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

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    In its first game of the year, the Skyline girls soccer team fell to Plymouth, the No. 1 in Division 1, by a score of 1-0.

    It took nearly a month, but another team finally scored a goal on the Eagles. And as an impressive scoreless streak comes to an end, Skyline is ascending to the top of the AnnArbor.com girls soccer rankings.

    04232013_SPT_DexterHuron_Gi.JPG

    Dexter moves down to No. 2 in this week's rankings.

    Skyline tied Saline, 1-1 Tuesday night, to bring the Eagles’ record to 7-1-1, with just two goals against on the season.

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

    But the game that earned them the No. 1 spot came last Thursday, when the Eagles topped previous No.1 Dexter, 3-0. All three of Skyline’s goals came after halftime.

    The Eagles got through the toughest portion of their league schedule with a win and a tie, and have the inside track toward a league title.

    The Dreadnaughts remain in second place for now, but will face off against Saline Thursday in another game that could shake up the standings.

    Girls Soccer

    1. Skyline: Tori Norris had four saves Tuesday night as the Eagles defense stayed strong.

    2. Dexter: The Dreadnaughts have won two straight by a combined score of 5-1 since their Skyline loss.

    3. Saline: After a 4-5 start to the season against tough competition, the Hornets are 3-0-1 in their last four.

    4. Huron: The River Rats are faring well in the SEC, but dropped a close game to state-ranked Livonia Ladywood Saturday.

    5. Father Gabriel Richard: The Irish are ranked No. 9 in Division 3 and face Dearborn Divine Child Thursday.

    Baseball

    skyline-baseball-generic-shot-04222013.JPG

    Skyline sophomore Brody Stevens celebrates with teammate Justin Woods against Chelsea earlier this season.

    Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com file

    1. Saline: A Thursday sweep of Skyline helps the Hornets stay atop the rankings.

    2. Skyline: Besides being swept by Saline, the Eagles are perfect in the SEC and 13-3 overall.

    3. Huron: The Rats lost big at home to Temperance Bedford on Thursday, but are still alive in the SEC Red hunt.

    4. Dexter: The Dreadnaughts split with Salem and Saline to finish out last week.

    5. Father Gabriel Richard: The Irish finished their CHSL league slate at 8-8 with a Tuesday sweep over Macomb Lutheran North.

    Softball

    1. Saline: The Hornets dispatched the best team on the other side of the SEC Monday, Dexter, to improve to 17-1.

    2. Dexter: The Dreadnaughts may have been swept by Saline Monday, but they’ve rolled through nearly everyone else en route to a 14-4 record.

    3. Chelsea: The Bulldogs have won 3-of-4 since being swept at Saline last week, but are jumped by the Dreadnaughts in this week’s rankings.

    4. Lincoln: The AnnArbor.com Team of the Week easily dispatched Skyline Monday, but had a tough matchup with Dexter Wednesday and a Saline doubleheader Thursday.

    5. Manchester: The Lady Dutch were unbeaten in the Cascades until a Monday sweep at the hands of Grass Lake.

    Boys Track

    050313_Golden_Triangle_trac.JPG

    Pioneer's Cole Taylor runs in the Golden Triangle last Friday.

    Courtney Sacco | AnnArbor.com file photo

    1. Saline: The Hornets showed off their depth with a first and two seconds in relays at the Golden Triangle.

    2. Chelsea: The Bulldogs won the Stockbridge invitational while their top sprinter, Berkley Edwards, won the 100-meter dash at the Golden Triangle.

    3. Pioneer: Lucas Arrivo and Costa Willets provide a potent distance duo for the Pioneers.

    4. Lincoln: Tyree Waller continues to dominate among area long jumpers, leaping 23-feet, 6.5 inches Tuesday against Ypsilanti.

    5. Ypsilanti: The Phoenix showed off some of the area’s top sprinting talent Friday, led by Malik Peacock.

    Girls Track

    1. Saline: The Hornets put another unbeaten SEC season in the books with a Tuesday win over Skyline

    2. Pioneer: Three Pioneers have turned in 100 times of 12.84 seconds or faster.

    3. Chelsea: The Bulldogs finished as runners-up Friday in Stockbridge and completed an unbeaten SEC slate Tuesday.

    4. Huron: Kennedy Beazley has turned in the area’s top 800- and 1,600-meter times this year.

    5. Ypsilanti: Endia Francois is a state title contender in the 200 and has turned in strong 400 times as well.

    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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    Editor's note: This article has been updated with additional information from police.

    An Ypsilanti man died and a woman was injured in a rollover crash on Interstate 94 near Stone School Road in Ann Arbor early Thursday morning, officials said.

    Jeffrey Jerome Robinson, 22 of Ypsilanti, died after being thrown out the rear window of the 2007 Ford Focus he was driving east on Interstate 94, said Sgt. Chris Pascoe of the Michigan State Police. Robinson lost control of the vehicle and it rolled over in the eastbound lanes just west of Platt Road about 2:30 a.m., Pascoe said. Robinson was pronounced dead at the scene.

    Huron Valley Ambulance paramedics took his passenger, a 21-year-old Ypsilanti woman, to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Superior Township. She was in stable condition Thursday morning, Pascoe said.

    State Police continue to investigate the crash. It’s not clear what caused Robinson to lose control of the car, Pascoe said.

    Alcohol is suspected of contributing to the crash, state police said in a news release. Police also said "lack of seatbelt use" is suspected of contributing to the death of the driver.


    View Crash 050913 in a larger map


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    tex-xiao-pioneer-boys-golf-050113.jpeg

    Pioneer's Ted Xiao shot a 40 Wednesday against Huron.

    Courtney Sacco | AnnArbor.com file

    Boy's Golf

    Huron’s Danny Langa and Reid McCallister each shot 1-over-par 37s at Leslie Park Golf Course, leading their team to a 153-164 win over Pioneer on Wednesday.

    “We are getting a little bit better every time we go out, and this is the first time we’ve had three scores in the 30s,” Huron coach Dee Drake said.

    Guy Frydenlund shot a 39, and Nick Barlington had a 40. Huron improved to 8-0 overall, and 7-0 in the Southeast Conference Red.

    Ted Xiao led Pioneer with a 4-over-par 40, and Davis Argersinger and Matthew Faunce each shot a 41. Sam Kidd had a 42.

    Softball

    Dexter 6, Lincoln 5; Lincoln 8, Dexter 4
    Story | Boxscore

    Dexter’s Aubree Whitley hit a sacrifice fly to score Brooke Lupi in the bottom of the seventh inning. Taylor Pasamani hit a three-run home run.

    “Taylor just hit a bullet,” Dexter coach Mark Whitley said. “They left it over the dish and she hit a bullet. Her bat is really hot right now.”

    Dexter’s Tasha Drinkard recorded six strikeouts pitching a complete game, while Lincoln’s Emily Eickhoff allowed six runs on 12 hits.

    Lincoln won Game 2 8-4, as Brooke Snyder pitched a complete game, allowing two runs on seven hits while recording two strikeouts.

    Arielle Matthews led Lincoln with four hits and two RBIs, and Kiley Lafferty and Jessica Sanchez each recorded three hits.

    Milan 5, Riverview 4
    Story | Boxscore

    Milan’s Jade Sykes pitched a complete game and threw seven strikeouts in a 5-4 win against host Riverview in softball Wednesday.

    Miranda Kush had two singles, and Courtney Craig had two RBIs.

    Milan scored three runs in the first inning and added two runs in the third.

    “We’ve been struggling this season, and we had a great game today,” Milan co-coach Jen Johnson said. “We came out with three runs, which was great.”

    Boys Lacrosse

    Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett 5, Greeenhills 3
    Story | Boxscore

    Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett scored three goals in a two-minute stretch in the first half and held on to defeat the visiting Ann Arbor Greenhills team 5-3 on Wednesday.

    “It was one of those frustrating games,” Greenhills coach Mike Costello said. “They played a good, solid defense and we couldn’t really dodge that well.”

    John Lazarsfeld scored all three of Greenhills’ goals, and Peter Paisley made 10 saves.

    Kyle Austin covers sports for AnnArbor.com.


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    Pittsfield_fire_training.JPG

    Firefighters burned this barn as part of a training exercise in Pittsfield Township Thursday.

    Kyle Feldscher | AnnArbor.com

    Update: Firefighters: Training on nearly out-of-control barn fire 'extremely valuable' (with photo gallery and video)

    Black smoke billowed into the sky Thursday morning as firefighters conducted a training exercise south of Ann Arbor.

    The firefighters burned a barn and trained with fire in an open field in the 6700 block of Warner Road in Pittsfield Township. The exercise was expected to run until 2 p.m. Thursday.


    View Larger Map


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    dsc_2800.jpg

    Pioneer boys and girls lacrosse players face off against one another Friday.

    Courtesy of Jeff Terrell

    The Pioneer and Skyline boys and girls lacrosse teams raised $5,000 for the Vada Murray Fund for Cancer Research during a pair of fundraising games last Friday.

    The two schools held intrasquad games between its boys and girls teams and raised money by selling tickets and t-shirts.

    Murray was a former Michigan football player and longtime Ann Arbor police officer who died in 2011 from lung cancer. Money raised through the Vada Murray fund goes toward funding cancer researchers at the University of Michigan.

    Murray’s widow, Sarah Murray, and Ann Arbor Police Chief John Seto were present at the games and served as guest coaches. Both games featured brothers and sisters taking faceoffs against one another

    The Skyline men won 5-4 in overtime, and the Pioneer women won 9-7.

    The Vada Murray fund is also in the preliminary stages of organizing an Ann Arbor City Tournament for high school lacrosse next season at Michigan Stadium. The event would feature the boys and girls teams from Pioneer, Skyline, Huron and Father Gabriel Richard, and precede a University of Michigan game.


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    09112012_NEWS_Smoking_Ban_D.JPG

    U-M facilities, grounds and buildings went smoke free July 1, 2011.

    Daniel Brenner I AnnArbor.com

    Two years after banning smoking on campus, cigarettes are apparently losing their popularity on University of Michigan's campus.

    The Michigan Daily reports that a survey of 2,022 students and 2,405 faculty and staff, conducted by U-M officials, found that most respondents supported the ban.

    U-M facilities, grounds and buildings went smoke free July 1, 2011.

    According to the survey, 82.7 percent of students and 88.8 percent of faculty and staff said they supported a smoke-free campus. Seventy-two percent of faculty and 65 percent of students said they noticed a decrease in smoking on campus over the past two years.

    Read the full Daily article.

    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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    colwellschuhsngyuen.jpg

    Jeffrey Arthur Schuh, Jeffrey Aron Schuh, Quang Nguyen and Steven Colwell.

    Courtesy of the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office

    The four men who went on a self-described "crime spree" in Ann Arbor and western Washtenaw County last summer, ransacking and stealing from several homes, have all been sentenced to prison as of Wednesday.

    Dexter residents Jeffrey Aron Schuh, 21, and his father Jeffrey Arthur Schuh, 54, and Steven Colwell, 26, of Lima Township, were sentenced Wednesday in the Washtenaw County Trial Court. Another member of the foursome was sentenced April 25.

    Jeffrey Aron Schuh was the first to face Judge Archie Brown Wednesday. Brown sentenced the younger Schuh to 4 to 15 years in prison and ordered him to pay $106,839 in restitution to the victims and their insurance companies.

    Payment of restitution is shared jointly among all four defendants.

    Jeffrey Aron Schuh told the judge that he's not the same person who committed the break-ins.

    "I'm not the monster the paperwork makes me out to be. I understand the depths of what happened," he said, adding the houses or people were never "targeted specifically."

    He also told the judge that it was Colwell who got 19-year-old Quang Nguyen involved. Nguyen — known by the alias Aiden — in turn got the Schuhs involved. Nguyen, of Ypsilanti Township, was sentenced April 25 to 4-15 years in a state prison and ordered to pay the restitution as well.

    Jeffrey Aron Schuh said he took the bait because he grew up poor and saw an opportunity.

    "I took a shortcut," he said about what he called a "20-day crime spree."

    Assistant Washtenaw County Prosecutor Dianna Collins said the younger Schuh deserves every day he will be locked up, citing the fact his DNA linked him to toilets of homes the group broke into. Prosecutors said the younger Schuh defecated in the toilets and didn't flush them as a sort of calling card.

    "Some of these homes were destroyed," Collins said. "He's deserving of every day of his four-year minimum sentence."

    Brown followed the sentencing agreement that was struck during the plea deal.

    "They suffered a variety of damages," Brown said about the victims. "You invaded their homes ... their sanctity, their peace."

    The judge also followed the agreements with both Jeffrey Arthur Schuh and Colwell, who got a lesser sentence for testifying against the three other men.

    While addressing the court, Jeffrey Arthur Schuh said he was dismayed at himself for not being more responsible when the three younger men approached him and asked him if he wanted to ride along on three of the nine break-ins.

    "I should have talked them out of it," he said. "I should have been a better father figure."

    The elder Schuh was sentenced to 3 to 15 years in prison and ordered to pay restitution for the cases he was involved in, which amounted to $45,266.

    Colwell received a reduced sentencing for cooperating with police and the prosecution. He testified against his three partners in crime at the preliminary examination, where he went into details about the crew's methods and what they stole. His attorney, Assistant Washtenaw County Public Defender Laura Dudley, said Colwell was mostly involved to satiate his appetite for hard drugs.

    "I think deep down, there's a good kid in there," she said.

    Colwell was sentenced to 2 to 15 years in prison and ordered to pay the full restitution with the younger Schuh and Nguyen.

    "The cocaine and heroin was a big problem in my life," he said, adding that it drove him to do things he never thought he'd do.

    The four broke into a total of nine houses in Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor Township, Scio Township, Webster Township and Dexter Township, according to Colwell's testimony. He said the elder Schuh functioned as a lookout on three of the jobs. The foursome stole a wide range of items, including foreign coins, two-dollar bills, equestrian trophies, jewelry, silver goblets, electronics, cash, a guitar and custom-made brass bullets.

    Below is a map of all the homes the crew hit last summer.


    View Summer break-in map in a larger map

    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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    Ypsilanti City Manager Ralph Lange announced during the city's first budget session of the year that general fund revenues are projected to increase 7.25 percent.

    depottownphoto.jpg

    The city of Ypsilanti held its first budget meeting Tuesday.

    Steve Pepple | AnnArbor.com file photo

    Lange said Tuesday the city's revenues will increase from $13,252,090 in fiscal year 2012-13 to $14,212,047 in fiscal year 2013-14.

    "If it wasn’t for the Water Street debt, we would have a balanced budget," Lange said. "We’re going in the right direction. We're projecting the revenues will increase a million."

    The city owes $24,764,695 on the Water Street debt and to date, the city has paid $4.6 million of the debt. The payments, and interest rate, are expected to increase as the city continues to pay through 2031.

    The debt repayment schedule shows two payments are due each year and the first 2013 payment of $848,783.75 was due May 1 of this year. The next payment, $435,070, is due Nov. 1. Officials have discussed refinancing the total debt in the near future.

    However, Lange said the city has already rescheduled and reduced the interest on its Water Street related Community Development Block Grant program loan through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development from 4 percent to 2 percent in fiscal year 2012-13.

    "It's one of the things I'm most proud of," Lange said. "That gives us very critical breathing space."

    Lange noted the city has also been meticulous in its hiring. The city lost 18 employees between Jan. 1, 2012 and May 1, 2013 and only hired or rehired five individuals.

    Lange also said the city's housing and business markets are expected to continue improving over the next year.

    taxableassed.jpg

    The chart shows the projected taxable and assessed values of properties in the city of Ypsilanti.

    Courtesy City of Ypsilanti

    "The proposed fiscal year 2013-2014 budget is based upon the 2013 taxable value of $289,614,595, which is .38 percent lower than the fiscal year 2012-2013 taxable value," Lange wrote in the city's budget packet. "This decline is much less than that experienced each of the last five years and reflects the reported stabilization of the real estate market locally."

    According to Lange, property tax revenues for FY 2013-2014 are projected to be about $308,046 higher than originally projected due to an increase in the fire and police retirement millage from 7.403 mills in 2012-2013 to 8.9229 mills in 2013-2014.

    Council will have its second budget session Tuesday, May 14 and police Chief Amy Walker, fire Chief Max Anthouard, Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority Tim Colbeck, and Finance Director Marilou Uy will present their budgets.

    Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for AnnArbor.com.Reach her at katreasestafford@annarbor.com or 734-623-2548 and follow her on twitter.


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    012012_Locator_Balas_Admin_.JPG

    Unaffiliated employees from the Balas Administration Office will be taking a 3 percent pay cut for the 2013-14 academic year.

    AnnArbor.com file photo

    Editor's note: Additional information about the total number of employees who took the 3 percent cut has been added to this article.

    Ann Arbor Public Schools central administrators have agreed to a 3 percent pay cut for the 2013-14 academic year, equating to a savings of $114,290.

    The administrators who voluntarily decreased their pay include Superintendent Patricia Green's 10 cabinet members, executive secretaries and department directors.

    These are unaffiliated employees who are not part of a collective bargaining unit. The only exception is cabinet member and Director of Community Education and Recreation Jenna Bacolor, who is part of the Ann Arbor Administrators Association for principals, assistant principals and some directors.

    The salary reduction percentage for Bacolor is not confirmed yet, said district spokeswoman Liz Margolis, adding negotiations are ongoing with the Quad-A union.

    Green praised her staff briefly during the superintendent's update at Wednesday's Board of Education meeting. She thanked them for stepping up to the plate to help the district's budget situation. She also apologized for not making their concession known publicly sooner, as the administrators actually agreed to the cut "some time ago," she said.

    Figures provided by the district show the 3 percent reduction to Ann Arbor's two deputy superintendents and three assistant superintendents' salaries equate to a total savings of $41,966.

    Reductions to the directors' salaries totaled $35,291, and concessions made by the Balas Administration executive secretaries totaled $37,033.

    According to school officials, there are seven central administrators, 11 directors and the full-time equivalant of 16.8 executive secretaries and crew chiefs who are paid out of the general fund. So 34.8 central office employees in total took the 3 percent pay cut.

    Teachers, paraeducators and office professionals with the Ann Arbor Education Association agreed to a 3 percent pay cut in March. The reduction from the nearly 1,200 union members equated to a savings of approximately $3.4 million for the district.

    The Ann Arbor Public Schools needs to cut $8.67 million from its expenses to pass a balanced budget for 2013-14.

    Officials targeted salary cuts early on to help balance the budget. Every 1 percent across-the-board pay reduction for district staff was estimated to save AAPS $1.3 million. So if the AAAA also takes a 3 percent pay cut, the district could reduce expenses by $3.9 million.

    Other items on the chopping block this year are middle school pools, middle school sports, high school transportation and 80 employee positions, including 53 teachers.

    The salary reductions for the Ann Arbor Public Schools staff will take effect for the first paycheck in July.

    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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    Pittsfield Township firefighters got some intense training action Thursday morning as they worked to control a raging barn fire on Warner Road.

    Captain Jeff Foulke said the training exercise in the 6700 block of Warner Road was one of a few sessions the department gets per year working on a nearly out-of-control blaze. While the department has training on a regular basis, it’s not the same as practicing on a real fully engulfed building.

    Foulke said the five or six minutes where the barn went from slightly-burned-out-but-standing to being consumed by bright orange flames was the most important part of Thursday's training exercise.

    “That’s where the real value comes in,” he said.

    The barn was previously damaged during an arson in April 2011. Two teenagers were charged in the fire.

    Smoke from the training exercise could be seen for miles around the Ann Arbor area on a clear Thursday morning. Families that lived near the structure gathered to watch the barn and storage sheds nearby go up in flames.

    Foulke said the department was practicing what it would need to do if a firefighter were trapped inside a burning building, as well as getting familiar with an out-of-control fire. He said most of the blazes firefighters respond to are contained to small portions of homes and don’t cause total destruction like the barn blaze.

    Thinking about the training exercise kept Foulke up the night before the burn. He said he thought a lot about cancelling the exercise after a firefighter died in Westland during a fire at a commercial building Wednesday. However, he said it was important to go ahead with the burn, which had been planned for weeks.

    “We’re doing this out of respect for their department, not disrespect,” he said.

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


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    050813_Weather_MRM_02A.JPG

    Buds bloom a vibrant violet in Nichols Arboretum.

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

    Submit your photos of birds nesting, trees flowering or your family enjoying the warmth of spring and we'll feature it in our gallery Friday morning.

    To share you photo tag it with #a2photos in Instagram and Twitter or upload it using this form:


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    Two people were displaced Wednesday evening after a fire started by an electric dryer caused $50,000 in damage to their Augusta Township home.

    Augusta Township Fire Department Chief Vic Chevrette said firefighters went at 6:48 p.m. Wednesday to a home in the 11000 block of Bunton Road. Neighbors reported seeing heavy smoke coming from a home.

    The residents were not there and the fire was contained to the laundry room where it started, Chevrette said. There was smoke damage throughout the one-story ranch home, he said.

    Pittsfield Township firefighters provided mutual aid and Huron Valley Ambulance crews were also on scene. No one was injured.

    The American Red Cross provided shelter for the two people who live at the home, Chevrette said. The home did not sustain major damage beyond the living room and the roof above that room, he said.


    View Larger Map

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


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    saline-varsity-quad-regatta.jpg

    The Saline High School rowing team's varsity four-boat, from left to right, Sarah Buckeridge, Sarah Carter, Haley Pfeiffer and Gavin Gallagher, took first place at the Wy-Hi Regatta on Saturday, May 4.

    Photo courtesy of Pete Pfeiffer

    A week after winning its first-ever regatta, the Saline High School rowing team added a second trophy to its collection on Saturday, May 4.

    Competing in the Wyandotte Boat Club’s 2013 Wy-Hi Regatta on the Detroit River, the Hornets qualified 11-of-13 boats for the finals and had top three finishes in all the events entered.

    Saline had five first-place finishes including in four varsity races.

    On the girls side, Gavin Gallagher, Haley Pfeiffer, Sarah Carter and Sarah Buckeridge won the varsity quad race. For the boys, Jacob Hargrove and Ryan Wellings won the varsity double; while Nolan Dellot, Mike Torssell, Andrew Bonczyk and Oliver Mepham won the boys quad; and Sean Hutfles, Travis Krause, Ben Friman, Graham Fox and coxswain Jade Hoang won the lightweight 4 race.

    Saline won the the 49th annual Hebda Memorial Cup Regatta the previous weekend.

    Hole-in-one

    Milton Stemen, 69, of Manchester, shot a hole-in-one at Rustic Glen Golf Club in Saline on Thursday, May 2. Stemen, 69, shot the ace on the Par 3 tenth hole with his three-hybrid club. The pin was placed in the back on the uphill hole, making it a 195-yard shot. Witness to the shot was Rod Stemen, Milton’s son. It was Stemen’s first-ever hole-in-one.

    Nick Belanger Assist fund golf outing to help struggling youth

    nickbelanger.jpg

    Nick Belanger

    Courtesy of MLive

    The second annual Coach Nick Belanger Assist Fund Golf and Washer Outing will take place Friday, June 14 at Brookside Golf Course in Saline.

    Held in honor of Saline High School graduate and former Father Gabriel Richard assistant hockey coach Nick Belanger, who died of a heroin overdose in 2012 at the age of 26, the outing will serve as a fundraiser to help young people struggling with life challenges. Funds raised will also go toward assisting youth in educational or “activity-related” expenses through the Nick Belanger Memorial Fund.

    Further information can be found at The Coach Nick Belanger Assist Fund website.

    Jaeger-bomb

    University of Michigan junior swimmer Connor Jaeger was named the Detroit Atheltic Club’s Michigan Male College Athlete of the Year by the Detroit Athletic Club on Monday.

    Jaeger has had quite the year, representing the United States in the 2012 London Olympics during the summer then winning a pair of individual national championships for Michigan in March in leading the Wolverines to their 12th national title. Academics also factors into the decision and Jaeger, a mechanical engineering major, is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and a three-time recipient of the U-M Athletic Academic Achievement Award.

    Jaeger is the third University of Michigan athlete to win the award joining swimmer Davis Tarwater (2006) and wrestler Kellen Russell (2012).

    Have a local sports brief to tell us about? Contact us at sports@annarbor.com.

    Pete Cunningham covers sports for AnnArbor.com. Contact him at petercunningham@annarbor.com. Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.


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    jared-rutledge-michigan-hockey-RIT.JPG

    Michigan goaltender Jared Rutledge, above, will play with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL next year.

    Joseph Tobianski | AnnArbor.com file photo

    Goaltender Jared Rutledge won’t suit up for the Michigan hockey team next season. Whether he ever does again remains to be seen.

    Michigan coach Red Berenson confirmed on Thursday that Rutledge, who just completed his freshman year with the team, would spend the 2013-14 season playing for the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League, the top junior league in the United States.

    Rutledge - who turned 19 last month - has two years of remaining eligibility in the USHL. Junior players are not paid and therefore retain their amateur status. Under the NCAA’s 4-2-4 transfer rule, Rutledge is eligible to return to Michigan or transfer to any Division I school without penalty so long as he takes courses with a two-year institution and satisfies academic requirements of an NCAA athlete while playing in the USHL.

    “Jared Rutledge, after a year that maybe he didn’t live up to expectations, decided to explore his options and one of his options is to go back and play in the USHL for a year in junior hockey,” Berenson said on Thursday. “A number of goalies in our league we’ve seen do that and get a little more game experience and get their game in place.”

    Rutledge - who played in the USHL with the United States National Team Development Program before coming to Michigan - was selected by Green Bay in the fourth round of the USHL draft on Tuesday. Berenson didn’t rule out Rutledge returning to Michigan, but didn’t say it was part of the plan, either. The 4-2-4 rule leaves both options open.

    “It’s perfect for a kid like this, who really needs to get his game together before coming back into Division I,” Berenson said. “He’s really opened the door to a lot of options.”

    Tabbed as the starter at the beginning of the season, Rutledge started the year off on a bad note, needing eye surgery during the preseason. Rutledge still started the season opener only to give up three goals in his first third period and the game-winner in overtime. He was in a rotation the rest of the year, playing in 12 games and starting seven, as Michigan struggled. He ended the year with goals against average of 4.24, a save percentage of .854 and a record of 3-6.

    As Michigan struggled to a 10-18-2 record to begin last season, it rotated between Rutledge, Steve Racine and Adam Janecyk in net. Racine eventually solidified himself as the starter down the stretch, starting Michigan's final 10 games as the Wolverines went 8-1-1.

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


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    There hasn’t been much to complain about this year as the Saline softball team has steamrolled its way past nearly everyone on its schedule.

    But going into a doubleheader against Lincoln Thursday, coach Alicia Seegert singled out the seven, eight and nine portion in her lineup, one of the only areas her team has struggled in.

    Her team got the message: in the first game, the bottom third of Seegert’s lineup had six of the team’s 10 hits, drove in five runs and scored four in a 9-0 win over Lincoln.

    More Coverage: Game 1 Boxscore | Game 2 Boxscore

    “That’s just as important,” Seegert said of the bottom of her lineup. “So we’ve been focusing on the end too.”

    No. 7 hitter Alyssa Heren had three hits and two RBI, while No. 9 hitter Ashley Harmon had two hits and three RBI. Sophomore catcher Katie Alexander added a solo home run, and Sam Bruley had two hits.

    In the second game, Heren had another two RBI as the Hornets won the nightcap, 6-0.

    And on the mound, Kristina Zalewski was all but unhittable. The Michigan State-bound senior started both games, giving up just one hit in the first game and two hits in four innings of the second game.

    Laura Vaccaro relieved her in the second game, and gave up no hits in three innings.

    “They’re just totally different pitchers,” Seegert said. “Laura’s a movement pitcher of course, not as quick as Tinny. Tinny just throws heat. I don’t think there’s anybody in the state that wouldn’t like to have Tinny. It’s a blessing for us to have her.”

    Lincoln, our AnnArbor.com Team of the Week, was playing its fifth and sixth games in the last four days, after sweeping Skyline Monday and splitting with Dexter Wednesday.

    The team’s leadoff hitter Arielle Matthews had the flu, and still started both games before coach Wes Strickland took her out in the second. Left fielder Raven Lee was hobbled after taking a ball of her ankle.

    “We’re beat up a little bit,” Strickland said.

    To counter Zalewski, Strickland decided to go against conventional wisdom with his pitching lineup. Instead of starting hard-throwing junior Emily Eickhoff, who usually starts the first games of doubleheaders, he went with freshman Brooke Snyder, who throws more offspeed pitches.

    “Everybody always goes into playing them trying to throw their stud,” Strickland said. “I was hoping her offspeed junk would maybe catch them off a little bit.”

    The Hornets managed just one hit in the first, but piled on seven runs in the second and third to pull away.

    Eickhoff fared better in the second game, giving up six runs on seven hits.

    For the Hornets, the only blemish on the record remains a tournament final to Monroe last month, in a game lost on a play at the plate in the final inning.

    And as they close in on the end of their regular season schedule, the matchup circled on the schedule is Monday at Monroe, a potential district preview.

    “Next Monday’s going to be fun,” Seegert 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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    Rob Roy stars as King Henry II in A2CT's "The Lion in Winter."

    Photo by Tom Steppe

    If your family often drives you nuts during the holidays, consider this: at least daggers and adultery and scheming aren’t usually part of the equation.

    But these things are a significant part of the 12th century royal family Christmas gathering depicted in James Goldman’s comic drama, “The Lion in Winter,” now being staged by Ann Arbor Civic Theatre.

    Aging Henry II, King of England (Rob Roy), aims to make his youngest, whiny, favorite son John (Eli Tell) heir to the throne, but both the oldest son, Richard (Jarrod Cassar), a military hero, and overlooked, clever middle son Geoffrey (Anthony L. Morton), have their own designs on the crown.

    Richard has a champion in his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine (Laurie Atwood), whom Henry imprisoned in another castle after she took part in insurrections against him 10 years earlier. During this interim, Henry’s made a mistress of the young Alais (Anna Paone) - sister of Philip, King of France (Richard Graham) - despite the fact that she was intended for one of the sons, and that Eleanor essentially raised her from a young age.

    The hands-down star of the show is the script, which is packed with sharp, witty dialogue. The stakes of the story are high, but the tone is often darkly comic, making “Lion” a perfect combination of intrigue - with a dramatic question that drives the action and builds suspense - and humor. (“What shall we hang? The holly, or each other?” is just one of several great lines.)

    Plus, the play’s depiction of family is timeless, in that love somehow underlies all the dysfunction, and the dynamics - like Henry’s preference for John, who seems to have nothing to recommend him - don’t always make sense.

    Director Thom Johnson’s cast handles the material fairly well, for the most part, but the production’s best moments are the verbal showdowns between Henry and Eleanor. This is partly because their relationship is the one most fraught with friction, since they have the ultimate love/hate connection, but it’s also because Roy and Atwood serve up the strongest performances. They play off each other well, and Atwood in particular skillfully delivers some of the evening’s biggest laugh lines.

    The production’s energy flags a bit in the latter portion of the first act - which isn’t helped by a rather lengthy scene change for Philip’s chamber - but Johnson’s “Lion” otherwise moves at a good clip, clocking a running time (with intermission) of two hours and twenty minutes. Cathy Cassar’s set, along with Debra Golden’s props, are spare but suggestive enough to establish an appropriate sense of time and place; the same can be said of Nan Wirth’s costumes, which look regal and elegant without being fussy.

    One small quibble concerns the music used as connective tissue between scenes. It’s wholly appropriate in style and tone, but when the lights come up, the music suddenly stops (instead of fading out), and the effect is a bit jarring and distracting.

    Overall, though, A2CT’s “Lion” reminded me - since I hadn’t seen the film version in years - of the pleasures of Goldman’s masterfully written banter. Yes, the story may be set in the distant past, and the play itself premiered almost 50 years ago; but thanks to a timelessly funny script, the show manages to still feel fresh and fun. Despite its age, "Lion" hasn't lost its bite.

    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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    During her 17 years as an administrative assistant at Toyota’s Ann Arbor research and development office, Karen Reynolds raised three girls.

    But it was after her first was born in 1996 that she noticed a problem at the Ann Arbor office - she wanted to nurse her child, but there was no area or room to accommodate her.

    Reynolds was the first woman working at the office to have a child, so her boss said she could use her breast pump in a roped off stall in the bathroom, but she would have to take care of keeping the area clean because the janitorial staff didn’t want to deal with it.

    In January 2003, after raising her three children through infancy and using the bathroom at Toyota to breast feed, Reynolds was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer, and in 2007 she died at the age of 38, after a four year battle.

    But, because of Reynolds’ insistence on nursing her children and persistence in doing so despite the circumstances, the Ann Arbor office, and now Toyota offices around the country, are installing “mothering rooms” where mothers can go to breasts feed their child.

    The company recently asked Reynolds’ mother, Donna Renton, for pictures of Karen Reynolds’ three children; Noelle, Taylor and Kassidi. Those will hang on the wall with pictures of other children whose mothers work at Toyota and utilized the room.

    “It’s very humbling for our family,” Renton said. “This happened because of Karen wanting to do what she did and her desire to be a good mother who raised good kids.”

    A tribute written by a coworker to Reynolds hung on the wall of the mothering room called her a “pioneer for working mothers” and noted that there were no facilities at the time she had her babies.

    Reynolds.jpg

    Karen Reynolds' parents hold a photo of Karen at Toyota's office.

    Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com

    “Undaunted, Karen went to great lengths to create one…. She endured a lot in a mostly male working environment to make the choice to breastfeed. She was so completely dedicated to doing what was best and healthiest for her children that she did not let anything get in her way.”

    The tribute, from an engineering manager, continued that “mothering rooms” created throughout the company have made it easier for her and others to choose to breastfeed.

    “Breastfeeding is a very special bonding experience between a mother and a child, and I will always be grateful to Karen Reynolds for the bold choices she made before me that enabled me to have this experience,” it read.

    Reynolds learned she had cancer on her way to work, and Renton said the company was more than accommodating from day one as she fought the illness for four years.

    “She got sick and I cant believe how they treated her - fabulous. It was overwhelming,” Renton said.

    She said her daughter spent 17 years at the Toyota office in Ann Arbor and considered her coworkers her family away from home. Her passing had an impact on people not only at the Ann Arbor office but in the company’s highest levels.

    Upon learning Reynolds died, her boss called the family in tears and asked if he could give the eulogy. He was a practicing Muslim and had never been to a Christian funeral, but he said it was the only way he felt he could tell the world about who Reynolds was.

    Toyota’s president at the time even flew in for Reynolds’ funeral to pay his respects.

    The year after she passed away, Toyota held a 300-person luncheon in Reynolds’ memory, and asked Renton to speak.

    “People have asked us how have we cope and it’s called family,” Renton said. “Toyota was her family away from home. She gave 110-percent at work, and we did not know until then the number of people’s lives she touched.”

    Reynolds was known for driving an F-350 pick up truck, and when Toyota wanted to develop the Tundra to compete with Ford and General Motors, they flew her to California on several occasions to give a woman’s input on the vehicle.

    Reynolds lived with her husband and three kids in Sumpter Township and grew up in Van Buren Township, attending Belleville High School. The school recently added her to their “distinguished graduates” list for her work in helping bring mothering rooms to Toyota facilities.

    “Karen was 100 percent family,” Renton said. “Everything she did was for her family, even when she left us, she did it because she could no longer let her family suffer.”

    Reynolds’ daughters are now 13-, 15- and 16-years old, and attending Lincoln Schools. Tayler and Noelle Reynolds play soccer, and the team is held a special fundraiser for a local family battling cancer. Another player, Alexa Schrock, lost her mother to liver cancer, and the team raised over $1,000 selling shirts with a ribbon that's half pink and half green to represent breast and liver cancer.


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    Dorian Johnson

    Courtesy of WCSO

    The 22-year-old Detroit man who police said sliced open an Ann Arbor man last September will serve up to 10 years in prison, a judge ordered Thursday.

    Dorian Johnson was sentenced to serve 67 months to 10 years for a count of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder. Johnson pleaded no contest to that count, as well as a conspiracy count and a charge of possessing a dangerous weapon, in April.

    The victim, 22-year-old Gailen Foster, told the Washtenaw County Trial Court he is in therapy and can't get the image of Johnson out of his head, even though he had never even met him before that night.

    Foster said he was sleeping when he heard a knock on the door in the early hours of Sept. 9, 2012 at his apartment complex in the 400 block of South First Street in Ann Arbor.

    It was late, about 3:30 a.m.

    "As soon as I opened the door, he stabbed me," Foster said. "It's going to be in my head the rest of my life."

    Johnson was in the hallway with his girlfriend, Courtney McCoy, also charged in the case and scheduled for sentencing next week. Foster said he knew McCoy, who lived across the hall from him, but not Johnson.

    The one horizontal stabbing motion, displayed in court by attorneys, ripped Foster's abdomen open, yet he still had the wherewithal to walk to a gas station where 911 was called.

    "I had to walk with my guts in my hands all the way to the gas station at the end of the street," Foster said. "Every second was desperate."

    Prosecutors and Swartz said Foster was lucky to be alive. While arguing for the maximum sentence, Assistant Washtenaw County Prosecutor Blake Hatlem said this was very close to being a murder case. He asked the judge to sentence Johnson to 78 months to 10 years, which would have surpassed the maximum sentence allowed.

    At one point, Foster pulled up the tank top he was wearing to show Swartz the healed wound. It was revealed in court Foster was only stabbed once, but it was so severe it caused three major injuries that needed surgery.

    Erika Julien, Johnson's court-appointed attorney, argued for the bottom of the sentencing guidelines, about 34-67 months, citing the fact Johnson had no prior felonies. Julien also cast doubt on Johnson's culpability, saying McCoy was the one urging him to do it while he was highly intoxicated and even sticking the knife into Johnson's hand. McCoy reportedly told Johnson that he needed the knife if he was going to confront Foster, Julien told the judge.

    Swartz opted for the maximum sentence legally allowed.

    "This crime was very, very serious," he said. "I'm sure it was terrifying."

    What exactly McCoy and Foster were fighting about that caused her to urge Johnson to confront him hasn't precisely been established. Foster told the court he wasn't sure why McCoy was upset with him, just that she told him a lot of different things that night.

    "We still don't know what she really told him," he said.

    Near the end of his statement, Foster looked directly at Johnson who sat behind the nearby defense table.

    "I pray for you, bro," he said. "You messed up my life."

    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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    15,000 people are expected to participate in The Color Run event in Ypsilanti Saturday.

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com file photo

    As 15,000 people prepare to participate in The Color Run event Saturday, the Ypsilanti community is gearing up to welcome the large crowd.

    "I think anytime you have thousands of people flocking to any place, it's going to be a big impact," said Christine Laughren, manager of marketing and communications for the Ypsilanti Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. "15,000 runners coming into town, it's just great exposure for the city. The businesses are a lot more prepared and ready for the economic impact... It’s a great perfect match."

    AnnArbor.com has put together a guide with everything event participants, spectators and Ypsilanti residents should to know.

    Security precautions in place

    In light of the Boston Marathon bombings, The Color Run, the Ypsilanti CVB and the Ypsilanti Police Department have worked actively over the past few weeks to increase security precautions at the event.

    The department issued a release with the following security procedures and suggestions for the event:

    • Proper credentials will be required to enter the appropriate areas. Participants and spectators must follow the directions of volunteers and officers to accessible areas.
    • There will be no baggage check-in or storage for the event. Participants must put items in a clear plastic bag to check in at the packet pickup station.
    • Don’t stash items behind a bench, under a bush or under a car. They will be disposed of during security sweeps. Volunteers or spectators wearing a backpack or carrying a bag may be subjected to a search of items by police at any time.
    • If individuals or actions which are unusual or out of place for the surroundings are observed, it should be reported to staff or safety officials.

    colorrun.jpg

    The Ypsilanti Police Department has put together a security plan for The Color Run event.

    Melanie Maxwell I AnnArbor.com file photo

    "They beefed it up this year because of the incident in Boston, so after that we all got together with The Color Run and police department and talked about how things have changed a little bit and what we can do make it more secure," Laughren said.

    Street closures and race route

    As a precaution for the race, the city will be closing several streets at 7 a.m. Saturday, Laughren said.

    The following streets will be be closed:

    • Cross Street from North River Street to College Place
    • North River Street from Cross Avenue to Forest Avenue
    • Forest Avenue from North River Street to College Place
    • Lowell Street from North Huron River Drive to Forest Avenue
    • College Place from Forest Avenue to Cross Street
    • Hamilton Street from Lowell Street to Michigan Avenue
    • Westbound Michigan Avenue from Hamilton Street to North Huron Street and North Huron Street/Huron River Drive to Lowell Street

    No on-street parking will be allowed beginning at 6 a.m. and any parked vehicles will be towed. Laughren said streets will begin to reopen at approximately noon, after the runners have passed through.

    The route will be the same as the first event last year, in which onlookers tossed colored cornstarch at those running or walking in the 5K event.

    .

    Runners will begin in Depot Town and continue to Eastern Michigan University's campus and downtown Ypsilanti, finally ending back in Riverside Park.

    Riverside Park will be transformed into the "race village" and the starting line will be right across the river on Cross Street in Depot Town. The race starts at 8 a.m. and runners will not all start at once, but will begin in waves.

    Available parking for the event

    Designated parking areas on Eastern Michigan University’s main campus will be open for event participants. All parking will be $10 per vehicle. Officials are advising participants to carpool if possible.

    Organizers said the lots listed below are the only ones available for The Color Run. The other EMU lots will be closed. Additional parking will be available at the Corner Brewery, Key Bank parking lot and the non-paved grass field at the corner of Norris and River streets.

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    Several parking lots have been set aside for event participants throughout Ypsilanti.

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com file photo

    Parking Lots open off of Huron River Drive:

    • Green Lot 1
    • Mayhew Lot 1
    • Ann Street Lot

    Parking Lots open off of Washtenaw Avenue and Oakwood Street:

    • Oakwood Lot South
    • Oakwood Center Lot
    • Oakwood Lot North
    • Parking Structure
    • McKenny Guest Lot
    • McKenny Staff Lot

    Free trolley service:

    The Ypsilanti Convention and Visitors Bureau will be offering two free trolley services from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to make it easier for participants and spectators to get around. Laughren said the trolleys will be free and open to the general public as well.

    The two trolleys will stop along various spots on a route through Depot Town, downtown, and the Campus Town areas, Laughren said.

    The trolleys will take roughly 15 to 20 minutes to complete the route.

    Trolley stops will be at:

    • Norris Street and Forest Avenue
    • Summit Avenue and Washtenaw Avenue
    • River Street and Michigan Avenue
    • River Street and Cross Street
    • Hamilton Avenue and Michigan Avenue

    Early business openings and deals around town:

    Laughren said several business owners around town will be opening early and offering deals Saturday. The Color Run event last year was the busiest day of the year for many business owners.

    The visitors bureau reached out to many owners to see if they would be interested in offering any special plans.

    "Linda French (owner of Sidetrack Bar and Grill) said her best weekend of all time was The Color Run," Laughren said. "It terms of economic impact, it's really great exposure for the city of Ypsilanti."

    072212_NEWS_Color_Run_MRM_0-1.JPG

    Several businesses will be opening early and offering specials in Ypsilanti.

    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com file photo

    • Aubree’s Pizzeria & Grill at 39 E. Cross St. will open at 9 a.m. and will serve an Aubree’s Pizza Buffet and bloody marys all morning and afternoon.
    • B-24’s Espresso Bar Eats and Entertainment at 217 W. Michigan Ave. will open at 7 a.m.
    • Beezy’s Cafe at 20 N. Washington St. will open at 7 a.m.
    • Bona Sera Cafe at 200 W. Michigan Ave will open at 9 a.m. and have a "funky brunch" offering including rainbow drinks, gelato, fruit salads, and other light, healthy options.
    • Cafe Ollie & MI General Store at 42 E. Cross St. will open at 6 a.m. and Color Run participants will receive 20 percent off all beer, wine, and ice cream purchases at Cafe Ollie when they show their race bib.
    • Corner Brewery at 720 Norris St. will open at 10 a.m. and serve happy hour prices to all runners who bring in their race bib.
    • Haab’s Restaurant at 18 W. Michigan Ave. will open at 11 a.m.
    • Jimmy John’s at 537 W. Cross Street will open at 8 a.m.
    • Korey’s Krispy Krunchy Chicken at 124 Pearl St. will open at 10 a.m.
    • La Fiesta Mexicana at 529 W. Cross St. will open at 9 a.m.
    • Red Rock Downtown BBQ at 207 W. Michigan Ave. will open at 11 a.m.
    • Sidetrack Bar & Grill at 56 E. Cross St. will open at 9 a.m.
    • Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea at 735 W. Cross St. at 7 a.m.
    • The Tap Room at 201 W. Michigan Ave. will open at 11 a.m.
    • Tower Inn Cafe at 701 W. Cross St. at 9 a.m.
    • Ugly Mug Cafe at 317 W. Cross St. will open at 7 a.m.
    • Wolverine Grill at 228 W. Michigan Ave. will open at 6 a.m. and offer a limited Color Run menu. Before and after the race, the business will sell coffee and orange juice shots $1 each.
    • Woodruff’s at 36 E. Cross St. will open at 10 a.m. and has a scheduled dance party and several specials.
    • Wurst Bar at 705 W. Cross St. will open at 10 a.m. and have several drink specials. Color Run participants will also receive 10 percent off.

    Wolverine Grill Owner Kevin Hill said he opened early last year at 6 a.m. and it was the busiest day of the year for him.

    Thumbnail image for AJCWolverineGrill3.jpg

    The Wolverine Grill, pictured here, will open at 6 a.m. and have breakfast and lunch deals on Saturday, according to owner Kevin Hill.

    "The effect was very positive," Hill said. "This year, I think there's much more preparation from business to business. I think everyone is going to do well and that's good. We're looking to serve as many people that come in."

    Hill said he'll be bringing on a few extra employees to help with the increase in business.

    Bona Sera owner Annette "Bad Fairy" Weathers said she's excited to participate in the event and will be opening early.

    "We're on the route that goes on Michigan Avenue and it's going to come right by our place," Weathers said. "We're going to have an outdoor cafe and it will be great to watch The Color Run from the tables outside."

    Below, see a video of the 2012 Ypsilanti Color Run:

    Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for AnnArbor.com.Reach her at katreasestafford@annarbor.com or 734-623-2548 and follow her on twitter.


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    Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

    Another sure sign that summer is fast approaching in Ann Arbor is the return of Sonic Lunch - a free, hugely popular outdoor concert series that happens downtown at Liberty Plaza (unless otherwise noted) on Thursdays - and this year's lineup was just announced. (AnnArbor.com previously reported that Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, and "Glee" star and U-M grad Darren Criss, would be first-up on Sonic Lunch's roster.)

    This year's series kicks off June 6, and concludes August 29, with shows running from noon to 1:30 p.m. (Shows with a special guest, abbreviated as "w/s/g," start at 11:30 a.m.) Without further ado, here's SL's 2013 lineup:

    6/06 Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
    6/13 Darren Criss w/s/g Theo Katzman (at the Michigan Theater)
    6/20 Family of the Year
    6/27 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
    7/11 Luke Winslow-King
    7/25 Brett Dennen w/s/g Dan Henig
    8/01 The Ragbirds
    8/08 Laith Al-Saadi
    8/15 Greensky Bluegrass
    8/22 Kopecky Family Band w/s/g Kate Peterson
    8/29 George Bedard & The Kingpins

    “When I gathered our team in early 2008 to create Sonic Lunch, we had a vision for a free summer-long lunchtime concert series to enliven a downtown city park, showcase local musical talent, and further support the arts and culture of this community,” said Tim Marshall, President and CEO of Bank of Ann Arbor, in a press release. “Each year we spend a lot of time in the planning process to make sure we are delivering a very appealing and well-rounded concert series. This year, our sixth, has all the makings to be one of the most exciting yet. From our opener with a Motown legend and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, followed by University of Michigan graduate and Glee’s Darren Criss, the 2013 Sonic Lunch kicks off with a huge burst of energy. All summer long and as a gift to our community, we’re bringing some of the best local, regional and national performers to downtown Ann Arbor for free music in Liberty Park. People really need to block off every Thursday in June, July and August for a Sonic Lunch!”

    The press release also contains further details about each act that will be part of Sonic Lunch this year.

    June 6: Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
    A Detroit Motown Legend who was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas charted over twenty-six hits including “Heat Wave”, “Nowhere to Run”, “Jimmy Mack” and “Dancing in the Street”. Rolling Stone magazine ranked Martha and the Vandellas #96 on their list of the 100 greatest artists of all time. Founded in 1960 by friends Annette Beard, Rosalind Ashford and Gloria Williams, the band eventually included Martha Reeves, who moved up in ranks as lead vocalist of the group after Williams' departure in 1962. The group signed with and eventually recorded all of their singles for Motown's Gordy imprint. Martha just completed a four-year run as a member of the Detroit City Council. She is back on the road full time, making sure that no one ever forgets the Motor City.

    June 13: Darren Criss
    Darren Criss, a graduate of University of Michigan, is a passionate actor/musician/songwriter who has—in the course of one year—gone from YouTube sensation to a 4-time Billboard charting musician and composer to joining the cast of FOX's Emmy Award-winning series Glee. Criss’ breakout performance of Katy Perry's “Teenage Dream” in his first episode set a milestone for Glee, debuting at #1 on Billboard for the first time in the show’s history and selling over 500,000 tracks in its first week. Quickly emerging as one the most promising actors and musicians of his generation, Criss made his television debut in 2009 as Josh Burton on ABC’s “Eastwick”, with Rebecca Romijn, Lindsay Price and Jaime Ray Newman, and also appeared in CBS’ “Cold Case”.

    In his senior year at University of Michigan, Criss and his friends created a Harry Potter musical parody entitled, “A Very Potter Musical” as a fun project for their classmates, friends, and other Harry Potter fans. Along with starring as the boy wizard himself, Criss also lent several of his songs to be used in the show. Within weeks of posting the musical online, it became a YouTube hit, garnering 9,000,000 views and the attention of the musical theater world.

    June 13 Special Guest: Theo Katzman
    Theo Katzman’s debut album Romance Without Finance is nine songs of raw emotion with utter sincerity created in the vision of marrying elegance and grit, raw and refined. Theo is a masterful songwriter taking his memories, loved ones, and places in his travels and effortlessly transforming them into melodies with one unified artistic statement. A scholar and multi-instrumentalist from the University of Michigan Music School, Theo played drums, guitar, and the majority of the bass on Romance Without Finance. During his college experience Theo was a classmate of Darren Criss, member of My Dear Disco and performed at numerous national festivals including SXSW. Eventually leaving the band in 2009 to pursue his solo career and become a music educator and mentor teaching drums, guitar and bass in Ann Arbor.

    June 20: Family of the Year
    Family of the Year (“Family”) use melodic male/female vocal harmonies and folk tale-style lyrics to instantly create a dance party with their “feel good summer” sound. In October 2009, Family was handpicked out of 700 artists by Ben Folds and Keith Lockhart to open for Ben and The Boston Pops at Symphony Hall. Shortly after, the band flew west for California shows with Bell X1 before returning east for the CMJ Music Marathon, marking Family of the Year’s New York debut. SPIN.com selected the band as one 25 Must-Hear Artists from the 2009 CMJ Festival. Shortly after CMJ, they hit the road with Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros in support of Family's debut album, Songbook. 2012 was a fantastic year for the Family, with nationwide sold out shows including a stop in August at Lollapalooza.

    June 27: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
    Formed in late 2009, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. is the off-kilter title under which Detroit-area natives Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott record, release and perform electro-indie pop music. In just a few short years, fans have seen the project grow from basement recording project - to media curiosity - to an international touring ensemble widely recognized for their joy-fueled live offerings. Electronics and tongue-in-cheek NASCAR jumpsuits aside, they are humble and earnest enough to invite the epiphany that this might be like the Simon & Garfunkel of the 22nd century.

    July 4: INDEPENDENCE DAY (No Sonic Lunch)

    July 11: Luke Winslow-King
    It took more than a decade, but Michigan native Luke Winslow-King earned his stripes in the music mecca of New Orleans. In 2001, Winslow-King traveled to New Orleans with other Michigan musicians. His car was stolen, leaving him stranded in the Big Easy. He ended up staying to study the rich music of the city. A dozen years later, the city's scene has fully embraced him. He was recently nominated for Best Male Performer by the Big Easy Music Awards. He's up against "heavy hitters" Dr. John and John Boutte. Winslow-King was raised in Cadillac, Michigan and attended the Interlochen Center for the Arts. He attended Western Michigan University before his 2001 trip to New Orleans and subsequently studied music theory at New Orleans University. Winslow-King busked on the streets, built relationships with other musicians, and worked his way into weekly gigs. In April 2013, Winslow-King released his new studio album, "The Coming Tide," on Chicago's Bloodshot Records, which signed him earlier this year. He deftly mixes his music education with his street picker sentimentality. You hear jazz, Delta blues, folk and hints of gospel. The album also gets a boost from New Orleans-via-Ann Arbor vocalist Esther Rose. Winslow-King anticipates big things ahead. He's already opened for Taj Mahal and Jack White and recently performed at SXSW & the New Orleans Jazz Festival.

    July 18: ANN ARBOR ART FAIR (No Sonic Lunch)

    July 25: Brett Dennen
    Every now and then an artist emerges on the scene as if fully formed. The voice is distinct, immediate in its character. The songs feel like they truly belong to the singer. A level of self-possession animates the performances, delivers them right to your doorstep. Nothing feels forced . . . it just is. There’s an aura of inevitability that surrounds the emergence of such artists. Brett Dennen is one of these artists and rightfully so named by Rolling Stone magazine as an “Artist to Watch” for 2008. In 2008 he released Hope for the Hopeless, which debuted at #41 on the Billboard Top 200 and firmly established Dennen as a definitive new voice in modern songwriting. His most recent release in 2011, Loverboy, debuted at #55 on the Billboard chart and the single “Comeback Kid” because an instant radio hit.

    He's worked with Femi Kuti, Natalie Merchant, and Jason Mraz. He's toured with Dave Matthews, John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, Rodrigo y Gabriela, and The John Butler Trio. He's played Bonarroo, Austin City Limits, Coachella, Outside Lands, and Newport Folk Festival and now, Sonic Lunch!

    July 25 Special Guest Dan Henig
    Henig’s fluid pop melodies are at once endearing and honest. Lyrically, Henig deftly paints a picture of an often-conflicted interior life. Yet coupled with the EP’s upbeat instrumentation - the result is irresistible. Henig’s melodies easily commit to memory. His are the type of songs that you’ll find yourself humming spontaneously, long after the CD stops playing. With festival appearances at Ann Arbor’s Top of the Park, and Midwest tour dates in Chicago, Ohio and Metro Detroit under his belt, Henig is set to bring his accessible sound to as many people who will listen.

    August 1: The Ragbirds
    Led by dynamic, energetic front woman and multi-instrumentalist Erin Zindle, Ann Arbor's The Ragbirds utilize an arsenal of instruments from around the world. The Ragbirds are a fusion of folk rock and pop hooks over danceable world rhythms stirred with a Celtic fiddler's bow. Surrounding Zindle's earthy-sweet voice is the whirlwind of guitarist T.J. Zindle, dynamic bassist Brian Crist, world-beat grooves of drummer Loren Kranz and percussionist Randall Moore. Zindle skillfully switches between violin, mandolin, banjo, accordion, and percussion, all while dancing around the stage, drawing the awe of audiences across the country. The Ragbirds albums have received local and national praise, hailed "Highly impressive!" by USA Today and touted as "Astounding international eclecticism" by Reveal Arts. The Ragbirds have performed in over 30 states to the tune of more than 150 shows a year, crisscrossing the nation in their diesel bus that was converted to run on recycled waste vegetable oil. The Ragbirds have played at every Sonic Lunch since 2008.

    August 8: Laith Al-Saadi
    Laith Al-Saadi, a Sonic Lunch favorite since 2008. Laith has been a staple of the Michigan music scene for most of his adult life. Since 2000, Laith Al-Saadi has enjoyed growing success as the Detroit area's premier singer and guitarist. Working relentlessly around town, Al-Saadi generally can be found playing at least 5 nights a week. This determination has led to recent opening slots for artists like Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Leon Russell, Robben Ford, Johnny Winter, Hubert Sumlin, Olu Dara, Ten Years After, Mountain, The Yardbirds and - most notably- BB King at the House of Blues in Chicago (June 8, 2006). In 2006, Al-Saadi was crowned “King of the Blues” for the Northern Region of the United States by Guitar Center. This makes him one of the top 4 Blues guitarists in the Country. In Guitar World magazine (Nov. 2006) Al-Saadi was heralded as sounding like “Danny Gatton and Buddy Guy at their best.”

    August 15: Greensky Bluegrass
    If you are familiar with bluegrass music, then you are tuned in to some of what Michigan’s Greensky Bluegrass does. They're known to throw a great party with their amazing songwriting and contagious musicianship, which has prominently placed them as one of the future leaders on the American bluegrass scene. “Greensky Bluegrass is representing the genre for a whole new generation” Rolling Stone magazine. They are unquestionably a team of friends that traverse the country making music they enjoy. This quintet from Kalamazoo, Michigan has been staying up late at national festivals and stopping to play favorite clubs and theaters across America for 11 years. With nearly 175 shows per year, Greensky Bluegrass isn't slowing down. "They're coming to your town to help you party down."

    August 22: Kopecky Family Band
    “Family” is a word that encompasses a variety of definitions. With that in mind, let this introduction to Nashville's Kopecky Family Band be taken with an open mind and with a grain of salt. This family is connected not by blood or by heritage, but by circumstance. No, this is a family bound by the miles on their odometer and by the songs they have crafted over the years. These six young musicians have created a family through their commitment to each other and to their craft. The Kopecky Family Band - a non-traditional family, at that - is dynamic, and they wield an equally dynamic slew of instruments. Their thoughtful songwriting is supported by a diverse backdrop of sound. And the musical canvas is covered with broad brushstrokes - ranging from clanging tambourines and guitars, booming percussion, intelligent string arrangements, and triumphant horns. These six bandmates - siblings, if you will - swap their musical tools without a second thought, creating an emotive, adventurous, and energetic environment onstage.

    August 22 Special Guest: Kate Peterson
    Half of the Michigan-based, “pleasantly aggressive folk duo” Nervous but Excited (Kate Peterson & Sarah Cleaver), Kate is now growing artistically as a solo performer and songwriter. With a repertoire of original songs ranging from smart, introspective narratives to tactfully political, interspersed with songs of love and loss that will undoubtedly tug on your heart. You might cry, you’ll definitely laugh, but you’ll leave feeling that your heart has grown just a little bigger than it was before you arrived.

    August 29: George Bedard & The Kingpins
    George Bedard has been a seminal figure on the Michigan roots rock scene for more than 30 years with his rockabilly & blues/rock dance party. A member of the Silvertones in the 1970s and Tracy Lee & the Leonards in the 1980s, Bedard has been attracting the attention that his energetic guitar playing and gutsy vocals deserve as leader of his own band, the Kingpins. Goldmine recently called Bedard "one of the best rockabilly pickers on the planet," while Record Roundup wrote "Bedard may not become the next trendy thing, but as far as this kind of music, he's already the next cool thing." The Kingpins, featuring Randy Tessier on bass and Rich Dishman on drums, have developed a reputation as one of Michigan's best bands since their formation in the early 1990s. While other youngsters in the 60's were listening to British Invasion bands and wishing they were on the Ed Sullivan show, a young George Bedard was in his basement teaching himself guitar, playing along with records by blues legends Howlin' Wolf, B. B. King, and Muddy Waters. By the early 70's, Bedard was teaming up with blues harpist/guitarist Steve Nardella to form the Silvertones, one of the finest Ann Arbor, Michigan blues/rockabilly bands of the era. There's not much Bedard can't play extremely well in any of these idioms, his style always informed by taste and economy. Though his solo recordings have been few, George Bedard remains a guitar hero's guitar hero.

    About Sonic Lunch
    Each week a different area restaurant is on-site selling a Sonic Lunch for concert goers to purchase. Other restaurants offer special discounts for concert-goers to pick up to take to the park.

    Sonic Lunch concerts are free and suitable for all ages. Seating is available but lawn chairs are welcome. Sonic Lunch provides a refreshing getaway from the office in a cool urban setting for meeting friends and the opportunity to dance in the streets in the middle of the day for hundreds this summer.

    Sonic Lunch is the result of a collaborative effort created and spearheaded by Bank of Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor Radio and their popular morning host on 107one, Martin Bandyke, provide promotional support and host each concert. Perich + Partners, a national advertising agency headquartered in Ann Arbor, contributes the branding and annual design of Sonic Lunch posters, banners, and t-shirts. Fleming Artists participates in the concert series planning. All of these four companies work together to make Bank of Ann Arbor’s Sonic Lunch become one of the coolest summer events in Ann Arbor.

    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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