All Non-Essential Washtenaw County Government Operations and Buildings are closed.
Pittsfield Township Government offices are closed.
Ypsilanti Township government offices and the 14-B District court are closed. People with scheduled court appearances should contact the court on Tuesday.
The 15th District Court in Ann Arbor is closed and those scheduled to appear at Court today will be contacted by Court representatives to reschedule.
The Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education meeting scheduled for tonight has been canceled.
The Ann Arbor Housing Commission is closed
The Ann Arbor and the Monroe Social Security Administration offices are closed
The Ann Arbor Hands on Museum is closed.
Garbage and recycling will be delayed by a day for Pittsfield Township residents.
The Ann Arbor District Library will open at noon today.
Saint Joseph Mercy Health System is urging all patients who have non-urgent appointments at any of our hospitals and outpatient care centers to stay home. Contact your care provider to cancel your appointment and reschedule for a later date. The Michigan Heart offices are closed through noon today. Radiation Oncology for outpatient services are closed for the day. Most other offices as well as St. Joe's emergency departments will remain open.
The U of M Health System says it will keep all of its hospitals and outpatient care centers open.
More than 105,000 tickets were pre-sold to this afternoon's outdoor hockey game between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium. It's billed as the Winter Classic. Ironically, winter weather may keep a number of fans at home today.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.