Archive for November, 2010

Traverse City: Farm

Northwest Michigan’s New Wave focuses on Jess Piskor and Abra Berens in a recent feature on the pair’s Bare Knuckle Farm in Northport, Michigan. The feature traces the origin of the machinery-free farm to the University of Michigan where they went to school and Zingerman’s Deli, where they worked. “They also raised about a dozen pigs this year with their neighbor, who wanted to have pigs run through his orchard to eat fallen fruit and help control bugs. And while the pigs have done their duty, it’s only the beginning for Piskor and Berens.” [Source]

A2: Jobs & Environment

A column by Bob Martel, an Ann Arbor area resident and president of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters board, argues that governor-elect Rick Snyder needs to link job growth with environmental protection. Martel writes: “What’s the best way to go about connecting jobs with the environment? We can start with short-term, targeted tax credits to encourage the creation of new green jobs in Michigan. Once a business ramps up, the subsidies and credits will end, but the jobs and other benefits to our state will continue long into the future. If it doesn’t happen here, it’s going to happen in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, China or Korea.” [Source]

Interview Set for Huron Hills Golf Proposal

The selection committee that’s been evaluating two proposals for operating the Huron Hills golf course has selected only one – made by Miles of Golf – to advance to the interview stage. An interview with representatives from that business is set for Friday, Dec. 3 at 9:30 a.m. in city council chambers, on the second floor of city hall.

The meeting – which will be recorded by Community Television Network (CTN) – will begin with a presentation by Miles of Golf, followed by questioning from the selection committee. The committee includes Colin Smith, the city’s parks and recreation manager; Julie Grand, chair of the park advisory commission; Doug Kelly, the city’s director of golf; Ward 2 city councilmember Stephen Rapundalo; former city councilmember Mike Reid; Ed Walsh, a member of the city’s golf advisory task force; and Sumedh Bahl, the city’s community services area administrator.

Miles of Golf proposes moving its business to the city-owned Huron Hills site. The current 11 holes on the south side of the Huron Hills property would continue to operate as a golf course. The first 7 holes on the north side would be converted to a golf center similar to the current Miles of Golf operation at Carpenter and Packard roads in Pittsfield Township, with a teaching center, a practice facility (driving range), and a retail shop. [.pdf file of Miles of Golf proposal]

A second proposal, not recommended by the committee, was submitted by a group called Ann Arbor Golf. It called for operating Huron Hills as a public, 18-hole golf course via a new nonprofit entity, the Herb Fowler Foundation of Huron Hills. [.pdf of nonprofit proposal] [Full Story]

Liberty & Third

Kiwanis board member Kathy Griswold flags me down to relay info about Kiwanis Holiday Thrift Sale: 9 a.m.-noon on Friday and Saturday this week (Dec. 3-4) Same location as the usual Saturday thrift sale at the Kiwanis building at First & Washington. Asked to produce a sample of the sorts of holiday decorations that will be available, she offered a reindeer ornament: [photo]

UM: Health

The Montreal Gazette reports that excessive and repeated hand-washing may be harmful to one’s health, according to a recent UM study. The study specifically linked the chemical triclosan, an ingredient in many soaps and toothpastes, to increased allergies. The article quotes UM researcher Erin Rees Clayton: “Many research studies show an association between exposure to environmental chemicals and different disease outcomes. There is a lack of data, however, examining whether exposure to these chemicals may affect our immune systems.” [Source]

Ann Arbor Pursues Sustainability Grant

In early September, the city of Ann Arbor was one of four finalists for a $1 million, three-year sustainability project funded by the Home Depot Foundation. Ann Arbor didn’t make the final cut – Charleston, South Carolina and Fayetteville, Arkansas were selected – but city staff are now pursuing a grant of up to $100,000 from Home Depot that could fund a shorter-term initiative, building on existing sustainability efforts.

The grant was discussed at a working session of the Ann Arbor planning commission earlier this month. Matt Naud – the city’s environmental coordinator – told The Chronicle that the city will likely file the grant application in early December. [Full Story]

Research Figure Incorrect

A report about the Nov. 18, 2010 University of Michigan board of regents meeting incorrectly stated the amount of research dollars that the university brought in during 1999. The correct figure is $500 million. We note the error here, and have corrected the original article.

A2: State Government

In his Detroit Free Press column, Tom Walsh speculates about the possibility that Mike Finney, CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK, will be appointed to head the Michigan Economic Development Corp. by governor-elect Rick Snyder: “He’s as wired as can be with Snyder and the governor-elect’s inner circle. Finney was recruited to join the MEDC in 2000 by Doug Rothwell, who led the agency during the John Engler administration and is now co-chairing Snyder’s transition team. Snyder chaired the MEDC board back in 2000. When Finney was lured from New York back to Michigan in 2005, it was Ann Arbor SPARK co-founder Rick Snyder who recruited him.” [Source]

Liberty & Ashley

Owner Nina Juergens sitting in the storefront window of Acme Mercantile, assembling a fake fireplace for her holiday window display. The store was crowded – looks like a fair amount of people are doing their Black Friday shopping downtown, despite the bitter wind.

Column: Book Fare

Tis the season to spend money. And I say, buy books.

Book inscription

Inscription from the author's grandmother on the book

Real books, made of paper and ink. From real stores, made of bricks and mortar: Nicola’s Books. Common Language. Crazy Wisdom. Falling Water. There are real treasures at Dawn Treader, Motte & Bailey, West Side Book Shop and the other used bookstores in our area. Yes, yes, Amazon is easy and “cheaper.” But at the local Barnes and Noble or Borders stores, you might find a neighbor behind the sales desk, or in the aisles.

Among the great bargains to be found at used bookstores are the deals you get when you reach for an interesting title and discover an inscription on the flyleaf. Two stories in one!

Dawn Treader Book Shop is great for this kind of hunt – especially its children’s section, which has a wonderful collection of old books hidden here and there amid the piles of multicolored, ‘80s-era paperback dross. Age adds charm and mystery to many of the inscriptions, which are more often than not written in fountain pen with the elegant sweep of fine and intent penmanship. [Full Story]

UM: Pooper Scoopers

A UM course on integrated product development challenged student teams to “design, manufacture and promote a pooper scooper to hygienically collect and transport waste during a dog walk.” Go to the course’s website to view the 10 products – including the Plooper and Canine Canteen – and vote for your favorite. [Source]

EMU: Dorms

An article in Inside Higher Ed describes how Eastern Michigan University opened up its dorms to students of Washtenaw Community College this fall. The article quotes Linda Blakey, WCC’s associate vice president of student services: “From a cost-saving perspective, if you’re coming to us for the first two years to save, then it doesn’t make sense to spend for on-campus housing. Still, for non-local students, it might work out better for them. I’ve had some of those families say that they just feel more comfortable with their son or daughter in a dorm setting than in an apartment.” [Source]

Liberty & Division

Well-known downtown shopkeeper headed west in direction of his eponymously named store. Carrying a tool of his trade, documented here: [photo]. Offers conversation on the topic of why people buy things. E.g., they need something. What I needed today was merino wool long underwear from Sam’s, across from the post office.

UM: Football

The San Francisco Chronicle reports on speculation that Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh will be leaving as head coach after this season. From the report: “ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit said on a Miami radio show this week that if Michigan (7-4) loses Saturday to Ohio State, a 17-point favorite, the Wolverines may well fire Rich Rodriguez. ‘If that happens,’ he said, ‘within 24 hours Jim Harbaugh will be announced as Michigan coach.’” [Source]

UM: Football

Former UM football star Mike Hart, now a running back with the Indianapolis Colts, is interviewed by the Indianapolis Star and says his dream job would be coaching at Michigan: “That’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I want to coach college, hopefully a head coach some day and hopefully at my university.” [Source]


Ron Weiser, chair of Michigan’s Republican Party, is profiled by the Detroit News as he prepares to step down from that post. An Ann Arbor resident and founder of the real estate firm McKinley, Weiser is backing Bobby Schostak to be the next GOP chairman: “A good CEO when he leaves has a good plan of succession. We won in 2010. My job is done.” [Source]

A2: Theater

PrideSource posts a review, originally published in Between the Lines, of Performance Network’s production of “The Drowsy Chaperone”: “Yes, outrageous puns and some eyebrow-raising double entendres – from the Man in a Chair – and a classic spit-take scene, later glorified and abused by Jerry Lewis in his film career, are there along with tap dancing, pratfalls and a leading man roller skating while wearing a blindfold. All of this is packaged in a mere two hours or so, and never do director Carla Milarch and choreographer Phil Simmons allow the show to drag.” [Source]

A2: Stadium Bridges

As part of a series profiling winners of the U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s TIGER grants. a post in the Transportation for America blog focuses on Ann Arbor’s Stadium Bridges. From the post: “More than 48,000 vehicles traverse the bridges each day, but the original 4 lanes of traffic were reduced to just one lane in each direction after a January 2009 inspection revealed a safety hazard in the eastbound direction. The bridges also connect the 109,901 seat Big House, Michigan’s football stadium, as well as 42,000 students and 35,000 University of Michigan staff. ‘It’s been a problem for my people in Ann Arbor for as long as I’ve served Ann Arbor,’ said Congressman John Dingell at an event last month.” … [Full Story]

Library Lot Consultant: Valiant is Victor

Meeting for the first time in several months, the committee charged with reviewing proposals for the future of Ann Arbor’s downtown Library Lot convened on Nov. 23 and received a consultant’s report on the city-owned parcel. The Roxbury Group – a consultant hired to assist with assessing proposals from two finalists, Valiant and Acquest – has identified the proposal from Valiant as the stronger of the two. Both finalist proposals, selected by the committee earlier this year from six proposals, were for hotel/conference centers of some kind. The Library Lot is located north of the downtown library, between Division Street and Fifth Avenue, atop the underground parking garage currently under construction. [See Chronicle coverage: "Hotel/Conference Ideas Go Forward"]

The RFQ (request for qualifications) issued by the city of Ann Arbor, which led to the engagement of The Roxbury Group’s services, stated that the consultant should be able to “determine if the projects submitted to the City are economically viable and make financial sense in the Ann Arbor marketplace.” However, Roxbury’s report indicates that it “does not include and is not intended to serve as a feasibility study for the concepts included in the two proposals … it is generally assumed that the overall concepts included in the uses for the Library Lot contained in each proposal are valid and supportable from a market and demand standpoint.”

[.pdf of consulting RFQ] [.pdf of The Roxbury Group report] [Full Story]

Column: Thanksgiving for the Lions

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

If it seems like the Detroit Lions have played on Thanksgiving since it became a national holiday, it’s because they actually started seven years earlier.

True, the Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving in October of 1621, but the custom faded, resurfacing only when George Washington, Abe Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt promoted the idea as a national tonic in troubled times. FDR tried to move the unofficial holiday back a week to expand the shopping season, but Congress put an end to all the feast-fiddling in 1941, when it fixed Thanksgiving’s date forever and declared it a national holiday.

George Richards was way ahead of them. In 1934 Richards bought the Portsmouth, Ohio, Spartans, for $7,952.08, moved them to Detroit, and renamed them the Lions. Incredibly, they won their first 10 contests to tie the Chicago Bears for first place with three games left. The bad news: only about 12,000 people seemed to care. If the Lions couldn’t catch on at 10-0, Richards knew, their days in Detroit were numbered. [Full Story]

Liberty & Murray

Lost/Found: After torrential rainfall on Tuesday, soggy, apparently abandoned pack/purse with full weather gear spotted on the street at Liberty at Murray. [Send inquiries to The Chronicle.]

Detroit & Kingsley

Staff at Zingerman’s Next Door are dressed up for Thanksgiving Eve. Informed that one guy is wearing his only dress shirt, which he’ll also need for Thursday’s family dinner. He was told by his girlfriend not to get it dirty at work. Good luck!

A2: Governor’s Home

The Lansing station WLNS reports that the Michigan State Police are making plans to secure the Ann Arbor area home of governor-elect Rick Snyder, who has decided not to move his family to Lansing while in office. The report quotes Col. Eddie Washington, state police director: “The security in Ann Arbor is going to be a challenge for the new governor, but we feel more than prepared to get done what needs to be done.” [Source]

Washtenaw: Farms

On Food+Tech Connect, Danielle Gould interviews Karl Rosaen and Lindsay-Jean Hard of Real Time Farms, an Ann Arbor-based business that’s developing online guides about farms and farmers markets within a given area, allowing both farmers and consumers to post photos and commentary. [Source]