December 15, 2022

Can you guess what is pictured in the photo above? Click the image for the answer and more.

Hello everyone, I hope you’ve been well this week. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been counting the days until the end of the year.

This week, U-M announced plans for a new dorm on Elbel Field, the university’s School of Information unveiled a tuition-free grad program, and the CCRB closed for demolition. Michigan Medicine had a big week, as it moved to acquire the Sparrow Health System, announced an expansion of the Ypsilanti Health Center, and renamed a new hospital after a pair of donors.

The director of Ann Arbor’s DDA resigned, the county commissioners changed their mind about giving themselves pay raises, and city council voted to study a municipal takeover of MDOT roads. Huron High went on lockdown over an apparent threat Friday, and over the weekend a man was fatally stabbed in a domestic dispute.

Dayton Hare, editor

Wynton Marsalis of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra on the fifty-yard line during halftime at the Penn State game. Photo courtesy of Michigan Marching Band.

The News...Briefly

The county’s Covid-19 snapshot reports 871 cases in the two weeks ending yesterday, up a bit from 817 last week. There are 119.2 cases per 100,000 residents, down from 130.8, and the test positivity rate is 10.1 percent, down from last week’s 10.8. The CDC community level is  “medium,” and will update at 8 p.m. tonight.

Many Ann Arbor schools are experiencing increasing rates of illness, including flu, Covid, and colds, according to a health advisory from superintendent Jeanice Swift. Students and staff are urged to stay home if feeling sick, and are strongly encouraged to wear a mask at school.

The U-M plans to construct a 2,300-bed dorm on Elbel Field, ClickOnDetroit reports, the first time in generations that the university has added housing for first-year students downtown. The marching band will move its practice field across Hill St. to the former Fingerle Lumber site.

Michigan Medicine is buying the Lansing-based Sparrow Health System, the Detroit Free Press reports. Sparrow is the largest system in mid-Michigan, with six campuses, and Michigan Medicine has committed to putting $800 million into it over the next eight years. The combined system will have $7 billion in revenue and more than 200 care sites across the state.

A man was fatally stabbed during a domestic dispute Saturday, MLive reports. The forty-year-old was found in the parking lot of an apartment complex off Golfside Rd. and died at the hospital. A thirty-year-old woman, with whom the victim has children, was arrested.

Huron High was locked down last Friday after an apparent shooting threat on social media, ClickOnDetroit reports. Students reported the threat to their teachers and the district called the Ann Arbor police to investigate. “Those responsible for this threat will be held fully accountable for their actions,” the district said in a statement.

Two people were rescued from an apartment fire near EMU last week, ClickOnDetroit reports. The fire was discovered in the early morning hours, and when firefighters arrived they had to pull two sleeping people from their apartments as part of building-wide evacuation. No injuries were reported.

The new owners of DTE’s former office space are planning 120 luxury apartments, MLive reports. They want to convert most of the high-rise at 414 Main into residences geared towards “higher demographic” professionals, but first need the city’s approval to change the PUD zoning.

South U. between Church St. and S. Forest will be completely closed Monday to Friday in order to set up a work zone for a crane at University Towers.

The county completed its Proposal 3 recount in Ann Arbor, the clerk’s office announced in a press release. More than fifty elections officials gathered Monday to hand-count the city's votes on the “reproductive freedom” constitutional amendment and found a net change of a mere nine votes out of 51,998 cast. County clerk Larry Kestenbaum attributed the difference to ambiguous markings that humans could interpret better than machine scanners. Countywide, voters approved the amendment by a 95,513-vote margin.

The director of the Downtown Development Authority has left less than a year after taking the job, MLive reports. Jeff Watson and the DDA’s board agreed to part ways after a closed-session meeting on Watson’s performance review; the decision was described as “mutual.” Watson was hired last January to succeed twenty-five-year veteran Susan Pollay. “He’ll receive a severance equal to nine months' pay.”

City officials are considering tweaking regulations for TC1 transit-corridor zoning, MLive reports. While the main thrust of the new zoning was to shift emphasis away from car-centric development, city council directed the planning commission to look into allowing certain automobile-related businesses, such as repair shops, to operate in the area.

City council voted to study taking over state-owned business routes, MLive reports. The city says the Michigan Department of Transportation has been an obstacle to design changes that would improve safety on N. Main St. and other business routes.

The city and county will jointly build a pedestrian tunnel under the Amtrak railroad tracks, MLive reports (subscriber exclusive). It will connect Bademer and Barton parks and form an important link in the B2B trail; officials hope to begin construction in 2024 or 2025.

The county commissioners won’t be giving themselves raises after all, MLive reports. A divided board voted 6–3 to shut down the pay-raise proposal that had narrowly advanced last month after criticism that commissioners were putting themselves ahead of other county employees.

The U-M’s newest Ann Arbor hospital will be named the Kahn Healthcare Pavilion, the university announced. The late D. Dan and Betty Kahn’s foundation gave $50 million toward its anticipated $920 million cost. When it opens in fall 2025, the new hospital on Zena Pitcher Pl. will offer intensive care and specialty services.

Michigan Medicine will also relocate and expand its Ypsilanti Health Center, MLive reports. The $35 million deal will see the center move into the Ypsi campus of MI-HQ next October, the former location of EMU’s business school.

The Central Campus Recreation Building closed for demolition Friday, the Daily reports. The Alden Dow-designed building will be replaced by a new, $165 million, 200,000 square foot facility with an opening targeted for the fall 2025 semester. A temporary facility is scheduled to open in January in a 23,000-square-foot tent on Palmer Field.

The U-M School of Information announced a tuition-free grad program, the Michigan Daily reports. Starting next fall, undergraduate students receiving support from the Go Blue Guarantee are eligible to enroll to earn a free Master of Science in Informatics or a Master of Science in Health Informatics. It will be the first free graduate program at the university.

Mailbox mishaps can be an occupational hazard when you’re a farmer, David Hampshire recounts in the December Observer. Hampshire developed a friendship with a farmer neighbor in the early ‘70s when he lived out on a mailbox-lined Warner Rd. Little did he know that one day when helping him out with his tractor his neighbor would inadvertently decapitate a whole row of mailboxes.

The city opened drop off Christmas tree disposal sites Monday. The four sites in various parks will be open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. until Jan. 16, where trees that are dropped off will be chipped on a regular basis. All decorations must be removed before dropping off a tree.

The African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County has found a permanent home, according to an email to members. Last Friday, the museum purchased the Byrd Center in Pittsfield Township, a historic farmhouse that the township is considering naming a historical district.

Earl Lee’s path to the podium of the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra started with a “musician’s cramp,” Eve Silberman reports in the December Observer. When a recent Juilliard grad in his mid-twenties, Lee’s career in cello was derailed by a neurological and musical disorder affecting his hand. Forced to change track, he picked up a baton and soon was winning recognition as a rising star in the conducting world. Last June, he beat more than 225 applicants for the AASO’s top job.

The Michigan Marching Band had the chance of a lifetime when they performed alongside the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra last October, Jan Schlain reports in the December Observer. JCLO’s artistic director, Grammy- and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer/trumpet player Wynton Marsalis, led the ensembles in a New Orleans-themed performance at halftime of the Penn State game — the first time JLCO has ever performed with a marching band.

The U-M Women’s Rugby Club won the national Division 1 championship. Michigan defeated Notre Dame 41–14 to claim the prize for the first time in the program’s history.

The AP named Wolverine running back Blake Corum a first-team All American this week, MLive reports. The honor is his third All-American nod in the last week.

The AADL hosts the Washtenaw Area Pick-Up Robotics championship on Saturday, ClickOnDetroit reports. Teams from high schools around the county will face off in two-on-two matches starting at 2 p.m at 265 Parkland Pl.

U-M student-chefs conceived and operated a pop-up restaurant out of their unfinished basement this semester, the Daily reports. Diners at The Side Door were served themed, four-course meals imagined and prepared by a staff of undergraduate students.

Food Gatherers raised 1.4 million meals as part of their Rockin’ for the Hungry drive, according to a press release. In partnership with 107one and Kroger, the organization collected donations from thousands of people in the form of money and non-perishable food.

“We did not have a business background,” Ann Stevenson says, “but we’ve developed it over these last twenty-eight years.” She and husband Curt Catallo just added Union Rec on S. Main to their metro Detroit collection. Photo: J. Adrian Wylie.

Marketplace Changes

Ann Stevenson and Curt Catallo have reimagined Fingerle Lumber’s millwork shop as a sleepover-themed restaurant, Dave Algase reports in the December Observer. Union Rec will serve morning coffee and American comfort food and drinks, “food your grandma might have served.”

The Thai food pop up Basil Babe is opening a restaurant, Fox 2 reports. The popular popup known from HOMES Brewery and Cultivate will take over the former Ypsilanti space of Hamburger Mary’s and Tower Inn.

Fat Daddy’s Hot Chicken and Waffles opened on E. Washington St., MLive reports. The Ann Arbor location is the chain’s third restaurant since its 2019 founding in Riverview, and offers spicy chicken sandwiches, chicken and waffles, and more Nashville-inspired cuisine.

Dollar Bill Printing moved locations for the first time in its forty-five-year history last month, MLive reports. Since its origin in the late ‘70s, the print shop has operated out of a Church Street location, but now the business has taken up residence in a larger facility at 3768 Plaza Drive, hoping to speed up production with more machines in the additional space.

The Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra's new conductor, Earl Lee, leading the ensemble. Photo: Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra / Kelvin J. Baker.

Things to Do

By Jennifer Taylor

16 Friday: See Theatre Nova’s holiday British pantomime show, “Sugar Plum Panto,” which blends the familiar story of the Nutcracker with a bit of vaudeville to create a raucous family entertainment. This popular show usually sells out. 7:30 p.m. (Fri. & Sat.), 3 p.m. (Sat.) & 2 p.m. (Sun.), Theatre Nova, 410 W. Huron St. Mask & proof of vaccination required. Tickets $25 ($10 for kids under 17) in advance at and (if available) at the door. 635–8450.

17 Saturday: Join the Washtenaw Audubon Society’s 77th Annual Christmas Bird Count, the nation’s longest-running ornithological database, by volunteering for all or part of the day, either as a field observer or (if you have a bird feeder) as a feeder watcher. Everyone from novice to experienced birder is invited. The results are tallied at a potluck dinner at U-M Matthaei Botanical Gardens this evening at 5:30 p.m. All day, various locations. Preregistration required at Free.

18 Sunday: Bring a chair and join the 40+ member Ann Arbor Civic Chorus in a Community Holiday Sing. Music and lyrics provided. 5 p.m., Farmers Market, 315 Detroit St. Free.

See the Observer’s online calendar for many more local events. 

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