washtenaw county

Education
3:31 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Number of Spots Ann Arbor Will Take for County-wide High School Options Still Uncertain

Ann Arbor Public Schools have still not determined how much they will participate in three county-wide high school options.  The school board last night postponed a vote until next week's study session on how many seats they will use in the Early College Alliance, Washtenaw International High School, and Widening Advancement for Youth.  The delay comes with Ann Arbor Schools wanting to use many fewer seats than the consortium has allocated to the district. 

Superintendent Jeanice Swift says much of the confusion has been blamed on the superintendent transition, but she believes both parties are to blame for the communications issues.  Swift recommended the district use 80 seats total in the ECA and Wi-Hi and 15 for WAY.  The allocation approved by the consortium last month would give Ann Arbor 80 new seats in the ECA  alone, and a straight lottery for Wi-Hi.

David Dugger is the Washtenaw Intermediate School District Director of Secondary Options.  Dugger says the other consortium members  in October opted to continue to use a straight lottery for Wi-Hi and a proportional system to assign slots to the ECA.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on Ann Arbor Schools delaying a decision on how much they will participate in the Early College Alliance, Washtenaw International High School, and the WAY program.

Winter Prep
5:17 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Weatherization Program Aims to Help Reduce Energy Bills

The Washtenaw County Weatherization Program is taking applications to help low-income households reduce their energy bills this winter.

The program helps increase energy efficiency in applicants' homes by adding insulation and inspecting and repairing water heaters, furnaces and refrigerators. 

Program coordinator Aaron Kraft says the first thing they do is audit a home to determine what problems it faces.

Kraft says the service is only applicable for people living in certain kinds of homes. 

The weatherization program helps around 100 households a year, and has assisted thousands since it began.

Homeowners and renters in Washtenaw County may be eligible for FREE weatherization services to help reduce energy bills.

The county can help  provide energy saving repairs, which may include but are not limited to:

  • Insulation in the attic, walls, and crawl-spaces
  • Furnace and water heater inspections and repairs
  • Caulking around drafty windows and doors
  • Inspections and replacements for inefficient refrigerators
  • Weather-stripping around doors and attic accesses

For more information, including eligibility requirements, please review the Weatherization FAQs page.

Hear WEMU's Bob Eccles' report here.

Local News
6:20 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Last Week's Election Results to be Certified Soon

It won't be long before we have the official results of last week's elections. 

Ed Golembiewski is Washtenaw County's Elections Director. He says the results will be certified first thing Wednesday morning.

Golembiewski says one provisional ballot was added in Ann Arbor elections, and Ann Arbor city council 5th Ward write-in candidate Chip Smith got an additional 100 votes - not enough to change the results.

Click to hear WEMU's Bob Eccles' report.

Community
3:53 am
Thu November 7, 2013

County Budget Approved by Ways and Means Committee

Credit Tax Credits / Foter.com / CC BY

The Washtenaw County Sheriff says if the proposed four year county budget is approved he will likely be unable to maintain current service levels if he hits budget targets.  

The County Commissioners Ways and Means Committee voted 7  to 2  for the budget last night that ranges from $103 million in 2014 to $106.5 million in 2017. 

Sheriff Jerry Clayton says he hopes his warning on possible service reductions starts a community conversation because he won't be running up overtime.  Clayton says he proposed a gradual reduction in the sheriff department returning a half-million dollars to the county annually. 

The county commissioners will have a public hearing on the budget proposal in two weeks.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on the Washtenaw County Commissioners Ways and Means Committee giving a four year budget proposal initial approval, despite concerns from Sheriff Jerry Clayton.

Community
3:49 am
Thu November 7, 2013

Washtenaw County Economic Development Millage Increased, Faces Potential Challenge

Washtenaw County is increasing a tax for economic development and agriculture, but is likely also facing a lawsuit over the tax. 

The County Commissioners voted seven to one last night to levy a .07 mill public act 88 tax. 

Bill McMaster is the chair of Taxpayers United and served as director for the Headlee Amendment campaign in 1978.  McMaster says the tax is unconstitutional because it wasn't approved by voters.

County officials however say voter approval isn't needed because the act is from 1913, well before the Headlee Amendment was approved.  They say the state legislature recently reviewed Act 88 and didn't change it.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on Washtenaw County's Economic Development tax increase and the likely lawsuit over the issue.

Community
3:16 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

Washtenaw County Trying 'Peacemaking Court'

Credit Morgue File

The Washtenaw County Circuit Court is getting some state funding to try a new - or actually very old - brand of justice.  

State grants will help create a "peacemaking court", which uses Native American principles to help resolve disputes. 

Circuit Court Judge Tim Connors says it gives the court more options, with an emphasis on the importance of admitting wrongdoing and apologizing for it.

"Peacemaking courts" will find everyone involved in the process working together to make things right and re-integrate offenders into the community. 

They'll follow what they call the three R's: respect, responsibility, relationships and re-direction. 

If successful, "peacemaking courts" could be expanded to other jurisdictions.

Environment
9:54 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Issues of the Environment: Water and Sewer Issues in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County

The Barton Dam on the Huron River
Credit Credit James Marvin Phelps / Foter / CC BY-NC

In this week's edition of WEMU's "Issues of the Environment", David Fair talks with Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner, Evan Pratt. 

This interview is a follow-up to an earlier conversation with Jennifer Lawson, Water Quality Manager for Ann Arbor, that followed the large sewage spill into the Huron River in June or 2013. Evan will address the fact that several spills have occurred since then and talk about projects that Washtenaw County is working on to update the water treatment system.

Overview

  • There have been at least four breaches of the water treatment system in Ann Arbor since this summer.
  • These spill have prompted concerns that Washtenaw County’s aging water treatment network and sewage system may not be robust enough to handle the demands of today’s residents.

Listen to "Issues of the Environment" with David Fair and Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner Evan Pratt below.

Issues of the Environment for 11/06/2013

Elections
11:13 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Election Preview: Ann Arbor's 1st Ward City Council Race

Ann Arbor's first ward council member, Sabra Briers is being challenged by independent Jeff Hayner in tomorrow's election.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley has more:

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Elections
11:07 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Election Preview: Ann Arbor's 4th Ward City Council Race

Election Day is tomorrow, and in Ann Arbor's 4th ward, the outcome is just about certain. Democrat John Eaton, or Jack, as he prefers to be called, defeated current councilwoman Marcia Higgins in the August Primary, and appeared to be unopposed for the general election. 

But, as WEMU's David Fair reports, voters do have the option of a registered write-in candidate:

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Elections
11:01 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Washtenaw County Election Preview

There are a handful of ballot issues being decided in Washtenaw County tomorrow.

WEMU's Bob Eccles has more on elections throughout the county:

2013 Washtenaw County election preview

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Transportation
1:49 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Washtenaw County Starts Anti-Idling Campaign; Asks Drivers To Shut Down Engines When Not In Use

Credit Wasthenaw County / ewashtenaw.org

Washtenaw County has launched a new website to educate motorists on the environmental and financial costs of unnecessary idling. The website is part of a larger educational campaign being run by Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County officials. 

Jeff Kruchmerrick is the Environmental Program Supervisor for Washtenaw County. He explains that there is some simple advice people can follow if they want to help cut down on unnecessary idling.

Kruchmerrick adds that unnecessary idling costs Americans millions of dollars each year and is responsible for about 5 percent of the gas used in the US each year.

More information is available at www.motor-smart.com

Community
8:22 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Cold Weather Especially Difficult for area Homeless

Credit Creative Commons/ moriza

Life is difficult enough for Washtenaw County's roughly 4,500 homeless residents, but as WEMU's Bob Eccles reports, when overnight temperatures start to drop, things can get downright dangerous.  

Bob Eccles Reports

Education
3:17 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Ann Arbor Schools Likely To Renew Washtenaw Educational Options Consortium Agreement

Credit AAPS

The Ann Arbor School Board will likely eventually renew their contract to participate in a consortium of three county-wide high school options, but have frustrations on the agreement.  The board discussion last night took place after a large number of Washtenaw International High School and the Early College Alliance spoke in favor of their programs. 

WEMU's Andrew Cluley has more:

Andrew Cluley Reports

Community
5:02 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Ann Arbor Could Soon Be Certified As 'Redevelopment Ready' Community

Washtenaw County could soon have two communities certified as Redevelopment Ready.  The Michigan Economic Development Corporation took over the program two years ago and is in the middle of re-certifying Ypsilanti, while Ann Arbor joins the list of  eight new communities to be evaluated.

WEMU's Andrew Cluley has more.
 

Andrew Cluley reports

 

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Local News
7:49 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Local Boards and Commissions need Volunteers

If you've been itching to do your civic duty, this may be the chance you've been waiting for.  As WEMU's Bob Eccles reports, more than a dozen Washtenaw County boards and commissions are seeking volunteers who'd like to serve.

Click here to hear Bob's report.

Community
8:23 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: An Interview With SafeHouse Director, Barbara Neiss-May

Safehouse Center in Washtenaw County provides shelter to women and children in need of protection. It serves those impacted by domestic violence and sexual abuse. There is rarely a time in any given year that the shelter isn't full to capacity. As October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, WEMU's David Fair took occasion to talk with the Executive Director of Safehouse Center. Barbara Neiss-May has made it her life's work to serve those in need.

Listen to the full interview:

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Health
3:47 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

Michigan Health Deptartment Confirms Two Cases of Measles

The Measles Virus
Credit AJC1 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

The Michigan Department of Community Health has confirmed two cases of measles in Michigan this year with one more possible case they are currently investigating. Michigan is one of 16 states with confirmed cases of the highly contagious, viral disease.  

Washtenaw County Public Health Epidemiologist Laura Bauman says there have been no reported cases of measles in Washtenaw County so far. She says the two infants who came down with the disease were not vaccinated:
 

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Community
11:33 am
Tue September 24, 2013

Washtenaw Housing Alliance Recognized By Michigan SOAR

Credit Vlastula / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

The Washtenaw Housing Alliance was awarded special recognition by the Michigan Social Security Disability Outreach, Access, and Recovery, or SOAR, State Planning Group last week for its efforts to fight homelessness.  

The SOAR program is a streamlined process aimed at getting eligible adults suffering from homelessness and mental illness or substance abuse access to disability income benefit programs much quicker than they otherwise could.

Julie Steiner is the Executive Director of the Washtenaw Housing Alliance. She says Homelessness in Washtenaw County is a growing problem:
 

Julie Steiner explains the issue impacting residents of Washtenaw County

Steiner adds homelessness is a growing problem in Washtenaw County, which has been made even worse in recent years by a bad economy and cuts to government programs.

To date, the WHA has helped file more SOAR applications than any other group in Michigan.
More than 4,300 people reported being homeless in Washtenaw County at some point during 2012.

Community
2:36 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

EMU Students Say They Don't Text and Drive

Credit ItCanWait.com

The Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office wants drivers to pledge not to text and drive.  As WEMU's Bob Eccles reports, students attending Eastern Michigan University's Homecoming football game this past weekend seem to already be on board.

Click here for Bob's report.

Healthcare
4:34 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

Michigan's Medicaid Expansion Impacts Washtenaw County Residents

The Medicaid expansion bill signed into law by Gov. Snyder earlier this week will have a major impact on health care in Washtenaw County. 

Both it and the upcoming state health insurance marketplace will affect many of the people already receiving coverage through the Washtenaw Health Plan. Many people currently receiving health coverage through the Washtenaw Health Plan will lose that coverage and be required to get it instead through either the newly expanded Medicaid or the upcoming health insurance marketplace.


Krista Nordberg is the Director of Enrollment and Advocacy at Washtenaw Health Plan. She says there will likely be timing issues with these changes.
 

Norberg explains that there's all hands on deck in preparation of this plan.

The Washtenaw Health Plan helps people get the health care services they need, like doctor and clinic visits, outpatient lab and X-ray tests, prescriptions, hospitalization and mental health services.


You can learn more at their website: www.ewashtenaw.org

Roads
2:56 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

Washtenaw Road Commission Seeks Representative

The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners is taking applications to fill a recently vacated seat on the Road Commission. The selected applicant will represent the general public for the remainder of a six year term that ends in 2018.
 

Resumes must be submitted by September 25. The commissioners will choose an applicant during their October 2 meeting, and the appointment will take effect on January 1, 2014.

More information at http://www.ewashtenaw.org/

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Courts
11:48 am
Fri September 6, 2013

Washtenaw County Approves New Case Management System

The Washtenaw County Commissioners have approve the purchase of a new case management system for the County's Trial Court. The commissioners voted eight to one last night to purchase the system for $2.3 million. 

WEMU's Andrew Clulely reports:

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Environment
7:48 am
Fri August 30, 2013

Protecting Habitat For Endangered Field Birds

Bruce and Shirley Haeussler
Credit Barbara Lucas

Open natural areas such as meadows, prairies, and "oak openings" are declining habitats, which spells trouble for the species that depend on them.

Barbara Lucas reports:

The August edition of WEMU's "The Green Room"

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Education
1:21 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

Ypsilanti Head Start School Honors Charles Eugene Beatty

Charles Eugene Beatty, Sr.
Credit emich.edu / Eastern Michigan University

Charles Eugene Beatty is being honored by the Washtenaw County Intermediate School District for his contributions to education in Michigan. The district will renames its Head Start building  in Ypsilanti after the late educator.

Ronnie Peterson is a Washtenaw County Commissioner. He says Beatty is a historic figure and worthy of praise for his contributions to education. Beatty played a role in early childhood study programs that eventually lead to the creation of Head Start, and was inducted into the Michigan Education Hall of Fame in 1985.

audio pending:

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Community
9:28 am
Fri August 23, 2013

Parkridge Summer Festival is Saturday

The Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development will be hosting a community day in conjunction with the Parkridge Summer Festival this weekend.

Those who attend the festival will also be able to get information on free or low-cost services offered in the county.

Community and Economic Development Director, Mary Jo Callan says there will be around forty tables and booths with information on programs and services that range from youth services, to senior services, veteran's services, health services, eviction prevention, job training programs, and many more.

The Parkridge Summer Festival and Community Day happens Saturday, August 24th, from 11:00 am to 8:30 pm at Parkridge Park.

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