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

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    AnnArbor.com is taking a look back at a year's worth of photos as Dexter marks the anniversary of the tornado that hit March 15, 2012.

    See photos of the destroyed homes in Huron Farms, the damage to Carriage Hills and the efforts of the community to rebuild their lives.

    More one-year anniversary coverage of the Dexter tornado:


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    The tornado that struck Dexter on March 15, 2012, tore a path of destruction stretching more than 7 miles long. It wrecked homes, toppled trees and terrified residents who huddled in basements and closets waiting for the storm to pass.

    As part of AnnArbor.com's coverage of the one-year anniversary of the storm, photographer Melanie Maxwell put together this interactive map that traces the path of the Dexter tornado and provides links to stories and photos that we've published over the past year.


    View Dexter Tornado Coverage Map in a larger map


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    03122013_BIZ_SelfStorage_DJB_0389.jpg

    The SafeLock sign is still up at the self storage center on Airey Road, even though the name has officially changed.

    Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com

    The former owners of SafeLock Self Storage on Airey Drive in Lodi Township really followed the old adage of “buy low, sell high.” The Southfield-based Airey Storage Group LLC sold their storage units in late 2012 to Five Star Partners LLC for $7.7 million, nearly $60 per rentable square foot.

    “This was one of the higher prices per square foot of any self storage property I’ve ever sold,” Realtor Brett Hatcher of Marcus & Millichap said.

    “Self storage and apartment markets are red hot right now. I can’t keep a listing on the market for long, and this is just one example of that.”

    Airey Storage bought the property from Stoneway West LLC in 2007 for $3.25 million. Hatcher represented both parties in the deal, and said the former owners were planning a redevelopment of the property, but decided to sell instead due to the strength of the market.

    “Self storage was the number one performing real estate investment on Wall Street the past four years,” Hatcher said.

    “It’s much more stable in the downturn of markets and it has weathered the storm much better than other real estate investments.”

    03122013_BIZ_SelfStorage_DJB_0375.jpg

    According to a fact sheet from the Realtor, both storage buildings are above 98 percent occupied.

    Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com

    Hatcher said the new owners are a small private self-storage operator based in Cleveland. The company has changed the name of the storage facility to Five Star Store It and may consider installing a kiosk to help automate some processes at the location.

    A location manager who declined to be named said the new owners had taken over Jan. 1, but that no changes had taken place.

    “It’s new ownership but the same management,” he said. “We’re running essentially business as normal right now. It’s still in the process of moving over though, it’s been an ongoing slow process.”

    The storage site has 128,650 square feet of rentable space spread out between two buildings that right now are 98 and 99 percent occupied. Hatcher said there also is the potential for further development on the site.


    View Larger Map

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


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    031113_NEWS_Dexter_Tornado_.JPG

    Mercedes Barcia stands on a side porch that looks over her neighbor's yard in the Orchard River Hills subdivision in Dexter. The tornado leveled the house next door and caused extensive damage to her own home.

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

    It started out as an abnormally warm late winter day one year ago.

    By the time night fell on the Dexter area March 15, 2012, however, a tornado had twisted its way over the region, irrevocably changing the landscape and the residents who live there.

    It came in quick and unpredictable, bringing down entire homes in its 7.2 mile path. It lifted roofs off homes and shattered windows. It ripped 100-plus-year-old trees from the ground as if they were toothpicks and left them toppled in backyards and roads. When it was over, the storm had affected 266 homes, caused $9.1 million in damage and cost agencies an additional $1.2 million in municipal debris cleanup, figures from Washtenaw County's emergency management division show.

    A year later, most of the leveled homes have been rebuilt. Hundreds of trees felled by furious, 145 mph winds have been cleared from the earth and turned into wood chips and replanting projects are under way. For the most part, people in Dexter have resumed their lives.

    Still, some effects linger. Glass from broken windows is buried in the blades of yard grass because many insurance companies would not pay for a lawn vacuuming. Some residents, like the Molnars of Carriage Hills, chose to undertake home remodeling projects and continue to live in construction zones. Sixteen new tornado sirens dot Dexter Township. More are planned across Washtenaw County.

    Despite its fury, the great storm could not break the spirit of the Dexter community, though. A year later, officials and residents say the storm brought them closer together.

    “The healing process was embraced by the community at large,” said Dexter Village President Shawn Keough. “You realize just how important the basic elements of your everyday life really are. It’s truly a blessing that nobody was hurt or killed. We feel very thankful for the simple elements of life: a home, car, your own bedroom, a roof over your head. If we weren’t thankful for those things before, I think we all are now.”

    Tornado stories

    The twister first touched down at 5:17 p.m. northeast of North Territorial and Dexter Townhall roads. At that point, it was what the weather service classifies as an EF-1 tornado. The weather service rates tornadoes on the Enhanced Fujita Scale from EF-0 to EF-5. The Dexter tornado was an EF-3 storm at its strongest point with winds of 135 to 140 mph.

    The storm hit everyone a little differently. A few lost their homes entirely. Many had roof and shingle damage. Some lucky folks escaped any destruction altogether.

    But everyone who was in the Dexter area that day has one thing in common: a tornado story.

    The stories have some common features: Where were you when the storm hit? What did the storm sound like as it was coming in? What did the sky look like?

    Duane Newland, who lives in the Loch Alpine neighborhood, was at Bel-Mark Lanes getting ready to roll a few frames. Mercedes Barcia, of Orchard River Hills, said the tornado sounded like a freight train. Katrina Williamson said when she saw the storm from the window of her Huron Farms home it looked as if the sky where whirling like the inside of a cotton candy machine.

    Nowhere were those stories told more often than at the Family Barber Shop on Main Street in downtown Dexter, said Maryann Doletzky who cuts hair there along with her dad, Dick, who has been a barber in the same Main Street storefront for 50 years.

    DexterBarberShop.JPG

    Dick Doletzky, tending to Dennis Bristow, and daughter Maryann heard a lot of tornado stories at the Family Barber Shop on Main Street in downtown Dexter.

    John Counts | AnnArbor.com

    “It’s funny being in here,” she said. “Everyone for the first month was like, ‘Where were you at during the tornado?’ We still talk about tornado stories in here.”

    In addition to running a Main Street barbershop for half a century, the Doletzky family once owned the farmland where the one of the hardest-hit neighborhoods was eventually built. That neighborhood, Carriage Hills, was the first one hit by the tornado as it made its southeasterly swipe at the region.

    Dick and Maryann Doletzky both live on nearby Fleming Road in separate homes, along with other members of the Doletzky clan. The damage to their homes and property paled in comparison to the destruction of Carriage Hills, they said.

    Maryann’s roof was pulled away from the house and wasn’t fully repaired for several months after the storm. Most noticeable a year later, she said, are the missing trees that have opened up the once-wooded neighborhood.

    “The landscape has changed,” Maryann said.

    It had been reported that some of the trees were likely 100 years old. Dick Doletzky said some of the trees had to be older than that.

    “I’m 72 years old and they were old trees when I was a kid,” he said with a laugh.

    ‘A whole different neighborhood’

    Carriage Hills resident Fred Molnar said he lost about 30 trees on his three and a half acres, a few of which were very old.

    “It’s a whole different neighborhood,” he said.

    While the downed trees have been mostly cleaned up on his property, inside the Molnar house is a whole different story. The home on Timber Hill Court still is very much under construction.

    Studs and trusses are still visible throughout Molnar’s house. Tools and building materials are strewn about. Molnar said he and his family, which includes his wife and three children, have lived in the house without a kitchen since the storm damaged their house, blowing down a wall.

    MolnarHouse.JPG

    The Molnars' house in Carriage Hills, as seen last week, is one of the last to still be under construction in the Dexter area.

    John Counts | AnnArbor.com

    “It’s really hard,” Molnar said about living without a kitchen for so long. “We have a stove here, a sink and a microwave, that’s pretty much it.” Molnar’s quick to admit that it was all by choice. The storm offered him the opportunity to tackle a much-larger remodeling project, including putting in a new kitchen, which wasn’t damaged in the storm.

    “If we wouldn’t have done this stuff internally, we would be done right now,” he said. “We can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

    Molnar has his own storm story, of course. He watched it roll in from his back porch.

    “When you see that stuff on TV, you really can’t relate to it,” he said. “Now that I’ve gone through it, it’s a whole different perspective.”

    Molnar had a shoulder operation just days earlier.

    “The biggest event of my life and I’m in a sling,” he said with a smile. “I was so helpless.”

    His neighbors came to his aid, helping him cut and clear fallen trees from his property.

    “I think everyone’s pulled together,” he said.

    Thousands of trees

    After hitting Carriage Hills, the tornado tore south down Dexter-Pinckney Road and over the golf course at Hudson Mills Metropark, uprooting hundreds of trees.

    “There used to be gigantic trees through here,” said Dexter Fire Chief Loren Yates while driving Dexter-Pinckney Road last week. “In the summer, it would just be a canopy.”

    There are barely any trees left lining the side of the road. The nearby golf course also suffered extensive tree loss, said Troy Rice, the course’s maintenance supervisor, who estimated that thousands of trees were uprooted.

    “It was sad to see (the loss) of some of the more mature trees from the grounds,” he said.

    In fact, there are still some trees knocked down by the storm that lie where they fell, specifically on the sixth and seventh holes. Some of the damage in the park will be memorialized with signs along the new West River Bike Trail, Rice said, who added that if anything, the storm had actually improved the course.

    Flying sheds and trampolines

    Tornado_home_destroyed.jpg

    Chris and Katie Cramer watch as their home is picked apart by a backhoe after it was destroyed by the tornado days earlier.

    Angela Cesere | AnnArbor.com file photo

    What still surprises many a year later is that, despite the immense destructive nature of the storm, no one was injured — let alone killed. Also surprising to officials like Yates is how the tornado seemed to hop across the area.

    “It’s amazing how a tornado will hit one area, pick up and miss the other area,” he said.

    After sweeping through the golf course, the storm headed south toward the businesses along Main Street. And completely missed them.

    Except, that is, for the Village Car Wash and Laundry on Second Street, which was not standing at the end of the day. The car wash still has yet reopen, but is under construction. The owners did not wish to participate in this story.

    Breanne Buschlen, a waitress at the Dexter Coney Island, lives down the street from the car wash. She also has a tornado story.

    “You could feel the walls shaking,” she said about being in her apartment that day. “Someone’s shed flew by and hit a telephone pole. There was a trampoline wrapped around the railing.” For months, the tornado was the topic of conversation at the coney restaurant. Not so much anymore, Bushlen said.

    “Overall, you don’t hear that much about it anymore,” she said. “A lot of people are happy because their houses are rebuilt. Most people have moved back into their homes is what I’ve heard.”

    ‘The house that is no more’

    This is true for most of the residents in Huron Farms, people like Katherine Pfeiffer and Matt and Heather Leszczynski, whose homes were both extensively damaged in the storm.

    It’s also true for Barcia, who lives in the 7100 block of Wilson, right next to the empty slab where a house destroyed by the tornado was never rebuilt. Barcia calls it “the house that is no more.”

    031113_NEWS_Dexter_Tornado_-1.JPG

    Mercedes Barcia created a scrapbook of photos showing the damage. Pictured is a view of the front of her home.

    Melanie Maxwell I AnnArbor.com

    Barcia’s house was ripped in half, with only the two bedrooms left standing, she said. While she may be back in her house, which was finished in August, she doesn’t feel completely settled.

    “It’s coming up on a year and my anxiety level is high,” she said. “Now, whenever there’s bad weather I get anxious.” As for the empty lot next door, she said she last saw the man who owned the house in August when he told her he was planning to rebuild.

    Tax records show the man who owns the property is Mechial White, the musician profiled by AnnArbor.com a day after the storm. Attempts to reach White about what he plans on doing with the property were unsuccessful.

    One-year anniversary

    Keough said he’s heard different reactions from people about what they plan to do for the one-year anniversary Friday. Some folks in Dexter told him they plan on being around and attending an open house at LaFontaine Chevrolet, at 7120 Dexter-Ann Arbor Road.

    Others don’t plan on being anywhere near Dexter because of the bad memories, he said.

    Those who attend the open house, which runs from 3 to 7 p.m., can apply to get help from the Dexter Tornado Relief Fund, which still has about $37,000 in it, Faith in Action director Nancy Paul said.

    031113_NEWS_Dexter_Tornado_sky.JPG

    Clouds are reflected Monday, March 13, 2013 on the wet pavement in front of a home that was totally destroyed in the Dexter tornado in the Huron Farms subdivision. It has not been rebuilt.

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

    The money will be available mostly for tree replanting efforts and the glass-in-the-grass problem, she added.

    The relief fund, established quickly after the tornado hit, will soon quietly be shut down. It raised about $330,000 in the months immediately following the storm.

    “We want to spend the money. For the most part, we have the sense that most people’s emergency needs have been taken care of,” Paul said. “From our side, it feels good to be done.”

    There will be food, games and a video booth for storytelling at the event, as well.

    Another event marking the one-year anniversary is the Dexter F 3.1 Tornado Run/Walk, which will be held Friday night at Hudson Mills Metropark starting at 7 p.m.

    Emergency officials say they are even more prepared now than they were a year ago. Yates said everything went as smoothly as it could last year. The only glitch he could think of were some issues with a new communications network that allows one agency to talk to another.

    Marc Breckenridge, director of Emergency Management for Washtenaw County, also said there were some communication problems as a result of the new system, but they have since been worked out.

    “We think we’re ready again for another one,” he said.

    More sirens are expected to pop up around the county, as well. Dexter Township put up 16 since the tornado. A federal grant from the Department of Homeland Security will aid in getting about 27 more throughout the county, Breckenridge said, meaning that 75 percent of the population will be within earshot of a siren. That number is currently around 65 percent. Where the sirens will go is still being determined.

    Breckenbridge believes sirens played a crucial role in getting people to safety during the tornado.

    “That’s why we think there were zero injuries and zero deaths,” he said.

    That was one thing officials and residents agreed on: No matter how devastating the storm was to homes and possessions, no one was hurt.

    And now that the major cleanup is over, officials and residents also agree that the same storm that tore so much apart also brought the community together.

    “I think that spirit still lives,” said Newland, a Dexter Rotarian who plans on helping out with Arbor Day tree plantings. “I think the community has strengthened as a result.”

    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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    Just a few years ago I didn’t know much about multiple sclerosis, commonly called MS. I knew people with MS including classmates and several of my parents’ friends, but it wasn’t until my own diagnosis in June of 2011 that I really came to know what MS is and how many people it affects. March 11 to 17 is national Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week and advocates all over the country are working to get the word out about this chronic disease.

    Rebecca Meuninick.jpeg

    Rebecca Meuninck

    More than 18,000 people in Michigan have multiple sclerosis. MS is an autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system. I was an otherwise healthy 31-year-old when my immune system went haywire. My case is not uncommon because MS is a disease that is often diagnosed in people in their 20s and 30s, so its something that people like me will have to manage for most of their lives. For a disease that is so common in our state we simply don’t know enough about the causes of MS and how to stop its potentially debilitating effects.

    Last week I joined the Michigan Chapter of the National MS Society to call on Congress to sustain funding for the National Institute of Health (NIH) and Congressional Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP). These two bodies provide vital funding to stop diseases like MS in their tracks, renew lost functions, and end MS forever. Even if you don't know someone with MS, you probably do know someone who has benefitted from the health research these institutions support. NIH funds research on many different diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's, and heart disease.

    With the recent federal sequestration on everyone's mind in DC our visit to the capitol was well timed to remind lawmakers that funding for health related research has provided medical advances for many diseases. Nonprofit organizations like the National MS Society work with governmental bodies to strategically fund research and make sure that research efforts aren't duplicative. This is a good example of how the public and private sectors should be working together to solve tough problems.

    Diseases like MS cost Americans billions of dollars a year. The average annual costs for someone with MS is $69,000 and with 400,000 people with MS in America we're talking about nearly $28 billion dollars each year. On the other hand, NIH funds many studies at institutions across Michigan, which bring in millions of research dollars each year. Funding research through NIH and CDMRP is an investment in our nation's health and prosperity.

    Our US senators and representatives should sustain the funding for the NIH and CDMRP for the health and well-being of Michigan citizens with diseases like MS and for the ripple effects these research dollars have in our economy.

    Rebecca Meuninck is an Ann Arbor resident and volunteer with the Michigan Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.


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    Update: The crash scene had been cleared and all lanes of the freeway reopened by 9:20 a.m., dispatchers said.

    A three-car crash on eastbound M-14 was partially blocking the freeway and creating a long backup on the northeast side of Ann Arbor Thursday morning.

    The crash was blocking two lanes of the freeway just east of the east triple-decker intersection with U.S. 23, a dispatcher with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office said at 8:10 a.m.

    Huron Valley Ambulance spokeswoman Joyce Williams said the crash, which occurred about 8 a.m., involved three vehicles. A least one of the vehicles rolled over, and one caught fire. No one had to be transported from the accident scene, Williams said.

    A Google map showed traffic backing up past Main Street in Ann Arbor. Further information was not immediately available.


    View Crash 031413 in a larger map


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    The trial for the man accused of raping a woman in Ypsilanti Township woods and cutting her hand with a knife is delayed until late April, records show.

    Anthony_Chandler.jpg

    Anthony Chandler

    Courtesy of WCSO

    Anthony Derrick Chandler, 41, is being held in the Washtenaw County Jail while waiting for trial on multiple felonies for a March 29, 2009 incident. According to police, Chandler attacked a woman in the 80 block of South Harris Road.

    Investigators said Chandler attempted to slash the woman's throat with a knife, cutting her hand when she blocked the blade. It’s alleged Chandler raped her on a mattress in nearby woods.

    He was eventually identified through a DNA sample last year.

    Chandler was in Washtenaw County Trial Court Judge Darlene O’Brien’s courtroom for a final pretrial hearing Monday. His trial, originally scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. March 25, will now go ahead at 8:30 a.m. April 29, according to court records.

    He’s charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, assault with intent to murder, assault with intent to commit great bodily harm and assault with a dangerous weapon. He faces a maximum of life in prison, if convicted.

    Chandler’s bond is set at $150,000 cash.

    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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    artemis-quartet.jpg

    Artemis Quartet publicity photo

    They stood to deliver (except the cellist). They stood and delivered (most certainly including the cellist). We stood to applaud.

    That’s the short story on the University Musical Society debut of the Berlin-based Artemis Quartet, which played a spectacular and spectacularly moving concert at Rackham Auditorium Wednesday evening.

    The longer story involves four soloist-caliber players—Vineta Sareika, first violin; Gregor Sigl, second violin; Friedemann Weigle, viola; and Eckart Runge, cello—offering a program that promised a lot on paper and offered way more on stage.

    It was a program that was tied together neatly as a Bach fugue; indeed, counterpoint was its underpinning. There was Mendelssohn—that great Bach champion—to begin and end; and, in between, music of Bach and Piazzolla, composers divided by eras and musical pigeonholes, but united by rigor, dance and polyphony. The encore was the “Presto Magico” from the Ginastera String Quartet No. 2, a link back to Piazzolla, who got a lot of his Bach training from this Argentine master.

    Intellectual cohesiveness can take a program only so far, though. This one went the distance, emotionally and technically.

    The Mendelssohn quartets were a study in contrasts. The opening quartet, No. 3 in D Major, Op. 44, No. 1, is as sunny as Mendelssohn is wont to be; the closing one, No. 6 in f minor, Op. 80, dark and stormy.

    The players skimmed and danced in the first, playing with the most suave vocal quality, the most exquisite tuning, and a vast and nuanced dynamic palette that was never forced at its extreme ends. More than that, fortes and pianos were not mere effects, applied for show; always, they conveyed emotional color and depth.

    In the second Mendelssohn, tempests did more than hover, they descended, and grit and grief were demanded as much as a mournful loveliness—provided in an elegiac Adagio that was warm, heartbreakingly beautiful and beautifully wrought.

    The players’ freedom and their easy interplay—abetted, one sensed, by standing to play (with cellist Runge sitting on a podium)—came along with the best kind of restraint. When Runge, introducing the program’s central section of Bach and Piazzolla, talked about the non-exclusivity of rigor and emotion (we tend, he noted, to associate the former with Bach, the latter with Piazzolla), it seemed equally apt to apply the bond to the quartet’s style as to the music at hand.

    Certainly, in the suite the quartet crafted from Bach preludes and fugues (from “Art of the Fugue” and “The Well-Tempered Clavier”) and Piazzolla tangos (from his “Angel” series), rigor and emotion went hand-in-hand. Without forcing Bachian style on Piazzolla or Piazzollan style on Bach, the quartet found a way of knitting the two into the same sound world. They played the pieces attacca, one sliding into the next, and musical bridges they composed created seamless, and startlingly subtle interleavings of the alternating Bach and Piazzolla selections. It really read as one large work, with the high point Piazzolla’s devastating “Milonga del Angel,” dark, quiet, narrow in sound, wide in scope.

    If you were impressed, in the body of the concert, with the colors the quartet could conjure, the encore simply sealed the deal. It was a “Presto Magico” for sure that they offered, filled with flickerings, slides and pizzes, scamperings and scratchings and whistles. A fine end to an evening that was magical from start to finish.


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    If you're looking for a place to reliably find the Easter Bunny, then Briarwood Mall is your place. Just don't bother him on his carrot break.

    Thumbnail image for briarwood_mall_entrance_sign.jpg
    He has already arrived, and he's waiting for to hear all your kids' Easter wishes (that's how that works, right?). He's located in the Sears court area.

    A Caring Bunny for special-needs children will be available on March 24 from 9-11 a.m. Please reserve your space through http://www.abilitypath.org/.

    Children and families can visit and take photos with the Easter Bunny Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. (a carrot break will be from 1-1:30 p.m. and 4:30-5:15 p.m.), and Sunday from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (carrot break from 2-3 p.m.). He'll be on hand through March 30.

    The mall is located at 100 Briarwood Circle (off State Street and Eisenhower Parkway), Ann Arbor. 734-994-5315.


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    Ben-Folds.JPG

    Ben Folds performs at the 2008 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Tennessee

    AP file photo

    The University of Michigan student group MUSIC Matters today announced a solo concert by Ben Folds at Hill Auditorium on April 11.

    Tickets start at $20 and go on sale at 11 a.m. March 15 at the Michigan Union Ticket Office, in the basement of the Michigan Union on State Street. They will be available online at www.michiganmusicmatters.com/tix starting at 1 p.m. that day.

    The concert is presented by MUSIC (Michigan Undergrads Serving In the Community) Matters and sponsored by Michigan Hillel. This is the group's second year producing a charity concert; proceeds will benefit need-based scholarships for high school students to attend U-M.

    “We are excited by Ben Folds' ability to bring together a wide range of students and community members,” MUSIC Matters Acting President Coby Joseph said in a press release. “His engaging performance style and career-long commitment to charity make him the perfect artist for our benefit concert.”

    Folds became a star with his 2001 album "Rocking the Suburbs." His latest album, made with his band Ben Folds Five, is "The Sound of The Life of The Mind."

    Folds played Hill Auditorium in 2008 as a headliner for the Ann Arbor Folk Festival. He played the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor in 2006 and 2009.

    More information from the press release:

    The Ben Folds concert will be the capstone event for MUSIC Matters’s entire Day of Festivities on the Diag at the University, called SpringFest 2013. Arts organizations, a cappella groups, and dance performances will all be featured along with club’s booths, games, and a “Restaurant Row.” It will be held from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

    The goal of SpringFest is to unite the diverse University of Michigan community for a fun afternoon on the Diag,” explains MUSIC Matters Founder and President Phillip Schermer. “The entire day of festivities, capped off with the Ben Folds concert, serves as a culminating event of the academic year, bringing the entire campus together for one big, final celebration.”

    MUSIC Matters (Michigan Undergrads Serving In the Community) is in its second year at the University of Michigan. Its goal is to bring one concert to the University of Michigan per year and donate the proceeds to charity. Last year, they brought Grammy-nominee, J. Cole, to Hill Auditorium and donated $10,000 to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

    This year, MUSIC Matters took on the issue of college affordability when choosing its charity. With the proceeds from the concert, MUSIC Matters will endow one of the first-ever student-funded scholarships at the University of Michigan. Megan Pfeiffer, MUSIC Matters Vice-President, explains, “As students of the University of Michigan, we are passionate about our education and giving that opportunity to others. We don't want financial need to be a roadblock for people when deciding their future, especially for becoming one of the leaders and best.”

    Michigan Hillel is the lead sponsor of this year’s MUSIC Matters concert. Dalia Adler, Chair of Michigan Hillel, says “Michigan Hillel has gladly chosen to sponsor and partner with MUSIC Matters because it is an incredible way for us to support an event focused on the arts— an area that Hillel has really started to focus on this year. By collaborating to bring in Ben Folds, it’s an opportunity for us to showcase not only our commitment to growing our own involvement with the arts, but our commitment to growing arts on campus as well.” She continues, “the concert and the pre-concert events bring together the entire student body, and to be part of cultivating such a community is both an honor and at the crux of Hillel’s values. MUSIC Matters unites Michigan in such a unique and inspiring way, leading to our eagerness and excitement to support a cause that empowers students and truly enhances the culture on Michigan’s campus.”

    Bob Needham is director of entertainment content for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at bobneedham@annarbor.com or 734-623-2541, and follow him on Twitter @bobneedham.


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    kerrytown_place_rendering_side_view.jpg

    A rendering of the proposed Kerrytown Place project shows two of the three proposed buildings viewed from North Main Street.

    Huron Contracting LLC

    Ann Arbor developer Tom Fitzsimmons received praises from neighbors Wednesday night for his latest condominium project known simply as Kerrytown Place.

    During an hour-long citizen participation meeting attended by about a dozen people inside the Kerrytown Concert House, no one showed up to speak against Fitzsimmons' plans for a 19-unit condo project on the former Greek church property at 414 N. Main St. near downtown.

    The meeting even ended with one resident pushing Fitzsimmons (after he's done with Kerrytown Place) to consider redeveloping another blighted area on North Main: the site of a failed affordable housing project where a row of boarded-up houses remains.

    "I think everything that Tom Fitzsimmons does is respectful of the neighborhood and is appropriate for the site, and so is this," said Margaret Schankler, who lives on Fourth Avenue north of the proposed project and considers what's being proposed a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

    kerrytown_place_overhead_whole_view.jpg

    An overhead view of the Kerrytown Place project shows the two larger buildings with a shared courtyard in the middle and the smaller Fourth Avenue building to the east. The project is surrounded by residential and commercial uses.

    Rendering by architect Robert Latsko

    Schankler said her only criticism is that she'd prefer a more traditional look with peaked rooflines instead of a flat, boxy look, but overall she likes what she sees.

    The roughly $10 million project consists of a three-story, nine-unit townhouse fronting North Main Street, a four-story, eight-unit townhouse along the mid-block alley, and a two-story, two-unit townhouse fronting North Fourth Avenue.

    A public walkway would connect Main Street and Fourth Avenue, and there would be a courtyard between the two larger buildings.

    Fitzsimmons said the prices for the condos could run from $300 to $325 per square foot. Because they're different sizes, prices could range of $400,000 to $1 million.

    He said he's had several inquiries from empty nesters who want to live near downtown, so he's confident the demand is there.

    John Hilton, who also lives on Fourth Avenue north of the project site, said there are only two developers in town for whom he has unreserved praise and Fitzsimmons is one of them.

    "I've seen Tom do work in our neighborhood for many years," he said. "He's got exquisite taste. He's got a really keen eye for building something that people are willing and happy to pay for."

    Wednesday night's meeting was required under city ordinance before Fitzsimmons can submit his plans to the city's planning department on March 25.

    Following city staff review, the project is expected to go before the Planning Commission on May 21, after which it would need to be approved by the Ann Arbor City Council.

    Fitzsimmons purchased the North Main Street property at a tax foreclosure auction last year and then proposed the Kerrytown Place development. The project replaces what originally was planned for the site in 2006: an 11-story, mixed-use building called The Gallery.

    Tom_Fitzsimmons_031313_RJS_001.jpg

    Developer Tom Fitzsimmons gives a presentation on his project Wednesday night at the Kerrytown Concert House.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    Legal and financial issues plagued The Gallery, a project led by Ann Arbor developer Michael Concannon. It also was controversial, in part, for its height.

    Peter Davis, an attorney whose office sits directly across Main Street from the project site, said what's on the table now is a major improvement from what was proposed before.

    "There's light years of difference between the two," he said. "The other was totally unacceptable. It was too big, too tall, too dense, not enough parking, and not suitable for downtown Ann Arbor."

    He said he enjoys seeing the sun rise from his office each morning and he would have been in perpetual shade if Concannon's project had worked out.

    "This, I think, is very suitable, very appropriate," he said of Kerrytown Place. "I do like the look of it from the front. I like the balconies, the courtyard between the two buildings."

    The Greek church that stood vacant on the site for several years had fallen into a state of severe disrepair by the time it was demolished last September.

    It has been a troubled site for a very long time, said Hilton, who used to work across the street and still live just down the block.

    "I've watched it for a long time," he said. "It's been almost a source of despair because Mike Concannon had that huge project that just came to nothing."

    After the failure of Concannon's project, the site became a real problem, Hilton said. Even with a hole in the roof, it became an unofficial dwelling for some.

    "People were breaking into it, people were living in it, people were scavenging things from it," he said. "In fact, even when the county tore it down, a group of people who had been living in the building and on its porches moved into the neighborhood and we had a lot of difficulty with that."

    One of the challenges of the property is an easement with neighbor McKinley Inc. for 57 parking spaces, which was agreed upon when The Gallery project was proposed.

    Hilton said he worried there wouldn't be a good solution for redevelopment because of that, but he's impressed with the way Fitzsimmons is making it work.

    Greek_church_site_031313.jpg

    The site of the proposed project as it looked Wednesday night.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    Fitzsimmons is asking the city to rezone the site from its Planned Unit Development designation to the underlying D2 zoning for the area, which is a transitional district between the D1 downtown core and near-downtown neighborhoods. D2 zoning comes with a 60-foot height limit.

    Fitzsimmons said his buildings will be more in the 30- to 40-foot range, nowhere near maxing out the density allowed on the site.

    "We had that as part of our design goal to make it a transitional project," he said. "We took a lot of context from the area, some of the larger brick buildings, some of the projects we've seen and liked that have a really nice residential scale."

    Fitzsimmons said his company took some inspiration from specific projects like Johnson Street Townhomes in Portland, which has a predominantly brick facade with some "bump-outs," flat roofs and lots of windows — much like what's proposed with Kerrytown Place.

    "We have a lot of huge windows in this project," he said.

    One of the things Fitzsimmons said he loves about the project in Portland is that, while it looks great during the day, it looks fantastic at night with light pouring out of its large windows. He said a lot of pictures of the project that show up in magazines are taken at night because of that.

    Fitzsimmons is no stranger to downtown development. He has built a number of homes in the Kerrytown area, and is working on a three-story townhouse project on Catherine 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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    Despite the groundhog’s forecast, winter just won’t go away.

    A fast-moving storm system could dump 3 or more inches of snow on the Ann Arbor area Friday and Friday night, the National Weather Service says. And next week will bring a chance of snow showers every day through Tuesday.

    Thumbnail image for 011912_NEWS_Weather_MRM_02.jpg

    The Ann Arbor area is expected to get 1 to 3 inches of snow overnight Friday.

    The precipitation could start Friday morning with snow and freezing drizzle. After 1 p.m., forecasters expect snow, possibly mixed with rain. During the day, accumulation will amount to less than one inch, the weather service says. The high temperature will be about 43 degrees.

    Snow, possibly mixed with rain, will continue Friday night and will become all snow after midnight, forecasters say. Accumulation of 1 to 3 inches is expected. The chance of precipitation is 90 percent, the weather service said. An overnight low of 26 is expected.

    Saturday will bring a mostly cloudy day with a high near 38 degrees. Sunday will be partly sunny with a high near 33.

    Snow showers are possible Sunday night and every day through Tuesday.

    For updated weather conditions and forecasts anytime, check AnnArbor.com's weather page.


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    jackie-oestreich-greenhills-021113.JPG

    Greenhills Forward Jackie Oestreich, center, and Arbor Prep guards Zakiya Wells, left, and Nastassja Chambers, right, were all voted first team Class C All-State by the Associated Press.

    Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com

    Arbor Preparatory Academy has only been around as a school for two years, and that's officially one less than the amount of members the school has on the Class C All-State girls basketball team.

    The underclassmen backcourt of sophomore Zakiya Wells and freshman Nastassja Chambers were both named first team All-State while Gators coach Rod Wells (Zakiya's father) was named Class C coach of the year.

    Zakiya Wells, a 5-foot-6 guard, averaged 13.3 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 4 steals on the year. Her scoring totals were down from last year due to Chambers' addition to the team.

    Chambers, a 5-9 guard, averaged 13 points, three assists, four rebounds and four steals per game. Chambers shot 52 percent on her two point field goals and had a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio.

    Rod-Wells-coach.jpg

    Arbor Prep coach Rod Wells, above, was named the Associated Press Class C girls basketball coach of the year.

    AnnArbor.com file photo

    Wells was named Class C coach of the year after leading Arbor Prep to a 16-4 record and a No. 10 state ranking. This despite the fact that Arbor Prep is devoid of seniors and only carried eight players on varsity so that the JV team could field a squad and help for scheduling purposes.

    Arbor Prep was ousted from the playoffs by Manchester in the district finals. Manchester wich will play in the state semifinals on Thursday. While the Flying Dutch will be represented in the state semifinals, they are not in the first team All-State team, however, senior McKenna Erkfritz is special mention for the second year in a row. Erkfritz, a 6-1 senior forward, averaged 15 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 3 steals while shooting 50 percent from the field. She will attend Northwood University in the fall.

    A forward from Washtenaw County that did that did make the first team was Greenhills senior Jackie Oestreich. Oestreich averaged 24.9 points and 14.5 rebounds for 11-8 Greenhills. Oestreich scored 58 percent of her team's points.

    The Class C player of the year is Grosse Pointe South's Haleigh Ristovski, younger sister of Michigan women's basketball team's freshman Madison Ristovski.

    The Associated Press All-State team is voted on by a 10-person panel made up of sports writers from across the state from Associated Press membership publications. The top 10 players to receive votes from the panel are considered first team All-State, players who receive two votes or more are automatically special mention and those who receive one or no votes are honorable mention.

    Associated Press Class D girls basketball All-State team

    First Team:

    Haleigh Ristovski, Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett, 5-10, Sr., Player of the Year

    Sydney Czurak, Shelby, 6-1, Sr.

    Taylor Hengesbach, Saginaw Nouvel, 5-9, Sr.

    Jenna Hirsch, Marlette, 5-7, Sr.

    Jackie Oestreich, Ann Arbor Greenhills, 6-2, Sr.

    Jacqueline Simpson, Burton Bendle, 6-0, Sr.

    Karina Cole, Lincoln Alcona, 5-10, Jr.

    Karli Herrington, Hemlock, 6-2, Jr.

    Reyna Frost, Reese, 6-0, So.

    Meredith Hamlet, McBain, 5-8, So.

    Zakiya Wells, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep, 5-6, So.

    Nastassja Chambers, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep, 5-9, Fr.

    ___

    Coach of the Year:

    Rod Wells, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep Academy

    ___

    Special mention (nominees receiving two or more votes from the 10-member panel):

    Mikayla Duflo, Carson City-Crystal; McKenna Erkfritz, Manchester; Claire Denecker, Blissfield; Sydnee McDonald, Flint Hamady; Elisa Jurmu, Houghton

    ___

    COACHES:

    Josh Hood, Niles Brandywine; Dennis Gruber, Reese

    ___

    Honorable mention (nominees receiving one or no votes from the 10-member panel):

    Becca Scherting, Saginaw Valley Lutheran; Nicole Winter, Watervliet; Scotlyn Brengman, Maple City Glen Lake; Jamie Justin, Leroy Pine River; Cambria Handy, Britton Deerfield; Gabrielle Herriman, Sand Creek; Rachel Bruinsma, Western Michigan Christian; Markela Snipes, Mount Clemens; Megan Redman, Concord; Jalisha Terry, Flint Hamady; Liza Erickson, Traverse City St. Francis; Jade Madison, New Buffalo; Kaitelyn Smith, Hartford; Michaela DeKilder, Gobles; Drew Findlay, Reese; Rachel McInerney, Saginaw Nouvel; Sam Shafer, Saginaw Valley Lutheran; Kayla Deering, Pigeon Laker; Taylor Smith, Edmore Montabella; Aleah Holcomb, Kent City

    ___

    COACHES:

    Kris Hengesbach, Saginaw Nouvel; Liane Steller, Burton Bendle; Larry Farmer, Carson City-Crystal; Omar Ahart, Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett; Scott Carlson, Kent City

    ___

    Voting panel:

    Matthew B. Mowery, The Oakland Press (Pontiac); Dick Hoekstra, Lansing State Journal; David Goricki, The Detroit News; David Bossick, Ludington Daily News; Scott DeCamp, MLive-Kalamazoo; Fred Kelly, Midland Daily News; Jim Lahde, Morning Sun (Mount Pleasant); Ross Maghielse, MLive-Flint; Pete Cunningham, AnnArbor.com; Matt DeYoung, Grand Haven Tribune


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    A trifecta of celebratory events taking place this weekend has University of Michigan officials taking steps to discourage over-drinking among students.

    In an email sent to all students, U-M officials encouraged students "to show our maize-and-blue pride" by acting respectfully and drinking responsibly as the Big Ten Basketball Tournament, St. Patrick's Day and the school's honors convocation converge this weekend.

    The email directed students to eat before and after drinking, pace their alcohol consumption, avoid taking shots and alternate alcoholic beverages with non-alcoholic beverages.

    031712_ENT_StPattysDay_CA_002_display.jpg

    A group toasts at the Brown Jug in Ann Arbor during St. Patrick's Day on March 16, 2012.

    Chris Asadian | AnnArbor.com

    "I wouldn’t say we’re worried about it, but we take opportunities to remind students about being good neighbors," said U-M spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald. "It's no secret that St. Patrick's Day is often focused around drinking alcohol."

    Fitzgerald said U-M has sent similar reminder emails during Labor Day weekend, when students return to campus converges with the holiday and, usually, the first home football game.

    Last year during St. Patrick's Day bars along State Street closed early due to large, and in some cases unruly, crowds.

    The email, sent Wednesday afternoon, was signed by Laura Blake Jones, U-M dean of students, Joe Piersante, U-M police chief, and John Seto, Ann Arbor police chief.

    The campus-wide note also offered students pointers on how to act, and what to avoid, when partying.

    What to do:
    • Be considerate of neighbors.
    • Monitor how much people are drinking.
    • Control the noise level.
    • Be respectful of the police.
    • Leave your drinks behind when you leave a party.
    • Use bathrooms, not bushes.
    • Use trash containers, not the ground.
    • Make sure those under 21 are not drinking.

    Things not to do:

    • Do not walk in the streets with open alcohol.
    • Stay away from open windows and off rooftops and ledges.
    • Do not allow intoxicated people to drive.
    • Do not play music, etc. loudly between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

    To encourage students to eat breakfast on the Irish holiday, U-M is hosting a carb-loaded bagel breakfast from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. in three locations: South University Ave. near Ulrich’s, outside of the Union on State Street, and at the intersection of Tappan, Oakland, and East University streets. Dining halls don't open until 10 a.m. Sunday.

    U-M's Central Student Government also is hosting a party on the Diag as an alternative to, or in some cases a break from, drinking. It will take place from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Sunday and include free food.

    The school also has scheduled several Big 10 Men's Basketball Tournament watch parties thoughout campus.

    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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    A badly traumatized human body is found in an alley behind a high-rise building. The first order of business is of course first aid if there is any possibility the poor soul might be alive. If that is not a possibility, identifying the deceased is now the most important mission, but even if identification is “easy” what have you got? Did the person fall—an accident? Did the person jump—a suicide? Was the person pushed—a homicide? A “psychological autopsy” assists investigators in answering these questions.

    In the end it will be up to the medical examiner (ME) to actually determine the “manner” of death. There are four manners of death for the ME to chose from: natural, accidental, suicide or homicide. There is actually a fifth manner of death, but it will leave room for doubt for families, friends and insurance companies and that is “undetermined” or “undeterminable.”

    michigan-state-police.jpg

    Police try to avoid ruling deaths as "undetermined" when dealing with cases that take a bit of sleuthing.

    File photo

    Police investigators and the medical examiners office work very closely to answer the questions surrounding a person’s death. The basic division of labor here is that the police are in charge of the scene of the death right up to the body. The medical examiner who will send an investigator (MEI) is in charge of the body, which is an important piece of evidence in this case.

    The police and ME work very closely together to figure these cases out. Before any post-mortem examination and autopsy in the morgue the scene will be thoroughly investigated. Before the scene is worked by investigators, a psychological autopsy of sorts will already have begun.

    A psychological autopsy is a collaborative effort between the medical examiner’s office, health care and mental health professionals, as well as the police to try to establish a person’s state of mind at the time of their death. The basic assumption here is that a person’s personal history is a good predictor of future behavior.

    From a police perspective, I liked to have all the information I can obtain from prior police reports before I respond to a suspicious death scene. There may not be time to read every police report, but police reports contain a wealth of information. When the identity of the deceased is already established from the scene, starting a profile on the deceased is important.

    Checking criminal histories, driving records, past police reports and now social media sites can provide police investigators with a wealth of information. If a person is never mentioned in a local police report it means either that person is a very straight arrow, good citizen or they just moved into the area.

    Most of our names will be in a police report somewhere as reporting a crime, witnessing something, being a driver who got a ticket or into a crash, an owner of damaged or stolen property, someone the police assisted in some way, a victim, suspect or arrestee.

    Being a suspect or an arrestee means a person has been in trouble with the law. If that person was involved in a violent crime or youth gangs, the chances of that person meeting a violent end are more probable. There is a lot of truth to the old adage, “Live by the sword, die by the sword.”

    If the deceased person was a violent criminal checking through the police reports for other people involved in the violent crimes either on the same side as the deceased or opposing that person may provide the first clues on who might have pushed the person to cause their fall into the alley. Thus before a detective gets to the scene they may be thinking homicide.

    The police reports may show the deceased was involved with vice-related crimes such as use, sale or manufacture of drugs, prostitution or gambling. If so these affiliations place a person at greater risk of becoming a homicide victim.

    If on the other hand this person has lived in the area for a long time, has not appeared on police reports and the addresses around of the incident also are not in many police reports, perhaps we are dealing with an accidental death. Time to closely examine the scene for any obvious clues the person was working high up in an adjacent building.

    A cautionary note as Washtenaw County residents venture outside and onto ladders this spring: a death investigator’s rule of thumb is that a fall from a height greater than three times the height of the victim can be fatal. Be careful climbing on roofs and ladders.

    The most common use of a psychological autopsy is in the cases of suspected suicide — as in the hypothetical case of the body in the alley, which might be someone who jumped.

    The majority of people who commit suicide do not just wake up one morning and decide this is the day to die. The exception to this rule of thumb is that when suicides occur suddenly and without warning, they normally are due to some sudden severe life-altering event — things like “embarrassing” arrests or events, terminal medical diagnoses or hyper-emotional romantic break-ups. These events have to be uncovered by thorough investigation and interviews.

    Most people who attempt or commit suicide have suffered from depression, substance abuse or other psychological disorders for a long while. This will manifest itself in police reports in the form of medical assists, ambulance requests, check on the well-being calls, overdoses, suicide attempts, suspicious incidents or behaviors, petitions for mental health evaluations and mental health commitments.

    If a person’s behavior has not quite risen to the level of police intervention, it is very likely the deceased has some medical or psychological evaluation history that the medical examiner’s office will have access to. Most MEI's check hospital records before they respond to a death scene, like the police investigators check police records. These psychological autopsy checks certainly are not the end all, but they can provide some direction in a death investigation.

    For those deaths where the ME and police investigators simply can not ascertain the state of mind of the victim& #8212; like drug overdoses, which usually are accidental, or suicide — the manner of death must remain “undetermined.”

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


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    Fuller_Road_alternatives_map.jpg

    Before zeroing in on Fuller Road, the city of Ann Arbor in March 2007 dismissed these 15 alternative sites for a new train station, including locations at Barton Pond, Bird Hills Nature Area/Kuebler Langford Park, Barton Nature Area, Bandemer Park, U-M Medical Center, U-M's Mitchell Field, Furstenburg Nature Area, Gallup Park, Huron Hills Golf Course, Forest Park Nature Area and the Ann Arbor Wastewater Treatment Plant. Download a larger map.

    City of Ann Arbor

    The city of Ann Arbor is in the process of establishing a project team for a study that will help identify where a new Amtrak train station should be built in the city.

    Which sites are under consideration?

    "We will wait until we have a project team on board and then will decide which sites are relevant for the forthcoming planning process," said Eli Cooper, the city's transportation program manager.

    For a handful of years now, city officials have had their sights set on the footprint of an existing parking lot the city leases to the University of Michigan on Fuller Road — right in front of the U-M Hospital, where an estimated 30,000-plus people go each day.

    But the fact that the site is part of Fuller Park has been the subject of controversy as the Ann Arbor Station project has moved through the planning stages.

    Fuller_Road_parking_lot_EA.jpg

    The parking lot on Fuller Road where Mayor John Hieftje and others would like to see a new train station built in front of the University of Michigan Hospital.

    City of Ann Arbor

    City officials haven't completely ruled out re-using the existing Amtrak station site on Depot Street, but they've repeatedly stated the site poses logistical challenges.

    Now as part of an alternatives analysis the city is doing this year with the help of a $2.8 million federal grant, a closer evaluation of location options is required.

    The process of establishing a project team for that analysis, Cooper said, includes issuing a request for proposals to select a professional environmental and engineering consultant.

    A draft RFP is working its way through the city's internal approval processes. Cooper's hope is to have the RFP out shortly, and the selection process could take six weeks or more.

    The team is expected to take a close look at the pros and cons of building on Fuller Road versus Depot Street, but other sites could get a second look as well.

    Before zeroing in on Fuller Road, the city completed an analysis of public lands adjacent to the Norfolk Southern Railroad in March 2007 that revealed 16 potential train station sites — most owned by the city, some owned by the university, and some others.

    The city dismissed 15 of those sites — all but Fuller Road — including locations at Barton Pond, Bird Hills Nature Area/Kuebler Langford Park, Barton Nature Area, Bandemer Park, U-M Medical Center, U-M's Mitchell Field, Furstenburg Nature Area, Gallup Park, Huron Hills Golf Course, Forest Park Nature Area and the Ann Arbor Wastewater Treatment Plant.

    City officials said the Federal Railroad Administration will make the final determination on a station location. If Fuller Road comes back again, the city will have at least one hurdle to clear.

    Historic properties and public parklands are considered "protected properties" under federal regulations. So if any such property is recommended (including the Fuller Road site because it's part of Fuller Park) the city must prove there is no prudent and feasible alternative.

    Council Member Sabra Briere, who has given the issue some serious thought, said the city's staff worked with several considerations when looking at potential station locations before, including:

    • must be city-owned or publicly owned land
    • must be located along the railroad tracks
    • must be in a location that would be easy and safe for a train to slow and stop
    • must be in a location with enough rail bed width to accommodate trains going in either direction
    • must be near downtown or other likely destination
    • must be easily accessible on foot, by car, by mass transit
    • should be able to provide sufficient parking for rail passengers

    Given those parameters, Briere said she understands why the Fuller and Depot sites are preferred, but she said she has spent time with maps thinking of other locations.

    The MichCon site next to the current station comes to mind, she said, but the city doesn't own it and may never. She noted DTE Energy has put out a request asking prospective developers to provide proposed uses that include public access but don't determine the land will be publicly owned.

    "The current parking lot adjacent to the MichCon site is in the floodway," she said. "That's not a deterrent for parking, exactly, but federal funds aren't readily available for building in a floodway. No one has proposed that the city not attempt to get federal funding for a train station."

    Briere said properties at the corner of Main and Depot also have been suggested, but none of those properties are publicly owned. She said there could be difficulties in acquiring the properties, but they do allow for close proximity to both the Ann Arbor Railroad and Norfolk Southern tracks.

    Amtrak_Depot_Street_100213_RJS_001.jpg

    The tracks behind the Amtrak station on Depot Street in Ann Arbor as they looked in October. Some believe it'd be better to re-use the existing Amtrak station site than to build a new train station elsewhere in the city.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    However, she said, the Ann Arbor Railroad track location would require a train to stop above Main Street or over the Huron River, which makes embarking and debarking passengers problematic. Also, the Norfolk Southern tracks, which are now owned by the state, curve at that location.

    "I won't even try to address the traffic issues — working on the North Main corridor report has really highlighted those for me," Briere said.

    Some have suggested using the NEW Center space, a nonprofit located at 1100 N. Main St., right along the Norfolk Southern tracks next to Argo Pond and north of the Ann Arbor Railroad, but Briere said that still makes debarking and embarking passengers a problem. It may have the width for trains in either direction to stop, she said, but is also at the curve in the tracks.

    No train tracks are in the downtown, Briere noted. The Depot Street site is a short walk to downtown, and the Fuller Road site isn't much farther and also is right next to the medical campus.

    "Depot Street is not a destination in itself. I can understand why some would consider Fuller to be a destination — because of its proximity to employment," Briere said. "If anyone had a better solution, I'm confident I'd have heard of it by now."

    No matter which site is selected, the project must go to a public vote before construction can occur, according to a resolution approved by the City Council last fall.

    Council members weighed in on when the project might go to a public vote in a recent AnnArbor.com article that followed a Q&A with Cooper about the work happening this year, which includes outlining the purpose and need and addressing environmental review requirements.

    The city's tentative capital projects budget shows a $2.6 million line item for final design in the fiscal year starting July 1, 2014. The city is counting on 80 percent of those funds coming from the federal government, leaving roughly $520,000 tentatively planned to come from the city's general fund.

    The actual construction cost of a new train station is now estimated at $44.5 million. For now, the city is assuming $35.6 million in construction funds will come from the Federal Railroad Administration, leaving an $8.9 million placeholder in the city's general fund in 2015-16.

    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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    cropped-riley-bavineau.jpg

    Dexter High School girls varsity basketball coach Mike Bavineau, left, and senior guard Riley McDonald, right, have developed a unique relationship in the seven years they've spent together on the sidelines.

    Chantel Jennings for AnnArbor.com

    Editor’s note: In the interest of full disclosure, readers should know the author of this article, Chantel Jennings, is a 2007 Dexter High School graduate, played varsity basketball under coach Mike Bavineau and knows Riley McDonald and other members of the Dexter varsity girls basketball team on a personal level.

    Chantel Jennings for AnnArbor.com

    Most high school players and coaches are lucky to be together for three or maybe four years. But for Dexter High School girls basketball coach Mike Bavineau and senior captain Riley McDonald, it’s been seven years since they first shared a bench.

    Like bookends, they sat on opposite sides of the bench for three years as McDonald was a water girl and team manager from sixth to eighth grade. The position is normally a one-year gig, and goes to a sibling of one of the players or someone Bavineau selects from the community basketball camp.

    After being given the job the first summer her family moved to Dexter from out of state, McDonald wouldn’t let it go.

    McDonald studied players. She studied Bavineau. Without fail she was at every game, every practice, every team meeting and every meal.

    She was a Dreadnaught, through and through.

    reiley-bench-manager.jpg

    As a young water girl, Riley McDonald, far left, was already studying up for when it was her turn on varsity.

    Photo courtesy of McDonald family

    She did the same drills as her role models on the varsity team at home in her driveway, and latched on to older girls’ conversations about boyfriends and homecomings.

    On bus rides home, she took the losses harder than some players.

    “We deserved that one,” she’d say through tears. “We really did.”

    Eventually, water girl would become starter, and starter would become captain.

    As a senior, McDonald has led the Dreadnaughts on as deep of a postseason run the program has ever seen. Dexter will play in the Class A state semifinals at the Breslin Center in East Lansing on Friday at 2:50 p.m. against Grosse Pointe South.

    Even now -- two wins shy of where she hopes the season ends - McDonald describes this year as perfect.

    For seven years, the captains, assistants, rosters and faces on the bench changed. The Dreads swapped their tall white socks for short black ones. Even the season changed, with girls basketball in Michigan moving from a fall to winter sport in McDonald’s second year as manager.

    Bavineau’s sideline demeanor softened and the play calls diversified, both somewhat as a result of his water girl turned player, turned confidant.

    McDonald has seen it all from Dexter’s bench. Because for the last seven years, she and Bavineau have been the only two constants of Dexter basketball.

    …

    To say they’re a coach and player is selling it short. Somewhere between her days of fetching popcorn and dry towels as a water girl and her four seasons as a starting guard for Bavineau, it became much more than that.

    “We understand each other,” McDonald says.

    “She’s like a daughter,” Bavineau says.

    Bavineau admits that in his years of coaching, he has never relinquished more power to another player.

    As a sophomore, Bavineau approached McDonald -- who had already been a part of his program for four years -- and told her that he wanted an open line of communication between the two. He wanted her to know that she could come to him about anything.

    bav-mean-sideline.JPG

    Dexter coach Mike Bavineau, shown in 2009 giving instructions to a player, says he's changed the way he addresses players since Riley McDonald told him it was hurting the team during the 2010-11 season.

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com file photo

    As a manager, she had seen him throw clipboards and chew players out after mistakes. Even in middle school, she saw how the older players -- whom she considered teammates even then - reacted negatively.

    She also saw how his positive energy flowed onto the court. Or how when he joked and players laughed, shooting percentages went up.

    “We had a lot of talks about how what he did sometimes didn’t help the team,” McDonald said. “Or how when he was ecstatic that we’d be even more fired up.”

    McDonald told him how his temper didn’t help the players. She told him how quick substitutions messed with their flow. She told him that players wanted to feel like he trusted them on the court to at times understand the game better than he could from the sideline.

    Bavineau listened.

    “I’ve changed a ton as a coach,” Bavineau said. “I give the players a lot more power on how they want the season and the games to go. … I’ve learned the hard way, but you have to listen to your players and the suggestions that they have because they’re the ones on the floor that are having to produce and do those things.”

    Now, McDonald calls defenses out of free throws. She takes over timeouts. She’ll motion to him from the floor in an almost secret language about what should or shouldn’t be done.

    It’s what happens over time when the hours turn to days and the days turn to years of time spent together in youth basketball clinics and open gyms.

    She has babysat his children. He has celebrated her 13th, 16th and 18th birthdays. He has seen her grow up; she has seen the same out of him. “I can’t even imagine the hours that we’ve actually been together,” Bavineau said.

    …

    McDonald shakes her head. It seems incredulous.

    Have you thought about the fact that it’s almost over?

    “No,” she says quickly. “I mean yes, yes I have. But I don’t want to. Not now. Not yet.”

    mcdonald-dribble.jpg

    Riley McDonald, pictured dribbling against Canton during regionals, doesn't like to think about the fact that her senior season is coming to a close.

    Courtney Sacco | AnnArbor.com file photo

    “We’re trying not to go there,” Bavineau says. “I’m trying not to go there yet. It’s going to be a difficult day when it comes.”

    McDonald stares forward at nothing in particular and finishes her thought.

    “It’s just, it feels like I’ve been here doing this forever,” McDonald says. “But looking back, it seems like yesterday I was watching the 2006 team play.”

    For seven years, McDonald has been trying to reconcile those two positions. As a manager, she wanted more than anything to be a true member of the team. Now, as a player, she wishes she could be a manager again so she’d have more time left.

    The realization struck her this fall when she was coming in for her last round of camps and clinics, her last first fall workout, her last tryout, her last first team meeting.

    “It’s not over yet,” Bavineau said to her one day before an open gym.

    “But it’s coming,” she said.

    They were both right. And they both knew it.

    That emotion hit harder on the final home game of this season, always celebrated as Dexter’s senior night. For six previous seasons McDonald had gone through the motions, bought flowers for the seniors and celebrated their contributions to the program.

    Now, she was the one being celebrated.

    Each senior made a list of their favorite memories playing for Dexter. Most were short, and listed beating archrival Chelsea or a team bonding activity.

    McDonald’s had 16 bullet points. And that was the abridged version.

    It’s a trademark of hers, according to Bavineau. She’s not brief about anything. Give her a moment to talk, and she’ll take an hour. Give her a bite of your cake, she’ll eat half.

    Give her a spot as a manager, she’ll stay for seven years.

    If she had to remake that list now, it would be even longer:

    McDonald hopes after this weekend there are two more bullet points to add.

    “She doesn’t want it to end and she’s going to do whatever she can to keep that from happening,” Bavineau said. “I think that’s the whole team’s approach. We’re just going to do whatever we can to make sure this doesn’t stop.”

    State Champs Network video of Riley McDonald hit game-winning 3-pointer in regional final:

    Chantel Jennings is a freelance journalist for AnnArbor.com. She is a sportswriter for ESPN’s WolverineNation and can be reached at jenningsespn@gmail.com.


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    Anne-Sophie-Mutter.jpg

    Anne-Sophie Mutter publicity photo

    For just a moment, it seemed possible the players might rise off the stage into the stratosphere, jet-powered by the velocity of ever-soaring notes in the rip-roaring conclusion of the Saint-Saens Violin Sonata No. 1.

    But you know, violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and pianist Lambert Orkis, who played a dazzling recital Thursday evening at Hill Auditorium under University Musical Society auspices, are a cool pair, the model of grace and unruffled calm under pressure. No histrionics, no over-emoting. And certainly no sweating. It’s a beautiful thing to see.

    And to hear, of course. Especially in a recital like Thursday’s, which was truly a duo recital. Mutter had top billing, of course, but in this program of Mozart, Schubert, Lutoslawski and Saint-Saens, Orkis had his work cut out for him as much as Mutter did.

    And he was extraordinary, remarkable for his close-to-the-keys speed, clarity, color and drama. And the pair’s long recital partnership (and recording partnership) showed in the sympathetic musical dialog the two shared on stage. They played like two hands of the same person, the one complementing the other.

    The evening’s pleasures were various, each piece engrossing while shining a different light on the violin and piano repertoire.

    In the how many notes can dance on the head of a pin category, the Saint-Saens was perhaps the hands-down winner, but beyond effervescence, Mutter also wooed with sweet, silky tone and vocally expressive sighs, and Orkis sparkled in Saint-Saens’ star-kissed piano writing.

    As in the Saint-Saens, the pair drove the Schubert Fantasy in C Major, D. 934, to a brilliant and thrilling finish (it was standing ovation time for the audience). But it’s the theme and variations based on Schubert’s song “Sei mir gegrusst” that are the heart of the work; in Mutter and Orkis’ hands, the variations succeeded each other in a sort of strophic alternation of instruments and moods, now songful, now tender, now frilly, now playful. And finally, luminous, tremulous, radiant.

    Theme and variations introduced themselves early in the concert, in the Mozart Sonata No. 27 for Violin and Piano, K. 378, with which Mutter and Orkis opened. The playing here was intimate - of the sort you have to lean forward to catch - but it was not shy. Mutter’s tone, here more than elsewhere, had enough edge to convey the drama that ensues when Mozart turns the lights off in darker episodes; Orkis, meanwhile exploited register at the piano to equally fine dramatic effect.

    To open the concert’s second half there was Lutoslawski’s “Partita,” a work dear to Mutter, for whom the composer made a version for violin and orchestra. It was unarguably the thorniest work on the bill, but with Mutter and Orkis as advocates, it pricked not at all. They made such fine sense of its nervous musical gestures, of now-me, now-you provocations, of its ostinato figures and its allusions to a world outside—birdsong, hunting calls—that you stayed with them, and the music, all the way.

    The pair ended the evening on a sinuous note, with Ravel’s “Piece en forme de Habanera.”


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    Police are investigating the theft of a tractor from a Lodi Township barn that was reported Wednesday.

    Deputies from the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office were called to a residence in the 7000 block of Weber Road for a report of a breaking and entering of a barn.

    An unlocked door was used to get into the barn and a tractor was stolen, police said in a Nixle alert. Investigators believe the theft occurred at some point between March 9 and 13.

    Now, police are warning residents to be on the lookout.

    "If you see something suspicious or that appears to be out of order in your neighborhood, whether it appears to be emergent or not, please call 911 and report it," the Nixle alert stated. "As local residents who drive through the area daily, you have a good feel for vehicles, people and behavior that does or does not belong. Trust your instincts. We do."

    If you have any information regarding this incident, please contact the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office at (734) 994-2911 or anonymously at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.


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    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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    Band geeks, here is the event for you: The University of Michigan Euphonium and Tuba Ensemble and Michigan Youth Euphonium and Tuba Ensemble will play at the Stamps Auditorium in the U-M Walgreen Drama Center on Sunday.

    The YETE is directed by master of music student Michael Vecchio, with assistant director Christopher Plaskota. UMETE is directed by Fritz Kaenzig. YETE and UMETE will perform on their own and then come together in a force of brass that will presumably be unlike anything ever witnessed before.

    The set list will include Holst's “Mars” from The Planets, John Williams' “Cadillac in the Sky,” the Irish tune “By Yon Bonnie Banks,” and music by G. Gabrielli.

    Sunday, March 17, 2013. 5 p.m. Free, no tickets required. The U-M Walgreen Drama Center is located at 1226 Murfin Ave., Ann Arbor. 734-764-7260.


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