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

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    Ann Arbor's gym geared toward women has raised more than half of the funds necessary to buy the franchise and stay open with the help of the community, club members and neighboring businesses.

    curves.JPG

    Members came together to brainstorm ways to keep their club open.

    Janet Miler | For AnnArbor.com

    Curves Weight Loss Center's Ann Arbor franchise, located in Westgate Shopping Center, has raised $32,785 in just three weeks. By Aug. 16, the facility hopes to have met its goal of $48,500 so that the tight-knit community can stay together.

    The fundraising push by Curves members to keep their gym up and running began when owner Robin Long sent out an email stating that she would be forced to close Curves if the club couldn’t be sold by the end of September.

    “I got emails, phone calls and text messages that said ‘you can’t do that’ or ‘oh my gosh we can’t let this place close’ and that same week we had a meeting driven by members with just 24 hours notice,” Long said. “40 women showed up that night and the idea was to brainstorm ways that we could keep the club open and that’s really where it began.”

    Members decided to raise money to meet the asking price Long had set when she originally put her club on the market in late winter. If the goal is met, the franchise agreement will be transferred to Curves employee Jeri Shumate who had shown interest in purchasing the club, but did not have the necessary financial backing.

    “Jeri is like an extension of me and has been totally embraced by this community,” Long said. “I couldn’t have Curves go to a better person and the members know they’re in good hands.”

    Long said about 85 percent of the money already collected is from member donations.

    “I think we’ve had maybe 14 members that gave $1,000 each,” Long said. “I’ve had people that have given $10,000, that have given $5,000, $250 or $500. The amount of support is amazing.”

    In addition to member donations, money is coming in from the Curves GoFundMe account, which has raised nearly $5,000.

    “We’ve also seen overwhelming support from our neighbors who have made donations or are giving us a percentage of their proceeds if people have a coupon or mention Curves,” Shumate said. “It makes us feel like we are a very valid and thriving business that is important to them.”

    Happy House Cards & Gifts held a fundraiser in late July, which donated 20 percent of proceeds to Curves when presented a coupon by customers. Nicola’s Books is holding a similar fundraiser lasting until August 14 and Mast Shoes made a cash donation and gave a $25 gift card to be raffled off.

    To raise the remaining funds, Curves will host a silent auction and raffle between Aug. 1 and Aug. 14. Items for the event were donated by club members.

    “We have 87 items for the auction and raffle so far and they’re still bringing things in,” Shumate said. “There is everything from Waterford Crystal to little handmade Christmas coasters. Some things are gently used and others are brand new.”

    Long said she has no doubt the club will meet its goal and that Curves will continue to thrive under Shumate’s leadership.

    “I have mixed feelings about leaving Curves, but I feel like I’ve run my course,” Long said. “The last couple years have been challenging for me. The members carried me through some difficult times and to be able to turn the club over to someone that has the energy, enthusiasm and drive that I used to have is good for the club, good for the members and good for the community. I’m really going to miss it though.”

    After owning the club for 11 years, Long hopes to remain involved through coaching the Curves weight management plan, which she has been doing for several years.

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


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    nixon.jpg

    The field on Nixon Road where a 234-unit apartment complex is proposed.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    The developer behind a proposed apartment project at Nixon Road and M-14 is reducing the total number of apartment units from 294 to 234.

    Birmingham-based Bleznak Real Estate Investment Group submitted its rezoning request and site plan to the City of Ann Arbor last week, after hosting a citizen participation meeting for the project in June.

    map.png

    A map of the site location provided by the developer.

    woodbury_site_layout.jpg

    This site layout by Midwestern Consulting was on display at the Woodbury Club Apartments citizen participation meeting in June. The developers have since removed the two buildings on the northeast corner of the site from the plans.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    Since the public meeting, the real estate firm amended its Woodbury Club Apartments project to reduce the total number of units and removed two of the five apartment buildings from the site.

    Bleznak Real Estate’s Adam Bleznak said the 60 units removed from the plans could be proposed as a second phase of the project in the future.

    “The two buildings that were in the northeast corner (of the site), we are not planning for approval on those,” he said. “Those are potentially something we’ll continue in the future.”

    "We felt the project we wanted to take on and what would be appropriate at this time would be to go forward with the (234 units)," he continued.

    The project is proposed for a vacant 54-acre site on the southeast corner of Nixon and M-14 in Ann Arbor Township, near the Barclay Park condominiums and Windemere Park apartments. The property was used as a farm for many decades, but project officials said it hasn't been farmed in two years now.

    Township records show Bleznak Real Estate purchased the 53-acre site from Don Nixon and his sister, Betty Nixon, for $1.3 million in December. The project requires a property annexation from the township to the city of Ann Arbor, and the developer is asking the city to zone the site R4A residential.

    At a citizen participation meeting held in June, neighbors of the site expressed concern about adding more traffic to an already congested area.

    About two dozen residents attended the meeting, and traffic repeatedly came up as a main concern with the project. Attendees were particularly worried about worsening traffic backups where Nixon Road meets Green and Dhu Varren roads. (Read more about the meeting.)

    The Woodbury Club Apartments on Nixon Road would be an extension of Bleznak Real Estate's Woodbury Garden Apartments — an apartment complex off South Industrial Highway that the company developed in the late 1960s.

    “We’ll just be trying to continue the legacy of the Woodbury Garden Apartments, and hopefully we’ll be able to continue the brand (at the new project),” Bleznak said.

    Scott Betzoldt of Midwestern Consulting, the civil engineer for the Nixon Road project, said tentative plans call for one-, two- and three-bedroom units, ranging in price from $1,100 to $2,000 a month. He said the apartments will probably attract young professionals and empty nesters.

    The project will go before Ann Arbor's Planning Commission and then City Council for approval in coming weeks.

    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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    Jack_Eaton_080613_CA_04.JPG

    Supporters of Jack Eaton, slated to become Ann Arbor's newest City Council member in November, throw their arms up and cheer Tuesday night as Eaton arrives at CUBS' A.C. Sports Bar & Restaurant.

    Chris Asadian | AnnArbor.com

    Mayor John Hieftje watched Tuesday night as yet another of his allies — 14-year incumbent Marcia Higgins — was ousted from the Ann Arbor City Council.

    Democratic challenger Jack Eaton, a labor attorney and longtime neighborhood activist, defeated Higgins by a nearly 2-to-1 margin in the 4th Ward race.

    Meanwhile, Stephen Kunselman held onto his 3rd Ward seat — pulling 51.76 percent of the vote against challenger Julie Grand, who had support from some of the mayor's allies.

    Kunselman, a Democrat, still faces Independent candidate Samuel Devarti in the November general election, while Eaton advances unopposed.

    Jack_Eaton_080613_CA_06.JPG

    Eaton pauses for applause as he gives a victory speech Tuesday night, thanking supporters and outlining his political ideas.

    Chris Asadian | AnnArbor.com

    Eaton commented on the changing dynamics on council as he celebrated his victory at CUBS' A.C. Sports Bar & Restaurant. He was joined by several supporters, including three council members he looks forward to working alongside come November — Sumi Kailasapathy, Mike Anglin and Kunselman.

    "I just think we're going to continue the momentum that's been building since Steve Kunselman first beat Leigh Greden," Eaton said, referring to the 2009 ouster of one of the mayor's allies on council.

    "Slowly we've changed the composition of council, so we're paying more attention to what the residents of town want instead of big projects. We're going to continue on that trajectory — we're just going to have one more vote in that direction."

    Eaton and other newer council members say they're more interested in putting money toward public safety and infrastructure than projects like a new train station on Fuller Road.

    Eaton and Kunselman both reiterated their opposition to the mayor's push for a new train station on Fuller Road following their victories Tuesday night.

    There was a point four years ago when Hieftje and his allies held nine of the 11 seats on council, but that super majority has dwindled away — starting with Kunselman's ouster of Greden.

    In 2011, Independent candidate Jane Lumm ousted Stephen Rapundalo, one of the mayor's allies. And last year, Sally Hart Petersen ousted Tony Derezinski, another of the mayor's allies.

    Sumi Kailasapathy, a staunch critic of the mayor's agenda and one of Eaton's supporters, also was elected to council last year, replacing Sandi Smith, one of the mayor's allies.

    Carsten Hohnke, another ally of the mayor, stepped down last year, but he was replaced by Chuck Warpehoski, who ran with the mayor's endorsement. Warpehoski has vowed to remain independent on council and said he doesn't consider himself beholden to anyone.

    Hieftje still has strong allies in Christopher Taylor and Margie Teall, but they're now essentially a minority on council. Hieftje hasn't decided yet whether he'll run again next year.

    Stephen_Kunselman_080613_RJS_001.jpg

    Mayor John Hieftje, left, chats with Council Member Stephen Kunselman at Dominick's bar Tuesday night, congratulating him on his victory in the primary.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    Kunselman, who has earned a reputation for butting heads with the mayor on some issues, downplayed their differences Tuesday night. Hieftje, who said he stayed neutral in the 3rd Ward race, actually stopped by Kunselman's campaign party at Dominick's bar to congratulate him.

    "The thing is — we have a lot of similarities," Kunselman said of him and the mayor. "We both grew up in Ann Arbor and have a lot of the same passions."

    Hieftje added, "I've known Steve a long time. I first appointed him to the Planning Commission before he was ever elected."

    Hieftje said he had a good discussion with Kunselman about how council members might be able to come together on issues. He told Kunselman he's going to continue bending his ear about rail.

    "It's never been an issue about rail or not — it's been about how we get there," Kunselman said of his opposition to a train station in Fuller Park. "And I think that's why I always press the mayor hard."

    Hieftje said he's not worried about Eaton's promise to be another vote against spending money on a new train station on Fuller Road.

    "I don't worry about the Fuller Road Station too much," he said. "I think when Amtrak is going 110 mph in 2016 and ridership is going up the way they've seen in other parts of the country, people will come around. And we haven't decided exactly on the location of the rail station — that's going to be actually up to the federal government to make the final decision when they award the funding."

    Hieftje said he wasn't surprised at the outcome of either race Tuesday night. Though he was supporting Higgins, he said he always suspected Eaton would win.

    "He's been campaigning for three years, and Marcia was on council for a long time through one of the very toughest periods in the city's history," he said. "She had to make a lot of difficult decisions."

    Hieftje said it didn't help Higgins that she's dealt with a lot in her personal life that has kept her from communicating as well as she might with constituents.

    Higgins couldn't be reached for comment.

    As for Eaton joining council, Hieftje said he thinks they can find some issues they'll agree on. He noted the overwhelming majority of council votes are unanimous.

    Kathy_Griswold_080613_CA_02.JPG

    Kathy Griswold, Eaton's campaign manager, gleefully smiles as favorable poll results come in Tuesday night.

    Chris Asadian | AnnArbor.com

    Kunselman said he really likes Eaton, who has been a supporter of his over the years, but he's also going to miss Higgins.

    "Marcia Higgins has been the one council member who I hold the highest respect for out of everyone over the years that I've served," he said. "And I will continue to always hold her in high regard because she has put community first above politics."

    Kunselman said he thinks his message of devoting city resources to neighborhoods resonated with voters and that will continue to be his focus.

    "I don't think anything changes dramatically at this point," he said. "The council's been going in a direction of trying to focus more on our neighborhood needs and our public safety issues, and let's not forget our CFO projected a deficit in our budget in 2015, so it's not like we're out of the woods when it comes to finances. We still have issues we have to deal with."

    Kirk Westphal, who is running as a Democrat in the 2nd Ward in November against Independent incumbent Jane Lumm, was at Grand's campaign party Tuesday night at Sava's Cafe.

    "I think council needs people who come to the table with an open mind and I think Julie would have been that candidate," he said, expressing disappointment over the results. "There's only so much we can control going on in this state and in Congress, but I think we can make an effort to keep our council discussions rational and depoliticized, and I hope to bring that theme to my race."

    A total of 9.24 percent of the 19,405 registered voters in the 3rd Ward and 9.58 percent of the 20,009 registered voters in the 4th Ward turned out for Tuesday's primary.

    Sumi_Kailasapathy_080613_CA_03.JPG

    Council Member Sumi Kailasapathy, D-1st Ward, works with others to get the final poll results in Eaton's race Tuesday night.

    Chris Asadian | AnnArbor.com

    Al McWilliams, president of Quack!Media in downtown Ann Arbor, said he fears a minority of residents decided the races.

    "What I want is for Ann Arbor's elected officials to be representative of the actual majority in Ann Arbor," he said. "On both the winning side and the losing side, we have too few votes."

    Grand gave a brief speech after the results came in, telling supporters she's worried about the future of the city.

    "We had a message that was about really listening to people," she said. "It was about people feeling disconnected and trying to get them connected back to the city. We had a message about finding great policy solutions by doing our research and by listening, and I think it resonated with a lot of people, but unfortunately it didn't resonate with enough."

    In addition to Westphal and Lumm, a third candidate — Independent Conrad Brown — is running in the 2nd Ward race in November. Brown and Devarti, who is challenging Kunselman in the 3rd Ward, are both members of a group calling itself the Ann Arbor Mixed-Use Party.

    A third member of the Mixed-Use Party, Jaclyn Vresics, submitted 68 valid signatures from registered voters to try to get on the ballot in the 1st Ward, but she fell short of the 100 signatures required.

    However, another Independent candidate, Jeffrey Hayner, did get on the ballot and will challenge incumbent Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, in November.

    Mike Anglin, D-5th Ward, also is up for re-election, but he didn't face opposition in Tuesday's primary and he doesn't have a challenger in November.

    Related coverage:

    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 August countdown to the beginning of the school year has begun (parents—can you say “29 days and counting?”) What a great time to feature two great plays that began as novels! Both “Les Miserable” and “My Name is Asher Lev” began life in paperback, and are colorfully and epically adapted for the stage.

    According to vintagephotopaper the top five novels adapted into stage plays are:

    1. "The Phantom of the Opera," by Gaston Leroux (performed more than 10,000 times)

    2. "Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats," by T.S. Eliot (adapted to “Cats,” and performed more than 7,000 times)

    3. "Les Miserables," by Victor Hugo (performed more than 6,000 times)

    4. "Wicked," by Gregory Maguire (performed nearly 4,000 times)

    5. "Mary Poppins," based on children’s books by P. L. Travers (performed more than 2,500 times)

    Show: “The UFO Show (unidentified funny objects), Part II,” one-time event, Aug. 8, at 8 p.m.
    Company: Emergent Arts
    Type of Company: Pre-professional (non-paid)
    Venue/location: The Mix Studio Theatre, 8 North Washington, Ypsilanti
    Recommended ages: 18+
    Description: Stand up comedians Jon Houser, Marty Smith, Chevy Hungerford, Allen Smock and Andy Jentzen, with storyteller Lyn Davidge, and songwriter/humorist Marc Holland. Also featuring a scene from "Timmy And Lar's Florida Trip 1986" - a work in progress.
    Fun fact: "Timmy And Lar's Florida Trip 1986" is based on Tim Henning's and Larry Rusinsky's infamous 1986 trip to Florida, where they visited The Tupperware Museum of Historical Food Containers, Spongeorama, Medieval World, and other miraculous kitschy wonders, recording an improvisational travelogue as they went.
    For tickets and information: www.emergentarts.com
    Special ticket offer: Emergent Arts Theatre's "The Truth Is In Ypsilanti" t-shirts will be available for $5 each with purchase of a ticket.

    Show: “Les Miserables,” based on the novel by Victor Hugo, music by Claude-Michel Schonberg, and English libretto by Herbert Kretzmer, through Aug. 18
    Company: The Encore Musical Theatre Company
    Type of Company: Professional Equity Special Appearance Contract
    Venue/location: The Encore Musical Theatre Company, 3126 Broad Street, Dexter
    Recommended ages: 12 +
    Description: Set in early 19th-century France, it is the story of Jean Valjean and his quest for redemption after serving 19 years in jail for having stolen a loaf of bread for his starving sister's child. Valjean decides to break his parole and start his life anew after a kindly bishop inspires him to, but is relentlessly tracked down by a police inspector named Javert. Along the way, Valjean and a slew of characters are swept into a revolutionary period in France, where a group of young idealists make their last stand at a street barricade. Songs include "I Dreamed a Dream", "On My Own", "Bring Him Home", "Master of the House", "Castle on a Cloud", and many more!
    Review from AnnArbor.com
    Fun fact: More than a quarter of Hugo’s famous novel—by one count 955 of 2,783 pages—is devoted to essays that argue a moral point or display Hugo's encyclopedic knowledge, but do not advance the plot, nor even a subplot, a method Hugo used in such other works as The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Toilers of the Sea. One biographer noted "the digressions of genius are easily pardoned."
    For tickets and information: 734-268-6200, www.theencoretheatre.org.

    Show: “Miles & Ellie” by Don Zolidis, through August 31
    Company: The Purple Rose Theatre Company
    Type of Company: Professional Equity SPT
    Venue/location: The Purple Rose Theatre Company, 137 Park Street, Chelsea
    Recommended ages: 17+ (contains adult language and content)
    Description: Miles and Ellie are two teenagers in love when a youthful misunderstanding breaks them apart. Flash forward 20 years and a disenchanted Ellie has come home for what she expects to be a typical dysfunctional family Thanksgiving. Not long into the family shenanigans, however, Ellie learns that Miles is still in town and carrying a torch for her. Is it possible to get a second chance at your first love? This charming romantic comedy will make you wonder “what if?”
    Review from AnnArbor.com
    Fun fact: According to what traditionally is known as "The First Thanksgiving," the 1621 feast between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag at Plymouth Colony contained turkey, waterfowl, venison, fish, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, and squash.
    For tickets and information: purplerosetheatre.org, 734-433-7673.

    asher-lev.jpg

    "My Name is Asher Lev" is coming to Performance Network.

    courtesy of Performance Network

    Show: “My Name is Asher Lev” by Aaron Posner, adapted from the novel by Chaim Potok, through September 8
    Company: Performance Network Theatre
    Type of Company: Professional Equity (SPT)
    Venue/location: Performance Network Theatre, 120 East Huron, Ann Arbor
    Recommended ages: 16+
    Description: Based on the famous 1972 novel by Chaim Potok, this provocative play tells the story of a boy growing up in a sheltered Hasidic community in 1950s Brooklyn, who discovers he has a prodigious talent as an artist. Struggling to reconcile his gift with the community’s Orthodox values, he immerses himself in an art form steeped in Christian imagery. When he brings forth a masterwork entitled “The Brooklyn Crucifixions,” he must decide whether or not to honor his self-expression and exhibit, potentially bringing shame on his family, his community, and even his faith.
    Preview article from AnnArbor.com
    Fun fact: Although the play is currently running Off-Broadway in New York, Performance Network secured the performance rights last year, months in advance of that production.
    For tickets and information: 734-663-0696, www.performancenetwork.org/

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    City of Ypsilanti employees could soon be eligible for domestic partner benefits.

    At its Tuesday, Aug. 6 meeting, City Council voted 5-0 to approve the first reading of an ordinance that will extend the benefits to employees’ partners.

    “This has been a long time coming and I’m glad we finally got to it,’ Council Member Pete Murdock said.

    The city is referring to a domestic partner as an “other qualified adult” and qualifying for the program includes a list of stipulations.

    Among them, adults must have shared a residence for 12 months and they must have either power of attorney for health care or power of attorney for financial management.

    There is a limit of one adult per household and joint ownership must be proven through two of four channels. Those include joint home ownership or a joint lease; a joint bank account; joint ownership or lease of a car; or a joint credit account.

    Although he ultimately approved it, Council Member Brian Robb called the legislation too restrictive.

    “I have been in a committed relationship for 20 years and I wouldn’t qualify. I think that’s insane,” Robb said.

    Benefits include health care, dental, vision and life insurance.

    City Council also approved a resolution supporting several state-level equally initiatives.

    • Adds sexual orientation as a protected class to the Elliot - Larsen Civil Right Act.
    • Eliminating the state legislative ban on same sex marriage
    • Recognizing same sex marriages of other states.
    • Placing the repeal of the Michigan Constitutional prohibition of same sex
    • marriage on the ballot.

    “We wouldn’t have to go through these contortions if we didn’t have this ban on same sex marriages,” Murdock said. “It’s a shame you have to go through this to get to where you want to go.”

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

    Ypsilanti has a long tradition of supporting equal rights initiatives.

    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. The group supporting the ordinance 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.

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


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    javareholmes.jpg

    Javare Holmes

    Courtesy of WCSO

    The 18-year-old Ann Arbor man charged with multiple felonies for breaking into homes all over Washtenaw County had a trial date set when he appeared in court for a pretrial hearing Monday.

    Javare Holmes faces a litany of charges including nine counts of first-degree home invasion and one count each of second-degree home invasion, larceny in a building, receiving and concealing stolen property worth more than $1,000 but less than $20,000 and assaulting, resisting or obstructing a police officer.

    The counts are divvied up between five different cases. A jury trial date of Sept. 30 was set for four of the more recent cases. A pretrial date was set for those cases as well as one older case for Sept. 16. There was no jury trial date set for the older case.

    At Monday's hearing, the prosecution and defense seemed willing to continue to talk about a resolution, presumably in the form of a plea deal, before the all cases went to trial.

    Holmes rejected a plea offer from the prosecution in May. He sought new counsel after that hearing and is now represented by David Goldstein, who appeared in court with him Monday.

    Holmes was charged in May 2012 with first-degree home invasion and assaulting, resisting or obstructing a police officer. He paid $2,000 to bond out of jail on that case and then missed a pretrial hearing. Police believe he committed nine more home invasions during the time frame that he was wanted on a bench warrant.

    He was eventually arrested on March 9 after a search warrant was served on a home in the 1400 block of Kirtland Drive in Ann Arbor. Guitars, violins, computers, televisions, GPS units, cellphones, watches, laptops and digital cameras were recovered from the home.

    On each charge of first-degree home invasion, Holmes faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. Second-degree home invasion carries a maximum of 15 years in prison. If Holmes is convicted on all counts and is given consecutive sentencing, he could face 208 years in prison.

    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 hazardous weather outlook has been issued by the National Weather Service for Southeast Michigan Wednesday.

    rain_ann_arbor.jpg

    Showers and storms likely throughout the morning and afternoon.

    Photo courtesy of Angela Todd

    Multiple thunderstorms, some of which may be severe, are expected throughout the day. According to the National Weather Service, severe weather is most likely between 1 and 8 p.m.

    The National Weather Service said storms will be caused by a humid and unstable airmass that has lifted into the region. The airmass combined with the expected cold front will lead to numerous thunderstorms.

    Showers and thunderstorms in the Ann Arbor area are likely, according to the National Weather Service in White Lake Township. Light to moderate showers will continue for the next hour. These showers are expected to taper off.

    The chance for showers and thunderstorms to develop later into the morning will increase toward 12 p.m. The probability of precipitation will be around 70 percent.

    Hail up to one inch in diameter and winds up to 70 mph are possible.

    According to the National Weather Service, rain and thunderstorms should clear up after 5 p.m.

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


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    An Ypsilanti man told police Tuesday that several items were missing from his residence after a roommate threw a party.

    The man told police he arrived home in the 300 block of Washtenaw Avenue of Ypsilanti to discover a roommate had thrown a party while he was gone. A 32-inch Samsung television, a 18v DeWalt drill and a Eureka vacuum were reported stolen, according to a crime summary from Ypsilanti police.

    The larceny was reported at 11:27 a.m.

    It was one of two reported larcenies in Ypsilanti Tuesday.

    Police were called to the 100 block of Normal Street at 6:30 p.m. for a second report, according to the summary. A woman told police that an unknown suspect entered her residence and stole several items. There was no further information.

    Police continue to investigate the incidents.


    View Ypsi larcenies August 7 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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    Each week, close to 3,500 people dine at Jolly Pumpkin Cafe & Brewery. Maggie Long, managing partner and chef, who has been with the restaurant since it opened, said she didn't have any expectations when it launched. But she's nonetheless pleased by its popularity.

    "We just try to be better the next day than we were the day before. That's the magic of this place. You work really hard, treat people well and hopefully they come back and visit because they just want to be here," she says.

    The restaurant seats 200 indoors, 16 at tables outside on the main floor and another 97 on a roof deck that was added two years ago. Sometimes restaurants that start out opening to rave reviews and early buzz have a difficult time maintaining the momentum. That cannot be said about Jolly Pumpkin, which I enjoyed immensely when it opened four years ago. It continues to turn out interesting and high-quality food.

    RESTAURANT REVIEW

    Jolly Pumpkin Cafe & Brewery
    311 S. Main St., Ann Arbor
    734-913-2730
    jollypumpkin.com
    • Hours: For main floor: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m.-midnight; Saturday, 10 a.m.-midnight; Sunday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Hours slightly differ for the upstairs bar and rooftop deck.
    • Plastic: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover.
    • Liquor: Full bar.
    • Prices: Moderate. Many dishes are in the $12-$14 range.
    • Noise level: Loud when busy.
    • Wheelchair access: Yes, but on main floor only.
    Jolly Pumpkin's indoor space has a pub feel, with a dark but warm ambiance. On a recent Saturday night, I would have preferred sitting on the charming rooftop deck, but there was a long wait.

    Known for its house-made ales, Jolly Pumpkin serves beer brewed at its production facility in Dexter. While 16 beers are offered on draft, roughly two dozen are available by the bottle. Servers are happy to give you a sample of any you choose.

    I tried one of the seasonal beers, Baltic black: a dark brew with a rich, full taste. I also sampled one of the restaurant's enticing cocktails, the ginger Cosmo. Adding fresh ginger to simple syrup, Old Mission vodka, lime and cranberry juice made this a satisfying summer libation.

    At some brewpubs, food is a modest accompaniment to the alcoholic beverages, but that is not the case with Jolly Pumpkin. American fare is the mainstay, with a variety of burgers, sandwiches, pizza and salads. Long has changed up the menu a few times. Most recently, she added a walleye po' boy and swapped the lower-selling three cheese and Mediterranean pizzas with a market pizza that allows her to make use of more seasonal offerings. She also now offers a spinach pizza.

    Concerned she didn't have enough for those with dietary restrictions, Long added a topping for her seasonal fruit crisp that's now nut, gluten and dairy free and is also vegan. The menu isn't large, but what Jolly Pumpkin chooses to offer, it does well.

    Every time I visit, I order the truffled french fries as an appetizer (they're also offered with many of the main dishes). Served in an artful cone-shaped container, these elevate fries from an accompaniment to a featured dish. Sprinkled with sea salt, they're thin and slightly crisp, and are made even better when dipped in the addicting rosemary aioli.

    I'm impressed by the way Jolly Pumpkin pairs different types of exotic, healthful ingredients, making typically standard dishes special, and yielding mouth-watering results. One example of this is the red chicken nachos. Instead of the typical nacho which heaps cheese on tortilla chips, meat, vegetables and beans, this is a less rich—but no less satisfying —version. It pairs chile marinated chicken, pickled red onion, black beans, vella dry jack, aged cheddar, tomatillo salsa and sliced avocado with a cilantro garnish. My only complaint is that the chicken seemed to be in short supply and was lost among the other ingredients.

    Margherita pizza was simple, yet first-rate. Oven dried tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil topped a fresh, spongy crust for a tasty dish. If you prefer a more hefty spread of tomato sauce doused with cheese, this may not please, but I thought it was very good.

    The JP Burger takes the cheeseburger to a whole new level. Perfectly cooked meat was made even better by the addition of cambozola cheese, fresh crimini mushrooms and a generous piece of applewood smoked bacon. I also enjoyed the grilled chicken sandwich, where dried apricots, served on melted brie, added a sweetness to the moist chicken. The rosemary focaccia bread provided a flavorful foundation.

    Even the traditional po' boy undergoes a makeover here, with a crispy, tempura-battered walleye as the featured fish instead of shrimp or catfish. Served with a vegetable chow-chow (a traditional southern pickled vegetable relish) and a chili-spiced mayonnaise that provided some kick, this sandwich was a winner.

    Pumpkin whoopie pie was a twist on the popular dessert, substituting mini pumpkin cakes for the usual chocolate exterior. The pumpkin combined nicely with the creme anglaise for a sweet ending to our meal, and the frosting was thick and creamy. The only disappointment among everything we ordered was the vegan chocolate cake, which was dry, while the vegan chocolate coconut ice cream, served with it, lacked the texture of the real thing.

    Though our server was cheerful, the place was very busy on a Saturday night, and we waited quite a while for our food. Still, if you're not in a hurry and happen to stop in at a busy time, the food is worth waiting for. Jolly Pumpkin continues to be one of my favorite restaurant destinations in Ann Arbor.


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    Julie Halpert reviews restaurants for AnnArbor.com.


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    A retail shop and events space named Hipsters Underground opened on Ann Arbor's South State Street near the University of Michigan's campus in June, Concentrate Media reports.

    The 1,500-square-foot store, located at 324 S. State St. near Espresso Royale and Noodles & Company, sells handmade and eco-friendly goods.

    “Not only do we have great deals on artisan made goods, but we also feature great pieces from local artists on our walls,” Hipsters Underground’s website says.

    Product offerings include clothes, accessories, sunglasses, ukuleles, candles and bath products, among other items.

    In addition to the retail side of the business, Hipsters Underground owner Bhen Jachimiak hosts social events every Friday night, including open mic nights and poetry readings.

    The shop’s hours are: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

    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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    Laith Al-Saadi plays Sonic Lunch in June 2012.

    Angela J. Cesere | AnnArbor.com file photo

    If you’ve never heard blues guitarist and Ann Arbor native Laith Al-Saadi, then where the heck have you been the last 30 years or so?

    Al-Saadi will play his based-in-classic rock and the blues music Thursday at noon as part of the Bank of Ann Arbor’s free Sonic Lunch series.

    PREVIEW

    Laith Al-Saadi

    • Who: Hard-working Ann Arbor guitarist and singer.
    • What: Rock and blues presented as part of the Bank of Ann Arbor's Sonic Lunch series..
    • Where: Liberty Plaza, at the corner of East Liberty and South Division streets, Ann Arbor.
    • When: Noon Thursday, Aug. 8.
    • How much: Free.
    A staple of the Michigan music scene for most of his life, Al-Saadi has shared the stage with greats like Buddy Guy, BB King, Taj Mahal, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Luther Allison, Son Seals and Johnny Winter. He plays a mixture of original tunes and covers, ranging from the Beatles to Joni Mitchell to Bob Dylan and beyond.

    “I love the idea of playing music people want to hear and trying to do what you can to put your own kind of spin on songs that everybody knows,” he told AnnArbor.com in an interview in 2012.

    “All I can do is make sure the music I play is as good as it can be and that I’m making people as happy as I can make them,” he said.

    Al-Saaid has just released a new album, "Real," which showcases his work alongside a group of top-notch, nationally known session musicians.


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    Robert Spencer, an anti-Islam blogger and author who was recently banned from the United Kingdom for his alleged association with hate groups, will speak at a symposium at Eastern Michigan University Saturday, according to the Detroit Free Press.

    ‘Is Islam a Religion of Peace?’ will be hosted by Ave Maria Radio, an Ann Arbor-based Catholic radio station. The event, which will be held in the EMU Student Center, will also feature pro-Muslim speakers.

    The symposium will conclude with a Mass led by Lansing Catholic bishop Earl Boyea.

    According to the Detroit Free Press, EMU released a statement saying the university is not financially supporting, sponsoring or advertising the event.

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


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    Michelle Chamuel - the U-M grad who fronted Ella Riot/My Dear Disco and came in second place on the most recent season of "The Voice" - plans to release a 10 song album in September, according to her Facebook page.

    Chamuel wrote, on July 23, about her recent trip to Atlanta to spend time with her "Voice" coach, Usher: "Usher and his kick-butt manager, Grace, made time to listen to the music I've been working on. It was great to get their feedback and feel their support. It makes me even more excited to release this album!

    "'When do we get to hear this music?' you ask. Well, I've decided to release it in September. There's a lot of work to finish before then, but that's the plan! The album has 10 tracks and is currently in mastering."

    You can hear snippets from the in-the-works album at Chamuel's fan page, which is maintained by Chamuel's cousin.

    Finally, Chamuel also recently posted a clip of her performing a Weepies cover, "Somebody Loved."

    Somebody Loved (Weepies Cover) from Thick Glasses Music on Vimeo.

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


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    An unknown person stole an oven and a riding lawnmower from a Webster Township home during a break-in reported Tuesday, according to investigators.

    A Nixle alert from the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office released Wednesday stated the home invasion took place between Saturday and 6 p.m. Tuesday in the 9100 block of Stoneview Lane.

    According to investigators, an unknown person got into the home through an unsecured garage door. It’s unknown how the intruder, or intruders, managed to steal the Frigidaire stainless steel double-fuel range oven.

    A Yardman riding lawnmower was also reported stolen.

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


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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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    Fernando Cordon Cordon

    Courtesy of Washtenaw County Jail

    A 28-year-old Ann Arbor man was arraigned on one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct in the 14A-1 District Court Tuesday, records show.

    Fernando Cordon Cordon was given a $50,000 cash bond and had a public defender appointed to represent him in the case, according to the records.

    Cordon Cordon is accused of sexually assaulting a woman on Jay Lee Court in Ann Arbor Sunday night. The woman is acquainted with Cordon Cordon. Police have said they could not release any additional information due to the sensitive nature of the case.

    A warrant filed with the court listed Cordon Cordon's home address on Jay Lee Court.

    At 3 a.m. Sunday, officers were called to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Superior Township, where the victim had been taken following the assault. An investigation was launched into the assault which led to formal charges.

    A preliminary examination was set for Aug. 15.

    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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    Domino's is headquarted at Domino's Farms in Ann Arbor Township.

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

    Domino’s Pizza thinks innovation is powered by pizza.

    That’s the message at the center of the Ann Arbor Township-based company’s latest marketing campaign, which targets the entrepreneurs behind U.S. startup companies.

    “Without pizza, school projects and music albums might go unfinished. Startups, unstarted. …No one’s coming up with a world-changing idea over halibut. No way. It has always been pizza,” a new Domino’s television ad spot says.

    The company plans to make “pizzavestments” in 30 U.S. startup companies by offering them a $500 Domino’s Pizza gift card.

    In addition, Domino’s will offer gift cards and other perks directly to individuals who contribute toward select projects on crowdfunding website Indiegogo.

    "No one knows the power and possibility of a great idea more than Domino's, having been the ones that truly revolutionized pizza delivery over fifty years ago," said Russell Weiner, Domino's Pizza chief marketing officer, in a statement. "Gatherings that create great ideas often include pizza — and we want to do what we can to fuel the next revolutionary concept that will also continue to be celebrated fifty years from now."

    On July 23, Domino’s Pizza Inc. reported its second-quarter profit rose 19 percent with the growth of sales in existing stores and the opening of 101 new locations outside of the U.S.The company reported a net income of $112.4 million in 2012, compared to $105.4 million in 2011.

    Watch the new ad spot below.

    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 pedestrian was hit by a vehicle on Plymouth Road near Traverwood Road in Ann Arbor Wednesday afternoon, a Huron Valley Ambulance official said.

    The pedestrian was taken to the University of Michigan Hospital emergency room in unstable condition, said Huron Valley Ambulance spokeswoman Joyce Williams.

    Paramedics were dispatched to the accident at 2:55 p.m., she said.

    A damaged car was stopped on Plymouth Road east of a crosswalk in the area equipped with a flashing pedestrian-activated signal.

    Witnesses who were in a white Ford Edge said a green Chevrolet Cavalier hit a young woman in the crosswalk. The driver did not appear to see the woman crossing the street, according to witnesses.

    Police were still on scene investigating as of 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and accident reconstruction crews were photographing and measuring skid marks near the crosswalk. Officials were not able to immediately comment on the crash.

    A spray painted figure identified where the woman landed in the island in the middle of Plymouth Road. She was hit in the right lane and came to rest at least 10 feet from the crosswalk.

    The Cavalier stopped about 30 feet east of the crosswalk and was positioned in both of the eastbound lanes. The front end of the car was damaged, with parts of the grill on the roadway along with other debris. The smashed windshield had a circular impact on the driver's side near the side mirror.

    As of 4:20 p.m. Wednesday, police did not have an update on the injured pedestrian's condition. Officers at the scene said at least one sergeant had gone to U-M Hospital.

    One witness who contacted AnnArbor.com Wednesday evening said the lights had been flashing at the intersection for at least 30 seconds before the crash. The witness told AnnArbor.com she was driving behind the Cavalier and had a clear view of the crash.

    The Cavalier only braked after hitting the woman, who appeared to be about student age, according to the witness.

    A woman who was interviewed by police at the scene declined to speak to AnnArbor.com.

    Police were still investigating and it's unknown if any citations had been made immediately after the crash.


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    The Ypsilanti Community Middle School football program may mean the demise of the Ypsilanti Huron Braves middle school aged teams.

    Alan Warren | Ann Arbor News file photo

    Ypsilanti Community Schools head football coach Rufus Pipkins is expecting huge participation numbers at the middle school level in the fall. Unfortunately for the Ypsilanti Huron Braves (commonly referred to as Junior Braves) the middle school program’s success could mean the demise of the little league football organization's top teams.

    Willow Run Community Schools offered football at the junior high level, but Ypsilanti Public Schools did not, and the Braves has for 49 years been where many in the Ypsilanti community played football during their middle school years.

    Ypsilanti Community Middle School - the school formed when the districts merged this summer - will have a middle school football program. Though the plan is to have one combined seventh-and-eighth grade team this year, YCS varsity football coach Rufus Pipkins expects there to be separate seventh and eighth grade teams soon.

    “With the newness of everything and combining both sets of athletes, interest has really jumped off,” Pipkins said. “We expect the numbers to be real high.”

    Pipkins said the middle school program will mimic the offensive and defensive style of its varsity counterpart.

    “Those reps at an early age are important,” Pipkins said. “They only play six games, it’s a quick season, but at least you get a chance to put the system in at the lower level and identify kids.”

    The Braves, who play in the Western Suburban Junior Football League, only have five middle school aged players registered for the 2013 season, a 75 percent drop from last year, according to board president Charles Jones.

    The Braves began practice on July 29 and the first game is scheduled for August 24. With middle school football not starting until school commences on September 3, Jones doesn’t expect a spike in registration anytime soon.

    “Most kids, like us, are waiting to see what the middle school program has, so we’re in the wait and see portion of it,” Jones said. “(Junior) football overall in this area has been hit by junior high programs, which is understandable.

    “(High school) programs don’t want to be a step behind.”

    The five middle school aged players will practice with the younger teams in the interim.

    Working against the Braves’ chances for increased numbers is the fact that YCS is not a pay-to-participate district. It costs $150 to join the Braves.

    “Why pay when you can get it for free?” Jones said.

    Also working against the Braves is the 135-pound weight limit of the WSJFL. Middle school football has no weight limit.

    In the past, Ypsilanti High School coaches have communicated with the Braves program to ensure the team could act as a training ground, just as the middle school program will act now. Jones hopes that relationship can continue in the future.

    “We’ll just keep open communication with football coaches and try to let parents and coaches know that we’ve been a part of the community for 50 years,” Jones said. “We have 50 years of tradition and we’re transparent, too, so parents know exactly what they’re getting for their money.

    “We make sure we’re taking care of our kids.”

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


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    Nicholas Boka and Brendan Warren will play at Yost Ice Arena starting in 2015-16.

    Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com file

    A pair of future Michigan hockey players will be spending next season across town from their future home arena.

    Nicholas Boka and Brendan Warren were both announced as members of the 2013-14 USA Hockey National Team Development Program’s Under-17 Team Wednesday. Both have given their verbal commitments to Michigan, according to the USA Hockey official roster, and will be eligible to suit up in the 2015-16 season.

    Boka is a 6-foot, 183-pound defenseman from Plymouth. Warren is listed at an identical height and weight, and is from Carleton, Michigan. Both players spent last year suiting up for the Compuware Midget Minor program.

    The U-17 team, which plays in the United States Hockey League as well as in several international tournaments, kicks off its season Sept. 13.

    The NTDP is based out of the Ann Arbor Ice Cube, and has sent several future stars to the Michigan hockey program over the years. The program’s U-18 team also plays an annual exhibition game against the Wolverines at Yost Ice Arena.

    Kyle Austin covers sports for AnnArbor.com.


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    Ypsilanti is one step closer to capping the number of medical marijuana dispensaries and grow operations in the city at nine.

    At its meeting Tuesday night, the Ypsilanti City Council approved the second reading of an ordinance prohibiting more than nine medical marijuana licenses from being issued in the city.

    The law will go into effect in 30 days.

    Thumbnail image for RickyJefferson.jpg

    Ypsilanti City Council Member Ricky Jefferson.

    City Council approved the limit by a vote of 4-1. Council Member Brian Robb voted against it, and Mayor Paul Schreiber and Council Member Susan Moeller were absent. Robb voted against the ordinance because he said the city should be limiting the number of facilities through zoning ordinances, not through the number of licenses issued.

    "The limit is for an area that is a little over four square miles not be saturated (with medical marijuana facilities)," Jefferson said.

    Robb voted against the ordinance because he said the city should be limiting the number of facilities through zoning ordinances, not through the number of licenses issued.

    Ward 1 now has four medical marijuana facilities open or in the process of opening; Ward 2 has one dispensary; and ward 3 has three facilities and one more preparing to open.

    The new ordinance, which allows six dispensaries and three grow operations, comes after an emergency moratorium failed by a 3-3 vote in early June. That would have immediately prohibited any new medical marijuana facilities from opening, including those that have begun the process of opening.

    Council then approved the first reading of the new ordinance at its July 16 meeting.

    But at least one person who was already in the process of trying to open a dispensary has said he intends to get the dispensary open before the ordinance is enacted on Sept. 5.

    The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act passed overwhelmingly in Ypsilanti. In the 2008 vote on whether or not to legalize medical marijuana, Ward 1 voted 1,672 to 359 in favor of it. Ward 2 voted 2,278 to 577 in favor, and Ward 3 voted 1,833 to 441 in favor.

    Ward 1 representatives Jefferson and Richardson proposed the legislation after they said they heard complaints from residents about the number of dispensaries and grow operations, especially in Ward 1 on Ypsilanti’s south side.

    Jefferson underscored that Michigan's law doesn’t address medical marijuana dispensaries.

    "We've got enough dispensaries and there's a grow facility in the process of opening, so I don't know if we need anymore of those either," he said.


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