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

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    Much attention has been given to how the Detroit bankruptcy filing will affect the city’s pension funds, debt obligations and art museum, but one class of creditors is looking to stake their claims ahead of the pack.

    The Detroit News reports that plaintiffs in civil cases against the city of Detroit, including one Ann Arbor man owed more than $2 million, have filed requests with U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes to allow them to lift automatic stays on their cases and pursue their claims ahead of bankruptcy proceedings.

    stevenrhodes.jpg

    U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes is considering creating a committee for all civil plaintiffs against the City of Detroit, including Michael Beydoun.

    Courtesy photo

    Michael Beydoun, a 53-year-old architect from Ann Arbor, alleges in his request that the bankruptcy filing is a bid to dodge the payment he is owed after his vehicle was hit by a Detroit police officer who ran a red light while on patrol in 2009. According to the News, Beydoun’s lawyer said that the city tried to pressure Beydoun into taking a lesser settlement and threatened to appeal the case to the state Supreme Court.

    Judge Rhodes has said he is contemplating creating a committee to represent civil plaintiffs against the city, an option that Beydoun’s lawyer is not enthusiastic about.

    In May 2012, Beydoun took over management of a Mobil gas station on the corner of Carpenter Road and Washtenaw Avenue in Pittsfield Township.

    Ben Freed covers business for AnnArbor.com. You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Get in touch with Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at benfreed@annarbor.com. Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2


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    A Grand Rapids version of Mark Tucker's FoolMoon Festival will be part of ArtPrize 2013.

    20 artists from Ann Arbor are participating in ArtPrize 2013, Grand Rapids’ annual, international art exhibition and competition.

    As stated on ArtPrize’s website, “For 19 days, three square miles of downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, become an open playing field where anyone can find a voice in the conversation about what is art and why it matters. Art from around the world pops up in every inch of downtown, and it’s all free and open to the public.”

    In fact, the public determines ArtPrize’s overall winner by vote, and the top prize is $200,000; experts award additional prizes by jury.

    Those from Ann Arbor who are in the running this year are: Mark Tucker (FoolMoon Grand Rapids); Colin Raymond ("Permanent Address"); David Fischer ("Bio Constructives"); Shayne Davidson ("Civil War Soldiers"); Karen Moeller ("KaBOOM!"); Cathy Jacobs ("38 Candles: Self-Portrait as Marie Antoinette"); Marty Maehr ("Indwelling Phoenix Bird (Imagination)"); Susan Clinthorne ("Broken"); Geo Space ("Firefly"); Rachel Mulder ("Traveling Plastic Factory"); Nicholas James Farrell ("A Light in the Garden"); Robb N. Johnston ("A Triptych of Icons"); Christian Rasmussen ("The Inevit-Ability of Change"); Rosalyne Shieh ("Untitled"); Mark Lavengood ("Centennial Stomp"); William Cares ("Coasts: Near and Far"); Cristina Mezuk ("Mitosis"); Dennis Maloney ("Cardinal in Red Buds"); Andrew Holder ("Yves Fouquet: The Complete Portraits"); and Peter Warburton ("Sunflower for Hank").

    This year’s ArtPrize takes place September 18-October 6.

    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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    Day 2 of high school football practice in the state of Michigan was on Tuesday and at Whitmore Lake High School first-year coach Todd Pennycuff had the junior varsity and varsity teams practicing as one.

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


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    Percy_Frame.jpg

    Percy Frame

    Courtesy of the WCSO

    A 42-year-old man who was been outspoken and even removed from court during previous hearings was sentenced Monday to one to 10 years for using a knife to rob an acquaintance of a mountain bike.

    Percy Frame wasn’t quiet by any means during the sentencing in Judge Darlene O’Brien’s courtroom, but there wasn’t the type of volatility that characterized past appearances.

    Once again, Frame asked the court to look further into the incident because there were eyewitnesses who could clear his name.

    “Was anybody really looking at this case? I want someone to investigate this,” he said. “I’m going to the joint … about a bicycle.”

    There was also some dispute about the restitution Frame would have to pay for the bike, which had bent handlebars and flat tires when Frame was finished with it, said Assistant Washtenaw County Prosecutor Brenda Taylor.

    Police said Frame dropkicked an acquaintance and took the bike from him at knifepoint in Ypsilanti a year ago this month.

    “The defendant pulled a knife out and said, ‘I should cut you,’” Taylor said.

    The bike belonged to the victim’s stepson, according to Taylor, and had to be replaced with a brand new one costing $250 because Frame destroyed it.

    Frame contested the amount, saying he knew the bike was only worth about $50. Regardless, O’Brien ordered $250 as the restitution amount.

    Frame ultimately kept his cool and the sentencing went off without incident.

    “I shouldn’t have been using drugs,” Frame said. “I’m going to change. I’m going to turn a negative into a positive.”

    Attorneys in court Monday said Frame has been convicted of 27 misdemeanors in the past. Frame was sentenced concurrent terms of one to five years for carrying a weapon with unlawful intent and one to 10 years for larceny from a person. A count of armed robbery and his habitual offender status was dismissed.

    The judge also ruled that Frame, who has a history of homelessness, drug abuse and mental illness, is eligible for treatment while 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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    Sheriff_badge.jpg

    Police reported Tuesday night that they are investigating the attempted abduction of a 7-year-old girl in Ypsilanti Township.

    The attempted abduction took place in the 7400 block of Knollwood Drive, according to a Nixle alert issued by the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office at 11:04 p.m.

    The alert states that the girl was "chased by a middle age white male with a long beard and long brown hair."

    The girl did not see what kind of vehicle the suspect was driving. The man chased the girl to the doorstop of her home where she made it inside safely, according to the alert.

    Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Geoffrey Fox said Wednesday the incident occurred about 7:45 p.m. Tuesday. No one has been arrested to this point and deputies are still investigating.

    The girl was not injured during the incident. Fox said investigators will be talking with her again Wednesday.

    The sheriff's office wants anyone with information about the incident to immediately call 911 or (734) 994-2911 with any information about the suspect,.


    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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    Greensky-Bluegrass.jpg

    Greensky Bluegrass

    If you’re familiar with bluegrass music, then it should be apparent as soon as the band takes the Sonic Lunch stage downtown Thursday that Kalamazoo’s Greensky Bluegrass doesn’t quite fit the genre’s traditional model.

    For one thing, the subjects of their songs seem a little darker than one might expect. Their last album, “Handguns,” included tracks like “I'd Probably Kill You,” “Bring Out Your Dead” and “Blood Sucking F(r)iends.”

    “I think it’s our songwriting in general that makes us different from straight-ahead bluegrass,” said Paul Hoffman (mandolin, vocals). “It’s got a lot of the same elements of darkness (as “Handguns”),” he laughed.

    PREVIEW

    Greensky Bluegrass

    • Who: Kalamazoo quintet presented by Bank of Ann Arbor’s Sonic Lunch series.
    • What: Progressive bluegrass.
    • Where: Liberty Plaza, corner of South Division and East Liberty streets, Ann Arbor.
    • When: Noon Thursday, Aug. 15.
    • How much: Free. Info: www.soniclunch.com.
    The band is just finishing up a new album, scheduled to come out this fall.

    “I think there are a couple of tunes on this one that are a little lighter, though, (plus) some new rock tunes and some new, good bluegrass tunes. I’m excited for people to hear it,” Hoffman said.

    As its name suggests, the band does use traditional bluegrass instruments—banjo, guitar, upright bass and mandolin. But bluegrass doesn’t usually have distortion pedals, or horns either. Greensky does, at least on its albums.

    Not only are folks in the Midwest taking notice of the band, they are finding fans nationally as well. According to Rolling Stone, “Greensky Bluegrass is representing the genre for a whole new generation.” A busy touring schedule this year includes 42 fall dates, and in July they played the prestigious Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado.

    Hoffman said that even though the band’s songs are a little dark, they aren’t really a bunch of depressed guys who play musical instruments.

    “I’ve always found it easier to write like that,” he explained. “It’s like the blues guys do, it’s a form of catharsis to write this sad or lonesome material. It’s sort of a way to get it out and make it better, that’s what the blues guys used to say.

    “Sometimes when I try writing something really happy or cheery it seems so cliche. It’s just not my forte to spit those ones out.”

    Greensky Bluegrass is no stranger to Ann Arbor, with past shows at The Ark and the Blind Pig.

    “Both places have their own something to offer,” said Hoffman. “We really like the listening crowd at The Ark and the nice room, but we also really like the Pig. It’s more of a have fun, throw your hands in the air, hoot and holler kind of place.

    For outdoor Sonic Lunch show, hooting and hollering encouraged, he added.


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    Milan's Robert Kanitz eludes a tackle from Carleton Airport's Vincent Wright last season.

    Courtney Sacco I AnnArbor.com file

    Milan averaged more than 31 points per game and compiled a 10-1 overall record in 2012 behind a dual-threat attack from the quarterback position.

    But unlike most dual-threat attacks, Milan had different quarterbacks as those threats.

    Justin Aceves and Robert Kanitz split time under center last year, with Aceves doing most of the throwing and Kanitz almost exclusively running.

    Going into this year, Milan will once again run and pass from the quarterback position, but with Aceves now at Albion College, Kanitz will be doing it all.

    “I’m going to have to throw more this year,” Kanitz said Tuesday during a break in his team’s second practice of the year. “I’m not just a wildcat quarterback anymore.”

    Kanitz helped Milan finish its season strong last year and reach a district title game, averaging 171 yards per game rushing in his team’s final four. And for many of those yards, Kanitz looked more like a fullback than a quarterback.

    “He’s the type of guy where he plays quarterback like a linebacker, so our challenge is having him play quarterback like a quarterback, but still not tamping down that linebacker mentality because that’s one of his strengths,” Milan coach Jesse Hoskins said.

    In addition to Aceves, the Big Reds will also be without running back Arthur Dukes -- now at Morgan State -- who rushed for a Washtenaw County-high 1,473 yards last year.

    And while Kanitz will take on the passing game and a large running role, he won’t be expected to replace both of Milan’s offensive weapons.

    “Our goal is not to run Robert 20 times a game, but the way our offense works is we can naturally spread the ball around,” Hoskins said. “We would like to have an Arthur Dukes-type back, but it’s not essential.”

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


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    I waited in line at Krazy Jim's Blmpy Burger's for my last burger at this location on Tuesday. We're all hoping for word on a new location soon.

    Jessica Webster | AnnArbor.com

    Nearly everyone I know has a Blimpy Burger story.

    Some of them are sweet. Michael Jewett told the story of evenings spent with his dad, hitting the newsstand to stock up on comic books, then making the trip to Krazy Jim's for dinner. This trip always came with an admonition from Michael's dad, Coleman.

    "Don't tell your mom."

    Then there are the other stories, like my friend Jenn tells. She only went once. She had heard that she might get yelled at if she ordered the wrong way, and she was nervous. When longtime Blimpy staffer Davi asked her if she wanted any grilled items, Jenn blurted out: “I just want cheese.”

    Rule number 5 from the Blimpy ordering guidelines: “Just before the burger comes off the grill, you will be asked to pick what kind of cheese you prefer, if any.”

    Jenn ended up with just a piece of cheese on her bun. No burger.

    dolans_blimpy_line.jpg

    Dave and Shannon Dolan were first in line for a final visit to Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger, which is closing on Wednesday.

    Jessica Webster | AnnArbor.com

    My fondest Blimpy memories date back to the late 1990s. My ex-husband and I would get our burgers and root beers to go. By the time we got home, the grease would have soaked through the quadruple layer of napkins and the bottom of the paper sack we were transporting our meal in. We’d plate up our burgers and dine while we watched the Tigers find new ways to lose. The TV volume would be turned down and we’d listen to Ernie Harwell’s commentary on the radio.

    Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger is closing on Wednesday, hopefully just for a few months until a new location can be found. But just to be on the safe side, I decided it was time to make some new Blimpy memories with my 11-year-old son.

    Remembering that Blimpy opened at 11 a.m., we stopped for some cash at the bank and made our way down to the corner of Packard and Division at 10:30 Tuesday. We were overjoyed when we saw that we could park right in front of the restaurant. We were less overjoyed when we discovered the sign on the door saying that Blimpy wasn’t opening until noon.

    I tried to tell my son that this would make a better story for us to tell for years to come. He wasn’t buying it.

    We were the second group in line, behind another parent-child combo. Shannon and Dave Dolan arrived just a few minutes before we did. Dave had already been to the restaurant a few times in the past couple of weeks for goodbye visits with family and staff, but Shannon just got home from Europe so he decided to make one last trip with his daughter.

    Shannon was nervous about ordering: “I’ve been yelled at before.”

    She spent the time in line writing out her order and drilling her dad on the order process.

    “What burger do you want, Dad?"
    “I’ll have a double with a fried egg.”
    “DAD! I didn’t ask you about that yet! You have to wait until they ask you what you want from the grill!”

    The line started getting longer by about 11, and by 11:30 it had wrapped around the block. Those of us at the front of the line started wondering how much we could sell our prime spots for. It was decided that we’d probably be able to dine at the Chop House with the proceeds.

    The conversation in line turned to the question of whether it was a true Blimpy experience if you didn’t get yelled at. My son, overhearing this while playing Temple Run on my phone, paused the game and asked me for another ordering tutorial.

    At 11:54, the open sign was turned on and the crowd erupted in applause. A few minutes later, we were in.

    I’ve probably been to Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger nearly 100 times in my 24 years in Ann Arbor, but my pulse quickened as we stepped through the door, grabbed our drinks and our trays, and got ready to place our orders.

    My son made it through the line with no troubles, spitting out his rehearsed answers to the appropriate questions at the appropriate times. I was proud. I, on the other hand, got chastised for having my cell phone visible as I documented our last visit. I thought about explaining that this was more of a camera than a cell phone, but decided I didn’t want to risk getting kicked out.

    “Would they really kick you out for talking back?” asked my son. I told him I didn’t want to find out.

    I checked in with Shannon and Dave on our way to the table with our trays.

    “I got yelled at three times,” laughed Shannon with a grin.

    There wasn’t anything special about my last (for now) Blimpy Burger. I got a quad with American cheese on a Kaiser bun - I went with an extra patty for good luck. The mixed veggies were as delicious as always. The only thing different was that this order was served with a side of sadness.

    “Don’t think of this as a favorite Ann Arbor restaurant that’s closing,” said my son, trying to comfort me. “Let’s think of this as a great restaurant we found in another city that we might not ever visit again.”

    Owner Rich Magner told AnnArbor.com’s Lizzy Alfs that he’s close to signing a lease for another location, and that he could be up and running again in a few months. I’ll take comfort in that, too.

    So for now, it’s not good bye. Instead, we’ll say au revoir, Blimpy Burger. I hope to see you soon.

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


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    Note: This story originally said the meeting is Wednesday. The meeting is actually on Aug. 28.

    The City of Ypsilanti Planning Commission is holding a public hearing at 7 p.m. Aug. 28 to consider a Planned Unit Development rezoning related to the Family Dollar set to be located on the Water Street Redevelopment Area.

    Thumbnail image for Water_Street_Lot.jpg

    A public hearing will be held to consider a Planned Unit Development rezoning related to the development of .85 acres of the Water Street Redevelopment Area.

    The meeting will consist of a presentation and public hearing regarding the rezoning of the site, which is currently zoned as a B4, General Business and Entryway Overlay.

    The applicant is proposing to construct an 8,320-square-foot Family Dollar discount retail store, parking, sidewalks, related landscaping and a portion of Lincoln Street.

    In May, the Ypsilanti City Council approved the purchase of .85 acres of Water Street’s 38-acre site. Core Resources will pay the city $210,000 for the land.

    The $1.2 million Family Dollar store will be located on the southwest corner of Michigan Avenue and Park Street.

    All citizens are invited to attend the meeting at 1 South Huron Street in Ypsilanti or send written comments to the Community and Economic Development Department.

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


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    Pittsfield Township could soon have security cameras like these in Ypsilanti Township.

    AnnArbor.com file photo

    The Pittsfield Township Board of Trustees will consider purchasing six security cameras at its regular meeting Wednesday.

    The cameras would first be installed on township properties in places like parks, parking lots and outside of restrooms, but could eventually be included at three apartment complexes, said Public Safety Director Matt Harshberger.

    In the case of the restrooms, there have been problems with things like vandalism and graffiti, Harshberger said.

    The township is also currently in negotiations with real estate company McKinley, Inc. about installing cameras near exits and entrances at Glencoe Hills, 2201 Glencoe Hills Dr., Evergreen Apartments, 3089 Woodland Hills Dr. and Golfside Lake, 2345 Woodridge Way.

    Harshberger said there have been problems at these three complexes in the past.

    “This gives us an added opportunity for security,” he said.

    Many of the details of about the program have yet to be hashed out. The first step will take place Wednesday night when the board will decide whether to purchase six security cameras, one server with offsite hosting and repair/maintenance service for one year from Camtronics. The total price tag for all of it is $31,667, with $28,500 coming from a state grant the township has been award. Pittsfield would provide 10 percent matching funds for the program.

    Harshberger said all six cameras might be used at the township locations or they could be spread around immediately to the apartment complexes depending on the negotiations with McKinley. The township could also acquire more cameras in the future.

    The cameras will be useful in not only reviewing crimes that could occurred within their shots, but obtaining suspect and vehicle descriptions and locating missing people, Harshberger said.

    The success of the Washtenaw County Sheriff Office's program in Ypsilanti Township's West Willow neighborhood provided inspiration and prompted Pittsfield to look into the cameras, Harshberger added.

    The township has consulted with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) about how to place the cameras in places that violate privacy the least.

    Harshberger said the township is very much "tuned into those concerns."

    The issue is also addressed in the memorandum to the rest of the board from Township Supervisor Mandy Grewal, who is recommending the purchase.

    "The Department of Public Safety has been working with the township's attorney and the ACLU to ensure that cameras installed on public property will be used in the least intrusive manner," the memo states, "while allowing for identification of persons and vehicles when necessary."

    Grewal could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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


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    The Ann Arbor Board of Education will meet Wednesday at the downtown library for a regular meeting at which it is expected to ratify a contract with the new superintendent, Jeanice Kerr Swift, and discuss a sinking fund millage renewal for the November ballot.

    AnnArbor.com file photo

    The Ann Arbor Board of Education will tackle two important items of business Wednesday to put in place new leadership and renew a crucial funding source for the district.

    The school board is expected to approve a contract for superintendent-elect Jeanice Kerr Swift, as well as to decide whether it will place a sinking fund millage renewal on the ballot for the November election.

    The board voted 4-3 on July 31 to offer the superintendency to Swift, an assistant superintendent of instruction, curriculum and student services from Colorado Springs. Swift accepted the position within a few hours, and formal contract negotiations began between her and board President Deb Mexicotte.

    Although as of Tuesday afternoon the superintendent contract was not yet listed on the board's agenda for Wednesday's regular meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. at the downtown Ann Arbor District Library, Mexicotte said she plans to bring forward a draft contract for the full board to review. Both she and Swift have preliminarily agreed to its stipulations, Mexicotte said, adding she could not discuss the details at this time.

    "No one has signed it. We do believe she is on board with it," the board president said.

    She said if there is any discussion on the contract that she brings forward, it will take place in open session. Questions on specific details, if there are any, also will be fleshed out in open session.

    If there are major changes that trustees want made, they could move to go into executive session, Mexicotte said. However, then the contract likely would not be ratified Wednesday evening, but would instead go back into negotiations.

    Mexicotte said she will be asking the board to authorize her to make any adjustments to form or language and to execute the contract, including both offering the parameters to Swift as a formal contract and signing the contract.

    If the board approves the contract Wednesday, it will act in open session.

    The board will have to act Wednesday on a sinking fund millage renewal proposal, if it wants to place the renewal on November's ballot.

    The deadline for submitting certified proposal language to the county clerks office is Aug. 27 for the Nov. 5 election. The Board of Education certifies the proposal language by adopting it through a vote, said Washtenaw County Director of Elections Ed Golembiewski.

    Mexicotte said the board could call another meeting prior to Aug. 27, but she expects the board likely will move forward Wednesday with putting the proposal on the ballot this fall.

    "The board is well aware that this millage expires next year. It is not atypical for the board to put a renewal on the ballot well ahead of the actual expiration in case anything goes awry (and the millage is not approved) and we have to take another shot," she said. "We've been so busy with other things ... that this kind of snuck up on us. It's my personal expectation we'll approve (the language) Wednesday, but I really haven't talked to the board about it."

    The district's sinking fund was last renewed by voters in the Ann Arbor Public Schools in 2008. Ann Arbor's sinking fund levies 1 mill and allows the district to spend taxpayers' money as it is collected, unlike a bond millage, which involves the district borrowing the full amount of the bond upfront from a third-party lender.

    Per state law, sinking fund dollars can be used for the purchase of real estate, construction projects or building repairs. Sinking fund money cannot be used for operational, transportation or technology costs.

    AAPS school officials say the sinking fund is necessary for maintaining the district's physical properties in budget-crunched times. Most of the district's repairs and upgrades are completed with sinking fund money, as opposed to general fund money, as AAPS and districts across Michigan have faced budget shortfalls and deficits that have required them to slim down program offerings for students and reduce staff at their schools.

    Former AAPS Executive Director of Physical Properties Randy Trent said in March, the district may want to consider a combination bond/sinking fund when it goes out for its next millage renewal. Trent said then that one reason to have a dual proposal would be because of the restrictions the state places on both types of funding.

    Trent left AAPS in July to accept a position with the Washtenaw Intermediate School District. He had been in the district for 28 years.

    Trent said in March, if school officials asked voters to approve a bond/sinking fund combination for the same taxable value of 1 mill, the district would have the flexibility to address classroom furniture and equipment issues that currently it cannot. Trent said the district has a need to replace some classroom desks, tables and chairs; office and lunchroom furniture to the tune of $5 million that it could not replace using sinking fund money.

    Mexicotte said Tuesday she expects there will be some discussion among school board members at Wednesday's meeting about whether to go out for a combination sinking fund/bond in November.

    Local State Rep. Adam Zemke, D-Ann Arbor, also proposed a series of bills this spring that loosen restrictions on sinking fund dollars for schools and would permit districts to spending sinking fund money on transportation and busing repairs, technology purchases and upgrades and school safety measures and security equipment.

    The bills currently are sitting in either the Michigan House of Representatives Committee on Education or Tax Policy Committee. It is not known whether this legislation will be discussed Wednesday or will factor at all into the Ann Arbor board's decision on whether to push forward with a sinking fund millage renewal this fall.

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


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    How will Ypsilanti respond to developer Stewart Beal’s request to extend the deadline for completing the Thompson Block by another year?

    That question was supposed to be resolved in a closed session meeting with City Council, staff and city attorneys on Tuesday morning.

    Thompson_Block_Windows.jpg

    More of the Thompson Block's envelope was completed in July.

    Photo courtesy of Stewart Beal

    Instead, not enough council members showed up to allow the meeting to go into closed session, and Council Member Pete Murdock walked out in frustration after the discussion about the Thompson Block “went in circles, like it always does.”

    "There’s nothing the city can do,” Murdock said. “We just don’t do anything and (Beal) does whatever the hell he wants and that’s what he does. When it becomes totally financially unviable, then he’ll bail out.”

    Council Member Susan Moeller, Council Member Brian Robb and Mayor Pro Tem Lois Richardson did not attend. Five council members are needed to bring the meeting into closed session.

    Per a consent agreement signed by Beal and the city after months of legal wrangling in 2010, the Thompson Block is to have its outer envelope, including all outer walls and the roof, completed by Sept. 1.

    But that deadline is approaching and Beal is requesting an extension that would allow him until the end of 2014 or early 2015 to complete the building — more than five years after a fire gutted it in September of 2009.

    The city now must consider whether to agree to the extension or take the matter back to court. All four walls are complete — as are eight other points that were part of the consent agreement — but the lack of a roof means the building still violates the city’s dangerous buildings ordinance.

    The city could take the issue up in the court system, or it could agree to the new deadline.

    Murdock said part of the reason he left the meeting was because no viable options were being discussed. He questioned whether the project can even be completed.

    “In the abstract you would like to see the building refurbished, and blah, blah, blah,” Murdock said. “In reality, I don’t think it’s economically viable.”

    Beal recently announced that he was seeking investors to purchase shares in the building. He has $2 million in loans and needs to raise another $2 million through private investment or loans to make the project happen. He also has $2 million in tax credits he said he will sell to pay off loans or investors.

    Mayor Paul Schreiber struck a more patient tone. He said he understands the frustration but noted the building is better positioned than when jailed landlord David Kircher owned it, and he is hopeful Beal can pull together the necessary funding.

    He said such a redevelopment is tricky but he believes the Thompson Block would certainly pay off once a train stop comes to Depot Town. Blocking the redevelopment through more legal action isn’t the best option, Schreiber said.

    “The city should be trying to encourage development and helping Mr. Beal, but also not letting it go on forever,” Schreiber said. “It’s not unusual for developments to lag, so I hope the city can negotiate some type of agreement that lets him go forward, get some investors and helps him develop the property.”

    Schreiber said he was part of the redevelopment of the Hamilton Crossing housing project, which dragged on for a decade before reaching its conclusion.

    “I think frustration is a part of any development,” he said. “In the Parkview redevelopment that turned into Hamilton Crossing, there were a lot of dark days.

    “Developers have lots of patience and look for ways to get things done. As long as we’re making progress, I think that’s good.”

    Council Member Ricky Jefferson declined to discuss the issues.

    “I have to look at everything and we still have some things the attorney has to bring to us,” he said.

    Murdock said he isn’t the only one feeling frustration over the slow progress.

    “People are sick of looking at the building, tired of hearing about it and with all the public relations Beal does he has virtually zero credibility with anyone for getting this project done,” Murdock said.

    Responding to suggestions from the public that the city tear the building down and install a park, Schreiber said he felt a park would add little to Depot Town.

    “A park is not going to add to the property value, and it’s not going to add to Depot Town’s commerce. That would keep anything from developing there for the next 20 years. We’ve got a start on development and I think we should finish the development,” he said.

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


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    The cast of Encore Theatre's "Les Miserables."

    As the summer comes to a close, so do most of Washtenaw’s theater seasons. Along with the season wrap up comes a slew of awards for excellence from Michigan theater critics. This coming Monday, Michigan’s professional theater community will celebrate another year of excellence with the 12th annual Wilde Awards, hosted by the Michigan Equity Theatre Alliance. As always, Washtenaw County is well represented.

    Did you know that the Wilde Awards are open to the public? This year’s awards will feature performances by Naz Edwards, John Seibert, Thalia Schramm, Brian Thibault, Madison Deadman, and more. To celebrate with Michigan’s favorite actors, designers, and directors, visit The Berman Center's online box office.

    Show: “Translations” by Brian Friel, through August 31 Company: Carriage House Theatre Type of Company: Pre-professional Venue/location: Carriage House Theatre, 541 Third St, Ann Arbor Recommended ages: 12+ Description: Translations, by acclaimed Irish playwright Brian Friel, is set in a rural school in the town of Baile Beag in 1833, when Ireland is under direct British rule. The schoolmaster’s son Owen has returned from Dublin, accompanied by two English officers with orders to survey the area and standardize place names - which means translating them into the King’s English. As the residents of Baile Beag struggle to find their place in this anglicizing world, young lieutenant Yolland begins to fall in love with Baile Beag as it is, its language, and a young woman who attends the school. Language itself, with its ability to both unite and divide, stands at the crossroads between imperial powers and cultural heritage, between tradition and progress in this complex play about identity in a changing world. Fun fact: Baile Beag ("Small Town") is a fictional village, created by Friel as a setting for several of his plays, although there are many real places called Ballybeg throughout Ireland. For tickets and information: carriagehousetheatre.org Show: “Les Miserables,” based on the novel by Victor Hugo, music by Claude-Michel Schonberg, and English libretto by Herbert Kretzmer, through August 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 nineteen 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! http://www.annarbor.com/entertainment/encore-scores-big-with-its-small-version-of-les-miserables/ Fun fact: Victor Marie Hugo (26 February 1802 - 22 May 1885) was considered one of the greatest and best known French writers. In France, Hugo's literary fame comes first from his poetry but also rests upon his novels and his dramatic achievements. Among many volumes of poetry, Les Contemplations and La Légende des siècles stand particularly high in critical esteem. 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?” Fun fact: Grunge music becomes popular in 1991, the year the play is set, because of the success of Nirvana's Nevermind, Pearl Jam's "Ten" and Soundgarden's "Badmotorfinger." For tickets and information: purplerosetheatre.org, 734-433-7673 Show: “My Other Voice” by Alex Kipp, through September 1 Company: Alex Kipp Productions Type of Company: Professional Equity, Special Appearance Contract Venue/location: Walgreen Drama Center, 1226 Murfin, Ann Arbor Recommended ages: 16+ Description: “My Other Voice” is Alex Kipp’s autobiographical play about his battle with non-Hodgkins lymphoma while a senior at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance at the University of Michigan. Kip, 25, a native of Columbus, Ohio, was given a 15-30 percent chance of survival after being diagnosed, and lost his voice during subsequent treatment at the U-M Medical Center. “No longer able to speak or sing,” he said, “I had to find a new identity.” Now in complete remission, Kip wrote "My Other Voice" with the goal of providing inspiration and hope to other cancer patients. Fun fact: Prior to the play’s upcoming premiere, it received several readings with industry professionals in New York City and had a staged reading in Columbus, Ohio. The Ann Arbor production will feature U-M faculty, students, and other industry professionals both on stage and behind the scenes. For tickets and information: http://akipprod.com/tickets.html 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. http://www.annarbor.com/entertainment/performance-network-explores-art-and-family-in-my-name-is-asher-lev/ Fun fact: The first "Brooklyn Crucifixion", a work by Asher which plays a central role in the novel's conclusion, is an actual painting by Potok, who was an accomplished artist as well as a novelist and rabbi; the second Crucifixion, which is described in the book as being superior to the first, does not have a real-life counterpart. For tickets and information: 734-663-0696, www.performancenetwork.org/


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    Christopher Tillison

    Courtesy of the state of Michigan

    A 26-year-old Ypsilanti man will spend up to 20 years in prison for shooting a man in the knee during a robbery.

    Christopher Tillison was sentenced Tuesday to 14-20 years in prison by Judge Donald Shelton in the Washtenaw County Trial Court: 12-20 years for two counts of armed robbery and two years for one count of felony firearm.

    Tillison pleaded guilty to the three counts July 17. A count of assault with intent to murder, armed robbery, first-degree home invasion and felon in possession of a firearm were dismissed, as was a habitual offender status, in the plea bargain.

    Two counts of witness intimidation that were brought in May were dismissed 20 days later, court records indicate.

    Tillison was on parole when police said he shot a man in the knee during a robbery on July 10, 2012 in the 300 block of Bedford Drive, a street in the Huron Ridge apartments of Ypsilanti Township.

    A second person was said to be involved in the incident, but no one else was ever arrested or charged in the incident.

    He has seven previous felony convictions, according to state records. Charges of assaulting, resisting or obstructing a police officer; possession of less than 25 grams of cocaine; receiving and concealing stolen property between $1,000 and $20,000 and two charges of second-degree home invasion stem from a March 19, 2009, incident, records show.

    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 lured a woman behind an Ypsilanti home and raped her late last month, according to a crime alert sent out by Eastern Michigan University.

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    Ypsilanti police are investigating a report of a sexual assault that took place between 9:30 and 10 p.m. July 30 but was not reported until Tuesday. The incident took place near the intersection of Ballard and Emmet streets.

    According to the crime alert, a woman — who is not a student — was walking in the area when a man approached her and asked to use her cellphone. The man then took the woman behind a residence and raped her, according to the alert.

    The incident is described as a first-degree criminal sexual conduct case. First-degree criminal sexual conduct involves sexual penetration.

    The woman described the man as black, in his late 20s, with a dark complexion. He’s about 5-feet-11 inches tall, with an athletic build, shaved or bald head, no facial hair and was last seen wearing a dark T-shirt and long basketball style shorts.

    Ypsilanti police Detective Sgt. Tom Eberts said the case is still under investigation Wednesday.

    Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to call the Ypsilanti police at 734-483-9510 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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    "Lawrence of Arabia"

    Sometimes it takes a big screen to do justice to a big movie like “Lawrence of Arabia.”

    Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness and Anthony Quinn star in David Lean’s 1962 classic, based on the life of flamboyant and controversial British Army officer T.E. Lawrence, showing Sunday and Tuesday at the Michigan Theater as part of its Summer Classics series.

    The film’s themes include Lawrence's emotional struggles with the personal violence inherent in war, his personal identity, and his divided allegiance between his native Britain and its army and his newfound comrades within the Arabian desert tribes.

    O'Toole is generally considered brilliant in the title role, an officer who becomes a hero and then seeks anonymity under an assumed name. One of the film’s most amazing scenes, with horses jumping from a train, probably wouldn't even be allowed today.

    “Lawrence of Arabia” is one of those films that really need to be seen on the big screen to be fully appreciated, and the Michigan Theater is the perfect place.

    Summer Classics film series presents “Lawrence of Arabia” at the Michigan Theater, 603 E Liberty St., Ann Arbor, Sunday, Aug. 18 at 1:30 p.m. and Tuesday, Aug. 20 at 7 p.m. Admission is $10 (with discounts for students, seniors & theater members). Details at www.michtheater.org or 734-668-8397. Advance tickets at ticketweb.com. 216 minutes. Rated PG.


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    Biercamp Artisan Meats

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

    The first thing to like about Biercamp Artisan Meats is the distinctive whiff of hard wood smoke when you pull into the tiny parking lot behind the storefront next to the Produce Station. Biercamp, a meat lover's paradise, is a trove of smoked and cured sausages, bacon and jerky (and a few meaty sandwiches) that you'd expect in either Escanaba or Brooklyn, but which has found a home in Ann Arbor.

    As you approach the door, the atmospheric haze of woodsmoke starts some powerful associations and prepares you to enter feeling like Ernest Hemingway stocking up for adventure on a big two-hearted river—even if all you're on is your lunch hour.

    Inside the minimalist, olde-timey space, there are perhaps four spindly little stools (on which I can't imagine Papa sitting) where you could pull up to perch near the window. Hemingway would doubtless have chosen the sturdy picnic tables outside under a tree.

    If you are on your lunch hour, it's better if it's a nice day outside—unless you want to take your sandwich to go. And if you want a sandwich to go, plan on waiting a bit — at least five or 10 minutes even if you're first in line. This is slow food in a couple of different ways.

    Biercamp offers just a few regularly scheduled prepared sandwich options (and grilled sausages on game days). Each of their sandwiches is served on a small, plain conveyance of a bun guaranteed not to distract you from the smoky meaty goodness inside. Mondays, the "16 hour" finely shredded pulled-pork sandwich becomes available. Tuesdays a smoky "12 hour" beef brisket option is added. And Fridays the "steamship round," a tender, long-cooked roast beef sandwich with horseradish dressing, is available.

    RESTAURANT REVIEW

    Biercamp Artisan Meats
    1643 S. State St., Ann Arbor
    734-995-2437
    www.bier-camp.com
    • Hours: Monday - Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
    • Plastic: All
    • Liquor: Beer is available for purchase but no consumption on site
    • Prices: Moderate. Smallish sandwiches start at $4.99
    • Noise level: Quiet
    • Wheelchair access: Yes
    The bun may be nondescript, but all the sandwiches are yummy in a good back-yard cookout kind of way, and nicely complemented by the sweet onion and tart pickle that's included. The pulled pork could have been a tiny bit juicier, but the crispy burned bits in with the smoky shredded meat and the just barely spicy BBQ sauce made up for it. The brisket was also superior. Mine was lean but very tender and also appealingly smoky and served with the BBQ sauce. The steamship round was a juicy roast beef sandwich, but even with a tangy horseradish sauce it was a bit more bland than the brisket.

    To go with your sandwich you can get some dill-pickle potato chips and beverages like Faygo's original root beer, Towne Club's "Michigan Cherry," or Squirt. What you cannot get is a beer to drink on-site, though you can get a growler to take away.

    When we tried recently to get a growler on a Monday, they were out of beer and said it would be a few days before they'd have some again. I had wanted to try the beer with a tailgate kind of picnic — with a bunch of their summer sausages and sides. Instead, we had to be satisfied with just a grocery bag full of food.

    In fact, I spent enough that one of the owners ringing me up gave me a reusable bag with the Biercamp logo on it, saying "you're so close to $100 that I just threw it in."

    I did my best to get a representative selection of their house-made cured sausages and sides, enough to make the woman behind me comment, "I want to come to your place for lunch."

    As an appetizer, the bright orange tavern cheese spread with scallions and bacon reminded me of the classic horseradish-spiked Win Schuler's Bar Scheeze and is just as hard to stop eating. The jerky pate with Michigan dried tart cherries was also a winner—cream cheese based, nicely balanced spices, and laced with corned beef jerky and tiny bits of cherry.

    Some of the more interesting sides included smoked olives and pickled cherries — both unusual and strangely compelling. Others, like the sweet and sour sauerkraut salad and the boring picnic pasta macaroni salad with peas and carrots, were more prosaic. Somewhere in the middle were the pickled local eggs with lots of vinegar pucker, thin-sliced bread and butter pickles with the yellow mustard seeds, and double smoked Amish goat cheese—a very strong cheese dusky with infused smoky flavor.

    Tasso Cajun ham in a spicy red coating of smoked paprika, cayenne and allspice was excellent, savory and lip-tingling. Sold in small pieces that look more like bacon, the package notes that it is "great for seasoning." Note to self next time I am making gumbo.

    A well-known local chef gave his thumbs-up to the meaty and nicely balanced pork and beef smoked summer sausage saying Biercamp had hit the mark on their spice mix. The summer sausage also comes in a delicious version conveniently pre-stuffed with cubes of pepper jack cheese, saving that extra step of adding cheese to your cracker. I read a comment recently where someone said they were no longer bothering to eat sausages unless they were stuffed with cheese. This person should also try Biercamp's excellent cheesy hotdogs.

    Nostalgia made me very interested in Biercamp's "braunschweiger smoked liverwurst." Braunschweiger is a taste of childhood to me, something that my grandmother served sandwiched with her own tart and hot pickled banana peppers. Where her braunschweiger was silky and smooth, the Biercamp version is more rustic, like a chunky pate de campagne with the earthy taste of liver just mildly present.

    I was also excited to take another trip down memory lane with the dill pickle bologna spread. As a kid, I ate bologna in every configuration, including fried, pickled, ground, and spread with Miracle Whip and rolled into a tube. Ground bologna salad was a treat my mom made every once in a while with an old fashioned meat grinder. She told me recently that the secret to good bologna salad was Miracle Whip and lots of sweet pickle. Biercamp uses actual mayonnaise and plenty of dill pickle in theirs, and it is both meaty and pickle-y. Their ground bologna spread may have returned to its small-town roots, but it definitely had read better literature than the one my mom served on Hillbilly bread with iceberg lettuce.

    At Biercamp, surrounded by northwoods general store touchstones and scores of jerkys, bacons, and sausages, I couldn't quite escape a sense of the ironic celebration of proletarian pleasures. But there's a reason why we like that. And they do a nice job with the smoke.

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


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    Mira Shifrin needs a new flute, so she’s raising money for the instrument by performing a fundraising concert.

    Buying a professional-model flute is comparable to buying a new luxury car, Shifrin, who plays at Kerrytown Concert House Sunday afternoon, said. Due to the intricacies of custom-made instruments, she needs $30,000 for a Burkart flute.

    The KCH program features all unaccompanied works showcasing the breadth and beauty of the flute. This is one of a tour of fundraising recitals being presented throughout the state.

    Originally from Ann Arbor and now from Kalamazoo, Shifrin first fell in love with classical music when she was three years old while watching “Fantasia.” Once she picked up the flute, her first teacher was her father.

    Thus began a lifelong passion for the instrument, performing, teaching - and now, at appears, fundraising.

    Mira Shifrin performs at Kerrytown Concert House, 415 N. Fourth Ave., at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug.18. Admission is $25-$5. Details at www.kerrytownconcerthouse.com or 734-769-2999.


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    University of Michigan is experiencing a newly sophisticated type of cyber attack: An email scam that attempts to get employees' passwords, gain access to their personal information and redirect their direct deposits.

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    University of Michigan is warning employees to be careful of email phishing scams.

    AP photo

    The school is no stranger to phishing attempts. Employees receive several spear phishing attempts —in which scammers impersonate an institution, in this case U-M, in an effort to get victims to offer up sensitive information— each month. For example U-M has recorded six wide-scale phishing attempts already this month and more than 60 since January.

    However, in past scams perpetrators haven't taken advantage of the information gleaned to manipulate an employee's direct deposit account. Attempts are also becoming more convincing.

    In recent weeks multiple U-M employees have had their direct deposit accounts changed, although U-M was able to recover all the funds.

    "That's an activity that we haven't seen before," said U-M chief security officer Paul Howell. "It wasn't always the case that the information was being used."

    The school estimates less than 10 people who fell prey to the fishing attempts had their direct deposit access manipulated. All together, less than 50 people have offered up their personal information or passwords to scammers in recent weeks.

    Successful attempts can disclose passwords, which can leave vulnerable an employee's U-M account and all the information held within it, putting them at risk for identity theft. If a victim uses the password for other accounts, those accounts can be breeched as well.

    "The defenses against these things are very difficult," Howell said.

    The phishing attempts range in sophistication and believability. For example, an attempt on August 13 had the subject line "NOTIFICATION !!!," but others have had subject lines like "Letter From University of Michigan" and have signed off saying "The Regents of the University of Michigan."

    Some have linked to webpages —on which the perpetrator instructs the victim to enter their password— that don't look at all like a U-M interface, while other webpages have been very convincing.

    An email that convinced several U-M employees to offer up personal information is transcribed below:

    Date: Tuesday, August 06, 2013 Subject: Letter From University of Michigan

    Dear User,

    Your account profile will expire today.

    Kindly Click Here [LINK REMOVED] to validate.

    Sincerely, University of Michigan

    All rights reserved. Copyright © 2013 University of Michigan

    U-M has firewalls and filters in place to detect email scam, but with perpetrators constantly honing their attempts, phishing can be difficult to thwart.

    "They're getting more sophisticated," U-M Police Department spokeswoman Diane Brown said of the hackers. "[We] make patches to try to stop them but the perpetrators find another unique way to make it look more legit and it passes through filters."

    U-M is trying to educate its workers on how to avoid phishing attempts and differentiate scam emails from legitimate U-M ones. Brown stressed the importance of not using the same password for multiple accounts and regularly checking direct deposit and payroll information.

    The school cautions employees to beware of emails that have a sense of urgency and use terms like "validate," "verify" and "update your account." Employees are cautioned to look at URLs included in emails to see if they match the umich.edu platform. Also, when entering a password letters should be hidden after entered. If they're not, that's a sign something could be amiss.

    Below is a U-M-produced video on avoiding phishing attempts.

    Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for AnnArbor.com. Reach her at kelliewoodhouse@annarbor.com or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.


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    The exterior of Blimpy Burger captured by local photographer Thomas Nighswander.

    Hours-long lines haven't stopped hungry patrons from lining up for one last taste of Blimpy Burger in its current location. See some of the photos captured by diners during their final visit to the popular Divison Street destination.

    Have your Blimpy Burger photos featured by using the hashtag #a2photos on Instagram and Twitter or by uploading them using our online form.


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