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

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    As Michigan’s number of high school graduates is projected to decline to less than 90,000 in the next 15 years — down from 123,576 in 2008 — recruitment of out-of-state students becomes increasingly important to Michigan colleges that historically have been attended by in-state residents, The Detroit News reported.

    061813_NEWS_EMU_Regents_campus_MRM_58.JPG

    The declining number of Michigan high school graduates forces Michigan colleges to draw from out-of-state.

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

    Because Michigan is producing fewer high school graduates, in-state colleges such as Central Michigan University, Western Michigan University and Eastern Michigan University, which primarily are attended by Michigan residents, must find a way to combat the declining rates.

    According to The Detroit News, CMU’s preliminary enrollment figures report the college has nearly 20 percent fewer incoming freshmen than two years ago.

    The report also said EMU is working to expand its reach and attract students outside of its typical enrollment pool.

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


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    A man was going through the drive-thru at an Ypsilanti McDonald’s Monday when two men approached his car and started a verbal confrontation before one of them pulled out a gun, according to police.

    Ypsilanti police Detective Sgt. Thomas Eberts said police responded at 8:15 p.m. Monday to the McDonald’s at 16 Ecorse Road. Eberts said a man was going through the drive through when a vehicle carrying two men came into the parking lot.

    Eberts said the man in the drive-thru knew one of the men in the vehicle — the two have a previous history of animosity.

    A verbal confrontation between the two men began after the suspect got out of the vehicle. Only words were exchanged and the suspect went back into the vehicle.

    The man in the drive-thru reported seeing the suspect pull out a small handgun and point it at him. The man then called police.

    Eberts said police have yet to interview the suspect and are in the process of tracking him down. The investigation continues.


    View Larger Map

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


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    The 42-year-old man accused of robbing an Ann Arbor bank last Wednesday admitted to robbing three other banks in the Bay City and Saginaw areas recently, records show.

    jamesbrackenbury.jpg

    James Brackenbury

    Courtesy WCSO

    James William Brackenbury will be charged in federal court for the incidents, an affidavit filed Monday indicates.

    AABankRobbery.jpg

    Police released these security camera images of a man who robbed the Fifth Third Bank on Stadium Boulevard July 24.

    Courtesy of AAPD

    The affidavit, written by Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Special Agent Robert G. Schmitz, reveals more details about what transpired at the Fifth Third Bank, 2090 W. Stadium Blvd., around 4 p.m. July 24.

    Brackenbury is accused of approaching the teller counter and pointing a black semiautomatic weapon at two bank employees.

    “Give me all your large bills,” he said, according to the affidavit.

    The robber wasn’t content with the amount of money he was receiving, however.

    “That’s not enough, give me more,” he said, according to records.

    The tellers placed $9,600 on the counter, and the robber grabbed it and walked out, the affidavit states.

    Investigators subsequently interviewed witnesses and released a suspect and vehicle description to the media.

    Working on a tip they received, Ann Arbor police arrested Brackenbury at a Lansing-area Courtyard by Marriot Saturday. The affidavit states he was in possession of crack cocaine and a crack pipe.

    Once in police custody, Brackenbury admitted to robbing the Fifth Third Bank with what he described as a BB gun. He also told authorities he has robbed a total of four banks starting in June, the affidavit states.

    He claimed responsibility for a robbery at the First Merit Bank in Essexville on June 27, a Community State Bank in Birch Run on July 3 and the Sunrise Family Credit Union in Bay City on July 5, according to the affidavit.

    Records show Brackenbury was granted a federal public defender.

    U.S. Magistrate Mona Majzoub signed a detention order that will keep Brackenbury in custody pending trial.

    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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    A man robbed the Chase Bank in Pittsfield Township Tuesday morning after implying he had a weapon, police said.

    Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for pittsfieldbadgenew.jpg
    The robbery was reported at 9:04 a.m. Tuesday at the bank at 3145 Ann Arbor-Saline Road. Police said a man took an undisclosed amount of cash before leaving the scene.

    The robber implied he had a weapon, but none was seen, police said. No one was reported injured.

    The Chase Bank is located inside of the Meijer store on Ann Arbor-Saline Road.

    The man is described as Middle Eastern or Hispanic, between 160 and 170 pounds and 5-feet-8 inches tall. He was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and black pants. He had a thin build.

    It's the second bank robbery in the area in less than a week. A man was arrested Saturday in connection with a robbery of the Fifth Third Bank on West Stadium Boulevard July 24.

    Anyone with information on this incident is encouraged to call the Pittsfield Township anonymous tip line at 734-822-4958 or the main line at 734-822-4911.


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    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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    051712_smartmeter.jpg

    A DTE Energy smart meter on an Ann Arbor home. The utility company is one of several in Michigan and throughout the country installing electronic meters on consumer's homes that are intended to wirelessly transmit usage information to the company.

    File photo | AnnArbor.com

    Jackson-based Consumers Energy has entered in to a $40 million contract with a global firm to aid in the future statewide expansion of its smart meter program, according to an MLive report.

    Consumer's Energy has invested $750 million in to the smart meter program, which won't be installed until at least 2015.

    The signing of the new contract with Capgemini, a consulting and technology firm, will help the energy company implement the infrastructure needed as it installs 1.8 million and 600,000 gas smart meters, according to the report.

    Smart meters track energy usage in real-time and wirelessly transmit meter information to the utility company.

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


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    A laptop, jewelry and headphones were reported stolen from an Ypsilanti home Monday after someone broke the lock on a window, according to police.

    Ypsilanti police Detective Sgt. Thomas Eberts said police responded at 8:30 p.m. Monday to the 200 block of Perrin Street for a report of a home invasion. Eberts said the man returned home and discovered the home was broken into.

    The lock on a window was broken by an unknown person, allowing entry to the home, Eberts said.

    The report was not finished Tuesday afternoon and police are still investigating the case.

    Anyone with information on the incident is encouraged to call the Ypsilanti police at 734-483-9510 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK UP (773-2587).


    View Larger Map

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


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    Divers are searching for the missing 46-year-old Green Oak Township man reported missing on Whitmore Lake on Sunday, according to a report in the Livingston Daily Press & Argus.

    This is the third day of the search for the man who went fishing Sunday and never returned. The missing man’s boat was found in the water on Monday, but the man has still not been found.

    The area where the boat was found is about 70 to 80 feet deep, according to the report.

    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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    Blimpy_burger.jpg

    Blimpy Burger is closing on Division Street in August and it's unclear what's next for the iconic restaurant.

    Joseph Tobianski | AnnArbor.com

    Fans of Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger have several weeks left to order a triple burger and fries.

    But after the iconic Ann Arbor restaurant closes in mid- to late-August, it’s unclear when people will be able to satisfy their Blimpy Burger craving again.

    “There’s no doubt that we will be closed a month or two at least, maybe three,” said owner Rich Magner. “I would have liked to transition much quicker than that, but it is what it is.”

    blimpy_burger_food.jpg

    Customers can order double, triple, quad or quint burgers at Blimpy Burger.

    MLive

    Magner has to vacate the Blimpy Burger building at 551 S. Division St. by Aug. 31. By purchasing adjoining parcels that includes the Blimpy Burger property, the University of Michigan plans to build a 600-bed graduate residence.

    That means Blimpy Burger will have to close sometime in mid- to late-August so Magner and his employees can pack up equipment and vacate the building. Magner has not set a date for Blimpy’s last day of business.

    “Sometime mid-month we’re going to have to make a move in terms of shutting down,” he said. “I have to figure out how much time we’re going to need.”

    What’s next for the 60-year-old restaurant is unclear; Magner mentioned starting a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the cost of renovations at a new space, and he’s in the early stages of negotiations for two spaces in the downtown area.

    But, he added: “I will still entertain other things right until I sign something.”

    Although Magner was hoping to avoid a time lapse between Blimpy’s closure and relocation, he said he’s looking forward to a short break. For Blimpy’s staff, it might mean finding temporary employment, he said.

    Magner told AnnArbor.com in May the vibe at a new Blimpy Burger location would stay the same, but he’s toying with new business ideas — such as catering and adding salads or soups to the menu. Ideally, Magner said he would like to have more seats and dining space.

    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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    Vannareth_Katmanivong .jpg

    Vannareth Katmanivong

    Courtesy of Washtenaw County Jail

    A 38-year-old Ypsilanti Township man accused of throwing his 6-month-old son on the ground hard enough to cause serious brain damage was charged with a felony Tuesday.

    Vannareth Katmanivong was arraigned on one count of first-degree child abuse in the 14A-1 District Court where Magistrate Thomas Truesdell set his bond at $100,000 cash.

    His 6-month-old son remains in critical condition at the University of Michigan Hospital where police are not confident the boy will make it.

    While arguing for a $500,000 cash bond, Washtenaw County Sheriff's Detective Craig Raisanen said the boy suffered major head injuries.

    "The right side of the brain is dead," Raisanen said. "It's unknown if he will live."

    Police said Katmanivong was caring for his children — the 6-month-old and a 2-year-old son — in the 8700 block of Trillium Drive of Ypsilanti Township Saturday night when the alleged incident occurred.

    Police were not aware of the incident until Katmanivong brought the 6-month-old to the hospital with head injuries. In a subsequent interview, Katmanivong told investigators he was upset with the infant and admitted to slamming him on the ground hard enough to cause such injuries, Raisanen said.

    Katmanivong's criminal background was also revealed at the arraignment. Raisanen said the 38-year-old served four years on a felony charge of assault with intent to commit great bodily harm for pointing a gun at someone and pulling the trigger. The gun was unloaded at the time, but Katmanivong didn't know it, Raisanen added.

    In arguing for the lowest possible bond, Katmanivong's attorney Michael Gatti said his client was not a flight risk and that he had a stable job at the Ford Rawsonville Plant.

    Truesdell also said the 38-year-old cannot have any contact with his children as part of his bond.

    Katmanivong remains at the Washtenaw County Jail.

    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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    Both westbound lanes of Interstate 94 through Ann Arbor will be closed to traffic this weekend as a part of an ongoing nine-mile-long construction project by the Michigan Department of Transportation.

    Eastbound lanes of I-94 in Ann Arbor have been closed for two previous weekends as a part of the project.

    Westbound I-94 drivers will be routed to northbound U.S. 23, as westbound I-94 will be closed from that intersection west to the junction at M-14.

    The closure begins 10 p.m. Friday and ends 5 a.m. Monday. Posted detour routes will be along U.S. 23 and M-14.

    Several lane and ramp closures at the U.S. 23 interchange at I-94 will also be imposed by MDOT to prevent merging accidents due to increased traffic on the detour routes.

    • Ramp from westbound I-94 to southbound U.S. 23: Closed
    • Ramp from eastbound I-94 to northbound U.S. 23: Closed
    • Ramp from northbound U.S. 23 to westbound I-94: Closed
    • Northbound U.S. 23 at I-94: One lane closed

    Workers contracted by MDOT are in the midst of removing and re-pouring concrete sections of I-94.

    Sweeny said the construction project is moving ahead on schedule and traffic backups on detour routes have been mitigated by adding additional signs.

    Weather permitting, the final closure of a direction on I-94 will be the weekend of Aug. 10-11, said Mark Sweeney, manager of the MDOT post in Brighton.

    The approximately $4 million project also includes new overlay payment on a three-mile portion of I-94 through the heart of Ann Arbor between Scio Church Road and the railroad overpass, Sweeney said.

    MDOT is pursuing funding options to complete the overlay project on the remaining portions of I-94 in Ann Arbor, Sweeney said.


    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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    Thumbnail image for 072413_NEWS_BodyFound_MRM_03A.JPG

    Ann Arbor police detectives, shown here outside Phi Rho Sigma the day Paul DeWolf was found dead, will be assisted by investigators from the Air Force and UMPD as they investigate the case.

    Update: Air Force and U-M Police to assist AAPD in investigation of medical student's death

    Investigators from the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the University of Michigan Police Department will assist Ann Arbor police in the Paul DeWolf case.

    Ann Arbor police Detective Lt. Robert Pfannes said in a statement DeWolf’s death is still being investigated as a homicide. The investigators from the Air Force and U-M Police are assisting, and Ann Arbor detectives are still leading the case.

    DeWolf was found dead on July 24 in his basement room at the Phi Rho Sigma medical fraternity in the 200 block of North Ingalls Street. He was killed by a single gunshot wound and police are investigating the incident as a homicide.

    U-M Police spokeswoman Diane Brown said investigators from that department will do whatever they are asked by their Ann Arbor counterparts.

    “They have asked for our help and we have willingly provided that,” she said. “This investigation has a high priority for the University of Michigan police as well, as a member of our community was lost. We want to do everything we can to assist in solving this case.”

    She emphasized that this is an Ann Arbor case and U-M police are responding to any tasks Ann Arbor detectives ask them to complete.

    DeWolf was a second lieutenant Air Force and a reservist. The Air Force was paying his way through medical school and the Schoolcraft, Mich., native was going to enter the service following graduation.

    He was a 2010 graduate of Grand Valley State University.

    He lived alone in a basement room in the Phi Rho Sigma house, where he had lived for almost three years, and other residents were home at the time of his death. The room did not appear out of order and nothing of value appeared to be stolen.

    A colleague was sent to the home after DeWolf didn’t show up for an assignment at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System on the morning of July 24. That colleague found him dead, and then called 911.

    No firearm was found at the scene, according to police. An autopsy was performed Thursday,

    DeWolf’s funeral took place Monday in Portage, where family and friends remembered the prospective surgeon.

    Police have not released any information regarding suspects at this time.

    Anyone with information on DeWolf’s death is asked 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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    A 120-year-old book printing company with headquarters on South State Street plans to consolidate its two Ann Arbor area operations.

    Edwards Brothers Malloy announced Tuesday afternoon it plans to close its 185,000-square-foot manufacturing plant at 2500 S. State St., and consolidate operations with the company’s 180,000-square-foot facility at 5411 Jackson Road. Some equipment will also be moved to the company’s major printing facility in North Carolina.

    The consolidation is expected to take six to 12 months.

    edwardsbrothers.jpg

    Edwards Brothers Malloy plans to cease manufacturing operations at 2500 S. State St. and sell the property.

    Lizzy Alfs | AnnArbor.com

    Edwards Brothers Malloy's 16.7-acre South State Street property, which is located between Eisenhower Parkway and Stadium Boulevard, will be marketed for sale.

    “It’s a very difficult decision to make,” John Edwards, CEO of Edwards Brothers Malloy, said in a statement. “My grandfather built the State Street plant and many of our employees have family members working here — I’ve known and worked with many of them my whole life."

    johnedwards.jpg

    Edwards Brothers Malloy CEO John Edwards, shown here in a 2007 photo.

    AnnArbor.com file photo

    "But like most book printers, we’ve seen a decline in longer run offset business. At the same time, our digital operation is growing at a 20 percent clip, so that is where we need to be investing for the future. Having two large offset facilities this close together that are not fully utilized just doesn’t make sense and we need to redirect resources to the side of the business that is growing," Edwards continued.

    Edwards Brothers merged with Scio Township-based Malloy Inc. in 2012, resulting in Edwards Brothers Malloy.

    Joe Upton, Edwards Brothers Malloy's vice president of sales and marketing, told AnnArbor.com on Tuesday that a “good share” of the employees working at the State Street facility will be moved to the Jackson Road facility. He estimated there are about 230 employees working on Jackson Road, and 350 employees working on State Street.

    Meanwhile, some positions are being cut now, and additional positions may be identified for closure over the next year, a news release says. Upton said employees were notified this week of the consolidation.

    “A number of employees are going to move from the State Street location over to Jackson Road,” Upton said. “We don’t know right now the final number.”

    “As this unfolds and we understand as it goes through the consolidation what our staffing levels will be and what we’ll need, we’ll have better pictures.”

    He called the consolidation an "emotional moment" for the company, but said the move will allow Edwards Brothers Malloy to remain competitive and invest in its digital printing business.

    "Particularly for the people that work on State street and for the Edwards family, this is an emotional moment to decide to close State Street,” he said. “For a lot of people who have worked there, that’s the only place they’ve worked.”

    He continued: “From a strategic planning perspective, this is a very good thing for the company because it will help us be a stronger, more viable competitor in our industry. It helps us concentrate on the side of the business that is growing — the digital printing.”

    Edwards Brothers Malloy owns its 16-acre property on South State Street, which has vacant land west of the 185,000-square-foot building. Local developers and real estate experts — and Ann Arbor's South State Street Corridor Plansuggest the land could support a multi-family development if it were rezoned. The building is also surrounded by property owned by the University of Michigan.

    City of Ann Arbor records show the State Street property has an assessed value of $3,069,200 for the 2013 taxable year. The company paid $182,266 in property taxes for the State Street site in 2012.

    Upton said it made sense to sell the State Street property because it's the company's most valuable real estate asset. Over the years, the company has also been approached by a few developers interested in the property, he said.

    "We've been approached by a couple of developers with a variety of options that they're considering, but as of now, we have not entertained any serious offers. We've just had some casual interest," he said.

    "People have talked about office space, they've talked about multifamily residential, and they've talked about even retail on the site. We know there are people interested, but as of right now, there are no serious plans or offers on the table," he continued.

    Upton said the University of Michigan expressed interest in the property several years ago, but the university has not made an offer on the property.

    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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    The Shop medical marijuana dispensary in Ypsilanti was raided by agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Tuesday morning between 10:30 and 11 a.m., the Ypsilanti Courier reports.

    Officials could not comment about the search warrant that was executed at the dispensary, located at 513 W. Cross St., due to the ongoing investigation, according to the article.

    Eyewitnesses told the newspaper that police seized two vehicles, boxes, bags of marijuana and what appeared to be a small electronic device.

    Read the Ypsilanti Courier story.


    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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    Emotions will be running high when the Eastern Michigan football team visits Rutgers on September 14. The Scarlet Knights will retire former player Eric LeGrand's No. 52 at halftime of the game head coach Kyle Flood announced at Atlantic Coast Conference football media day on Tuesday.

    eric-legrand.jpg

    Rutgers will retire the jersey number of Eric LeGrand, center, against Eastern Michigan on September 14.

    Associated Press

    "Eric said `coach, I was wondering when you were going to do that," Flood told NJ.com on Tuesday.

    LeGrand broke two vertebrae in October 2010 while making a tackle on a kickoff return against Army. He's had to use a wheelchair since leaving the hospital, but has made enough progress in his rehabilitation to stand upright with the help of a metal frame.

    LeGrand has remained involved with the program since his injury and is going into his third season as an analyst for the team's radio broadcasts. He led the team onto the field October 29, 2011 and received the ESPN Jimmy V Award for perseverance in 2012.


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    073013_WOZNIAK.jpg

    Dominika and Dave Wozniak pose for a photo with their newborn daughter, Naomi, July 20 after unexpectedly giving birth in a parking lot next to Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.

    Courtesy of Dominika Wozniak

    Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor bore witness this month to the birth of the newest University of Michigan football fan.

    Naomi Wozniak was born about 12:45 p.m. July 20 in a parking lot off South Main Street in front of the Big House.

    Though her parents, Dominika and Dave Wozniak of Ann Arbor are Ducks fans — they met while attending the University of Oregon — Naomi may just have to be a Wolverine, Dave said.

    As it was the couple’s first baby, they were expecting the birth to be laborious.

    It quickly became apparent to Dominika that Naomi was not going to wait until they got to the hospital.

    “Everything happened kind of fast,” Dominika said. “She was really rushing and wanted to get out.”

    062513_Michigan-Stadium.JPG

    Michigan Stadium on Tuesday, June 25 in Ann Arbor.

    Daniel Brenner I AnnArbor.com file photo

    Dominika is a professional tennis player and coaches at the University of Michigan Varsity Tennis Center. Dave is a professor at Eastern Michigan University’s College of Business. The couple moved to Ann Arbor in 2010 from Oregon and were married in 2011.

    The family had gone out to breakfast that morning at Angelo’s on the edge of the University of Michigan Health System campus — which they probably hoped they had delayed about three hours.

    Back at their home on the southwest side of Ann Arbor near the University of Michigan Golf Course, Dominika’s water broke about 12:10 p.m. and she knew it was time.

    Stuck at a red light at the intersection of Stadium and Main, the couple realized street closures and tourist traffic stood between them and the C.S. Mott Hospital Children’s Hospital.

    But their baby had other plans. She wasn’t going to wait — and Dominika and Dave couldn’t believe it was happening so quickly.

    Barely five minutes from their house, Dave pulled the car into the Champions North parking lot off of Main Street in front of the Big House.

    Going into labor in the back seat, Dominika’s contractions were rapidly accelerating.

    By the time Dave was able to reach emergency dispatchers on his phone and got to his wife in the back seat, he could begin to see his daughter’s head.

    Dave said he could see the baby wasn’t breathing yet — and the couple had a moment of panic.

    As first-time parents, Dominika and Dave only knew what they had read in baby books. They later learned after talking with doctors at the hospital that the baby begins breathing after birth is complete.

    Dave told Dominika she had to finish pushing — and after a quick, intense moment, baby Naomi was in Dave’s hands.

    “She started crying right away,” Dominika said. “I wrapped her in a towel and I wiped her mouth and her nose … We looked at each other and I said, ‘I think she’s OK!’”

    For Dominika, the stress of giving birth in a parking lot was eclipsed by her natural instincts.

    “We just went with the flow,” Dominika said. “It was stressful for (Dave) … but you are in such a special moment that you’re not really thinking a lot.”

    Though Dave said he’s gotten compliments for how he handled the situation, he says all the credit goes to his wife.

    “We both looked at each other (and let out) a huge sigh of relief,” Dave said. “I had no clue what I was doing. People say I did a good job, and I just caught it. Just the speed of everything was crazy.”

    Shortly after Naomi was born, a police officer and an ambulance arrived in the parking lot to transport the mother and child to the hospital.

    Baby Naomi, weighing in at about 7.5 pounds and 21 inches long, was three to four days late, Dominika said.

    “I was joking with people — I said, ‘She’s going to pick the time and the day.’ I kept telling people it’s OK as long as she’s fast,” Dominika said. “Be careful what you wish for.”

    Dave and Dominika said they’d like to have more children — but as to when, they’re not sure.

    “Next time I think we’ll just get a hotel room across from the hospital,” Dave said.


    View Baby born by the big house 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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    Admit it: You’ve always wanted to don a nun’s habit and sing “how do you solve a problem like Maria?”

    You’ll get your chance Sunday and Tuesday when the Michigan Theater presents the next installment in its Summer Classics series, “The Sound of Music.” At this screening, which seems to be becoming a tradition, audience members dress up like characters from the 1965 movie and sing along to their heart’s content.

    One of the most popular musicals of all time, “The Sound of Music” is about a young, troubled nun who leaves an Austrian convent to become governess to the seven children of a widowed naval officer. With World War II looming, things are getting tense, and soon hard choices must be made - but not until songs like "Climb E'vry Mountain," "Edelweiss," "Do-Re-Mi,” "Sixteen Going On Seventeen" and "My Favorite Things" are sung.

    What’s your favorite SOM tune? Mine is the often-overlooked “The Lonely Goatherd." The show starts with an on-stage costume parade (don your dirndls and lederhosen), and songs lyrics are projected on screen.

    Go ahead - belt ‘em out. At least this time no one is going to tell you to shush!

    Summer Classics film series presents Sing-A-Long The Sound of Music at Michigan Theater, 603 E Liberty St., Sunday, Aug. 4 at 1:30 p.m. and Tuesday, Aug. 6 at 7 p.m. Admission is $15 (with discounts for students, seniors & theater members). Details at www.michtheater.org or 734-668-8397. Advance tickets at ticketweb.com. Rated G, running time 174 minutes.


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    It's a little-known fact that America's former sweet tooth in chief and number one jelly bean super fan, Ronald Reagan, was also a champion of ice cream. In 1984 he declared July "national ice cream month" and the third Sunday in July "national ice cream day," saying these observances should include "appropriate ceremonies and activities."

    Taking Reagan's immortal words to heart, I decided to host a summer ice cream taste-off with pints from three new small-batch ice cream artisans, including Go! Ice Cream from Ypsilanti and Hello! Ice Cream and Sweet Dirt, both in Ann Arbor.

    One unforeseen bit of wisdom gleaned from this experience is that if you want to make an impression on your friends as a host of epic greatness, invite them for an ice cream tasting in July. Our esteemed (and excited) panel of tasters included: a chef, two farmers, a visitor from Europe, and an Ypsilanti native. The night we got together on my patio for the tasting it was 85 degrees outside and humid — a perfect night to attack the 15 pints of ice cream I had ordered in advance.

    Cliff's Notes version on favorites: Out of 15 pints that we tried, two were completely demolished:
    • Hello!'s Chocolate Espresso Stout
    • Sweet Dirt's Brown Butter

    Top Favorites overall included:

    Hello! Ice Cream:
    Chocolate Espresso Stout: "Love! everything: flavor, smell, mouthfeel. Going back for seconds!" "Very complex, great smooth mouthfeel." "Nice body, trio of coffee, beer and chocolate balanced."
    Salted Caramel: "Perfect in flavor and smoothness." "Nice texture and flavor balance."

    Go! Ice Cream:
    Bruleed Banana: "Creamy and complex." "The brulee works nicely with banana." "Nice caramelized sensation."
    Chocolate Sorbet: "Chocolate is intense, hints of bitterness, and powdery mouthfeel." "Fantastic chocolate intensity. A little grainy. Mix with fruit."

    Sweet Dirt:
    Buttermilk with Cherry Preserves: "Awesome buttermilk comes through and compliments the cherry." "Tastes like cherry cheesecake. Very intense." "It stands alone as a dessert."
    Buttermilk with Strawberry Preserves: "Great contrast between ice cream and strawberry preserves. Unique and delicious."
    Brown Butter: "Wonderful salty sweet - almost caramel. Very smooth." "Great caramel flavor and texture."

    My surprise favorites included:
    Go!'s Peanut Butter Cookie Dough: A peanut butter party in a pint. I loved the fantastic peanut aroma, the creamy texture and the chunky boulders of peanut cookie dough — perhaps because it reminded me of my favorite cereal from childhood: Peanut Butter Crunch.
    Hello!'s Vanilla: Fragrant with vanilla, wonderful creamy texture, and loved the tiny crunch of vanilla bean seeds.
    Go!'s Key Lime: Excellent tart and floral key lime flavor, real bits of key lime zest, a little icy but super refreshing and not too sweet.

    The group's least favorites included:
    • Hello!'s Banana: An odd gray-ish color with a hint of bitterness that tasted like they used green bananas.
    • Go!'s Mom's Strawberry: Comments included, "I expected more from the balsamic and rhubarb." "I don't taste strawberry enough." "A bit icy."
    • Sweet Dirt's Lavender Honey: Perhaps had steeped the lavender too long, because this one inspired comments like: "Too floral, but the honey flavor is good." "It's interesting, but maybe the lavender is too strong." "Um, er, this is too much."

    The Ice Cream Artisans
    All three have started up their businesses as of this summer, and products are currently only available at farmers markets, special events, and by ordering in advance. They each have websites, some with Facebook and Twitter presence also.

    Sweet Dirt owner Melissa Richards is the superstar pastry chef at Grange Kitchen and Bar who focuses on seasonal fruits and what she calls "unlikely" flavors (like herbs, popcorn, bacon). Her ingredients are sourced from great local farms like Frog Holler, Tantre, Wolfe Orchard, etc. She uses Michigan-based Guernsey and Calder dairy products, and compostable paper cups for her packaging. Her cute wooden spoons have "Sweet Dirt" etched into them.
    Style of ice cream: French-style custard based.
    Price: Individual cups: $4. Pints: $12.
    Find her: At the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market Wednesday and Saturdays from 8 a.m.-2p.m. (and at Grange Kitchen and Bar Monday - Saturday)

    Hello! Ice Cream wins the prize for most adorable lime-sherbet-green vintage ice cream truck (named Ingrid) and matching ice cream cart. They make a wide range of gelato-based treats (which owner Margaret Schankler calls "Italian ice cream") and will cater your event with their truck or cart. Their pints are packed in re-usable glass Mason jars, and they'll give you back a $.25 deposit if you return them.
    Style of ice cream: Italian gelato, "with less air and fat than typical American ice cream and is served in a softer state."
    Price: Individual 4 oz. cups: $3.75. Pints: $12
    Find them: Ann Arbor Farmers Market and Eastern Market on Saturdays (when they're not busy catering an event).

    Go! Ice Cream's innovative Ypsilanti-based vendor delivers by bike to your door within a four-mile radius. The 12-ounce plastic containers have the cheery Go! Ice Cream sticker and was the only one with a label listing all ingredients. Props to Go! Ice Cream for that. Go! has a great website that lets them take ice cream orders online (order before noon on Thursdays for delivery between 6-9 p.m. on Thursdays, or pick up at the Ypsi Depot Town Farmers Market from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays).
    Style of ice cream: Owner Rob Hess says "It’s a custard, I don’t use eggs in it, but I cook it and thicken it like a custard. Even the sorbets get cooked first. It takes longer, it’s more expensive to make, but it is worth it."
    Price: 12-ounce size: $9.
    Find them: Ypsilanti Depot Town Farmers Market on Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

    Comparisons:

    Although our tasting wasn't very official, I did read up a little on how the pros evaluate ice creams. Of course they consider the visual appeal, aroma, and overall flavor. But one thing that surprised me about official tastings was how you are supposed to turn the spoon over to deposit the ice cream directly on your tongue. We tried this technique but it was so awkward that we quickly gave up, like the amateurs that we are.

    Things I did pay attention to, though, were "tempering" the ice cream by letting it soften out of the freezer for several minutes, and the importance of the ice cream's texture: the mouthfeel, the creaminess v. iciness, the "chew," and whether it was crumbly and brittle, soggy and heavy, or just right.

    Among the three brands, it was often the texture that most differentiated their products. I tried to order a plain vanilla flavor from each to compare apples to apples so to speak, but the only flavor I was able to get from all three was strawberry.

    "Mom's Strawberry" from Go!' included rhubarb and balsamic vinegar which should have really punched up the flavor. But Mom's Strawberry was surprisingly bland and icy compared to the others.

    Sweet Dirt's version was buttermilk ice cream with strawberry preserves, and it was the opposite of Go!'s. It had over-the-top rich creaminess with mouth-punching sweetness and concentrated strawberry flavor from the preserves. I loved it, but it was (inexplicably) a little too much for some of our tasters, one of whom noted that "Sweet Dirt really pushes the envelope on the creaminess."

    Like Goldilocks, several on our panel found Hello!'s strawberry ice cream just right. Their birthday-party-pink version had good strawberry flavor and medium-rich ice cream body. It was delicious and just what you would expect if you ordered strawberry ice cream.

    My advice is that if you happen upon any of these vendors' carts, you should immediately go and buy some of their delicious hand-made ice creams. The relative expense of these small-batch artisan treats (still less than a single cocktail) will probably keep you from eating too much, and they are satisfying on many levels of the "quality v. quantity" continuum. You can feel good about indulging since they don't contain industrial food-like substances or create the externalized costs of industrial scale. Instead, all of them are using dairy from Michigan's Guernsey and Calder Dairy Farms and fruits from local growers.

    All are making delicious and inventive flavors, and each of these new local businesses has something special to recommend it. Plus, if you really want your friends to love you, you can host an ice cream tasting to see for yourself.

    ---------------------------------------------
    Interviews with the artisans

    Melissa Richards / Sweet Dirt

    - How did you decide to start an ice cream business?
    I got great feedback from my regulars at Grange Kitchen & Bar regarding my modern plated desserts, frozen novelties, and especially the ice creams and sorbets. I decided to sell the ice creams, sorbets, and eventually granitas from a food cart alongside the very farmers I source my food from.

    - What did friends and family have to say about the decision?
    All positive.

    - What's your mission/goal for your business?
    To raise awareness of local ingredients and to excite people about them in the form of frozen treats.

    - What do you want your customers to experience with your ice cream?
    A new and tasty flavor and the satisfaction of knowing the local origin of the ingredients. I find it exciting that customers will get sorrel ice cream, but they have never eaten sorrel on its own yet or even know what it looks like. I am educating some customers about local ingredients. The nice thing is I can send them over to the Tantre Farm or Frog Holler Organic Farm stand and tell them to look at the raw sorrel first.

    - How do you describe the style and/or technique of making your ice cream?
    Custard-base / French-style.

    - Do you plan to open an ice cream store? How about distribute to local stores?
    Not as of yet. Just started June 8 and I am keeping my full time pastry chef position. I would like to open a small restaurant in the future. I went to culinary school and more recently switched to pastry.

    - What (brands) dairy products do you use?
    I currently use Guernsey and Calder. Open to others as they become available.

    - What percentage fat do you intend for your ice cream?
    Depends what flavor I am making and whether I use alcohol, etc.

    - What local and seasonal ingredients do you use?
    I use all local and seasonal ingredients with the exception of cane sugar, salt, and the occasional use of lemon juice. I work backwards/shop for my ingredients first, choose my flavors or flavor combinations later.

    - What should potential customers know about what makes your products special?
    1) I use ingredients from local farms straight up. I think saying food is "locally-sourced" is becoming trendy. Many food businesses will buy from a local store and say it is local food. Or, they will say that they use local ingredients "when it is available". As as example, they will make raspberry ice cream year round and only use local raspberries when it is raspberry season. With me, I will only make raspberry ice cream if I can source enough raspberries from local farms. I may freeze and preserve some in the form of jam or pickles for a later time, but they will be local. Or, I have used fruit from Locavorious if I really want to do a special dessert in the dead of winter.

    2) I use unlikely ingredients. For example, in the past couple weeks, I made sage, toasted coriander, rose geranium, and lime basil (a type of basil) ice creams, as well as parsley and lovage granita.

    ----------------------------------------------
    Margaret Schankler / Hello! Ice Cream

    - How did you decide to start an ice cream business?
    I had just wrapped up a children's retail business that I ran for 13 years. For my next venture, I wanted to do something fun that would make people happy. The idea of a vintage ice cream truck came to mind. I started looking for one and didn't look back!

    - What did friends and family have to say about the decision?
    I have a very supportive husband and daughter, and they want me to do what makes me happy. So they just said, "Cool, go for it!"

    - What's your mission/goal for your business?
    To have fun, make people smile, and enjoy my work. Hopefully it will grow into something that can employ many others and contribute to the local economy.

    - What do you want your customers to experience with your ice cream?
    I want them to be wowed by the deep flavor and silky smooth texture. The best feeling is when somebody says, "Oh my god, this is the best thing I have ever eaten." So that is my goal. I try to make each batch better than the last. I believe you can never stop perfecting something.

    - How do you describe the style and/or technique of making your ice cream?
    I make what I call Italian-style ice cream. It is technically gelato, which means it has less air and fat than typical American ice cream and is served in a softer state.

    - Do you plan to open an ice cream store? How about distribute to local stores?
    I don't plan to have a store unless I am approached by a partner who would want to take that on. I would love to be able to sell wholesale to local stores, but the licensing is complicated and expensive. For now, I am licensed to do catering and sell direct to the public only.

    - What (brands) dairy products do you use?
    I use Michigan milk and cream from Guernsey, Country Dairy or Calder.

    - What percentage fat do you intend for your ice cream?
    Most of my recipes come in at about 8 percent fat. Fruit gelato can be as low as 5 percent. Sorbets have no fat at all. No recipe of mine has more than 12 percent fat. Premium American ice creams typically have 18-22 percent fat or more.

    - What local and seasonal ingredients do you use?
    Local dairy products (above) and fresh fruit such as strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, blueberries, and of course Michigan cherries.

    - What should potential customers know about what makes your products special?
    They are made fresh, just for them with quality ingredients. I work hard to make every batch the very best it can be.

    - Where/when is your ice cream available?
    I try to be at the Kerrytown and Eastern market on Saturdays, but I have had so many catering requests that it has been difficult to get to the markets consistently. People can sign up for our email list, Facebook page or Twitter feed to keep informed on where we will be. Most of our work at the moment is catering weddings, parties, and corporate events.

    ---------------------------------------------
    Robb Hess / Go! Ice Cream

    - How did you decide to start an ice cream business?
    Ice cream sort of decided for me. I was making ice cream as a hobby, a stress-reliever from my other activities, and soon I fell in love with the chemistry of ice cream and all of the factors that affect all the different components of a truly great ice cream experience. I was making so much ice cream that I had to start giving it away, so I took it into the office for my co-workers. Word spread and folks started contacting me about making some for their friends, or asking if I did birthday parties, etc. Really, I started the business just so I could do fulfill those requests legally and let the hobby grow in the ways it seemed to want to.

    - What did friends and family have to say about the decision?
    Do you deliver and how soon can I get it? Seriously. They have all been wonderfully supportive and encouraging and helpful. I have never before experienced such a tremendous outpouring of support. From my parents coming to the kitchen to wash dishes, to friends connecting me with folks in the food business, this whole process of starting a business has made me realize what I truly lucky person I am to have such great people in my life. When my wife and I decided to buy an industrial ice cream churn that cost just south of 10k, I kind of half-suspected our family friends to surprise us with an intervention or something. But no, it seemed to make total sense to them, maybe even more than it did to me!

    - What's your mission/goal for your business?
    I want to build something. I want to make a place that puts good, inspiring things out there in the world. That might seem a little weird for a 38-year-old dude riding around on a tricycle selling ice cream, but I look at these institutions around Ypsilanti, like Corner Brewery, Beezy’s, Sidetrack, and I think about the sense of community they help to foster. Some of the best times of my life have been spent at those places and it has caused me to reflect on how an establishment like that really helps create character for a city, really helps the citizens interact and create community and share things. I also think about places like Zingerman’s and the effect that place has had on not only the Ann Arbor area and the way that we think about the food we put in our bodies, but also the effect it has had on a national level, being at the front of the change in the way we see food that has happened over the last 15 or 20 years. I think about myself when I was a kid, and how cool it would have been for me to discover that vanilla is a seedpod that has been harvested and dried and that you can put it in food and it tastes amazing, or how cool I would have thought it was to know that you can make caramel just by burning sugar. Those are a lot of big, disparate thoughts, but I think food is a far more powerful experience than we give it credit for, and I would like to be part of helping people have positive, inspiring, revelatory experiences with it.

    - What do you want your customers to experience with your ice cream?
    I’ve had customers come close to tears after tasting my ice creams. Not kidding. I’ve had them hug me and tell me stories about their childhood. I’ve been high fived, threatened with bodily harm (in a good way) I have had all manners of reactions, and I have yet to have someone spit it out, or spit it back at me, thankfully. I would like every customer to have that big emotional reaction to their first bite. I would like them to enjoy it so much that they don’t feel bad about having dessert. I would like them to realize it is a good thing to allow yourself to enjoy the sweet things in life. I would like them to know that someone spent a lot of time and thought a lot about what went in to their pint.

    - How do you describe the style and/or technique of making your ice cream?
    It’s a custard, I don’t use eggs in it, but I cook it and thicken it like a custard. Even the sorbets get cooked first. It takes longer, it’s more expensive to make, but it is worth it.

    - Do you plan to open an ice cream store? How about distribute to local stores?
    I would like to do both of these, for sure. I am in talks with some local stores about selling my products there, but it really is a matter of scale for me right now. I want to keep the operation small for a while. There is lots of excitement and interest in helping me grow the operation, but we live in a state where it is cold many months of the year, and I want to see what the public interest is like in, say, January, and how I will react to that before I start adding a lot of overhead.

    - What (brands) dairy products do you use?
    Calder and Guernsey.

    - What percentage fat do you intend for your ice cream?
    Right around 14 percent.

    - What local and seasonal ingredients do you use?
    Whatever is available! That’s part of the beauty of the local food community. Just last weekend, before the crowds really started to pour into our stand at the Ypsilanti Farmer’s Market, I went around to the other vendors and bought all kinds of stuff. Bacon for an upcoming batch of brown sugar bacon ice cream, blueberries from the Zilke Farm, the most gorgeous tart cherries for a cherry sorbet, I even bought a sweet and spicy pretzel mix from Spicy Mike’s that I am going to use to top some chocolate sorbet sundaes this weekend! I am also talking to the fine folks at Triple Tree Farms about growing special varieties of mint for my fresh mint cacao nib ice cream.

    - What should potential customers know about what makes your products special?
    I offer bold takes on classic ice cream and adventurous new flavors, my products are hyper-local and very clean — no stabilizers, emulsifiers, etc. — and who else is going to make your ice creams for you on Sunday and then deliver it to your door, by bike, on Thursday night?

    Kim Bayer is a freelance writer and culinary researcher. Email her at kimbayer at gmail dot com.


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    Ypsilanti’s downtown has plenty of parking, but the parking system is inefficient, the Downtown Development Authority has concluded.

    The DDA conducted a year-long study of the city’s downtown, Depot Town and West Cross district's parking lots.

    It will present its suggestions on how to improve the system at a public meeting at the Ypsilanti Freighthouse at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. The recommendations will then be presented to the Ypsilanti City Council, which will vote on approving them.

    “We’ve noticed where in the parking system there is an issue, where there's not an issue … and it’s not always being used in its best capacity,” said DDA Director Tim Colbeck.

    Among those suggestions is testing the Hertz On-Demand program in the Washington Street lot adjacent to the Ypsilanti Transit Center, which would allow registered users to rent a car hourly. The DDA hopes that would encourage more mass transit usage and reduce parking strain in DDA districts.

    The DDA report also asks the city to consider testing parking meters that allow users to pay using mobile devices. That would also allow parking enforcement officers to use web-enabled parking monitoring systems and increase their efficiency.

    Other enforcement-related suggestions include extending enforcement hours; focusing enforcement on “core areas” and less on “peripheral” areas; and enforcing violations in commercial loading zones.

    In its report, the DDA supports the Shape Ypsilanti master plan that calls for the creation of more two-way streets and more road diets, which would create more opportunity for on-street parking. So-called road diets are used to reduce the number of lanes on a road or street, for example from two-lanes running in each direction to one lane in each direction with a turn lane in the middle.

    Another concern is deterioration of lots, including the Ballard Street lot and alleviating “stressed” lots that are regularly filled while others sit empty. The DDA is recommending incentives for permit users and those parking long term to switch from parking in busier lots to less busy lots, such as the Washington Street and South Huron Street lots downtown.

    The DDA is also recommending creating a single entity for overseeing the parking system. That entity would manage meters, tickets, parking data and establish a parking fund.

    “There has been some misconception what this is," Colbeck said. "The DDA is not angling to run parking like Ann Arbor model,” he said.

    Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter for AnnArbor.com. Contact the news desk at news@annarbor.com or 734-623-2530.


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    The woman injured in a head-on collision Monday in Pittsfield Township that killed the two drivers was still in critical condition Wednesday morning.

    Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 072913_NEWS_Fatal_MRM_01.jpg

    The 71-year-old Freedom Township woman injured in this crash Monday was still in critical condition Wednesday.

    Pittsfield Township police said the 71-year-old Freedom Township woman remained at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Wednesday. The woman’s name has yet to be released by police, but authorities have said she is a relative of Neil Stierle, the 81-year-old Freedom Township man who was driving the Mercury Montego she was riding in when the crash occurred.

    Stierle and 28-year-old Benjamin Alden, of Saline, were both killed in the Monday morning crash on Michigan Avenue near Textile Road. Police said Alden was westbound in a 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt when it crossed into the eastbound lane and hit the Montego.

    Police originally said Alden was from Ypsilanti Township, but Wednesday said he was a Saline resident Wednesday.

    Stierle and Alden were both pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. Firefighters used the Jaws of Life to extricate all three people from the vehicles.

    Police are still investigating the crash and have not said what caused Alden’s vehicle to cross the centerline. An update was sent out on the investigation Wednesday morning.

    It was the fifth fatal crash in Washtenaw County in July.

    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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    073113_NEWS_WhitmoreLake_MRM_01.JPG

    Police and fire personnel were at Whitmore Lake Wednesday after a person was found in the lake.

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

    A body was found floating about a half-mile off shore in Whitmore Lake Wednesday.

    Emergency personnel were sent to the lake Wednesday morning after receiving a report of a body floating in the lake was called in. There were at least three boats in the water just before 12:30 p.m. Wednesday as a part of the search.

    A 46-year-old Green Oak Township man who was fishing on the lake has been missing since Sunday.

    Police said Wednesday afternoon they believe it is the missing man, but a positive identification is pending from the Livingston County Medical Examiner's Office.

    Around 1:30 p.m., officials were placing what appeared to be a person on a backboard and pulling the backboard out of the water and onto a boat on the west side of the lake.

    Whitmore Lake is lined with mostly private properties and only has limited public access, including a Department of Natural Resources boat launch which authorities had closed off for staging.

    Residents like Mary Christianson and Angela Ostrom gathered around the lake's edge to watch the efforts. They said the missing man had been the talk of the community since he went missing Sunday and that the body found Wednesday was likely him.

    "We feel awful for the family," Christianson said.

    There was also some confusion among residents about whether they could use the lake or not for the last couple of days.

    "(We didn't want) to be celebrating on the lake knowing he was down there," Ostrom said. "It was ... uneasy."

    It's been the longest search resident Chris Nelson can remember in recent times. The longtime resident said the last drowning he remembered at Whitmore Lake was two years ago.

    "It’s been a little creepy,” he said of the last few nights on Whitmore Lake. “There hasn’t really been other boat traffic out there. It’s been very quiet and the last couple nights it would be a calm sunset, and you would still see the boats with their police lights on, so it was a little ominous.”

    HVA spokeswoman Joyce Williams confirmed medical officials were on scene for a drowning.

    AnnArbor.com reporter Kyle Feldscher contributed to this story.


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