Ypsilanti

Ypsilanti City Manager names new Chief of Police

Jan 3, 2014

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. 

Ypsilanti's Corner Brewery is now Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery. 

Arbor Brewing Company co-owner Renee Greff says the name change came about out of concerns raised by the former Corner Brewery's general manager that the business wasn't getting the benefit of  the Arbor Brewing Company brand.

Greff says not everyone knows that Arbor Brewing Company's beer is made at the Ypsilanti location.

She says new logos were designed, and word of the name change was spread through the Arbor Brewing Company blog and Facebook page. 

Mittenfest VIII to Benefit 826Michigan

Dec 18, 2013
Mittenfest

Mittenfest, a massive three-day music festival featuring 40 state and local bands, benefits 826Michigan.  WEMU's Bob Eccles spoke with 826Michigan Executive Director Amanda Uhle about her organization and what the December 27th-31st event means to it.

ABOUT MITTENFEST

The Ypsilanti-based Student Advocacy Center of Michigan wants the Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education to adopt a pledge to use student suspensions and expulsions only as a last resort. 

The "Solutions not Suspensions" pledge asks the state to roll back its discipline code so that it's in line with the federal Gun Free Schools Act.  It also asks districts to prioritize keeping kids in school and investing in preventative efforts. 

courtesy of Washtenaw County.

Ypsilanti City Council will likely have a purchase or development agreement for the East Side Recreation Center in January.  Council Tuesday night received an update on Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation's plans for the facility in the Water Street re-development area.  Park Planning Supervisor Coy Vaughn says the latest design features a smaller parcel of land and a smaller building. 

The new plans call for a 45-to-55-thousand square foot facility on four acres in the Water Street area. Originally, it was going to be a 55-to-65-thousand sqaure foot building set on 12-acres. Vaughn says, despite the smaller scale, no amenities or programs will have to be cut.

The proposed rec center would have 230 feet of frontage along Michigan Avenue, and would leave a 100-foot easement between the facility and the river for a linear park.  The purchase price is to be one dollar, with the county providing $900,000 worth of infrastructure improvements to the site and surrounding area.

Listen to WEMU's Bob Eccles full report.


Bike Ypsi Annual Holiday Lights Ride Tuesday

Dec 16, 2013

Bike Ypsi holds its annual Holiday Lights Ride Tuesday night. 

Bike Ypsi's Bob Krzewinski says they scout the area for nice light displays beforehand, then take a fairly liesurely eight to 10 mile ride around Ypsilanti to check them out.

The Bike Ypsi Holiday Lights Ride starts at seven Tuesday night at the Corner Brewery. 

For more information visit bike,ypsi.org

Ypsilanti Police Chief Finalists Meet the Public

Dec 12, 2013
Bob Eccles

About 50 people turned out last night for a public forum introducing the two finalists to be Ypsilanti's next Chief of Police. 

Deputy Chief Tony DiGiusti is one of the finalists.  He said his 13 years of experience as a deputy chief and administrator have prepared him for the job.

DiGiusti's been interim Chief since Amy Walker left to take a job in the private sector in October. 

ReImagine Washtenaw Right-of-Way Plan Presented

Dec 11, 2013
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.


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.

Bob Eccles

About 50 people took part in a candle light vigil last night to remember Julia Niswender, an EMU student who was found dead in her off-campus apartment one year ago. 

Niswender's death was ruled a homicide, but the circumstances surrounding her death remain unknown. Julia's mother, Kim Turnquist, urges anyone with information to come forward.

Vigil participants walked to the northern edge of the EMU campus and lined the street across from the Peninsular Point apartments where Julia lived. There they lit candles. 

Anyone with information in the case can call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-SPEAK UP.  A $15-thousand reward is offered.

Former Elbow Room Building Gets New Life

Dec 9, 2013

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.

Ypsilanti Police Chief Finalists Identified

Dec 5, 2013

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. 

Ypsi Heritage Festival asks City to Cap Fees

Dec 4, 2013
Bob Eccles

The Ypsilanti Heritage Festival made a plea to City Council Tuesday night to put a cap on the special event fees the city charges it. 

David Nickerson is Chair of the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival Board of Trustees.  He told council those fees represent 18 percent of festival expenses.

Nickerson requested that the city cap fees charged the festival at between $18,000 and $20,000.  Nickerson estimates next year's fees at between $25,000 and $28,000 otherwise. 

Mayor Paul Schreiber said he'd like to see the city make a contribution to the festival as a sponsor rather than just cap fees.

Council member Daniel Vogt said the city can't afford to subisidise the Heritage Festival unless the city can break even, perhaps by helping the festival find other areas in which to make cuts.

City staff will study the issue and come back to council with a recommendation at a later date.

Police are looking for a car observed leaving the scene of a shooting early this morning that left an Eastern Michigan University student with a non-life threatening bullet wound to the arm. 

Investigators say a blue Ford Mustang was seen speeding away from Peninsular Place Apartments after the incident around 1:40 this morning.

Destinee Leapheart was wounded when an apparent random gunshot sent a bullet through the wall and into her apartment. 

Leapheart's roommate, Tammy Flowers, says Leapheart seems to be doing OK now.

Tax Credits / Foter.com / CC BY

The Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education Monday night approved collecting school taxes in the summer rather than in the winter. 

Board President David Bates says summer tax collection is nothing new for district residents. The Ypsilanti and Willow Run districts had been collecting taxes in the summer prior to the consolidation.

Bates says summer tax collection means the district has to borrow less from the state while awaiting state aid payments, which in turn saves taxpayers money because the district is paying less in interest on money borrowed.

The second suspect in the killing of EMU student athlete Demarius Reed has appeared in court. 

Kristopher Pratt is charged with murder and robbery, and like co-defendant Ed Jemeal Thomas, is being held without bond. 

Reed was found dead at his off-campus apartment complex October 18th, and investigators turned almost immediately to robbery as a motive for his killing. 

Reed had been shot several times.

WEMU's Issues of the Environment is a weekly feature and is heard each Wednesday at 8:20am, as part of Morning Edition.

In this week's installment,  WEMU's David Fair is joined by Ypsilanti City Planner Teresa Gillotti. The city has been looking to re-purpose the 38-acre water Street property since 199, and now there is it looks as though there will be development in 2014. 

The land has required some environmental remediation, and any new development will have to meet Ypsilanti's Master Plan goals. And, of course, it must ensure the health of the Huron River. Listen below as David and Teresa look at the environmental issues surrounding Ypsilanti's Water Street property. 


Bob Eccles

Ypsilanti property owners would have 24 hours instead of 48 to clear snow from their sidewalks under an ordinance approved on first reading Tuesday night by city council. 

City Planner Teresa Gillotti says with Ypsilanti trying to be a walkable city, snow on sidewalks can be a problem.

Gillotti says she checked with a number of surrounding communities, and found that most give property owners 12 to 24 hours to clear snow. 

The ordinance approved by city council also calls for giving violators one warning per season, rather than one warning each time there’s an inch or more of snow, as the law is currently written.

The ordinance is expected back for a second reading an final approval at council's next meeting.


Facebook/TheRide

Efforts to increase public transportation in Washtenaw County's urban core took another step forward last night.  Ann Arbor City Council has approved a plan for Ypsilanti Township to join the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority.  Council voted 11 to nothing in favor of the resolution last night.  

WEMU's Andrew Cluley has more.
 

Last month Ann Arbor City Council held off a vote on a resolution to approve adding Ypsilanti Township to the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority.

Bob Eccles

The Ypsilanti Community Schools Board of Education Monday night approved placing the question of whether to collect taxes in the summer rather than the winter on the agenda for its first meeting in December. 

Superintendent Scott Menzel says a summer collection is something the board approved seperately last year for the Ypsilanti and Willow Run school districts.

Menzel says there are benefits to a summer tax collection, including needing to borrow less money from the state to keep things going until the district's state aid payment is received.

The board also approved a one-month extension to interim Technology Director Matthew McCarty's contract. 

McCarty is leaving the district, and the extension will cover the period from November 1st through his last day with Ypsilanti Community Schools - December 6th. 

And the board had a budget presentation from CFO Scott Johnson, who pegged the district's estimated 2013-14 year-end fund balance at $7.3 million - about $300,000 less than budgeted.


Getdowntown

Just because the weather's turning cold doesn't mean it's time to give up on your alternative method of commuting. 

The Get Downtown Program is encouraging people to register to participate in this year's "Conquer the Cold" winter commuting challenge. 

Get Downtown Program director Nancy Shore says "Conquer the Cold" aims to keep alternative commutes going.

Downtown Ann Arbor employees can sign up for winter bike commuting classes and register for the commuting challenge, which offers a $500 Bivouac gift card as its top prize. 


Courtesy photo / Photo by Erica Hamilton

A year from now, the City of Ypsilanti will have a new Mayor. Paul Schreiber announced over the weekend he will not seek re-election in 2014. Schreiber was first elected mayor in 2006, and will have completed eight years in office when next November's election rolls around. In his written announcement Sunday, Schreiber said he has enjoyed his seven years as Mayor, but now it's time to step aside to allow the next Mayor to lead the city.

Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber hasn't said whether he'll run for re-election in 2014, but if he does, he'll face a challenge from Amanda Edmonds. 

The Growing Hope Executive Director is also vice-chair of the Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority. She's vice-chair of the Washtenaw Food Policy Council, and was appointed by the Governor to a similar organization at the state level.

The 36 year-old is running as a Democrat.

Police offer Halloween Safety Tips

Oct 30, 2013

Local police want you and your kids to be safe if you'll be out trick-or-treating Thursday night.

With low visibility, awareness of your surroundings is key.  Choosing a costume that doesn't inhibit your vision, and using a flashlight are two tips from Ann Arbor police.

Officer Candace Dorsey of the Eastern Michigan University police department says being visible to drivers is important.

And officer Dorsey says monitoring your intake of alcohol is critical to having a safe Halloween.

Solar Ypsi

Ypsilanti continues to push forward with a goal of becoming a solar destination. 

What began as a grassroots effort in 2005, has progressed to the point where the Ypsilanti City Council has passed a resolution establishing a goal of having one-thousand solar roofs in the city by the year 2020. 
Our guest this week is Dave Strenski.

He launched Solar Ypsi back in 2005, and you can see the grassroots efforts successes at a variety of locations around the city.

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