washtenaw county

Andrew Cluley

The Washtenaw County Road Commission is warning that area roads will continue to be in rough shape for a while, as long as the weather continues to freeze and thaw.

Jim Harmon is the road commission's Director of Operations.

"We're experiencing rough road conditions s county-wide at this time," Harmon said, "both on our paved roads and un-paved roads, and our crews are working each day to try and patch and hold these roads together until things completely thaw out and stabalize."

Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

A growing number of adults are competing in a wide variety of sports and Washtenaw County is no exception.  Nearly 200 people in the area are in the middle of competing in the Crossfit Open. 

Lyndon Township's Planning Commission tonight continues discussions on a proposed gravel pit and sand mining operation.  About 200 people attended a meeting last month on a special land use request from McCoig Materials for a site on M-52 across from Green Lake.  


Saline residents had a couple of chances this week to find out more about a proposal to shift overnight police dispatch to a third party.

Mayor Brian Marl says the first of two public forums took place Monday evening.

"We heard a lot of legitimate concerns," Marl said. "A lot of excellent questions were articulated by our community members".

Marl says a forum Wednesday morning wasn't as well attended, probably due to the weather.

With 6-9 inches of snow expected today, all public school districts in Washtenaw County closed for the day. There is a long list of private and parochial closings, as well. The entire list for Washtenaw and surrounding counties can be found here: 

TeppoTK / flickr

Washtenaw County is among the many in Michigan under a Winter Storm Warning. The National Weather Service issued the warning, to be in effect until three this afternoon. Storm snowfall totals could reach between 6-9 inches.  

According to the NWS Hazardous Weather Statement, the peak of the snowfall is expected between six and 10am, with up to one-to-two inches of snowfall per hour.  

Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

This has been a harsh winter for area homeless people and pushed shelters to capacity and beyond. 


Washtenaw County saw the average home value increase by nearly 6 percent this year.  It marked the first time in years where every community in the county saw property assessments rise on average.  


Snowy Owls don't make it to Washtenaw County every winter. They made it this winter in greater numbers than usual. Why? Where might you see one?  In this week's installment of WEMU's Issues of the Environment, David Fair seeks out answers to those questions.

Barbara Lucas

 Energy conservation is low-hanging fruit--no new technology, power plants or pipelines are required.  But it can be a stubborn nut to crack if there is no financial motivation to conserve, and the question of motivation all depends on who pays the bills. 

Additional Resources:

Rain, Melting Snow Cause Flooding

Feb 20, 2014

Rain and melting snow has caused widespread flooding across Washtenaw County.   County Road Commission Operations Director Jim Harmon says crews worked hard Wednesday to clear storm drains, but as the rain fell and snow melted, those same drains clogged again. Harmon says flooding is reported anywhere from a few inches to several feet.   He urges motorists to expect flooding, and not to try to drive through areas where you can't tell how deep the water is.   Harmon welcomes reports of flooding at 734-761-1500, and if residents can safely do so, trying to clear neighborhood storm drains would be a big help.

Washtenaw County Property Values Rise

Feb 19, 2014

Washtenaw County home owners are seeing a rise in their property values for the first time in five years. Values are rising all across the county and properties are spending less time on the market before selling. Catherine McClary is Washtenaw County's Treasurer. She says the rising values is good news overall, but the county still faces challenges, especially when it comes to making sure there is enough affordable housing.  McClary says the area's homeless are often families.

Washtenaw County Public Health is accepting applications for its Healthy Workplace Awards. The awards honor businesses and organization that promote a healthy living environment in the workplace.  Kathy Fellabaum is  a Health Educator with Washtenaw Public Health.  She says businesses that promote healthy living in the workplace are a real benefit for employees. Fellabaum says you can nominate a business or organization for the Healthy Workplace Awards by filling out an online nomination survey. Businesses can also nominate themselves. Nominations are due by 5:00 pm March 15 and awards will be announced the week of April 7. 

Washtenaw County Road Salt Supplies Dwindling

Feb 10, 2014

Local supplies of rock salt are dwindling as the snow continues to fall in Washtenaw County.

Affordable housing will likely be included in the redevelopment of Washtenaw County's old Juvenile Center on Platt Road.  

The chair of the Washtenaw County Commissioners Yousef Rabhi believes Governor Rick Snyder's budget proposal is a reflection that this is an election year.  

Washtenaw County has been listed as one of the top five counties in Michigan for creative industries. ArtServe Michigan released the findings in their Creative State Michigan 2014, Creative Industries Report.  Deb Polich is the Director of the Arts Alliance in Ann Arbor and a Board Member of ArtServe Michigan.  She says Washtenaw County being in the top five is no surprise: Polich says Washtenaw County attracts people because of the two large universities, and cities like Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti that offer arts and culture experiences and education.

the ride / facebook

Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber says he looks forward to residents of his city enjoying the benefits of enhanced transit options outlined in the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority's transit improvement plan. 

Schreiber says improved public transportation will benefit both Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor.

The Mayor says better bus service will help those who live in Ypsilanti and work in Ann Arbor, and will help the economies of both cities.

Schreiber says the local business infrastructure will also be a beneficiary of better transit.


The city of Ann Arbor is now working with local non-profit organization MISSION as well as Washtenaw County's Project Outreach Team to assist a group of homeless individuals living in tents along the Huron River and under the Maiden Lane bridge. 

Ann Arbor Police had previously visited the site and posted notices on two tents, warning their owners they had 48 hours to vacate the area. MISSION's Vice President, Greg Pratt says public outcry helped reverse the decision.  Pratt adds they are assisting the homeless living in the camp with trash removal, and are also providing them with necessary supplies such as propane, batteries and foodstuffs.

19 warming centers have been established throughout Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti to provide assistance to those that need it, including a newly opened warming center hosted by St. Mary's Student Parish on Williams Street in Ann Arbor.

Pratt says some individuals are unable or unwilling  to go to such places either due to mental illness or the desire to remain autonomous.

Flickr/ Creative Commons/Brixton

Sub-zero temperatures and  frigid wind chills have once again forced many schools to close throughout the region. The record cold temperatures may cause many in the WEMU listening area to develop cold-weather injuries like frostbite and hypothermia.

For road conditions and frequent weather updates, stay tuned to 89.1 WEMU for the latest developments.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has posted its tips on how to be "prepared to stay safe and healthy in winter." For instance, if you have to go outside be sure to do what mom always said:


"Wear appropriate outdoor clothing: layers of light, warm clothing; mittens; hats; scarves; and waterproof boots."

We simply suggest: Stay inside if you can.

Cold weather safety tips include: 

Homeless Ask Washtenaw County Commission for Help

Jan 22, 2014
Vlastula / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

The homeless and their advocates filled the Washtenaw County Administration Building Board Room Wednesday night, asking the County Commission to help improve services available to them. 

Commission chair Yousef Rabhi says a task force is going to be convened in the next few days. It'll be made up of various stake holders, and will examine the best ways to fill gaps in services.

SEE ALSO:  Issues of the Environment: Habitat For Humanity Stewards Energy Savings

The Washtenaw County Road Commission spent $565,000 - one fifth of its budget - to clear snow and maintain roads during the severe weather earlier this month.

Nearly 3000 tons of salt and sand were dumped onto roads, and plow crews and other road personnel worked non-stop for five days to make sure the roads remained clear.

Washtenaw County Road Commission DIrector of Operation Jim Harmon says costs generated so far this season will not affect services going forward. He says the cost of cleaning up from a storm of that size is not unusual.

Courtesy / Facebook / Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley

This week the discussion centers around dispelling the myths of affordable housing. New affordable housing is often equated with being "cheaply built."  We didn't have a definitive answer on the subject, so we went looking. We found that quite opposite is true.  

Our guest this week builds affordable homes in the Metro Detroit Region; quality and efficiency is what makes them affordable. 

Rob Nissly, Housing Director for Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley will discuss the connection between reigning in energy costs and homeownership for lower income residents of Washtenaw County.

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.

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.

Test Kits on Sale during Radon Action Month

Jan 13, 2014

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.