Local

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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Local News
7:57 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Asbestos Abatement forces City Hall Offices to Move

Credit Asbestos Testing / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

The Ann Arbor Treasury department and several other city services are temporarily moving as asbestos is removed from the fifth floor of Larcom City Hall. 

Lisa Wondrash is Communications Director for the City of Ann Arbor. She says the abatement will not affect government's ability to function, and signs will be posted in city hall to inform visitors about the office relocations.

Work will begin on the building's fourth and third floors once the fifth floor has been cleared.

Removing the asbestos will cost the city $729,000. The project will be completed by fall of this year.

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Statewide News
7:54 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Michigan's Budget Surplus May Prevent Cuts to School Funding

Budget surplus quells fears of cuts to school funding in Michigan

By Jake Neher

A state budget surplus is easing some concerns about funding for public schools in Michigan.

Last year, the non-partisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan warned recent funding increases for schools and early childhood programs might not be sustainable. It estimated they would create a $240 million hole in the state’s School Aid Budget.

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4:36 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Eastern Michigan's Visions Concert

Lead in text: 
Contemporary and classical ballet, modern dance, jazz and hip-hop will set the stage for “Visions: The 62nd Annual Faculty & Guest Artist Concert,” January 17 – 18, at 8 p.m. and January 19 at 2 p.m. at Eastern Michigan’s Quirk Theatre
  • Source: Emich
  • | Via: Pamela Young
Eastern Michigan University Education First
Community
11:42 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Ann Arbor City Council Receives Update on Economic Health

College educated millennials have changed the key to economic development by choosing the location they want to live and then finding a job rather than going where they find a job.  That's the message the President of Michigan Future shared with Ann Arbor City Council Monday night at a work session on the community's economic health. 

Lou Glazer says to attract a larger number of these talented young workers that will then attract businesses the city needs to focus on several issues.  He says this includes high density downtown neighborhoods that are active 24 hours a day and are connected to more public transit options.

Glazer says the number of college educated 25 to 34 year olds has grown by 17 percent across the country since 2005, but has remained constant in Ann Arbor at 16-thousand.   He says Ann Arbor's economic development efforts should match Chicago in being focused on attracting every graduate of all the Big Ten Universities.

He says state policies that have lowered taxes and focused on businesses have hurt efforts to improve the quality of place and fund education which are the keys to attracting young talented people.

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Health
7:27 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Test Kits on Sale during Radon Action Month

A sobering fact during National Radon Action Month:  nearly half of all homes in Washtenaw County contain high levels of radon gas. 

Radon is a potentially harmful gas. It is tasteless, colorless, and odorless.

Angela Parsons is Washtenaw County's Environmental Health Education Coordinator. She says there's no easy way to determine if a house has radon other than to test for it.

Washtenaw County Public Health is offering radon test kits for half price this month.

Kits cost $5 and are available at the Western County Service Center.

Where can I get a long-term radon test kit?

  • Washtenaw County Environmental Health has alpha-track test kits available at our office for $20 each, which includes the cost of postage and laboratory analysis. The test kits can be purchased at the Western County Service Center. Test kits can also be mailed to you for an additional $2 to cover postage and handling. For questions or to order a test kit by mail, please call (734) 222-3869. 
  • To order an alpha track detector online, visit LandauerAccustar Labs or RSSI.

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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.

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