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

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    kevin-lynch-michigan-hockey-03212013.jpg

    Michigan forward Kevin Lynch celebrates a Wolverines goal in the second period Saturday at Joe Louis Arena.

    Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com

    Updated at 8:15 p.m.

    DETROIT -- The final score will forever read Michigan 6, Miami 2. But if not for a fortunate bounce that started the Wolverines’ run, the game could have easily gone the other way.

    Twenty-four minutes into an evenly played scoreless game, with the Wolverines on the penalty kill, a blocked shot came toward Michigan’s Kevin Lynch, who punched it behind the Miami defense and created a 2-on-1 opportunity.

    That opportunity ended with Lynch feeding a cross-ice pass to Andrew Copp, who got Michigan on the board.

    “Whether we were lucky or good to get that goal, that was a huge goal,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “When you’re playing a team like that, you’d hate to play from behind.”

    That goal was the first of four in an eight-minute span, leading Michigan to a win over top seed Miami, 6-2, Saturday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena to advance to the CCHA tournament final.

    The Wolverines will now take on Notre Dame at 2:05 p.m. Sunday (Fox Sports Detroit) in the league championship game.

    On the line will be Michigan’s record 22-year NCAA tournament streak. A win gives Michigan (18-18-3) the league’s automatic bid to the tournament. A loss would give them a sub-.500 record and make them ineligible for consideration.

    “The weekend is not over, our team knows that,” Berenson said, "and they put it on the line tonight but they know that tomorrow’s game is going to be tough.”

    More coverage: Photo Gallery | Boxscore

    A half an hour after the game, Michigan didn’t look like a team that had just dominated the league's regular season champion on the scoresheet. It didn’t talk like one, either.

    “I thought they outchanced us, outshot us and were the better team for the most part,” Berenson said.

    But there was one key difference.

    “The puck was going in for us,” he said.

    A tightly played first-period saw each team take eight shots. A night after being named the CCHA's top offensive defenseman, Jacob Trouba displayed some defensive prowess, diving into the net to save a puck that trickled past Wolverines goaltender Steve Racine to keep the first period scoreless.

    After Michigan got on the board with the shorthanded goal early in the second period, the floodgates were open. Michigan’s first two goals came off the stick of Copp, marking the freshman Skyline High School graduate’s second two-goal game of the postseason.

    hyman-airborne.JPG

    Michigan's Zach Hyman goes airborne in an attempt to score against Miami in the CCHA Tournament semifinals at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday, March 23. Michigan won 6-2.

    Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com

    It marked just the second shorthanded goal Miami has given up this season, and came on the Wolverines’ 23rd consecutive successful penalty kill.

    “It’s been good to get the first goal,” Michigan captain A.J. Treais said. “In the first half of the season, that wasn’t happening.”

    Copp was in the right place again six minutes later, when he took a cross-ice pass from Trouba and finished off a back-door chance.

    Michigan kept at it, and with 9:10 left in the second Luke Moffatt sent home a one-time slapshot off a pass from Treais.

    Forty-three seconds later, Treais got a goal of his own on a cross-ice pass from Guptill. The goal snapped a 14-game goal-less streak for the Wolverines’ captain.

    The Wolverines finished the second period with four goals on 10 shots, while giving up 15 shots to Miami. All four Michigan goals on the stretch were set up directly off passes.

    “It was just burying our chances, and we’ve been able to do that recently, out of desperation or whatever it’s been,” Copp said. "It’s been a nice turnaround for us.”

    After Miami’s Sean Kuraly scored a 4-on-4 goal with two minutes left in the second period, Guptill took a pass from Lynch and pushed the Wolverines’ lead back to four 45 seconds into the third.

    Guptill scored again by putting a rebound home with 12:14 left into the period to put Michigan up 6-2.

    Racine gave up another goal when Miami scored with 14:55 left in the game, but otherwise shut the door by giving up two or fewer goals for the sixth time in seven games. He finished the game with 33 saves.

    The Wolverines will now carry a nine-game win streak into the league title game. After a 10-18-2 start to the season, Michigan swept its final two regular-season series and first two playoff series to carry an eight-game win streak into Joe Louis Arena.

    The Wolverines are going for their 10th CCHA tournament crown in the league’s final season.

    Michigan and Notre Dame played four times in the regular season, with the Irish taking each game by multiple goals. The last two came Feb. 8-9 in South Bend, the last series before Michigan started its winning streak.

    But according to Treais, Michigan is a different team now.

    “You can throw that record out the door, and tomorrow it’s a 0-0 series,” Treais said.

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


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    Michigan scored four goals in an eight-minute span in the second period to beat Miami, 6-2 and advance to the CCHA final Sunday against Notre Dame

    Daniel Brenner is a photographer for AnnArbor.com


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    Alex Geisenhoff played high school at Maple Grove Senior High in Minnesota, where the team, much like Geisenhoff - a 6-foot tall point guard - was good, but nothing special.

    So it seems unlikely that Geisenhoff’s ability to play like an All-American would be a critical element in the success of Michigan’s women’s basketball team. Actually, make that several All-Americans.

    This despite never actually logging a minute of playing time for the Wolverines.

    Geisenhoff is one of the Michigan women’s basketball team’s male practice squad players. When the Wolverines were preparing to face some of the best players in the country, like Penn State’s Maggie Lucas, or Duke’s Alexis Jones, Geisenhoff would switch from a neuroscience to theatre major and become those players.

    practice-squad.jpg

    Michigan's Jenny Ryan (24) dribbles the ball during a recent practice against the team's male practice players.

    Photo courtesy of Michigan Athletics

    A self-described above average - but not great - player, Geisenhoff has loved playing the role of star player/villain against the women’s team.

    “To be honest, it’s a lot of fun because I would have freedom of what (the top scorers) would do, and pretty much had freedom to shoot or take anyone off the dribble,” Geisenhoff said. “You get the ball and you just score. It was fun. Made me feel like a lot better.”

    But boosting Gesenhoff’s self-esteem isn’t the reason for his practice participation. He is one of a rotation of about 15 male students who scrimmage and drill against the women’s team.

    In exchange for their time and effort, the practice players get some gear and an invite to the end of the year banquet. It's not much, but that, a good workout and the satisfaction of helping out seems enough for them.

    "They don’t really get all the perks that we get, but they go through a lot of the same things that a student athlete does," said senior Kate Thompson. " It really means a lot and they’ve been so vital in preparing us."

    The logic behind women’s basketball teams using male players is simple. To become faster, stronger and more athletic, the girls practice against opponents who are faster, stronger and more athletic.

    It also helps to not practice against the same players every single day.

    “It brings another level of speed and athleticism to practice,” said Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico. “As you’re trying to prepare for some of the top teams in the country, you have to prepare to face that speed and athleticism.

    “And to not go against each other every single day and bang against each other, but to go against different bodies has really helped us throughout the year.”

    But the guys don’t just come out a pickup game. Whoever Michigan is playing against, that’s who the male players are instructed to emulate.

    Villanova is a fast-paced 3-point shooting team, so that’s how the practice players played this week in preparation for the Wolverines’ matchup in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament (7:35, ESPN2).

    “We were just firing up shots. Even when the defenders were in our face,” said Latif Khalil, Geisenhoff’s roommate and a fellow practice player.

    Khalil, who was a starting point guard for the Sterling Heights High School varsity team in 2009, said when he first began playing with the women’s team, his natural instinct was to tone down his physical style of play.

    He quickly learned his apprehension was unnecessary.

    “I realized these girls are the real deal, they’re real athletes,” Khalil said. “To be honest they’re better competition than what you’ll get in most male rec leagues.”

    And sooner or later every, guy get put in his place by the uber-competitive women's players who are friendly when they see their practice partners around campus, but noto so much on campus

    "It’s a total compartmentalization," Khalil said. "On the court, they're all business. There's no smiling and it's just always competitive."

    maggie-lucas-penn-state.JPG

    To prepare for some of the nation's best players, like Penn State's Maggie Lucas, pictured on left, Michigan would have male practice players emulate them.

    Courtney Sacco | AnnArbor.com file photo

    Barnes Arico made a point of thanking the dozen or so practice players who came out for the team’s selection show celebration on Monday, but offered a fair warning about the week ahead.

    “Fellas, you have the most important week ahead of you,” she said in reference to the Villanova preparations.

    “I’ll be anybody you want me to be,” Geisenhoff responded, which fetched a room-wide laugh.

    Thompson said a funny thing happens when the practice players are told to play like some of the nation’s best female players: they actually start playing like those players. She recalled a practice when Geisenhoff’s job was to prepare the team for Lucas, Penn State’s Big Ten Player of the Year.

    “He was shooting lights out, couldn’t miss,” Thompson said with a laugh. “Sometimes when they get into that persona, it’s like they really start playing like they’re one of the best shooters in the country or something.”

    “I love our practice team, I really do,” Thompson said. “And they just take practice up to the next level it really makes a difference.”

    Legendary Tennessee coach Pat Summit -- who won six national titles with the Lady Volunteers -- is often credited with popularizing the method of using male practice players, which is commonplace today. Former Michigan coach Kevin Borseth used male practice players sparingly; whereas, Barnes Arico utilizes many as often as possible.

    But it’s not a free ride with Barnes Arico.

    If the punishment for losing a scrimmage is wind sprints, that goes for the guys too.

    “It was a little bit of a surprise at first, but just like the competitor in you just says, ‘hey I lost, I’ve got to pay the price,’ I’m not going to do it again,” said Mackenzie Ladd, a senior who has been on the practice squad since his freshman year.

    At 6-2 170 pounds Ladd played guard for his high school team in Kalamazoo, but he’s one of the bigger practice squad players so he’s had to add a low post game to his repertoire.

    Like Khalil, he quickly found out “going easy on the girls” was an unnecessary bit of chivalry. While Geisenhoff and Khalil said the sharpshooting Thompson was the toughest to guard on the team, Ladd went with 6-4 center Sam Arnold.

    “I always have a tough time against her,” Ladd said. “She’s so strong and difficult physically, and just knows how to get great position on you.” On Sunday, it will be Villanova tasked with dealing with Arnold and Thompson, and possibly the Spokane, Wash. Regional’s top seed in Stanford on Tuesday should the Wolverines advance.

    Getting past the top seed would be a historic feat, and should it happen the women’s team will have a Sweet 16 to prepare for, and group of practice players ready to help them do so.

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


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    Love your neighbor, forgive your enemies and save the planet?

    That’s the message of one Ann Arbor church that is paving the way to promote energy efficiency for faith-based organizations across the state. St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, located at 2250 E. Stadium Blvd., is leading a pilot project with Michigan Interfaith Power and Light (IPL) to promote energy conservation within its church.

    Michigan IPL is a statewide coalition of faith-based organizations that advocates energy conservation. The “Sustainability Framework for Faith Communities” is being implemented by the church’s Sustainability Project, which it hopes to eventually share with other faith communities statewide.

    “We as Catholics are called to care for God’s creation and its deep distresses and identify what we can do to help,” said Scott Wright, St. Francis’ social ministry director who serves on the project’s board. “Care for creation is just part of who we are as Christians, we have to care for our environment.”

    The Sustainability Project started officially in spring of 2012 after building momentum for several years. Team leader Steve Lavender said the church started discussing the idea of promoting energy efficiency in 2009 as part of its Peace and Justice Committee, the church’s social justice advocacy group. But it wasn’t until last year the project pushed forward.

    Michigan IPL President Jane Vogel, also who serves on the Project’s board at St. Francis, said the team collaborated with several other sustainability organizations, including the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, the University of Michigan Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise and Ann Arbor’s Clean Energy Coalition to create a five-step framework.

    The framework includes establishing a team, building a faith foundation, educating and communicating with the church community, taking action to make the parish and homes more "green," and advocating for social and environmental justice on a local and global scale. The project draws upon the sustainability model used by the University of Michigan, which includes seven areas of focus: culture (behavior), energy savings, buildings, land and water, food, transportation, and purchasing and recycling.

    While still in its early stages, the group has begun implementing greener policies within the church community as well — beginning with coffee and donuts. Lavender said the church started by replacing the Styrofoam cups and plates used during the church’s weekly coffee and donut social after Sunday mass with compostable and recyclable ones. That effort soon spread to the rest of the kitchen which included replacing disposable dinnerware with real plates and silverware and recyclable or compostable ones.

    The group also has been active in educating its fellow parishioners on energy efficiency through updates in the church’s weekly bulletin, the Forum. Recent articles have explored theology for sustainability, defined sustainability as a concept and discussed home energy audits, saving water and recycling. Members also have made energy conservation presentations to the St. Francis community, including its eighth grade confirmation classes.

    The church also has led the way to encourage parishioners to make their homes more energy efficient by receiving home energy audits. Rev. Jim McDougall had his home, the church rectory, audited last summer, and Lavender estimated about 30 families have followed since.

    “We’re really trying to get folks to think about the bigger picture,” Lavender said. “Whether you live in Ypsilanti or the South Pacific, we’re all brothers and sisters in dealing with this whole climate change issue.”

    While some might not always equate religion with environmentalism, Vogel said there are significant connections between Christianity and sustainability. Theologically, Vogel said Christians are called upon by God to protect his creation. She said caring for the environment also goes back to Jesus’ teaching to love your neighbor as yourself, paraphrasing national IPL leader Sally Bingham, “If you love your neighbor, you don’t pollute their air.” Vogel said environmental conservation is also a social justice issue.

    “When you consider it, the effects of climate change will have the greatest impact on the poorest among us,” she said. “That whole social justice driver is part of the story.”

    Other faith communities in the area also have established similar environmental sustainability groups. The First Presbyterian Church of Saline has an environmental stewardship group that has worked to make the church buildings more energy efficient, educate its parishioners on conservation and grow food in its garden for Food Gatherers.

    Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor’s “Green Vineyard” group also has worked to make the church more energy efficient, but leader Brett Cosner said his focus is more on getting congregation members to participate in established community sustainability activities rather than starting their own. He also said the church has set up a weekly recycling service and Pastor Ken Wilson has given several sermons on the importance of sustainability and faith.

    The University of Michigan Hillel’s “Hayerukim,” Hebrew for “the greens,” is a student-run group that focuses on the connection between environmentalism and Jewish values. Hillel Assistant Director Davey Rosen said the group has started a compost and gardening program and has hosted an annual Tu B'Shevat dinner, a Jewish holiday celebrating the “New Year for trees,” where students discussed different environmental initiatives.

    Ann Arbor Friends Meeting has had an Environmental and Social Concerns Committee since the late 90s. The group, which has about a half dozen members, has worked to make the meeting’s buildings more energy efficient and encouraged families in the congregation to reduce their carbon footprint. It also recently has teamed up with the meeting’s finance and property committees to create a monthly forum on sustainability topics that began in January.

    Several members of the Michigan IPL, including St. Francis, Vineyard Church, Ann Arbor Friends Meeting and First Presbyterian of Saline, also are collectively looking into purchasing solar panels to boost their energy efficiency.

    Planning ahead, the team at St. Francis is looking at creating a sustainability theme for the church’s faith-sharing groups, as well as discussing K-8 sustainability education in its school. It is also working to expand the church garden to introduce more native species.

    For Lavender, it’s all part of the same goal.

    “It’s basic Christian teaching,” Lavender said. “This is how we’re supposed to live and how we’re supposed to treat each other.”


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    032313_POT_HOLE_REPAIRS_4_L.JPG

    A Washtenaw County Road Commission employee fills potholes.

    Lon Horwedel | AnnArbor.com file photo

    Unsatisfied with the conditions of local roads, Washtenaw County leaders feel compelled to develop a long-term solution.

    Though a countywide road tax is the first option that’s been floated publicly among the Board of Commissioners, any new funding mechanism developed to pay for road repairs will come with an extensive conversation regarding the structure of county governing bodies, including the Road Commission, as well as the county’s goals for improving its transit system as a whole.

    “If we want to fix the roads, we ought to talk about the mechanism to pay for them,” said Commissioner Andy LaBarre, D-Ann Arbor. “I don’t think the state and federal formulas and methods are working to the degree that we’d like them to. There needs to be more of a discussion on what we do at the local level.”

    032013_Board-Of-Commissioners2.JPG

    Conan Smith

    Andrew Kuhn | For AnnArbor.com

    One thing is certain: Discussions of the future of Washtenaw County roads are sure to bring a magnifying glass to the operations of the Washtenaw County Road Commission and its managing board, as well to the future of the county’s transportation system as a whole.

    “We should look at ways that we can create a more resilient transportation system,” said Commissioner Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor. “I like the idea of finding some kind of funding for roads.”

    A major proponent to furthering system-wide solutions on the Board of Commissioners, Conan Smith, D-Ann Arbor, says the county’s transportation system needs to be a dynamic set of options.

    “Our transportation system needs to change to meet the needs of a different kind of user,” Smith said. “We’ve focused on transportation too long as roads as primary and public transit as secondary.”

    The time may be nigh for commissioners to take action on road and transportation issues because of several coinciding factors, Smith said.

    After the retirement of Terri Blackmore, executive director of the Washtenaw Area Transportation Study, the next person to take her place could play a key role, Smith said.

    “(WATS) is the planning body that would coordinate all this stuff,” Smith said. “If we got an excellent leader in there that understands the potential … that’s a big role they can play.”

    Smith also pointed to the recent creation of the Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority -- which includes the city of Detroit and Macomb, Oakland, Wayne and Washtenaw counties.

    All of the members of the RTA board have been appointed and seated. The body will begin meetings soon.

    “There’s opportunity there to think about transportation differently,” Smith said.

    The third pressing factor is the time limits on Public Acts 14 and 15 of 2012, which allow Michigan counties to dissolve their road commissions. The laws sunset within the next several years.

    The Road Commission

    The Road Commission is responsible for the care and maintenance of all roads in Washtenaw County that are not under the jurisdiction of a city. It is funded through state and federal funding streams, and often utilizes grant dollars for projects for which it has to apply in a competitive system.

    012711_pothole2.JPG

    Washtenaw County Road Commission employees fill potholes on Ann Arbor-Saline Road in Pittsfield Township.

    Lon Horwedel | AnnArbor.com file photo

    There is no funding mechanism for the Road Commission’s activities that comes specifically from Washtenaw County as an entity.

    “There’s not much of an opportunity to change the road commissioners’ priorities at this point,” Smith said.

    Raising any money locally -- through a millage or other means -- would not come without additional oversight from the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, said both Conan Smith and Commissioner Dan Smith, R-Northfield Township.

    “Bringing (the Road Commission) under the office of the county opens up options for revenue for the road commission that are otherwise closed. I am not likely to vote for a new road tax under the current structure,” Conan Smith said.

    The next 20 years will see a dynamic transformation in the transportation field, Conan Smith said, noting that he sees it as vitally important to making sure there’s a public, governing body well-structured to handle those changes and challenges.

    “The question becomes, how is (the Road Commission) best structured to take this to the future?” Conan Smith said. “That’s why I’m interested in bringing in that under the county’s umbrella. We need integrated planning and to have the Road Commission participate. It’s not absent, it’s just a less fruitful conversation right now.”

    Dan Smith said he has “… no pressing desire to absorb the road commission board, but if that’s the way other commissioners are going to do it to fix the roads, then let’s do it.”

    “I don’t get the feeling that we’re going to take the hit of raising revenue without having the oversight and control of how that revenue is being used,” Dan Smith said. “For myself, I feel that it’s probably inevitable that we absorb the road commission. I want to find a way to do that in a way that doesn’t break the way things are working now.”

    Road Commissioner Ken Schwartz, a former county board member, said he fears that move would run the risk of politicizing road repair decisions.

    Ken_Schwartz_Nov_17_2010.jpg

    Ken Schwartz

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com file photo

    Eliminating the Road Commission board would pit the rural parts of the county against the urban parts of the county, Schwartz said.

    Road commissions across the state of Michigan pool resources for liabilities, insurance and to fund lawsuits, said Roy Townsend, managing director of the Road Commission.

    The intense focus on roads also makes the road commission board more efficient, Townsend said, citing the approximate 400 resolutions the board passed in 2012.

    “They need to establish that they could deliver services more efficiently,” Schwartz said.

    As the customers of the Road Commission, the townships have been happy with the way the Road Commission has handled their money, Townsend said.

    “We’re a road agency, not a transit agency,” Schwartz said, noting that it would likely add to countywide confusion regarding transit issues. “We know who our customers are, we have good relationships and we know funding mechanisms.

    Should the Board of Commissioners have two public hearings and then decide to consolidate the road commission, it would be the “biggest mistake the county could make,” Schwartz said.

    “Given the constraints of the system that they operate in … they’re doing all they can,” LaBarre said. “They’re doing it with a system that’s not working.”

    Board Chairman Rabhi said he would not be taking a position on the elimination of the road commission.

    “If this is a conversation that commissioners want to have, I would facilitate it,” Rabhi said.

    Dan Smith said the townships like the arrangement with the Road Commission.

    “I certainly don’t want to break something that (the townships) are very satisfied with,” Dan Smith said. “How that happens, I don’t know.”

    In 2010, there was talk of expanding the road commission from three to five members, but there was no action taken to do so.

    The three county Road Commission board members are paid base salaries of $10,500 per year -- a figure that hasn’t increased in at least 10 years, Schwartz said. They do not receive per diem payments, benefits or retirement savings.

    Though the road commissioners are allowed to be reimbursed for their mileage, only Commissioner Fred Veigel requests that his mileage be reimbursed because he lives on the east side of the county, Schwartz said.

    Altogether, the Road Commission board costs about $35,000 per year, Schwartz said, noting that amount wouldn’t fund the reconstruction of a gravel road.

    Road tax

    Washtenaw County officials have considered implementing a tax levy for road work in the past.

    In August of 2011, the Road Commission sought a 0.6 mill countywide tax that would have garnered $8.9 million for road repairs.

    Had the Board of Commissioners approved the tax, it could have been implemented without voter approval because of state law.

    An AnnArbor.com poll conduct at that time found that 61 percent of the 304 respondents supported the new tax, while 36 percent were against it.

    But in December 2011, the Board of Commissioners unanimously rejected the road commission’s proposal.

    At that point in time, Commissioner Conan Smith was supportive of raising county taxes in the future once the local economy became more stable.

    A countywide road tax would still be a tough sell now, Schwartz said, especially since within the city of Ann Arbor, residents pay a 2 mill tax for their own road improvements already.

    The county would likely have to cut a check to the city of Ann Arbor for any additional millage raised within its limits, Schwartz said.

    Future talks

    Rabhi said talks at the state level regarding finding new road funding solutions have not been progressing, and that the county needs to take charge.

    “I don’t think we need to wait for Lansing,” Dan Smith said. “It’s time for us to take the bull by the horns here in Washtenaw County. If that means dealing with transit issues, then so be it.”

    The funding aspect should take a holistic view to transportation, Rabhi said, mentioning bike lanes, pedestrian access and alternative modes of transportation.

    “There’s an interest from a substantial minority in having this conversation,” Conan Smith said. “If the conversation isn’t very carefully framed, and lead in an inclusive way, I think it runs the risk of failing.”

    Conan Smith said his preference would be to pursue creating a task force to bring all stakeholders together in the conversation.

    “I would be in favor of involving the Road Commission in these discussions,” Dan Smith said. “I’m not looking to lose the expertise and experience from road commissioners. Now is the time for the public to provide input … We’re all floating ideas.”

    Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for AnnArbor.com. Reach her at (734) 623-2552, amybiolchini@annarbor.com or on Twitter.


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    AnnArborSeedCo.JPG

    Ann Arbor Seed Company owner Eric Kampe with his first crop of seeds. He sells them on Saturdays at the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market. They also are sold at area stores, including Downtown Home and Garden in Ann Arbor and Project Grow in Ypsilanti. At least 20 varieties of garden vegetables are being sold.

    Janet Miller I For AnnArbor.com

    Eric Kampe planted the seeds for his new business nearly a year ago, and he expects them to take root in the next few weeks.

    Literally.

    Kampe’s Ann Arbor Seed Company is selling its first harvest of locally grown and organically raised vegetable seeds at area stores. Despite last year’s hot, dry summer, Kampe was able to collect, clean, sort and package seeds for 10 different garden vegetables, from arugula to sunflowers. Kampe said a couple more varieties may be added before the growing season begins.

    “It was a good start for a brand new seed farmer,” he said.

    Still, it wasn’t easy with the heat and drought, said Kampe, a former computer engineer. But the weather offered an advantage late in the season: Once plants bolt (go to seed), dry conditions are good, and protects seeds from rotting.

    “Dryness is important for storing quality seeds well,” he said. “But during the tender phase, it was a challenge.”

    While the local, sustainable food movement is burgeoning, Kampe and his wife, Meredith Kahn, who co-owns the business, offers the area’s only locally sourced seed company. The biggest successes were the Cherokee purple tomatoes — a juicy heirloom variety — and arugula.

    Seeds2.JPG

    Eric Kampe sells his seed packages at the Ann Arbor Farmers' Market every Saturday. They are priced at $4.

    Janet Miller I For AnnArbor.com

    He also harvested heirloom spinach seeds, a first for Kampe. Spinach is wind-pollinated, while most vegetable crops are pollinated by insects. And, unlike most other crops, there are male and female spinach plants, something that’s not apparent until they bolt.

    “Seed producers get to see this while vegetable growers don’t,” Kampe said. “The female plants get larger and stalkier (when they bolt). The males release the pollen and then wither away. In a day, half of all the spinach is gone.”

    There were disappointments: He came up empty-handed with lettuce — a crop he expected would be a strong seller.

    “I had a total failure with lettuce,” he said. “I’d like to blame it on the hot, dry weather, which did have a role. But I didn’t plant it early enough. I knew there would be growing pains. This year, lettuce is my number one priority.”

    Kampe learned seed farming when he worked on a farm near Boulder, Colo., that was a contract grower for Seeds of Change — a nationally distributed organic seed company. The University of Michigan graduate returned to Michigan to start Ann Arbor Seed Co. He rents three-quarters of an acre of land off of Tessmer Road, west of Ann Arbor.

    For at least the 2013 growing season, Kampe is sticking to the same size plot of land, but expects to add seeds for beets, chard, kale, turnips and carrots to his seed catalog lineup next year. These crops are biannuals and won’t bolt until the second year.

    Ann Arbor Seed Co. has racks at Downtown Home and Garden in Ann Arbor and at Growing Hope in Ypsilanti. They are also sold at Matthaei Botanical Gardens gift shop, at SELMA Café and on Saturdays at the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market. They also will be sold at the Washtenaw Food Hub when it opens. Cost for a package of seeds is $4. For more info, visit their website.


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    032013_Ann_Arbor_Aviary_CS-2.jpg

    Veronica Callan, one of the instructors at Ann Arbor Aviary, performs in the space at 4720 S. State.

    Courtney Sacco | AnnArbor.com

    Good news for fitness enthusiasts with a sense of adventure: an aerial arts studio opened its doors Friday in Pittsfield Township.

    The owners of Ann Arbor Aviary, located in a warehouse space at 4720 S. State St., describe the studio as a fitness center and performance arts space. It offers instruction in the aerial arts, including static trapeze, silks, lyra and aerial rope. It also offers dance, yoga and barre conditioning classes.

    aa_aviary_owners.jpg

    Ann Arbor Aviary co-owners Lia Lilley and Anne Ryan inside their new studio at 4720 S. State St.

    Courtney Sacco | AnnArbor.com

    “We couldn’t find anywhere to practice in Ann Arbor, so we were driving out to (Detroit Flyhouse) two or three times a week,” said Ann Arbor Aviary co-owner Anne Ryan.

    Tired of the long drive and costs involved, Ryan and her partners started looking for a space in the Ann Arbor area to open their own studio.

    “This place came up and it has the little reception area up front…and in the back we had this warehouse with the high ceilings,” she said.

    Ann Arbor Aviary celebrated its grand opening on Friday with aerial performances and a local artist gallery —something they want to continue on the last Friday of every month with an event called “Lift Off.”

    In the beginning, the studio will offer three classes per night Mondays through Thursdays. Fridays are reserved for workshops and events, and there will be classes and workshops offered on the weekends. The studio will also host private events.

    “We’re trying to promote this in the yoga community and in the athletic community,” Ryan said. “We definitely want to talk to sororities and fraternities and stuff like that.”

    Although aerial performances can look challenging, Ryan said newcomers shouldn’t be intimidated: “Everyone can do a little something. The first day you’re here, you’ll be able to do something,” she said.

    Co-owner Lia Lilley added: "It’s a really good activity that you can show solid progression through."

    Ryan suggested people interested in trying a class attend a beginner’s workshop.

    For more information, check out Ann Arbor Aviary’s Facebook page or website.

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


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    Alejandro_Escovedo_GeneralPress_3_credit_Todd_Wolfson.jpg

    Alejandro Escovedo

    photo by Todd Wolfson

    Musical multi-hyphenate Alejandro Escovedo has positive thoughts about his upcoming concert in Ann Arbor this Wednesday. “I’m looking forward to it, I love playing The Ark,” said the Texas native during a recent phone conversation. “It’s always been cool.” The punk-rocker, roots-rocker and alt-country singer-songwriter was first a member of the Nuns, Rank and File and the True Believers before going solo with the album "Gravity" in 1992. Just last year he issued "Big Station," one of the best studio recordings in his impressive catalog.

    A serious bout with Hepatitis C in 2003 led to an outpouring of support for the much-loved Austin resident, including the benefit album "Por Vida: A Tribute to the Songs of Alejandro Escovedo," featuring cover versions done by Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, John Cale, Calexico, Cowboy Junkies, and many others. Declared free of the disease some 8 years ago and very much back to a busy schedule of touring and recording, the 62-year-old Escovedo visits Ann Arbor after playing gigs and throwing parties last week in Austin during the SXSW Festival.

    Q: Congratulations on "Big Station"! I love the mix of musical styles and arrangements on the album.

    Ajejandro Escovedo: Thank you. I love the record and had a great time making it. It was kind of a challenge, because I had a new drummer in the band (Chris Searles) and then our guitarist (David Pulkingham) left immediately after making it.

    Q: Every original song on the album is a co-write with fellow singer-songwriter Chuck Prophet. How long have you known him?

    A.E.: I’ve known Chuck since the late '70s, early '80s. When he first joined (indie-rock band) Green on Red I was in Rank and File. I’ve always thought he was a really talented guy, became friends with him and stayed in touch through the years. When we finally got the chance to work together I asked him to collaborate on (the 2008 studio album) "Real Animal." We had such a great time doing it and it was such an easy fit, we’re now on our third record together. I love writing with him; he has a completely different kind of angle on the whole perspective, but it always works real well with me. I’m very comfortable with it and that’s a rare thing to find.

    Q: This is also your third collaboration with producer Tony Visconti, who just produced David Bowie’s comeback album The Next Day. What’s it like working with him?

    A.E.: It’s very special because I have always respected his work so much. When I had the opportunity to work with him it was really a treat, and he was such a great guy. The face that we’ve made three albums together is quite a feat. I love making records with him and I’m also happy he got together with Bowie again, too.

    Q: What’s the vibe like in the studio with Tony Visconti?

    A.E.: He’s very into whatever happens organically with a band; he doesn’t mess with what’s obviously locked in and solid. But he can also be hands-on and very vocal and very encouraging. He creates an atmosphere of experimentation so you feel very loose in there. You feel like you could try anything. There’s always a lot of ideas being thrown around and it’s very open. I always feel comfortable. He establishes a beautiful atmosphere to work within.

    Q: Is it too early to talk about the follow-up to "Big Station"?

    A.E.: True Believers are re-forming for SXSW, and then we’re going to record some new songs together, so I have to work on some stuff for that project. Chuck (Prophet) and I are talking about working together after that, but we’re not looking to record an album until next year.

    Q: Who are some of your favorite bands from the Detroit and Ann Arbor area?

    A.E.: I love all the late '60s and early '70s bands. Obviously the Stooges, the MC5, the Rationals, early Bob Seger and the Amboy Dukes.

    Q: I’m knocked out by how eclectic your tastes are. You must have come from a very cool and musical family. Tell us about that.

    A.E.: There was a lot of different types of albums being played in our house. My father loved Mexican music, he loved country music, and my mother was really into big band swing. My brothers liked all the kind of jazzy stuff and pop music of the day. I also had a cousin who was my nanny in a way; she loved rock and roll and turned me on to the Big Bopper, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry and all that stuff.

    Q: Can you name one album or concert you saw as a kid that made you decide to become a musician? What was the catalyst?

    A.E.: I was inspired by Elvis Presley and I loved the Everly Brothers, but I didn’t think I would ever do it. It didn’t happen until much, much later. I was twenty-four when I first started playing. I wanted to be a filmmaker. We were making a movie about the worst band in the world and since we couldn’t play, we became that band!

    "An Acoustic Evening with Alejandro Escovedo and the Sensitive Boys" comes to The Ark, 316 S. Main St., at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 27. Tickets ($25) are available at the Michigan Union Ticket Office, online from MUTO, or at The Ark box office.


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    Six years after rolling out the red carpet for Google Inc., Ann Arbor officials maintain the seven-figure incentive the city offered to convince the Internet giant to lay roots downtown was worth it.

    "I think it was important to get Google here," Mayor John Hieftje said. "They were the brand name that has really allowed us to build a tech campus around them."

    Downtown Development Authority Director Susan Pollay agreed the more than $1 million in free parking the city provided to Google employees has paid off. She said Google helped plant the seed for what downtown is starting to see: the emergency of a tech-savvy creative class.

    googlesign.jpg

    City records show more than $1.2 million was spent from the city's Economic Development Fund before it was dissolved in 2011. Most of it went toward free parking for Google employees, though $104,742 was shown budgeted for work on the city's Fuller Road train station project.

    Angela Cesere | AnnArbor.com file photo

    "I give a lot of credit to Google for starting us down that path," she said. "I think it's done so much for our regional branding of Ann Arbor as a place to do business."

    Hieftje and Pollay stood behind those statements last week even in light of the fact that Google has created only a fraction of the jobs it planned to bring here by now, and the company now is tied up in a dispute with the state of Michigan over $3.1 million in unpaid state business taxes.

    "We have no indication that locally Google has been anything but a good citizen, and no indication that there is anything that has changed that," Hieftje said on Thursday.

    Google has been mostly quiet about the state tax dispute, but a spokesperson told AnnArbor.com it stems from an outstanding issue related to 2008 and 2009 corporate tax returns. The company is working through an appeals process and hopes to resolve the issues with the state soon.

    The Google parking deal

    After Google announced its desire to establish an office in the Ann Arbor area in 2006, then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm endorsed efforts by local and state governments to offer incentives.

    Google promised to hire 1,000 employees by 2011 in exchange for tax credits from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. worth more than $38 million over 20 years.

    Larry_Page_and_Mary_Sue_Coleman_MarySueColeman_LarryPage.JPG

    Google co-founder and 1995 University of Michigan graduate Larry Page greets U-M President Mary Sue Coleman during the spring commencement ceremony in Ann Arbor in 2009.

    File photo | AnnArbor.com

    The Ann Arbor City Council adopted a resolution in September 2006 encouraging Google to locate downtown, saying the city was willing to provide additional parking and tax incentives.

    The city believed Google would bring significant economic and social benefits, eventually leading to the creation of thousands of new jobs, an increase in tax revenues, an increase in customers at local businesses, and partnerships with the University of Michigan and local technology firms.

    Instead of offering local tax incentives, the City Council went on record in January 2007 saying it would provide free parking for Google employees in cooperation with the DDA.

    The council followed through in June 2007 by establishing an Economic Development Fund and transferring $2.18 million from the city's general fund to the new fund.

    The city committed to pay for up to 400 parking spaces for Google employees for up to four years, through December 2010, at an estimated cost of more than $2 million.

    The council also indicated it was interested in using a small portion of the fund to investigate the viability of supporting regional light rail service.

    The city initially was planning to spend as much as $600,000 a year for Google parking, but given that the company hired only a fraction of the employees it projected, nearly half the money set aside for Google parking went unspent, and the city saved hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    City records reviewed by AnnArbor.com show more than $1.2 million was spent from the Economic Development Fund before it was dissolved in 2011. Most of it went toward Google parking, though $104,742 was shown budgeted for work on the city's Fuller Road train station project.

    The fund still had a balance of $967,161 when council closed it down and returned unspent monies to the city's general fund in 2011.

    Tom Crawford, the city's chief financial officer, confirmed in 2011 that Google no longer was getting free parking from the city. When it was, he said, it was based on new hires.

    AnnArbor.com filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the city last week asking for records showing the hiring numbers on which the city relied.

    MEDC officials estimated in 2006 that the establishment of a sales and operations center in Ann Arbor for Google's AdWords online advertising program would not only create the 1,000 direct jobs Google projected in its first five years, but also more than 1,200 spin-off jobs.

    Since then, Google has been hesitant to reveal the exact number of workers it employs in Ann Arbor, generally giving estimates instead of specifics.

    John_Hieftje_headshot_July_12_2011.jpg

    John Hieftje

    The latest estimate is that Google has more than 300 employees in Michigan between its offices in Ann Arbor and Birmingham, but the company doesn't break it down beyond that.

    AnnArbor.com learned in 2011 that Google was quietly contracting with a global outsourcing firm to bring contract employees into the Ann Arbor office at wages lower than required under the state's tax credit program. Google has declined to comment on the details of that.

    Council Member Stephen Kunselman, who supported giving Google free parking in 2007, said he still thinks it was a good move for Ann Arbor.

    "It was good seed money," he said. "But the reality is they didn't come here because of the Ann Arbor City Council. They came here because of the University of Michigan."

    Kunselman think Google's decision to locate in the Ann Arbor area had more to do with the fact that Google co-founder Larry Page is a U-M graduate and Google already had a deal with the university to digitize the entire print collection of the University Library.

    That said, Kunselman believes the free parking incentives helped convince Google that throwing anchor in the downtown was the right move, whereas the office could have been set up in a research park on the outskirts of town or somewhere out in the townships.

    Kunselman said he's going to reserve judgment on the tax lien issue since he doesn't know all of the details at this point, but he expects Google will pay any amount rightfully owed.

    Google leases space inside McKinley Towne Centre at 201 S. Division St. City officials said the taxes on the downtown Ann Arbor building are being paid.

    "I don't think Google is in financial trouble," Hieftje said. "They're a big company, but they're obviously having a dispute with the state."

    AnnArbor.com filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the state last week for a full accounting of the actual worth of state tax credits and incentives received by Google since 2006, as well as records related to the tax lien filed against Google by the state.

    A spokesman for the MEDC said on Wednesday there's no relationship between the tax lien and the job creation agreement the state reached with the company in 2006.

    Google's impact in Ann Arbor

    Hieftje said it was the city's hope that a downtown "tech campus" eventually would form when the city helped lure Google to Ann Arbor, and now it seems that's panning out.

    California-based tech firm Barracuda Networks recently moved hundreds of employees to office space on Maynard Street with plans to keep growing.

    Another tech company, PRIME Research North America, also recently signed a long-term lease for 16,000 square feet of space on the second floor of the old Borders building on Liberty Street, joining Barracuda in creating a new tech hub at the corner of Liberty and Maynard streets.

    Google_roofdeck_roof_deck_McKinley_Towne_centre.jpg

    Google uses its rooftop deck at the McKinley Towne Centre at 201 S. Division St. to host a variety of events and provide a pleasant space for its employees.

    Steve Pepple | AnnArbor.com file photo

    Menlo Innovations also moved from Kerrytown to the underground Offices at Liberty Square last year, where TechArb, the University of Michigan's student startup accelerator, also is located.

    LLamasoft, a supply chain software designer, is another high-tech company laying roots in downtown Ann Arbor. It was reported in October, as the company signed a lease for an additional floor of the First National Bank Building, that it had grown from 40 to 150 employees in two years.

    "We saw Google as the beginning of a tech campus downtown and that's what we looked at from the very beginning," Hieftje said. "They were being offered very good deals out in the townships and they had a lot of options."

    A local real estate professional predicted at a recent DDA meeting there will be 1,400 young tech employees working in the Liberty/Maynard/Washington area within a few years.

    "When I look now at the State and Liberty corridor, I think Google came and brought with them vibrancy and credibility," Pollay said. "We are seeing a tech campus taking shape at the point where town and gown come together. That area has struggled for years."

    Pollay believes Google has improved the downtown economy, with retail shops and restaurants seeing an increase in business because of Google employees downtown.

    113011_DDA_Susan_Pollay_headshot.jpg

    Susan Pollay

    "You see so many people on the sidewalks, and these are year-round customers who don't go away when classes let out," she said. "I think it has had more impact than I would have anticipated."

    Hieftje said the fact that Ann Arbor provided more than $1 million worth of free parking to Google was a rare move for a city that's usually stringent about using incentives to lure companies.

    He said the amount of tax-abated property in Ann Arbor is less than two-tenths of a percent of the total valuation of property in the city.

    "So it's very small," he said. "They don't add up to much."

    Pollay suggested Google's presence in Ann Arbor has added to the culture of downtown in smaller ways that many don't notice — like the fact that Google incentivizes employees to give up their cars and commute to work by bicycling, walking or taking the bus.

    Nancy Shore, director of the getDowntown Program that encourages alternative commuting in Ann Arbor, said Google is the largest purchaser of go!pass bus passes in the downtown.

    For the 2011-12 go!pass season, Google employees had the highest bus ridership of any employer downtown, Shore said, citing a figure that 57 percent of Google employees used their go!passes to commute to work by bus at least once during the year.

    "They always provide sponsorship to our Commuter Challenge," Shore added. "They have a real strong focus on alternative transportation and green commuting."

    Shore said Google has done, in some ways, what the university also does: Bring a lot of young, creative energy to Ann Arbor.

    "It's coming to the point where, at least in my circles, I know several people whose husbands or wives work at Google," she said. "Those individuals are engaged in the community. They're also shopping at downtown business and participating in all the things we love about Ann Arbor."

    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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    Update: According to a second Nixle alert sent out by the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office, there is now one lane going each direction open on Michigan Avenue between Prospect and and Grove streets in Ypsilanti.

    The Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office has issued an advisory to alert residents Michigan Avenue between Grove and Prospect in Ypsilanti will be closed until further notice due to a severe water main break.

    The advisory was sent out as a Nixle alert.

    Dispatch at the sheriff's office said they are taking steps to correct the problem.

    Further information was not available and the cause of the breakage is unknown.


    View Larger Map


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    AnnArbor.com reported last spring that three-year job growth in this region would total 11,038 through 2014, based on an annual forecast from University of Michigan economists George Fulton and Donald Grimes.

    Those numbers, we reported at the time, put the county on a job growth pace that resembled what some still call the “go-go 1990s,” or 1995-2000.

    Economic forecasting is notoriously difficult. Yet Fulton and Grimes, in providing this annual report for Ann Arbor throughout the past 27 years, have a cumulative margin of error of -0.7 percent.

    house_for_sale_ypsi.jpg

    When the economy is on the up-swing, housing takes price leaps that remind us of another era of over-exuberance.

    Courtney Sacco | AnnArbor.com

    The 28th annual Economic Outlook for Washtenaw County will be presented by Fulton on Wednesday, with coverage in AnnArbor.com’s print and online editions. The report, prepared for AnnArbor.com, also will be discussed in detail at a Washtenaw Economic Club luncheon that day.

    Business reporters Lizzy Alfs and Ben Freed are preparing to go through this year’s reports to write full coverage on what this region can expect in job growth, the types of jobs where employers will be hiring (or losing ground) and wage trends.

    If the report shows that last year’s version was on target - and, as I mentioned, it usually is - we should find that this region will:

    • Continue to beat the state and national average on unemployment rates.
    • Show yet more job growth in high-wage positions, or jobs that pay at least $57,000 per year.
    • Continue to benefit from this area’s employment strongholds: health care, universities and automotive.

    All of that is good news for this area, which suffered along with the rest of the nation during the financial crisis.

    Yet this documented rebound - which started in 2010 - may still not be enough persuasion for many among us that our improving local economy means that our personal financial situations are improving, too.

    State and national tax changes, rising consumer prices and global financial insecurity loom in the background of any discussion of more and better jobs in Washtenaw County.

    And while more opportunities seem to be opening for people who are looking for jobs, I’m still hearing of hesitancy among many companies to fill positions quickly when an employee gives notice.

    Many among us, on the corporate and personal levels, still don’t trust that they could find a new job or sustain a new hire.

    That’s the emotional fallout still lingering from the downturn.

    On the other hand, we can watch mortgage firms hire and housing takes price leaps that remind us of another era of over-exuberance. And, at times lately, it may seem like we’re heading for 1998 all over again.

    Fulton and Grimes are ready to tell us whether that’s the case, and I look forward to hearing that report and telling that story on AnnArbor.com.

    Even if we’re surprised, and hiring slowed to under-projection, it’s probably only a matter of time before the majority of us can answer my question at the beginning of this column with a firm, “Yes.”


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    The man accused of killing his co-worker in the middle of an Ypsilanti street last year will return to court for a final pretrial hearing on Monday.

    Leonard_Ware2.jpg

    Leonard Ware

    Courtesy of WCSO

    Leonard Ware, 34, is charged with open murder, carrying a concealed weapon, being a felon in possession of a firearm and being in possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. He’ll be in court for a final pretrial hearing at 1:30 p.m. Monday in front of Washtenaw County Trial Court Judge Darlene O’Brien.

    Ware is accused of shooting and killing Bhagavan Allen, 29, in the middle of Grove Street on Oct. 3. The incident between the two men began with an argument at Marsh Plating Co. in Ypsilanti, where Ware was Allen’s supervisor.

    According to witnesses who testified at a preliminary exam, Ware and Allen walked on opposite sides of Grove Street. Ware crossed the street at one point and allegedly pulled out a gun.

    Ware allegedly shot Allen twice, causing him to fall to the ground. Witnesses said Ware ran up to Allen as he lay on the ground, stood over him and fired at least three more shots into Allen, killing him.

    Ware faces spending the rest of his life behind bars if he is convicted on the charge of open murder. He is being held without bond in the Washtenaw County Jail.

    His trial is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. April 15, according to court records.

    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 Ypsilanti Police Department responded to several incidents of property destruction throughout the day on Saturday.

    Twenty windows were damaged on the 700 block of Norris Street after an unknown person threw rocks at a building. Nobody was injured by the rocks.

    On the 200 block of South Grove Street, a woman reported an unknown subject threw something at the windshield of her car, causing it to shatter. The exact time is not known but the woman said it was some time Saturday night.

    Someone also reported that someone painted graffiti on his building sometime Saturday located on the 200 block of West Michigan Avenue.

    Twenty-five cars on the 700 block of South Grove Street also were reported to be damaged by an unknown subject. The person who made the report said the cars appeared to be keyed on the hoods and it also seemed as though they had been walked on.


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    Protestors holding signs alleging $35,000 in unpaid wages have been standing outside the recently opened Kuroshio restaurant in downtown Ann Arbor every evening since Saturday, March 16.

    Restaurant owner Kenneth Wang said the picketers were not his employees, and that the dispute was between him and his general contractor who also was outside.

    Kuroshio.jpg

    Protestors stood in the cold outside Kuroshio Restaurant on the corner of Liberty Street and Fourth Avenue on Sunday evening.

    Ben Freed | AnnArbor.com

    “When we moved into this location, he was contracted for the re-model and according to our contract with him we were supposed to get our certificate of occupancy on September 30,” Wang said. “We did not end up getting that certificate from the city until December 31.”

    Wang said his contract with Benjamin Sun, who signed on behalf of Crystal Corporation, included a hefty per-day penalty for any time that Sun went over on the job. After the penalty is assessed, Sun actually owes him money, not the other way around, he said.

    “He’s trying to make this into an employer versus employee thing, but that’s not what it is,” Wang said.

    “This is a dispute between two companies, anyone who says their wages were not paid they weren’t paid by him, not me.”

    Sun said it was up to the restaurant to honor the contract and pay him and his employees for the work that they completed. He hopes his protest will convince Wang to hand over the money so that the dispute does not have to be solved by the courts.

    “The restaurant is done now, and he has decided he doesn’t want to pay,” he said. “It’s not right. We are going to do this now and then if he does not pay we will sue. We don’t want to have to do that which is why we are trying this first.”

    Both parties agree that the project was supposed to be completed by September 30, but the restaurant did not receive its certificate of occupancy until the end of December 2012. However, Sun contests that an error in the plans that did not account for an overhaul of the heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system was the cause of most of the delay.

    According to a copy of the contract between the parties obtained by AnnArbor.com, Sun was responsible for notifying Wang in writing of any circumstance that would delay the construction past the agreed upon date. Sun said that he did not write an official notice to Wang alerting him of the change in date but was under the impression that the delay was understood.

    “He did not tell me that he was not going to pay until after the job was done,” Sun said.

    “I am a contractor, I work with my hands and cannot put everything down on paper. If he was unhappy with the work he should have fired me, not let me finish and then not paid me the remainder of the money.”

    According to the contract, “all claims or disputes arising out of this Contract or its breach shall be decided by arbitration in accordance with the construction industry arbitration rules.”

    Harvey Berman, an attorney with Bodman PLC who specializes in construction, contracts, and real estate law, said it is not uncommon for there to be disputes involving the contracts that are drawn up between owners and builders.

    “If you have a contract that requires something to be in writing… the court or arbitrator can rule that there was an oral modification but there’s a higher standard of proof there,” he said. “You have to have ‘clear and convincing evidence’ in that case.”

    Berman said that if the case did go to arbitration, it would likely take six months to a year to complete the process.

    General manager Alan Wang, Kenneth’s son, said the problems with the contractor made it difficult for the restaurant to know when they would be opening and caused them to hire their head chef too early.

    “He was just unreliable,” Kennenth Wang said. “I kept pushing him and he would give me a date for things and then never finish them on time. One window he told me would take two weeks to put in, it took six.”

    Two other men routinely join Sun at his protest, which he said will continue at least for “a few weeks.”

    The owners of Kuroshio have placed a sign in their window attempting explaining their view of the situation to passers-by.

    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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    copp-loss-reaction-nd.JPG

    Michigan freshman Andrew Copp skate's away from a skirmish near the end of Michigan's 3-1 loss to Notre Dame in the CCHA Tournament Championship at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday, March 24.

    Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com

    Updated, 6:40 p.m.

    DETROIT -- Twenty-two years is a hell of a run.

    And that’s exactly what the Michigan hockey team had to nearly make it 23 consecutive NCAA Tournament berths.

    But Notre Dame put an end to Michigan’s nine-game unbeaten streak with a 3-1 win in the CCHA Tournament championship game on Sunday at Joe Louis Arena.

    The loss ends Michigan’s chance at a national record 23rd consecutive NCAA Tournament berth. With a sub-.500 record, Michigan needed to win the tournament and secure the league’s automatic bid to extend its streak.

    Michigan's unlikely run at the championship included five straight CCHA playoff wins as Michigan rose all the way from a No. 7 seed to the championship game. Two months after being eight games under .500 and in the basement of the league standings, Michigan found itself fighting for it’s tenth CCHA tournament title and extend its national record streak.

    It was one hell of a run.

    "This team has come a long way," said senior alternate captain Lee Moffie shortly after game's end. "At the beginning of the year, this was not a close team, off the ice, we had issues."

    Moffie credited fellow captains Kevin Lynch, A.J. Treais and the rest of the seniors for the bringing the team together in time for the magical postseason run.

    In 2010, when this group of seniors were freshman, Michigan made a similarly unlikely run from the No. 7 seed all the way to a conference championship. This year was different, Moffie said, because it was their team.

    "I feel like we were almost passengers on that ride and we were kind of leading this ride. It was a lot different," Moffie said. "Us three and the rest of the seniors we really helped our team come together, I feel like, and for that I’m really proud."

    More coverage: Photo Gallery

    With the loss Michigan finishes the year one game under .500 and therefore ineligible for an at-large NCAA bid.

    mac-bennett-reaches-nd.jpg

    Michigan's Mac Bennett, left and Notre Dame's T.J. Tynan fight for a puck during Sunday's CCHA Tournament championship game on Sunday, March 24.

    Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com

    On a weekend when the now defunct CCHA went by the motto "Celebrate the Legacy" Michigan tried to add another chapter to its own. But Michigan's streak, much like the league, are now no more.

    Michigan dug itself a hole in the middle of the season, going 1-7 in the month of January. Then Steve Racine was put in net in the middle of February, not because he had played well, but because it was simply his turn. He didn't relinquish that turn until Sunday night when he lost his first game as a starter since Dec. 14.

    It was one hell of a run.

    Michigan didn’t need to erase two months of bad hockey on Sunday. All it needed was to play 60 minutes of its best. That’s exactly what it got out of Racine who finished with 30 saves. He was awarded All-CCHA Tournament honors, two months after only being given a start due to process of elimination.

    "That might have been his best game of the season," Michigan coach Red Berenson said. "Good for him. We needed that. Any time a team outshoots you like that in the first period your goalie’s got to be ready and he was ready."

    Notre Dame outshot Michigan 33-31 in the game and 18-6 in the first period. Regardless, it was Michigan who led 1-0 after Derek DeBlois scored on a shorthanded goal in the first period.

    DeBlois led an odd-man rush after an Irish giveaway in the first period. Steven Summerhays made the initial save but was way out of position on the rebound as Jacob Trouba fed a pass to DeBlois at the mouth of the goal for the easy tap in.

    Anders Lee tied the game in the second period, squeezing the puck between Racine's leg pad and the goalpost.

    "He was a wall at the beginning of the game and pretty much the whole tournament so for us to get that first (goal) was, it was a relief," said Lee. "It just gave some confidence to the boys because we were pounding shots left and right. For us to finally get one was definitely a huge break for us."

    Despite taking three penalties in the second period, Michigan escaped with the score still tied 1-1. But Austin Wuthrich scored 29 seconds into the third period to break the tie and give Notre Dame the only lead it would need.

    Notre Dame scored an empty-netter later in the period to secure the win.

    "After two periods I thought our team would bounce back in the third and they tried, but that first goal in the first shift...goals were precious tonight, you knew there wouldn’t be many of them and giving up that goal, that was a tough one," Berenson said. "We had a couple isolated opportunities (after that) but couldn’t get it done."

    Racine hung his head following the final buzzer and Treais skated over to console the freshman, who showed signs at the end of the season that it will be he who leads Michigan on future Big Ten and NCAA Tournament runs.

    "I didn’t think really anything had to be said. He was just really upset, and it’s not his fault. I mean we wouldn’t have even been in that game if it wasn’t for him," Treais said. "He was the first person I saw and I went right over to him and gave him a pat on the back."

    It was one hell of run.

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


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    DETROIT -- The Michigan hockey team fell short of extending its NCAA Tournament berth streak to 23 years on Sunday, falling 3-1 in the CCHA Tournament final. The Wolverines needed to secure the conference's automatic bid to make the NCAA Tournament.

    Daniel Brenner is photographer for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at danielbrenner@annarbor.com.


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    Villanova's Devon Kane, left, and Michigan's Nya Jordan (21) chase a loose ball during the first half of a first-round game in the women's NCAA college basketball tournament on Sunday, March 24, 2013, in Stanford, Calif.

    Associated Press

    STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Jenny Ryan carried around a rope after Michigan's latest win as a symbolic gesture by the senior point guard, who understands it's her duty to keep everything going.

    To keep a special season going after a year of change in Ann Arbor with a new coach.

    Ryan and Michigan's close-knit senior class will continue this memorable March run for at least one more game. All along, they have said they want to keep playing together as long as possible.

    Kate Thompson hit a key 3-pointer down the stretch and another late jumper to finish with 17 points, and the eighth-seeded Wolverines overcame a cold-shooting first half to beat ninth-seeded Villanova 60-52 in the first round of the NCAA tournament Sunday night.

    "Throughout the season we've passed it along," Ryan said of the rope, which stems from an October team-building retreat. "Whenever someone did something good they got to hold it. I've had it for a significant amount of time. I wanted it back. I got it back, just because we needed our seniors to carry us at the end."

    Ryan added 13 points, three assists and two steals as Michigan's starting lineup featuring four seniors extended their season by shooting 61.9 percent in the second half.

    And it gets tougher now. Michigan (22-10) will face top-seeded Stanford (32-2), a 72-56 winner over Tulsa in Sunday's first game, on the Cardinal's home floor at Maples Pavilion on Tuesday night for a spot in the Spokane Regional semifinals next weekend.

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    Michigan's Rachel Sheffer, left, shoots against Villanova's Emily Leer (55) during the first half of a first-round game in the women's NCAA college basketball tournament on Sunday, March 24, 2013, in Stanford, Calif.

    Associated Press

    Perhaps it is fitting Michigan's players are wearing bright yellow warmup shirts that read "Rise to the Occasion."

    First-year Wolverines coach Kim Barnes Arico lost to top-seeded Stanford in the second round two years ago while at St. John's.

    "We've watched games across the country the last couple of days where upsets happen," Barnes Arico said. "Those things happen when you hang around and hang around and hang around."

    Michigan's second-leading scorer Rachel Sheffer had 16 points and matched her career high with 13 rebounds for her sixth straight game scoring in double figures.

    Laura Sweeney scored 16 points, including the first seven of the game before getting in foul trouble. Devon Kane added 12 to lead Villanova (21-11).

    In this evenly played matchup with five ties and five lead changes. Neither team led by more than nine points until Michigan briefly built a late 10-point advantage.

    Villanova inbounded the ball in front of its bench and near its own basket with 4:24 to play and trailing 47-43, but Sheffer batted down a pass into the post and the Wolverines gained possession. Thompson knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the arc moments later, one of the three total she made.

    "When you get the lead it's so much different," Villanova coach Harry Perretta said. "It's difficult to play from behind in a game because if you make one error, which we did, then they can go up three or four points and the pressure comes back to you."

    Nya Jordan added 12 points and nine rebounds to help Michigan to a 39-28 rebounding advantage. She also had three assists and one of five steals by the Wolverines, who are playing in back-to-back NCAA tournaments for the first time since 2000-01.

    The No. 8 seed also matches the highest ever for the program.

    While Michigan made 13 of its 21 second-half shots to finish at 47.8 percent, Villanova shot just 33.9 percent with a 6-for-26 showing from 3-point range.

    The Wildcats, who had won three straight before losing to Syracuse in the Big East tournament, also reached the free throw line only six times compared to Michigan's 11-for-13 performance.

    This marked the first meeting between the programs, but not so for the coaches on either bench.

    Barnes Arico is in her first season coaching at Michigan against a familiar face in mentor and 35th-year Villanova coach Perretta — and he actually recommended her for the new job in Ann Arbor.

    Barnes Arico spent the past 10 seasons at St. John's and faced Perretta in the Big East, going 5-6 against his teams.

    She has reached five NCAA tournaments and four in a row, and her teams have always won at least one game. The Wolverines kept that impressive streak going.

    Last season, St. John's lost to Duke in the Fresno Regional semifinal.

    In sticking to her new school's colors, Barnes Arico sported open-toe maize stilettos with a blue pedicure.

    Michigan built a 26-17 lead on Thompson's jumper with 3:54 remaining in the first to cap an 8-0 spurt featuring a pair of 3s by Ryan, but didn't score again while going 0 for 5 with two turnovers. The Wildcats scored seven unanswered points, including the final four from Kane, to pull within 26-24 at the break.

    The two games Sunday at Maples drew 5,206 fans.

    Michigan knows what it will face with Stanford's home crowd Tuesday.

    "We're going to prepare for Stanford like any other game," Ryan said. "We have a lot of confidence to beat any team in the country."


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    The Penny Stamps lecture series on Thursday will feature New York-based performance artist and actress Alina Troyano—a.k.a. Carmelita Tropicana.

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    As a Cuban-American, Carmelita examines being bicultural using "irreverent humor and fantasy to rewrite history from the viewpoints of woman, man, child and assorted animals and insects," according to the press release.

    Her show integrates live performance with muti-media, and exotic costumes made of fruit, faux fur, camouflage and Saran wrap to provide social commentary.

    "She has received numerous awards including the prestigious Anonymous Was a Woman and fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts as well as an Obie for Sustained Excellence in Performance," according to her bio.

    Thursday, March 28, 2013. Free. At the Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor. 734-668-8397.


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    Ann Arbor Board of Education President Deb Mexicotte will present two new policies Wednesday that could prevent trustees from meeting until 3 a.m.

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    School board president Deb Mexicotte

    School board meetings that run past midnight have become the norm at the Ann Arbor Public Schools as the district has faced increasing financial challenges.

    Long-winded and in-depth board discussions; lengthy data presentations from administration; and increasing input from public commenters and associations such as the Ann Arbor Education Association, the Parent Advisory Committee for Special Education and others have contributed to the early morning end times. The board's committee of the whole structure also has been targeted in the past as a possible reason.

    The school board's Feb. 27 meeting adjourned at nearly 3:15 a.m. And often, the board does not get to the action items on its agenda until approximately the last two hours of the meeting.

    Mexicotte announced at Wednesday's committee meeting her plans to bring forward for consideration at least two policies pertaining to board and time management and "how to go about best accomplishing our work."

    She said her hope is the board can talk about ways to proceed with future board discussions, prioritizing issues and topics at the board table and the board's committee structure.

    In the fall of 2011, the board changed its committee structure from a policy committee and a finance committee to a singular committee of the whole.

    Mexicotte also plans to bring back the idea of passing a code of conduct or expectations, which she is calling an "affirmation of boardsmanship." This was last discussed in January as members talked about how to address its No. 1 board goal for the 2012-13 academic year: trust and relationship building among trustees.

    Trustees decided in January not to hire a facilitator to conduct team-building or trust-building exercises with the board, which could have cost $8,000 or more, and Mexicotte suggested a code of conduct as an inexpensive option.

    The board has discussed a variety of time management options in the past, such as limiting the number of minutes per agenda item, limiting the number of minutes or times a trustee can talk and limiting public comment. None of these options appealed to the majority of the board.

    The meeting length issue was last raised in January 2012, following a 1:45 a.m. decision to grant raises to two of the district's top administrators. Questions had come up publically about the board's ability to function at that time. The board rejected infringing time limits during the 2012 discussion. But Mexicotte and other board members recently have expressed a renewed desire to consider some time management options.

    Superintendent Patricia Green and her executive cabinet members usually also are required to stay through the end of the Board of Education meetings.

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


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    This maps shows the planned route for the 2013 Ann Arbor Marathon. Download larger maps.

    Champions for Charity

    The Ann Arbor Marathon returns June 9, and city officials remain cautiously optimistic the second annual event will go smoother than last year's inaugural run.

    Last year's 26.2-mile trek shut down streets throughout the city on Father's Day, catching many residents and business owners off guard, disrupting traffic and causing Mayor John Hieftje to remark that changes would need to be made for the event to happen again this year.

    Mike Highfield, founder of race sponsor Champions for Charity, said many of the major concerns from last year have been addressed with this year's new route.

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    Hundreds of runners make their way down Main Street during the first-ever Ann Arbor Marathon last June.

    Jeffrey Smith | AnnArbor.com

    The date also has been switched to avoid falling on Father's Day again.

    Showing some confidence in the new plan, the Ann Arbor City Council this month approved closing several city streets from 5:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the day of the marathon, which is a Sunday.

    "We were very proactive in making changes," Highfield said. "The most significant of those is we've removed completely Washtenaw Avenue from the course."

    Highfield said the new route has been designed to minimize the impact on traffic and pedestrians, as well as bus services.

    "I would say the bulk of the complaints we got from people who couldn't get to where they wanted to go that morning were from people who were living off of Washtenaw," he said.

    "So we totally removed that, which not only significantly improves access through the community, it improves access to the hospital, and six churches are not impacted any longer."

    Organizers also plan to do a better job notifying neighborhood associations, churches, apartment complexes and businesses, working closely with the city's communications office, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Transportation Authority and Ann Arbor Public Schools.

    Improved training, including trial runs, also is planned so race marshals are well-versed with alternative routes and have alternate-route maps for the public.

    The marathon, which costs $100 to enter, raises money for the Ann Arbor Public Schools Education Foundation. It is being supported by the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber, Ann Arbor Main Street BIZ, Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, and many others.

    For those who don't want to run the full 26.2 miles, there are options to run a half marathon, or a 5K, which is 3.1 miles. There also is a 1.2-mile kids run.

    Registration fees are lower for the other runs: $80 for the half marathon, $32 for the 5K and $18 for the kids run.

    AnnArborMarathon_TeamRWB.JPG

    Ann Arbor resident Jonathan Algor carries an American flag as he participates in the half marathon last year during the Ann Arbor Marathon on Washtenaw Avenue.

    Jeffrey Smith | AnnArbor.com

    The marathon starts at 6:30 a.m. and the half marathon and 5K both start at 7:30 a.m. The event is expected to end around 1 p.m.

    City officials said all streets will be reopened as soon as safely possible after participants have cleared the affected areas.

    Champions for Charity is being required to provide liability insurance and reimburse the city for all expenses related to the event.

    Council Member Sally Hart Petersen, D-2nd Ward, said she applauds Champions for Charity for getting the inaugural marathon off the ground last year.

    "I did run the half marathon last year and I had a great experience," she said. "I did hear some concerns about insufficient notice about street closings, it was Father's Day … but as a participant in the half marathon last year, I was very impressed with how well it went."

    Petersen said it's understandable there will be mistakes made the first time around, and she thinks Champions for Charity is making a good-faith effort to improve the race this year. She said she's planning to register to run the full marathon on June 9.

    All courses start on Main Street at the northwest corner of the Big House, winding through downtown and other parts of the city with a finish on the 50-yard line of Elbel Field.

    The course is purposely designed to showcase many of the community's most beautiful and memorable areas, including scenic views along the Huron River.

    Council Member Chuck Warpehoski, D-5th Ward, said he was excited about the marathon last year, but he heard a lot of complaints from residents about how it was handled. He noted he has run the Detroit Marathon several times and he's a fan of marathons.

    "No matter what you do, you're going to have a significant part of the community that just doesn't know about the event," Highfield said, partly blaming last year's lack of notice about the marathon on the lack of a daily newspaper in Ann Arbor.

    He's confident the word will spread farther this year, though. He guessed about 10 percent of the community knew about the race last year and about 80 percent will know about it this year.

    Highfield noted this year's route takes advantage of the East Stadium Boulevard bridges being reopened. The route follows the northern sidewalk over the bridges and down to Main Street.

    AnnArborMarathon_Start.JPG

    Marathon runners make their way from the start line on Main Street next to Michigan Stadium during the Ann Arbor Marathon last year.

    Jeffrey Smith | AnnArbor.com

    With the bridges closed last year, the course went down State Street to Briarwood Mall, and then up South Main Street to Ann Arbor-Saline Road, and through the Stadium/Main intersection.

    "This year we're not doing that," Highfield said. "The marathon is going out to Briarwood circle, but it's going out and back on State Street."

    Runners are not big on "out and backs," he said, but that's what's being done — and that avoids routing the race past five large apartment complexes and a church, and it means runners also won't be crossing through the intersection of Stadium and Main again.

    "So what we've got this year that we didn't have last year is we have Washtenaw completely open and we have Main and Stadium," Highfield said, suggesting traffic will be greatly improved from that.

    Highfield said some of his running buddies last year suggested rerouting the course down Liberty and Miller west of downtown, but race organizers decided against that.

    "What we didn't want to do is venture off into new parts of town and expose significant new areas of the community to this race that weren't impacted," he said.

    Highfield acknowledged residents along Geddes Avenue will be affected. He said they're being encouraged to park on the south side of the street to make it easier to get out.

    "Most of our marshals on Geddes are people who live on Geddes, so they know the neighborhood and we will be able to let people through," he added.

    Council Member Marcia Higgins, D-4th Ward, said she had concerns about the impact on Hidden Valley Club Apartments on State Street. Highfield said those residents will be affected only by the marathon, not the half marathon this year, and the gaps between runners should be big enough at that point in the race that it won't be a problem for residents to pull out onto State Street.

    "And on South State we are only using the southbound lanes, so northbound State Street is open all morning," he said.

    Council Member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, said it would be smart to contact all of the churches that might be affected and encourage them to notify their congregation members.

    AnnArborMarathon_Capelli.JPG

    Marathon winner Marco Capelli of Toledo holds his arms up in the air after crossing the finish line last year. Capelli finished with a time of 2:48:02.5

    Jeffrey Smith | AnnArbor.com

    "Because many people missed the fact that there was a marathon until they found that they couldn't travel," she said of last year's event.

    Highfield said he did reach out to churches last year, and one church even moved its Sunday services to Saturday as a result. He said similar communication is happening this year. He said about seven churches in all have been removed from the course this year.

    Council Member Jane Lumm, an Independent who represents the 2nd Ward, said she appreciates the changes being made, especially along Washtenaw Avenue.

    "We're not going to please everybody — I recognize that," she said. "But your efforts to find a route that doesn't impact all these churches is sincerely appreciated."

    Lumm said the city received letters of complaint from business owners who were not aware the marathon would shut down the streets around their businesses last year.

    "That was a significant impact for some," she said.

    Pointing out residents could hear loud music early in the morning last year, Council Member Mike Anglin, D-5th Ward, said he wants the city's noise ordinances obeyed this year.

    "To me it didn't make any sense to have a band blasting with big speakers that are traveling five blocks into the neighborhoods," Anglin said.

    Highfield said he knows the music woke up some people near the start line last year and that's an issue being addressed. He said music won't be played on the course before 7 a.m.

    "The marathon starts at 6:30 and we will make sure that we will keep the sound system at the start line low, and we will not be playing music at that time," he said, adding race organizers also will be careful about music being played elsewhere along the course.

    "If you analyze this course, there aren't many residential areas of significance that are on this course," Highfield said.

    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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