at the space last week, although it appears the restaurant has a ways to go before opening.

    maple_miller_intersection.jpg

    The building at 1251 N. Maple Rd. is still empty, almost two years after a Subway franchisee signed a lease for half the space.

    Lizzy Alfs | AnnArbor.com

    Meanwhile, plans fell through for a Charlevoix-based specialty wine shop to open in the remaining half of the building, leaving a 1,100-square-foot vacancy. The owner of the property is Lagos Investment Company LLC, an entity registered to Basile Lagos.

    The building sits empty as real estate activity continues near the Maple-Miller intersection. Most recently, a Speedway opened on the intersection’s northeast corner. In addition, Juicy Kitchen and several other restaurants opened this year in the shopping center just north of the intersection.

    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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    A three-car accident on westbound Interstate 94 just east of U.S. 23 in Pittsfield Township was causing traffic backups during Thursday morning's rush hour, dispatchers said.

    The accident occurred just after 8 a.m. Dispatchers said there were injures, but did not immediately know the extent of them.

    A Google traffic map showed a lengthy backup on the freeway.

    This story will be updated as more information becomes available.


    View July 25 crash 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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    Comments from the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department have been added to the story.

    Ypsilanti Township residents will be asked to approve three millage increases at the polls on Aug. 6.

    Without approval, township officials say residents would see deep cuts to public safety and core services.

    Ypsilanti_Township_Fire_Department.jpg

    Millage increases are being sought for services such as the fire department in Ypsilanti Township.

    Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com

    If all three are approved, homeowners would pay an additional combined 1.75 mills for fire protection, police protection and solid waste collection. That means a homeowner with a house with taxable value of $100,000 would annually pay an additional $175 in taxes if all three were passed.

    The township’s property values have dropped by 35 percent since 2007. At current rates, projections have the fire fund running a deficit of around $962,000 in 2017; the police fund running a deficit of $508,000 by 2015 and increasing to $3.1 million by 2017; and the solid waste fund running a deficit of $1.5 million by 2017.

    “If the residents like the services, the number of police officers, composting, recycling, garbage collection, brush pickup, keeping all the fire stations open, then it's imperative that they vote yes on all the millage proposals,” said Township Clerk Karen Lovejoy Roe.

    Voters will be asked to approve millage increases of:

    • .325 mills for fire service, which would raise the millage to 3.125 mills and annually generate an additional estimated $370,671.
    • .950 mills for police protection, which would raise the millage to 5.95 mills and would annually generate an additional estimated $1,083,502.
    • .475 mill increase for garbage, refuse collection, recycling, composting, disposal of solid waste, energy conservation, alternative energy, water quality and environmental protection, which would increase the millage to 2.155 mills and annually generate an estimated $541,751.
    • Renew the roads millage which will not increase and is set at 1.0059 mills.

    The $6.5 million revenue loss from the tax base largely has been offset by not filling 31 staff retirements at the township hall, and the township is operating with eight fewer firefighters and 11 fewer police officers than it had in 2007.

    Township staff has not had a pay increase since 2008 and received a 3 percent pay reduction in 2009. All employees now make greater contributions to their pension and pay a monthly fee for health care.

    In 2007, the last year of stable property values and stable revenues in Ypsilanti Township, a 1-mill tax rate generated $1,764,636. Today, a 1-mill tax rate generates $1,140,529.

    The combined 5 mills for police protection would have generated $8,823,180 in 2007, but would only generate $5,702,645 in 2013 — a difference of $3,120,535.

    Sheriff's Department spokesman Derrick Jackson highlighted that fewer officers does not mean fewer calls for service, but will mean fewer officers to respond to crime and a decreased response time.

    He said the township has seen a decrease in major crime within Ypsilanti Township since the township was able to add several deputies in recent years, though police staffing numbers still remain below 2009 levels.

    "That is directly related to the outstanding proactive work done by our deputies," he said. "Having fewer deputies on the road does not allow for proactive policing, but forces us to only be reactive. When you are reactive you are already failing the community because you need a victim to react to.

    "We would prefer to prevent crime from happening, not respond after a resident has been victimized."

    The numbers also allow the Sheriff's Department to focus resources on specific duties such as OWI enforcement, quality of life issues and prevention programs, Jackson said.

    The fire department millage would have generated $4,940,980 but now only generates $3,193,481 — a difference of $1,747,499.

    Ypsilanti Township Fire Chief Eric Copeland said the fire department has tightened its belt, reduced costs, got concessions from the union and streamlined its operation, but he said that can’t make up for a loss of a third of the department’s operating revenue.

    “We need a boost of revenue but what we’re asking for is modest. It isn’t a cure all,” Copeland said. “It doesn’t solve the problem, but we also understand residents felt (the recession), too, so we aren’t asking for the full increase, but just restore some of what we lost.”

    Lovejoy Roe said a failure of the millages would lead to "drastic, draconian cuts".

    "It's not anything pleasant to ask for an increase, but we're doing what needs to be done, and as leaders of the community and the township board, we had no choice," she said.

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


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    Police are looking for this man in connection with Thursday's bank robbery in Ann Arbor.

    Courtesy of AAPD

    Police released images Thursday from the surveillance camera at an Ann Arbor bank that was robbed Wednesday afternoon.

    The pictures show a man pulling his shirt over his face at a bank counter while gripping a handgun.

    Police say he entered the Fifth Third Bank, at 2090 W. Stadium Blvd. on Ann Arbor's west side, with the weapon at 3:52 p.m. The man demanded large bills from the two bank tellers on duty, Ann Arbor police said in a release.

    "The suspect then fled on foot to a vehicle parked nearby at the Grotto parking lot, 2070 W. Stadium Blvd.," the release said.

    AABankRobberyTruck.jpg

    Police believe the suspect made his getaway in this white truck.

    Courtesy of AAPD

    The man was described as white, approximately 35-40 years old, 6 feet tall, weighing 260 pounds and wearing a camouflage baseball cap and a black hoodie. The man reportedly drove away in a white crew cab pickup truck.

    He is considered armed and dangerous, according to a poster issued by Ann Arbor police.

    Anyone with information should contact Det. Kolpacki at (734) 794-6930, ext. 49316, Det. Foster, ext. 49330, the Tip Line at (734) 794-6939 or e-mail TIPS@a2gov.org.

    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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    Has the cougar spotted last year in the Ann Arbor area moved his hunting grounds north into Livingston County?

    Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Houghton_County_cougar_364578_7.JPG

    This image of a cougar was captured in the Upper Peninsula's Houghton County.

    A Howell area man told the Livingston County Press and Argus that he saw a cougar perform a vicious takedown of a deer on his property near Pardee Lake Sunday morning. Mike Casciani doesn't have any photographic evidence of the cougar on the hunt, the newspaper reported. Casciani told the paper he heard a lot of commotion near the back of his Genoa Township property and watched as the cougar attacked the deer and dragged it off into the woods.

    The Department of Natural Resources has been notified, but is not investigating the matter due to the lack of evidence, the report said.

    Possible cougar sightings were reported in the Ann Arbor area in 2012, including one on the University of Michigan's North Campus in March 2012. There is low probability of a cougar making its way into southeastern Michigan, according to the DNR. It’s possible that cougars can be confused with bobcats, coyotes and even large house cats when seen from far away, a DNR official told AnnArbor.com in a previous report.

    Read the Livingston Daily article.

    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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    Film Five Most.JPG

    Syvester Stallone and Talia Shire in "Rocky"

    The 1976 Sylvester Stallone movie “Rocky,” which has proven itself a winner many times over, screens Sunday and Tuesday as the next entry in the Michigan Theater’s Summer Classics film series.

    In “Rocky,” a small-time boxer gets a rare chance to fight heavy-weight champion Apollo Creed in an insirpational bout in which he strives to go the distance.

    At the time, Stallone was an unknown, and the movie was a hard sell to United Artists. Made for under $1 million, “Rocky” managed to resonate with audiences worldwide, earning back 60 times its cost. The film won several Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

    Talia Shire is Rocky’s girlfriend Adrian, Burgess Meredith is trainer Mickey Goldmill, and Carl Weathers is Apollo Creed. Recently retired Detroit television reporter Diana Lewis also appears as - surprise! - a television reporter.

    Shouts of “Yo Adrian” aside, who could forget the iconic image of Stallone’s character - with Bill Conti’s disco-flavored tune “Gonna Fly Now” as the soundtrack - as he goes through his training regimen, completing his workout with his triumphant run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and raising his arms in a victory pose?

    Admit it - you still get goosebumps.

    “Rocky’ screens at the Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., Sunday, July 28 at 1:30 p.m. and Tuesday, July 30 at 7 p.m. Admission is $10. Details at www.michtheater.org or 734-668-8397. 119 minutes. Rated PG.


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    Police are investigating the death of a 25-year-old U-M medical student.

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

    Ann Arbor police Thursday morning said they were waiting for results from an autopsy on the 25-year-old University of Michigan medical student found dead Wednesday before releasing any additional information.

    The Washtenaw County Medical Examiner was scheduled to perform an autopsy Thursday, Ann Arbor police Lt. Robert Pfannes said.

    In the meantime, the man's death is still being investigated as "suspicious," Ann Arbor police said in a media release.

    The man was found dead at a home in the 200 block of North Ingalls Street at a building identified as the Phi Rho Sigma fraternity, a co-educational society of U-M medical students.

    Police said the 25-year-old medical student failed to arrive as scheduled for an assignment at the Veteran’s Hospital. An associate was sent to check on his whereabouts and called 911 after finding the man deceased, according to police.

    Medical school officials also sent out an email to students and faculty notifying them of a student’s death Wednesday afternoon. A U-M crime alert was sent out just before 11 p.m. Wednesday about the incident.

    Authorities are not yet releasing the man's name.

    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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    casey-abrams.jpg

    Casey Abrams

    If the name Casey Abrams rings a bell, it might be because he was an “American Idol” finalist in 2011. The 21-year-old singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who finished in sixth place, plays at The Ark Monday.

    He recently released his self-titled debut album, on which he co-wrote, sang, and played bass, acoustic guitar, drums, Wurlitzer and recorder.

    Born in the musical hotbed of Austin, Texas, Abrams’ childhood home resonated with the music of the 1950s and ’60s. Even then, he recalls on his website, he was “hearing those blues riffs and little things that make a song what it is.”

    Abrams tried out for "American Idol" in Austin. “I had a heart attack when they chose me,” he says. “I was like: this is the ticket. As soon as I got that foot in the door I knew I could make it. I was so happy.”

    Although he didn’t go all the way on “Idol,” Abrams vows he’s here to stay. “I want to make music that people love,” he said.

    Casey Abrams plays at The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Monday, July 29 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. Details at www.theark.org or 761-1800.


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    CityGolf_Hoffman.jpg

    Four-time Ann Arbor women's amateur golf champion Sarah Hoffman won't have the opportunity to win a fifth straight city title this summer.

    Jeffrey Smith | AnnArbor.com file

    Canceling the Ann Arbor city women’s golf amateur championship was not a fun decision, but it was responsible one, according to Doug Kelly, director of golf for the city of Ann Arbor.

    Kelly decided to cancel the annual tournament last Friday because only four women had registered. Last year the tournament drew 21 participants, and Kelly said the lowest he was willing to go was 18 - which would be sent off as six threesomes. When it became evident that number would not be reached, Kelly decided to pull the plug on the tournament, which was scheduled for July 27 and 28 at Leslie Park Golf Course.

    “Ultimately, I have a fiscal responsibility to the city,” Kelly said. “I have to keep several hours blocked off for the tournament and that’s $176 per tee-time and on Saturdays and Sundays we normally fill them.”

    Kelly said blocking off the tee-times with that low of a participation rate would have cost the city approximately $4,000.

    “With only four people signed up for the tournament a week out, we needed to release the tee-times to the public,” Kelly said.

    Kelly said last year’s tournament drew 21 golfers compared to 33, 24, 27 and 35 in the four years previous. He said 50-60 percent of golfers are normally registered a week ahead of time.

    One of the women registered for this year’s tournament was former Grand Valley State All-America Sarah Hoffman, who has won the past four tournaments and was hoping to make it five straight.

    “It kind of stinks, I was looking forward for a chance to defend my title,” said Hoffman. “It’s a really fun tournament and I was looking forward to it. It’s too bad.”

    Hoffman said if the tournament is rescheduled, she’ll try to make it. Kelly said there’s no plan to reschedule the tournament later in the summer, but that he wouldn’t be opposed if there’s enough interest.

    The tournament - which was first held in 1927 - is traditionally played near the end of June, but Leslie Park wasn't in tournament condition because of the Traver Creek Project. The streambank stabilization project was conducted on the portion of Traver Creek that goes through the golf course. The ceremonial opening of Leslie Park didn't take place until the weekend the tournament is normally held and Kelly said the course wasn't ready for tournament play at the time.

    Kelly said the date change lost the tournament regulars right out of the gate.

    “I had been talking to several of the normal ladies and they were apologetic because they had a bike trip planned,” Kelly said. “It was a scheduling conflict.”

    Some, including Saline High School boys golf coach Debbie Williams-Hoak, have said the tournament wasn’t marketed well enough.

    “The men’s we never seem to (have a problem),” said Kelly in response to the criticism. Last weekend’s men’s championship drew 111 golfers. “We posted on websites, there were movie-sized posters in the clubhouse here, Miles of Golf, Travis Pointe and other clubs around town and Miles of Golf sent an email blast.

    “I’m not sure what more we could do, but I’m open to ideas.”

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


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    072413_NEWS_BodyFound_MRM_02A.jpg

    Ann Arbor police detectives continue to investigate the death of Paul DeWolf, a 25-year-old medical student found Wednesday in his apartment on North Ingalls Street.

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

    The 25-year-old University of Michigan student found dead in his off-campus apartment Wednesday is Paul DeWolf, a Schoolcraft, Mich., native.

    pauldewolf.jpg

    Paul DeWolf

    Courtesy of MLive

    Ann Arbor police are investigating the case as a “suspicious death” and an autopsy is scheduled to be performed Thursday. The cause of death is expected to be released after the preliminary autopsy report is complete.

    Medical school officials and University of Michigan Health System Director Ora Pescovitz sent emails to the medical school community Wednesday confirming DeWolf’s death.

    “We have lost a member of our Health System family and a talented medical student,” Pescovitz wrote. “My thoughts and condolences go out to Paul DeWolf's family and friends.”

    Police have not confirmed DeWolf's name to AnnArbor.com. DeWolf's family has been notified of his death.

    Police said DeWolf worked at the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital in Ann Arbor. When he didn’t show up for work Wednesday morning, the hospital sent a colleague over to his home in the 200 block of North Ingalls Street. That colleague discovered DeWolf's body and called police.

    Investigators responded at noon Wednesday to a home in the 200 block of North Ingalls Street after the call. The building is home to Phi Rho Sigma, which is a co-ed medical school fraternity.

    Counselors are available for students and friends of DeWolf, according to an email from medical school Dean James Wooliscroft and Associate Dean Joe Kolars.

    “All of us join in mourning his loss, and extend special condolences to his family and those who knew him well,” the email stated.

    According to DeWolf’s Facebook profile, he was a 2010 graduate of Grand Valley State University, where he was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon.

    Not many official details have been released by police at this point. A report from WWMT in Kalamazoo said Ann Arbor police confirmed DeWolf was found in a pool of blood in the apartment.

    A message was left with DeWolf’s family in Schoolcraft by AnnArbor.com Wednesday. Residents at the home on North Ingalls declined to speak with a reporter Thursday afternoon.

    Jen Hemberg met DeWolf when she started at U-M Medical School in the fall of 2010 and often worked with him in discussion groups in class. She said students in her class were immediately impressed with DeWolf when they heard he graduated from Grand Valley.

    “Getting into U-M medical school from a smaller school is kind of a big deal,” she said. “He was one of the hardest workers and one of the smartest kids in the class.”

    DeWolf was a “perpetual athlete,” Hemberg said. The former track athlete ran often and was a member of an intramural volleyball team, where he convinced his teammates to wear gold lame' shorts in order to intimidate opposing teams.

    “That is like the epitome of Paul,” she said.

    Hemberg said DeWolf often played bartender at parties at Phi Rho, but didn’t drink often. He was working toward becoming a surgeon and had an intense fourth year of medical school ahead of him. He was set to graduate with Hemberg and the rest of their class of 170 students on May 16.

    The news of DeWolf’s death came to Hemberg and other medical students Wednesday afternoon. Hemberg and other students who knew DeWolf spent much of Wednesday afternoon in tears after being told about his death, she said.

    As his friends and family wait for answers, Hemberg said many will focus on the way DeWolf made them smile and laugh and lament he won’t get the chance to become the doctor he trained to be.

    “He was so excited to graduate and become a surgeon,” Hemberg said.

    Anyone with information on this case is encouraged to call the Ann Arbor police anonymous tip line at 734-794-6939 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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    The 2013 Wasthtenaw Interclub Swim Conference championships wrapped up Wednesday with a morning swim session at Skyline High School, followed by an afternoon diving session.

    Complete results will be posted when available.

    Melanie Maxwell is a photographer for AnnArbor.com


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    062310_BIZ_North_Quad_MRM_0 (1)A.JPG

    U-M police are investigating a sexual assault reported at North Quad.

    AnnArbor.com

    A 22-year-old Ann Arbor woman told police Wednesday she was sexually assaulted by a 34-year-old out-of-state man who was staying on the University of Michigan campus while attending a conference, officials said.

    The alleged incident occurred around 2:30 a.m. July 17 at the North Quadrangle Residential and Academic Complex, at 105 S. State St., according to U-M police spokeswoman Diane Brown.

    The man met the woman off campus and brought her back to his room at North Quad where the alleged sexual assault took police, Brown said.

    It is being investigated as third-degree criminal sexual conduct, which involves sexual penetration of some kind.

    Investigators believe the man has left town. It was not known why the woman didn't immediately report the incident, according to police. She is not a U-M student.

    The case is still open and under investigation.

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


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    The 53-year-old Ypsilanti Township man who was the previous user of a storage unit where child pornography was found Saturday was released from jail Thursday as the investigation continues.

    Ypsilanti police Detective Sgt. Thomas Eberts said the man was released without being arraigned for more followup investigation. No warrant has been approved for the man to this point.

    “We have some forensic analysis we have to do on recovered evidence,” Eberts said in a text message.

    The man was identified by police after a Southfield couple purchased the National Storage Center, 521 Tyler Road, unit in a “Storage Wars”-style auction on Saturday. The unit was being auctioned off because the Ypsilanti Township man was delinquent on his payments.

    After the couple purchased the unit, they found evidence of child pornography in the storage unit in a small room that was concealed from the rest of the unit.

    One of the people who bought the unit allegedly threw away much of the child pornography and notified National Storage Center employees of what he found. Employees called police, who eventually tracked the couple to Southfield and searched their home.

    Tyreek Wilkerson, 30, faces charges of possession of child sexually abusive material and lying to police during an investigation. He’s out of jail on bond and returns to court Aug. 1 for a preliminary exam.

    According to police, delivery/manufacture of child pornography charges will be sought against the 53-year-old Ypsilanti Township man.

    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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