Environmentalists across the country are urging President Barack Obama to reject the proposed Keystone X-L pipeline linking Canada with Texas. Rallies were held Monday night, including in front of Ann Arbor's federal building.
WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on protests in Ann Arbor over the proposed Keystone X-L Pipeline from Canada to Texas.
Robert Gordon says adding 30 to 50 jobs isn't worth the environmental risk. He says the pipeline runs to refineries but also ports where he believes much of the oil will be shipped across the globe. He says this will do nothing to help domestic energy independence.
Rita Mitchell says promoting the use of tar sands oil is an issue beyond the pipeline. She and other Ann Arbor protestors highlight the Enbridge leak in the Kalamazoo River as an example of what can happen. They also fear proposals to pump tar sand oil under the straits of Mackinac or ship it on the Great Lakes.
The rallies across the country were in response to the State Department releasing a new environmental assessment on the project.
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.
Ann Arbor may spend nearly $13 million in the hopes of ultimately keeping a State Street property on the tax rolls. City Council Monday will consider a resolution to use their right of first refusal to purchase the Edwards Brothers property instead of it being sold to the University of Michigan.
Another pair of items on the agenda will have a big impact on the future of public art in the city. Council will consider the first reading of an ordinance amendment to allow uncommitted percent for art funds return to their source. Several council members have pushed for this move in the past, but others say the money is needed as the Public Art Commission looks to move to a new funding model relying on donations.
A six month contract extension for Public Art Administrator Aaron Seagraves was postponed two weeks ago and will be considered again. The delay was designed to have his contract considered at the same time the funding issue would be debated.
Ann Arbor Superintendent Jeanice Swift's Listen and Learn report did a good job of capturing community thoughts on the district according to Parents and Teachers at a meeting at Forysthe Middle School Thursday night.
WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on the Ann Arbor School Board approving a variety of new programs for next school year.
The changes include co-locating Roberto Clemente and Ann Arbor Tech High; a K-8 science, technology, engineering, arts, and math program at Northside Elementary; and new pre-k programs at Allen and Thurston Elementary.
Superintendent Jeanice Swift says the next step is creating committees of staff, students, and community members to develop the detailed action plans for each new program.
School board president Deb Mexicotte says the programs are designed to keep costs down but it's still a calculated risk that the new options will attract more students.
The programs are designed to respond to some of the most common concerns raised by community members during the Listen and Learn tour.
There has been positive community feedback about the Pre-K programs at Allen and Thurston and the STEAM program for Northside Elementary. Several Roberto Clemente supporters however told the board they have concerns about what will happen when they move into the same building as Ann Arbor Tech.
WEMU's Andrew Cluley reports on the Ann Arbor School Board collecting information on possibilities and limitations of various revenue enhancements.
The Ann Arbor School Board continues to do preliminary work on studying increasing revenues through some type of a millage.
An Ann Arbor School Board Ad-hoc committee says a rec and ed millage would provide the district the ability to offer additional non-credit programs, but not shift much money from the general fund. School board member Glenn Nelson says the rec and ed millage would be valuable in terms of offering non-credit programs that compliment other programs. He says it would be particularly valuable for early-childhood education where a four day program could become a five day program with a recreation program on the extra day.
The board also created a new ad-hoc committee to do a similar analysis of a county-wide enhancement millage and an increase in the special education millage. Both of these efforts would require county-wide support while the rec and ed millage would likely raise less money but only require support from district voters.
The report on an enhancement millage and an increase to the special education millage are due in mid-March when the board will discuss what if any millage question they might want to put on the ballot.
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.
People concerned about climate change watching the State of the Union address at Arbor Brewing Company Tuesday night gave President Barack Obama generally positive reviews.
Clean Water Action hosted about 25 people at a viewing party.
Eric Keller is an campaign organizer for the group. Keller says he likes the fact Obama outlined ways he will bypass congressional gridlock. He gave Obama high marks for re-affirming that the climate change debate is over and calling on reduction in carbon.
Eric Harrington however says he was disappointed. Of particular concern to him was Obama promoting natural gas. Harrington says overall Obama could have done a lot more to get us to the place we need to be going.
Veteran Jordan Paul Redwine missed the beginning of the speech but says he was particularly touched by Cory Remsburg being recognized at the end of the address.
Obama also received applause for comments regarding unemployment insurance, a hike in minimum wage, health care, and supporting veterans.
— Andrew Cluley is the Ann Arbor beat reporter, and anchor for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University of Michigan Tuesday canceled classes for the first time in 36 years. School officials based the decision on the extremely low temperatures forecast, and the danger they pose to students traveling across campus to attend classes. University of Michigan spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald says other parts of the university, such as the Health System, remained open. The cancelation of classes was a departure from Michigans's controversial decision earlier this month to remain open during a similar cold spell.
Ann Arbor City Council soon may be once more looking at revisions to the city's crosswalk ordinance.
Council member Stephen Kunselman says another proposed amendment is likely. He adds that the new proposal will be based on language used by Mayor John Hieftje in his veto of the amendment council passed late last year. Kunselman says the mayor mentioning motorists need to stop if they can do so safely is a change.
Hiefjte says the comment about motorists stopping if they can safely do so is nothing new. He says pedestrians remain safer if they don't have to step into the road to get motorists to stop.
The city also has a new task force looking at a wide variety of pedestrian safety issues including the crosswalk ordinance.
Schlissel comes to the U of M from Brown University where he has been provost since July of 2011. Prior to working at Brown, he served as Dean of Biological Sciences in the College of Letters and Science at the University of California–Berkeley. Schlissel says the health of the university is connected to the community and the entire state of Michigan. He says the Victors for Michigan fundraising campaign will be important to maintain the university's high quality programs.
Schlissel says the breadth of academic excellence and the openness and accessibility of a public university made U of M one of the tiny handful of places that would make him consider leaving Brown University. He says academic excellence and diversity are linked. Schlissel says that's because students can learn from other students that look at the world differently.
Schlissel will begin serving on July first, following the official retirement of current president Mary Sue Coleman. He says he will make frequent trips to Ann Arbor over the next several months to learn more about the challenges and opportunities he will face when starting work at Michigan.
Coleman says she's thrilled the regents have chosen another biochemist to serve as president. She says Schlissel will soon see being the President of the University of Michigan is the best job in the world. — Andrew Cluley is the Ann Arbor beat reporter, and anchor for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him email@example.com.
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.
Ann Arbor Public Schools officials continue to work with principals, PTO councils, and others to prepare schools for new federal food guidelines. Starting in July all food sold in schools during the school day need their first ingredient be a whole grain, fruit, vegetable, or protein. The new guidelines are designed to promote healthy eating habits for all kids across the country.