Ann Arbor

Community
4:31 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Parking Plans for Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on efforts to find parking for over 100,000 hockey fans attending the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium.

New Year's Day will be more than just recovering from the party the night before for much of Ann Arbor, as over 100,000 hockey fans are expected for the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium. 

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Arts & Culture
1:33 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Ann Arbor Events Planned for New Year's Eve and Prior to Winter Classic

 Over 100,000 hockey fans are expected for the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium on New Year's Day when the Detroit Red Wings take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Plenty of excitement is also scheduled in Ann Arbor leading up to the New Year and the big game. 

SEE ALSO: Ann Arbor to Put Proceeds from Sale of Y Lot In Affordable Housing Fund

 

While Ann Arbor is often a sleepy town New Year's Day, the Winter Classic game at Michigan Stadium is bringing thousands to the city.  This has many restaurants and businesses that would typically remain closed planning to be open January 1st.

There also are some extra events scheduled on New Year's Eve.

Main Street will be closed all day December 31st, from Huron to William in preparation for the Puck Drops Here event.  The event starts at 8pm  when a 10 foot wide metal Hockey puck that will be dropped at midnight is lit.  There will also be live music from eight until two, including former Ann Arbor resident, Michelle Chamuel who appeared on The Voice.

Earlier in the day Noon Year's Eve events are planned at the Farmers Market and Briarwood Mall so kids can celebrate the New Year's without staying up until midnight.

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Education
1:29 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Ann Arbor Schools Looking at New Federal Guidelines on Food Sales in Schools

Credit USDAgov / Foter.com / CC BY

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on the Ann Arbor School Board looking at what they need to do to prepare the district for new federal guidelines on food sold in schools.

Ann Arbor Public Schools next month will be looking at what changes are necessary to prepare the district for new federal guidelines on what food can be sold during the school day. 

The new rules begin July 1st. 

They require the first ingredient of any food sold in schools be a whole grain, fruit, vegetable, or protein. 

SEE ALSO: Ann Arbor Schools To Roll Out Enhanced Security Measures

 

School Board President Deb Mexicotte says the new rules will put some limits on what is available, but doesn't eliminate all snacks. Mexicotte adds, that it doesn't affect food brought to school by students or parents.  The new rules also end 30 minutes after the school day so concession stands at evening events don't have to adhere to the guidelines.

Mexicotte believes the school stores, vending machines and fundraising efforts will face the biggest challenge from the new rules.  She says Chartwells has been planning for the new requirements for some time so the food available in cafeterias should be able to meet the new rules.

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Education
8:43 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Ann Arbor Schools Superintendent Developing Report from Listen and Learn Tour

Credit AAPS

While students are out of the classroom for the winter break, Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Jeanice Swift is working on a report from her  four months long Listen and Learn Tour. 

Swift attended about 90 meetings including one in every school in the district to get feedback on the common themes and patterns that are concerning the district.  Swift says her report should serve as a good outline of issues that the district needs to tackle.

Swift says she expects about a half dozen issues the district will be able to tackle immediately, while many others may take years to fully address. 

Swift says the Listen and Learn tour also served as a valuable way for her to get to know about the unique story behind each neighborhood school.

 — Andrew Cluley is a reporter and anchor for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him aCluley@emich.edu.

 

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Community
2:44 am
Tue December 24, 2013

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

Credit Ann Arbor Downtown Development Athority

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on the success of Ann Arbor's Bike House that opened in the Maynard Street Parking Structure earlier this year.

The success of Ann Arbor's bike house inside the Maynard Street Parking Structure has officials with the Downtown Development Authority and the Get Downtown Program considering putting another one in other parking structures. 

The enclosed and covered bike house opened in May with space for 30 bikes in what had been two parking spaces. 

GetDowntown Program Director, Nancy Shore says the feedback they've gotten from users of the bike house is that it's another valuable option to get to work.  She adds that they've also heard that some people that occasionally used a bike to get to work are doing so more frequently now that they have a safe place to store their bike out of the elements. 

Shore says the bike house gets the most use from nine-to-five, primarily from people who work in the State Street area.

Local News
11:06 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Corner Brewery now Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery

Ypsilanti's Corner Brewery is now Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery. 

Arbor Brewing Company co-owner Renee Greff says the name change came about out of concerns raised by the former Corner Brewery's general manager that the business wasn't getting the benefit of  the Arbor Brewing Company brand.

Greff says not everyone knows that Arbor Brewing Company's beer is made at the Ypsilanti location.

She says new logos were designed, and word of the name change was spread through the Arbor Brewing Company blog and Facebook page. 

Education
1:03 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Ann Arbor School Board Hears Preliminary Report On Additional High School Options

Credit AAPS

The Ann Arbor School Board hopes to find alternative options to make the district's high schools even better for a broader range of students.  A group of high school leaders have studied more than a half dozen programs including magnet schools, blended classes, new technology programs, and others.  They plan on presenting the school board with two or three concrete program ideas in January or February. 

School Board president Deb Mexicotte says they hope the upcoming election year could help make some additional high school options possible thanks to additional funding.

Superintendent Jeanice Swift says there are some common themes of more personalized learning approaches and choices in all of the programs reviewed.  She says the goal will be to find options that balance increased costs with attracting additional students.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on programs being studied for increased options for high school students in Ann Arbor Public Schools.

Community
4:50 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Ann Arbor to Put Proceeds from Sale of Y Lot In Affordable Housing Fund

The City of Ann Arbor lost 100 units of low-income housing when they had to close the former YMCA building.  Now that the property at 350 South Fifth Avenue is about to be sold the city’s affordable housing will get almost $1.4 million. 

City Council Monday night voted to put all of the revenue from the sale of the property to affordable housing after covering the initial purchase price, closing and broker fees. 

Mayor John Hieftje explains that some of the funds could be used to provide some important services to help keep tenants in Miller Manor.  Hieftje adds that the city has made real progress in finding funds for affordable housing in the last year. 

The sale of the Y-Lot to Dennis Dahlmann is expected to close by the end of March.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on Ann Arbor City Council opting to put funds from the sale of the old YMCA property in the Affordable Housing Fund.

Community
4:42 am
Tue December 17, 2013

A2 Council Again Delays Decision on Parking Meter Removal Policy

Ann Arbor City Council has once more postponed a decision on a policy to charge developers for the removal of on-street parking meters.   Some fine tuning is expected before council votes on a policy to charge developers $45,000 if their project leads to the removal of on-street parking meters.
The proposed policy was developed by the Downtown Development Authority in response to a growing number of parking meters being removed.

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Environment
1:42 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Issues of the Environment: Mayor Hieftje Talks Public Transit in SE Michigan

Issues of the Environment 12/10/13
Among the most debated issues in Ann Arbor and the Southeast Michigan region, is the matter of public transportation. What should we be working towards, what should public transit of the future look like, what elements should it contain….and of course: how do we pay for it all?  These are questions debated on a regular basis at Ann Arbor City Council, and our guest this morning is in the middle of all of it. John Hieftje is the Mayor of Ann Arbor.
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Education
2:57 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Plante Moran to Audit Ann Arbor Schools Management Processes

Early next year Ann Arbor Public Schools will have a better idea on how effective and efficient their behind the scenes business practices are. 

The School Board last night unanimously approved a contract for up to $45,000 with Plante Moran for the audit. 

Superintendent Jeanice Swift says since the board originally budgeted up to $80,000 for the audit they will be able to dig deeper into issues raised from the review or other sources.  Swift says the audit, her Listen and Learn report, and a benchmark study comparing the district to six similar districts should all be completed in late January or early February.  She says this will give the district a good 360 degree look at the health and overall function of the district.

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Community
1:47 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Ann Arbor Mayor Officially Files Veto of Changes to Crosswalk Law

Mayor John Hieftje
Credit City of Ann Arbor

Motorists in Ann Arbor still need to stop for pedestrians waiting at the curb at a crosswalk.  Mayor John Hieftje yesterday formally vetoed an ordinance amendment passed by council last week to only require drivers to stop for pedestrians already in the crosswalk. 

Hieftje says Ann Arbor's current law is safer for pedestrians than the state traffic code and laws in other Michigan cities.  Hieftje says he looks forward to other measures to increase pedestrian safety.  These will include increased education, and enforcement of the crosswalk law. 

Council would need eight votes to override the veto, but only six members voted in favor of the ordinance amendment.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje officially vetoing changes to the crosswalk law.

Community
1:41 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Expectations of Ann Arbor Council Members Discussed at Planning Session

What Ann Arbor City Council members expect of each other and the mayor ended up being the primary discussion item at yesterday's planning session.  Council members created a long list of expectations with most of the issues easily gaining support. 

Julia Novak of the Novak Consulting Group was the meeting facilitator.  Novak says a couple of other expectations took more discussion before all council members would agree to them.  She says this includes sharing information and efforts to make council meetings shorter.

City staff updated council on progress that has been made over the last 12 months on priorities identified at last year's planning session.  Council kept these priorities and tentatively produced new areas of focus for next year, including working on unfunded liabilities, increasing traffic enforcement, promoting work force housing, and efforts to alleviate homelessness.

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Local News
3:14 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

New Parking Garage Opens in Ann Arbor

A new 250-space parking garage is now open on the corner of First and Washington streets in downtown Ann Arbor. 

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority Director Susan Pollay says the new garage provides the mix of public and private uses, with an apartment building under construction above it.

A "soft opening" for the structure was held Friday, with a grand opening expected sometime in January to coincide with the apartments opening.

Community
7:34 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

A2 Symphony Orchestra Bringing Santa in for Sing-A-Long

Ann Arbor's Symphony Orchestra holds their annual Sing-a-long with Santa concert Saturday at Bethlehem United Church of Christ.  The concert includes Christmas carols for all ages to sing along with the symphony orchestra. 

Mary Steffek Blaske  is the Symphony's executive director, or executive elf at this time of year.  She says the concert has become a fun tradition for many Ann Arbor families.

The concert  includes Santa reading "Twas the Night Before Christmas" to all of the children attending, and an instrument petting zoo before the concert begins.  The show sold out last year, but some tickets remain this year.

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Community
2:54 am
Thu December 5, 2013

DDA Waives Reimbursement for Y-Lot Expenses

Ann Arbor's Downtown Development Authority has asked the city to commit the funds the DDA spent on the former YMCA lot to affordable housing projects.  The DDA board yesterday passed a resolution to waive the reimbursement of their costs on the Y-Lot property, and encourage City Council to commit as much as possible to affordable housing as well. 

DDA Board Member Keith Orr says to make a real impact on affordable housing as much money as possible is needed from the $5.25 million for the sale of the Y-Lot.

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Transit
2:50 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Public Meeting Shows Some Support for WALLY Station at 415 W. Washingtion

Community members at a meeting on proposed sites for a downtown Ann Arbor WALLY commuter rail station supported the service coming to downtown Ann Arbor, the use of a minimal station, and for it to be located at 415 West Washington.  Many of the people at last night's meeting however continue to have questions about the overall funding and operations of the proposed commuter rail between Howell and Ann Arbor. 

Neal Billetdeaux is a landscape architect with Smith Group JJR.  He says the 415 West Washington scored highest of six possible locations because of several factors.  This includes the fact the property is owned by the city, was closest to the core of downtown, and has track at grade level on a portion of the site.

Challenges with the curvature of the track and other issues where the proposed WALLY and East-West Commuter rail lines cross make it unlikely that site could serve as a single station serving both lines and Amtrak.

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Community
3:47 am
Tue December 3, 2013

Ann Arbor Mayor to Veto Changes to Crosswalk Law

Credit morguefile.com

Ann Arbor's crosswalk law won't be changing despite city council approving an ordinance amendment. 

That's because last night immediately after the 6 to 4 vote, Mayor John Hieftje announced he will veto the change.  Ann Arbor's law requires motorists to stop for pedestrians on the curb at a crosswalk as opposed to the state traffic code which requires vehicles to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. Opponents of Ann Arbor's law would prefer to use the Michigan Traffic Code instead.

The difference is whether motorists have to stop for pedestrians still on the sidewalk but at a crosswalk as current law requires, or only having to yield for pedestrians in the crosswalk.

City Council member Stephen Kunselman says the veto means the poorly crafted and implemented law remains in place.

However, nearly 40 people spoke in favor of keeping the law during a public hearing.  Community members said more motorists are starting to stop for pedestrians and with better enforcement and education pedestrian safety could be further improved. 

Mayor Hiefjte believes the data doesn't show changing the law will help pedestrians.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on Ann Arbor City Council approving changes to the city's crosswalk law, but Mayor John Hieftje announcing he will veto the changes.

Community
2:02 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Ann Arbor DDA Board Members Visit Grand Rapids to See Downtown Ambassadors

Ann Arbor City Council asked the Downtown Development Authority earlier this year to consider paying for three downtown beat cops. 

A trip by several DDA board members to Grand Rapids, however, increased the interest by some on the DDA to instead hire downtown ambassadors. 

DDA Board member Keith Orr says ambassadors may better fit the needs of the downtown area.  He says an ambassador in uniform can increase the perception of safety and be in direct contact with police if law enforcement is needed.  He says law enforcement in communities that have hired ambassadors may have shown initial resistance but have come to see them as additional eyes and ears in the community.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board members studying Grand Rapids downtown ambassadors as an alternative to adding beat cops.

Environment
7:25 am
Fri November 29, 2013

The Green Room: Tackling Stadium Waste

The first load of recycling from Michigan Stadium
Barbara Lucas

Collegiate athletic events are big generators:  of excitement, of revenue, and of waste.  How can we cut down on the trash, while leaving the finances and fun intact?  In this month's installment of The Green Room, WEMU looks at game-day waste at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, and Michigan stadium in Ann Arbor.

Additional Resources:

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environment
6:42 am
Fri November 29, 2013

Issues of the Environment: Ann Arbor's Climate Action Plan

The climate is changing. The evidence is clear. It's no longer a matter of whether we need to prepare, but instead, how we need to prepare. In this week's installment of WEMU's Issues of the Environment, David Fair talks with Matt Naud. Matt is the City of Ann Arbor's Environmental  Coordinator, and has been right in the middle of the city's efforts to adopt a pro-active Climate Action Plan.

Issues of the Environment for November 27th, 2013

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Community
2:36 am
Fri November 29, 2013

Local, Independent Retailers Ramp Up For Strong Sales This Holiday Weekend

Credit Think Local First

Locally owned businesses are hoping holiday shoppers out today will make sure they shop at their stores, not just the big box retailers. 

Ingrid Ault is the executive director of Think Local First.  Ault says they want shoppers to think of today as "Plaid Friday" and support locally owned, independent stores and restaurants.

Ault says tomorrow is also Small Business Saturday which was created by American Express.   Shoppers get a discount for using their card at small independently owned businesses Saturday.  She says unlike many chain stores, most locally owned businesses opted to stay closed yesterday to let their employees celebrate Thanksgiving.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on efforts to promote small, locally owned businesses as the busy holiday shopping period ramps up.

Education
1:54 am
Thu November 28, 2013

AAPS Superintendent Talks Transition to E-Textbooks

Credit Maximilian Schönherr / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Ann Arbor Public Schools are working on reducing the load students have in their backpacks.  The move to online textbooks either through iPads, laptops, or desktop computers will reduce the need to carry books to and from schools. 

Superintendent Jeanice Swift says some of the recently adopted textbooks already have online options available and the district wants to expand their use before a complete move to online textbooks.  Swift says the bulk of the transition to e-textbooks won't happen for a couple of years.  She says the delay will give time for new textbooks to be developed specifically to meet the common core curriculum.

 Swift says she doesn't think paper textbooks will ever be completely eliminated but could become an extra feature that costs more.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on Ann Arbor Schools starting the switch to E-Textbooks.

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Community
2:08 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Food Gatherers Celebrates 25th Anniversary

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of Food Gatherers.    The organization has grown from collecting about 50 pounds of food in the days leading up to Thanksgiving in 1988, to sharing 5.5 million lbs of food annually today. 

Food Gatherers relies on over 5,000 volunteers to collect, sort, and prepare food for 150 non-profit partner programs and the community kitchen at the Delonis Homeless Shelter.

Eileen Spring is the president of Food Gatherers.  She says unfortunately the demand for food remains high, although somewhat better than at the peak of the recession.
 
Spring says among the challenges Food Gatherers face is being prepared to flip food from a source that can't use it to an organization that can in as little as 24 hours.  She says in addition to unpredictability, they also must address the need for food year-round even though more than half of the cash donations and most food drives take place in the weeks around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Spring says a just completed addition to their warehouse will help increase the amount of fresh produce and protein they can accept and share.  She says going forward Food Gatherers is working with partner organizations to reduce food insecurity among children, which is particularly a problem in the summer months.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on Food Gatherers helping provide food for 25 years.

U of M Murder
3:34 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Second Man Charged With Murder in UM Medical Student Death

A second South Carolina man has been formally charged in the death of University of Michigan medical student Paul DeWolf. 

Joei Alexander Jordan of Sumter, South Carolina was charged today with open murder, two counts of home invasion, and one charge of conspiracy to commit home invasion.  Last week Shaquille Jones was arraigned on the same charges.  A third suspect remains in the Washtenaw County Jail but hasn't been charged in the DeWolf case yet. 

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