Ypsilanti

Washtenaw County’s approximately 60,000 residents on Medicaid or without any dental insurance will have a source for dental work starting next year.  The Washtenaw County Commissioners Wednesday night approved plans for a Public Health Department owned dental clinic. 

Facebook/TheRide

A recent survey finds area voters would support a tax hike to help fund the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority's five year transit plan.  

63 percent of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Ypsilanti Township voters polled would probably or definitely vote for a new tax of less than one mill for additional service.  The survey was conducted in October through December for the AAATA.

Fines for illegal dumping are going way up in Ypsilanti, in the hopes that it'll help curb a problem that's been costing the Downtown Development Authority money to clean up after.   Mayor Paul Schreiber says one spot in particular has become a haven for illegal dumping. He says people have been leaving things like sofas at the Dumpsters behind businesses along Michigan Avenue. Fines that used to start at $50 for illegal dumping will now start at $2,500 and could go as high as $5,000.

Low Income Housing
Images_of_Money / Foter / CC BY

Ypsilanti City Council Tuesday night approved the second and final reading of legislation to sell the city's remaining public housing stock to a private owner.  

The Ypsilanti Housing Commission will be a partner with the new owner.  

Zachary Fosler is the Housing Commission's Executive Director. He says having the public housing facilities under private ownership will make it easier for the properties to get the renovations and maintenance they need, since federal money for public housing improvements is no longer available.  

Ypsilanti Community High School Chamber Singers
YCS Courtesy photo

The Ypsilanti Community High School Chamber Singers sang for the Board of Education Monday night.

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.

There weren't many people interested in what the President had to say in his State of the Union speech in Downtown Ypsilanti Tuesday night.  

Most were more interested in watching the Michigan State-Iowa basketball game.  

Some said they were DVR-ing the speech and planned to watch it later.  

Ypsilanti Community Utilitites Authority
YCUA

When temperatures dip this low, frozen pipes are a frequent problem for homeowners.   

Jeff Castro is Director of the Ypsilanti Community Utilitites Authority.  He says it's good for homeowners to be aware of the danger.

 Castro says the pipes most likely to freeze are those running along an exterior wall, or near a window. In cold weather, water meters can freeze, too.     

The American Red Cross suggests taking preventative steps, such as keeping garage doors closed if there are water supply lines there, opening kitchen and bathroom doors to allow heat to circulate around the plumbing, and letting cold water drip from faucets served by exposed pipes.     

If you need to thaw pipes, the Red Cross suggests wrapping them with an electric heating pad, or apply heat using a hair dryer or portable space heater - so long as its kept away from flammable material.  Never use an open flame to attempt to thaw frozen water pipes.

OfficerGreg/CC BY-ND/ Flickr

The ranks of Ypsilanti fire fighters are growing, thanks to an $800,000 federal grant.

City Manager Ralph Lange says the money will allow the city to hire five fire fighters this year and next.  He says the first five must be on board by April 8th.

Ypsilanti officials say they have received a substantial number of applications to be the next deputy police chief. 

Applications for the position will be accepted through the end of the week. 

City Manager Ralph Lange says while chief Tony DeGiusti will be the face of the department in the community, the deputy chief has a big role as well.  He says the deputy police chief is responsible for the operations of the department and putting in place the policies and procedures the chief develops with the community.

DeGiusti was hired as deputy chief about a year ago but has now become Ypsilanti's police chief.  Lange says he and DeGiusti will review the applications and conduct one or two rounds of interviews, with a hire expected within 60 days.


Ann Arbor News, Ypsilanti News
WEMU-FM

Sub-zero temperatures and  frigid wind chills have once again forced school districts throughout the region to cancel classes on Tuesday, January 28th.

A complete listing for Washtenaw, Lenawee, Livingston, Monroe, Oakland and Wayne Counties is available to you here.

Listen to 89.1 WEMU for latest developments throughout the evening.

SEE ALSO:

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.

Bob Eccles

Ypsilanti City Council has approved a letter of intent to sell a parcel of land in the Water Street Re-Development Area to a company that wants to build a 76-unit affordable housing project there. 

Michael Rodriguez is Development Director for Herman and Kittle Properties.  He says the  3.13 acre parcel on the southern edge of the re-development area is attractive for several reasons, including proximity to the Huron River and Michigan Avenue.

The housing development wasn't welcomed by everyone. 

Downtown businessman Dave Heikkinen expressed concerns that the city needs more market-rate housing rather than housing that caters to low-income residents. 

The city would sell the land for $157,000, with the developer performing about $750,000 worth of infrastructure improvements.  The plan is to have a purchase agreement back before city council in March.


Matt Sayles/Associated Press

Educator and Activist Geoffrey Canada says the US has a national problem with educational issues which is clear through the high percentage of high school graduates that can't qualify to enter the military. Canada gave the keynote address for Eastern Michigan University's Martin Luther King Junior Celebration on Monday.

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.

It's going to take a little longer to get the center turn lane and eastbound lanes of Washtenaw Avenue open again in Ypsilanti. 

Crews working to repair damage caused by last weekend's broken water main were hoping to have the road completely re-opened by today, but the weather is pushing that back to Saturday afternoon. 

The Ypsilanti Community Utilities Authority has been working to fill in voids below the pavement caused by water that gushed from the main. 

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

Thompson Block
Courtesy Photo

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.

Ann Arbor News, Ypsilanti News
WEMU-FM

All Non-Essential Washtenaw County Government Operations and Buildings are closed.

Pittsfield Township Government offices are closed.

Ypsilanti Township government offices and the 14-B District court are closed. People with scheduled court appearances should contact the court on Tuesday.

The 15th District Court in Ann Arbor is closed and those scheduled to appear at Court today will be contacted by Court representatives to reschedule.

The Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education meeting scheduled for tonight has been canceled.

The Ann Arbor Housing Commission is closed

The Ann Arbor and the Monroe Social Security Administration offices are closed 

The Ann Arbor Hands on Museum is closed.

Garbage and recycling will be delayed by a day for Pittsfield Township residents.

The Ann Arbor District Library will open at noon today.

Saint Joseph Mercy Health System is urging all patients who have non-urgent appointments at any of our hospitals and outpatient care centers to stay home. Contact your care provider to cancel your appointment and reschedule for a later date. The Michigan Heart offices are closed through noon today. Radiation Oncology for outpatient services are closed for the day. Most other offices as well as St. Joe's emergency departments will remain open.

The U of M Health System says it will keep all of its hospitals and outpatient care centers open.

Ypsilanti City Manager Ralph Lange has chosen interim Police Chief Tony DiGiusti to serve as Chief on a permanent basis starting next month. 

DiGiusti was hired as Deputy Chief about a year ago, and has served as interim Chief since Amy Walker retired to take a job in the private sector in October of last year. 

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