Ann Arbor

Education
2:16 am
Thu February 13, 2014

Ann Arbor Public Schools Welcomes New Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations

Marios Demetriou

Ann Arbor Public Schools new Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations is excited to work closer to students in a k-12 district again.  The district Wednesday night hosted a reception for Marios Demetriou  who comes to Ann Arbor from the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District.  

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Education
2:09 am
Thu February 13, 2014

School Districts Following Up After Count Day

School Districts across Michigan including Washtenaw County are working to find and verify all students that missed school Wednesday.  That's because the February count day is the basis for ten percent of per-pupil funding.  The bulk of state aid is based on the fall count day.  

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Community
2:42 am
Wed February 12, 2014

Education Achievement Authority Slammed at Community Forum in Ann Arbor

Critics of the Education Achievement Authority want to not only stop the spread of the reform effort but also want it out of Detroit, that was the message Tuesday night at a community forum on the issue hosted by the Ann Arbor Education Authority.  

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on a forum in Ann Arbor on the Education Achievement Authority.

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Community
7:42 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority Board to Vote Next Week on Putting Tax Hike on May Ballot

The Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority board will vote next week on a proposal to place a point-seven mill tax question on the May 6th ballot in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Ypsilanti Township. 

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Michigan News
12:54 am
Tue February 11, 2014

Governor Rick Snyder Talks With University of Michigan Students at Ross Business School

Governor Rick Snyder says he's not focusing on questions about Michigan's minimum wage, because he's working to bring more high-paying jobs to the state as he  discussed a wide range of topics last night with University of Michigan students at the Ross School of Business.  

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on Governor Rick Snyder's talk at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.

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Community
12:45 am
Tue February 11, 2014

Ann Arbor City Council Kicks-off 2015 Budget Talks

Ann Arbor service area leaders have shared their requests for budget changes with City Council.  Changes discussed Monday night include adding three police officers, two additional fire-fighters, and $80,000 for transitioning the public art program to a new model.  

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on Ann Arbor City Council starting fiscal year 2015 budget talks.

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Community
1:46 am
Mon February 10, 2014

Survey Says Voters Approve Tax Hike for More Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority Service

Credit Facebook/TheRide

A recent survey finds area voters would support a tax hike to help fund the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority's five year transit plan.  

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on a recent survey that indicates the community would support a tax hike to pay for more public transit.
63 percent of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Ypsilanti Township voters polled would probably or definitely vote for a new tax of less than one mill for additional service.  The survey was conducted in October through December for the AAATA.

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Community
1:33 am
Mon February 10, 2014

Ann Arbor Greenbelt Program Working on Registry of Potential Properties

A portion of Ann Arbor's Greenbelt
Credit A2gov.org / The City of Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor's Greenbelt Commission is developing a registry of potential properties to be preserved.  The goal is to give property owners interested in finding out more about the program a chance to let the city know.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on some of the work Ann Arbor's Greenbelt Commission hopes to accomplish this year.

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Community
3:44 am
Fri February 7, 2014

Ann Arbor's Suspended Footing Drain Disconnect Program Gets Mixed Reviews

Tweet from @JeffHoover during a July 2013 flood in A2
Credit Twitter user @JeffHoover

Ann Arbor officials are reviewing the city’s footing drain disconnection program and trying to determine what if anything is needed to avoid future sewer back-ups during heavy rains.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on a mixed community reaction to Ann Arbor's footing drain disconnection program.

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Transportation
2:32 am
Wed February 5, 2014

New Blake Transit Center Still A Month From Opening

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on the current timeline for the opening of the new Blake Transit Center in Ann Arbor.

The new Blake Transit Center in downtown Ann Arbor is likely a month from opening.  

 Even when the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority opens the building buses will continue to load passengers in temporary locations until spring.  That's because the driveway for the buses won't be completed until then. 

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Community
4:28 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Ann Arbor Public Art Funding Clawback Closes In, Administrator Contract Rejected

The battle over the future of public art in Ann Arbor continues, with City Council approving the first reading of an ordinance amendment to allow them to return up to $840,000 to other departments.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on cuts to Ann Arbor's Public Art program.

A six month extension of Public Art Administrator Aaron Seagraves contract was then rejected.

Council member Jack Eaton expects to bring the contract back up for a vote after final approval of the amendment to the public art ordinance to allow old "Percent for Art" funds to be returned.  Eaton says he's sorry for Seagraves but democracy is sometimes messy.

Council member Jane Lumm wants proposed Art Projects at Argo Cascades, the Stadium Bridges, and the Kingsley Rain Garden completed.  However she thinks a clean break needs to be made between the old program and one where the city partners with a non-profit organization.

Chair of the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission Bob Miller says a change would be good but it appears city council is holding public art administrator Aaron Seagraves hostage over the funding debate.

Mayor John Hieftje is disappointed with council's vote on the administrator, and fears they may lose him even if the contract extension is approved in two weeks.

Earlier WEMU coverage of the Public Art Funding issues can be found here:

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Community
4:19 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Ann Arbor City Council Delays Decision on Buying Edwards Brothers Property

Credit Courtesy photo

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on City Council opting to wait to decide if they will buy the Edwards Brothers property.

Ann Arbor City Council will take another two weeks before deciding if they want to purchase the Edwards Brothers property on State Street. 

The city is considering exercising a right of first refusal to stop the University of Michigan from buying the land. 

Mayor John Hieftje doesn't think the recent experience with the former YMCA property will have much influence on this State Street parcel.  He says that's because downtown property is in great demand while Edwards Brothers is well south of downtown.
  
Ann Arbor would have to match U-M's $12.8 million purchase price for the property. 

Map of the Edwards Brothers property is here:

City Council last night also postponed action on a first reading of a proposed smoking ban for city parks, bus stops, and entrances to city buildings.   The delay is so council members can get feedback from some of the organizations that would be impacted by the proposal.

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Environment
4:10 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Ann Arbor Groups Protest Proposed Keystone X-L Pipeline

Operational and proposed route of the Keystone Pipeline System

Environmentalists across the country are urging President Barack Obama to reject the proposed Keystone X-L pipeline linking Canada with Texas. Rallies were held Monday night, including in front of Ann Arbor's federal building.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on protests in Ann Arbor over the proposed Keystone X-L Pipeline from Canada to Texas.

Robert Gordon says adding 30 to 50 jobs isn't worth the environmental risk.  He says the pipeline runs to refineries but also ports where he believes much of the oil will be shipped across the globe.  He says this will do nothing to help domestic energy independence. 

Rita Mitchell says promoting the use of tar sands oil is an issue beyond the pipeline.  She and other Ann Arbor protestors highlight the Enbridge leak in the Kalamazoo River as an example of what can happen.  They also fear proposals to pump tar sand oil under the straits of Mackinac or ship it on the Great Lakes.

The rallies across the country were in response to the State Department releasing a new environmental assessment on the project. 

See NPR's coverage of the State Department report here 

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WEMU News
7:50 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Washtenaw County among Michigan's Best for Creative Industries

Washtenaw County has been listed as one of the top five counties in Michigan for creative industries. ArtServe Michigan released the findings in their Creative State Michigan 2014, Creative Industries Report.  Deb Polich is the Director of the Arts Alliance in Ann Arbor and a Board Member of ArtServe Michigan.  She says Washtenaw County being in the top five is no surprise: Polich says Washtenaw County attracts people because of the two large universities, and cities like Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti that offer arts and culture experiences and education.

Community
6:36 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Ann Arbor City Council to Consider Public Art, Edwards Brothers Property Monday

Credit courtesy photo

Ann Arbor may spend nearly $13 million in the hopes of ultimately keeping a State Street property on the tax rolls.  City Council Monday will consider a resolution to use their right of first refusal to purchase the Edwards Brothers property instead of it being sold to the University of Michigan. 

Another pair of items on the agenda will have a big impact on the future of public art in the city.  Council will consider the first reading of an ordinance amendment to allow uncommitted percent for art funds return to their source.    Several council members have pushed for this move in the past, but others say the money is needed as the Public Art Commission looks to move to a new funding model relying on donations.

A six month contract extension for Public Art Administrator Aaron Seagraves was postponed two weeks ago and will be considered again.  The delay was designed to have his contract considered at the same time the funding issue would be debated.

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Education
1:32 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Ann Arbor Public Schools Parents and Teachers Praise Superintendent for Listen and Learn Report

Ann Arbor Superintendent Jeanice Swift's Listen and Learn report did a good job of capturing community thoughts on the district according to Parents and Teachers at a meeting at Forysthe Middle School Thursday night. 

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on the first follow-up meeting to Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Jeanice Swift's Listen and Learn Tour.

As Ann Arbor Public Schools look to quickly move forward with improvements Superintendent Jeanice Swift is checking that she heard the community correctly during the Listen and Learn tour. 

Swift says the community has a hunger for action steps to follow.

Kim Carver has had students in the district previously and a son coming to Forsythe Middle School next fall.  Carver likes the positive vibe and the lack of defensiveness.

Forsythe teacher, Dan Ezekiel is extremely impressed with the report that he believes does a good job boiling down the input of 2,000 people that participated in the fall.

Swift will hold Listen and Learn follow-up meetings at Ann Arbor's four other middle schools next week.

For more, view the video summary of the Listen and Learn report

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Arts
10:15 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Cinema Chat: Sundance, Hitchcock, Oscar Nominated Shorts, and more!

Credit Michtheater.org

In this week's edition of Cinema Chat, Michigan Theater Program Director, Amanda Bynum sits down to talk with 89.1 WEMU's David Fair about the latest upcoming movies downtown and around town.

The conversation first covers some news out of The Sundance Film Festival and in Ann Arbor. 

Cinema Chat is a regular feature heard each Thursday during Morning Edition on 89.1 WEMU.

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Education
3:50 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Ann Arbor School Board Approves New Programs for the Fall

Credit AAPS

The Ann Arbor School Board has approved a package of program enhancements designed to attract more students particularly to underutilized schools. 

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on the Ann Arbor School Board approving a variety of new programs for next school year.

The changes include co-locating Roberto Clemente and Ann Arbor Tech High; a K-8 science, technology, engineering, arts, and math program at Northside Elementary; and new pre-k programs at Allen and Thurston Elementary. 

Superintendent Jeanice Swift says the next step is creating committees of staff, students, and community members to develop the detailed action plans for each new program. 

School board president Deb Mexicotte says the programs are designed to keep costs down but it's still a calculated risk that the new options will attract more students. 

The programs are designed to respond to some of the most common concerns raised by community members during the Listen and Learn tour.

There has been positive community feedback about the Pre-K programs at Allen and Thurston and the STEAM program for Northside Elementary.  Several Roberto Clemente supporters however told the board they have concerns about what will happen when they move into the same building as Ann Arbor Tech.

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Education
3:43 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Ann Arbor Public Schools Wants Information on Millage Possibilities

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on the Ann Arbor School Board collecting information on possibilities and limitations of various revenue enhancements.

The Ann Arbor School Board continues to do preliminary work on studying increasing revenues through some type of a millage.

An Ann Arbor School Board Ad-hoc committee says a rec and ed millage would provide the district the ability to offer additional non-credit programs, but not shift much money from the general fund.   School board member Glenn Nelson says the rec and ed millage would be valuable in terms of offering non-credit programs that compliment other programs.  He says it would be particularly valuable for early-childhood education where a four day program could become a five day program with a recreation program on the extra day.

The board also created a new ad-hoc committee to do a similar analysis of a county-wide enhancement millage and an increase in the special education millage.  Both of these efforts would require county-wide support while the rec and ed millage would likely raise less money but only require support from district voters.

The report on an enhancement millage and an increase to the special education millage are due in mid-March when the board will discuss what if any millage question they might want to put on the ballot.

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Transit
7:59 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Ypsilanti Mayor Touts Benefits of AAATA Transit Improvement Plan

Credit the ride / facebook

Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber says he looks forward to residents of his city enjoying the benefits of enhanced transit options outlined in the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority's transit improvement plan. 

Schreiber says improved public transportation will benefit both Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor.

The Mayor says better bus service will help those who live in Ypsilanti and work in Ann Arbor, and will help the economies of both cities.

Schreiber says the local business infrastructure will also be a beneficiary of better transit.

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Community
2:48 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, MISSION Assists Homeless living in Tents

Credit missiona2.org/

The city of Ann Arbor is now working with local non-profit organization MISSION as well as Washtenaw County's Project Outreach Team to assist a group of homeless individuals living in tents along the Huron River and under the Maiden Lane bridge. 

Ann Arbor Police had previously visited the site and posted notices on two tents, warning their owners they had 48 hours to vacate the area. MISSION's Vice President, Greg Pratt says public outcry helped reverse the decision.  Pratt adds they are assisting the homeless living in the camp with trash removal, and are also providing them with necessary supplies such as propane, batteries and foodstuffs.

19 warming centers have been established throughout Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti to provide assistance to those that need it, including a newly opened warming center hosted by St. Mary's Student Parish on Williams Street in Ann Arbor.

Pratt says some individuals are unable or unwilling  to go to such places either due to mental illness or the desire to remain autonomous.

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Community
1:59 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Mostly Positive Reaction to State of Union at Clean Water Action Viewing Party

People concerned about climate change watching the State of the Union address at Arbor Brewing Company Tuesday night gave President Barack Obama generally positive reviews. 

Clean Water Action hosted about 25 people at a viewing party. 

Eric Keller is an campaign organizer for the group.  Keller says he likes the fact Obama outlined ways he will bypass congressional gridlock.  He gave Obama high marks for re-affirming that the climate change debate is over and calling on reduction in carbon.

Eric Harrington however says he was disappointed.  Of particular concern to him was Obama promoting natural gas.  Harrington says overall Obama could have done a lot more to get us to the place we need to be going.

Veteran Jordan Paul Redwine missed the beginning of the speech but says he was particularly touched by Cory Remsburg being recognized at the end of the address.

Obama also received applause for comments regarding unemployment insurance, a hike in minimum wage, health care, and supporting veterans.

— 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.

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Ann Arbor
7:18 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

University of MIchigan Cancels Classes for first time since 1978

Credit University of Michigan

The University of Michigan Tuesday canceled classes for the first time in 36 years.  School officials based the decision on the extremely low temperatures forecast, and the danger they pose to students traveling across campus to attend classes.     University of  Michigan spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald says other parts of the university, such as the Health System, remained open. The cancelation of classes was a departure from Michigans's controversial decision earlier this month to remain open during a similar cold spell.

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Community
2:08 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

U-M Program Receives Award for International Education

Credit umji.sjtu.edu.cn/ / University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute

A University of Michigan program that sends engineering students to China has picked up one of the highest honors in international higher education. 

The University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute has won an Andrew Heiskell Award from the Institute of International Education. 

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News
6:54 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

SCHOOL CLOSINGS: Washtenaw County and Surrounding Counties - Tuesday, January 28th

Credit WEMU-FM

Sub-zero temperatures and  frigid wind chills have once again forced school districts throughout the region to cancel classes on Tuesday, January 28th.

A complete listing for Washtenaw, Lenawee, Livingston, Monroe, Oakland and Wayne Counties is available to you here.

Listen to 89.1 WEMU for latest developments throughout the evening.

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