Local

Education
2:53 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Ann Arbor Schools Ask State Not to Schedule Mandatory Exams on Religious Holidays

The Ann Arbor School Board has unanimously passed a resolution asking the state Department of Education to make sure mandatory tests aren't given on major religious holidays.  The resolution has also been supported by Superintendent Jeanice Swift and the Ann Arbor Arab American Parent Support Group. 

Ann Arbor Schools already have a policy prohibiting major exams and other events on three star holidays but the resolution is a response to the Michigan Educational Assessment Program exams taking place in October during Eid-al-Adha. 

School Board Member Glenn Nelson says it was more than just students that had to choose between the required test and an important holiday.  He says all of the teachers he knows that were impacted chose to stay with their students.

Nelson says they hope to speak with the State Board of Education, the state superintendent and others to ensure testing doesn't conflict with important holidays.  He says culture diversity needs to be considered for Michigan to attract people from across the globe.

Read more
Community
8:51 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

ReImagine Washtenaw Right-of-Way Plan Presented

Meeting attendees check out the plan and ask questions.
Credit Bob Eccles

ReImagine Washtenaw presented its right-of-way plan to the public at a meeting Tuesday night. 

The plan covers the corridor from the water tower in Ypsilanti to the Washtenaw-Stadium split in Ann Arbor.

Ypsilanti city council member Pete Murdock says the city is dealing with a lot of traffic issues as part of its master plan revision, and those will have to be coordinated with ReImagine Washtenaw.

The ReImagine Washtenaw right-of-way plan includes improvements such as refuge islands to help pedestrians safely cross the street, buffered bike lanes, and eight "super stops" for Ann Arbor Area Transportation busses along the corridor. 

The next step in the implementation process is to have municipalities along the corridor adopt the plan.

Click here for a report from WEMU's Bob Eccles.

EMU Eagles
8:30 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Eastern Michigan University Names Creighton as Head Football Coach

Chris Creighton
Credit Drake.edu

Eastern Michigan University has named Chris Creighton as its head football coach. Creighton comes from Des Moines, Iowa's Drake University, where he led the Bulldogs as their head coach for the past six years. He becomes the 37th full-time head coach in EMU's 122-year history.

Read more
A Blog Supreme
5:07 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Remembering Jim Hall, A Different Sort Of Guitar God

Jim Hall performs with his trio and fellow guitarist Julian Lage at the 2013 Newport Jazz Festival.
Adam Kissick for NPR

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 10:10 am

Jim Hall was a guitar god, but not in the sense that he could blaze through a zillion notes a minute. He was worshipped by guitarists around the world, but you'd never know it from talking to him.

"I don't really have all that much technique anyway, so I try to the best with what I have you know," he said to me earlier this year.

Read more
Local News
6:12 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Report Suggests Lawmakers Consider Economic Impact of Colleges and Universities

A new report suggests Michigan lawmakers would be wise to consider the economic impact of colleges and universities in the state. WEMU's Bob Eccles has the story.

Read more
Education
5:56 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Concerns About EMU's Link to EAA Grow

Hundreds of educators and others have signed a petition asking Eastern Michigan University to sever ties with the Education Achievement Authority.  Some of these people spoke against the partnership at Tuesday's board of regents meeting.  

Chair of the board of regents Francine Parker says administration needs to listen to the concerns and work to ensure all E-M-U students can find student teaching positions.

Steve Camron is a special education professor and chair of the College of Education Council.  Camron says the E-A-A connection is hurting E-M-U education students beyond the student teacher boycott.  He says the E-A-A's use of Teach for America Candidates with less training makes EMU grads unable to compete for teaching positions.

President Susan Martin says she is closely listening to faculty and student concerns and trying to get more information.  She says it's unfortunate E-M-U students are being punished and great educators are struggling to find student teaching positions.  Martin says the E-A-A however is one of many creative efforts to address under performing schools and it makes sense for E-M-U to be part of the effort.

The regents approved Provost Kim Schatzel's appointment to the E-A-A board.

Read more
Education
5:49 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

EMU Approves In-State Tuition for Undocumented Students from Michigan High Schools

Undocumented immigrants that have attended a Michigan High School for at least three years will soon be able to pay in-state tuition rates at Eastern Michigan University.  The board of regents Tuesday unanimously approved the policy change that will take affect in the fall.  

President Susan Martin says hopefully more of these students that are part of our community will come to E-M-U, but it may be difficult to put a specific number on the increase.

The new policy was originally pushed by the E-M-U student government who researched options and voted in favor of this change last month.  Student Body President Desmond Miller says they estimate less than 20 undocumented students are currently studying at E-M-U and is confident that number will climb.

E-M-U now joins the University of Michigan, Wayne State University, and Washtenaw Community College to offer in-state tuition to undocumented students from Michigan high schools.

The regents also approved a policy change to give all honorably discharged or medically separated U-S Military veterans with one-year of active duty service in-state tuition.

Read more
Local News
5:45 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

ReImagine Washtenaw Right-of-Way Study up for Review Wednesday Night

Wednesday night is your chance to take a look at improvements being recommended as part of the ReImagine Washtenaw project and have some input on the issue. 

Nathan Voght is project manager for ReImagine Washtenaw.  He says they've been working with a consultant on the right-of-way study being presented at a public meeting Wednesday night.

The study addresses issues such as bike lanes, sidewalks and safer ways to cross Washtenaw Avenue from the Ypsilanti water tower to the Stadium Boulevard split. 

Find out more about the plan from 6:30 to 8 Wednesday night  in conference room "A" in the County Service Center Learning Resources Center off Washtenaw Avenue.

Read more
Local News
3:00 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

EMU to hire 10 new Full-Time Police Officers

Credit Eastern Michigan University Police

Eastern Michigan University will hire an additional 10 full-time police officers to help patrol the neighborhoods immediately next to campus. 

Police Chief Bob Heighes says the new hires will "provide a crucial new dimension to our policing efforts." 

The university is currently working to hire an additional four officers announced last month. 

Chief Heighes says four more officers will be brought on board in May, and another two late next summer. 

Read more
Dream Act
11:17 am
Tue December 10, 2013

EMU Student Government Pushes for In-State Tuition for Undocumented Students

Clerk Eden Zimak watches as Student Body President Desmond Miller signs Senate Resolution 100-09 to formally state that the student body of Eastern Michigan University supports our Board of Regents in the decision to grant in-state tuition to undocumented students.
Credit Courtesy photo / EMU Student Government

Eastern Michigan University's Student Government wants undocumented students living in Michigan to qualify for in-state tuition rates. 

Under the current system they must pay out-of-state rates that cost $15,500 more per year.

EMU Student Body President Desmond Miller says that's not fair.

The University of Michigan and Washtenaw Community College have already changed their policies to allow qualified undocumented students to pay in-state rates. 

EMU's Board of Regents plans to discuss loosening the qualifications for in-state tuition at tomorrow's meeting.

Read more
Community
1:47 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Ann Arbor Mayor Officially Files Veto of Changes to Crosswalk Law

Mayor John Hieftje
Credit City of Ann Arbor

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.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje officially vetoing changes to the crosswalk law.

Community
1:41 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Expectations of Ann Arbor Council Members Discussed at Planning Session

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.

Read more
Local News
3:14 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

New Parking Garage Opens in Ann Arbor

A new 250-space parking garage is now open on the corner of First and Washington streets in downtown Ann Arbor. 

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority Director Susan Pollay says the new garage provides the mix of public and private uses, with an apartment building under construction above it.

A "soft opening" for the structure was held Friday, with a grand opening expected sometime in January to coincide with the apartments opening.

Local News
3:07 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

EMU Celebrates 'Giving Tuesday' Success

Eastern Michigan University says its Giving Tuesday fundraising effort was a resounding success. 

Tom Stevick is EMU's Vice-President for Advancement, and Executive Director of the EMU Foundation.  He says the university's first one-day fundraising event exceeded expectations.

Stevick says they were expecting to raise around $50,000 or $60,000, but ended up with more than $138,000. 

Money raised by EMU on Giving Tuesday will go to various scholarships and campus programs, plus the school's new Student Emergency Fund.

Read more
Business
3:05 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Former Elbow Room Building Gets New Life

6 S Washington St, home of the Former Elbow Room has sat dormant since 2010

The former site of Ypsilanti's Elbow Room bar is being put back to use, with a Mexican restaurant moving into the South Washington Street building. 

City Planner Teressa Gillotti explains that the building has been empty since the bar closed in 2011, adding that having a strong entertainment district would play a critical role in redeveloping Ypsilanti.

The restaurant's expected to open next spring following renovations.

Read more
Holiday Support
3:02 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Salvation Army needs Volunteers for Toy Distribution

The Washtenaw County Salvation Army needs volunteers to help sort toys for its annual Christmas Toy Shop. The event brings donated toys to families in need. 

Volunteer Coordinator Darlene Howard says 20 to 30 volunteers are needed before and during the toy distribution, which takes place Wednesday, December 18th..

Help is also needed on Monday the 16th and Tuesday the 17th, anytime from 9AM to 6PM.

In addition to sorting toys before the distribution, volunteers are needed on the 18th to help parents select children's gifts. 

Read more
Music
1:38 pm
Sat December 7, 2013

Orpheum Bell Live in Studio

Jeremy with Orpheum Bell
Credit Patrik Holubik / 89.1 WEMU

Before their December 15th performance at The Ark, Orpheum Bell stopped by the 89.1 WEMU studios to talk to us on the The Roots Music Project for a live interview and performance.

Listen to the full performance and interview here:

Orpheum Bell Live in the 89.1 WEMU Studios--12/7/13

Read more
Environment
2:21 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

First Friday Focus on the Environment: Great Lakes Growing Threat - Asian Carp

Credit kate.gardiner / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

This month on 89.1 WEMU's First Friday Focus on the Environment, we we will explore  a growing threat in the region - Asian Carp. We look into its growing threat of expanding territories to the world's greatest freshwater resource, the Great Lakes.

The Executive Director of the Great Lakes Commission, Tim Eder joins us to talk about the issue and what can be done to establish a long-term solution.

First Friday Focus on the Environment 12/6/13

Read more
Community
7:38 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

A2 DDA to Fund All Main Street Lightpole Replacements

Credit meltedplastic / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Ann Arbor's Downtown Development Authority has resolved a dispute with City Council on the replacement of lighpoles along Main Street by agreeing to fund the entire project.  During the budget approval process in May City Council tweaked the DDA budget, leaving the city responsible for about $280,000 of the $580,000 cost to replace the poles that are rusting out at the base.  In October however City Council failed to approve funding for their portion of the project. 

DDA Board Chair Sandi Smith says this work is too important not to be completed.  Smith says the additional funds will come from money leftover from a more than decade old State Street Improvements project, and next fiscal year's budget.  She says based on how long the entire lightpole replacement project will take having the funds split between two budget years won't be a problem.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on Ann Arbor's Downtown Development Authority covering the entire cost of replacing lightpoles on Main Street.

Community
7:34 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

A2 Symphony Orchestra Bringing Santa in for Sing-A-Long

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.

Read more
Community
5:22 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

Ypsilanti Police Chief Finalists Identified

After a flurry of concerned emails from city council members, Ypsilanti City Manager Ralph Lange has released the names of the two finalists to be Ypsilanti's next Chief of Police. 

Ypsilanti Deputy Chief Tony Digiusti is a finalist.  He's served as interim Chief since Amy Walker's retirement in October

Also a finalist is former East Lansing Police Captain Kim P. Johnson, whose resume indicates he was with that department until June of last year but lists no more recent work experience. 

Read more
Local News
4:54 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

Ypsi Council Members want Chief Finalist Names Released

Some Ypsilanti City Council members aren't happy with City Manager Ralph Lange's decision not to identify the two finalists to be the city's next Chief of Police. 

The finalists will appear at a public forum one week from tonight, but Lange has opted not to identify them.  

WEMU news has obtained emails between several council members and the City Manager's office. 

Council members express concerns over the names not being released, as well as confusion over plans to have three finalists to bring before the public rather than two. 

Arts
1:43 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

Cinema Chat: 'Frozen,' 'Black Nativity' and more

Credit Michtheater.org

Every Thursday is movie day on WEMU's Morning Edition. David Fair is  joined by The Michigan Theater Executive Director Russ Collins for the weekly feature, Cinema Chat.

Cinema Chat for 12/5/13

Read more
Community
2:54 am
Thu December 5, 2013

DDA Waives Reimbursement for Y-Lot Expenses

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.

Read more
Transit
2:50 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Public Meeting Shows Some Support for WALLY Station at 415 W. Washingtion

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.

Read more

Pages