Ann Arbor

Chloroform was detected in the groundwater at about 5 parts per billion in some tests in Waterworks Park in Ann Arbor.
user UnagiUnagi / Google Maps

State officials have a new water contamination investigation on their hands: what is the source of newly-discovered contaminants found in the groundwater near Slauson Middle School in Ann Arbor?

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality discovered the chemicals trichloroethane and chloroform there after conducting tests for a different chemical - 1,4 dioxane. 

The 1,4 dioxane is a known contaminant from the chemical company Pall-Gelman. The plume of 1,4 dioxane is slowly moving underneath Ann Arbor towards the Huron River.

jim harbaugh at podium
Courtesy MGoBlog / Creative Commons --

Michigan has seen particularly warm weather the past few days, and one person taking notice is the University of Michigan's head football coach Jim Harbaugh. 

On his weekly radio show, Harbaugh talked about recruiting prospective candidates and why he loves living in Michigan. He also joked that global warming could help the football team's recruitment efforts, according to MLive's Nick Baumgardner:

Ann Arbor water bills might increase. Here's why.

Oct 4, 2016
water faucet
Laura Nawrocik / Flickr

Ann Arbor residents might see an increase in their water bills over the next few years to fund a project that will help continue disinfecting and filtering water. 

In conjunction with Ann Arbor's capital improvement plan, the city will recommend replacing pre-treatment basins, which help disinfect, filter and soften drinking water.

Laith Al-Saadi performing on The Voice.
screen grab / YouTube


In March, Laith Al-Saadi rocked American audiences on NBC’s The Voice with his audition.

And it didn’t stop there. As a member of Team Adam, the Michigan native continued to a fourth place finish.

Metro Detroit ranked third nationally in momentum of walkable urban development in a recent study.
John S. and James L. Knight Foundation / Flickr -

Residents of the metro Detroit area might be surprised to learn that, in a recent study, their region ranked third on the list of areas making the biggest strides toward increasing walkability. They wouldn't be the only ones. 

"We were surprised, too," said Michael Rodriguez, a transit planner who co-authored "Foot Traffic Ahead," a study published by the George Washington University School of Business.

Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

Crowds packed Hill Auditorium Tuesday night in Ann Arbor for “Requiem for Orlando,” a community performance of Mozart’s “Requiem” to honor and mourn the victims of Sunday’s mass shooting in Orlando, Florida.

One of the organizers, Austin Stewart, says he was alone at his home when he first saw the news about the 49 victims gunned down at an LGBT night club. As a grad student at the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theater and Dance, Stewart says he wanted a way to bring people together.

Steve Chrypinski/Michigan Radio

Issues & Ale visited Bill’s Beer Garden in Ann Arbor last night to discuss the Gelman Sciences 1,4 dioxane plume of toxic pollution making its way through the city’s groundwater.

Host Lester Graham led a panel of experts through the discussion. Together they answered residents’ questions and discussed ways to reduce risks associated with the contamination.

MLive reporter Ryan Stanton, who covers this issue, was one of the panelists. Stanton said the Department of Environmental Quality has been working to revise Michigan’s standard for dioxane in recent years.

A 10-cent fee on grocery bags passed in Washtenaw County intends to incentivize the use of reusable bags and reduce waste.
faythe1 / Flickr -

Beginning on Earth Day next year (April 22, 2017), Washtenaw County residents might have to bring their own bags to grocery stores to avoid a 10-cent-per-bag fee approved by the county’s board of commissioners on Wednesday in a 6-2 vote.

The fee applies to all paper and plastic bags that grocery stores provide consumers at the checkout aisle.

But the new ordinance might never be implemented.

A silver line bus in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
John Rothwell / Flickr -

When the biggest public transit provider in Grand Rapids raised fares from $1.50 to $1.75 last October, it predicted ridership would fall as a result.  Buses in Grand Rapids are indeed emptier, but not to the degree many expected, and in some cases, no more than they are at other Michigan agencies that left fares untouched. This was the first fare increase in Grand Rapids since 2008.

The Rapid experienced a 4.9% decrease in bus ridership when comparing March 2016 with March 2015, the most recent data available.

Daniel Rayzel

Michigan legislators will soon discuss a bill that would outlaw aggressive solicitation in the state and create a fine for violators.

The bill moved from the House Criminal Justice Committee to the floor this week, only a few months after Rep. Mike McCready, R-Bloomfield Hills, introduced it in December.

West Park, Ann Arbor
matth / public domaine

State environmental officials say 35 private wells on or near Rose Drive in Ann Arbor had no detectable level of 1,4 dioxane after testing water samples.

It's a little bit of good news in the ongoing saga of Ann Arbor's dioxane-contaminated groundwater. 

A plume of water contaminated with the dangerous chemical is slowly moving under the city towards the Huron River.

Dioxane concerns prompt collection of groundwater samples

May 21, 2016
Ann Arbor's West Park
adaenn / flickr

State officials want to collect water samples in the West Park area of Ann Arbor due to concerns that groundwater contaminated by a toxic chemical may be seeping to the surface.

The Ann Arbor News reports that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality plans to start the groundwater collection next week.

The chemical is dioxane, an industrial solvent. Federal agencies say long-term exposure could cause health problems, including cancer.

A Michigan man suspected of spraying a contaminant on unpackaged food at grocery stores faces four charges of poisoning food, according to the Associated Press.  

Kyle Bessemer appeared in an Ann Arbor court Thursday, two days after his arrest.

The FBI says Bessemer admitted to spraying a mixture of hand sanitizer, water, and mouse poison on produce and food bars at three Ann Arbor stores: Whole Foods, Meijer and Plum Market. The charges cover two stores.

Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

State officials talked about the Pall-Gelman dioxane plume at a town hall meeting in Ann Arbor last night. The meeting was hosted by State Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor.

The Ann Arbor-based Indian fusion band Sumkali performs at the Michigan Radio studios.
Michigan Radio

The Ann Arbor-based fusion band Sumkali brands themselves as “Indian music made in America.” Everyone in the band calls Michigan home, but according to the band’s founder John Churchville, half of them have family ties to India.

All the different band members bring their own skill sets, instruments, and influences that make the group the very definition of a fusion band. In the end, they create a sound intended to reach many different people. / Washtenaw County

For the last 30 years, a plume of a colorless, odorless toxic chemical has been steadily creeping toward one of the main water supplies in the city of Ann Arbor.

Stack of newspapers.
user Jon S / Flickr -

Last week, laid off 29 more employees.

On Monday, Alabama beat Clemson for college football’s national title.

These might seem unrelated to you, but not to me. I see a pattern here – and a warning for college football, if it’s smart enough to listen.

Ann Arbor plans its first-ever deer cull this year.
Rodney Campbell / Flickr -

A group of Ann Arbor residents passionately opposed to a planned deer cull have filed a 92-page lawsuit to try to stop it.

Ann Arbor has hired marksmen with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services to try to reduce a growing deer population.  The deer are eating almost everything in people's yards and nature areas in some parts of the city.

The lawsuit contends the city doesn't have the legal authority to order a cull. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

UPDATE: A change has been made in the planning, and parks will now be open on the weekends.

Starting Jan. 1, there will be no more late-afternoon, evening, or early-morning strolls in 26 designated Ann Arbor parks and nature areas.

The parks and nature areas will be closed to the public for "deer-control efforts" from 4 p.m. until 7 a.m. daily from Jan. 1 to March 31, 2016, according to a recent announcement from the city of Ann Arbor.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A group that was unsuccessful at stopping a planned deer cull in Ann Arbor is now planning to try to recall as many as five city council members who voted for the cull.

Sabra Sanzotta, a resident of the city's second ward, filed recall petition language with the city clerk this week, seeking a recall election against Kirk Westphal.

Jim Harbaugh pleads his case. Michigan's head coach first arrived in Ann Arbor as a kid in 1973.
MGoBlog / Flickr -

At a recent press conference, Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh was asked how he was preparing his team for the upcoming games with Penn State and Ohio State.

Harbaugh responded that he coaches them like it's playoff football: If you win, you get to keep playing.

He likened the games to the pick-up basketball games he played at Pattengill Elementary in Ann Arbor.

Indigenous Peoples Day celebration in Berkeley, California.
Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr

Ann Arbor city council passed a resolution on Nov. 16 recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day in place of the nation-wide holiday, Columbus Day.

The Ann Arbor News reported Ann Arbor city council's decision this morning:

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The U.S. Department of Justice is suing a suburban Michigan township for denying a zoning permit for an Islamic school. 

Pittsfield Charter Township denied a zoning change to the Michigan Islamic Academy back in 2011.

Township officials said at the time they turned down the request because of concerns that the school would add traffic to an already heavily congested road. But school officials believed their religion played a role.

Jerry Oldenettel / Flickr

"Who teaches kids to kill?"

That's the first sentence of one of the emails and leaflets being distributed by the Humane Society of Huron Valley after the Ann Arbor City Council voted 8 to 1 to approve a deer cull.  

The email continues,

User: PunkToad / flickr

Sabra Briere (D-Ward 1), Zachary Ackerman (D-Ward 2), John Eaton (D-Ward 4) and Chip Smith (D-Ward 5) won their primary election races. Currently, the four Democratic candidates face no opposition in the November general election. 

Michael Hacala

The music industry has changed a lot over the past half-century, but a music venue in Ann Arbor that focuses on folk music has been able to survive through all those changes.

As The Ark celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, its leadership is now looking to the next generation of folk musicians to keep the venue around for the next 50 years.

Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers
Courtesy of Joe Hertler

Detroit is listening to Peezy, Ann Arbor to Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers, and Grand Rapids is sticking to Top 40 country. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

So-called "sanctuary cities" in Michigan could soon face the loss of state funding.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Kowall plans to introduce legislation to reduce state funding to cities that have policies discouraging police officers from asking people about their immigration status.

wikimedia commons

Seven Ann Arbor restaurants must pay more than 100 employees over $145,000 in back wages.

That’s after a U.S. Department of Labor investigation into the city’s restaurant industry revealed a host of violations.