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

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    The Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office is investigating after a thief or thieves broke into four Chrysler vehicles over the weekend in Ypsilanti Township.

    All of the vehicles break-ins reported Saturday were Chrysler products. Entry was gained in each of these cases through a smashed-out window. The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office believes the main target in these break-ins was the GPS/stereo system located in the dashboard.

    The break-ins took place on the 5900 block of East Island Drive, the 8800 block of Brookwood, the 6400 block of Stoney Creek and the 2400 block of East Ellsworth.

    The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office also responded to a report filed last Friday regarding a vehicle break-in sometime overnight on the 1700 block of Meadow Woods Boulevard in Ypsilanti Township. A handgun and miscellaneous tools were stolen. How entry was made has not been determined.

    The weekend's incidents follow two similar smash-and-grab thefts from vehicles reported Tuesday, May 14 in Ypsilanti Township. Those incidents were in the 7700 block of Lake Crest Drive and the 5000 block of Bosuns Way. GPS and stereo systems were targeted.

    There are no suspects at this time. It's not clear which, if any, of the incidents are related. If you have any information regarding these incidents please call the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office Confidential Tip line at (734) 973-7711.


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    It's the little theater company that could. And they have, for 15 years, by presenting bold theater productions up close and personal—and sometimes outdoors. To celebrate, they're doing what nearly every adult does after some hard work and having a well-deserved drink.

    And if there's anyone you want to drink with, it's theater people.

    The Blackbird Cocktail Party at Frenchie's will be the perfect, relaxed opportunity to catch up and learn about the upcoming season.

    With more than 50 productions under its belt, the theatre company will open its season in June with Shakespeare's "Cymbeline" in West Park.

    Friday, May 24, 2013. 6 p.m. Free admission. Frenchie's is located at 54 E. Cross St., Ypsilanti. 734-483-1035.


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    The Ann Arbor area could be for a stretch of stormy weather this week, starting Monday afternoon.

    The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for Washtenaw County and most of lower Michigan until 8 p.m. Monday.

    lightning_south_annarbor.jpg

    Photo courtesy of Kara A. Makara

    The weather service said there’s a chance for showers and thunderstorms after 3 p.m. Monday and a slight chance that some of them could be severe or even spawn a tornado. Damaging wind gusts of more than 60 mph are possible along with hail up to an inch in diameter.

    The weather service predicts a high temperature of 86, while Weather Underground forecasts a steamy 91 for the high. Just after 1 p.m., the weather service reported the temperature already stood at 86.

    The threat of severe weather continues Monday night with a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms.

    Showers and thunderstorms are likely Tuesday and some of those could be strong to severe, the weather service says. The chance for rain is 80 percent. Forecasters expect a high of 82.

    The forecast for Wednesday looks a lot like Tuesday with a 70 percent chance for showers and thunderstorms and a high of about 78 degrees.

    Thursday, it will be cooler with a high of about 63 and a 50 percent chance of showers.

    Sunshine returns Friday, but it will remain cool with a high of 63.

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


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    William_Jordan .jpg

    William Henry Jordan

    Courtesy of Washtenaw County Jail

    A 55-year-old Howard City man was arraigned Friday on charges related to the sexual assault of a girl under the age of 13 and is being held without bond at the Washtenaw County Jail, police said.

    William Henry Jordan faces one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of accosting a child for immoral purposes.

    First-degree CSC is a felony punishable by up to life in prison.

    Jordan is accused of inappropriately touching a girl under the age of 13 in Dexter Township in March, said Sgt. Geoff Fox of the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office. The victim was known to Jordan.

    Police could not yet go into further detail about the case due to the sensitive nature of the incident and because it might hamper adjudication of the case, Fox said.

    Jordan's preliminary hearing is set for May 28. He remains at the Washtenaw County Jail with no bond.

    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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    The Ann Arbor City Council is expected to vote tonight to adopt the city's 2013-14 fiscal year budget, and a number of possible changes are under consideration.

    Topics likely to come up include public art, affordable housing, human services, public safety, fall leaf and holiday tree pickup, walking and biking, and the Downtown Development Authority.

    "I suspect there will be things coming to the table tonight that I haven't seen, and it's just going to be one of those budget nights," said Mayor John Hieftje.

    "The overall budget picture is a good one," he added. "We are not making cuts."

    Council Member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, outlined some of the proposed budget amendments in a newsletter emailed to constituents over the weekend.

    John_Hieftje_Nov_4_2010.jpg

    "I suspect there will be things coming to the table tonight that I haven't seen, and it's just going to be one of those budget nights," said Mayor John Hieftje.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com file photo

    Briere herself has submitted five possible amendments and decided to co-sponsor another. The first one would remove most of the funding for public art from next year's budget.

    A revised public art ordinance, which eliminates the city's Percent for Art funding mechanism, is on the council's agenda for a final vote on June 3.

    Until that vote happens, the existing public art ordinance — which calls for transferring 1 percent of capital project dollars to the city's public art fund — remains in effect.

    The city administrator's recommended budget shows $340,464 going to public art in the fiscal year starting July 1. Briere proposes taking action now and removing $326,464. According to the city, the $14,000 difference is investment income that still needs to be budgeted.

    Council Member Jane Lumm, an Independent who represents the 2nd Ward, said she and Sumi Kailasapathy, D-1st Ward, are co-sponsoring that proposal with Briere.

    Lumm is sponsoring another amendment that would increase staffing in the Ann Arbor Police Department by three officers, taking the department from 146 to 149 full-time employees.

    That would increase the police budget in the general fund by roughly $270,000, which Lumm proposes funding by an equal reduction in the 15th District Court budget. Hieftje said he has some concerns where the money comes from, but he'll wait until tonight for that discussion.

    Lumm also is sponsoring amendments to restore fall leaf pickup and holiday tree pickup services that were cut in recent years. She proposes using the solid waste fund's cash reserves to cover the one-time cost of $395,000 needed to make that happen, and making cuts elsewhere in the solid waste budget to fund the recurring expenditures of $311,000.

    Council Member Sally Hart Petersen, D-2nd Ward, said she's planning to co-sponsor restoring fall leaf pickup services with Lumm, as well as funding for housing and human services.

    The DDA's budget is another item sure to generate discussion, with potentially multiple proposals regarding what to do with increased tax-increment financing revenues collected by the DDA.

    Council Members Stephen Kunselman, D-3rd Ward, and Kailasapathy have closely scrutinized the DDA's budget in recent months, noting the DDA is in line to collect significantly more TIF revenue in the next fiscal year than previously anticipated.

    A new forecast shows the DDA is expected to receive $500,000 more in TIF revenue than anticipated in the 2013-14 budget.

    Hieftje is sponsoring an amendment that calls for increasing the DDA's TIF fund budget by $500,000 to reflect the additional revenues, and then using that money to support affordable housing in the DDA area, to help replace 81 street light poles on Main Street, and to fund economic development activities, including studies in collaboration with Ann Arbor SPARK.

    DDA board members met on May 13 and voiced their desire to increase funding to support City Council priorities, including affordable housing, infrastructure and economic development.

    Hieftje said the amendment he's sponsoring simply acknowledges and confirms the action taken by the DDA and does not require it to do anything beyond what it already voted to do.

    Kunselman said he'll be sponsoring an amendment to similarly increase the DDA's TIF fund budget by $500,000, but he wants to transfer all of that money to the DDA housing fund.

    He said he'll suggest the DDA spend the funds on Miller Manor, a Housing Commission property. Lumm said she'll be joining Kunselman as a co-sponsor.

    Sabra_Briere_022112.jpg

    Council Member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, said several council members are looking at department budgets that have increased significantly over the past few years to see whether those budgets can be reduced, with the resulting funds either reallocated or placed in the general fund reserve.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com file photo

    Another possible amendment from Briere would allocate $100,000 to affordable housing and direct city staff to find a way to incorporate that allocation into future budgets. During the recent economic downturn, she said, the city didn't put any funds into affordable housing.

    Other amendments being considered have to do with human services. Briere said the sequestration of federal human services funds — among other funds — could result in an overall decrease of $3 million for Washtenaw County. There isn't any way in the budget to make up for that loss, she said, and there isn't any way for human service providers to manage without it, either.

    Briere wants to use $78,825 in general fund reserves to cover human service contracts through the Housing Commission, and $4,500 to cover costs for senior meals at Miller Manor. The funds would be used in the event that the federal sequestration doesn't end by June 30, 2014.

    Hieftje said he'll be supporting the increased allocation to the Housing Commission to keep its funding stable in light of federal cuts.

    Reacting to a $46,899 drop in human services funding levels through the city's coordinating funding partnership with the county and the United Way, Briere also has drafted an amendment that would restore the allocation to last year's amount using general fund reserve dollars.

    The last amendment from Briere is aimed at addressing gaps in the city's sidewalk system, a problem that lacks funding right now. She proposes a one-time allocation of $75,000 from general fund reserves to pay for a prioritization and implementation plan.

    In addition to those changes, Briere said she'll be co-sponsoring an amendment put forward by Hieftje to include $10,000 for the second year in a row to help fund the Washtenaw Health Initiative. The money is intended to get the program running in the wake of the Affordable Care Act.

    "This is basic work to make sure that everyone has access to health care and is able to sort through all of the changes going on," Hieftje said. "It's a really positive collaborative effort."

    The City Council meets at 7 p.m. on the second floor of city hall, 301 E. Huron St. The city charter requires the council to approve an annual budget each year on or before May 31, and the budget has to be balanced, though reserve funds can be used to achieve that.

    Jane_Lumm_071612_RJS_001.jpg

    Council Member Jane Lumm wants to increase police staffing by three officers and restore fall leaf pickup and holiday tree pickup services.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com file photo

    Each amendment needs six votes to become part of the budget. If the final budget doesn't get eight votes, any amendments to it fail and the administrator's budget is approved by default.

    In an ideal year, Briere said, council members would have drafted budget amendments significantly in advance so they could be evaluated by staff for their impacts to planned programs and services, and then shared with all of council. But this year, she said, the amendments have come late.

    "The budget discussion promises to be interesting, especially as we may not see all the budget amendment proposals before Monday evening," she said.

    The Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition has a vested interest in the outcome of tonight's vote on the city budget. The group set up an online petition at Change.org to get council members to "stop raiding the non-motorized transportation budget" for walking and biking improvements.

    The city several years ago decided to take 5 percent of the Act 51 transportation dollars it collects each year from state gas taxes and set that money aside for alternative transportation. But with those dollars decreasing, the percentage for alternative transportation has been cut in half.

    "City Council has cut this funding to 2.5% and has chosen not to restore this funding to the past level of 5% this year," the petition states, adding the money helps pay for bike lanes, crosswalk signs and other items. "We need you to tell City Council that this policy decision is not acceptable!"

    Hieftje called the group's petition a "great effort," but he said the changes being called for might not be necessary. He said it's true the city did scale back the percentage going to alternative transportation in recent years because more money was needed for road maintenance.

    But while it might not show up as an earmark for alternative transportation now, he said, the city still is using some of those dollars toward items like bike lanes — they're just rolled into road projects now.

    Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at ryanstanton@annarbor.com or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.


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    Ypsilanti_police_badge.jpg

    Police are investigating the theft of $150 worth of flowers from the Neighborhood Family Health Center in Ypsilanti.

    The flowers were part of a fundraiser someone who works in the medical office was having for their son's Little League baseball team, said Ypsilanti police Sgt. Thomas Eberts. The office is part of the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital system.

    The flowers were delivered Monday morning to a conference room in the building, at 111 N. Huron St. in Ypsilanti, from where they were stolen between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m., Eberts said.

    “Some of the employees picked their (flowers) up,” Eberts added, but a thief came in and made off with the remaining batch, valued at an estimated $150.

    The room is in a part of the building open to the public. Still, no one saw anything suspicious Monday.

    “People are in and out of there," Eberts said. "No one witnessed it. There is no surveillance tape."

    Employees noticed the missing flowers and contacted police that afternoon. The case remains under investigation. There are no suspects.

    Anyone with information 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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    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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    The damage caused by a massive tornado that tore through Oklahoma on Monday left Ann Arbor resident Tia Hoffman with one thought — "How do I help?"

    Oklahoma_tornado_saved.jpg

    A woman carries a child through a field near the collapsed Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013.

    Sue Ogrocki | The Associated Press

    With that question in mind, Hoffman, co-owner of The Wafel Shop at 113 E. Liberty St., started the day out determined to find an answer. Her conclusion? Donating all the money from Tuesday coffee sales to help out the victims of the tornado.

    "All I could think about was if I was one of the parents involved, and it just broke my heart," Hoffman said. "I'm a parent and I could only think of myself in that situation — if my kids were in that school — and wondering whether I would be able to bring them home and hug them."

    Buying a coffee from Hoffman's shop is just one way Ann Arbor residents can pitch in to help.

    In addition to the national-level relief being facilitated by The American Red Cross — which included immediately deploying almost 30 emergency response vehicles to distribute food and supplies, according to a news release — there are local-level ways to contribute to the fund as well.

    The Washtenaw-Lenawee Chapter always is accepting donations for disaster relief. Those wanting to make a donation can do so on the Red Cross website, by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS, or texting the word "REDCROSS" to 90999 to make a donation of $10. Donations go toward providing food, shelter and support to victims.

    The Red Cross also is providing Oklahoma residents with their Safe & Well service, which allows victims to contact loved ones outside of the location to let them know they are safe.

    Blood donations also are always in high demand following a tragedy of this magnitude.

    "It's our obligation to help our neighbors," Hoffman said. "Whether they're in Oklahoma City or Ann Arbor."

    To let us know about other local efforts to raise money, supplies or support for the victims in Oklahoma, please leave tips in the comments below, or email news@annarbor.com.


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    030412_techbond2.JPG

    Executive Director of Physical Properties Randy Trent poses inside a crowded server room at the Balas Administration Building. The makeshift server rooms soon could receive renovations thanks to the district's technology bond.

    Chris Asadian | AnnArbor.com file photo

    The Ann Arbor Balas Administration Building is scheduled to receive about $420,000 in renovations this summer through the $45.8 million technology bond voters passed last May.

    The renovations, if approved Wednesday by the Board of Education, will be to three makeshift and fragmented server rooms in the Ann Arbor Public Schools Central Office. The equipment and infrastructure housed in these rooms controls most of the technology operations district wide.

    The three rooms will be redesigned and better engineered to create one distinct server room, one fiber closet and, if space allows, one small room for an office or conference room, according documents from the district.

    There also will be significant heating and cooling and mechanical work done in the rooms, which currently have issues with equipment overheating.

    Walking through these rooms right now, one would see tangles of wires and fans blowing on pieces of hardware to keep the district's technology operations up and running. The consolidation of the three rooms will allow for better access to the equipment and better climate control, documents say.

    As the district faces an $8.67 million budget shortfall for the upcoming school year, community members and the Ann Arbor Administrators Association repeatedly have called for closing the Balas building and dispersing central office staff in schools throughout the district.

    But AAPS Executive Director of Physical Properties Randy Trent said at the May 8 Board of Education meeting that district officials have worked hard over the years to centralize many of the servers that were scattered throughout AAPS to the main server room at Balas. He said the idea behind this was to be able to reduce the number of employees and employees compensation costs, which comes out of the general fund.

    He said having the equipment all in one spot saves the district from needing more staff to run off to different buildings to fix problems that would arise.

    "It would cost well over $1 million to rewire the district in a different way that doesn't all come back to Balas," Trent 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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    Raymond_March.jpg

    Raymond March

    Raymond March

    The 21-year-old Belleville man accused of helping abduct a 25-year-old Ypsilanti woman earlier this month waived his preliminary hearing in the 14A-1 District Court Tuesday.

    Raymond March's case was subsequently bound over to circuit court.

    March appeared briefly in court for the hearing where he only spoke in the affirmative when Judge Joseph Burke asked if he understood the proceedings. The victim, Farrah Cook, also was in the courtroom, but left before the hearing was concluded. She could have been called on to testify had March not waived the preliminary examination.

    March is charged with unlawful imprisonment, conspiracy to commit unlawful imprisonment and interfering with the reporting of a crime and aggravated assault for his alleged involvement in Cook's abduction.

    Police say March and Cook's ex-boyfriend Jeremy Abston, 27, forced Cook into a car in the parking lot of an Ypsilanti apartment complex on May 6. Cook eventually broke free of her captors that same day at a different apartment complex in Ypsilanti Township and suffered a sprained ankle.

    March was arrested at an Inkster home by members of the Ypsilanti Police Department and the 2nd District Fugitive Team.

    jeremyabston.jpg

    Jeremy Abston

    Courtesy of YPD

    An 11-count warrant was issued for Abston earlier this month. Abston still remains at large and police continue to search for him with the help of the fugitive team, Ypsilanti Detective Joe Yuhas said Tuesday.

    "We don't believe he's in the area," Yuhas said, but police don't think he's fled the state.

    Abston faces charges of unlawful imprisonment, conspiracy to commit unlawful imprisonment, interfering with the reporting of a crime, assault with a dangerous weapon, larceny in a building, three charges of interfering with electronic communications, aggravated domestic violence, assault and battery and malicious destruction of property worth less than $200, according to court records.

    Police remain in contact with Abston's family members, who have been cooperating in the search.

    March continues to be held in the Washtenaw County Jail on a $250,00 cash bond, jail records indicate. He is set to appear before Judge Archie Brown in circuit court for a pretrial hearing on June 13.

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

    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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    Leonard_Ware2.jpg

    Leonard Ware

    Courtesy of WCSO

    The 34-year-old Ypsilanti Township man accused of fatally shooting his co-worker had his trial date postponed yet again in court Monday

    Leonard Ware had his final pretrial hearing adjourned to Aug. 12 and a new jury trial date set for Sept. 9 in the Washtenaw County Trial Court.

    Both the prosecution and defense asked for the adjournment as they await results from DNA tests.

    "The results will not be available (by the former trial date)," said Ware's attorney, Jeffrey Taylor.

    Ware is charged with open murder, carrying a concealed weapon, being a felon in possession of a firearm and being in possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

    He is accused of shooting and killing Bhagavan Allen, 29, in the middle of Ypsilanti's Grove Street in October 2012. The incident between the two men began with an argument at Marsh Plating Co., where Ware was Allen’s supervisor.

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

    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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    Parents, students and community members wanting to learn more about the new Ypsilanti Community Schools district are encouraged to attend an upcoming open house.

    ycs-logo.png
    The consolidated Ypsilanti-Willow Run district will host seven open houses at schools throughout the two communities starting Tuesday, May 21.

    Families can learn about the small learning communities at the middle and high schools; the co-curricular activities, including clubs and athletics, that will be available for children; opportunities for high schoolers to earn college credit or career credentials; and more about the diverse learning environment the new district hopes to provide for its students.

    The open houses this week are:

    • 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 21 — Elementary Learning Center (grades 2-4), 1255 Holmes Road
    • 7-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 21 — Erickson Elementary (2-6), 1427 Levona St.
    • 6:30-8 p.m. Wednesday, May 22 — New Tech at Ardis (9-12), 2100 Ellsworth Road
    • 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 23 — Adams STEM Academy (K-6), 503 Oak St.
    • 7-8:30 p.m. Thursday, May 23 — Estabrook Elementary (2-6), 1555 W. Cross St.
    • 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday, May 28 — YCS High School (9-12), 2095 Packard Road
    • 7-8:30 p.m. Thursday, June 6 — Washtenaw International Middle Academy (5-8), 510 Emerick St.

    Attendees of the open houses also will have the opportunity to meet and become acquainted with the principals of these buildings and new programs.

    The five principals from Ypsilanti Public Schools and one principal from Willow Run Community Schools that were offered jobs in the new district have been given their building assignments for the 2013-14 academic year. Superintendent Scott Menzel said almost all were the same as their current assignments. Menzel said the one exception was current Ypsilanti Middle School Principal Jason Riggs, who has been moved to the former Willow Run High School/Intermediate Learning Center complex, which will be for grades 5-8 in the new district.

    Ypsilanti Middle School is closing next year when the consolidated district opens.

    The Washtenaw International Middle Academy is an International Baccalaureate program. It will be housed in the Washtenaw International High School building, also an IB program, for the first year to provide both programs some additional support and resources as the programs continue to grow and develop, officials said.

    The new district posted three principal positions and will post two secondary assistant principal positions soon that still need to be filled. Menzel said the building principal positions are for Erickson Elementary, the Primary Learning Center and Ypsilanti High School. Current YHS co-principal Cory McElmeel will run the New Tech at Ardis program.

    The other principal assignments are:

    • Sharine Buddin, principal at Perry Child Development Center, Ypsilanti.
    • Karla Graessley, principal at Estabrook Elementary, Ypsilanti.
    • Charles Raski, principal at the Elementary Learning Center, Willow Run.
    • Connie Thompson, principal at Adams STEM Academy, Ypsilanti.

    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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    The mood was bullish Tuesday at the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium Tuesday at the Marriott at EagleCrest in Ypsilanti, and not without good reason.

    Venture capitalists and entrepreneurs alike say they are excited that, although investments and fund growth are down nationally, Michigan has continued to make strides both in the amount of deals made and capital available.

    Williams_Kelly_HS_web.jpeg

    In addition to her role as managing director at Credit Suisse, Kelly Williams is also the founding board chair of the Private Equity Women Investor Network

    According to a report released by the Michigan Venture Capital Association, Michigan startup companies closed 47 deals worth $242 million in 2012. Additionally, venture capital firms and offices based in Michigan grew their capital under management by $800 million.

    Kelly Williams, a managing direct of a private equity firm within Credit Suisse, said in her keynote address that the investment money coming back to Michigan is not a gift, but reflects the state’s growth and commitment to investing in entrepreneurship.

    “We only invest for return,” she said.

    “We are not a charitable organization, we are not an economic development organization… We invest in Michigan because we know we are going to get a great return on our money.”

    Throughout her address and in an interview, Williams outlined why she believes Michigan’s growth is both attention-worthy and sustainable.

    Mo’ Money, Mo’ Mentum

    Michigan was the fastest growing state for venture capital, jumping from No. 25 to No. 15 in America in terms of dollars invested, according to the recently released report by the MVCA, and success breeds success.

    “We are in a world where everyone is trying to figure out how to use other people’s money, and Michigan has figured it out,” Williams said.

    She pointed out that the increase in available capital has led to more deals and successful exits, both of which have in turn led to further investment in the state.

    (More of) the right people

    A healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem needs people that venture capitalists trust because they have been through the process before. These serial investors have been around on the West Coast for years, but now that Michigan’s ecosystem is starting to mature, people who have worked on multiple companies are becoming more and more common.

    “And now you’ve had enough successes and failures here that the people who do the startup thing, it doesn’t come with the stigma any more,” Williams said.

    “People used to frown on failure, especially in the Midwest, but now people think that the guy who has been through a number of startup companies is pretty cool.”

    That first generation of serial entrepreneurs is also inspiring and mentoring a new generation that believes in their ability to start their own company, often during or right out of school.

    “There’s a growing cadre of 20-somethings that are drinking gallons of the Kool-Aid,” said Mike Kell, also with Credit Suisse.

    “They fancy themselves entrepreneurs and they are making it a life choice. They can see themselves doing it for the rest of their lives.”

    Internal collaboration

    The venture capitalists talk to the university tech transfer people who are friends with the startup incubators who reach out to corporate research and development heads while they make sure to nurture the student entrepreneurs who, in turn, reach out to venture capitalists for mentorship.

    In Michigan, we take for granted that all of these relationships exist and create a community where everyone celebrates each other’s success. In her address, Williams said that even the venture capital firms in Michigan get along well.

    “We know every venture capital firm in the state, and the level of cheering for each other and rooting for each other to succeed is extraordinary,” she said.

    “We don’t see it anywhere else in the country or in the world… The way you welcome new entrepreneurs, new venture capital funds, students right out of the university is fantastic. All of this is a true competitive advantage for the state.”

    An ecosystem, by definition, relies on a number of symbiotic relationships. It might be good old fashioned Michigan friendliness, but the close relationships developed across the startup and funding spectrum have helped the state grow and attract outside funding.

    External Collaboration

    That outside funding from firms across the Midwest and on the coasts is made possible not only by the opportunity to make money in Michigan, but by the ability of local venture capital firms to make deals happen.

    Michigan VC funds were involved in over 80 percent of deals closed in the state in 2012 and are often integral in convincing outside investors, who contributed over 70 percent of the money invested, to take a chance on a company in the state.

    “It’s not always just about the capital,” Williams said.

    “It’s about do they feel like they have a venture capital partner who can provide the adult supervision for the company where they are… In Michigan you have VCs who know what they’re doing and how to nurture the companies here and be a good partner.”

    Bi-partisan support

    The most likely responses to this column in the AnnArbor.com comment section are that all of this support is “thanks to” or “in spite of” members of one political party or another. The fact is that Michigan’s growth in the venture capital and entrepreneurial sectors have been supported and helped by people on both sides of the aisle.

    Michigan’s state government has been supporting funds of funds, large pools of capital that invest in local venture capital funds, under Governors John Engler, Jennifer Granholm, and Rick Snyder.

    In fact, the bill to establish the Michigan Venture Fund was co-sponsored by state Sen. Michael Bishop (a Republican) and former state Rep. and now state Treasurer Andy Dillon (a Democrat).

    Williams was emphatic in her belief that without support from both parties, the state’s startup and venture capital community would not be where it is today.

    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 100- and 200-meter dashes are typically races dominated by seniors at the high school level. So when Willow Run High School freshman Brandon Morgan won the 200 and finished runner-up in the 100 at the Division 3 regional championship at Erie Mason High School on Friday, his coach was encouraged.

    willow-run-pic.jpg

    AnnArbor.com file photo

    Morgan has the sixth-fastest time recorded in the 100 in Division 3 at Athletic.net so far this season (11.20 seconds) and is the only ninth-grader in the top 20. Morgan’s best 200 time (23.45) doesn’t stack up as well with the state’s best, but there is only one other ninth-grader in the Division 3 with a better time.

    "I was happy with Brandon Morgan's performance today," Ypsilanti Willow Run coach Joseph Channey said on Friday. "For a 14-year-old freshman to take first in the 200 and second in the 100 in a regional meet is pretty impressive. He listens well, and comes to practice driven to do better."

    Ann Arbor takes over water polo state championships

    Nearly half of the field at next weekend’s Michigan Water Polo Association girls high school state championships will be Ann Arbor teams. Huron, Skyline and Pioneer all advanced to the state finals after finishing first, second and fourth, respectively, in the East Region championships at Saline High School on Saturday.

    Huron beat Skyline 7-6 to win a regional championship. It’s the seventh time the two teams have played this season.

    Eight teams will compete at the state championships at Rockford High School May 31 and June 1.

    Athletes of the week

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    Mary Hanna

    Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com file photo

    Marry Hanna, Saline tennis: Won the No. 1 singles flight at the Division 1 regional championships at Plymouth Canton Educational Park on Friday. Hanna, a senior, is undefeated on the season and will likely be the No. 1 seed at next weekend’s state finals. Hanna was the top seed at No. 1 singles as a junior, but lost in the semifinals to the eventual champion.

    Lester Lancaster, Milan golf: Shot a one-over-par 73 at the Monroe County Championships at Monroe Golf and Country Club on Friday to take home medalist honors. Milan won the team title also with a team score of 314, 15 strokes better than second place Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central.

    By the numbers

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    Kylie Power-Sullivan

    Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com file photo

    3: Goals by Kylie Power-Sullivan in Huron’s 7-6 regional championship win over Skyline on Saturday.

    5: Events won by the Father Gabriel Richard boys track and field team in its Division 3 regional championship victory at Erie Mason on High School on Friday.

    6: Goal scorers in the Dexter girls soccer team’s 8-0 win over Adrian on Thursday.

    11: RBIs by Saline softball player Laura Vaccaro on Saturday in five games at the Ann Arbor Tournament on Saturday. Saline went 4-1 on the day, losing to St. Clair in the quarterfinals.

    27: Combine runs scored in the Manchester baseball team’s 16-11 win over Michigan Center on Saturday.

    131: Margin of victory by the Chelsea High School boys track and field team in its regional championship win on Friday, the Bulldogs’ first title since 1969.

    Potent quotables

    "We've won eight games in a row now. We're playing extremely well. Our athletic director instituted a new rule that if you miss an hour of class, you're not allowed to practice or play in the game that day and I think that's instilled discipline and expectations that have helped us."

    -- Willow Run baseball coach Blake Nordman.

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


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    Adam Savader, of Great Neck, NY, appeared in federal court Tuesday to face charges for allegedly cyberstalking and extorting nude photos from 15 college-age women, including one from Ann Arbor, reports The Detroit News.

    The 21-year-old Republican presidential campaign intern who worked for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in 2012 was charged in New York last month. According to The Detroit News, the case was transferred to a federal court in Detroit and since mid-April, Savader has been held without bond.

    The hearing will be delayed to a later date because Savader’s lawyer was unable to attended his initial appearance.

    Savader is charged with two federal crimes for harassing 15 women, one of whom is a college student in Michigan, from Sept. 30 through February using a Google Voice number.

    A federal affidavit revealed a report by one of the 15 women stating that she received texts from a person claiming to be John Smith. The person told the women he had nude photos of her and if she didn’t send him more, he would send them to her parents. Savader was traced to the Google Voice number used to extort the victims.

    According to The Detroit News, Savader obtained the nude photos by hacking online accounts.


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    The chart shows where the city's medical marijuana facilities are located and where potential ones may be placed.

    Courtesy Ypsilanti

    The Ypsilanti City Council delayed its decision Tuesday on the proposed emergency moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries and grow facilities, after several community members and business owners voiced their concerns during the meeting.

    Council member Ricky Jefferson and Mayor Pro Tem Lois Richardson brought forth the ordinance, which requested no additional permits and licenses be granted related to medical marijuana until city staff reviews the present density of licenses already granted.

    Thumbnail image for Hydro_Med_medical_marijuana_1.jpg

    The Ypsilanti City Council voted to postpone its decision on an emergency moratorium on medical marijuana facilities.

    Council voted 4-3 to table the ordinance until its June 4 regular meeting to discuss the matter further. Richardson, council member Daniel Vogt, Jefferson, and council member Susan Moeller voted in favor of the tabling. Mayor Paul Schreiber, and council members Brian Robb and Pete Murdock voted against it.

    "This seems like an absolute abuse of the emergency ordinance," Robb said. "The 60 days doesn’t really give you time to do anything."

    The emergency moratorium would impose a moratorium for 60 days on any new marijuana grow facilities and dispensaries opening in the city.

    Jefferson said his main concern was the high number of facilities being located within Ward 1.

    Dispensaries and grow facilities within the city:

    • Ward 1 has two dispensaries, with one potential dispensary. The ward also has one grow facility and one potential grow facility.
    • Ward 2 has one dispensary.
    • Ward 3 has three dispensaries and one potential grow facility.

    The city has six licensed dispensaries, with one undergoing a renewal process. According to city staff, there is an application in process for a new dispensary to open.

    The city has one licensed grow facility and two grow facilities in the application process.

    City Planner Teresa Gillotti said keeping in mind the requirements already in place on dispensaries and grow facilities, the city has room for a maximum of between 10 and 14. The city was originally looking at potentially allowing up to 30.

    Gillotti said the city receives many calls from parties interested in opening up more facilities.

    "Business owners still think that there's a demand," she said. "We get calls all the time."

    There are additional areas where a dispensary can theoretically be located, Gillotti said, including the former Taco Bell on Ecorse Road, a space within the 800-900 block of West Michigan Avenue, and potentially the 500-600 block of West Michigan, although this is less likely based on the existing landlords and businesses.

    A facility on Railroad Street has applied for a license and the approval is pending site plan approval/construction for a grow facility, and a proposed facility on Catherine Street has received the special use permit and site plan approvals. Work is currently underway on the site and building including sidewalk expansion, stormwater management and building improvements, Gillotti said.

    In addition to that, Gillotti said there is potential for approximately two more growing facilities, one in the "Industrial Park" area and another at the former Wooden Nickel on Huron River Drive across the street from the Peninsular Place Apartments.

    Richardson said that when she and Jefferson first proposed the moratorium, it was not proposed as an emergency. Richardson said City Attorney John Barr advised the city to consider making it an emergency ordinance.

    "That was the legal perspective," Richardson said. "I intrepereted that he was stongly in favor that council adopt this resolution. Mr. Barr was the one who chose the emergency route. With the city of Ypsilanti being four square miles, why would we want 15 grow facilities dispensaries? That’s a lot. Let people go to their doctors and go to the pharmacy."

    Thumbnail image for RickyJefferson.jpg

    Council member Ricky Jefferson

    Data provided by the Ypsilanti Police Department shows that calls for police service between May 2012 and May 2013 at Ypsilanti's dispensaries and grow facilities were relatively minimum:

    • Herbal Solutions dispensary at 124 W. Michigan Avenue received no police calls related to the dispensary.
    • Cannacure dispensary at 50 Ecorse Road received a call on Oct. 2, 2012 for an attempted breaking and entering. No entry was gained to the facility.
    • 3rd Coast Compassion Center dispensary at 19 N. Hamilton had a reported "unfounded" alarm on March 23, 2013.
    • Depot Town Dispensary at 35 E. Cross St. had a report of an unfounded alarm on July 29, 2012 and a call on January 13, 2013 for an attempted breaking and entering
    • St. Indica's Coalition of Kindness, Sticky Ypsi, dispensary at 1090 North Huron River Drive had a report of an unfounded alarm
    • The Shop dispensary at 513 W. Cross Street had no calls for service.
    • Green Vitality grow facility at 576 S. Mansfield had no calls.

    Richardson said despite there not being many reported instances of issues at the dispensaries and grow facilities, she has personally witnessed troubling behavior at the dispensary on Ecorse Road.

    "I watched people going in and out and certainly a number of people I saw going in and out did not appear to need medical marijuana," Richardson said. "They lit up right in the parking lot. I don’t think we stop and thnk about what sort of pressure this is going to put on our police department. There was enough marijuana smoke in the air that I thought, let me move before I get a marijuana contact (high)."

    Jamie Lowell of 3rd Coast Compassion Center said he believes it's perfectly reasonable for the city to put a cap on the number of facilities within the city, but he believes more time should go into the consideration of the moratorium.

    "To have an emergency moratorium is kind of inapproapriate," Lowell said.

    Victoria James, a lifelong Ypsilanti resident and area pastor, said she was against more dispensaries and grow facilities opening in the city.

    "I love the city of Ypsilanti," James said. "This is where I raised my children.The last thing I want people to see is more marijuana. That's just not what this city needs. I embrace people wherever they are, but that is not what needs to happen at the entryway of the city of Ypsilanti."

    Ypsilanti resident John Evans said he relocated to the city particularly because of its marijuana laws. Evans said he has a grow facility within his home that is regularly inspected.

    "I love this town, it has character and charm and history," Evans said. "Right now we have the chance to take advantage of this new industry. I don't think we need a moratorium."

    Valerie Brown-Tooson, an Ypsilanti resident, said marijuana is a drug and should be regulated as such.

    "As much as it's identified as medical marijuana, it’s a drug," Brown-Tooson said. "I’m totally against it being at the gateway of the Ypsilanti community. Coupled with the problems we already have in that area, to place something at the entry of Ypsilanti is an eyesore. That’s not the flower or the vase we should present coming into the city."

    Adam Tasselmyer, the founder of Herbal Solutions, said his business, along with the other five dispensaries, employs local residents and improved the look of previously unused buildings.

    Ypsilanti resident Lee Tooson echoed the thoughts of several other residents who spoke against the addition of more facilities, saying it's time the city stop being the "dumping grounds" of businesses other communities within Washtenaw County don't want.

    "I knew this kind of thing was coming because it has not stopped," Tooson said. "Ypsilanti as always been the dumping ground for things other places don't want. They dump it on the southside of Ypsilanti. We should be interested in the livelihood of our children and how is that going to affect them and their coming up. It's nothing but a legalized dope house."

    The city has already adopted two ordinances, one regarding zoning of medical marijuana facilities and another determining the licensing process for medical marijuana dispensaries, growing facilities and home occupations.

    The zoning ordinance outlines where dispensaries and grow facilities can be dispersed through the various business districts rather than clustered into one particular district. The dispensaries can also be located within business districts. Growing, smoking, or other uses of medical marijuana at a dispensary is prohibited.

    Dispensaries must be 1,000 feet from a school and no two dispensaries or growing facilities can be within 500 feet of one another.

    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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    Michelle Chamuel performs on "The Voice" on Monday.

    NBC

    In what should probably come as a surprise to no one - considering how uniformly knocked out the judges were by her performance of Pink's "Just Give Me a Reason" on Monday night - former Ann Arborite Michelle Chamuel advanced to become one of the final 8 contestants left standing on NBC's singing competition "The Voice" on Tuesday, May 21.

    During Tuesday night's live elimination show, wherein the two contestants with the fewest viewer votes are out, Chamuel's last remaining Team Usher teammate, Josiah Hawley, got the hook, as did Team Shakira's Kris Thomas.

    This leaves both Shakira and Usher with one-person teams, while judges Adam Levine and Blake Shelton retained all three of their mentee artists/duos on Tuesday.

    In a lighter moment during Tuesday's elimination episode, called "Confessionals," the contestants pondered what career other than singing that they might pursue. Chamuel said, "If I weren't a singer, I might be a puppeteer."

    Shortly after that, she appeared in the frame with two hand puppets (one with Chamuel's signature black glasses) and explained, "This is me, this is Ush." Referencing a rehearsal trick Usher used when Chamuel was preparing to perform Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors" on a previous episode, Chamuel made the Usher puppet say to the Michelle puppet, "'Now, I'm going to get a mirror, so you can do an exercise,'" to which the Michelle puppet flatly replied, 'Oh, God, no.'"

    And though Usher was the star of Team Usher's performance of "The Look of Love" on Tuesday's episode, Chamuel and Hawley did back him up. Check it out here.

    Chamuel will be back to perform again on "The Voice" on Monday, May 27.

    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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    What did you think of the concert? Leave a comment and / or vote in the poll at the end of this post:

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    Shawn Colvin and Mary Chapin Carpenter perform at the Power Center on Tuesday.

    Chris Asadian | for AnnArbor.com

    Near the start of their co-headlining concert Tuesday, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin related that they've spent a lot of time in each other's living rooms, and they wanted to bring that feeling to the Power Center.

    In a way, though, the audience was ahead of them: From the moment the pair walked on stage hand-in-hand, a particularly enthusiastic welcome made it clear they were already among old friends.

    The two accomplished and beloved singer-songwriter-guitarists turned in a two-hour-plus show that maintained a loose, relaxed and fun vibe, while still keeping the musicianship tight throughout. It was just the two women's voices and their guitars, but that was more than enough.

    That's largely because the performances delivered a string of such well-done and well-crafted songs. At this stage in their careers, both Carpenter and Colvin have extensive songbooks of their own strong work, and they drew from throughout them. In addition, they highlighted several cover songs, invariably making smart and effective choices.

    The concert opened with "Catch the Wind," and I bet Donovan wishes he could have made it sound that good. Other great covers included a thoughtful version of Steve Earle's "Someday" and a gorgeous interpretation of the Beatles' "I'll Be Back."

    From her own catalog, Carpenter went back as far as the old favorite "This Shirt"; delighted fans with "He Thinks He'll Keep Her" and "I Feel Lucky"; and introduced a brand new song, "Hand On My Back," that drew some of the evening's most extended applause.

    Colvin's classics included "Polaroids" and, of course, her huge hit "Sunny Came Home"; she also offered newer material like "Change is On the Way."

    The two seamlessly blended full-blown duets, some songs with one singer backing up the other, and some fully solo numbers. It all worked, but they were best together; their voices harmonize terrifically, particularly as heard on Colvin's "One Cool Remove." But my favorite moment came during Carpenter's "The Hard Way," when she encouraged Colvin to sing a verse solo—while Carpenter whispered each line to her.

    If at times it seemed like Carpenter and Colvin were spending as much time talking (and laughing) as singing Tuesday, that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Their rapport seems genuine, and their stories—about growing older, the songwriting process, and so on—were entertaining.

    Carpenter even reminisced about her first visit to Ann Arbor, at age 19, crashing at a friend's place as she made her way to Colorado. While here, she was talked into performing one song at the open-mic night being held at The Ark—the same legendary club that sponsored Tuesday's concert.

    "I've never forgotten it," Carpenter said. "Life is one great big beautiful circle."


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    Participants of 'Run as One', which was held at the VA Hospital by Team Red, White & Blue's Ann Arbor branch.

    Courtesy of George Ferrier

    More than 40 people ran a 3-mile ‘Run as One’ race at Ann Arbor’s Veteran’s Association Hospital on Saturday in commemoration of veterans who have lost the battle against PTSD or depression.

    The event was held by Team Red, White & Blue, a worldwide nonprofit volunteer organization that aims to bring veterans together through physical activity.

    There were nearly 10,000 runners between all participating branches, 7,000 of whom are former or active members of the military. TeamRWB Ann Arbor branch member George Ferrier said nearly every branch in the United States participated on Saturday along with a branch in Kuwait.

    The event was prompted by the loss of a member of Team Rubicon, another organization that aims to make the transition from military to home easier for veterans. TeamRWB recently joined up with Team Rubicon and the Veteran’s Association Hospital. Both organizations as well as members from the Student Veteran’s Association were running in the event on Saturday.

    The Bob Woodruff Foundation, a national nonprofit dedicated to ensuring injured service members are supported after they return home, donated the shirts worn by participants in the run.

    Events like the ‘Run as One’ are meant to bring veterans together not just with each other, but with the community, Ferrier said.

    TeamRWB, Team Rubicon and the VA Hospital meet every Saturday at 9:30 a.m. to walk, run or jog. They also get together for social activities such as sporting events and cookouts.

    “When I was in high school I was really shy and timid, but since joining the military and TeamRWB it has made me more physically active and socially active too,” Ferrier said.

    TeamRWB’s next event will be held Friday, May 24 at locations across the country. ‘WOD for Warriors’ is meant to connect community with Veterans. Ann Arbor’s branch will be participating at Motor City CrossFit in Sterling Heights.

    Chelsea Hoedl is an intern reporter. She can be reached at choedl@mlive.com.


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    A new University of Michigan initiative has doled out its first round of funding.

    b_300_225_16777215_01___images_um-launches-effort-strengthen-GreatLakes-restoration-picturedRocks-orig-2012-10-30.jpg

    University of Michigan's Water Center is working on Great Lakes restoration and protection efforts.

    The school's Water Center awarded $570,000 to 12 researchers working on Great Lakes restoration and protection efforts.

    The creation of a $9 million Water Center was announced at U-M President Mary Sue Coleman's leadership breakfast in 2012.

    The Water Center grants, which are awarded in chunks as high as $50,000 over the course of two years, will go toward projects tracking the remediation of harmful algae blooms, assessing techniques to control non-native weedy plant invasions and monitoring fish responses to restoration activities.

    Fifty-four proposals were submitted for the first round of Water Center research grants, but just 12 were chosen. Recipients aren't just from Michigan, they hail from other schools and Canada.

    "These initial grants are to an exceptional few projects that really addressed our goals and clearly identified outcomes that matter to the region's resource management community. They are going to fill key gaps in our restoration knowledge," Water Center Director Allen Burton said in a release.

    When Coleman announced the formation of the Water Center, she said the university wants to provide a framework for more efficient restoration of the Great Lakes, which hold 20 percent of the world's surface freshwater and include 10,000 miles of coastline.

    "As a university, we need to take on ownership and responsibility of regional sustainability challenges that affect us - close to home and where our expertise can have enormous impact," Coleman said in October 2012. "The water center will do that."

    The fledgling Water Center has a growing staff —it's in the process of bringing on eight post-doctorate fellows— and is expecting to award a second round of larger grants, of up to $500,000 each, later this year.

    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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    The Ypsilanti Township Walmart will be a Walmart Supercenter by the end of the year.

    At its meeting Monday, Ypsilanti Township's Planning Commission unanimously approved plans for a 38,000-square-foot addition onto the store at 2515 Ellsworth Road.

    The expansion will primarily make room for a full grocery section on the west side of the building, which takes up 13 acres in the Roundtree Shopping Plaza.

    The $4 million construction project is expected to begin in August and is targeted for completion within 120 days.

    Plans for the 104,000-square-foot building also call for an expanded parking lot, renovations and improvements to the façade, an additional entrance and upgrades to the garden center.

    Walmart_2.jpg

    Walmart will invest $4 million to make the Ypsilanti Township a Walmart Supercenter, which will include improvements to the façade.

    Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com

    “When the development is completed it will look like a new Supercenter building, so it is a good plan for the existing building,” Robert Matco, a civil engineer for Walmart, told the planning commission.

    Township planning coordinator Joe Lawson said Walmart chose to expand the store because of its high customer volume and demand.

    The nearest Super Walmarts are on Belleville Road in Belleville and at 7000 E. Michigan Ave., in Saline.

    The next nearest grocery store is the Meijer at the intersection of Carpenter and Ellsworth roads, in Pittsfield Township. The plaza once held a Busch's before it changed to a Sheena's Market. That shut down several years ago.

    Lawson said Walmart had not yet provided information on how many jobs will be added.

    "This office and our elected leadership is excited to see the expansion," Lawson said. "This tells us that they obviously see a benefit to being here, and the substantial investment shows they're happy to be here."

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


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