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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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WEMU News
1:14 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Ypsilanti City Council Approves Letter of Intent for Water Street Housing Development

Credit Bob Eccles

Ypsilanti City Council has approved a letter of intent to sell a parcel of land in the Water Street Re-Development Area to a company that wants to build a 76-unit affordable housing project there. 

Michael Rodriguez is Development Director for Herman and Kittle Properties.  He says the  3.13 acre parcel on the southern edge of the re-development area is attractive for several reasons, including proximity to the Huron River and Michigan Avenue.

The housing development wasn't welcomed by everyone. 

Downtown businessman Dave Heikkinen expressed concerns that the city needs more market-rate housing rather than housing that caters to low-income residents. 

The city would sell the land for $157,000, with the developer performing about $750,000 worth of infrastructure improvements.  The plan is to have a purchase agreement back before city council in March.

Click here to hear a report from WEMU's Bob Eccles.

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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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Ann Arbor
2:13 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Michigan's Black Student Union says Lack of Contact from the University is Unacceptable

Credit @THEBSU/Twitter

The University of Michigan's Black Student Union says it's unacceptable that it has not yet been contacted by the university regarding seven demands presented Monday by the Union and the group Being Black at U-of-M. 

Geralyn Gaines is Secretary of the Black Student Union, which has threatened "physical actions" if its demands are not met in seven days. She says the actions will be non-violent, but declined to be more specific.

The demands made Monday include making affordable housing for low-income students available on the main campus, giving black students experiencing financial difficulty emergency scholarships, improving the university's multicultural center, and giving black students an equal chance to effect change. 

The group’s full demand:

  • We demand that the university give us an equal opportunity to implement change, the change that complete restoration of the BSU purchasing power through an increased budget would obtain.
  • We demand available housing on central campus for those of lower socio-economic status at a rate that students can afford, to be a part of university life, and not just on the periphery.
  • We demand an opportunity to congregate and share our experiences in a new Trotter [Multicultural Center] located on central campus.
  • We demand an opportunity to be educated and to educate about America’s historical treatment and marginalization of colored groups through race and ethnicity requirements throughout all schools and colleges within the university.
  • We demand the equal opportunity to succeed with emergency scholarships for black students in need of financial support, without the mental anxiety of not being able to focus on and afford the university's academic life.
  • We demand increased exposure of all documents within the Bentley (Historical) Library. There should be transparency about the university and its past dealings with race relations.
  • We demand an increase in black representation on this campus equal to 10 percent.

University Provost Martha Pollack said Monday the school is focusing on three areas: Improving the Trotter Multicultural Center, improving the climate on campus, and increasing enrollment of under-represented minorities as allowed by law. 

Gaines says the Provost's comments were "comforting," but fall short of what the Black Student Union expects from the university.

— Bob Eccles is a reporter and the host of 89.1 WEMU's All Things Considered. Contact him at 734.487.3363, email him reccles@emich.edu, or follow him on Twitter @BobEcclesWEMU

12:14 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Answer This! Screening

Lead in text: 
Sunday, January 26 at 7 PM. A special fundraising screening with proceeds to benefit Food Gatherers and the Michigan Theater. Brothers and Ann Arbor natives Chris and Mike Farah shot Answer This! in Ann Arbor in 2009 and the film had its world premiere in 2010; this special screening will also include a Q&A about the Farahs’ new Discovery Channel TV project, currently filming in Detroit.
Advance tickets at ticketweb.com.
Statewide News
8:06 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Governor calls for Civility in Martin Luther King Day Address

Snyder renews call for “civility” in MLK Day address

By Rick Pluta

Governor Rick Snyder used a Martin Luther King Day speech to call for more public civility. His remarks come as a state Republican leader continues to roil his party with comments about gay people and Muslims.

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5:49 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

A Continent on Her Musical Map: Angélique Kidjo Has Never Left Africa Behind

Lead in text: 
Angélique Kidjo, the songwriter and singer from Benin, was in Kenya being a do-gooder when the concept of her new album, “Eve,” came to her, she said, “like a light bulb blowing up in your head.”
Angélique Kidjo, the songwriter and singer from Benin, was in Kenya being a do-gooder when the concept of her new album, "Eve," came to her, she said, "like a light bulb blowing up in your head."
2:39 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Fred Hersch Trio 1/30 (7:30)

Lead in text: 
Proclaimed by Vanity Fair as “the most arrestingly innovative pianist in jazz over the last decade,” Fred Hersch balances his internationally recognized instrumental and improvisational skills with significant achievements as a composer, bandleader, and theatrical conceptualist. A 2014 Grammy Nominee, Hersch has fully lived up to the approbation of The New York Times, which praised him as “singular among the trailblazers of their art, a largely unsung innovator of this borderless, individualistic jazz — a jazz for the 21st century.” Two different sets.
  • Source: Ums
  • | Via: University Musical Society
Proclaimed by Vanity Fair as "the most arrestingly innovative pianist in jazz over the last decade," Fred Hersch balances his internationally recognized instrumental and improvisational skills with significant achievements as a composer, bandleader, and theatrical conceptualist.
Read More: http://ums.org
2:37 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Fred Hersch Trio 1/30 (9:30)

Lead in text: 
Proclaimed by Vanity Fair as “the most arrestingly innovative pianist in jazz over the last decade,” Fred Hersch balances his internationally recognized instrumental and improvisational skills with significant achievements as a composer, bandleader, and theatrical conceptualist. A 2014 Grammy Nominee, Hersch has fully lived up to the approbation of The New York Times, which praised him as “singular among the trailblazers of their art, a largely unsung innovator of this borderless, individualistic jazz — a jazz for the 21st century.” Two different sets.
  • Source: Ums
  • | Via: University Musical Society
Proclaimed by Vanity Fair as "the most arrestingly innovative pianist in jazz over the last decade," Fred Hersch balances his internationally recognized instrumental and improvisational skills with significant achievements as a composer, bandleader, and theatrical conceptualist.
Read More: http://ums.org
12:06 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Rare recording of Martin Luther King Jr. talking about John F. Kennedy released

Lead in text: 
On September 12, 1962, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a speech in New York City to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the issuance of Abraham Lincoln’s Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. In a measured but passionate tone, Dr. King reviewed the history of human rights in America, noting that the Declaration of Independence and the Emancipation Proclamation had fallen far short of achieving equality for all of its citizens.
Detail of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering his address to the New York State Civil War Centennial Commission at the Park Sheraton Hotel in New York City on September 12, 1962. Courtesy of NYS Archives
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.

1:40 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

EMU to honor Senator Carl Levin and former Clinton cabinet member Rodney Slater with Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award

Lead in text: 
EMU annually presents The Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award to a member of the University community or of the broader community who exemplifies the values and ideals of King, specifically in the areas of leadership and service, or to someone who has made a significant contribution to the University and/or broader community.
  • Source: Emich
  • | Via: Geoff Larcom
Carl Levin, the longest-serving U.S. senator in Michigan history, and Rodney Slater, a former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation and an Eastern Michigan University graduate, will receive EMU’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award.The awards will be presented at the University’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. luncheon, to be held at 11:45 a.m. Monday, Jan. 20 in the EMU Student Center Ballroom.
8:38 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Harry Belafonte To Deliver Keynote Civil Rights Address Monday

Lead in text: 
An opportunity to hear Henry Belafonte's work first hand at the Ross School of Business keynote lecture during the University of Michigan’s 28th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium on Monday, Jan. 20 at 10 a.m. in Hill Auditorium.
  • Source: Typepad
  • | Via: Chrysta Cherrie
Harry Belafonte isn't just known in the entertainment world as the Grammy-, Emmy-, and Tony-winning artist behind joyous calypso melodies like "Banana Boat Song (Day-O)." He is equally respected for his dedication to social justice, particularly as an advocate of civil rights and humanitarian issues. You'll have an opportunity to...
MLK Day
7:56 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

EMU Events to Honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Eastern Michigan University has many events planned to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Keith Jason is coordinator of student services for EMU's College of Technology.  He says Friday's events include a community service event and a screening of the film, "Finally Got the News". 

That'll be followed by a student talent show at 7pm Friday at Pease Auditorium. 

Jason says the show is called H2E, short for "Hip Hop Explosion", in which students will compete for scholarship money with performances that pay tribute to Dr. King.

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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
7:16 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Federal Grant to Help Ypsilanti Hire Additional Firefighters

Credit OfficerGreg/CC BY-ND/ Flickr

Ypsilanti's fire department will use a federal grant to boost staffing to pre-recession levels. 

Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin Wednesday announced the $800,000 grant. 

Fire Chief Max Anthouard says he'll be able to restore staffing to what the department enjoyed in 2008.

The Ypsilanti Fire Department currently has 15 fire fighters.  The grant announced Wednesday will allow for the hiring of five more fire fighters.

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Washtenaw County
1:23 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Washtenaw Avenue Partially Re-Opened in Ypsilanti

Two-way traffic is now flowing along the westbound lanes of Washtenaw Avenue between Mansfield and Hewitt, where crews are working to repair damage from a weekend water main break. 

Ypsilanti Community Utilities Authority Director Jeff Castro says our recent frigid weather was to blame for the problem.

He says the bitter cold pushed frost deeper under the roadway, causing the break.

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Sports
12:54 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

VIDEO: Eastern Michigan Forward Glenn Bryant featured in SportsCenter Top 10

EMU student Glenn Bryan, #23 for the EMU Eagles

EMU Eagles forward and red-shirt senior, Glenn Bryant was featured as No. 4  on Tuesday's top ten plays on ESPN's Sportscenter during their 56-37 victory over rival Western Michigan University. 

EMU basketball games can be heard on 89.1 WEMU or online at wemu.org throughout the season. 

 

Eastern Michigan F Glenn Bryant picks off a pass and takes it down court for a slam dunk over Western Michigan. - ESPN

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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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Local News
7:59 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Two Area Deaths attributed to Flu-Related Illnesses

Credit Josef Muellek/iStockphoto.com / NPR/ SHots/ Health News

Washtenaw Public Health confirms two deaths from influenza-related illness.  

Officials are urging residents to get vaccinated and a potent flu strain makes the rounds in the county.

Susan Cerniglia is the Public Information Officer for Washtenaw Public Health. She says seniors and children are not the only ones getting hit hard with the flu - younger people are also getting very sick.

Cerniglia says vaccinations are still available at Public Health, and through health care providers. She says some pharmacies are running out of the vaccine, so people should call ahead before going to a local pharmacy for a flu shot.

A report dated January 10th from the county:

 Influenza is circulating at peak levels in Washtenaw County.  Influenza A is dominant so far this season, with A/H1N1 subtyped in the majority of cases.  A few influenza B cases have been diagnosed. Respiratory illness rates in schools and child care centers are currently unknown due to the holiday/weather break.   Hospitalizations associated with inflluenza infection continue to climb.  The age range of hospitalizations in Washtenaw residents to date is 10 to 91 years, with almost half under the age of 50 (this is typical for A/H1N1). The first local flu-related deaths were reported this week in older adults with underlying high-risk health conditions. 

Influenza Activity for Current Season 

Local flu activity in 2013-14 season (pdf)

Hospitalizations for 2013-14 (pdf)

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