Archive for December, 2008

DTE Outage Affects 3,000 in Ann Arbor

As of 8:45 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 28, DTE media relations said that around 3,000 households in the city of Ann Arbor were out of power, due to damage from high winds. Based on the PDF map file that is updated every 30 minutes, the majority of households out of power are located east of Main Street generally in the 48104 zipcode.

In the whole DTE region, the utility said around 700 workers are on the job restoring power and that by tomorrow an additional 300 workers from Indiana would arrive, putting over 1,000 people on task. DTE indicated that there would be no incompatibilities of equipment that would cause crews from Indiana to experience delays in deployment. … [Full Story]

Barton Dam on Huron River

All 10 spillways over the dam are open and the cascading water is ferocious. Below the dam, the river licks over the concrete sidewalk under the railway bridge. No ducks in sight.

A2: People

The Freep profiles Kolan McConiughey, an Ann Arbor resident who competed in this year’s Special Olympics and has bowled three perfect games. You might also recognize him as a long-time employee of Busch’s grocery store at Main and Ann Arbor-Saline. (The Ann Arbor News did a similar article published last week.) [Source]

Ypsi: Retraining

The Freep reports on displaced autoworkers who are being retrained as nurses, including Ypsilanti resident Kenneth Kidd. He says he wants his four kids to learn about the importance of getting an education: “I want them to look at me, raising a family, supporting them, going to school, as an example of the not-to-go-that-route.” [Source]

To Infinity and Beyond

This image showing the location of the International Space Stations orbit, was projected onto a screen at the Hands On Museum.

This live satellite image, showing the International Space Station's orbit, was projected onto a screen at the Hands-On Museum. The concentric circles indicate the range for radio contact with the ISS. (The map also appears to confirm that Ann Arbor is indeed the center of the universe.)

When The Chronicle arrived at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum Saturday morning, Ig Justyna was on the roof adjusting a directional antenna – when they say “hands on,” they aren’t kidding.

Justyna was the main organizer of Saturday’s link-up with the International Space Station, giving kids a chance to ask questions of the flight commander, Mike Fincke, via radio connection as the station made a pass over the continental United States. And it gave kids a look at just what amateur radio operators can do.

It was not an easy thing to pull off. [Full Story]

William & Third

bobcat front end loader tidying up the Argus Building parking lot; that pile of snow goes over there; this one needs to be over here;

Old West Side

Saturday morning, 52 degrees: waves of fog rolling over snow in yards, down driveways, into streets.

A2: Law School – a blog described as “Investigative Journalism On Tom Monaghan’s Ave Maria Entities” – has a post questioning the move of Ave Maria School of Law from Ann Arbor to Naples, Fla. [Source]

A2: Food

A Detroit News article about hosting a New Year’s Day brunch quotes two Ann Arbor caterers – Katherine Hilboldt Farrell, president of Katherine’s Catering and Events, and Antoinette Benjamin, owner of Food For All Seasons. Says Farrell: “It’s in the middle of the day, and it’s not focused as much around alcohol. It’s also a meal that goes on awhile. You can kind of eat and eat and eat. That prolongs relaxed conversation.” [Source]

Downtown P.O.

On the P.O. loading dock, January edition of The Ann Arbor Observer heading out with today’s mail.

Column: What The Ann Arbor News Needs

It was late on a Saturday night earlier this month when the Google alert showed up in my inbox: “Editor’s column: The Ann Arbor News is changing; you can help us,” by Ed Petykiewicz.

At last, I thought, Ed has finally written a column about what’s happening at The News. That’s great! So I clicked on the link, and pulled up … a blank page on MLive.

I groaned – the mess that is MLive strikes again! – and I put my head in my hands: This technical glitch reflects so much of what’s wrong with the News’ business model, and shows how far they have to go in addressing this and all the other challenges they face. Maybe, I thought, Ed’s column will confront some of these realities. I’d just have to wait for the newsprint version on Sunday morning to read it. [Full Story]

How Large Vehicles Roll in Icy Weather


Stephen Ferszt of Recycle Ann Arbor loads contents of curbside recycling bins into a pickup truck bed, which is the vehicle of choice for designated streets when road conditions are poor.

On first glance, it appeared to The Chronicle that an entrepreneur with a pickup truck was gleaning cardboard from Ann Arbor’s curbside recycling program. But it turns out that Stephen Ferszt was working for Recycle Ann Arbor. He explained that the smaller pickup truck he was driving was part of a contingency plan used on certain streets when road conditions were bad enough. The larger trucks were more likely to get stuck on streets with hills like Mulholland Avenue, where we encountered Freszt. On Friday morning, the freezing rain that had coated roads and sidewalks certainly warranted the contingency. [Full Story]

A Shrine to What?

Liberty Plaza Shrine

Despite this graffiti, we're pretty sure Chuck Berry is still alive.

You never know how someone’s creative energies will be channeled in this town, and a shrine – or whatever it is – in Liberty Plaza is pretty good evidence of that.

The Chronicle came across this piece of urban art on Christmas Day. The day after Christmas, it was still there.

It is positioned on a snow-covered ledge on the Liberty Street side of the park, and includes a world globe, a coffee can with some Jesus literature inside, various plastic toy animals, some colorful Mardi Gras beads, playing cards and honestly, who knows what else is buried under that snow. Maybe we’ll find out after Saturday’s Big Melt. From yesterday to today, the number of pot-holder-sized crocheted squares has dwindled from three to one.

On the orthogonal ledge, someone has chalked “Chuck Berry RIP” and “Run Run Rudolf” onto the concrete. According to Dead or Alive, Berry is still with us. This may or may not be part of the same “installation” – we’d like to think it is, though we can’t even hazard a guess as to its meaning.

But maybe you can. More photos are after the jump. [Full Story]

Thompson & Madison

AATA bus going verrrrrry slowly on icy side streets. Considerate bus driver offers to let passengers off at cleared driveways, since many bus stops are piled with iced-over snow.

A2: Coming Home

The Catch Up Lady writes about why it’s good to return to Ann Arbor for the holidays: “Not to mention the abundance of ridiculous events I can choose to attend like Turkey Bowl at the local bowling alley or the Townie Pub Crawl, which is lead by a trio of siblings from one of the most hilarious neighborhood families who wear shirts like ‘Ann Arbor Townie: Here Today, Here Tomorrow’ and/or their high school letter jackets for the evening (all graduated from Ivy League schools and hold at least 1 graduate degree.)” [Source]

A2: Volunteers

The Detroit News reports on kids and teens doing volunteer work during the holidays. The article quotes Eileen Spring, president of Food Gatherers in Ann Arbor: ”We certainly haven’t seen a decline in volunteers. What we have seen is a lot of people leaving the community. Our year-end fundraising campaign has gotten a lot of returned envelopes. But we’re lucky that volunteerism has remained strong.” [Source]

Ypsi: Firetruck

The Ladder & Halligan blog – “a satirical look at firefighting – takes a poke at the problems Ypsilanti is having with its new firetruck: ”Over at Firefighter Hourly the fine men running the site told us of Ypsilanti wanting to return their KME to the builder. Can’t blame them really. First Ypsilanti is a stupid name. Once past the obvious they have had trouble with the aerial they bought almost from day one. But what did they expect? It came from KME. It’s like complaining about a Ford Pinto.” [Source]

UM: Football

On eBay News & Guides, a former Michigan football fan describes how he auctioned off his loyalty to the team: “The high bidder had exclusive rights to pick my new team, and the winner was Ole Miss (1). As part of the deal, I had to make a video of me eliminating my Michigan items and declaring my loyalty to the new team.” The video includes a pile of burning clothes. [Source]

Dexter: Water

The Dexter Leader reports that Barbara Wehr, a dentist in Dexter, is advocating for the village to start putting fluoride in its water. Currently, Dexter relies only on naturally occurring amounts. Says Wehr: “I would like to begin to get public awareness going. The naturally occurring amount isn’t nearly enough. If something isn’t done we’re going to continue to see toddlers show up with decay, which I think in a fluoridated area we wouldn’t see. I don’t know how it slipped by or why we didn’t catch it sooner, but it’s something that everybody needs to start thinking about.” [Source]

A2: Business

Crain’s Detroit Business reports that ForeSee Results of Ann Arbor plans to lease 40,000 square feet in a former Pfizer building on Green Road. [Source]

The Madison Redux

Carsten Hohnke, who represents Ward 5 on Ann Arbor city council, attended Tuesday

Carsten Hohnke, who represents Ward 5 on Ann Arbor city council, attended Tuesday evening's meeting about The Madison. In the background is Laurie Blakeney, owner of the Ann Arbor School of Yoga and the mother of Newcombe Clark, who's a partner in The Madison project.

Many of the 15 or so people gathered in the downtown Ann Arbor library on Tuesday night were clearly neighbors. There were handshakes, waves, nods of greetings and, in at least one case, the delivery of a Christmas gift. And as the meeting unfolded, it also became clear that these people had another common bond: Opposition, or at least strong skepticism, to a revived apartment project called The Madison.

Developer Jeff Helminski and Newcombe Clark of Bluestone Realty plan to resubmit a scaled-down version of The Madison to the city on Dec. 29, and were holding this meeting to tell neighbors about their new plans and to get feedback on the project. Located on East Madison between South Fourth and Fifth avenues, the original proposal called for a 14-story building with 161 units. This new one has four stories, with 60 units.

That’s still too large for some. [Full Story]

Cast Member Misidentified

In an article about Performance Network’s reading of “A Christmas Carol,” we incorrectly identified Phil Powers. He is not a former UM regent or the Center for Michigan founder – that would be Phil Power. Phil Powers is an actor who is married to Performance Network’s executive director, Carla Milarch. We note the error here, and have corrected it in the original article.

First & William

Another exemplary shoveling effort by Republic Parking folks on surface parking lot, starting in the 4 am darkness on Christmas Eve morning–lot neatly and nearly completely cleared of new (and older) fallen snow.

Ann Arbor’s Year in Crime

The map below depicts the better part of the year in crime for Ann Arbor in 2008. The first two weeks of January and the last two weeks of December are not included. So the data presented here should not be considered complete or official. The zooming slider allows a closer examination of individual neighborhoods. Clicking on the markers causes a balloon to appear that includes the date and category of the crime. The map itself appears after the jump. [Full Story]

Dexter: Obama

The Detroit News and Ann Arbor News both write about a poster of Obama, designed by Dexter resident Anne Savage, that’s featured in Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” issue. In the Detroit News, Savage described her reaction to finding out her image had been selected: “All I could do was jump around the room. It’s a silly reaction, but you just don’t see your photographs in a major magazine like that very often.” [Source] [Source]

A2: Legal

On Family Security Matters, Richard Thompson writes about a lawsuit brought by the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor. The suit challenges the constitutionality of a New Jersey school district’s decision to ban a performance of traditional Christmas music in the public schools. Thompson quotes from a brief written by attorney Robert Muise: ”Christmas is a national holiday, and religious music in the public schools is one of the rich traditions of this season. Those that are hostile to these traditions hide behind the mantle of ‘tolerance,’ only to promote intolerance.” [Source]

A2: Autos

Marc Noordeloos, road test editor for Automobile Magazine, reviews the 2010 Kia Soul: “I took the Kia Soul for a 10-mile blast around Ann Arbor. First things first, the car looks great. It’s obvious that Kia is trying to imitate Scion with the Soul’s styling, but who cares? It’s cool. Our test car’s red interior is a bit much, but it works. It’s great to see a Korean company having some fun with its designs.” [Source]

A2: Courts

Gov. Jennifer Granholm has appointed Doug Shapiro, an attorney with Muth & Shapiro in Ypsilanti, as judge of the Court of Appeals for the 3rd Appellate District, serving west and southwest Michigan, including parts of Washtenaw County. [Source]

Ypsi: Business

Metromix Detroit profiles the Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti, owned by Matt and Rene Greff. The article quotes Isaac Kosel, a WCC student and customer of the bar: ”It’s like a coffee shop, but they have beer. I like beer more than coffee, so it works for me.” [Source]