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

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    Defense simulation and training contractor Arotech will direct the majority of recently awarded contracts to its Ann Arbor division First Ann Arbor Corp. Inc., according to a report in Crain’s Detroit Business.

    The contracts, worth about $4 million, come primarily from the U.S. Air Force for programs in air warfare simulation.

    According to the Crain’s report, the contracts will be used for a number of endeavors, but the primary focus is to develop new software for pilot weapon employment. Ann Arbor is Arotech’s primary training and simulation hub, but a vice president told Crain’s that the company recently completed a new laboratory on Orlando.

    Earlier in 2013, Arotech reported a net loss of more than $2 million in 2012 on $80.1 in revenue, which, while not in the black, compared favorably with a net loss of $4.9 million on $62.1 million in revenue in 2011.

    Arotech was in danger of being removed from the Nasdaq Stock Exchange in late 2012 after the company’s value hit a low point of 72 cents per share. Recently the company has bounced back above the one dollar threshold necessary to stay on the exchange and is trading at approximately $1.10 per share for a market capitalization of $16.4 million.

    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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    Previous coverage:

    School officials reflected Monday at the joint Ypsilanti-Willow Run Board of Education meeting on the recent teacher hiring decisions and how to proceed with reviewing and evaluating the process.

    Bob Galardi, the retired Ann Arbor Public Schools administrator whom the Ypsilanti Community Schools district recruited to head the teacher selection committee, attended Monday's board meeting to answer any questions school trustees may have about the re-hiring process.


    WISD Superintendent Scott Menzel looks over several charts of poll numbers at the Tower Inn Cafe in Ypsilanti on Election Day this past November, when voters in the Ypsilanti and Willow Run school districts approved the consolidation.

    Daniel Brenner I AnnArbor.com file photo

    The biggest questions board members had were what was the committee doing now that the notifications were sent out to review the procedures and handle concerns from parents or employees, as well as whether there would be a formal appeal process for individuals who were not issued intent-to-hire letters.

    School officials issued notification letters to 258 teacher applicants Friday afternoon. A total of 171 teachers from both district were told they would be hired back.

    Of the 73 teachers who applied from Willow Run Community Schools for a spot in the consolidated district, 43 people, or 59 percent, were given a "yes." In Ypsilanti Public Schools, 183 people applied and 126, or 69 percent of the applicants, were offered positions.

    A three- to four-person team lead by Galardi interviewed all 258 candidates between mid-March, when applications were due, and the end of April, to be able to notify teachers by May 3 of their status in the new district.

    Washtenaw Intermediate School District and YCS Superintendent Scott Menzel said the compressed timeline was established primarily because of feedback from teachers who said they needed to know as soon as possible so they could make other arrangements. Originally, the new district did not intend to notify teachers until June when school was out to avoid distracting students.

    "We were very intentional, even though it was a compressed timeframe," Menzel said.

    Willow Run Superintendent Laura Lisiscki and Board of Education President David Bates commended teachers for maintaining high levels of focus and professionalism Monday, the first day back since the notices went out. Bates said it's a tremendous credit to the teachers, who were able to show up and be there for their kids, despite the personal and emotional hardships.

    "I visited all of the schools in both districts today. ... It was business as usual," Lisiscki said.

    Galardi said the teacher selection committee made sure every letter — whether a "yes," "no" or "maybe" — was supported by documentation. All candidates will be given an opportunity, if requested, to review the materials used in their individual determinations, he said.

    Candidates with concerns about the letters and with specific questions about why and how a determination was made can contact Galardi directly.

    "I'm happy to talk to them. ... I'll give time to anybody who wants to review it with me. These are important decisions and I recognize this," he said.

    School board member Maria Sheler-Edwards asked whether there would be a formal appeal process for teachers interested in arguing a decision that was made.

    Menzel said the term "appeal" is not one he has heard come up very frequently; and if a process were developed, it would need to be cleared through the new district's legal counsel. Galardi said if the superintendents and administrative staff deemed it necessary and appropriate, and feel it would not take the committee outside of its good processes, then he would begin this week working with the attorneys.

    "We want to do right thing," he said.

    The problem with appeals is "there are a fixed number of jobs going into next year that we've planned for," Menzel said. "... We can't go above that for budgetary reasons.

    "... So if you are going to take appeals, in a traditional sense, then who are you going to take off the list? You'd then have a whole other set of appeals there."

    Menzel said, right now, officials are reviewing the process itself to see if there were any aspects of it that would explain why some people didn't even get a "maybe" letter when perhaps they should have.

    "We're investigating that to see if there is something else that we missed that might be an explanatory variable," he said. "People are raising questions about how could this teacher not have been selected and here's why we believe that something was missed in this process. ... Those cases we're going back and looking at.

    "We're looking at the specifics of the scoring, just to make sure that the integrity of the process is defensible across the board because that's absolutely crucial."


    Joint Ypsilanti-Willow Run Board President David Bates speaks during a meeting on Monday, Feb. 25, 2013.

    Courtney Sacco I AnnArbor.com file photo

    Menzel reiterated that no hiring process is perfect. He said largely, the best teacher candidates were selected, with possibly a few exceptions. The exceptions are what officials are investigating now — very cautiously, he said.

    "We have to look at the process and evaluate. ... It's hard to say that the process was carried out consistently across the board, and now we'd consider changing the rules for some people afterward. To do that would throw it all into question," he said. "So we have to be very careful, from a legal perspective, about how we proceed. So we're going to go back and review, and then make decisions (on a potential appeal process)."

    Two teachers from Ypsilanti Public Schools attended Monday's joint Board of Education meeting to share thoughts on a few excellent teachers that they felt were unfairly dismissed in the re-hire process, including Krista Boyer, a kindergarten teacher and the current YPS teachers union president, who was given a "maybe" letter. The maybes are contingent upon state funding and student enrollment.

    Parent Tamara Larson said she cried and it "broke her heart" when she learned Boyer would not be coming back. She said Boyer is one of the most caring teachers she has ever met. She told how Boyer purchased coats, boots, scarfs and mittens for some homeless students in her class at Christmas time using money from her own pocket.

    "Shame on you. You've robbed these kids of some amazing teachers," Larson said. "I hope those of you who made the decisions sleep good at night."

    Bates thanked these parents for coming to the meeting Monday, stating it was a good reminder for the board of how personal and tough decisions like these are.

    "It's an opportunity to sit back, reflect and think about what these decisions mean," he said. "There have been many cases and times in the past ... where we, as school boards in both districts, have avoided making difficult decisions, not necessarily related to hiring, per say, but the fact is that (avoiding) has resulted in the situation we're in now.

    "As board members, there is a lesson for us to be learned here."

    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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    Take a stroll through a beautiful Ann Arbor neighborhood and find some unique artwork at the West Side Neighborhood Art Hop on Saturday.


    Art Hop map

    Artists in the neighborhood will welcome you into their front yards, homes and studios to view and buy their arts and crafts items. There will be live music at some venues.

    Venues and a map can be found at www.wsnarthop.com and on Facebook under WestsideNeighborhoodArtHop.

    Saturday, May 11, 2013. 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. No cost for admission. Ann Arbor's Old West Side. If you have any questions, call Susan at 734-996-0702.

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    According to Playbill.com, the musical theater songwriting team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul - who began their artistic collaboration while both were students at the University of Michigan - won a Lucille Lortel Award (for outstanding musical) on Sunday, May 5 for their original score for the Off-Broadway musical, "Dogfight."

    The award came on the heels of the duo's first Tony Award nomination (for the score from "A Christmas Story: The Musical"), as well as additional nominations for Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards.

    "Dogfight" opened at the Second Stage Theater in July 2012, and features a book by Peter Duchan. Inspired by the River Pheonix film of the same name, the show focuses on a group of Marines who celebrate their last night Stateside by competing to recruit the ugliest date each can find to attend a party.

    Jenn McKee is an entertainment reporter for AnnArbor.com. Reach her at jennmckee@annarbor.com or 734-623-2546, and follow her on Twitter @jennmckee.

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    Investigators are still searching for two men as details continue to emerge around the abduction of a 25-year-old woman outside an apartment complex Monday.


    Jeremy Abston

    Courtesy of YPD

    Ypsilanti police Lt. Deric Gress said Tuesday morning that police have spoken with 27-year-old Jeremy Abston on the phone and are in contact with his family. Abston, along with another man, is wanted for questioning in the abduction of Farrah Cook.

    The 25-year-old woman is safe after escaping from her abductors Monday afternoon.

    “We’re in conversation with his family because they’re trying to help us out,” Gress said. “They’ve been pretty cooperative with us.”

    Abston and an unidentified man are both sought by police for questioning in connection with Cook’s abduction. Ypsilanti police were notified at 5:45 a.m. Monday of a woman being forced into a black or dark blue Pontiac Bonneville in the 500 block of South Hamilton Street.

    More details from police emerged Tuesday, including information about where Cook was taken after she was abducted, information about Abston and Cook's relationship and history of domestic violence and the continued search for the suspects.

    The abduction

    Dominique Graham, Cook’s brother, told AnnArbor.com there is surveillance camera footage of two men watching Cook get ready for work through her apartment window.

    When Cook went to her car to go to work, she was grabbed by one of the men and pulled to the Bonneville, said Sam Cook, her father. The other man grabbed her and pulled her the rest of the way in the car, which then drove off.

    Farrah's apartment complex, Hamilton Crossing, is relatively open and the block of buildings where Farrah lives surrounds a courtyard. The clear sightlines to the parking lot made it easy for multiple people to see the abduction in progress.

    Graham said about 10 people witnessed the incident after they heard Farrah screaming. He described the incident to AnnArbor.com after viewing security footage.


    Security cameras caught an image of this man, said to be Jeremy Abston, at Hamilton Crossing Monday.

    Courtesy of YPD

    “They were looking through the windows and were watching her get ready,” he said.

    He added, “You can see her unlocking her car and that’s when the first suspect grabbed her and she was screaming and yelling.”

    Looking for Farrah

    The Bonneville drove away with Farrah, Abston and an unidentified man inside and neighbors called police. Investigators spoke with some of Farrah’s family members, who live in an apartment next door, and spoke with officials from her work.

    Police confirmed she wasn’t in her apartment and she wasn’t at work. A few hours later, police would release her and Abston’s name publicly to start generating tips.

    In the meantime, the family and investigators reviewed surveillance camera footage of the incident.

    The family and police identified one of the suspected abductors as Abston. He is Farrah’s ex-boyfriend and the couple has three children together, twin 4-year-old girls and a 3-year-old boy.

    Detective Sgt. Thomas Eberts said Farrah and Abston dated for four years before breaking up. At this point, it seems as if the abduction is related to Abston’s unhappiness with the breakup.

    “They’ve had a long tumultuous relationship,” Eberts said, adding that there is a history of domestic violence in the relationship. “He was upset with the breakup and for some reason he decided to do this.”

    An opportunistic escape

    Thumbnail image for farrahcook.jpg

    Farrah Cook

    Early Monday afternoon, the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office was called to The Villas, an apartment complex off of Golfside Road in Ypsilanti Township. Sgt. Geoffrey Fox said Farrah escaped her abductors and talked to a neighbor, who brought her to the apartment complex’s main office.

    Eberts said the abductors took Farrah from the Hamilton Crossings complex to The Villas. He couldn’t release the exact details of her escape but it appears Farrah made the most of a slight opportunity.

    “I can’t go deep into that,” Eberts said. “There was a commotion between the suspect and occupants in the apartment and she had an opportunity to get out, and she took advantage of the opportunity.”

    Officials at The Villas called police and Farrah was eventually brought to the Ypsilanti Police Department, where she was interviewed about the incident. She was treated at a hospital for a sprained ankle and was back home Monday evening, family members said.

    Farrah was assaulted during the abduction and injured her ankle, but otherwise escaped major injury, Eberts said.

    Speaking outside the Ypsilanti Police Department Monday afternoon, Sam Cook said “it was just a burden lifted” when the news came to them that his daughter escaped and was safe.

    “We’re just happy she’s alive,” he said.

    Family members and neighbors declined to comment further on the incident at Hamilton Crossing Monday evening.

    An ongoing search

    As of Tuesday morning, police did not have much information about Abston’s whereabouts.

    Gress said Abston has connections to Detroit and it’s believed he’s still in southeast Michigan. Police have not yet ID'd who the man was that initially pulled Farrah toward the Bonneville.

    Abston is described as 5-feet-11 inches tall, between 240 and 250 pounds. He was last seen wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, a white undershirt, dark pants and white shoes. Police said Monday he should be considered possibly armed and dangerous.

    The unidentified man believed to be involved in the abduction was last seen wearing a red and white checked shirt.

    Thumbnail image for unidmancookabduction.jpg

    Police believe this man worked with Abston to abduct Farrah Cook.

    Just after noon on Monday, police released Abston’s mugshot from a previous arrest. Eberts said he’s not aware of Abston’s criminal history but court records show he has a previous case in Wayne County. About 4:30 p.m., Ypsilanti police released still shot images of the suspects from security cameras at Hamilton Crossing.

    Police initially said an unknown woman was believed to be an accomplice in the abduction. Eberts said Tuesday that Abston and the unidentified man are the only people wanted by police.

    “It looks to us that it was just the two males,” Eberts said.

    Gress said police searched “three or four” different locations for Abston since the investigation began. There was a police search in the area near The Villas Monday afternoon. The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the search, Fox said.

    “He knows we’re looking for him,” Gress said.

    Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Abston or the two suspected accomplices are encouraged to call the Ypsilanti police Detective Sgt. Thomas Eberts at 734-482-9878 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK UP (773-2587).

    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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    A third Ypsilanti Public Schools administrator has been named a finalist in an in-state superintendent search.


    Ypsilanti Assistant Superintendent of Educational Quality Jennifer Martin delivers a presentation to the school board in this AnnArbor.com file photo.

    Danielle Arndt | AnnArbor.com

    Assistant Superintendent of Educational Quality Jennifer Martin was one of four candidates to interview for the superintendent's position at Romulus Community Schools May 1-2, according to an April 25 article in The Eagle.

    The other three candidates, the newspaper reported, are Paula Daniels, current Romulus interim superintendent; Deborach Hunter-Harvill, superintendent of the Buena Vista School District outside of Saginaw; and Charles Muncatchy, a former educational entrepreneur with the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a charter high school near Detroit.

    Ypsilanti Public Schools hired Martin prior to the 2010-11 academic year. Martin previously worked as an administrator at Joy Middle School in Detroit, Oak Park Preparatory Academy and Detroit Technology High School

    The next Romulus Board of Education meeting is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 18.

    Martin is the third Ypsilanti Public Schools administrator to be named a finalist in a superintendent search. The district's merger with Willow Run Community Schools has made many employees look for new jobs due to employment uncertainty with the new district.

    Superintendent Dedrick Martin is a superintendent finalist in St. Johns Public Schools and Executive Director of Facilities and Operations Scott Snyder is a superintendent finalist in Monroe Public Schools.

    Ypsilanti's executive director of human resources, Sharon Irvine, also accepted a new position in March as assistant superintendent and chief human resource officer for Warren Consolidated Schools.

    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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    As the trees and flowers bloom with the rising temperatures of spring, we also welcome the annual day when we all pause to recognize the mothers in our lives.


    A mother leads her daughter by the hand at an Earth Day celebration in April, 2013.

    AnnArbor.com I Daniel Brenner

    This year at AnnArbor.com and MLive we're looking to celebrate motherhood with our readers by collecting "lessons from mom" to feature here on the site and in print. Perhaps it was a lesson about your perspective on life, a specific tip that you still use every day or even something you've passed on to your own children.

    Share your responses as well as any photo of your mom using the form below. Please submit your lesson and photo of your mother by noon, Saturday, May 11 to be included in the gallery. Please limit responses to 75 words.

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    Finding a mascot and a logo the community as a whole can embrace is proving to be difficult for Milan Area Schools, according to a report in the Milan News-Leader.


    A simple black and red "Big Reds" flag flew over the football field at Milan High School during a football game Oct. 12. The district is redesigning its logo and mascot, which previously was a Native American chief.

    Courtney Sacco | AnnArbor.com file photo

    Last year, the school district decided to drop all Native American imagery while keeping its "Big Reds" name. Then in January, the school board voted to have the district's new mascot image be a hawk.

    A logo that consists of a block "M" with hawk eyes and a beak was drawn by a local artist and selected from a pool of 116 possible logo submissions, the News-Leader reported.

    Superintendent Bryan Girbach said in the newspaper, some people were confused by the hawk "M" drawing and may have had a traditional image of a hawk in mind.

    The News-Leader reported the district will extend its deadline for developing a new mascot and logo and will allow the committee heading up the rebranding to reconvene and brainstorm more hawk images.

    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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    A 26-year-old Ann Arbor man is held in the Washtenaw County Jail on a $100,000 bond after police say he strangled a woman during a domestic violence incident Saturday.

    Eric Hartwell was arraigned on a charge of assault by strangulation Monday morning, according to court records. He was given a $100,000 cash bond, records show.

    Ann Arbor police Lt. Renee Bush said a 911 call came in at 10:49 p.m. Saturday alleging that Hartwell choked a woman. Bush would not release more details about the incident because it is a domestic assault.

    It’s not clear how badly the woman was injured.

    Hartwell will return to court for a preliminary exam at 8:30 a.m. on May 16 at the 14A-1 District Court in Pittsfield Township, records show.

    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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    Luxury high-rises are sprouting up like weeds in downtown Ann Arbor, so it may come as a surprise to some that the city is apparently one of the cheapest places in America to move after college. Appearing on yet another “top 10” list, Ann Arbor came in at No. 8 on Complex’s guide for thrifty recent college graduates which was headlined by No. 1 Spokane, Wash.


    Rents are going up for University of Michigan students living in newly constructed high-rises, but one publication believes that rents for college graduates in Ann Arbor are entirely reasonable.

    Melanie Maxwell I AnnArbor.com

    According to the pop-culture website, typical monthly rent for one bedroom outside of the “city center” costs about $600. The costs for utilities, public transportation and “annual income needed for a living wage before taxes” (estimated at $19,738 for Ann Arbor) were also factored into the decision process. Midwestern hubs Dayton, Pittsburgh and St. Louis were Nos. 2, 3 and 4 respectively, with Austin, Texas and Memphis the only southern cities to make the list.

    Ann Arbor’s rent was in the middle of the pack for the list, but the estimated $100.64 for utilities was the cheapest of the ten chosen cities. Complex also explicitly cites Ann Arbor’s frequent appearance on other top lists as one of its major draws, giving credence to the Kellie Woodhouse Snowball Theory of “Best Of” Lists expounded upon here.

    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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    The Arena Tuesday afternoon at 4th Avenue and Washington Street in Ann Arbor. The Ann Arbor City Council removed its objection to the establishment's liquor license renewal Monday.

    Amy Biolchini | AnnArbor.com

    The libations won't stop for downtown Ann Arbor sports bar The Arena after the city removed its objection Monday to the establishment’s liquor license renewal.

    The Ann Arbor City Council voted unanimously Monday night to remove the objection and to recommend that the Michigan Liquor Control Commission approve The Arena’s application for renewal.

    The action comes after the bar paid its outstanding debt to the city by April 30 following threats by the city to hold its liquor license in escrow for a year.

    The city claimed The Arena failed to pay about $7,000 in 2011 personal property taxes as well as about $1,660 in a 2011 default judgment to the 15th Judicial District Court.

    In March, the council had filed a recommendation to object to the renewal of The Arena’s liquor license and to file a formal objection on the matter to the MLCC.

    Mike Flore, owner of The Arena, said Tuesday that he understood the city's emphasis on collecting its tax dollars.

    "The personal property tax was an oversight on my part," Flore said.

    The default judgement was a result of a six-year-old invoice that Flore said the city had given him for 26 hours of overtime that two officers spent outside of an outdoor party The Arena held in 2007.

    When Flore approached then-Ann Arbor Police Chief Barnett Jones, he told Flore that the invoice was a suggestion and that payment was not required, Flore said.

    With that advice, Flore said he didn't pay the invoice.

    Three years later, Flore said he got a bill from the city again for the officers' overtime -- and called the city attorney's office to clarify the situation.

    "I’m the only outside venue that has been charged for police to show up at your outside venue and babysit," Flore said, explaining his argument to the city attorney's office.

    Flore said the city attorney's office told him that they would not be pursuing payment of the invoice. With that knowledge, Flore said he didn't go to the hearing on the issue because it was his understanding that it had been dropped.

    Because he did not appear, Flore was charged with the $1,660 default judgement -- which he said he begrudgingly paid because he wanted to keep his liquor license.

    The vote to remove the objection to The Arena's liquor license renewal is the last item of council business pertaining to liquor licenses in Ann Arbor establishments this year, said Council Member Jane Lumm, who sits on the Council Liquor License Review Committee.

    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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    A lot of people in their 30s and 40s are still on the education train.

    A University of Michigan study finds that 48 percent of an estimated 80 million GenXers are enrolled in continuing education courses or training necessary for certifications.

    More than one in every 10 are enrolled in classes to continue formal educations

    Generation X is usually defined as including people born between 1965 and 1976.

    The findings show that 1.8 million GenXers are studying to earn associate degrees, 1.7 million are seeking bachelor's degrees and nearly 2 million are taking courses to earn advanced degrees.

    In fall 2012, 1,166 students at U-M were 35 or older, and just 90 of those students were pursuing undergraduate degrees. U-M's total student body is 43,426.

    According to Miller, just more than 40 percent of GenXers have earned a bachelor's degree, with those living in cities or suburbs more likely to have a degree than those living in small towns or rural areas.

    The study also found that GenXers have earned graduate and professional degrees at a higher rate than any previous generation. By 2011, two decades after finishing high school, 22 percent of those surveyed had completed at least one advanced degree.

    "This is an impressive level of engagement in lifelong learning," U-M researcher Jon D. Miller said in a release. "It reflects the changing realities of a global economy, driven by science and technology."

    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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    Travis Applewhite

    Washtenaw County Jail

    A 27-year-old Ypsilanti Township man was charged with criminal sexual conduct Tuesday for an assault on someone under the age of 13 that occurred at a residence in Ann Arbor on March 22.

    Travis Applewhite was arraigned on one charge of second-degree CSC in the 14A-1 District Court via video from the Washtenaw County Jail Tuesday.

    Magistrate Thomas Truesdell said the second-degree criminal sexual conduct charge is a felony with a 15-year prison maximum.

    Applewhite told Truesdell he has never been convicted of a felony and doesn’t have any other charges pending against him. Trusedell appointed Applewhite a public defender and set a preliminary examination date of May 16.

    Applewhite was given a 10 percent of $5,000 bond, which means he could get out of jail by paying $500.

    Ann Arbor police could not be reached for comment.

    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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    Robbie Risdon is in her first year coaching the Huron girls tennis team, so her historical knowledge of the Pioneer rivalry is thin.

    But in the days leading up to the match against Pioneer, she got a loud and clear message about the importance of beating the crosstown rivals, in the form or e-mails from her players’ parents.

    “They were letting me know that none of the seniors had ever beaten Pioneer,” Risdon said.

    Tuesday afternoon, those seniors ended the streak with a 6-2 win over the Pioneers at Huron in an SEC match.

    More Coverage: Boxscore

    “It feels really good,” Huron senior Val Peng said. “I think we’ve been waiting to kind of prove ourselves for a while."

    The win marks the first time Huron has beaten Pioneer head-to-head in at least 12 years. The River Rats are now 5-0 in league play and on the verge of winning the SEC Red outright.

    “We got beat by a better team today and that’s all I’m going to say,” Pioneer coach Tom “Brick” Pullen said, declining further comment.

    Huron’s win comes after the two teams tied during last year’s regular season matchup, 4-4. In that match, Huron swept all four singles flights, while Pioneer won all four doubles.

    On Tuesday, Huron swept the singles portion, dropping only 12 games and no sets in the four matches with the same lineup it had last year.

    “They’re very strong from 1-4,” Risdon said of her singles lineup. “They’re solid all the way through.”

    But where the match turned was in the doubles, where Huron’s No. 1 doubles teams of Peng and Michi Ota and it’s No. 2 doubles team of Laura Hanselman and Hana Ljungman notched wins against a talented Pioneer lineup.

    “I think based off last year, our singles lineup was the same, they’re all extremely good at tennis,” Peng said. “I think today was a good chance for doubles to come out strong.”

    Both the Huron No. 1 doubles team of Peng and Ota and the No. 2 doubles team of Hanselman and Ljungman are made up of one senior and one freshman. It’s a unique combination, but one that has worked well for the River Rats so far.

    “They work so well together,” Risdon said. “At tryouts, trying to come up with the combinations you could just tell that they had confidence in each other, both at No. 1 and 2 doubles.”

    Peng and Ota went up 5-4 in the second set, and took the match-clinching game by coming back from down 40-15. The duo’s win came after the four Huron singles matches had wrapped up their wins.

    The Huron players nearby recognized the significance of the No. 1 doubles win, and immediately mobbed Peng and Ota in celebration.

    A few minutes later, though, Peng was focusing on the future. Last year, Huron won its first regional in more than a decade, and the senior said the team “got ahead of ourselves” after that. She’s determined not to let that happen this year.

    “It’s just the mentality of never being done,” Peng said. “Beating Pioneer feels really good, but we know we just have to come out next week and play just as well.”

    But with wins over the top Wasthenaw County teams under their belt heading into regionals next week, then SEC championships and state championships, the River Rats couldn’t be in a better place.

    “I’m feeling really good,” Risdon said. “After the victory we had at Saline and the victory that we just had against Pioneer, it feels really good. It makes you feel more confident going into regionals, definitely.”

    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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    Voters in Milan, Chelsea and Dexter school districts each renewed millages that supply a critical source of funding for their respective districts’ operational budget.

    According to unofficial results from the Washtenaw County Clerk’s office, voters in Milan approved renewing their millage by a margin of 474 to 128, or 72.7 percent to 27.3 percent.

    Residents in the Chelsea School District approved renewal of the millage by a margin of 1,133 to 442, or 71.94 percent to 28.06 percent.

    Voters in Dexter Community Schools’ approved renewal of their millage by a vote of 1,450 to 588, or 71.15 percent to 28.85 percent. They also approved a “cushion” millage by a margin of 1,372 to 655, according to the Washtenaw County Clerk's Office.

    If voters had rejected the millages, the school districts would have had to make up the funding without help from the state. The money accounts for between 10 and 14 percent of the districts’ operational budgets.

    “It’s a small piece of the operational budget, but a small piece that means a lot,” said Milan Area Schools Board President Chuck Bushart.

    “As the state struggles, public education is one of the insinuations that has suffered. So to have this millage means we continue to give our kids what they deserve.

    “If it didn’t pass, a lot of schools would have had to scratch their heads and say ‘What do we sacrifice and what do we take away from kids and teachers?'”

    In Milan, voters were asked to renew a millage of 17.94 mills for 20 years from 2014-2033. The millage is expected to generate about $2 million per year, about 10 percent of the district’s budget.

    In Chelsea, voters approved a millage of 19.51 mills, including the 18 mills recommended by the state to receive full funding plus 1.51 mills to offset any “Headlee rollback.” The rollbacks occur when tax rates are reduced because property values are increasing faster than the rate of inflation. The inclusion of the additional 1.51 mills would allow the district to override the amendment to capture any lost funds.

    The millage will renew 16.78 mills for seven years for 2014 through 2020 and an additional 2.83 mills for six years, from 2015 through 2020. It is expected to generate $3.5 million in its first year, about 14 percent of the school's budget.

    Dexter Community Schools asked voters to pass two proposals. The first will reauthorize 18 mills, and the second will add a 3-mill “cushion” to offset a Headlee rollback. Both will be in place for 20 years from 2014 through 2033. The proposals are expected to generate $4.17 million in their first year, or about 13 percent of the district's budget.

    The millages will be levied on non-homestead property, including industrial, commercial and some agriculture property, as well as “second homes,” but does not tax a family’s primary residence.

    Dexter Community Schools President Larry Cobler said the millages are important because it is a stable source of funding in a state where uncertainty in funding has a significant impact on districts' abilities to plan.

    "This is a statement that our local citizens are making that they want to support education in our communities, and I hope it’s a pretty loud message to the state that it's important to them," he said. "It appears it's not as important to legislators, so maybe they need to pay attention."

    Bushart said he has heard from speaking to those in education that community support for public schools is strong and the wide margins by which the millages were approved is evidence of that.

    “It’s great to hear that community support is still strong and that’s what it comes down to; people still care about education, the community, kids and supporting them,” he said.

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    The village of Dexter will continue on the path toward cityhood.

    According to unofficial results from the Washtenaw County Clerk’s Office, voters Tuesday approved a yes or no question about continuing the seven-year-old process by a margin of 460 to 408, or 53 percent to 47 percent.

    Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for ELECTION_polling.jpg

    Dexter voters on Tuesday approved continuing the cityhood process.

    The vote is the first time residents there have had the chance to express their preference on the cityhood process through an election.

    Village Council President Shawn Keough said the results shows residents are open-minded and feel it’s worthwhile to continue to exploring cityhood.

    “I am very thankful there were enough voters throughout the village that saw the merits of evaluating cityhood,” Keough said. “Over the next year or so, I look forward to electing a charter commission and working with the public to draft a charter for all residents to consider.”

    “People who I saw today came out because they felt it’s important to support the process and a lot are sold on cityhood being a good thing,” he added.

    The next step is for residents to elect a Charter Commission, a nine-member group that will write the governing document for the new city. That election could take place as soon as November 2013, which means those who wish to be a part of it would have to declare their candidacy by August.

    That draft must then be approved by the Michigan Attorney General, after which voters in Dexter would vote on whether to accept the document. If Dexter voters approve it, the village would officially become a city.

    Jim Smith, who formed the Committee to Keep Dexter a Village, said he was disappointed with the results and wished there was higher turnout, but said he was proud of his team that assembled to educate voters on their stance on the issue.

    “We’ll just keep watching and see what comes up in the draft of the charter,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll be weighing in on that and we’ll see how things unfold as we go forward.”

    Residents in the Scio Township precinct voted against the measure by a margin of 373 to 336. But in the Webster Township precinct, where voter turnout was higher, the question was approved 124 to 35.

    Residents in Webster Township currently pay higher taxes than those in Scio Township. If Dexter became a city, Webster residents would see their taxes decrease by approximately 3 mills compared to approximately 1.5 mills for those in Scio.

    Cityhood proponents say the village of Dexter already provides its core services and it could reduce costs of paying for elections and assessing by $225,000 while eliminating a layer of government. Scio and Webster townships currently provide those services.

    Smith previously said remaining a village would help retain a small-town feel and sense of community. He said the village pays relatively little in taxes to the townships and government wouldn’t be as simplified as proponents suggest.

    Residents who spoke with AnnArbor.com a week prior to the vote expressed concerns that the cityhood would spur development. Several residents said they didn’t want Dexter to become another Ann Arbor and had not heard any clear reason to support cityhood.

    Other changes that would occur if Dexter becomes a city include that city residents will no longer be able to vote for township offices and ballot questions, and all personal property taxes will be collected by the city and then distributed appropriately to the schools, county, etc.

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

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    Skyline goalkeeper Tori Norris had four saves Tuesday night.

    AnnArbor.com file photo

    Girls Soccer

    Skyline 1, Saline 1
    Story | Boxscore

    Skyline’s Cienna Rael-Whitsitt scored a goal assisted by Shelby Wyatt in the second half, and Tori Norris made four saves in the 1-1 tie. Saline's goal was the first scored on Skyline since a 1-0 loss to top-ranked Plymouth in the season opener

    “Cienna took a good shot that bounced off the defender, and then went up high, just under the crossbar,” Skyline coach Chris Morgan said. “It was a good build up, we just needed to finish another one.”

    After giving up one goal in the first half, Skyline shutout Saline in the second.

    “I was proud of their second half performance,” Morgan said. “We played to our potential. This is a small victory, but we will take it and move on.”

    Pioneer 6, Monroe 0
    Story | Boxscore

    Jenny Fichera’s hat trick led the Ann Arbor Pioneer girls soccer team in its third shutout of the season during the 6-0 win over host Monroe on Tuesday.

    Audrey Park, Sarah Starman, and Mackenzie Sapp scored one goal each for Pioneer, while Lena Katterman added two assists and Fichera added one.

    “We had a hard time scoring goals earlier in the season, so we’ve been practicing our ball movement,” Pioneer coach Chris Coleman said. “Today, we saw things come together in terms of moving the ball forward and players working together.

    Boys Lacrosse

    Holt 6, Pioneer 5
    Story | Boxscore

    The Holt boys lacrosse team scored two unanswered goals in the fourth quarter to defeat host Pioneer 6-5 on Tuesday. Pioneer opened the game with a 3-1 first quarter.

    Pioneer's Dylan Graham led the team with two goals, and Erik Barroso, Louis Marr, and Zach Weber each scored once.

    “We had a couple of lapses on defense in the fourth period and Holt took advantage of them with a pair of goals," Pioneer coach Smith Atwood said. "We had 10 penalties and they had zero; three of Holt’s six goals were on the man advantage, so we did get some stops."

    Madison Heights Bishop Foley 10, Father Gabriel Richard 9
    Story | Boxscore

    Gabriel Richard led 9-7 after the third quarter, but was shutout in the fourth quarter 3-0 as Bishop Foley was able to score the come from behind win.

    Gabriel Richard’s Tommy Jetton and Matt Johnson both scored three goals, Fidel Galano scored one goal and had an assist, and Ryan Preston made 17 saves.


    Pioneer 15, Skyline 5; Pioneer 8, Skyline 4
    Story | Boxscore

    Mackenzie Cole, Stina Perkins, Eileen Belden and Mikela Dean all had two hits on the day for Skyline.

    Pioneer improved to 10-8 overall and 6-1 in the Southeastern Conference (Red Division) after the sweep.

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    The University of Michigan and Michigan Technological University have earned high rankings for student participation in the Peace Corps.

    Thumbnail image for Legacy.Kennedy.Peace021510.jpg

    John F. Kennedy delivers the speech that launched the Peace Corps on the steps of the Michigan Union on Oct. 14, 1960.

    The University of Michigan ranks seventh nationally in the Paul D. Coverdell program, which provides returned Peace Corps volunteers with scholarships, internships and stipends to work on an advanced degree.

    For the eighth consecutive year, Michigan Tech ranks No. 1 nationally in the corps' Master International program, which allows students to use Peace Corps service as credit toward earning a graduate degree. Tech presently has 35 Master's International grad students.

    More than 120 graduates have earned degrees through the program since Michigan Tech began participating in 1995. The university in Houghton has eight graduate programs affiliated with the Peace Corps, more than any other institution.

    U-M, where the idea for the Peace Corps was first announced, also ranks high perennially in the number of graduates serving as volunteers in the Peace Corps.

    This year 93 U-M graduates are serving as Peace Corps volunteers, the organization said it February, making the school the fourth largest producer of corp volunteers. Last year it was No. 5, according to the Peace Corps.

    In an Oct. 14, 1960, speech outside the Michigan Union in Ann Arbor, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy challenged students to volunteer two years of their lives to help people in developing countries. In March 1961, shortly after assuming office, he signed the executive order creating the Peace Corps.

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    THRIFT19 4-4 AW.JPG

    The Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop, located at 2280 S. Industrial Hwy., is developing a plan for accepting targeted monetary donations from AAPS community members to support specific programs they want to see spared from the 2013-14 budget cuts.

    AnnArbor.com file photo

    Ann Arbor Public Schools families may have a way to fundraise and save the programs near and dear to their hearts sooner than they think.

    Targeted giving was a major focus of the final community budget forum held Tuesday night at Pioneer High School.

    The meeting was scheduled to take place from 7-8:30 p.m., but lasted about 45 minutes longer due to the large turnout and some developing fund-raising news from Ann Farnham, executive director of the Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop.


    Ann Farnham

    When targeted giving emerged as one of the most frequent feedback pieces from the nearly 130 parents, teachers and students' small group discussions on the budget Tuesday, Ann Arbor Superintendent Patricia Green put Farnham on the spot and asked her to share what she and others at the PTO Thrift Shop have been working on.

    Farnham said it is the thrift shop's desire to create a drop-down menu on its website that would link to PayPal and allow community members to donate as much or as little as they would like to fund any program or service that's important to them. Whether it be art, theater, music, transportation or athletics, the hope would be to generate enough money and support to save those programs from the chopping block or to at least diminish the impact to students, school officials said.

    The Ann Arbor Public Schools is facing a budget shortfall of $8.67 million for the 2013-14 academic year, and many painful cuts are on the table, including: closing the middle school pools; eliminating 80 employee positions, 53 of them teachers; eliminating high school transportation; and significantly cutting middle school sports.

    Farnham said generally, the PTO Thrift Shop prefers to leave the private gift-giving and major fundraising campaigns to the Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation. However, because deadlines for the foundation's grants have passed and the foundation also in a transition period and redefining itself under a new executive director who started in February, the thrift shop hopes to "get the ball rolling," she said.

    District spokeswoman Liz Margolis said the PTO Thrift Shop is very progressive and innovative when it comes to helping out the district and has the ability to perform a quick turnaround when approached with a specific need from the schools.

    "And Ann is just wonderful," Margolis said. "She's a real go-getter."

    Farnham expects there would be very little administrative/operating costs to the thrift shop for managing the targeted giving.

    "The button's already there," she said, referring the "donate" tab on the thrift shop's website that links to PayPal and a way for the community to contribute to the funds the shop gives the AAPS annually for PTOs, club sports, after-school enrichment opportunities, field trip busing and late busing at the middle schools.

    "We haven't found anything to impede us from doing this yet," Farnham said of the targeted giving.

    She said the targeted giving concept would have to be approved by the thrift shop's board of directors and the nonprofit organization would need some technical assistance setting up the PayPal drop-down menu that Farnham is envisioning on the website.

    Community members who attended Tuesday's budget forum asked whether as part of the targeted giving initiative if people could make donations toward the district's operational expenses, such as teachers and teacher salaries or books. Deputy Superintendent for Human Resources and Legal Services David Comsa said teacher salaries is unlikely, but he would have to look into the legality of accepting monetary donations for books and other operational costs.

    Equity was talked about at length at the budget forum. In particular, residents in attendance had concerns about inequities in per-pupil spending at Ann Arbor's four primary high schools. Parents, staff and students suggested making cuts that would distribute programs, opportunities and teachers more evenly among the schools.

    One parent, Nancy Kupina, said she is concerned about the inequities that would result from targeted giving. She said she could see how popular programs with many students and broad interest community-wide, such as theater or athletics, would be able to generate enough support to save it from the budget cuts. But a program like the Roberto Clemente Student Development Center, with a small student population, might not be able to. And "is that fair?" she asked.

    The concept of targeted giving will continue to be researched throughout the coming weeks, school officials said.

    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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    Ypsilanti police are searching for two men who beat a man as he was walking home after playing cards at his cousin’s house early Tuesday morning, Ypsilanti police said.

    Detective Sgt. Thomas Eberts said police responded at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday to the 400 block of North Washington Street for a report of an assault. The victim told police he didn’t know why the men attacked him.

    Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Ypsilanti_police_badge.jpg
    Eberts said the man was walking home on Hamilton Street when he noticed two men following him. The men continued to follow him as he made his way to North Washington Street, when he heard footsteps approaching quickly behind him.

    One of the men punched the victim several times in the side of the head, causing him to fall to the ground. The victim got up and started to run away, Eberts said, before he stopped and turned around to fight back.

    However, the second man ran toward the victim, leading him to reconsider fighting back, Eberts said. The victim ran to a nearby house and asked for help and the men fled north on North Washington Street, Eberts said.

    The first man is described as black, between 18 and 23 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall and with a thin but muscular build. He has a short afro, black T-shirt, black hooded sweatshirt and black sweatpants. The second man is described as black, between 5-feet-10 inches and 6-feet-1 inch tall, wearing a dark colored baseball cap with a red bill and red sweatpants.

    The victim did not require hospital treatment and suffered a scraped knee, redness around his right ear and slight swelling, Eberts said.

    Anyone with information on this incident is encouraged to call the Ypsilanti Police Department at 734-483-9510 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK UP (773-2587).

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

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