Andrew Cluley

Reporter

 

Like many, I first came to this area when I started school at the University of Michigan, then fell in love with the community and haven’t left. After graduating from U of M in the mid 1990’s I interned at WDET for several years, while also working a variety of jobs in Ann Arbor. Then in 1999 I joined the WEMU news team.

Find Andrew on Google + ⎮ Facebook ⎮ Twitter ⎮

While working for WEMU I’ve covered the Ann Arbor City Council and School Board beats, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti City Council and School Boards and the Washtenaw County Commissioners. Not to mention pretty much everything else in the area. I really enjoy covering local news, partly because it’s so overlooked by other media outlets. In many ways what happens at city hall or in your community school has a bigger impact on your life than what’s going on in Lansing or Washington D-C. I get the chance to track down these important stories and bring them to you every day.

When I’m not at work I love to follow sports, particularly U of M, and Detroit’s professional teams. Saturdays in the fall you can count on me watching Michigan football…and Sundays I’m probably suffering through another Lions debacle.

I also enjoy running and am proud of finishing the 2006 Detroit Marathon. Would love to run another, but I’m holding off until I think I have a realistic chance to complete one in under four hours.

Thanks for listening to WEMU and finding out a little bit more about me.

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Education
7:47 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Ann Arbor Public Schools Prepare for New Federal Food Guidelines

Credit Cali4beach / Foter.com / CC BY

Ann Arbor Public Schools officials continue to work with principals, PTO councils, and others to prepare schools for new federal food guidelines.  Starting in July all food sold in schools during the school day need their first ingredient be a whole grain, fruit, vegetable, or protein.  The new guidelines are designed to promote healthy eating habits for all kids across the country. 

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on steps Ann Arbor Public Schools are taking to be prepared for new federal guidelines on food sold in schools that go into effect July 1st.

SEE ALSO: Ann Arbor Public Schools Avoid Borrowing to Meet Cash Flow Concerns in December

Jenna Bacolor, chair of the district's Wellness Committee says they hope discussions now will help avoid headaches at the start of next school year.

Bacolor adds that unfortunately, the federal government and state haven't announced all of the final rules so some questions remain, particularly around exemptions for food sold through fundraisers. 

The new guidelines don't apply to food brought to schools by students.

SEE ALSO: Cash Or Credit? How Kids Pay For School Lunch Matters For Health

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Education
5:34 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Ann Arbor School Board Tells Superintendent to Bring Forward Proposed Program Enhancements

The Ann Arbor School Board has asked administrators to move ahead with a series of program enhancements for the next school year in an effort to better fill the district’s buildings.

The improvements include a K-8 Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics program at Northside Elementary, pre-school programs at Allen and Thurston Elementary Schools, and co-location of a variety of alternative High School programs at the Stone School building.

Superintendent Jeanice Swift says the programs came from community comments raised during her Listen and Learn tour and staff did enough prep work so they can be ready this fall.

The board is expected to get more complete reports on the program enhancements at their meeting next week and could vote on them with two weeks.

School Board President Deb Mexicotte says the quick turn-around should work since the controversial issues like co-locating Roberto Clemente and Ann Arbor Tech have been worked on by the district over the last few years.  She says most of the other changes come directly from what the community asked for repeatedly during the Listen and Learn tour.   Mexicotte says the district is finding ways to respond quickly to community needs without additional funding.

The programs were part of seven next steps Superintendent Jeanice Swift made as part of her report on the listen and learn tour.  Swift gave her initial report on the tour at the board retreat.  The report will be available online at the district’s website Friday and Swift will hold public meetings to get feedback starting Tuesday at Clague Middle School.

At the retreat the board also worked on establishing board and superintendent goals, and discussed the superintendent evaluation.

Mexicotte says it’s great to see that the program enhancements being considered work toward achieving many of the board’s goals.  She says this shows the board’s goals are aligned with want the community wants to see from the district.

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Education
11:05 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Ann Arbor School Board Hears Initial Report From Superintendent Swift on Listen and Learn Tour

Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Jeanice Swift has given the school board an initial report from her Listen and Learn tour.  

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Community
3:14 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Ann Arbor City Council Gives Approval to Move Forward With Downtown Zoning Changes

Ann Arbor City Council has passed a resolution asking the planning commission to move forward with some zoning changes on the edge of downtown. 

Council unanimously passed the resolution Tuesday night after asking the planning commission to also make suggestions on possible zoning changes for other downtown areas. 

Council member Sabra Briere says a lot of hard work remains on what core design guidelines should be considered for developers to be eligible to build larger projects.

Briere says the request for planning commission to review areas such as South University, Thayer, and Ann is in response to concerns raised by the community that the initial review was too limited.
She says the consultant that worked on the project and the planning commission noted this desire by the community to expand the scope of the project, but the planning commission's final recommendation was limited to the original council request.

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Community
11:53 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

14 Story Apartment Project for Church Street Approved by Ann Arbor City Council

Ann Arbor City Council has approved the site plan and development agreement for an apartment building at 624 Church Street.  The proposal is for a 14 story apartment building built partially over the Pizza House Restaurant.  The plan calls for 232 bedrooms in 123 units. 

The project has been given positive reviews from the city’s Design Review Board but parking issues led to a lengthy conversation at the council table.  The concerns centered around having spaces reserved in the Forest Avenue parking structure for the next 15 years, and three five year extensions to have spaces somewhere in the city’s parking system. 

Council members say the city’s payment in lieu of parking program needs to be reviewed, as well as the requirement for parking at downtown developments. 

The developers of the project hope to begin work in the spring with a targeted occupancy date in August of 2015.

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Eastern Michigan University
3:08 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Geoffrey Canada Gives Eastern Michigan University's MLK Day Keynote Address

Credit Matt Sayles/Associated Press

Educator and Activist Geoffrey Canada says the US has a national problem with educational issues which is clear through the high percentage of high school graduates that can't qualify to enter the military. Canada gave the keynote address for Eastern Michigan University's Martin Luther King Junior Celebration on Monday.

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Schools
12:09 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Ann Arbor Public Schools Avoid Borrowing to Meet Cash Flow Concerns in December

Credit Jesse f/2.8 / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Ann Arbor Public Schools planned to borrow money up to three times during the school year to address cash flow issues caused by a smaller fund balance than in previous years.  The district has now made it through two of the three months that were most likely to require borrowing without needing to seek outside cash. 

SEE ALSO: Ann Arbor Public Schools Parents Hopeful for Return of Tuition Based Pre-School

Chief Financial Officer Nancy Hoover says the planned use of $1.7 million in fund balance this school year, means they may still need to borrow money in June.
 
Hoover adds, the Washtenaw Intermediate School District helped the district avoid the need to borrow money in December by making a bill for transportation services not due until this month. The city of Ann Arbor also helped the district avoid the need for borrowing in December by quickly remitting some of the taxes they collect for the district. 

Hoover says the district's budget included spending $200,000 in interest payments which most of these have now been avoided.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on Ann Arbor Public Schools not needing to borrow money last month despite concerns about cash flow issues caused by a smaller fund balance than in recent years.

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Community
12:04 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Report Shows Impact of $90 Million from Washtenaw County Non-Profits

NONPROFIT ECONOMIC IMPACT REPORT 2013

A new Washtenaw County study says a local investment of $4.4 million in non-profit agencies has an economic impact of over $90 million.  The non-profits provide assistance to the community well beyond the direct help individuals receive. 

SEE ALSO: Washtenaw County Looking At Adding Program to Help Businesses

Director of the Office of Community and Economic Development, Mary Jo Callan says unfortunately non-profits as a sector are underfunded and it will take more than government action to solve the funding problems.

“This report provides a clear justification for the continued investment in our local nonprofit sector – in addition to providing critical services to vulnerable residents, these small businesses save taxpayers money by preventing the need for costlier government services and impact our local economy through their direct employment and purchasing power.” -Mary Jo Callan, Director of the Office of Community & Economic Development for Washtenaw County

Callan adds that benefits non-profits provide the community include bringing in 10 dollars of outside funding for every 1 dollar of local funds, stabilizing the local work force, jobs, and spending money at local businesses.  She says this assistance is needed as the economic recovery continues to not reach lower income residents.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on a new study of the economic impact from an investment in Washtenaw County non-profit agencies.

Read the full 2013 Nonprofit Economic Impact Report.

— Andrew Cluley is the Ann Arbor beat reporter, and anchor for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him acluley@emich.edu.

Community
11:22 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Washtenaw County Lawmakers Respond to Governor Rick Snyder's State of State Address

Credit WEMU-FM

SEE ALSO: Michigan State of the State Address 2014

 

55th District State Representative Adam Zemke says he heard some positive things in Governor Rick Snyder's State of the State Address.  Zemke however says the details of the speech leave some questions.  He says the governor's statements on increased K-12 education funding left out the fact that without increases in direct per-pupil funding means more money isn't getting to classrooms.

Zemke says he did appreciate the governor talking about work on educator effectiveness since excellent teachers and administrators are the key.  He says when it comes to discussion of the projected surplus lawmakers need to remember most of it is one time money.  He says tax relief should be focused on the lowest income residents that have seen tax hikes while Snyder has been in office.

53rd District State Representative Jeff Irwin says he heard what he expected in Governor Rick Snyder's state of the state address.  Irwin says in an election year Snyder tried to wipe away his record on taxes, education, and other areas.  Irwin says Snyder carefully parsed his words on issues like tax reductions to make statements that are off the reality most residents are facing.  He says it was disappointing Snyder didn't talk about energy policy or higher education at all in his address.  He says the projected surplus should go back to the pensioners and low-income workers whose higher taxes created the surplus.

54th District State Representative David Rutledge says Governor Rick Snyder had a lot of lovely rhetoric in his state of the state address, but he says the governor has backslid on promises in the past.  Rutledge says he supports greater investment in early childhood education but the governor's statements on the issue left out the fact the funds came from k-12 education.  He says by counting funds for teacher pensions the governor may be accurate in saying more money is going to k-12, he says more money isn't going to classrooms.

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Community
6:58 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Law Enforcement Wants Community Help In Addressing Leforge Road Area Crime

Credit zebble / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

While representatives from several apartment complexes to the north of Eastern Michigan University attended a neighborhood watch meeting only a handful of residents were present.  

Law enforcement officials from EMU, Ypsilanti, and the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department say it will take participation from the residents to reduce crime in the Leforge Road area. 

Jess Spike is the Ypsilanti Township Neighborhood Watch Liaison for the sheriff's department.  Spike says they have received more assistance since the homicide of EMU football player Demarius Reed.

A new community action team including law enforcement officers from Ypsilanti, Eastern Michigan University, and the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department will work on narcotics and other crimes across the city and surrounding neighborhoods.  The new team is a result of the greater collaboration between law enforcement in the Leforge Road area after Reed's death.

Ypsilanti Township has had a similar program in place for several years and township officials say it has been successful. 

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Education
3:32 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Ann Arbor School Board Votes to Open 750 School of Choice Seats for 2014-15 School Year

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on Ann Arbor Public Schools opening up 750 seats for school of choice students from other Washtenaw County school districts.

Up to 5% of Ann Arbor Public Schools students in the fall could be coming to the district from other school districts in Washtenaw County.  The school board Wednesday night voted unanimously to open 750 school of choice seats for out of district students. 

Superintendent Jeanice Swift says the jump in school of choice seats is one of several efforts to better fill the district's classrooms.

The district has increased the number of school of choice students attending in each of the last four years, but never has filled all of the available seats. 

To help fill the spaces this year the district is planning a marketing campaign and district officials hope having spaces in all grades except the last two years of high school will help attract families with multiple children.

School of choice applications will be accepted March third through April first.  From Friday through February 14th the district will accept applications for in-district school of choice for students who don't want to attend the school where they live.

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Education
3:26 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Ann Arbor Public Schools Catalog of Online Classes Approved

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on the Ann Arbor School Board approving the catalog for online classes available to district students through the Ann Arbor Virtual Academy, and opening one class to a limited number of students from other districts.

Ann Arbor Public Schools will offer over 225 online classes to middle school and high school students this semester. 

The school board Wednesday night approved the district's virtual academy's catalog, and also approved opening ten seats in one algebra class to students from other districts. 

School board member Christine Stead says new state laws regarding online learning are yet another unfunded mandate, but the district is working to make the best of the changes.

District officials are hoping to learn a lot from offering the single algebra class to students from other districts.  They expect to have many more online classes available to students from other districts in the fall. 

Superintendent Jeanice Swift says with the uncertainties around new state laws about online classes every district in Michigan is facing similar challenges.

The deadline for registering for online classes this semester is January 22nd with classes starting one week later.

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Education
3:20 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Ann Arbor School Board Keeps Same Officers

The Ann Arbor School Board is maintaining the same leadership positions as last year. 

The board held its organizational meeting Wednesday night and President Deb Mexicotte was unanimously re-elected.  Christine Stead will remain vice-president, Andy Thomas continues as secretary, and Glenn Nelson is still the treasurer. 

Mexicotte says with the new superintendent in place and program changes to be considered the board wanted to maintain some stability in an area that's working well.

The board also made no changes to standing committee assignments.  However the future of an ad-hoc committee investigating options around a possible recreation millage is up in the air after they present their report in two weeks.

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Community
3:17 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Julie Grand Running For Ann Arbor City Council Again

The former chair of the Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission is once more seeking a seat on City Council. 

Julie Grand has announced she will run for the third ward seat Council member Christopher Taylor is opting not to try to keep as he instead runs for mayor.  Grand says she learned some lessons from her narrow defeat to Council member Stephen Kunselman in last year's democratic primary.  She says however her philosophy remains the same.

Grand says she is still running to try to make a direct impact on the quality of life in Ann Arbor.  She says the city needs leaders who use data, best practices, and community engagement to make decisions on issues while also working on constituent services.

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Community
11:36 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Sally Hart Petersen Announces She's Running For Mayor of Ann Arbor

Credit Sally Hart/ Facebook

Another Ann Arbor City Council member has announced she’s running for mayor.  Second Ward Council representative Sally Hart Petersen today announced she will seek outgoing Mayor John Hieftje’s position.

Petersen says her combination of leadership experience, skills and interests in the private, public, and non-profit sectors make her uniquely qualified to lead Ann Arbor into its next era of growth and sustainability.  She says in addition to promoting growth, Ann Arbor's next Mayor needs to be a champion of civic engagement which she has done on council through surveying residents on a variety of topics.

Petersen says her top priority will be increasing city services.  She says this will be possible if the private business sector is stronger so more revenues will be available to dedicate to services.

Hieftje announced last year he wouldn’t seek re-election.  So far City Council members Sabra Briere, Stephen Kunselman, and Christopher Taylor have all announced they are running for mayor.

Petersen says she's thought about running for mayor for a long time and Hieftje's decision has really opened the door.

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Community
11:42 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Ann Arbor City Council Receives Update on Economic Health

College educated millennials have changed the key to economic development by choosing the location they want to live and then finding a job rather than going where they find a job.  That's the message the President of Michigan Future shared with Ann Arbor City Council Monday night at a work session on the community's economic health. 

Lou Glazer says to attract a larger number of these talented young workers that will then attract businesses the city needs to focus on several issues.  He says this includes high density downtown neighborhoods that are active 24 hours a day and are connected to more public transit options.

Glazer says the number of college educated 25 to 34 year olds has grown by 17 percent across the country since 2005, but has remained constant in Ann Arbor at 16-thousand.   He says Ann Arbor's economic development efforts should match Chicago in being focused on attracting every graduate of all the Big Ten Universities.

He says state policies that have lowered taxes and focused on businesses have hurt efforts to improve the quality of place and fund education which are the keys to attracting young talented people.

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Community
12:00 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Washtenaw County Looking At Adding Program to Help Businesses Make Energy Efficient Upgrades

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on a possible Washtenaw County Property Assessed Clean Energy program.

Washtenaw County businesses may be able to get energy efficiency upgrades without paying for them upfront. 

The County Commissioners later this month will hold a public hearing on a proposed property assessed clean energy or PACE program. 

County Commissioner Conan Smith says he hopes energy saving upgrades can be made soon.  He says if the County Commissioners approve the PACE program this month, plans should be in the pipeline by spring and construction underway during 2014.

Ann Arbor already has a PACE program but their effort includes a pool of public funds, the county's plan will only use private dollars.  Smith says the two programs are complimentary and businesses in Ann Arbor will be able to choose which program best meets their needs.

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Breaking
3:14 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Sabra Briere announces intent to run for mayor of Ann Arbor

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on First Ward City Council member Sabra Briere announcing she will run for mayor of Ann Arbor

First Ward Ann Arbor City Council representative Sabra Briere is running to be the next mayor of Ann Arbor. Briere announced she's running in a letter today.

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Community
7:23 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority Looking at Making Improvements to Parking Structure

Ann Arbor skyline viewed from atop the northeast corner of the Fourth & William Parking structure, facing east.
Credit Wikimedia Commons/ Creative Commons

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on efforts to improve Ann Arbor's Fourth and William parking structure.

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority officials say users frequently complain about the slow elevator in the city's largest parking structure. 

SEE ALSO: A2 Bike House Getting Good Usage, Program May Expand to Other Parking Structures

The DDA has now hired Carl Walker for preliminary design, schedule, budget and phasing plan for replacing the southwest tower of the Fourth and William Parking Structure. 

DDA Executive Director, Susan Pollay says the goal will be to have a more efficient and attractive elevator and stairs tower.  She says the challenge will be to ensure two elevators and stairs remain open throughout the construction project. 

Pollay says the tower improvements are expected to be only the first upgrades to the structure.  Others may include incubator space on the ground floor, adding electric vehicle charging stations, and a new facade for the structure.

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Community
1:08 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Chair of County Commissioners Yousef Rabhi Not Running for Ann Arbor Mayor

Credit Courtesy photo

The race to be Ann Arbor’s next mayor won’t include the chair of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners. 

Yousef Rabhi today announced he won’t run for mayor this year.  Rabhi says he expects it to be an interesting race, but likely won’t be endorsing any candidate.

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Community
2:21 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Yousef Rabhi Re-Elected Chair of the Washtenaw County Commissioners

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on the Washtenaw County Commissioners again choosing Yousef Rabhi to serve as their board chair.

The Washtenaw County Commissioners have re-elected the same officers that led the board in 2013. 

Yousef Rabhi was unanimously voted chair of the county commissioners again Wednesday night.  Rabhi says passing a four year budget was a big accomplishment in 2013 and he expects it will give the commissioners time to work on other issues this year.

Rabhi says some of the things he wants to work on this year are efforts to make the county's procurement process more environmentally friendly and better for the local economy, and to work on improving the board and committee structure. 

Alicia Ping was re-elected as vice chair, and Felicia Brabec will again serve as chair of the ways and means committee.

The commissioners also approved their rules and regulations.  One change in board rules is resolutions that are at the regular meeting the same night they are introduced at the ways and means committee will no longer require a two-thirds majority for final approval.  County officials determined this long standing super majority requirement didn't comply with state law.

*Listen to Rabhi's comments in the audio above.

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Ypsilanti
12:40 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Ypsilanti City Council Approves Infrastructure Plan for Water Street

Ypsilanti City Council has approved a plan for key infrastructure needs such as streets, water, and sewer lines in the Water Street area. 

Council voted five to nothing Tuesday night to accept the infrastructure plan. 

Mayor Paul Schreiber says the city has now completed a couple of important steps to attract redevelopment to Water Street.  Schreiber says originally the plan was to leave Water Street open for any proposal but he says the city has seen this approach left developers concerned about what could be built next to their project.   He says being able to better define the parcels of land in Water Street should lead to more interest from developers.

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Ypsilanti
12:35 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Ypsilanti City Council Approves Thompson Block Planned Unit Development Agreement

Maintenance efforts on the Thompson Block in July 2013
Courtesy Photo

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on Ypsilanti City Council approving a planned unit development agreement for the Thompson Block.

Ypsilanti City Council has rezoned the long vacant Thompson Block property in Depot Town and approved the planned unit development agreement for the site. 

Council voted five to nothing on the issue Tuesday night. 

 SEE ALSO: Corner Brewery now Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery

City Planner Teresa Gillotti says the current plan for the Thompson Block is a bigger and better project than the earlier proposal so it needed to be a planned unit development.  Gillotti adds that the changes include adding residential parking behind the building and streetscape improvements along River Street for cafe seating.

Gillotti explained that the actual building permits will likely be similar however to the previous designs, adding the fire has eliminated a bay window from the front of the building and the entrance for the residential portion of the building has moved from the north side to the east side with the addition of the parking lot.

Gillotti maintains developers have two years to complete a PUD, however the Thompson Block faces a deadline in about 15 months for a finished building under the city's dangerous building ordinance.

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Community
4:01 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Ann Arbor City Council Wants More Information As Considering Purchase of Edwards Brothers Property

Edwards Brothers facility on State Street in Ann Arbor
Credit Courtesy photo

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on Ann Arbor City Council seeking more information as they consider spending nearly 13 million dollars to buy a South State Street property.

Ann Arbor City Council wants some more information as they consider using their right of first refusal to purchase the Edward Brothers property on South State Street. 

Council Monday night voted unanimously to have the city administrator and city attorney study the issue and identify options to make buying the property financially feasible. 

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Community
3:55 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Ann Arbor Responds to Severe Winter Storm

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on the local response to the severe winter weather.

A number of shelter and warming centers are open across Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti to help the homeless community deal with the frigid temperatures. 

Ann Arbor City Council Monday night received an update on the community's response to the winter storm. 

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