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

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    “I really hope people don’t say that we are a math rock band,” guitar/bass player Kristian Dunn writes while discussing the duo El Ten Eleven’s new album, “Transitions,” on the duo’s website.


    El Ten Eleven

    Courtesy photo

    “We get labeled all kinds of things from post-rock to ambient to experimental ... all of those make us cringe,” added acoustic and electronic drummer Tim Fogarty.

    El Ten Eleven plays at the Blind Pig Saturday night, with electronic musician Eliot Lipp opening.

    Armed with just a doubleneck bass/guitar, drums and an array of foot pedals, the band creates complex music from scratch, onstage, with no help from laptops, click tracks, additional musicians or even lyrics.

    They use multiple looping pedals to create songs that sound as though they are being played by at least six people. Most first-timers to an El Ten Eleven show are surprised that so much sound can come from a twosome.

    Besides success on CD and live, El Ten Eleven has contributed to TV shows, radio shows and films. But the most notoriety has come from Gary Hustwit’s design documentary trilogy “Helvetica,” “Objectified” and “Urbanized.”

    El Ten Eleven, with Eliot Lipp, plays at the Blind Pig, 208 S. First St., Saturday, Sept. 7. Tickets are $12-$14. Doors open at 9 p.m. Details at www.blindpigmusic.com or 734-996-8555.

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    The current logo for Milan Area Schools.

    Milan Area Schools may soon have a new district logo, the Milan News Leader reported.

    A committee working to develop a new design has been meeting over the summer with Gail Nciklowitz of GN Communications in Ann Arbor, the same graphics artist who designed the new Ypsilanti Community Schools logo.

    The new design will cost about $1,000, according to the news report. The district will retain its name: Big Reds.

    The district's Board of Education will review designs Sept. 11, according to the news report.

    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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    Gayla and Evan Martin pose in front of an Ypsilanti Fire Department truck Tuesday. Evan was given a lifesaver award for saving Gayla's life last month.

    Courtesy of YFD

    For the last year or so, 4-year-old Evan Martin has been obsessed with learning his father’s cellphone number.

    “Since he turned 3, he wanted to know my phone number,” Toby Martin said. “He didn’t know why, he just really wanted to know my number.”

    On Aug. 12, that obsession saved his grandmother’s life, and his actions that morning earned the respect of Ypsilanti firefighters.

    Toby Martin, who works in construction, dropped Evan off at his mother’s home on Maus Avenue that morning on his way to work. Gayla Martin has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and was having trouble breathing that morning. She assured her son she was just fine and Toby went off to work.

    But she wasn’t fine. The Martins learned later that she had suffered a heart attack while in bed the previous night, and water was filling her lungs. But, the sharp pains in her chest had gone away and her grandson needed to be looked after, so she didn't seek medical attention.


    Evan Martin poses in a firefighter's jacket during a tour of the department Tuesday.

    Courtesy of YFD

    Toby went off to work, but got a strange call from his mother's number a few hours later. He answered the call on the third ring, but whoever was on the other line hung up.

    “It hung up and I thought, ‘Something’s going on,’” he said.

    He called her back and she picked up on the last ring. He could tell by the sound of her voice something was wrong — “I could tell she was hurting, she could barely talk,” he said.

    Toby rushed back to his mother’s home and found her breathing with the help of her oxygen mask, but struggling. He called 911 and paramedics rushed her to the hospital.

    As it turned out, it was Evan’s quick thinking that saved Gayla’s life.

    “She said, ‘He took my phone and ran upstairs and called you,’” Toby said. “He was scared because my mom was having trouble breathing.”

    When Gayla got to the hospital, doctors found 12 pounds of fluid on her lungs. It’s Toby’s firm belief that he would have returned to his mother’s home and found her dead if Evan had never called.

    “If he would have never called me, my mom probably would have died,” he said.

    Because of Evan’s quick thinking, Gayla didn’t die. In fact, she’s recovering, following a strict low-sodium diet and losing water weight every day, Toby said. She’s taking medication to help her heart and Toby said, all things considered, she’s “doing pretty good.”

    After saving his grandmother’s life, Evan gained a whole bunch of brothers in the Ypsilanti Fire Department.

    The incident caught the attention of fire department officials and, on Tuesday, the Ypsilanti Fire Department gave Evan a lifesaver award. Lt. Richard Barnabo said the firefighters were impressed by Evan’s awareness to call his father when something didn’t seem right.

    “It doesn’t happen often. For him to have that awareness and recognize that … he basically saved his grandmother’s life,” Barnabo said.

    Originally, firefighters were going to take the trucks to Evan’s house to present him with the award but Toby said there was a slight change of plans Tuesday morning.

    “The one thing he wanted to know was where do they come from? Where do the fire trucks come from?” he said.

    So, after a quick phone call, Evan got a tour of the fire department and met with firefighters. He even got a plaque in recognition of his actions and some patches.

    Evan originally wasn’t all that impressed with the patch — until the firefighters showed him that each of them wears the same patch on the shoulders of their jackets. When he got home, Evan made his mother put the patch on the shoulder of his new fall jacket, Toby said.

    It was like the firefighters were telling Evan “you’re part of the brotherhood now,” Toby said.

    Barnabo said the firefighters loved seeing the big smile on Evan’s face during his time at the station.

    “The neatest part for us was watching him enjoy it,” he said.

    Toby encouraged parents to spend time with their kids and make sure they know their important information —parents’ phone numbers, addresses, zip codes, etc.

    “That’s the key,” he 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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    After a major addition last year, Chelsea Community Hospital will continue to grow in 2014.

    The hospital announced has announced plans to build a new 15,000 square-foot cancer center.

    Chelsea Hospital expansion exterior.JPG

    Chelsea Hospital's new exterior after a 130,000 square-foot expansion completed at the end of 2012.

    Janet Miller | AnnArbor.com

    The hospital plans to break ground on the project in January 2014 and complete construction by December. The new center will offer a range of cancer treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

    “A cancer diagnosis is a life-changing event and we recognize that patients need to receive care that is outstanding both in terms of clinical competence and the compassionate way it is delivered,” Kathleen Beekman, director of the Chelsea Community Hospital Infusion Center, said in a statement.

    Chelsea Milling Company CEO Howdy Holmes and his wife Carole have signed on to co-chair the capital campaign that will look to raise $6 million in support of the project. Chelsea Community Hospital spokeswoman Laura Blodgett said that the total estimated cost of the center is expected to be just under $10 million.

    The new center will be an addition to the main hospital. It will include medical oncology and radiation oncology suites, physician exam rooms, patient areas, changing rooms, an onsite pharmacy for mixing chemotherapy drugs, and the infrastructure needed for a linear accelerator and CT simulator for radiation treatment.

    The hospital also plans to purchase the linear accelerator and CT simulator that can create targeted radiation treatment plans for patients.

    Patients receiving chemotherapy treatments will be treated in the new center, which will contain eight infusion bays and two private infusion rooms.

    Chelsea Community Hospital doubled in size in 2012, adding a $40 million 130,000 square-foot expansion that opened in December. The hospital’s addition included a 20-room emergency room and 54 new hospital beds.

    Blodgett said that an $8 million renovation project for the surgery center in the original hospital that was scheduled to start in 2013 is underway. According to city officials, the hospital has yet to submit plans for the new center to the City of Chelsea for review by the city’s planning and zoning commissions.

    Chelsea Community Hospital is part of CHE Trinity Health System, which reached a new affiliation agreement with the University of Michigan Hospital System last year. Trinity Health is the parent company of St. Joseph Mercy Hospital.

    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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    The Ypsilanti City Council has approved the first reading of an ordinance that will require property owners to cover the cost of switching the city’s street lights to LED lighting.

    Property owners would pay $58 per parcel each of the next two fiscal years, which would cover the cost of converting around 1,189 streetlights from mercury vapor to LED. That breaks down to under $5 a month, though the fee would be assessed once annually.

    The switch is expected to save the city around $115,000 annually by reducing the cost of running street lights from $515,000 to $400,000.

    At its Sept. 3 meeting, council approved the ordinance by a 5-0 vote. Council Member Ricky Jefferson was absent. Council will vote on a second reading at its next meeting, and City Manager Ralph Lange stressed the urgency to get the language approved if the city wants to remain on schedule to have the levy on the winter tax bill.

    “It’s a good program, saves a lot of carbon and it’s efficient,” Lange said.

    The proposal has costs for conversion to LED divided equally and assessed among 4,812 of the city’s 4,951 parcels. Eastern Michigan University is exempt because of legal precedence that says universities aren’t subject to special assessment districts, and the city’s properties are also exempt.


    An LED Streetlight in Ypsilanti.

    Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com

    Under the previous proposal, a parcel owner would have paid an estimated $98 in fiscal year 2014 and $92 in fiscal year 2015. That figure would have dropped to $84 through fiscal year 2020 and $67.51 through fiscal year 2031. However, that plan was scrapped after strong opposition from residents.

    Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber highlighted that the switch to LED will save the city around $100,000 annually in its general fund, half of which goes to police and fire. The city is struggling to balance its budget saw revenues of around $500,000 less than its expenditures this year.

    "We have to keep working at this bite by bite," Schreiber said. "I think Ypsilanti is going to continue to do that. We're still deficit spending so we have to keep working."

    During a public hearing on the ordinance, Ypsilanti resident Ernest Terry said he didn’t believe the new lights would improve his property value as he said it's supposed to under Michigan law.

    “We respect council moving in this direction, but we don’t believe in calling this an assessment. Changing the light bulb doesn’t improve my property value,” he said. “Much has been said about that it improves the general fund. Unfortunately assessments aren’t allowed for improving the general fund.”

    EMU professor Bill Welsh told Council that he owns a single-family house on a double lot and doesn’t believe he should have to pay a fee for both parcels.

    “I fully support the city moving to better street lighting,” he said. “The thing I don’t like is that I happen to live on a double lot. I don’t mind paying this assessment … no problem, what I do resent is you charging me twice. I would like you guys to only charge me for my single-family residence.”

    City Attorney John Barr responded and noted that he also lived in a single-family home on a double lot.

    “We decided that we were going to levy the assessment on each parcel instead of by housing,” Barr said. “A double parcel has a taxable value for both parcels, and the taxable value is tied to the light. If you have a double parcel, then you pay more taxes. That’s the way it works.”

    Council Member Brian Robb questioned whether residents can opt out of the fee.

    If property owners representing more than 50 percent of the expected cost of the assessment filed objections at the meeting, the project couldn't have proceeded without the affirmative vote of four-fifths of all of the council members.

    But Barr said that residents who did file an objection with Council on or before Sept. 3 could appeal the assessment to the Michigan Tax Tribunal.

    Robb said he was disappointed only four residents showed up to file objections and the fee was so low that most residents don’t seem outraged over what the city is doing.

    “The unfortunate thing is that no one will take the effort to sue us, so whether or not it’s right or not we’re going to get away with it,” he said.

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

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    An Ypsilanti Township teen is held on bond in the Washtenaw County Jail after he was discovered breaking into a man's bedroom.


    Darius Tucker

    Courtesy of WCSO

    Darius Tucker, 17, is facing a charge of first-degree home invasion after being arrested Monday. Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Geoffrey Fox said Tucker was arrested after a resident reported the break-in early Monday morning.

    Deputies responded at 3 a.m. Monday to the 100 block of Ohio Street in Ypsilanti Township after a 33-year-old man found Tucker standing in his bedroom, Fox said. The man was watching television in the living room when he heard noises in the back of the house.

    When the man went to investigate, he opened the bedroom door and saw Tucker standing in the room, Fox said. Tucker then fled through the window without taking any items, he said.

    Deputies responded to the area and stopped Tucker as he walked down the street near the home, Fox said. Tucker’s clothes and appearance matched the description given by the resident.

    Tucker was placed under arrest and was taken to the Washtenaw County Jail, where he was arraigned on a first-degree home invasion charge Tuesday, according to court records. Jail records indicate he was given a 10 percent of $5,000 bond.

    Tucker was still lodged in the Washtenaw County Jail as of Wednesday afternoon. He returns to court for a preliminary exam at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 10 in the 14A-1 District Court in Pittsfield Township.

    View Larger Map

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

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    Firefighters extinguished a small grease fire at this home on Thompson Street Wednesday.

    Kyle Feldscher | AnnArbor.com

    Ann Arbor firefighters extinguished a small grease fire in a second-floor apartment on Thompson Street Wednesday evening.

    Firefighters responded to the 300 block of Thompson Street about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday after the fire was called in. Officials found smoke coming from the apartment on arrival and the small fire was extinguished quickly by firefighters.

    The fire took place in an apartment above Chang Jung Mi Hair Collection. Both the residence and the business were evacuated by the time firefighters arrived on scene.

    Two people who were in Chang Jung Mi Hair Collection were treated by Huron Valley Ambulance personnel for possible smoke inhalation, officials said.

    No flames were seen on the outside of the home.

    Fire crews shut down Thompson Street between Liberty and William streets Wednesday evening while they responded to the incident.

    View Larger Map

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

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    The Pioneer High School girls golf team defeated Skyline 168-213 at Lake Forest Golf Club on Wednesday. It was a low-round for the Pioneers so far this season behind 41s from Lizzy Fichera and Hyun Jim Kim and 43s from Alex Lee and Hah Rah.

    Patrick Record is a photographer for AnnArbor.com.

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    Over the course of Colin Hay’s 32-year recording career, he’s climbed some very high peaks and endured some very low valleys. But for the last 20 or so of those years, he’s been quite content making the kind of music he wants to make, for a loyal audience that admires not only his talent, but his resilience.


    Colin Hay

    Courtesy photo

    In the early-to-mid-1980s, Hay was the lead singer, rhythm guitarist and main songwriter for the hugely popular Australian band Men at Work, who had inescapable hit singles with songs like “Down Under,” “Who Can It Be Now?" and “Overkill.”

    Men At Work only lasted a few years, though. Due to internal conflicts - and, perhaps, over-exposure -- the group split up in 1985. Hay began a solo career in the late ‘80s, and he’s now released 11 solo albums of smart, tasteful, melodic, well-crafted roots-pop that has won him a devoted cult following.

    And that following has grown in recent years. The last three times he’s played Ann Arbor, he did two-night stands at The Ark, which seats 400. In 2011 and 2012, both nights sold out. And when he comes to town on Friday, he’ll play at the Power Center, which seats more than 1,300. (He also emceed the Ann Arbor Folk Festival in January.)

    Hay’s latest album of new material, the stellar “Gathering Mercury,” was released in 2011. Last year, he issued an EP with three different versions of “Down Under.” One was a full-band studio re-recording of the song, the second was a solo-acoustic studio version and the third was an extended solo-acoustic live performance that included Hay’s long, funny story about how he came to write the song. Hay’s comical stories are a staple of his live shows.

    In fact, the full-band version was chosen by Telstra, an Australian network provider, to be the theme song for their Olympic games-themed ad campaign in Australia. The TV spots featured Hay singing the song with groups of various sizes, ranging from people on the street to a children’s chorus to a football stadium with 60,000 people.


    Colin Hay

    • Who: Former singer, guitarist and main songwriter for Men At Work who has released 11 albums since he began his solo career in the late 1980s.
    • What: A melodic, tastefully-crafted mix of folk, rock, roots-pop and reggae.
    • Where: Power Center, 121 Fletcher Street.
    • When: Friday, 8 p.m.
    • How much: $27, $50. Tickets available from Michigan Union Ticket Office, 530 S. State St.; by phone at 734-763-8587, or online.
    Hay liked that the campaign drew attention to his current solo work, and to his recent albums, but he’s not remotely aggrieved by the fact that that he once played to festival crowds of 100,000 and is now playing clubs and smaller theaters with seating capacities of 400 to 1,500. That’s because, for Hay, the music itself is still his primary focus, which he says has been the case ever since he was playing tiny clubs in Melbourne, with just an acoustic guitar, in the 1970s.

    “It was great that Men At Work were so popular, but that didn’t last too long, so that period almost seems like it was a punctuation mark in my music career,” says Hay. “I’ve released many records and written a lot of songs since then, and I think my writing, and my albums, have continued to improve.

    “When I’m writing or recording, I don’t really think about whether a song will get on the radio or become commercially successful. My solo career started slow, playing to very small audiences, but I slowly built up an audience that liked what I was doing, and they’ve been loyal and continue to come to my shows.”

    Hay has written and demoed a number of new songs over the last year or so, but he’s not yet sure how he’s going to release them, or how the final versions will sound.

    “At the moment, they’re mostly solo-acoustic,” he says. “Since I mostly perform with just an acoustic guitar, I tend to initially record new songs like that. Some of them may stay that way, and on some, I might decide to add bass and drums and electric guitar, so they could become louder rock ‘n’ roll songs,” says Hay during a recent phone interview from Los Angeles, where he’s lived since 1989.

    “Playing alone, with just an acoustic guitar, is my natural game - that’s how I started. I usually record songs soon after I write them. -- I just get great pleasure from writing new songs, getting them on tape, and then playing them live. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve recorded a few more with a friend, Michael Georgiades, who is a beautiful guitar player, and we’ve been getting some cool interplay between us.”

    Given the state of the record industry, Hay hasn’t decided what format he will settle on when he’s ready to release the songs: “I could release another album, or, maybe go another way, like releasing one song at a time online, over a period of several months. I’m still thinking that over."

    The stories that Hay tells onstage are just as important to his live shows as his songs are. His amusing, sometimes-hilarious anecdotes are typically self-deprecating. So, did Hay “study” comic storytelling, or comedy writing, or is he just naturally funny?

    “I do like great comedians, and have paid attention to how they tell stories, but it’s mostly a natural thing,” he says. “My father was funny - a charming man with a gift for making others laugh. My mother was also funny. From the time I was very young, we’d always tell stories and make each other laugh.”

    The first stories he told onstage, when he began his solo career, were baleful but deadpan-funny tales about how he went from playing to stadiums to playing to 20 people, and that topic remains a staple.

    “Yeah, that’s an obvious one, given the path my career took, and it’s a good one, and when I first began telling stories about that, I was telling them as they were happening in my life,” says Hay.

    “That’s a connection we all have - most people have large peaks and valleys in their lives - moments when they were on top of the world, and moments when they’re at the bottom. All of that is part of the struggle most of us go through, as we move through our lives toward the inevitable end.

    “So, in the two hours that I’m up there on stage, in both my songs and my stories, I try to make sense of all that, and create an experience for the audience that, when it’s over, they feel like it was a good investment of their time.”

    Kevin Ransom is a free-lance writer who covers music for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at KevinRansom10@aol.com.

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    Father Gabriel Richard coach Brian Lemons, above, is a teacher at Whitmore Lake High School, Richard's Week 2 opponent.

    Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com file photo

    The first week of high school football and in turn the first week of the “Beat Pete” reminded us all why everyone is always so excited at the beginning of high school football season.

    No matter what happened last year, whether your team was 9-0 or 0-9, there is no telling what the new season will bring. I went 7-4 in my picks, which normally would lead to a list of about 100 people or so that “Beat Pete.” But because some of the games I picked wrong seemed like such obvious picks, not that many people were able to capitalize.

    It was still quite a few, but not what you would expect from such a below average performance


    Frank Rozsa
    Bekah Ward
    Mark Musolf
    Gene Smith
    Randy Dunny
    K King
    Tim Baker
    Jim Preston
    Daniel Madigan
    Matt Genyk
    Josh McCaman
    Al Bates
    Mark Hugger
    Kyle Austin
    Lorie Kitchen
    Matt Durr
    Aaron Campbell
    Reed Swanson
    Lucas Foster
    Jeremiah Juncker
    Larry Doele
    Randall Surque
    Rich Retyi
    Darren Schumacher
    Chuck White
    John Alford
    Jaavaid Love
    Tom Weeks
    Daniel Sibert
    Luai Alzoubi
    Dave Moorhead
    Willy Clark
    Hal Dotson
    John Johnson
    Nick Darlington
    Brad Kokmeyer
    Jason Idalski
    Kendall Westfield
    Tonya Ireland
    Joel Dreffs
    Ezra Dreffs
    Norm Hansen
    Rick Radloff
    Jim Pryce
    Forty-four people had at least eight picks correct (listed on the right), but only two people had 10 and no one was perfect. Of the 44 winners, Mark Musolf of Chelsea was selected at random as the grand prize winner. Mark, you have a T-shirt coming your way. I’ll be in touch.

    Now that the business is taken care of, back to the business of some of the standout performances of the opening week. Skyline beating Hartland and Ypsilanti coming within a touchdown of Milan stick out, but the most eye-opening Week 1 openers was Whitmore Lake’s 32-22 win over Stockbridge, a team it lost to 67-20 last year.

    First-year Whitmore Lake head coach Todd Pennycuff called the win, “one of the proudest moments I've had coaching at the high school level.”

    The only person close to as proud was Brian Lemons, the head coach at Father Gabriel Richard, Whitmore Lake’s Week 2 opponent. Lemons is a teacher at Whitmore Lake High School and also the coach of the varsity powerlifting and baseball teams.

    “It was a big win,” said Lemons. “Most of my baseball players are on the football team and I have pretty close relationships with most of the football players from teaching them, so it was great to see them have success.”

    Lemons said there was a palpable positive atmosphere on the first day of school as a direct result of the Trojans’ win.

    “I could see the confidence inside them and it was great to see because they’ve been through so many struggles,” Lemons said.

    Gabriel Richard and Whitmore Lake played last year, but the game was before school started. With class beginning on Tuesday, Lemons started the year with some friendly back and forth.

    “I have almost all football players in my first hour class. At first there was this awkward silence so I broke the ice,” Lemons said with a laugh. “I think Saturday is going to be pretty sweet.”

    As a coach of the powerlifting team and the teacher of the strength training and personal fitness classes at the high school, Lemons has essentially been training his opponent to beat him for years. He’s more than happy to oblige.

    “That’s the real cool thing about coach Pennycuff, we have a lot of the same training philosophies and he respects my opinion in how to train them and vice versa. He respects the experience I have training athletes and the fact that I’m a football coach makes it even better,” Lemons said. “I’m fortunate to be able to work with two groups of kids and the fortunate thing about Saturday is I actually get to see my Whitmore Lake kids play.

    “I never get to see them play, so I’m excited about that.” Make no mistake about Lemons’ intentions when facing his students, though. He roots for Whitmore Lake to win eight weeks out of the season, but he has a job to do on Saturday. “It’s like playing basketball with your son in the driveway,” Lemons said. “You want them to do well, but at the end of the day, you gotta beat ‘em.” Saturday’s 1 p.m. matchup between the Trojans and Fighting Irish leads off this week’s “Beat Pete” picks. Every other game is at 7 p.m. on Friday. Log on to AnnArbor.com to make your picks.

    People who have “Beat Pete” so far: 44

    Pete’s overall picks record: 7-4 (.636); Last week: 7-4 (.636).

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

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    With mental health treatment services moving to the Annex building at 110 N. Fourth Ave. in downtown Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County officials have a $1 million upgrade planned.

    To help the county with the renovation costs, the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority's governing board on Wednesday agreed to contribute $300,000 in grant funding.

    "The challenge that they've been struggling with for a period of time is that the building was never configured for use as an office building," said DDA Director Susan Pollay. "So they've been working at developing a plan over the last many months to retrofit the interior."


    The County Annex at 110 N. Fourth Ave. in downtown Ann Arbor.

    Courtesy of Washtenaw County

    The county has plans to make significant modifications, including a new lobby and a client interaction space that will enable clients to wait indoors for appointments and maneuver within the facility for multiple support options, rather than waiting outside on the steps to the building.

    County officials announced this year they were planning to move Community Support and Treatment Services to more urban locations in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti to gain better access to their client populations. That included moving teams of case managers, nurses, prescription administrators, therapists, psychologists and medical students out of a county-owned building on Ellsworth Road in Pittsfield Township to the Annex building in downtown Ann Arbor.

    The plan also included moving a number of CSTS employees to the county's Human Services building at 555 Towner St. in Ypsilanti.

    Pollay noted CSTS provides a variety of services to clients with mental illness, developmental disabilities and substance abuse problems.

    Mayor John Hieftje said having those services in the Annex fits with the goal of providing affordable housing near downtown for tenants who might use those kinds of services.

    "I think this is important because that piece of Fourth Avenue is one of the major links between Main Street and Kerrytown — it has a lot of pedestrian traffic," said DDA board member John Mouat, whose architecture firm's office is located on Fourth Avenue.

    Greg Dill, the county's infrastructure manager, couldn't be reached for comment.

    The DDA reported on Wednesday that the downtown parking system took in more than $19 million in parking revenues during the fiscal year that ended June 30.

    That's up from about $17 million the year before. Nearly $1.1 million of the increase came from the new underground Library Lane parking garage.

    Art Fair parking revenues were down in July, dropping from $302,110 to $285,420 from 2012 to 2013, according to a new report.

    The DDA's tax-increment financing — or TIF — fund showed $3.77 million in revenue for the last fiscal year, which was $125,435 short of what was projected. The DDA spent $5.5 million from its TIF fund for the year, leaving a $1.7 million deficit for the year.

    The year-end TIF balance sheet still shows nearly $11.2 million in assets, while the housing fund shows $697,423, the parking fund shows nearly $6 million, and a separate parking maintenance fund shows nearly $1.2 million.

    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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    Underground Printing employee Shelby Melton organizes T-shirts while working the counter on Sept. 4. The Ann Arbor-based Michigan retailer is preparing for its busiest weekend of the year with the second-ever night football game.

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

    Football Saturdays are typically the biggest sales days of the year for Ann Arbor-based retailer Underground Printing, but Michigan Stadium’s second-ever night game should deliver an unprecedented business boost.

    “A game day weekend versus non-games, we’re probably 10 times as busy,” said Underground Printing co-owner Ryan Gregg. “This weekend, for the night game, will probably be multiples of that. It’s not even in the same ball park.”

    The Michigan Wolverines will face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7. It will be the second-ever night football game in Michigan Stadium history, after Michigan hosted its first night game in 2011, also against Notre Dame.

    Although the game will only last about four hours, Ann Arbor-area business owners are anticipating a 2.5-day economic boost.

    “Fans begin arriving on Friday and it carries over to Sunday,” said Mary Kerr of the Ann Arbor Area Visitors and Convention Bureau.


    Michigan Stadium will host its second-ever night game on Sept. 7.

    AnnArbor.com file photo

    “In addition to spending on the usual hotels and restaurants and travel to get here, there’s also the significant economic impact in and around the stadium as well.”

    Kerr said the matchup is expected to generate an economic impact ranging between $10 million and $15 million, leading out-of-town spending compared with the Wolverines’ six other home games this year.

    “(For the first night game in 2011), we estimated a $10 million economic impact and that was very conservative,” she said. “This is an entire weekend event.”

    Mark Kuykendall, owner operator of Ann Arbor’s Holiday Inn & Suites, said the 107-room hotel on Boardwalk Drive has been sold out for this weekend since April, and most area hotels are also booked.

    “We’ve had high demand for this weekend for quite some time — from the first of the year,” he said. “This type of game, an evening game, especially with a top opponent like Notre Dame, creates a lot of interest and brings back a lot of former players and lots of alumni and there seems to be added interest because it’s a night game.”

    Kuykendall said not every football weekend is a total sell-out for the hotel, but high-profile games generally mean the hotel is fully booked on both Friday and Saturday.

    Ken Weber, president of Weber’s Inn on Jackson Road, said the hotel has been booked for this weekend since 2012. The one downside to a night game, he said, is the restaurant loses the dinner hour crowd.

    “The general dinner hour from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. doesn’t happen; you lose the entire dinner hour,” he said.


    Good Time Charley's on South University Avenue has outdoor televisions for people to watch sports games.

    AnnArbor.com file photo

    He added: “As much as Ann Arbor has grown over the years, all the hotels and restaurants and bars certainly look forward to the football season because of the crowds and also everybody is in a good mood.”

    For Michigan Stadium's first night football game in 2011, Good Time Charley’s co-owner Adam Lowenstein said the bar on South Univeristy Avenue was packed all day and people stood on the streets to watch the outdoor television screens on the patio.

    Conor O'Neills owner Tom Murray said sales were up 40 percent to 50 percent for the first night game, compared to a typical Saturday at the downtown Ann Arbor bar.

    “Having the 8 o’clock game was great because it gave people the whole day, so then you’re not only having people coming in just before the game. We were busy from when we opened up until we closed," Murray said.

    To prepare for this weekend, Lowenstein said he’s increasing staff and just preparing for an all-day rush at Charley's. He also expects increased sales on Friday and Sunday.

    “We expect this to be our busiest weekend of the year,” he said. “As a bar, (a night game) is obviously really helpful because people go out and they’re eating and drinking all day leading up to the game.”

    Gregg of Underground Printing, which operates four locations in Ann Arbor, said crowds flock into the retail stores on game days to buy Michigan apparel and souvenirs.

    “People come in and they will buy for game day, but there are also a ton of people who are buying just overall souvenirs,” he said. “For a lot of people, this will be their only trip into Ann Arbor for the year.”

    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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    Rich Sheridan accepts the Executive of the Year award during AnnArbor.com's 2012 Deals of the Year award ceremony.

    Courtney Sacco | AnnArbor.com

    The annual Deals of the Year event — a black-tie awards ceremony that honors the business decisions that had the most impact in the region over the previous year — will be held Nov. 1 at the Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest.

    MLive Media Group is seeking nominees for Company of the Year and Executive of the Year, as well as the deals, announcements or transactions that fit seven sector categories:

    • Construction and development
    • Nonprofit
    • Technology
    • Restaurants
    • Health care
    • Commercial real estate
    • Retail

    The “Deals” year runs from Oct. 1, 2012, to Sept. 30, 2013, and the public can submit nominations online until Sept. 30.

    Three nominees will then be revealed in each of the seven sector categories in early October, and winners are announced at the event on Nov. 1. Nominees are not announced in the Executive of the Year and Company of the Year categories.


    The executive and company of the year awards displayed at the Deals of the Year awards banquet in 2011.

    AnnArbor.com file photo

    In 2012, nearly 450 local and statewide leaders attended the event, including Gov. Rick Snyder, who delivered a speech about a new talent-matching initiative to help align education with jobs.

    Menlo InnovationsRich Sheridan was awarded the 2012 Executive of the Year award, and Bank of Ann Arbor won the 2012 Company of the Year award.

    Other past winners of Company of the Year include: Foresee (2011), Zingerman's (2010), Arboretum Ventures (2009), HealthMedia (2008), NSF International (2007) and Google (2006).

    Past winners of Executive of the Year include: Michelle and Aaron Crumm of Adaptive Materials Inc. (2011), Serial entrepreneur Jeff Williams (2010), Esperion Therapeutics CEO Roger Newton (2008), former Pfizer site leader David Canter (2007), McKinley CEO Albert Berriz (2006).

    The Ann Arbor Business Review — whose brand was absorbed by AnnArbor.com when it launched in summer 2009 — created the Deals of the Year event in 2005.

    Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for AnnArbor.com. Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at lizzyalfs@annarbor.com. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lizzyalfs.

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    The cable guy, plumber, electrician and heating and cooling guys all do it, but cops will not. There is usually no time and it would not be safe for a patrol officer. Those other professionals who come in your home may put surgical booties on when they walk on your fine carpet, but the first responders that come in will not. They do not have the time, and usually when they are there it is an emergency, and at that point you will not care.


    Two canines enjoy a summer afternoon at Ann Arbor's Swift Run dog park last August.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com file photo

    This subject comes up because three times during the past week I have seen or been given the rendition of Jerry Seinfeld’s bit about what aliens would think seeing people walking their dog and being responsible pet owners.

    Seinfeld’s question revolves around who the alien observer would deduce is the leader of the planet—the furry one on four legs or the one being dragged carrying the furry leader’s waste products in a little plastic bag .

    Being the proud owner of two dogs rescued from the shelter — they are actually number three and four who have escaped the pound and weaseled their way into Semper Cop’s sometimes hard heart — I know the lengths we will take to please our pets.

    My pound mutts, Tracy and Savannah, have a fenced in backyard to make their deposits. On those occasions however when they insist on widening their horizons, as a responsible pet owner I, too, must take the humbling and subservient walk behind them with a plastic poop bag.

    In Ann Arbor, as in most every community, you must pick up your dog’s deposits and dispose of them properly. Properly in the City of Ann Arbor being double bagged and placed in your garbage cart. Not all pet owners are responsible.

    In the course of doing business as a police officer, there will be times when your spit-shined shoe or tactical boot will land in a squishy pile of smelly organic solids deposited by a canine whose owner failed to follow city ordinance. Invariably it comes at a time when, as an officer, you are trying to be stealthy while responding to a potential crime in progress.

    I remember the first time my oxford found its way into such a pile of depleted and digested Kibbles N’ Bits. I was interning from the Michigan State University Criminal Justice program—lighten up there Wolverines my first two years were in Pharmacy School at the University of Michigan before I decided to disappoint my parents and follow my dreams—and riding with an officer I would come to work with nicknamed “Buster.”

    Buster and I had been dispatched to a barking dog complaint late one night. We got out of the car and walked along the sidewalk. I being on the passenger side got out onto a lawn extension. Buster came up on the sidewalk near where I was standing and whispered, “I don’t hear anything, do you?”

    “Nope, but I know they have a dog here,” I deadpanned.

    “How can you tell?”

    I shone my flashlight down on the bottom of my right shoe, which contained roughly a half-pound of Fido’s feces. Buster began a belly laugh through his great gap-toothed grin. He could barely catch his breath while telling me to clean it up before getting back in the cruiser. Buster had a ball retelling the story throughout the night to other officers we met.

    Sometimes you have no idea you have stepped one of Rover’s land mines until you get back in the patrol car and you or your partner take a sniff. What the…then the flashlight search of the shoe bottoms confirm what the olfactory senses have reported. Who is the lucky winner in tonight’s Rover Roulette? Both officers then laugh, but the unscathed officer laughs louder.

    I am scarred by an incident that happened one nasty rainy spring night. A woman in a well-to-do neighborhood had been plagued by neighborhood kids harassing her and her husband, who was away. While she was home alone with her two large dogs, they started barking and then her burglar alarm went off. The poor woman was terrorized and called 9-1-1.

    My partner and I were backing up another officer. He checked the front with my partner while I checked the backyard. The woman and her dogs were locked in the master bedroom on the main floor. After we had checked the exterior, police dispatch called the woman back and she let the primary officer and my partner in the front door. The woman was still scared and wanted the interior of the house checked.

    The two other officers had the woman go back in the bedroom and stay with her dogs. I was on the rear deck tapping on the doorwall to get let in by the other cops. Did I mention it was raining and blowing outside? I gave the other cops a "hey you, gonna let me in or what?" look. The other cops being cops shrugged and mugged, maybe we will and maybe we won’t, chuckled and let me in the sliding glass door.

    Back to business, I told the primary that my partner and I would check the upstairs and he could check the main level. I remember thinking, "Wow this is some really nice white carpeting on the stairs and our raincoats are dripping wet," but we had to get upstairs and check for intruders.

    We checked upstairs and were coming back downstairs when I looked down the stairway and was mortified. Every other step had remnants of her dogs’ backyard landmines I must have stepped in. I looked at my partner in terror, “Oh no... follow my lead.”

    The primary officer was now taking the report, chatting and generally playing the role of knight in shining armor for the attractive homeowner. “We’ll check the basement,” I yelled to Officer Community Relations. We went down the basement, cleared it, came back upstairs and made a beeline for the front door. “It’s clear we got another alarm to handle.”

    “Okay fellas, thanks.”

    My partner said, “Hey shouldn’t we tell….”

    “Yeah we shoulda,” I said with a mischievous grin, “but I didn’t want to interrupt the Blue Knight there. He can explain it since he has such good rapport with the damsel in distress.”

    OK I'm scarred, but not that scarred since the Blue Knight had to explain it. Sorry lady.

    Lock it up, don’t leave it unattended, be aware and watch out for your neighbors.

    Rich Kinsey is a retired Ann Arbor police detective sergeant who now blogs about crime and safety for AnnArbor.com.

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    Fundraising campaigns aren't built in a day.

    University of Michigan unveiled a $200 million gift from New York real estate tycoon Stephen M. Ross early Wednesday morning; and while it took only a few hours for the higher education world to learn of the gift, it took college officials years to work with Ross and secure the contribution.

    That's in part because Ross' gift is not only intended to provide funding for scholarships and new and upgraded buildings at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and on the athletic campus, but also to spur other donors to action.

    The university's capital campaign launches on Nov. 8 and the 73-year-old Ross will serve as chairman.

    His $200 million gift is the largest single donation in university history and he previously donated $100 million to the business school that now bears his name. With lifetime giving to U-M totaling $313 million, Ross is the most generous donor ever to contribute to the university's coffers.

    With these milestones secured for now, Ross is heralding in the next fundraising campaign, which will include his most recent grant.

    U-M President Mary Sue Coleman and other U-M officials have been mum on the fundraising goal, but Coleman Wednesday promised the campaign would be U-M's "most significant." The last fundraising campaign ended in 2008 after four years and raised $3.2 billion, or $700,000 million more than the school's original goal.

    "It's very strategic," U-M Vice President for Development Jerry May said of Ross' donation and its timing. "Steve, as chair of the next campaign, is part of the strategic process to actually create momentum, and so this is one of the biggest momentum building gifts we could ever have."

    The gift comes about four months after the school announced a $110 million gift from Charles Munger —then the largest gift in college history— that will go toward funding a graduate student residence hall and fellowships.

    In March, Helen Zell, wife of billionaire real estate tycoon Sam Zell, donated $50 million to fund a creative writing program. Also in March, a foundation formed by the now-deceased Samuel and Jean Frankel gave $25 million to the U-M Cardiovascular Center to finance clinical research and patient support. In September 2012, U-M's art school was renamed the Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design in honor of Penny and E. Roe Stamps, who donated $32.5 million to the school.

    All donations received since July 2011 will count toward U-M's upcoming fundraising campaign.

    While many recent donations —such as much of Ross' gift, Munger's grant and Stamp's donation— have centered around buildings, either constructing them from scratch or renovating them, U-M officials say the upcoming campaign won't be as building-focused as the last campaign. Over the past decade, U-M has spent an average of $523 million per year on construction projects.

    "Obviously there's buildings," Ross explained in an interview Wednesday. "Scholarships are very much a priority to really attract the best students there are, knowing today how much it costs to go to school."

    Ross also said U-M will ask for endowments for professorships.

    Coleman said the fundraising campaign will be focused on student aid and funding new student-centered programs and academic initiatives.

    "We’re very focused around program," she said. "But, as Steve has said many times, if you don’t have the right facilities, then you can't do the education right."

    Coleman, May and other U-M officials —such as business school dean Alison Davis Blake and athletic director Dave Brandon— have been consulting with Ross about a possible gift for multiple years. About a year or 18 months ago, Coleman asked Ross for a large gift and Ross agreed.

    May said U-M is in the final stages of securing about 10 other large gifts, donations of $5 million or more, some of which will be announced before November. He said large gifts take between six months to 18 months to secure.

    U-M Regent Kathy White said such gifts are becoming more and more important to Michigan higher education in an era of dwindling or flatlining state support.

    "Public universities increasingly rely on our donor support to maintain and strengthen our excellence," she said.

    For U-M, having an accomplished real estate builder worth $4.4 billion, according to Forbes, chair its campaign will likely mean a steady stream of sizable donations. Ross said he expects to do some "arm twisting" with donors and in an interview Coleman joked that the 1962 business school alumnus can be "very persuasive."

    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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    Heirloom tomatoes, fresh burrata cheese, basil and frizzled shallots make up this perfect late summer salad.

    Jessica Webster | AnnArbor.com

    When tomato season is in full swing, I have a difficult time convincing myself to eat anything else. A fresh, ripe, funky-looking heirloom tomato puts most other foods to shame. It’s sweet and tangy and so very, very good.

    I’ve been incorporating tomato and basil into many of my meals, from layering it between slices of toast and fried eggs to eating it solo with just a little bit of salt and pepper as a dinner side.

    By far my favorite tomato preparation this year has been a simple tomato and burrata salad, a slight variation on the insalata Caprese.

    Buratta is a fresh Italian cheese made like mozzarella, but with a twist. The cheese is filled with a cream and cheese mixture that oozes out when you slice into it. It’s creamy and decadent and delicious.

    You can find burrata at most of the upscale grocery stores, Trader Joe’s, and Zingerman’s Creamery.

    Because this is a creamy, messy cheese, you’re not going to have the neat, defined lines of a typical mozzarella and tomato salad. That’s ok. It’s so ridiculously delicious, you don’t even notice the messiness.

    I topped my salad with frizzled shallots, which are a favorite indulgence. If you’re not up for frying your own shallots, there are some prepackaged fried shallots available in many grocery stores.

    Local, in-season tomatoes taste really great right now, and many local grocery stores are stocking them. Make sure you’re not buying hothouse tomatoes — they’re just fine in a pinch, but there’s not reason to buy them when you’ve got better choices.

    If you want the most flavorful tomato experience, head to the farmers market or your favorite produce market and pick up some heirloom tomatoes. They’re usually available in an assortment of colors and varietals and might look a little bit funky, but they’re generally the sweetest tomatoes available for purchase.

    Heirloom tomato and burrata salad

    4 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced in rings
    1/3 cup all-purpose flour
    vegetable oil, for frying
    2 large, ripe heirloom tomatoes at room temperature
    2 rounds of burrata cheese
    1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    1/3 cup fresh basil
    freshly ground black pepper
    sea salt

    Preparing the shallots: Separate shallots into individual rings and toss them with flour.

 In a small saucepan, heat about 1 inch of oil to approximately 350 degrees. Fry shallots in batches until crisp and golden, about 2 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

    Preparing the salad: Chiffonade the basil. (Chiffonade is just a nice way of saying that you take the basil leaves, roll them into a nice, tight roll, and slice into ribbons.)

    Core the heirloom tomatoes and slice them into 1/3-inch to 1/2-inch slices. Sprinkle the tomato slices with salt and pepper.

    Carefully slice the burrata. Once you’ve cut into it, the creamy center will start to run out. That’s ok; this is going to be a messier salad than your typical Caprese.

    On a plate, layer slices of tomato and slices of burrata. Move the burrata from the cutting board to the plate using a spatula and a spoon. Again, this will be messy, but it’s delicious.

    Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the tomato and cheese, then sprinkle the basil and frizzled shallots over top. Serve immediately.

    Serves 4 as an appetizer.

    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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    Mildred Parker, one of the longest-tenured vendors at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, died Sunday at the age of 98 at her home in Milan.

    Parker had been selling eggs, vegetables, and small crocheted creations at the market for more than 65 years, her children said.


    Mildred Parker (left) with a happy customer at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market.

    Courtesy of the Parker Family

    “I’ve been going almost my whole life,” her daughter Ilene McCrea said.

    “She would tell people that when she first started going, she’d have to bring me in a playpen. I’m 70 now so she must have been going for the past 68 years or so.”

    Parker was born in Belmore, Ohio in 1915 and moved to the Milan area as a young girl. She married Merl Parker, who first brought her to the Farmers Market.

    “The way I take it, she didn’t like to go at first, but my dad wanted to go so she more or less went for him,” Mildred’s son Marvin Parker said.

    “Then she had a lot of friends and she kept going back for that.”

    In the early years, the Parkers primarily sold eggs at their market stand. McCrae remembered her mother devoting long hours to ensuring that each egg she sold was in good condition.

    “She would candle each egg and look at it to make sure there were no blood spots,” McCrae said.

    “Then we had an old fashioned egg scale and she would weigh them to see what size they should be. We’d go early in the morning to the market and then after we were done we’d have egg routes and sometimes we wouldn’t finish until 8 p.m. delivering eggs right to people’s doors.”

    It has been years since the Parkers delivered eggs to customers doors, but Marvin said the relationships she developed at the market are what kept her coming back.

    “It was in her blood, I guess,” he said.

    “Every Saturday we’d get up at 3 o’clock in the morning to go with her. Later on we’d have to bring a wheelchair to get her to the car and then to the table but she’d be there and she’d be there all day.”

    In the past few years, Mildred turned her attention from produce to fashioning various items with yarns and cloth.

    “She made these great little catnip bags, and little monkey puppets. I would buy the catnip bags for my cat,” fellow vendor Mary Wolfe said.

    “She did a lot of needlework and crocheting. That sort of thing is kind of a lost art these days.”

    Other vendors at the market remembered Parker as a fixture at her booth and someone who could be relied on if they needed a hand.

    “She was very friendly, I’d always stop and chat with her when I walked around” Dwight Carpenter, who has been running a booth at the market for a number of years, said.

    “And I never saw her get upset about anything. Lots of things happen here and people sometimes get angry with each other, but I never saw her ranting or raving or carrying on. Everyone just liked her. We’re all going to miss her.”


    Mildred Parker sits on her back porch surrounded by catnip as she prepares her "catnip sacks" for the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market.

    Courtesy of the Parker Family

    McCrae said the feeling was mutual, and that her mother was especially attached to the relationships she made with some of her long time customers.

    “She had her own family and then her family at the market,” she said.

    “The growers were family, the customers were family; she knew everybody. Some of her customers now are the children and grandchildren of her original customers. There was one couple who would go on trips around the world and send my mother letters and bring her back pictures.”

    Alex Nemeth is the only vendor at the market who has been around for longer than Parker. He says he started coming 82 years ago, when he was just 1 year old.

    “The market was a lot different back then, but some people like Mildred and me just can’t stay away,” he said.

    “You enjoy coming back because you enjoy the people.”

    Parker continued to enjoy the market and enjoy the people in her final years. Kathy Kohlman is a relative newcomer to the market but has set up her Mind Your Bees Wax booth next to Parker's for the past two years.

    “In the last couple years she’s really been a grandma figure to me,” she said.

    “She still came almost every week and has just been the sweetest person.”

    But Mildred Parker didn’t only attend the market to see friends and ‘family.’ She was a cook and dietician at Milan Public Schools and worked at the Platt Road Greenhouse, but the Farmers Market sales were a significant source of income for the family.

    “She paid for my college by going to the Farmers market,” McCrae said.

    “… I’m in sales now, and that’s where I got my sales skills. I would never be able to do what I do now if I hadn’t been brought up at the market.”

    A visitation for Mildred Parker will be held Friday, Sept. 6, at 12 p.m. with a memorial service to follow at 2 p.m. at the Cover Funeral Home, 297 Tecumseh St. in Dundee.

    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 conceptual site plan for a former city maintenance yard at 721 N. Main St., behind the Ann Arbor Community Center, includes a dog park in addition to trails and open space. A city task force recommends demolishing the buildings on the right side of the drawing and considering redevelopment options.

    City of Ann Arbor

    What does the future hold for Ann Arbor's North Main-Huron River corridor? More pedestrian crosswalks? A near-downtown dog park? A series of bridges — and maybe even a tunnel — connecting pedestrians and bicyclists to riverfront recreational amenities?

    Those ideas and more are recommended in a new 28-page report — with a 50-page appendix — from the city's North Main-Huron River Corridor Vision Task Force.

    The citizen-led group spent more than a year studying ways to improve one of Ann Arbor's major gateway corridors and released its final recommendations this week.

    Sabra Briere, the lone City Council member on the task force, announced the release of the report at Tuesday night's council meeting.


    The report includes this image of what a pedestrian bridge could look like over the Huron River to connect the Argo Cascades area to the MichCon site.

    City of Ann Arbor

    David Santacroce, a University of Michigan law professor who chaired the task force, said he expects the report will be on the council's agenda Sept. 16.

    The task force has developed a vision to improve conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists, increase public access to riverside amenities and address traffic congestion.

    The report also recommends uses for the city-owned property at 721 N. Main St. and the riverside MichCon site that is owned by DTE Energy.

    The task force previously recommended developing the flood-prone portion of 721 N. Main as a greenway park with a series of trails and open spaces, including a stormwater wetland area. The new report also shows a potential dog park mapped out on the site.

    "A dog park was cited by many nearby residents as a desirable and relatively inexpensive active use option and coincides with the Park Advisory Commission's current search for a near-downtown location for one," the report states.

    On the non-floodway portion of the site, the report states that two connected structures totaling more than 25,000 square feet have some rehabilitation potential, and both for-profit and nonprofit groups expressed interest in reusing them. But the task force grappled with the projected $6 million rehabilitation cost and instead recommends spending $300,000 to demolish them.

    "Demolish the two buildings as soon as possible and clear and grade the site to avoid undesirable activities and eliminate the potential liability presented by these two vacant and unsound structures," the report states, further recommending the city should seek out potential developers.

    If any type of vertical development occurs there, the report states, it should remain consistent with the residential scale and character of the neighborhood. The task force recommends the city be open to both public and private uses, including commercial and residential uses.

    The hilly and hidden nature of the property weighed against the task force's consideration of recommending the entire property become open space.


    Another image in the report shows a pedestrian bridge going over Main Street and the railroad tracks, linking the 721 N. Main site and the Border-to-Border Trail at Argo Pond.

    City of Ann Arbor

    For the MichCon site, the task force recommends maintaining an open dialogue with DTE officials about the potential use of the site for a riverside park with a new canoe livery to complement operations at the Argo Canoe Livery directly across the river.

    The report suggests city staff should devise a robust process for public input and engagement regarding all potential site amenities.

    "Public recreational elements should focus on creating a unique place along the Huron River, increasing access to water-based recreation and enhancing connectivity to the Border-to-Border Trail, the Allen Creek Greenway and downtown," the report states, recommending public and private funding should be sought.

    The report recommends a pedestrian bridge over the Huron River to connect the Argo Cascades area to the MichCon site.

    The report also recommends constructing a tunnel to allow pedestrians and stormwater to pass under the railroad tracks from Depot Street — between Fourth Avenue and Main Street — to the MichCon site. That would provide a direct link from downtown to the riverfront.

    Another image in the report shows a pedestrian bridge going over Main Street and the railroad tracks, linking the 721 N. Main site and the Border-to-Border Trail at Argo Pond.

    The task force recommends widening and enhancing the trail along the river — including the narrow crossing over the Argo Dam — to lessen traffic conflicts.

    The task force also wants the city to use wayfinding signs to "identify, embellish and encourage existing connections and views" between parks and pathways in the area.

    The report recommends the city work with the Michigan Department of Transportation to find ways to reduce vehicle speeds on North Main and that a comprehensive mobility study be conducted to better understand various options for improving experiences for all users of the corridor.

    The report shows an image of what a signalized pedestrian crossing could look like on North Main at Lake Shore Drive, providing a link between Bluffs Park and Bandemer Park.

    The task force also recommends installing crosswalks across Depot Street at Fourth Avenue and across North Main at Depot Street.

    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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    Opening Downtown

    “Europa Report” follows a contemporary mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa to investigate the possible existence of alien life within our solar system. When unmanned probes suggest that a hidden ocean could exist underneath Europa’s icy surface and may contain single-celled life, Europa Ventures, a privately funded space exploration company, sends six of the best astronauts from around the world to confirm the data and explore the revolutionary discoveries that may lie in the Europa ocean. After a near-catastrophic technical failure that leads to loss of communication with Earth and the tragic death of a crewmember, the surviving astronauts must overcome the psychological and physical toll of deep space travel, and survive a discovery on Europa more profound than they had ever imagined. “Europa Report” plays September 6 & 7 at the Michigan Theater.

    In “Prince Avalanche” Alvin (Paul Rudd) and his girlfriend’s brother, Lance (Emile Hirsch), leave the city behind to spend the summer of 1988 in solitude repainting traffic lines down the center of a country highway ravaged by wildfire. As they sink into their job in the remarkable landscape, they learn more than they want to about each other and their own limitations. An unlikely friendship develops through humor and pointed exchanges, leading to surprising affection. Writer/director David Gordon Green gets back to his independent roots with this character study, which shows his knack for realistically capturing people and finding meaning in their lives and dreams. Michael Philips of the Chicago Tribune says, “It's an actors' showcase. But Green films it with real feeling and an eye for parts of the Lone Star State that, as we can see, are no longer.” ”Prince Avalanche” plays September 8-12 at the Michigan Theater.

    One of the funniest movies to come out of Sundance this year, “Hell Baby” finds Jacks (Rob Corddry) and Vanessa (Leslie Bibb) expecting their first baby and moving into the most haunted fixer-upper in New Orleans - a house with a deadly demonic curse. Things soon spiral out of control for Jack and Vanessa, as well as their-not-so-helpful neighbor F’Resnel (Keegan-Michael Key), Vanessa’s friendly psychiatrist (Michael Ian Black), Vanessa’s Wiccan sister Marjorie (Riki Lindhome) and the detectives assigned to look into the rising body count (Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer). Only the Vatican’s elite exorcism team (Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon of comedy troop The State and “Reno 911,” who also co-directed and wrote the script) can save them - or can they? “Hell Baby” opens Friday at the State.

    Opening at the Cineplex

    “Riddick” reunites writer/director David Twohy (“A Perfect Getaway,” “The Fugitive”) and star Vin Diesel in the sci-fi saga as Diesel reprises his role as the antihero Riddick, a dangerous, escaped convict wanted by every bounty hunter in the known galaxy. The infamous Riddick has been left for dead on a sun-scorched planet that appears to be lifeless. Soon, however, he finds himself fighting for survival against alien predators more lethal than any human he's encountered. Mark Adams of Screen International says, “A dark and bloody genre film that delivers in terms of monsters, knives and a healthy bit of gore.” “Riddick” opens Friday.

    Special Screenings Downtown

    “The Big Lebowski” plays like a Raymond Chandler-esque comedy crime caper from the Coen Brothers. The film pivots around a case of mistaken identity complicated by extortion, double-crosses, deception, embezzlement, sex, pot, and gallons of White Russians “The Big Lebowski” plays Saturday, September 7 at 11:59 p.m. at the State Theatre.

    “The Audience” features Helen Mirren, reprising her Academy Award-winning role as Queen Elizabeth II, meeting her Prime Minister in a weekly private audience in Buckingham Palace - a meeting like no other in British private life. The highly-anticipated production is broadcast from London’s Gielgud Theatre as part of National Theatre Live. “The Audience” plays Sunday, September 8 at 7 p.m. and Tuesday, September 10 at 7 p.m. at the Michigan Theater.

    The Monday Funnies Film Series kicks off with “Annie Hall,” considered by many to be Woody Allen's breakthrough movie. The film follows Alvy Singer (Allen), one of Manhattan's most brilliant comedians; but when it comes to romance, his delivery needs a little work. When he meets tightly-wound WASP Annie Hall (Diane Keaton), everything changes - until his own insecurities sabotage the affair. “Annie Hall” plays Monday, September 9 at 7 p.m. at the Michigan Theater. The Lusophone Film Festival, showcasing the contemporary cinema of the Portuguese-speaking world, kicks off with “Girimunho,” which tells the story of an elderly woman who lives in a village in the interior of Brazil, trying to create her new life after the death of her husband; the film explores human relationships, pointing to the coexistence of traditions and contemporary life, reality and dream, life and death. “Girimunho” plays Thursday, September 12 at 7:30 p.m. at the Michigan Theater.

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    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

    We asked and you answered. The nominations are in for the best brewery in the Ann Arbor area, and now it's time to put it to a vote.

    AnnArbor.com and MLive are teaming up to find the best brewery in the state of Michigan, and you can imagine that the competition is fairly intense. Craft beer is a booming business in Michigan, and the Washtenaw Country area is well represented with a significant list of high-quality brewers.

    Based on the comments this week, allegiances among our readers are pretty evenly split, and the vote should be a close one. Our poll will be open until 9 p.m. on Sept. 9. Come back and vote once per day, and make sure to tell your friends.

    After we've determined our reader favorites, MLive statewide entertainment reporter John Gonzales will be touring the state, taste-testing as he goes. Local beer expert David Bardallis, AnnArbor.com beer columnist and author of "Ann Arbor Beer: A Hoppy History of Ann Arbor Brewing" will be joining us on the Ann Arbor leg of Gonzo's beer trip.

    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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