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

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    052213_crash_zeed_and_liberty-3.jpg

    Police believe speed may have been a factor in Wednesday's fatal accident at Liberty and Zeeb.

    Courtney Sacco | AnnArbor.com

    The 28-year-old Van Buren Township woman who died in a car accident Wednesday afternoon may have been speeding, police said.

    “The car was moving at a pretty high rate of speed,” said Derrick Jackson of the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office. “We’re not sure why she went into oncoming traffic.”

    Scio Township Fire Chief Carl Ferch said Wednesday, the vehicle was traveling south on Zeeb Road when it crossed the centerline and collided with a gravel hauler traveling north about 2:10 p.m..

    Jackson said authorities are still attempting to contact the woman's extended family and her name wasn't expected to be released until Thursday evening.

    Police weren't immediately releasing whether the woman was wearing a seatbelt. The car was still registered to a dealer because the woman had recently purchased it and was waiting for paperwork to be transferred into her name.

    This detail made it a little more difficult to identify the woman, Jackson said.

    Police continue to investigate the crash.

    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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    After a stretch of summer-like days, temperatures are on a downward spiral in the Ann Arbor area.

    We've already enjoyed the high for Thursday, a mere 62 degrees. High winds with gusts as high as 30 mph will continue through the day. Showers are expected until 8 p.m. with the chance of precipitation at 80 percent. Up to a quarter inch of rain is possible.

    Frost_Mlive.jpg

    A cold front brings the potential for patchy frost for some areas in southeast Michigan Thursday night..

    MLive photo

    Temperatures are expected to be in the 50s Thursday afternoon, then drop to around 38 Thursday night.

    Some parts of Washtenaw County may experience patchy frost after midnight, but the National Weather Service in White Lake Township said no frost advisory has been issued for Ann Arbor.

    Although the sun will be out this weekend, temperatures won't climb back into the 70s until Tuesday. Friday’s high will be near 62 with a low of 41. Saturday will be sunny with a high near 64 and a low of 43. Sunday’s high will be near 65 with a low of 43.

    Temperatures will begin to climb early next week with a high of 71 expected Tuesday and Wednesday's high near 77 degrees.

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

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


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    It's official: Ann Arbor is growing.

    Tree Town's population climbed above the 116,000 mark last year — up almost 2 percent from 2010, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

    Downtown_Ann_Arbor_2012.jpg

    Census estimates suggest Ann Arbor is a popular place to live.

    Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

    But perhaps that's not surprising with all the development happening here, including new downtown high-rises boasting thousands of new beds.

    Ann Arbor's population sat at 113,934 as of the 2010 census, a slight decrease from the decade before. Later estimates from July 2010 put it at 114,112.

    By July 1, 2011, Ann Arbor's population was estimated at 115,167. And as of July 1, 2012, the timeframe for the new estimates, it went up again to 116,121.

    With an extra 2,000-plus people calling this college town home, Ann Arbor is now the fifth-largest city in Michigan, trailing only Detroit (701,475), Grand Rapids (190,411), Warren (134,141), and Sterling Heights (130,410).

    Since the 2010 census, Ann Arbor has traded places with Lansing, which used to have a slightly higher population. Based on the new estimates, Ann Arbor is now bigger than the state's capital city, which has seen its estimated population tick down to 113,996.

    MLive reported on Thursday the new data shows Michigan's population is growing, but a state demographer said the estimates may be of little value for identifying local population changes. MLive reported the estimates look just at changes in the housing market.

    The new estimates put the state's population at 9,883,360 — up 6,559 people from 2011. Washtenaw County's gain of 2,309 last year accounted for more than a third of that.

    Washtenaw County's population clocked in at 350,946, up 0.7 percent from 2011. The county gained an estimated 5,596 residents from 2010 to 2012.

    The new estimates show every single municipality in Washtenaw County saw at least some increase in its population last year.

    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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    Related stories:

    Despite a second attempt Wednesday from Board Secretary Andy Thomas, the Ann Arbor school board remained largely unwilling to budge on a $5,000 food allowance for board meetings.

    andy-thomas-new.jpeg

    Andy Thomas

    "I think it has to do with leadership. It has to do with sacrifice. If no other board member has any sentiment toward this, I'll let it pass," Thomas said, explaining he felt compelled to suggest the cut one more time.

    The Board of Education decided last week to eliminate a $70,000 line item for discretionary spending on food for meetings and events districtwide in next year's budget. However, $5,000 was spared from the cut to preserve spending on food for board meetings and other board-related events.

    Vice President Christine Stead said the $5,000 fund also allows the board to provide cookies for student performers at the regular Board of Education meetings, as well as items for legislative panel discussions that the board hosts with state senators and representatives. She said eliminating the food budget "is like saying we're not going to do that anymore."

    She said she sees the legislative panels as an important piece of community service that the board and the school district provide because the panels help residents stay informed.

    "And I would like to see (the community) stay engaged in this conversation (about the lack of state funding for public education) and not just as a reaction to budget reductions," Stead said, adding some of the money from the $5,000 food budget is used to support the board's role in facilitating that engagement.

    Information provided by Communications Director Liz Margolis says for each student performance, the district orders two to six dozen cookies at a cost of $12 to $40. A legislative panel event costs $65 for linen rentals and bottled water. The information also showed some of the funding goes toward an employee recognition program, Celebrations of Excellence, which requires the purchase of a $100 fruit basket for each occurrence.

    Stead said the food — which, for 15 people for a regular board meeting costs $80 — is provided by Chartwells and is "about the most cost efficient way" to serve the group. At $80 per regular meeting, the cost per person is about $5.33.

    "... It doesn't mean there aren't cheaper options," said Treasurer Glenn Nelson.

    Nelson was the only trustee to express a wavering opinion from the first discussion the board had on the topic on May 15. He said after some thought, he changed his mind and would be willing to support some reduction to the $5,000 food fund, but not an elimination.

    "I'd be interested in some cut but not to zero," he said.

    There was no further discussion on the $5,000 food allowance at Wednesday's meeting.

    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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    jeremyabston.jpg

    Jeremy Abston

    Courtesy of YPD

    Raymond_March.jpg

    Raymond March

    Raymond March

    The 27-year-old man accused of abducting his ex-girlfriend in an Ypsilanti parking lot earlier this month is now in custody, police said.

    Jeremy Abston was arrested Thursday at a residence in Detroit, according to a release from the Ypsilanti Police Department.

    Abston was located and taken into custody without incident by police with the assistance of the 2nd District Fugitive Team, the release states.

    He will be held at the Washtenaw County Jail until he is arraigned on 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.

    Court records indicate those are the counts authorized on the arrest warrant.

    Police say Abston and 21-year-old Raymond March, of Belleville, forced 25-year-old Farrah 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 May 10 at an Inkster home. He 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.

    March waived a preliminary examination Tuesday. He continues to be held in the Washtenaw County Jail on a $250,00 cash bond, jail records indicate.

    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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    huronfinale.jpeg

    The Huron Players will perform original student works in "Finale! 2013."

    Photo provided by Huron Players

    Huron High School's theater troupe, the Huron Players, will present the final show of its 2012-13 season, "Finale! 2013," a showcase of student-written, student-directed one act plays and monologues, on May 30 and 31 at 7:30 p.m. in HHS's New Theater (2727 Fuller Road in Ann Arbor).

    Student writers whose work will be featured in the show include: Hanel Baveja, Claire Fishman, Eleanor Howell-Shryock, Micaela Stevenson, and Madeline Woods; student directors include: Eleanor Howell-Shryock, Thaer Thabata, Christoph Swatosch, Katie Grosh, Emily Olson, Arianna Gelderloos, and Isaac Balinski. Tickets go on sale 45 minutes prior to each performance; to make advance reservations, call 734-994-2095. Tickets cost $6 general admission, or $4 for students, seniors and staff.

    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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    monsanto_march_logo.png
    Organizers expect at least 1,000 people to join the local March Against Monsanto scheduled for Saturday afternoon in downtown Ann Arbor.

    The march and rally, part of an international day of protests, will begin at 1 p.m. on the University of Michigan Diag and end at Hanover Square Park on Packard Road. Organizer Kryssi Jones said the event will focus on spreading the word about the dangers of genetically modified foods, commonly referred to as GMOs (which stands for Genetically Modified Organisms).

    “It’s not as much against Monsanto as it is about education,” she said. “We really want people to know about the issue and that’s the main focus.”

    Monsanto says its genetically modified seeds and feeds are held to a rigorous safety standard and are just as safe as non-modified crops.

    Monsanto_logo.png
    "Hundreds of independent scientific experts and dozens of governments around the world have determined that foods and ingredients developed through biotechnology [or genetic modification (GM)] are safe," according to a statement on Monsanto's website.

    The rally in Hanover Square Park will include speakers who work on GMO-free farms and plenty of literature distribution. There will also be children’s activities focused on teaching kids about what organizers say are the dangers of genetically modified foods.

    “We’ll be helping to make people aware of not just what GMOs are, but what people can do to help the situation,” Jones said.

    “We will encourage people to vote with their dollars, and we’ll be passing out lists of brands that have GMOs or are owned by Monsanto for people to avoid. We’re also going to be informing people about local farmers markets and different venues where they can get non-GMO foods.”

    Besides advocating for a boycott of genetically modified foods, the march is designed to encourage attendees to take a more active role in the political process to help counter-balance what she says is an outsized influence held by major corporations like Monsanto.

    “The senate just voted yesterday and struck down labeling of GMO products; we’re pretty upset about that and it’s adding to our momentum.” she said.

    “We want people to email their legislators or send them a postcard, we’re trying to give them ideas on how to approach their lawmakers with these issues.”

    Other marches will be held in 10 Michigan cities, including Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing and Traverse City. Across the globe, 330 marches are planned in more than 40 countries.

    “This is really an international issue,” Jones said. “Other countries have actually banned Monsanto from operating or being in their countries. It’s not just a bunch of hippies who don’t like it, it’s a global thing.”

    Jones has been an “active protester” for about seven years and was one of the organizers behind the Occupy Portland efforts in the fall of 2011. She said that marchers are encouraged to stay on the sidewalks during the group’s 1-mile march, but she wouldn’t’ be surprised if things spill over on occasion.

    “People here don’t want to march on the sidewalks,” she said.

    “They want to practice some civil disobedience. I am encouraging people to march on the sidewalks so that we don’t have negative experiences with the police or attract any negative attention.”

    Monsanto did not respond to requests to comment on this story.

    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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    Borders_concept_store.JPG

    A federal judge ruled that Borders will not have to pay holders of unused gift cards, which could save the company's trustee more than $50 million.

    File photo | AnnArbor.com

    Borders will not have to pay anything to holders of approximately $210.5 million worth of gift cards, a Manhattan federal judge ruled Wednesday.

    According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, U.S. District Judge Andrew Carter said it would be unfair to other creditors to let the cardholders recover their lost assets.

    Borders filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February 2011 with 642 stores in operation. According to the Tribune report, the Borders trustee now has approximately $61 million left to distribute to all claimants, including unsecured creditors. Judge Carter said that payment to gift card holders would have significantly altered the current distribution plan.

    The case to re-claim gift cards was first filed in May 2012 by two consumers who were stuck with $125 in unused cards when the chain closed. In its final days, Borders recorded $156.2 million in “other revenue” that included the “write-on of unredeemed gift cards.”

    All of Borders’ Ann Arbor assets have been sold, and many of the properties have new tenants. A former Borders store in Arborland is now an Ulta and Five Below, the downtown Borders flagship is currently being re-developed and the Borders headquarters buildings on Pheonix Drive is the new home of Gold Star Mortgage.

    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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    Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority Director Tim Colbeck said installing security cameras may be one way to stop recurring illegal dumping downtown.

    "Over the years, we’ve had our ration of misues," Colbeck said. "People dump couches, construction materials and it costs the DDA a lot of money every year to correct the problem."

    midas3.jpg

    Nearly 80 tires were dumped at the Midas location at 404 E. Michigan Ave. at the beginning of May. DDA Director Tim Colbeck said the DDA districts, particularly downtown, are facing the same issue as well.

    Katrease Stafford | AnnArbor.com

    The proposal for security cameras came to the table at the recommendation of the Economic Restructuring and Design Committee.

    "The committee has been really firm they want cameras installed," Colbeck said.

    The DDA has particularly noticed the dumping within its three dumpster enclosures in the North Huron, South Huron and North Adams parking lots. The three enclosures cost the DDA about $20,000 annually.

    In addition to couches, Colbeck said tires and even a piano have been dumped.

    "We had someone leave a considerable stack of tires," Colbeck said. "It would always be a Monday morning (when we noticed.) Someone's coming over the weekend. More than anything we get furniture and we know it's not coming from people that live downtown. The DDA can't let it sit there, though. We end up having to pay bulk to have the items removed."

    Colbeck didn't provide a specific number, but said the costs are fairly high and mount quickly depending on the items.

    According to the DDA, at least once a month, the dumpster enclosures become "unsightly due to improper use."

    AnnArbor.com previously reported that the Midas at 404 E. Michigan Avenue also has experienced issues with illegal dumping. Although the Midas isn't within the DDA's district's, the problem has been recurring at that business as well.

    On May 6, Colbeck sent a letter out to business and property owners within the downtown district urging them to encourage the appropriate use of the dumpsters.

    "One of the largest problems we have is trash simply not being put in the dumpsters," Colbeck wrote.

    downtown_ypsi_dumpster_enclosure.jpg

    At center is the dumpster enclosure in the North Huron parking lot in downtown Ypsilanti.

    courtesy photo

    The DDA has added an extra garbage pickup to deter the dumping and to try to alleviate some of the issues.

    At a April 24 committee meeting, Member Kevin Hill, also the owner of the Wolverine Grill, stated the the Downtown Association of Ypsilanti was considering partnering with the DDA to add security cameras for the dumpster enclosures.

    Committee member and Sidetrack Bar and Grill Owner Linda French said that cameras should be installed throughout all of the districts, but Hill said the issue came up directly related to the dumpster enclosures and has grown into a beautification and safety item for the downtown district.

    The committee discussed the potential to grow a camera program to the other districts in the future but that it would be prudent to begin with a single area rather than expend funds for security cameras district wide.

    The DDA has received cost estimates of the security cameras from different companies, ranging between $3,500 and $8,000.

    Committee member Jake Albers stated that cameras for the enclosures should be considered a pilot program to see if they are in fact effective.

    "There has been discussion, but not any firming up of details," Colbeck said. "We're treating this is a first pass at something bigger. If indeed we see it could have a bigger impact, it would be considered for expansion."

    In addition to deterring illegal dumping, Colbeck believes it may improve security in the area.

    The DDA has started to approach possible partners to house the security equipment, including Puffer Reds Owner Eric Williams and the Ypsilanti Convention and Visitors Bureau building owner Doug Winters.

    However, the DDA has yet to receive any firm commitments. If a business owner were to agree to have the cameras installed, DDA staff and the Ypsilanti Police Department would have access to the materials if requested.

    "We haven’t worked out all the details yet," Colbeck said. "We have our attorney looking at the legality of it."

    If a person is caught illegally dumping, the city can impose fines, Colbeck said. The first violation fine is $50, and the first repeat violation is $150. The second subsequent violation is $300.

    A person could also face a civil infraction from the state of Michigan if caught dumping, ranging from $800 to $5,000.

    "We’re trying to reiterate that there are indeed consequences to this," Colbeck said. "We recognize there needs to be improvements with the system. If we get cameras in, we catch them. It's within the jurisdiction of the building’s department to (fine them.)"

    The DDA board is expected to discuss the issue further at its June 20 meeting.

    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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    white-street-fire.JPG

    Several fires, including the one above, were set on White Street the night of MIchigan's national championship loss to Louisville and Molotov cocktails were found in the vicinity.

    Courtney Sacco | AnnArbor.com file photo

    The two University of Michigan students accused of possessing Molotov cocktails on the night of the Michigan men’s basketball team’s national championship loss to Louisville are members of the wrestling team and have been indefinitely suspended.

    Wrestlers Justin Dozier and Rosario Bruno, both 20, have been charged with two counts each of possessing/manufacturing explosives, a four-year felony, and were both arraigned on Wednesday in the 15th District Court. According to an athletic department spokesperson, head coach Joe McFarland was made aware of the case on Thursday night and the athletic department was informed on Friday morning.

    “I can tell you that the coach was made aware of it last night and we were made aware of it today and that the two individuals have been indefinitely suspended,” said Michigan associate athletic director Dave Ablauf. “They have been indefinitely suspended from the team which means they are suspended from all team activities.”

    Ablauf would not comment on whether the two are on scholarship or their status as students. He said the athletic department does not have a set protocol on athletes facing criminal charges.

    “We take every incident on a case-by-case basis,” Abaluf said.

    Rosario_Bruno.jpg

    Rosario Bruno

    Courtesy of the Washtenaw County Jail

    Bruno, a Florida native, is coming off of a successful freshman campaign in which he placed seventh in the Big Ten Championships and qualified for the NCAA Championships. He went 2-2 at the national tournament at 133 pounds, falling just short of All-America status. He is enrolled in the college of Literature, Science and Arts, according to MGoBlue.com.
    Justin_Dozier.jpg

    Justin Dozier

    Courtesy of Washtenaw County Jail

    Dozier - a 2011 Michigan state champion for Woodhaven High School - started five duals at heavyweight for the Wolverines last season as a red-shirt freshman. He was a recipient of the U-M Athletic Academic Achievement Award as a freshman and is enrolled in the School of Kinesiology, according to MGoBlue.com.

    Ann Arbor police linked the two men to up to four Molotov cocktails in the 1100 block of White Street, where officers were called in the early morning hours of April 9 for a mattress fire, said Lt. Robert Pfannes.

    Pfannes said the mattress fire was extinguished when police arrived, but officers who arrived on the scene that morning located a bottle with some sort of flammable liquid in it, popularly known as a Molotov cocktail. The subsequent investigation linked the two men to "up to four" of them, Pfannes said.

    -- Crimes and courts reporter John Counts contributed to this report.

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


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    Ann Arbor native Capt. William C. Greene will take command of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine, reports The Portsmouth Herald.

    Greene will take over for Rear Admiral L. Bryant Fuller, who is stepping down in a ceremony Friday after 3 1/2 years at the helm.

    Previously military deputy for shipyard operations at Naval Sea Systems Command, Captain Greene has worked at the Puget Sound and Pearl Harbor naval shipyards, the story said.


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    If the recent warm weather has tempted you to set out petunias or other annuals, you’d better make plans to cover them tonight if you don’t want to replant.

    Frost_queenannslace.jpg

    Frost could zap tender plants Saturday morning.

    Muskegan Chronicle photo

    The National Weather Service has issued a frost advisory in effect from 2 to 8 a.m. Saturday.

    Clear skies and the arrival of high pressure will allow temperatures to drop into the 30s across southeast Michigan. The low in the Ann Arbor area is expected to be 39 degrees overnight. The advisory area includes all of southeast Michigan as well as the Thumb and northern Lower Michigan.

    Saturday will be mostly sunny with a high around 63 degrees. It will be cool again overnight with the low dropping to about 41. We’ll have sunshine Sunday and Monday with gradual warming. The high is expected to be 65 on Sunday and 69 on Monday.

    Tuesday, it’ll be partly sunny with a high of 75. The possibility of showers and thunderstorms returns Tuesday night.


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    ashley-lane-michigan-softball-052413.jpg

    Michigan's Ashley Lane celebrates while rounding the bases Friday.

    Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com

    Updated at 5:55 p.m.

    Ashley Lane got a second chance at a once-in-a-lifetime hit. And she didn’t miss.

    With the Michigan softball team trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning the senior second baseman hit a hit a routine fly ball into foul territory that was dropped by Louisiana first baseman. Two pitches later, Lane sent a walk-off home run over the left field fence to give the Wolverines a 4-3 win over the Ragin' Cajuns in their NCAA Super Regional opener Friday afternoon at Alumni Field.

    More coverage: Photo Gallery | Boxscore

    “I gave a little mini fist pump. I was pumped because that’s a legitimate second life right there," Lane said. "I definitely wasn’t going to let that one get by.”

    The Wolverines are now one win away from their first Women's College World Series appearance since 2009. The two teams will play the second game of the best-of-three Super Regional Saturday at noon (ESPN). Game 3, if necessary, will follow.

    The home run capped a wild end to the game. Michigan led 2-0 with two outs in the top of the seventh, when Louisiana Lafayette’s Brianna Cherry sent a 1-0 pitch over the right field fence to tie the game at two.

    After Michigan went down in order in the bottom of the inning, Matte Haack gave the Ragin’ Cajuns their first lead of the game on a home run to left field in the top of the eighth.

    With her team down to its final three outs, Michigan’s Caitlin Blanchard was hit by a pitch to lead off the eighth, and Lane started the celebration with a home run to left field.

    “I’d say there was a wide variety in my emotions at that point, absolutely,” Michigan coach Carol “Hutch” Hutchins said. “The thing is you can’t get too high. As I said, nothing’s decided today. You can get too high and tomorrow we need to be ready to fight.”

    This weekend marks the second straight that the Wolverines are playing NCAA tournament games at home. Friday’s game was played in front of nearly full bleachers at Alumni Field.

    “That was a great college softball game, that was a great environment,” ULL coach Michael Lotief said. “That’s amazing, it’s good for our sport, but this community is lucky to have that softball team and those young ladies represent them.”

    Wolverines starter Sara Driesenga gave up no runs and four hits over the first six innings, before allowing three singles and two home runs in the seventh and eighth.

    Those runs were the first in the game since an eventful first inning that came out in the Wolverines’ favor. Michigan scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the first, thanks in part to a Ragin’ Cajuns mishap. With one out and a runner on third, a routine fly ball to right-center field dropped between two ULL outfielders allowing leadoff hitter Lyndsay Doyle to score.

    The next hitter, Blanchard, singled home Sierra Romero to put Michigan up two.

    In the top of the first, Driesenga walked two of the first three batters she faced and had runners on first and third with one out. But freshman left fielder Sierra Lawrence caught a fly ball in foul territory and gunned down ULL’s Nerissa Myers at home plate for a double play that ended the inning.

    “I was expecting the ball to come out there and I knew that if it went in the air I had to get behind it and throw it home,” Lawrence said. “It was a big play for my pitcher and I needed to help her out.”

    The call was one of several close ones that went Michigan’s way Friday.

    “Those calls, that’s an inch here and an inch there,” Lotief said. “If you sit a different way, it all happens different. It does. That game’s decided by inches.”

    sappingfield-save.JPG

    Michigan junior right fielder Nicole Sappingfield saves a ball from going over the fence against Louisiana-Lafayette on Friday, May 24.

    Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com

    After Lawrence’s first-inning throw, Driesenga got some more help from her defense in the sixth inning. With a runner on first, Haack hit a fly ball that cleared the fence in right field. But Michigan right fielder Nicole Sappingfield deflected it back on the field with her glove to save two runs and the Wolverines escaped the inning unscathed.

    “Best play I’ve ever seen her make,” Hutchins said. “Best play ever. That was fantastic, knocking that ball down was huge.”

    But even in the elation and disappointment of the aftermath of Lane’s hit, both teams were already starting to look ahead. There is at least one more game to play tomorrow.

    “Tomorrow’s a new day,” Lotief said. “And we have to be prepared to fight another war.”

    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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    Ann Arbor Public Schools once again is weighing heavy cuts to transportation for the 2013-14 academic year.

    Jeffrey Smith | AnnArbor.com file photo

    A suggestion to operate morning-only busing for high school students would save the Ann Arbor Public Schools less money than officials thought, according to information AnnArbor.com received late Friday afternoon.

    District officials originally estimated operating pick-ups only for high-schoolers and not drop-offs in the afternoon would carry a cost savings of $233,000, half the amount the district would save if it eliminated high school transportation entirely.

    But Communications Director Liz Margolis said upon further review, the district learned the cost to run "to school" morning service would save $150,000 — not half the cost of high school bus service.

    District administrators proposed no longer offering high school busing as a way to save $466,000 en route to closing an $8.67 million budget gap for the 2013-14 academic year. The proposal is part of a long list of cuts the school board will weigh to try to pass a balanced budget before June 30.

    Margolis said the $150,000 represents fuel and wage savings only from reducing drivers' hours. But drivers still would have to be maintained to operate the morning routes, so the district would not save on total wages or insurance and benefits.

    AAPS continues to pay wages and benefits for the district's drivers, despite the drivers being employed through the Washtenaw Intermediate School District.

    AAPS contracts with the WISD for transportation services to save about $2.5 million on its overall transportation costs. A significant portion of this savings comes from the WISD — as opposed to the district — paying the pension contribution amount for drivers.

    Margolis said in discussing the idea to offer morning-only high school bus service further, a concern came up about retaining drivers under this scenario, as their hours would be reduced — meaning they would make less money.

    As the district and the Ann Arbor community became acutely aware of during the third-quarter financial report, the WISD already is struggling to attract and retain drivers and especially substitute drivers. Because of this, the WISD is having to pay substitute drivers a higher wage, AAPS Executive Director of Finance Nancy Hoover previously said.

    The Ann Arbor Public Schools were required to budget $700,000 more than originally expected for transportation, which contributed to a third-quarter deficit of $1.3 million and an overall current-year deficit of $3.8 million.

    The $3.8 million shortfall for the 20112-13 school year has led to AAPS borrowing money for the first time in its history to pay employees during three periods of low cash flow from now until December.

    Margolis said that district officials will report to the school board at its next regular meeting their findings and the estimated savings of reducing high school transportation in the afternoon only. This morning-only suggestions was made by Trustee Andy Thomas at Wednesday's Board of Education meeting.

    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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    Longtime Mt. Brighton Ski Resort owner Joe Bruhn has announced that he will retire once new general manager Taylor Ogilvie takes over later this summer.

    Ogilvie, appointed by new owners Vail Resorts, will begin managing the resort on June 10. Rob Bruhn, the resort's operations manager and Joe’s son, told the Livingston Daily that he will be staying on in his same position and that his father will retire at some point in the near future.

    Mt_Brighton_Boarding.JPG

    Mt. Brighton Ski Resort will have major renovations and a new general manager before it opens for business next winter.

    Lon Horwedel | Ann Arbor News file photo

    According to a news release from Vail Resorts, Ogilvie is originally from Chicago and started his career as a ski instructor at Vail after graduating from the University of Colorado.

    “We are thrilled to have someone with Taylor’s ski resort management experience become general manager of Mt. Brighton,” Eric Simon, vice president and general manager of urban ski areas at Vail Resorts, said in a statement.

    “Taylor has had tremendous success working across all mountain operations and will bring remarkable insight on the Vail Resorts guest experience to Mt. Brighton. Plus, growing up skiing in the Midwest, Taylor understands how special ski areas like Mt. Brighton are.”

    According to the Livingston Daily, Bruhn said that 2012 was one of the worst seasons he could remember at the resort. After purchasing the property in December, Vail announced that it would be investing $10 million for improvements to the ski and snowboard resort.

    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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    A Taylor police officer was found dead from a gunshot wound Thursday in an Ypsilanti Township parking lot, but there was no indication of foul play, a Washtenaw County sheriff’s spokesman said.

    The News-Herald in Southgate reported Taylor police officer Michael Rich was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head and that the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office was investigating the death.

    Fox said the officer was discovered dead around 4 or 5 p.m. Thursday in the area of South Huron Street and Joe Hall Drive. He said he could not release any information about who found the man.

    Washtenaw County sheriff’s officers Thursday conducted an investigation into the shooting death of a Taylor police officer and determined that no foul play was involved.

    Taylor police Chief Mary Sclabassi told the News-Herald that Rich was not on duty at the time of the shooting. She called him an “outstanding police officer.”

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    A 21-year-old New York man has been released after a month in custody on cyberstalking charges filed in Detroit.

    Adam Savader of Great Neck, N.Y., is charged with cyberstalking and extortion through the Internet. He's accused of threatening to release nude photos of young women, including one from Ann Arbor, unless they sent some to him. Many are college students who know him.

    The 21-year-old Republican presidential campaign intern who worked for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in 2012 was charged in New York in April and held without bond. He was eventually transported to Detroit, and a federal judge allowed his release Friday. A not-guilty plea was entered.

    The criminal complaint says Savader called himself John Smith when he sent text messages to women over a Google phone service. Authorities say he got access to nude photos through hacked accounts that belonged to the women.

    A federal affidavit revealed a report by one of the 15 women stating that she received texts from an unknown number. 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.


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    Seventh and eighth inning Louisiana Lafayette home runs nearly spelled doom for the Michigan softball team on Friday in its NCAA Super Regional game at Alumni Field. Not to be outdone, senior Ashley Lane provided the last bit of heroics with a walk off home run of her own to give Michigan a 4-3 win in extra innings.

    Daniel Brenner is a photographer for AnnArbor.com.


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    An exclusive geriatric inpatient unit developed jointly by the University of Michigan Health System and St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor will open Tuesday at St. Joe in Superior Township.

    The Acute Care for Elders (ACE) unit marks a full-scale collaboration between the two hospital systems and introduces southeast Michigan to an integrative model of care that is making inroads nationwide and appears to improve patient outcomes. There are about 25 such units across the country.

    EastTower.jpg

    The East Tower of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor.

    Photo courtesy of St. Joseph Mercy Health System

    The 32-bed unit (the unit will start with 16 beds) will serve acutely ill adults 70 years and older who are admitted to either hospital. It will feature a homey atmosphere with private, spacious rooms, along with state-of-the-art apparatus that assist patients in showering, toileting, and getting out of bed, ample handrails and other assistive devices throughout, pressure-relieving mattresses and low-set beds. There are sleeping amenities for family members, too, and regular times for them to meet with their loved one’s attending physician.

    ‘’We have the opportunity to define an actual physical space, and the space is beautifully set up for older patients,’’ says Karen Hall, a clinical professor in U-M’s Department of Internal Medicine, division of geriatric and palliative medicine. She’ll serve as the ACE unit’s medical director.

    Acute geriatric unit care is defined as having at least one or more of these components: medical review, early rehabilitation, early discharge planning, a conducive environment, and patient-centered care.

    U-M Hospital is typically full, and there is no dedicated space for older patients, who require a different level of care, Hall says. St. Joe’s had the space on the 10th floor of its East Tower, 5301 McCauley Drive, and a new initiative between the hospitals was born.

    ‘’It was the sun, moon and stars coming together,’’ says Rob Casalou, president and CEO of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and Livingston hospitals. ‘’You have the Turner Geriatric Center at U-M, St. Joe’s legacy of fine nurses and the available space; we have the perfect alignment.’’

    The unit will be run under a joint operating agreement between the two hospitals.

    The initial investment of both hospitals in the ACE unit was $125,000 each to cover equipment and staff training, says Robin Damschroder, associate hospital director of operations and clinical services for U-M Hospitals and Health Services.

    The interdisciplinary model of care means a team of specialists will develop a care plan for and be assigned to each patient. That includes social workers, physical therapists, a pharmacist, nurse practitioners, and dietitians from St. Joe’s - all trained in geriatric care and all of whom asked to work in the unit, says Hall. Three physicians, two from U-M, will treat patients, along with two U-M geriatricians. The ratio of nurses to patients will be 3-1.

    Hall says patients will likely stay no more than 5 days. To be admitted, patients must meet the Medicare criteria for being acutely ill. After treatment, they would either go home or to a subacute facility.

    “We’re hoping to do a better job of transitioning them out of the hospital,’’ says Hall. A key objective, she says, is lowering hospital readmission rates among patients (also a federal mandate), but research has not shown that ACE care significantly reduces them.

    However, a review of more than a dozen studies into the outcomes of ACE care, published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society this month, found that patients generally fare better following their stay in ACE units. The review showed fewer falls, less delirium, less functional decline, a shorter length of hospital stay, and fewer discharges to nursing homes.

    Julie Edgar is a freelance writer for AnnArbor.com.


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    020613_ypsi_fire_house-24.JPG

    Ypsilanti firefighter Fred Williams III checks over the power tools on tower ladder one during his weekly check of the tower ladder.

    Courtney Sacco I AnnArbor.com

    Ypsilanti firefighters and state union fire officials are now tentatively scheduled to give a presentation before city council against the creation of a hybrid public safety department, after Council Member Susan Moeller finally secured a second in favor of it. However, one city official not in favor of the presentation said it's not exactly a done deal yet.

    "This is not a case of trying to muzzle or trying to censor the fire department," said Mayor Paul Schreiber.

    Schreiber said he's not in favor of the public presentation because the fire department is in negotiations with City Manager Ralph Lange. Schreiber believes the presentation will discuss the negotiations, which he said should remain in private.

    Before a council meeting can move forward, the agenda must be approved and council members have the right to object to items, such as scheduled presentations.

    Schreiber said he can't make an objection because he's the chair of the council, but if another member were to object the presentation, he would second it. Council would then have to vote on whether to allow the presentation.

    "It's possible it can happen here," Schreiber said.

    The presentation has been highly contested by the majority of the council members, who believe it would get in the way of current union negotiations. Schreiber said it will take four yes votes to change the agenda.

    However, Council Member Ricky Jefferson has decided to second Moeller's request to add the firefighters to the agenda. Many council members have openly said they're not in favor of the presentation, citing negotiations as their reasoning.

    AnnArbor.com reported last week that the Ypsilanti City Council declined to hear a presentation from Ypsilanti Fire Union President Ken Hobbs and state officials who are against the creation of a hybrid public safety department.

    Moeller continued to implore council members to change their mind and Tuesday, the issue was brought back into the spotlight after Hobbs spoke during council's public participation portion of the meeting.

    031913_Ypsilanti_City_Counc-6.JPG

    Council member Susan Moeller

    .Courtney Sacco I AnnArbor.com

    "Shame on you for not allowing us, the city of Ypsilanti firefighters, on the agenda to present documentation strictly from a budget standpoint," Hobbs said.

    Moeller said after hearing Hobbs speak, Jefferson reached out to her at the end of the meeting and said he would second the motion to have the presentation added to the agenda.

    In order to have a presentation added to an agenda, a council member must first propose the addition and it must be seconded by another council member.

    "After the meeting was over, Ricky came up to me and told me he would support my agenda motion to let Ken speak," Moeller said. "He (Jefferson) has always been an union man and he said they should be allowed to speak."

    Jefferson told AnnArbor.com that no matter what position or title someone holds within the city, every person's thoughts in regards to policies and procedures should be heard and respected by city council.

    "I do not expect one person to have all the answers that will secure the future of our city and effectively get us through the inevitable projected deficit of our general fund," Jefferson said. "I do expect all who are involved to work together and help ensure that my city gets through this predicament with a clear vision of which best practices are capable of maintaining quality service within the constraints of an already depleting budget."

    Jefferson said the city is at a point where all branches of city administration staff and services must compromise.

    "We are in a time of when what previously worked is failing and there is a need for outside the box government," Jefferson said. "We can no longer afford to trust in business as usual models.

    Thumbnail image for RickyJefferson.jpg

    Council member Ricky Jefferson

    "I believe that negotiations are the most important part of collective bargaining. It is my understanding that the information that the firefighters will present before council will be documented material about the PSO model. As an elected representative of the city of Ypsilanti I am responsible for exhausting all accessible options of best practices, both pro and con opinions of those practices, in good faith before I make any decisions."

    Moeller said she believes the firefighters should be allowed to speak because she believes the majority of discussion about the PSO model has been done at the negotiation table and not in the public.

    "The public hasn't been informed that it's being considered," Moeller said. "It's important that they present. It hasn't really been anything that the public can comment on. I don't personally support the public safety model and a lot of people in my ward don't."

    Moeller said a lot of residents are interested in hearing the presentation and have written to council asking why they wouldn't consider it.

    The firefighters have said the presentation will not discuss elements of the union negotiations, but Schreiber adamantly believes it will cross the line.

    "(This) screams negotiations," Schreiber said. "Just by council member Moeller's own words, this is a union negotiation presentation in the public. ... I would certainly welcome a presentation after the contract. As soon as it's settled, I have no problem. Let's have a good public discussion then."

    Moeller said it would make no sense to have a presentation after the contract is settled because elements of the PSO would likely be included in it. In April, council approved the Police Officers Association of Michigan contract, which contains language related to the possible creation of a hybrid department.

    The contract allows the POAM to incorporate the position of public safety officer into its union. In the event that the city elects to create the classification of a public safety officers, unit members who become PSOs will receive 7 percent above the police officer wage scale.

    Schreiber said if the contract were to contain PSO elements, it wouldn't lock the city into moving forward with the model if it were to decide to pursue something else.

    "The city can always go back," Schreiber said. "It's a flexible thing, at least in my way of thinking. This isn't something where you make a decision and can't go back on. We, meaning the city council as the policymakers of the city, need the ability to decide what we want to do. That's all I'm asking for. The fact they want to have this discussion now, to me there's not a reason for the discussion now."

    The presentation, PSO Facts vs. Myths, is scheduled to last for 30 minutes at the June 4 meeting. In addition to Hobbs, the Michigan Professional Firefighters Union president Mark Docherty and MPFFU PSO Committee Chair Monty Nye will present.

    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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