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

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    After more than a quarter century at the corner of South Fifth Avenue and East Liberty Street, Oppenheimer & Co. announced recently that it has signed a lease to move to new offices on North Main Street.

    Oppenheimer_exterior.JPG

    After more than 25 years at 301 E. Liberty St. Oppenheimer & Co. will move to North Main Street at the end of September.

    Ben Freed | AnnArbor.com

    “Change is good,” broker John Ross said. “…We have been here [at the same location] for more than 26 years and we were looking for more parking spaces and a different space. We like the downtown area so we’re going to the very north edge of it.”

    Ross said the company’s six local employees will move to their new home at 320 North Main Street at the end of September.

    Jim Chaconas and Brendan Cavender of Colliers International Ann Arbor represented both Oppenheimer & Co. and their new landlord, McKinley Inc., in the transaction.

    Oppenheimer’s new 4,471 square-foot space is being built out and is approximately the same size as the company’s current offices on the second floor of 301 E. Liberty St.

    AnnArbor.com/MLive Media Group has offices on the first and seventh floors of the same building, which was purchased by Dahlmann Properties in June for $10.6 million.

    Oppenheimer’s current space in the building has not been listed for lease by any local real estate agents or on the Dahlmann Properties website.

    Ross said that as part of the move, the company plans to hire financial consultants to the office.

    “We do financial planning and investments for high net worth individuals,” he said. “We consider ourselves a boutique firm and we’re growing.”

    Oppenheimer & Co. is a full service investment bank founded in the 1880s and headquartered in New York City. The company and has branches in 27 states including thirteen in Michigan.

    The company will move from it's current location (A) to it's new location (B) in late September.


    View Larger Map

    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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    arbor_hills_new_sign.jpg

    The newly-installed Arbor Hills sign along Platt Road welcomes shoppers to the 90,700-square-foot boutique shopping center.

    Lizzy Alfs | AnnArbor.com

    Years of planning and months of construction are winding down, and the new Arbor Hills shopping center is prepared to welcome its first customers on Thursday morning.

    The 90,700-square-foot, four-building boutique shopping center on Washtenaw Avenue between Platt Road and Huron Parkway will celebrate its grand opening starting at 10 a.m. on Aug. 22.

    anthro_arbor_hills.jpg

    The Anthropologie storefront at Arbor Hills crossing center

    Here are 5 things you should know about the shopping center’s opening:

    Select stores open Thursday

    Arbor Hills has 18 confirmed tenants, which includes a mix of national retailers, a regional pizza restaurant and several local businesses.

    Restaurant tenants in the center include Pizzeria Biga and Zola Bistro — a restaurant by the owners of downtown Ann Arbor’s Cafe Zola.

    North Shore Properties Group’s Max Reiswerg, one of the Arbor Hills developers, said he’s negotiating a lease with a high-profile restaurant user for one of two remaining spaces in the shopping center.

    Eleven tenants in Arbor Hills will open on Thursday, while the remaining seven are still working on individual build-outs and will open in the next two months.

    Tenants opening Thursday are: Glassbox Coffee & Juice, Madewell, My Urban Toddler, Hot Mama, Running Fit, Sur La Table, lululemon, The North Face, V2V, Paper Source and Anthropologie.

    Parking at the center

    The City of Ann Arbor approved the Arbor Hills site plan with 310 parking spaces.

    The center diverges from the typical shopping center layout — with buildings set far back from the road and a sea of parking in front. The parking spaces at Arbor Hills are dispersed next to and behind the four buildings on the site.

    For a shopping center the size of Arbor Hills, the city requires a minimum of one parking space per every 310 square feet of gross floor area. City planning manager Wendy Rampson said Arbor Hills provides one space for every 290 square feet of gross floor area — slightly more than what is required by ordinance.

    “Tenant mix will have something to do with how crowded the parking lot feels, but the goal is to have enough parking spaces to serve the uses without requiring unused pavement,” she wrote via email.

    She also noted a bus pullout was added in front of the shopping center and the new traffic signal will allow pedestrians to safely cross Washtenaw Avenue. The Huron Village shopping center anchored by Whole Foods Market is located across the street from Arbor Hills.

    sur_la_table_ann_arbor_new.jpg

    Specialty cookware retailer Sur La Table will host $5 cooking demonstrations for its grand opening.

    Lizzy Alfs | AnnArbor.com

    “The (Huron Village) center continues to be highly successful, which indicates that customers are willing to spend a moment or two looking for an open parking space. We anticipate that Arbor Hills will adapt in a similar way if customers express concerns about the availability of parking,” she said.

    New traffic signal is operational

    The new traffic light at the intersection of Platt and Washtenaw is now fully operational. Before drivers reach the signal, they are met with a traffic sign that notifies them of the light.

    Drivers should also note, there are no left turns directly out of the shopping center onto Washtenaw Avenue. To turn left, drivers should use the Platt Road exit.

    Deals and giveaways

    For deal-savvy shoppers, several Arbor Hills tenants will offer discounts and freebies on Thursday and throughout the weekend.

    Promotions include: Madewell — a casual women’s clothing and accessories retailer owned by J.Crew — will offer the first 50 shoppers on Thursday a mystery discount between $25 and $250; My Urban Toddler will have raffles, giveaways and special sales through Labor Day; the first 50 customers at Hot Mama boutique on Thursday will receive gift cards and all shoppers will receive 15 percent off every purchase through Aug. 25; specialty cookware retailer Sur La Table will offer special demonstration cooking classes for $5.

    lululemon_ann_arbor_storefront.jpg

    Lululemon athletica offers free fitness classes at its stores nationwide.

    Lizzy Alfs | AnnArbor.com

    Group fitness classes

    Yoga-inspired clothing store lululemon athletica regularly offers free fitness classes at its stores.

    To celebrate the Ann Arbor store opening, lululemon will host three group events on opening weekend: a 5k trail run on Aug. 24, a CrossFit class on Aug. 24, and a “Go W/ The Flow” Vinyasa yoga class with Ben Rivet and Tori Reynolds on Aug. 25. (See more details on the lululemon Ann Arbor website)

    Running Fit, an Ann Arbor-based retailer with eight stores in Michigan, offers classes for new runners, half and full marathon runners and children. Owner Randy Step said the new store on Washtenaw Avenue plans to regularly host group runs. (For updated information on running groups, visit the Running Fit website)

    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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    080713_NEWS_PedCrashPlymouth_MRM_04_display.jpg

    A police officer ties caution tape to a crosswalk sign after a pedestrian was struck by a car while attempting to cross Plymouth Road between Traverwood Drive and Nixon Road on Aug. 7. The woman later died.

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

    The number of crashes involving cars and pedestrians in Ann Arbor has increased since the city adopted its pedestrian safety ordinance, an analysis of statistics shows.

    But, a city project manager said it's not clear the ordinance itself has had an impact on those numbers, especially since it wasn't enforced during its first year.

    The death of a University of Michigan student who was hit by a car while she was crossing Plymouth Road has raised new questions about the safety of pedestrians in the city and prompted a city council member to address the issue Monday night.

    sharitawilliams.jpg

    Sharita Williams

    Facebook photo

    Sharita Williams was killed while crossing Plymouth Road earlier this month when she was struck by a green Chevrolet Cavalier in a pedestrian crosswalk. Witnesses have told AnnArbor.com the Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon crosswalk was activated when Williams was in the street. The investigation continues.

    The city's pedestrian crosswalk ordinance requires vehicles to stop for pedestrians standing at the curb of a crosswalk. This is slightly different than the Michigan Uniform Traffic Code requirement of yielding the right of way to pedestrians who are within a crosswalk.

    Even though Ann Arbor is safer than other Michigan cities when it comes to pedestrian crashes, statistics from Michigan Traffic Crash Facts show the number of pedestrian crashes in Ann Arbor have risen in the last few years.

    When the ordinance was first passed in 2010 — and when Ann Arbor adopted the UTC— there were 45 pedestrian-car crashes. A year later, that number shot up to 63 crashes before falling slightly to 60 crashes in 2012.

    The number of crashes in 2012 and 2011 was markedly higher both years than for any of the years from 2004 until 2009. During those years, as few as 36 vehicle -pedestrian crashes were recorded in 2006. The highest number, 52, was recorded in 2007 and 2008.

    Pat Cawley, senior project manager for the city of Ann Arbor, said he’s not sure the pedestrian ordinance has affected the number of crashes. He noted the ordinance was originally passed in 2010, started to be enforced in 2011 and was revised in 2012.

    That moving target makes it hard for Cawley to accurately state how the ordinance has affected the frequency of pedestrian-car crashes.

    “I do see an uptick in the last couple years, but we don’t know how many more pedestrians are out there or if there’s more vehicular traffic out there,” he said. “There’s been an increase in crashes overall. As the economy picked up, more people are driving more and crashes have increased.”

    Plymouth Road is one of the most heavily trafficked areas in the city, with about 24,000 vehicles moving on the corridor every day, according to the Washtenaw Area Transportation Study.

    Cawley said the city tracks the usage of the RRFB crosswalk through how many times the buttons that activate the lights are pushed throughout the day. He said the Plymouth Road crosswalks, installed in 2012, get at least 200 button pushes per day.

    City of Ann Arbor Transportation Manager Eli Cooper said the crosswalk is intended to “shout” at drivers to make them aware they’re coming up to a pedestrian crossing.

    However, Cooper said he recognizes that city officials need to make sure the public is educated about crosswalks in Ann Arbor.

    “Engineering is only one component. Education is a fundamental element, as is enforcement,” he said.

    He added, “We’re trying to educate motorists and pedestrians how to maneuver safely on our transportation system.”

    Many changes have come to Plymouth Road’s crosswalks during the last 10 years. An island was installed in 2003, and RRFB lights are the most recent change. However, some residents still think more must be done.

    Susan Filipiak’s mother, Helen, was killed crossing Plymouth Road when she was struck by a driver in 2002. Like Williams, Helen Filipiak was struck by a driver during the middle of the day. She was trying to cross the street during a walk from the Sunrise Assisted Living Facility.

    Susan Filipiak said the crosswalk at that time was just lines painted on the pavement. There was no pedestrian ordinance at the time, but the Michigan Uniform Traffic Code language giving the right of way to pedestrians in a crosswalk was in effect.

    It’s clear that words on a page aren’t enough, Filipiak said.

    “They (city officials) would not look at more stop lights there, and that’s what it really needs,” she said. “Not more pedestrian crossing zones, they need stop lights.”

    Cooper said the RRFBs have been working as advertised in most circumstances and Cawley added that the mean speeds on Plymouth Road have slowed since the RRFBs were introduced. The number of drivers yielding to pedestrians has also increased, Cawley said.

    However, Cawley said it’s difficult for city traffic engineers to know where pedestrian-car crashes take place the most on the city’s roadways.

    “Pedestrian and bike crashes are a lot less frequent,” he said. “We have a hard time really tracking them and seeing where hot spots are. With vehicle crashes, it’s easier because there are more of them and we can trend them a little better.”

    Still, a vocal contingent of Ann Arbor residents is demanding something be done, including an independent traffic engineering evaluation of the city’s crosswalks. Some are pushing for the complete repeal of the crosswalk ordinance.

    Filipiak said it’s time for city leaders to decide if pedestrian safety is more important than a quick drive into downtown Ann Arbor from the east.

    “Ann Arbor is styling itself as a walkable city, accessible to pedestrians,” she said. “If something can’t be done, it’s shameful.”

    This map shows the location of all fatal pedestrian crashes in the city of Ann Arbor between 2003 and 2013. There have been six such crashes.


    View Ann Arbor fatal pedestrian crashes (2003-2012) in a larger map

    Editor's note: This story had conflicting information about when the ordinance began to be enforced. That has been fixed.

    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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    Lilly Ledbetter, an advocate for gender equality in the workplace, will give a lecture at the University of Michigan in October.

    lilly-ledbetter-e1372631320117.jpg

    Lilly Ledbetter

    AP Photo

    In her talk, Ledbetter will recount her story of discrimination at the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company and the subsequent legal battle that resulted in the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Barack Obama's first piece of legislation as president.

    Ledbetter discovered after working for Goodyear for 19 years that she was earning less than her male counterparts. She sued Goodyear for discrimination, and won in lower court. She lost on appeal and, eight years after she first sued, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against her. The court said that she should have filed suit within 180 days of her first unequal paycheck, even though she did not know of the pay discrepancy at the time.

    A question-and-answer period with the audience and a book signing of Ledbetter's book Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond will follow the lecture.

    Her talk, cosponsored by the Institute for Research on Women and Gender and the women’s studies department, is titled "Equal Work, Equal Pay," and is this year's installment of U-M's annual Vivian R. Shaw lecture. It will take place Oct. 2 at 7 p.m in Rackham Auditorium, at 915 E. Washington St.

    Michigan is ranked 46th in the nation for wage parity, according to a U-M press release.

    In 2010, the typical woman in Michigan working full-time, year-round, was paid $0.74 for every dollar paid to a man working full-time, year-round. This is $0.03 wider than the nationwide wage gap of $0.77, according to the National Women's Law Center.

    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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    When you hear some artsy type describe a movie as “Felliniesque,” director Federico Fellini’s masterful “8 1/2” is probably the standard they are using for comparison.

    “8 1/2,” perhaps the best art movie ever made, screens Sunday and Tuesday at the Michigan Theater as part of the Summer Classic Film Series.

    Fresh off of the international success of his “La Dolce Vita,” Fellini moved into the realm of self-reflexive autobiography with what is believed to be his finest work.

    Star Marcello Mastroianni delivers a terrific performance as Fellini’s alter ego Guido Anselmi, a director overwhelmed by the large-scale production he has undertaken. He finds himself harangued by producers, his wife and his mistress while he struggles to find the inspiration to finish the project.

    In the words of Jonathan Crow (Rovi), “the stress plunges Guido into an interior world where fantasy and memory impinge on reality. Fellini jumbles narrative logic by freely cutting from flashbacks to dream sequences to the present until it becomes impossible to pry them apart, creating both a psychological portrait of Guido’s interior world and the surrealistic, circus-like exterior world that came to be known as ‘Felliniesque.’”

    Much honored, 8 1/2” was one of the most influential and commercially successful European art movies of the 1960s, inspiring such later films as Bob Fosse’s “All That Jazz” and Woody Allen’s “Stardust Memories.”

    If you haven’t seen 8 1/2” before, prepare yourself for a wild and fascinating ride.

    “8 1/2” will screen at Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., Sunday, Aug. 25 at 1:30 p.m. and Tuesday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. Admission is $10 (discounts for seniors, students and members). Advance tickets at ticketweb.com. Details at www.michtheater.org or 734-668-8397. 138 minutes. Not rated


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    Thompson_Block_Tour_2.jpg

    An interior wall in the Thompson Block shot from the west.

    Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com

    On Wednesday evening, Paul Larned took a stroll through the largely gutted Thompson Block building.

    Some of the bricks in the former civil war barracks have stood for 150 years, while others were just put in place by masons who worked on the building as guests came through.

    Like some of the expected 150 visitors - and dozens who had made their through by 5 p.m. - to the Thompson Block open house, Larned is an investor who who learned about the project through a presentation by Developer Stewart Beal to the Michigan Real Estate Investors group.

    Although the building’s interior is partitioned by crumbling brick and wood walls, and although it’s a space with a vision that requires a wealth of imagination, Larned liked the potential it offers.

    Thompson_Block_Tour_1.jpg

    The Thompson Block interior.

    Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com

    “It’s a great project. I like to see buildings that are in disrepair rebuilt and utilized again,” he said. “It drives me crazy that we in the U.S. tear down so many buildings while people in Europe are living in buildings that are thousands of years old.”

    Beal, who is head of the Thompson Block LLC, the group that owns the 150-year-old structure, prepared the showing to generate interest in investment in the building and help secure pre-leases for the property's opening scheduled for 2015.

    So far, Beal said he is in talks with around a dozen potential tenants who he would like to see commit through pre-leases to moving into the Thompson Block in 2015’s first quarter.

    His goal is raise $1.74 million by selling 174 shares at $10,000 a piece to partially fund redevelopment of 16 luxury lofts as well as 14,000 square feet of commercial space. So far, he has raised $370,000.

    Thompson_Block_Tour.jpg

    The Thompson block's interior

    Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com

    The realty team handling the leases from Howard Hanna Real Estate helped provide the tours highlighted some of the advantages.

    “This building is a canvas,” said agent Tyler Weston. “That’s one of the positive things; this is kind of build to suit. Before the fire everything was locked in, but now we can really build to suit.”

    Weston also highlighted a few new details, such as outdoor decks planned for the third story lofts.

    Larned said he understands that there is some disbelief when a developer proposes idea for such a large renovation, but he thinks the Thompson Block has its advantages.

    “It’s got a good location in Depot Town,” Larned said. “There are a lot of people paying a lot of money for space in the Ann Arbor area.”

    Beal said current Beal Properties tenants, neighbors, city officials, history buffs and others looking for living or commercial space had toured the building.

    Thompson_Block_Tour_5.jpg

    The north interior section of the Thompson Block

    Tom Perkins | For AnArbor.com

    He said he brought in the masons to show that several people working can get the project done.

    “We want a skeptic to see that this can be done,” he said.

    Beal also highlighted that the Thompson Block will be combined with several properties he owns to the east that will mostly be used for parking. That means the project will grow to include a large portion of Cross and River Street’s northeast corner.

    Plans call for the remainder of the approximately $4 million renovation’s funding to come from a $2 million loan. Investors’ shares and the loan will be paid down by sale of an already secured $2.5 million in historic tax credits.

    Beal said that model was employed when the Motown Construction Partners LLC _ whose managing partner is Fred Beal, Stewart Beal's father _ brought 23 investors on board to buy shares averaging $50,000 each to help fund the $53 million renovation of downtown Detroit's Broderick Tower.

    While the public was welcome to view the Depot Town structure on Wednesday, Beal is looking for investors with a net worth of $1 million, not including a single-family residence.

    The 16 lofts planned for the building are between 610 square feet and the largest at 1,187 square feet, and Weston said the rent would range from $780 to $1,300 per month.

    According to the listing, the commercial spaces range from 1,100 square feet, up to the entire 14,000-square-foot commercial space at $16 per square-foot.


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    The Michigan Firehouse Museum's 2013 Michigan Fire Truck Muster, which was scheduled for Saturday, has been canceled because of a scheduling conflict in Ypsilanti's Riverside Park, where the event was going to be held.

    083009_FIRETRUCK1.jpg

    A child climbs on a truck during the 2009 Fire Truck Muster.

    QVC’s ‘In the Kitchen with David’ will broadcast live from the park Sunday for a show featuring Haab's restaurant, but because of the need to set up equipment and do set construction for the live production, the television crew requires access to the space on Saturday.

    Michigan Firehouse Museum Manager Steve Wilson said organizers of the Michigan Fire Truck Muster were told they could hold the event in a different area of the park, but he said that space would not adequately accommodate the Fire Truck Muster.

    "Even though the Huron River runs throughout the park, it is too shallow at the south end — where we were told we could go — for the firetrucks to pump water," said Dan Egeler , a member of the Michigan Firehouse Museum Executive Committee. "If we held the event, but none of the trucks could pump water, it's just a collection of antique vehicles. What makes the muster fun is that the trucks are all working."

    Haab's recently won the show's “David’s Road Trip Contest,” which secured the restaurant a visit from host and cookbook author David Venable in July.

    The non-profit organization, located at 110 W. Cross St. in Ypsilanti, considered rescheduling, but found it to be too difficult logistically, Wilson said. Many of the trucks that were supposed to be out for the event and volunteers who allow the day to run smoothly were not available at a later date.

    “We’ve been telling people to come down to this event for a year now,” Wilson said. “Now we’re just trying to get in contact with all of those people to let them know, but I’m not sure it’s even possible at this point.”

    Egeler said the event typically draws around 1,000 people each year. He said the museum will be hurt financially by the cancellation of the event.

    "You're looking at an impact of between $15,000 to $20,000 on the museum," Egeler said. "The impact will come from the loss of membership sales and donations the event normally brings in. We normally bring in revenue from our gift shop that day as well. Good will for the museum and the event may also be lost, but the city has apologized for the scheduling error and is working with us to make up for the loss."

    The museum, which was founded in 1998, plans to hold the Annual Michigan Fire Truck Muster again in August 2014. Egeler said the museum has been holding the event for at least the past 10 years.

    Ypsilanti city officials could not be reached for comment.

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


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    Last year, Toyota celebrated the 35th anniversary of its two technical centers in the Ann Arbor area. According to a report in The Detroit News, the company has been delegating more responsibility to the engineers in those technical centers than ever before.

    Toyota_crash_test_2012_Toyota_Camry.JPG

    A Toyota Camry after a crash test at the company's technical center in York Township near Saline.

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

    Toyota had previously reserved the title “chief engineer” nearly exclusively for Japanese employees, but four Michiganders in the past five years have been promoted to the “vice president” equivalent position. The technical centers in York and Ann Arbor townships are now responsible for five vehicle lines, including the RAV4 EV and Avalon, according to The News report.

    The 2013 Toyota Avalon was nearly entirely designed and engineered in the Ann Arbor area and was a featured model at Toyota’s display in the 2012 North American International Auto Show.

    The selection of local chief engineers was accelerated by Akio Toyoda taking over as president and CEO of Toyota Motor Corp. and by the 2010 recall crisis the company faced, The News reported. Beneficiaries of the increased trust in American know-how included Toyota Sienna minivan chief engineer and University of Michigan alumnus Andrew Lund and University of Detroit graduate and Toyota Tundra and Tacoma pickup truck chief engineer Mike Sweers.

    In a further display of Michigan’s importance to the Japanese auto company, Toyota’s North American CEO Osamu “Simon” Nagata announced in June that he will work out of the technical center in York Township near Saline.

    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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    This fall University of Michigan students can grab a number of items in their dormitory vending machines: a pop, some chips, a candy bar and —the newest addition— condoms.

    photo-19.JPG

    The University of Michigan is now placing condoms in dorm vending machines, like the ones pictured here in North Quad.

    Kellie Woodhouse | AnnArbor.com

    This is the first full year condoms will be sold in the dorms, although the contraceptive was first introduced in U-M vending machines in April 2013 but then removed during the summer because children bunk in the dorms for summer camps.

    U-M —which was ranked the No. 6 most sexually healthy college among American universities by Trojan in 2011— will sell the condoms in 14 dorms on its Ann Arbor campus.

    Peter Logan, head of University Housing communications, said students asked housing staff in 2012 to install free condom dispensers in dorm bathrooms. Housing officials weren't sold on the idea of dispensers in the bathrooms, but eventually settled on adding condoms to the vending machine wares — and selling them for $1.

    Carly Manes, an incoming U-M junior studying public policy, was one vocal student who advocated for easily accessible condoms.

    Although they're available for free at the U-M Health Service, sexually active students may be too shy to publicly ask for one or may not plan ahead and think to get them, Manes said.

    "A lot of dorms hold freshmen and sophomores ... who were having sex on the weekends and didn't have access to condoms," she said. "If that's where you're having sex, that's the most convenient place to have condoms located."

    Selling condoms in dorm vending machines is not an unusual move for colleges — some began adding contraception to vending machines in the mid- to late-1980s. Schools like the University of New Hampshire, Vanderbilt University and Boston University all have vending machines that sell condoms.

    U-M also places peer mentors in each dorm — students who are tasked with offering residents advice and access to resources. These students give out free condoms, but Manes said that shyness or busy schedules can prevent residents from asking their fellow students for condoms.

    To help ease any awkwardness, some mentors place condom packets on their room doors. Yet Manes, who served as a peer mentor, said this is an imperfect solution — she recalls coming home to her hall and finding 'condom balloons' in the hallway and worrying that the free condoms on her door had been punctured or compromised.

    "I didn't really think it was an effective program ... . A lot of people didn't really," Manes said. "It's kind of uncomfortable to knock on a stranger's door and ask for condoms."

    Yet having contraception readily available is something Manes felt strongly about, so she began approaching resident advisors and housing staff about somehow dispensing condoms in the dorms.

    "[Without the vending machines] it's much easier for someone to say, 'All right, just this one time without contraception,'" Manes said. "As opposed to running downstairs and getting a condom."

    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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    Hundreds of eager shoppers stood in line Thursday morning to be among the first customers at Ann Arbor's new Arbor Hills shopping center.

    The parking lot at the development on Washtenaw Avenue between Huron Parkway and Platt Road was nearly full by the time Arbor Hills celebrated its grand opening at 10 a.m., and cars continued to circle the parking lot throughout the morning.

    lululemon_opening_day.jpg

    Shoppers wait to get inside Ann Arbor's new Madewell store at Arbor Hills shopping center. (lululemon is the store pictured)

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

    At 9:30 a.m., shoppers lined the sidewalk outside The North Face and Madewell, waiting to get opening-day discounts. Lululemon athletica opened its doors early to a steady stream of customers.

    “We’re big lululemon (athletica) fans,” said Lynn Osaer, a Northville resident and one of the first customers to shop at the yoga-inspired clothing store on Thursday.

    “We normally go to Somerset (Collection) and downtown Birmingham...but this is a twenty-minute drive from Northville. It’s closer than Somerset. I’ll definitely be back.”

    Arbor Hills is a four-building, 90,700-square-foot outdoor boutique shopping center. There are 18 confirmed tenants, and 11 of those celebrated grand openings on Thursday. Construction crews are working to finish individual build-outs at the seven remaining stores, which will open in the next two months.

    The center has 310 parking spaces — more than what's required by city of Ann Arbor ordinance. Drivers who couldn’t find an open space on Thursday parked along the Arbor Hills sidewalks and even across Washtenaw Avenue at the Huron Village shopping center, which is anchored by Whole Foods Market.

    “We parked at Whole Foods and ran across Washtenaw,” said Carrie Matson, who drove to the shopping center from Jackson with her friend, Mindy Ray. Matson and Ray were looking forward to shopping at Anthropologie.

    North Shore Properties Group's Max Reiswerg, one of the developers of the center, estimated about 35 percent of the cars in the parking lot were from construction crews and people working on finishing build-outs.

    After years of planning and months of construction, he said it was satisfying to see Arbor Hills open to shoppers.

    Victor Maniaci and Brittany Cymes were the first customers in line at Madewell, a women’s clothing store owned by J. Crew. Maniaci and Cymes live in a neighborhood across Washtenaw Avenue from Arbor Hills and were generally pleased with how the development turned out.

    “I think it’s a good thing, because it’s sort of taking the whole area of Ann Arbor and progressing it toward something bigger, a more metropolis-type setting,” Maniaci said.

    Cymes added: “It’s different. They brought over (all the tenants) from Somerset Collection. …There’s really no reason to leave the city now.”

    Maniaci and Cymes both said traffic on Washtenaw is already heavy, but they’re happy a traffic signal was installed at the Washtenaw and Platt Road intersection. Maniaci said there should be an overcrossing that connects the Huron Village center to Arbor Hills.

    “The light is good because there was an accident last year,” Cymes said.

    In Aug. 2012, a man driving a Ford Explorer on Washtenaw Avenue near the Platt intersection hit a woman on her bicycle. The bicyclist suffered “catastrophic” injuries, according to Ann Arbor police Sgt. Bill Clock.

    The new traffic light was planned as part of the Arbor Hills development when the site plan was approved in 2011.

    zola_bistro_hiring_sign.jpg

    Zola Bistro is hiring employees for its restaurant in Arbor Hills shopping center.

    Lizzy Alfs | AnnArbor.com

    John Reyes — a Washtenaw County resident who came to the center’s opening day to check out lululemon and Sur La Table — said he loves the addition of Arbor Hills to the Ann Arbor area retail scene.

    “I love it. The quality of the stores are better than everywhere else,” he said.

    Arbor Hills’ restaurant tenants — Metro Detroit-based Pizzeria Biga and Zola Bistro, a restaurant by the owners of Ann Arbor’s Cafe Zola — are still working on build-outs. Zola Bistro has a “Now Hiring” sign above the restaurant space.

    Jason Friend, owner of the Glassbox Coffee & Juice in Arbor Hills, had a busy morning as shoppers filed into Glassbox to get their coffee fix. The Arbor Hills coffee shop is Friend's second location in Ann Arbor after he opened one on South University in March.

    The Arbor Hills Glassbox Coffee & Juice has 14 fresh juices on the menu, and a Steampunk brewing system — a pricey, American-made coffee machine that can quickly brew coffee in different styles, including French press and pour-over.

    Reiswerg said he’s negotiating a deal with a high-profile restaurant user to take another space in Arbor Hills, and there is one 3,200-square-foot retail space available.

    The video below shows the first shoppers entering Madewell, a women's clothing store owned by J.Crew, at 10 a.m. on Thursday.

    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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    Shootings at school buildings nationwide—the most recent attempt this week near Atlanta — have thrust the safety and security of students in Ann Arbor Public Schools to the front of the district’s agenda.

    During daytime hours when school is in session, exterior building doors on schools are left open. The district does have a policy that visitors must check in to the main office to obtain a pass, but it’s rarely followed, said Board of Education Trustee Andy Thomas.

    082612__Huron_high_school.jpg

    One of the entrances to Huron High School in Ann Arbor. Under a new policy Ann Arbor Public Schools is pursuing, these doors would be locked during school hours to increase school security.

    Daniel Brenner I AnnArbor.com

    “The public is used to relatively unrestricted access,” Thomas said. “Parents just whiz in and out of the school to get a pass.”

    The entrances to some schools — like Burns Park Elementary — is configured so that it’s relatively easy for a visitor to bypass the main office without being noticed, Thomas said.

    This year, the district is planning to implement a new policy: Locking all exterior doors on school buildings during daytime hours. The implementation date has yet to be determined.

    The district is considering several methods that would give certain individuals access to the building during school hours:

    • Using a keypad system in which parents and other qualified individuals get a code that will allow them access to a main door
    • Using a video surveillance and intercom buzzer system that only allows a staff member inside the building to admit someone in from the outside

    The estimated cost to implement the new security measures is $190,000, which the district has allocated in its 2013-14 property upkeep budget funded by its sinking fund millage. The district also wants to replace all of its schools' exterior doors in the next five years should the sinking fund millage be renewed.

    “The intent is to place as many barriers as possible between someone who wants to enter the school for purposes other … than legitimate educational purposes,” Thomas said.

    Following the devastating shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., National Rifle Association President Wayne LaPierre stated an armed guard should be placed in every school as a preventive measure.

    AAPS officials responded that an armed guard at each school would not be financially feasible, but that they were reviewing their safety procedures.

    Thomas presented the locked door policy change to the Board of Education Wednesday night in a report from the Performance Committee on which he sits.

    The committee had met Wednesday morning and felt that such a significant change in policy should be brought before the entire board for discussion and review, Thomas said.

    Acknowledging that the policy will change the way the community interacts with Ann Arbor schools, Thomas said engaging the public in the process should be a priority for the school board this fall.

    “It’s very important to explain to the community that we’re not trying to create an armed camp, but to protect students,” Thomas said.

    School board President Deb Mexicotte said the district’s safety and security report would be placed on a future board meeting agenda for review.

    Contracts have not yet been issued for the security upgrades, as the district still must decide the kind of entry access mechanism it will use.

    Interim Superintendent David Comsa said that other options in addition to using a keypad or intercom buzzer to enter a building are under consideration.

    “Safety and security is paramount so we won’t work with any delay,” Comsa said.

    In the past, a school would automatically go into lockdown if there was a perceived threat: Students would be kept in classrooms away from doors and windows. A nationwide evaluation of the policy has now turned to evacuation as a better solution in some circumstances than a lockdown, Thomas said.

    AAPS staff are undergoing new training Friday that takes a different approach to handling an active gunman in schools. The ALICE system—Alert-Lockdown-Inform-Counter-Evacuate—will be in use in AAPS buildings this year.

    Amy Biolchini is the K-12 education reporter for AnnArbor.com. Reach her at (734) 623-2552, amybiolchini@annarbor.com or on Twitter.


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    A three-car crash that injured seven people was caused by a driver who ran a stop sign at the intersection, investigators reported Thursday.

    Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Geoffrey Fox said a vehicle that was eastbound on Bemis Road approached the intersection with Whittaker Road. The vehicle did not stop at the stop sign at the intersection, which does not have traffic lights.

    Fox said a vehicle southbound on Whittaker struck the vehicle and then went off the road into a ditch. A third car that was northbound on Whittaker then struck the eastbound vehicle on Bemis, he said.

    Fox confirmed there were 10 people in the three vehicles and seven people were transported to the hospital.

    Huron Valley Ambulance officials reported one child was in critical condition after the crash, which occurred shortly before 4 p.m. Tuesday, but Fox said no one was in critical condition.

    The driver of the vehicle on Bemis that ran the stop sign was cited, Fox said.

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


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    The Chelsea Community Fair, running through Saturday, features farm animals of all shapes and sizes, a midway chock-full of rides, exhibits featuring everything from flowers to photography, tractor pulls and demolition derbies and more.

    AnnArbor.com photographer Courtney Sacco visited the fair Wednesday and captured these images.


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    jari-brown-pioneer-football-081213

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com file

    With season openers just a week away, it’s time to turn up the speed and contact for the area’s high school football teams.

    Pioneer and Lincoln were among five teams at Pioneer’s Hollway Field Thursday afternoon, rotating in and out of 40-minute, 50-yard scrimmages near the end of the second week fo fall practices.

    “It’s definitely better when you can go against a different color of jersey,” Pioneer coach Jari Brown said. “It was good to see that.”

    Brown said he plans to watch the team’s Week 1 opponent, Birmingham Seaholm, later Thursday, before reviewing film of both teams and starting to prepare for the season opener next Thursday.

    Among the standouts for Pioneer Thursday were senior Brad Koenig, who broke off some big runs as a fullback and got to the quarterback several times from his linebacker position. Koenig stood out on the SEC's top defense as a junior with 21 tackles, 36 assists, 14 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, two interceptions, four pass breakups, a forced fumble, two blocked kicks and a safety

    Koenig is returning after winning team MVP honors and first-team All-SEC as a junior.

    “When we started to evaluate the film from last year, he really stood out,” Brown, in his first year as coach, said. “We think he’s going to have a great senior year.”

    Koenig is part of a senior class that’s small in both numbers and size for the Pioneers.

    “Sometimes size isn’t always the key, I think our guys do a great job of playing fast," Brown said.

    Lincoln unveiled a new-look offense Thursday, starting with 6-foot-3 junior quarterback Eugene Smith. Smith started on junior varsity as a sophomore last year, and Railsplitters coach Chris Westfall said he was happy to see him finish the day with no turnovers.

    “The fact that he took care of the ball was good,” Lincoln coach Chris Westfall said. “We’re pretty happy with him so far.”

    And it helps that of the Railsplitters’ three starting wide receivers -- Tyler Mabry, Lazon Hicks and KJ Osborn -- all are 6-foot-3 or taller, and are all three juniors

    Thursday marked Lincoln’s second scrimmage, after it held an intrasquad one Saturday. And as the start of the season draws closer, Lincoln’s speed of competition grows faster.

    “We’re a heck of a lot faster today than we were last Saturday, so that’s good,” Westfall said.

    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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    Coaches.jpg

    From left to right: Rufus Pipkins (Ypsilanti), Craig Jobe (Huron), Ken Koenig (Dexter), Jari Brown (Pioneer) and Todd Pennycuff (Whitmore Lake).

    Graphic by Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

    An offseason full of change will bring a crop of new faces to the sidelines of Ann Arbor area high school football fields this fall.

    Of the 12 high school football programs in Washtenaw County, five will have new coaches for the 2013 season. They come with varying ranges of experience, from several years as a head coach to a few as an assistant. They take over all types of situations, from playoff teams to winless teams.

    2013 ANNARBOR.COM HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

    high-school-football-generic.jpg
    Ready for the high school football season? Be sure to check out AnnArbor.com's football preview section on newsstands Sunday. Elements of the package will be rolled out on the following schedule online:
    Thursday:
    Friday:
    • Five new coaches take over reins of Washtenaw County football teams
    Sunday:
    • Team-by-team glance at SEC Red
    • Team-by-team glance at SEC White
    • Team-by-team glance at Washtenaw County's "other" squads

    And each new coach inherits his own unique set of circumstances and challenges.

    The new ranks include fresh faces at both Pioneer and Huron, who are both replacing coaches who resigned following a season that included a postgame brawl between the two teams last October.

    Jari Brown will take over for Paul Test at Pioneer, with a team that won a share of the Southeastern Conference Red Division title last year, and hasn’t had a losing record since 2007.

    Brown comes to Pioneer after spending time at Lincoln, Huron and Chelsea. The last four years were spent at Chelsea under one of the area’s longest-tenured coaches in Brad Bush.

    From Bush, Brown said he learned how to stay organized and be a step ahead.

    “Organization is a big thing. I just think being organized, being on top of everything, and the one thing he taught me is you’ve always got to be one step ahead of everybody else -- the players, the coach, everybody,” Brown said. “So you’ve got to be one step ahead of everybody so they follow you. If I can take anything from Brad and just kind of what he’s all about, organization is the key.”

    On the other side of Ann Arbor, Craig Jobe walks into a markedly different situation at Huron, a team with just one win in the last two years.

    Jobe, a Huron teacher, said his first priority was to increase the participation in his program, and spent the spring recruiting players in the building. He now has 35 out for the varsity squad.

    “It’s just important to have some depth and have some competition at different places,” Jobe said.

    Included on the list of new coaches is Rufus Pipkins, who will technically be a first-year coach, even though he’s coaching several of the same players he did last year.

    Pipkins, who coached Willow Run for the last eight seasons, takes over the football program at Ypsilanti Community Schools, the result of the merger between Ypsilanti and Willow Run.

    Pipkins said his team is about 75 percent former Ypsilanti players and 25 percent former Willow Run players. For some of the former Ypsilanti players, Pipkins is their third coach in as many years. Pipkins said his presence in the community over the years means he has a connection with many of them, whether or not he coached them last year or not.

    “Some of the kids will come up to me and say ‘Hey coach Ru, my dad knows you’ or ‘My uncle knows you,’” Pipkins said.

    Perhaps the most tumultuous situation is Ken Koenig’s in Dexter. Koenig is Dexter’s fourth head coach since the beginning of last season: Brian Baird resigned three games into last season, Ryan Fisher coached the remainder of it, and Mike Glennie took the reins for a month this season before resigning.

    The first job for Koenig is to give a measure of stability to a program that needs it.

    “Our fear was that once they, with the coaching switches and the changes, that kids would just lose faith,” Koenig said. “So we’ve been able to garner enough support and rally with the kids enough and we’ve got the trust.”

    And in Whitmore Lake, Todd Pennycuff takes over for Barry Pierson, who resigned after three years. The Trojans won two games last year and were winless in 2010. Pennycuff comes to Whitmore Lake from Novi, and the South Lyon native said he looked forward to the chance to rebuild a small-town football program.

    “This was a job that I was interested in years ago and decided I would try to get it and was fortunate enough to get it,” said Pennycuff, who applied for the job in 2006 after Ed Schindler left. “It’s something I always wanted to do, so it worked out.”

    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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    pinkpump.JPG

    Above Ground Hair Studio is moving into the space formerly leased by Pink Pump.

    Chelsea Hoedl I AnnArbor.com

    Above Ground Hair Studio will move from its location above Stucchi’s on South State Street into a space on East Liberty, according to a sign posted in the window of the former Pink Pump retail shop.

    The hair studio, which specializes in working with curly hair, will move into the 1,150 -square-foot first floor space at 601 E. Liberty, which was put on the market in January.

    The space was listed for lease with Mike Giraud and Randy Maas of Swisher Commercial. Maas said he talked to a number of restaurants interested in leasing the space, but it’s not configured for a food user.

    The space was formerly home to the Pink Pump, which opened its Ann Arbor location in 2010 as a part of the owner’s push to expand her retail brand.

    The store closed its doors with two-and-a-half years left on its five-year lease.

    Pink Pump has locations in Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills and Royal Oak.


    View Above Ground moves locations in a larger map

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


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    A former Eastern Michigan University student was charged Tuesday with three counts of child pornography for having numerous pictures and videos of unclothed children under the age of 12 on his computer, according to federal court records.

    A grand jury indicted Jacob Snyder, 18, on a count each of distributing, receiving and possessing child pornography, the records indicate.

    The pornography was located on Snyder’s Dell laptop after a warrant was executed at his father’s home in the 5800 block of Textile Road in Ypsilanti Township, according to an affidavit signed by Bradley Manning, a special agent with the United States Customs Service.

    Officials believe some of the child pornography was obtained through his father’s IP address at the Textile address. The computer was searched with Snyder's consent, according to the affidavit.

    He was also interviewed twice on Sept. 27, 2012, first at his dormitory room on the EMU campus, then at the Textile Road residence.

    Court records state Snyder was a freshman at the time. The EMU student directory shows he is no longer enrolled.

    Snyder told federal authorities he used peer-to-peer file sharing networks like Limewire and Ares, records show. A forensic examination of the Dell computer, which Snyder received as a Christmas gift in 2011, reveals that Ares software was downloaded on it.

    In the interviews, Snyder admitted to using the service “for maintaining and trafficking child pornography” while using the Internet access subscribed to by his father.

    Court records indicate Snyder used Ares and Google to search terms like “sexy” and “teen.”

    Snyder told authorities he would delete “stuff” that he considered “gross” because the subjects were too young, according to the affidavit. When asked by investigators what was too young, Snyder said, “8” in the first interview and “15” in the second.

    Snyder admitted his Dell Laptop contained child pornography, “and that he had additional hard drives containing child pornography in a storage locker that was part of a storage business owned by his family,” according to the court records.

    Ypsilanti police said this case was not related to the July incident involving child pornography being found in the National Storage Center. Detective Sgt. Thomas Eberts said the investigation into that case continues.

    On Snyder's computer, officials eventually found 47 images and 171 videos depicting children, including some under the age of 12, “engaged in the lascivious display of the genital and pubic area,” court records indicate.

    Synder was released into his mother’s custody on $10,000 bond with several conditions, including no unsupervised contact with minors and that he not view or possess any sexually explicit material.

    A preliminary examination is set for Friday and a jury trial before Judge Denise Page Hood in U.S. District Court for Oct. 1.

    No booking picture of Snyder was available, a federal official said.

    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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    An intriguing display of synesthesia is on tap in Kathy Kosins’ “Jazz in the Abstract” at the Kerrytown Concert House.

    Synesthesia is condition in which the separation between a person’s senses breaks down, and the stimulation of one sense leads to an automatic, involuntary experience involving another sense. For Kosins, sounds trigger perceptions of color.

    Cant Get Out of This_Mood by Kathy Kosins.jpg

    "Can't get out of this mood" by Kathy Kosins

    “I paint the sounds that I hear,” Kosins says in her artist’s statement. “For me, painting is simply an extension of the music I love to listen to and perform.”

    The Detroit-based jazz vocalist’s latest 38 artistic responses, arranged salon-style in the Kerrytown Concert House’s auditorium, are vibrant arrangements of non-objective or geometrically oriented abstract compositions that are ultimately as tuneful as any song.

    “I never have an idea or color scheme in mind when I pick up a brush,” says Kosins. “I paint strictly from intuition. It was no different with the old jazz masters. They could play endless solos all night, using the same form.”

    As such, Kosins’ synesthesia cuts both ways in music and the visual arts.

    The improvisational element of both art forms requires a discipline on one level that’s extraordinarily refined, while they also allow for a confidence to break loose from these moorings when it’s appropriate.

    “When I perform, if I blow a scat solo or improvise on a melody,” she says, “I ‘see’ grades of color in those notes, and that informs the texture of my phrasing.”

    This same quality is reflected in Kosins’ painting.

    There’s an immediate spontaneity to her facture that cannot be second-guessed, and this inspiration means the paintings themselves echo this sudden rush of creativity. In some paintings, this orientation can best be seen in an intricate internal geometry. Other works have a felicitous non-objective palette whose exceptional application of pigments gives the paintings their virtuoso dynamic appearance.

    “A Gentle Rain of Starlight,” inspired by new age planetarium composer Mark C. Petersen’s Geodesium project, is a prime example of Kosins’ non-objective artistic spontaneity.

    This smallish 9-inch by 9-inch acrylic composition is perfectly sized for its intent. Using a violet dominant color scheme, Kosins scrubs her work’s center in such a way as to break the continuity of her purple background. She then uses a strategic lime green overlay to contrast this foreground against her palette. The heightened contrast of these dissimilar acrylics makes “A Gentle Rain of Starlight” a masterly otherworldly painting whose abstract elements meld in a seamless space/time flourish.

    By contrast, the 9-inch by 9-inch “Can’t get out of this mood” uses a clever technique to break up the largely rectilinear orientation of the painting. In this work, Kosins uses a palette knife to craft rows of overlaid horizontal swipes that have been superimposed on the work’s recessed white and brown acrylic curvilinear and rectilinear geometric grids. Each twist of the palette knife, therefore, breaks the work’s surface and this, in turn, creates an internal dynamic whose application is animated by each rippling ridge of acrylic.

    Corcovado by Kathy Kosins.jpg

    "Corcovado" by Kathy Cousins

    The exhibit’s clear masterwork is “Corcovado,” where Kosins translates the bossa nova rhythm composed by Antonio Carlos Jobin in his 1960 tribute to this mountain in Rio de Janeiro.

    The curvilinear cadence of this 9-inch by 9-inch painting is masterfully matched by its verdant palette. Not quite landscape, not quite non-objective, the swaying compositional elements of this handsome painting certainly represent an idealized environment as envisioned by a superb talent. If there is an illustration to be made for Kosins’ synesthesia, it’s to be found in her dancing “Corcovado.” “Kathy Kosins: Jazz in the Abstract” will continue through Sept. 3 at the Kerrytown Concert House, 415 N. Fourth St. Exhibit hours 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday. For information, call (734) 769-2999.


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    62511_State_Street_Stucchi's.JPG

    Owner Jim Seta said he plans to bring equipment, including an espresso bar, from the Dexter location to the original Stucchi's store on South State Street.

    Lizzy Alfs | AnnArbor.com

    Stucchi’s Ice Cream and Cafe of Dexter is preparing to serve up its final scoops.

    Owner Jim Seta said that ice cream shop, which opened in 2007 and also houses a BearClaw Coffee and Mr. Pita, will close after business hours on Friday.

    “Closing the Dexter location is bittersweet,” Seta said.

    “It’s a fun place to be and it’s unfortunate that it came to this decision, but business is business and we believe that if we want to focus on expanding our business, the location in Ann Arbor is the right place to do that.”

    Seta said that the closing of the Dexter store will allow him and his wife and co-owner Sarah to expand operations at the original Stucchi’s location on South State Street in downtown Ann Arbor.

    “We’re looking at it as a consolidation. We’re going to be taking a lot of the equipment we have in Dexter and moving it to South State Street,” Seta said.

    “We’re going to bring in the BearClaw Coffee full espresso and coffee bar and we’re also going to be expanding our dessert offerings.”

    Seta and his wife took over the downtown Ann Arbor Stucchi’s location in December 2011 after the former owners had considered moving the store. At the time, Seta told AnnArbor.com that he was planning to eventually add chocolate and coffee offerings.

    “The State Street store has been there for 26 years and it has met and exceeded all of our expectations since we took over,” Jim said.

    Stucchi's.jpg

    Jim Seta at his Dexter Stucchi's location in 2010.

    Photo by Janet Miller

    “My wife is a great baker and we look forward to bringing more different options to the location. We’ve heard from customer feedback that they would like to see a bigger variety of dessert products on State Street and in the next month or so people will be able to get more than just ice cream when they come in.”

    The new dessert offerings will begin with a treat that has stood the test of time.

    “Right now we’re looking at bringing in the ‘Chocolate Way’ cookies that we sell in Dexter,” he said.

    “It’s a 110-year-old chocolate chip cookie recipe from my wife's family and we use them as cookies and to make chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches.”

    The additions to the downtown Ann Arbor store will include some slight remodeling, but Seta said that will be put off until the weather cools off.

    “We may close for a few days between Christmas and New Year's, but we want it to be a time that will have minimal impact,” he said.

    “We really enjoy being a part of the fun experience on State Street and helping to create that great buzz when the students come back into town.”

    Stucchi's other downtown Ann Arbor location, on South University Avenue, also closed recently. Ashvin Amin, who also owned the State Street store before the Setas, owned that location before its closing. According to the company’s website, the only remaining Stucchi’s Ice Cream shop outside of Ann Arbor is in Alma, Mich..

    Stucchi’s ice cream is made in Fraser and can also be found at a number of local businesses, including Ahmo’s Deli and Tios Mexican Cafe.

    In 2008, the Stucchi’s brand was sold to Michigan-based Papa Romano’s Enterprise, now known as Askar Brands. Representatives from the parent company were unavailable for comment on the closing of the Dexter location.

    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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    Orangeburg_082013_RJS_004.jpg

    Crews from Ann Arbor-based Perimeter Engineering LLC work on the replacement of Orangeburg sewer lines with plastic piping outside a home on Mark Hannah Place. Orangeburg is the brand name for a type of bituminous fiber pipe that was used by developers in the Ann Arbor area throughout the 1950s and 1960s. The pipes have proven to be prone to failure.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    Before the city sends crews to repave Mark Hannah Place — a neighborhood street on Ann Arbor's west side — residents on the street are jumping at the chance to save a few bucks.

    Well, more than a few bucks.

    A majority of the households on the street are paying a discount rate to have a contractor replace the decades-old Orangeburg sewer lines in front of their homes with new plastic piping.

    What sometimes might cost up to $10,000 is instead costing residents about $7,500 each, neighbors and the contractor told AnnArbor.com this week as the work was being done.

    Orangeburg_082013_RJS_001.jpg

    A worker from Perimeter Engineering LLC holds up a piece of Orangeburg piping removed from the ground in front of a home on Mark Hannah Place. Per city code, repair and replacement of sanitary sewer leads from the house to the sewer main is the responsibility of the property owner.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    The savings come as a result of the contractor, Ann Arbor-based Perimeter Engineering LLC, not having to repave the street in front of each home after ripping up the asphalt.

    As part of the city's annual street resurfacing program, Mark Hannah Place and Arbana Drive from Linwood to Huron already was scheduled for repaving this summer.

    Brian Steglitz, a senior utilities engineer for the city, lives on Mark Hannah Place and initiated the effort to coordinate the Orangeburg pipe replacement with the street repaving project.

    "I think it's worked out well for everybody," he said.

    Orangeburg is the brand name for a type of bituminous fiber pipe that was used by developers in the Ann Arbor area throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

    It became popular for sewer leads — the underground pipes that convey wastewater from homes to the sewer main in the street — in the post-war housing boom due to its lower cost and lighter weight, but the pipes have proven to be prone to failure and tree-root penetration.

    Per city code, repair and replacement of sanitary sewer leads from the house to the sewer main is the responsibility of the property owner.

    Liz Rolla, senior project manager for the city, notified residents in March it had come to the city's attention that many of the sanitary sewer leads in the neighborhood were originally constructed with Orangeburg sewer piping, some of which already had been replaced.

    Orangeburg_082013_RJS_002.jpg

    Residents on Mark Hannah Place are saving money by not having to pay a contractor to fully repave the portion of the street in front of their homes after doing the Orangeburg replacement work.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    Having Orangeburg pipes doesn't necessarily mean homeowners will have problems with their sewer leads in the near future, Rolla said, but if any homeowners were thinking about replacing the lines at some point, the city recommended doing the work prior to the street repaving.

    Permit fees for making cuts into newly repaved streets are more expensive than for older streets, city officials said, so there also are savings to be found there for residents.

    The street repaving project started Aug. 7 and is expected to finish by late September. The schedule has been delayed slightly while the city waits for remaining sewer lead work to be done.

    Steglitz said the Orangeburg pipe replacement has been ongoing since May or June. He said a total of about 17 households on the street have contracted with Perimeter.

    Steglitz had a sewer backup problem earlier this year and discovered his home had Orangeburg piping. Realizing many of his neighbors could find themselves in the same situation, and knowing the street was going to be resurfaced, he began reaching out to neighbors.

    Steglitz solicited quotes from contractors. Early on, there were maybe eight or nine households that expressed interest, he said, but in the end almost everyone jumped on board.

    "It was just pretty amazing," he said.

    Perimeter has been using a special "pipe bursting" technique where crews dig down to the pipe connections both in front of the house and at the street, and then use cables to pull the new plastic piping through the Orangeburg pipe — bursting the old pipe in the process.

    That means crews don't have to dig a deep trench through the entire front yard and there's minimal impact on landscaping. Steglitz said he appreciated that when he had the work done.

    Chris Lynch said he lives around the corner on Arbana, so he's not having the work done, but he's still inspired by the neighborhood effort.

    "I thought this was a great idea on the part of the Mark Hannah residents," he wrote in an email to AnnArbor.com, "and it may be something that can be repeated throughout the city as road work is scheduled in those areas with Orangeburg sewer lines."

    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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