Local

Statewide News
7:23 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Local State Representative envisions something a Little Different in Tax Relief

Credit Adam Zemke

State Representative Adam Zemke supports tax relief for Michigan residents, but not in the form being discussed in Lansing. 

The 55th district Democrat says he'd rather see the earned income tax credit restored than a cut in the state income tax. Zemke says that would better help Michigan's low-income families displaced by the state's fluctuating economy.

Zemke is also outlining his legislative goals for 2014, and education is at the top of the list.

Zemke says Michigan's most valuable resource is the talent of its residents. He has been calling for an increased focus on STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering and Math - in public schools.

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Community
3:29 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Water Main Break to Affect Washtenaw Traffic Until Wednesday or Thursday

A weekend water main break will cause a stretch of Washtenaw Avenue in Ypsilanti to remain closed until late Wednesday or early Thursday.

That's according to Mark Sweeney, MDOT's manager for the Washtenaw area.  

Sweeney says the pipe broke Sunday morning, and the force of the escaping water lifted the roadway off its foundation. He says engineers now have to make sure any "voids" created by the water under the road surface are repaired before Washtenaw Avenue can re-open. 

2:57 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Al Porcino, First Trumpeter With Leading Jazz Bands, Dies at 88

Lead in text: 
From the Basie, Kenton and Buddy Rich bands to Mel Torme and the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, Al Porcino's trumpet sound brightened any band.
Al Porcino, whose powerful sound and ability to hit the highest of high notes with ease brought him work as the lead trumpeter in some of the most celebrated big bands in jazz, died on Dec. 31 in Munich. He was 88. The cause was a fall, said his wife, Erna Tom.
11:29 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Ann Arbor's Main St. Named as one of America's Best

Lead in text: 
A quintessential college town, Ann Arbor, and its South Main Street reflect a vibrant culture. The city offers something for visitors of all ages, from hands-on museums with interactive exhibits, to colorful bars and restaurants. Enjoy acoustic music at The Ark, a nonprofit venue that features performances from renowned folk performers. Choosing just one of South Main Street’s restaurants might seem like a herculean task, but a good option is The Ravens Club. The kitchen and bar offers seasonal farm-to-table cuisine and a cocktail menu with an impressive collection of whiskey.
Friendly neighbors, family-run businesses, and quaint restaurants serving comforting diner fare--these are the images conjured up by the phrase "Main Street USA." Even in this fast-paced era, many small towns have held onto their historic roots and preserved their central thoroughfares.
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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Local News
7:03 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Warmer Weather Could Lead to Flooding

The weekend's warmer weather could pose a new set of problems for Washtenaw County.

Temperatures are expected to rise into the mid 40s over the weekend. Melting snow combined with the anticipated rainfall over could cause flooding in parts of the county.

Dennis Wojcik is Washtenaw County's Deputy Water Resources Commissioner. He says the build up of snow on the county's storm drains and other catch basins could be problematic where drains are clogged with snow.

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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9:18 am
Fri January 10, 2014

EMU will host Graduate Open House on Jan. 11

Lead in text: 
Eastern will open its doors and welcome undergraduate and working professionals who are interested in learning more about a higher education degree during a Graduate Open House, Saturday, Jan. 11. During the open house, graduate advisors will be poised to answer questions from 10 a.m. to noon at the Student Center Ballroom, located at 900 Oakwood, Ypsilanti.
  • Source: Emich
  • | Via: Debra Johnson
Eastern Michigan University Education First
9:13 am
Fri January 10, 2014

Graduate student earns a spot on the EMU delegation to Wuhan University, China

Lead in text: 
Off stage, Alejandra Escobar is calm and reserved, but when the Eastern Michigan University graduate student performs behind the piano, she displays the kind of passion and intensity that not only won the 2013 Graduate Student Music Competition, it earned her a spot on the EMU delegation to Wuhan University, China.
  • Source: Emich
  • | Via: Linda Hass
Passion and Intensity Graduate student earns a spot on the EMU delegation to Wuhan University, China by Linda Hass, Published January 08, 2014 Off stage, Alejandra Escobar is calm and reserved, but when the Eastern Michigan University graduate student performs behind the piano, she displays the kind of passion and intensity that not only won the 2013 Graduate Student Music Competition, it earned her a spot on the EMU delegation to Wuhan University, China.
8:43 am
Fri January 10, 2014

Eastern Michigan University to hold virtual job fair on Jan. 21

Lead in text: 
The campus community and the public are invited to participate in a Virtual Job Fair, to be held on January 21, 2014 from 1-3 p.m. by Eastern Michigan University. This cost-free event will allow participants to chat one-on-one with representatives from the University in real time, all from the comfort of an online environment.
  • Source: Emich
  • | Via: Geoff Larcom
Eastern Michigan University Education First
Education
9:55 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Ypsilanti School Board of Education Adopts 'Solutions not Suspensions' Pledge

Solutions Not Suspensions calls for a moratorium on out-of-school suspensions.
Credit stopsuspensions.org/

The Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education has adopted the "Solutions not Suspensions" pledge and a Student Code of Conduct. 

Bob Eccles reports on a new pledge to provide "solutions not suspensions" for its students.

The pledge urges district to use suspensions and expulsions as a last resort, and while that philosophy isn't really a part of the Code of Conduct, staff felt it was important to have the code in place for the rest of the school year. 

Changes in the language of the code are expected before next school year to better reflect the district's desire to focus on restorative rather than punitive practices.

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Education
9:37 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

All But One Ypsilanti Community Schools Building to Open Friday

Credit Patrik Holubik / WEMU

Problems that have forced the closure of Ypsilanti Community Schools the past couple of days have for the most part been resolved. 

Associate Superintendent Laura Lisiscki says only Ypsilanti Community Middle School - Willow Run Campus remains closed Friday as they wait for heating system parts to arrive. 

Lisiscki says district staff has been working around the clock to get buildings ready to re-open, with some staffers so focused on their work that they had to be ordered to go home and get some rest. 

Again, only Ypsilanti Community Middle School - Willow Run Campus is closed Friday in the Ypsilanti Community Schools district.

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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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12:47 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Herbie Hancock Appointed 2014 Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard

Lead in text: 
Congratulations to Herbie Hancock on this new honor. He'll be giving a series of lectures on "The Ethics of Jazz". Herbie Hancock has been named the 2014 Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University. “Hancock will give his six Norton Lectures, ‘The Ethics Of Jazz,’ in February and March.” The series follows Hancock’s receipt of a Kennedy Center Honor in December.
Herbie Hancock has been named the 2014 Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University. According to a press release, "Hancock will give his six Norton Lectures, 'The Ethics Of Jazz,' in February and March." The series follows Hancock's receipt of a Kennedy Center Honor in December.
Cinema Chat
11:02 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Cinema Chat: 'August: Osage County,' 'Inside Llewyn Davis' and more at the movies

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

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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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Local News
6:40 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Ann Arbor Schools Employees Prepared for Return to School

Credit AAPS

All signs point to a return to classes Thursday for most if not all schools in the area. 

Ann Arbor Public Schools Director of Communications Liz Margolis says district staff have been working since before the snowstorm to make sure buildings will be ready to re-open. 

That includes custodians checking on the heating systems.

Margolis says district staff have been working to shovel snow since it started falling in preparation for classes resuming.

Some area schools are cancelling classes for Thursday.  

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Local News
2:42 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

U of M Cleaning Up after Pipes Burst, Flooding Dorms

A clean-up contractor is working to repair flooding damage at a couple of University of Michigan dorms where pipes burst during the extreme cold weather. 

Peter Logan is Director of Communication for University Housing.  He says most students had not yet returned from winter break when the pipes bust in the Oxford and East Quad dorms. 

Affected students were contacted, and arrangements made for those who need temporary housing.

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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Fire
8:15 am
Tue January 7, 2014

A Fire in Downtown Ann Arbor Closes a Portion of Main Street

Update 12:05 pm:  10 hours and counting. That's how long firefighters have been combating the downtown blaze at Happy's Pizza, starting shortly before 2 am this morning. The fire is still burning at this hour. As a result, Main Street from Packard to Hoover in Ann Arbor is closed due to the fire. The building is said to be a a total loss. So far, no injuries have been reported.

An eye witness view of the scene is available here:

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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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Community
3:49 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Ann Arbor will Charge Developers to Permanently Remove Parking Meters

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on Ann Arbor's new policy to charge developers if their project results in parking meters being permanently removed.

With over 100 on-street parking meters removed in Ann Arbor since 2006 and an additional 12 meters pending, city council has approved a new policy dealing with the issue. Council Monday night approved the policy that would charge developers $45,000 per meter permanently removed plus the projected ten year value for the meter. 

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Community
3:44 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Ann Arbor Officially Ends Agreement on Fuller Road Station with University of Michigan

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on Ann Arbor City Council terminating a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Michigan regarding the proposed Fuller Road Station.

Work hasn't progressed on the proposed Fuller Road Station in over a year and the University of Michigan is instead building a parking structure between Maiden Lane and Wall Street. 

City Council Monday night passed a resolution formally terminating the Memorandum of Understanding with U of M regarding the proposed project. 

City Council member Stephen Kunselman says it's good to tie up the loose ends.

U of M and the city first agreed to the Memorandum of Understanding in 2010.  The proposal however had many critics that say parkland shouldn't be used for a transit center.

— 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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