Ann Arbor

Peter Blanchard / Flickr

Imagine driving through Ann Arbor, glancing over at the car next to you only to realize that the driver does not have his or her hands on the steering wheel, yet the car is moving along in traffic just fine.

That could happen in just a few short years.

The University of Michigan has announced plans to bring a fleet of networked, driverless cars to Ann Arbor by 2021.

Here to talk about what that would look like in the streets of Ann Arbor and what that might mean to drivers everywhere is the director of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. Peter Sweatman joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Natural Area Preservation staff

You read that right.

A twenty pound carp that was pulled out of a pond in Ann Arbor's West park last November is making a run for city council.

The carp was initially removed from the pond because it was destroying the ecosystem.

Ann Arbor Natural Area Preservation workers relocated it to the Huron River, where it is now running a write-in campaign for Ann Arbor City Council.

The carp has not yet responded to our interview requests, but it has engaged with other media outlets and even some current Ann Arbor City Council members on Twitter. (I suspect the carp has hired a social media director -- tweeting with fins seems difficult.)

The carp says the campaign is going well, and even has yard signs posted around town.

Shigeto/Facebook

Michigan has a history of some pretty sweet music. One surprising genre that is Pure Michigan is techno. The art form was invented by three young men from Belleville in the 1980s (specifically Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May, and Juan Atkins, aka the Belleville 3, and you can listen to some classic Detroit techno here).

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Ann Arbor's historic Michigan Theater is going solar. Or at least its marquee is.

The Ann Arbor News reports that the solar energy installation marks the first renewable energy project by XSeed Energy. The U.S. Department of Energy's Solar America Cities program provided initial funding for XSeed.

The project is expected to generate enough electricity to power the marquee when light-emitting diode lamps are installed. The LEDs will replace incandescent bulbs and should use up to 95 percent less energy.

http://www.ewashtenaw.org/government/departments/environmental_health/card / Washtenaw County

As a plume of contaminated ground water keeps expanding in Ann Arbor, the city council wants the state to move faster to protect people from harmful exposure.

To be clear: Ann Arbor drinking water is safe.

But growing swaths of the city’s ground water is no longer a good idea to ingest (and again, the city is NOT getting their water from those areas,) thanks to chemical runoff from years ago.

That chemical compound is 1,4 dioxane and it seeped into ground water between the 1960's and 1980's when a manufacturer stored it in unlined lagoons.

Steven Vance / Flickr

Okay, so we couldn't find any write-up online for it, but back in the 1980's Ann Arbor was home to the "green bike" program - an informal program set-up to share bikes.

From what we've gathered, bicycles were painted green and sprinkled throughout the University of Michigan's campus. They were never locked, and if you needed a bike you just found a green one and went on your merry way.

The "green bikes" didn't last long, and it took awhile for another bike sharing program to come to Michigan.

Last night, Ann Arbor's City Council voted to create a more formal bike share program, following in the footsteps of other cities like New York, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver, Miami Beach, San Francisco, D.C., and Detroit.

Adam Fagen / Flickr

The Ann Arbor City Council Thursday night approved a plan for a bike share program. It's a collaboration with the University of Michigan, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority and the Clean Energy Coalition.

Alana Holland, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Earlier this summer, some students at Ann Arbor high schools were told they would have to pay for their optional last class of the day.

Many students take music, art, drama, or additional academics during an optional seventh hour. Starting in the fall, the school district plans to charge students $100 for the seventh period class.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan is challenging that plan in court.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A lot of attention has been paid to Detroit’s mayoral primary on Tuesday. But that’s not the only election in which Michigan voters will be casting ballots this week.

Voters in more than 50 Michigan counties will be casting ballots on Tuesday.

There’s the usual mix of school and library millages.

There are also numerous local primary elections.

Voters in parts of Ann Arbor, Jackson, Grand Rapids, Lansing and other cities will be voting for local city council seats.

Want to know more about what the masses think of your region? A Google search could reveal predominant stereotypes of your area.

If you're not already familiar with it, Google’s autocomplete function makes search suggestions as you type in a search term.

Ann Arbor Skatepark / Facebook

After a long campaign to get it built, the Ann Arbor city council voted to approve a $1 million contract to build a skatepark at last night's meeting.

From the Ann Arbor Skatepark Facebook Page:

Passed unanimously. As soon as contracts are signed, & other details finalized, construction will begin. We skate before the snow flies.

And here's more from the Ann Arbor Chronicle

In the course of three studio albums, Michigan-bred soul singer Mayer Hawthorne has refined his gift for songs that emulate and update his home state's Motown sound.

Twitter

Saturday night, Michigan Radio and the Ann Arbor Summer Festival welcome Snap Judgment to the Power Center. Snap Judgment is one of the newer additions to the public radio lineup and its creator calls it storytelling with a beat.

“I’m a big, big public radio head from a long time ago,” said Glynn Washington, the creator, executive producer, and host of the show. “But sometimes public radio can get a little bit boring. And I was trying to come up with an idea to get rid of the boring stuff and leave everything that I loved. What we try to do at Snap is get rid of the exposition, drop people right into the heart of the story, and the way that we do that is through soundscaping.”

Many of Washington’s personal stories and experiences have made it onto the show, sometimes even stories his family members have never heard. His mother often appears as a character in his stories.

"Sometimes Mommy doesn’t appreciate it too much," he confessed. 

Washington explained that while it has been difficult to maintain such a level of transparency on the air, it has also been very rewarding.

“It’s been interesting getting used to sort of bleeding into the microphone every week, but I do find it very, very cathartic in the end. I find that storytelling is kind of the way that I process my own issues. And, you know, stories have a beginning, middle, and end, but life doesn’t really have an end, and so putting these stops on things is helpful for me at least.”

The show on Saturday will feature some of the world’s best storytellers, and they have all been asked to tell a tale that will move the audience. Accompanying the storytellers is a live band directed by Alex Mandel. Washington expects that everyone who attends will not be disappointed.

“It’s a duet between the storytellers and the musician that really creates a new art form, and I’m really excited for everyone to hear it. You’re going to be blown away.”

Recently, The Atlantic wrote an article about Washington hailing him as “NPR’s Great Black Hope.” Washington said that while he loved the article, he felt that it was an unfortunate headline.

“I see what they were doing. ‘Let’s get the most clicks we can for our headline, let’s put something provocative out there.’ And I understand because I do it myself all the time,” he said. “I think what they were trying to say was that what Snap Judgment is doing is reaching out to audiences that public radio has traditionally left behind. If I wanted to be provocative, I would have called it This New American Life, but Ira would really be upset if I did so.”

Glynn Washington and Snap Judgment will be here Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Power Center. Tickets are on sale now. 

-Michelle Nelson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Listen to the full interview above.

Flooding in Ann Arbor after last night's rain.
user gerbsumich / Twitter

Southeast Michigan was hit with torrential downpours last night and social media was abuzz with photos and videos.

In Ann Arbor, the city turned into a bit of a water park:

Other people water skiied behind cars.

Roads basically turned into rivers for a time:

Michelle Chamuel fan page / Facebook

Last week, Michelle Chamuel was one of five remaining contestants on NBC's The Voice

Now, she's in the top three.

Chamuel was in two Ann Arbor bands, My Dear Disco and Ella Riot. She also is a graduate of the University of Michigan. 

If she wins, she'll get a record deal with Universal Music Group and $100,000. 

Alana Holland, Michigan Radio Newsroom

At a meeting that lasted until almost 2 a.m., the Ann Arbor School Board voted to cut 27 full-time teachers from schools across the district. The school board also voted to eliminate three teachers from Ann Arbor's reading intervention program.

The board had to make some tough decisions for the 2013-14 school year, according to Board President Deb Mexicotte.

Ann Arbor Restaurant Week / Facebook

"One price dining, one week, several options."

It may not be the catchiest slogan, but Restaurant Week offers some enticing deals for foodies who frequent downtown Ann Arbor.

From June 9-14, participating restaurants offer lunch specials priced at two meals for $15, or $15 each, depending on the venue. Many lunches include the option of a soup or salad, as well as a main course. 

Dinner deals are $28 for a three-course menu. Similarly, some restaurants offer two dinners for $28.

Google

My kids love using Google Earth. With the push of a button they "fly" from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Newfoundland, the Panama Canal, the Great Barrier Reef, or some other place they're curious about.

Now Google has mined satellite images from the U.S. government that allow us to fly back in time.

LinkedIn

When Jimmy Rhoades was 26-years-old, his father was diagnosed with cancer. Rhoades was told he would have between six months and a year left with his dad. He went home, and really got to know his father.

"I found out more about his biography in the last six months of his life than in the previous 26 years," Rhoades said.

With the loss of another family member after his father passed away, Rhoades realized the therapeutic value in having your story heard. 

Knight's / Facebook

The shell of one old Ann Arbor institution will become a new home for another, still thriving, Ann Arbor institution.

The owners of a local butcher and steakhouse, Knight's, plan to open another restaurant downtown. The new restaurant will be in the space once occupied by the Borders flagship store.

After Borders went bankrupt, the downtown space has been empty - a hole in the middle of an otherwise busy downtown.

AnnArbor.com's Lizzy Alfs has more:

“We’ve been looking for the right location for about five years,” said Don Knight, who runs the restaurant on Dexter Avenue. “When we saw this spot become available, we thought it could be really cool.”

The move comes 61 years after Ray Knight opened Knight’s Market at 420 Miller Ave., and nearly 30 years after he purchased Annie’s Dugout at 2324 Dexter Ave., opening the now-iconic Knight’s Steakhouse. Ray’s five children run the family businesses after Ray died in February.

You wouldn't know Knight's Steakhouse on Dexter Ave. is there unless you looked for the sign - a black knight chess piece. With a location downtown, you won't miss it.

Michelle Chamuel, of Ann Arbor, is one of six remaining contestants on NBC's show, The Voice. Chamuel is originally from Amherst, Massachusetts, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.

This is her most recent performance:

Michigan Flyer facebook page

A federal grant to expand bus service between Lansing and Detroit Metro Airport is stalled.

The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission split nine to nine on authorizing a $600,000 grant to help the Michigan Flyer expand its daily trips from eight to twelve.    The commissioner with the potential tie-breaking vote did not attend Wednesday night’s meeting.

State and federal transportation agencies have already approved the grant, which would essentially help offset the costs for the first few months of the added service between East Lansing and Ann Arbor.

courtesy of Leni Sinclair

It starts this week in Grand Rapids.

As of May 1st, 2013, if you celebrate 4:20, you’re less likely to get jail time.

Instead, you’re subject to a $25 fine for your first offense ($50 for your second, and $100 for three or more).

WKZO reports Grand Rapids police have issued tickets already:

The first tickets were issued Wednesday when the voter-approved ordinance took effect.  The first one went to a 28-year-old man from the northwest side of Grand Rapids, who was cited around 3 a.m. Wednesday.

The marijuana law in Grand Rapids mirrors the one in Ann Arbor.

The only difference is “selling marijuana” is not listed as a potential civil infraction in Grand Rapids as it is in Ann Arbor (organizers felt Grand Rapids voters wouldn’t be THAT lax).

Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist / Facebook

Sure, the three sisters from Ann Arbor's Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist are probably going to beat you in a game of trivia about the Bible.

But you wouldn't expect them to take you on the physical challenges as well.

It turns out Sister Evangeline, Sister Peter Joseph and Sister Maria Suso are pretty darn good at flipping forks into glasses:

AAPS

Ann Arbor Public Schools' Superintendent has resigned.  

Patricia Green has been on the job in Ann Arbor since 2011.

In her letter of resignation, Green cited her 43 years in education.  Green’s resignation becomes effective in three months.  

The Ann Arbor Board of Education president praised Green’s service to the community as well as her advocacy for public education.

Professional hockey is coming to Ann Arbor after all.

The National Hockey League announced today that the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings will play next year at Michigan Stadium.

The NHL's Winter Classic was scheduled to be played in Ann Arbor this past January.  But the game was canceled due to a contract dispute between team owners and the players.

When this year's event was canceled, the league had said it would schedule the next Winter Classic at the stadium, which holds more than 100,000 people.

A student-run and conductorless 20 piece orchestra from Ann Arbor's Pioneer High School was named Grand Champion of the 2013 National Orchestra Festival in Rhode Island.

The group started just this year.

This photo has been making the rounds on Facebook.

The photo was pushed out on Ann Arbor SPARK's Facebook page - a group dedicated to building business expansion in the area.

Just two years ago, Blank published an article about the venture capital climate in Ann Arbor.

In a post he wrote in 2011, "What's Missing For Entrepreneurs In Ann Arbor, Mich.," he described the climate as the sound of 'one hand clapping.'

He felt there was plenty of talent, but money and a risk-taking culture were missing in the city (below he mentions VCs - 'venture capitalists').

Stateside: A story slam competition for entrepreneurs

Jan 30, 2013
http://vimeo.com/entreslam

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

Tired of giving the same pitches in the same offices?

Do you have a great idea but lack the environment in which to present it?

Then try Entre-SLAM!

Kansas company has deal to buy Ann Arbor Railroad

Dec 30, 2012

A Kansas-based company says it has a deal to buy the short line Michigan rail company Ann Arbor Railroad Inc.

Pittsburg, Kan.-based Watco Companies LLC says the deal awaits approval from the Surface Transportation Board, which is expected in late January or early February.

The Ann Arbor Railroad serves southeastern Michigan and the Toledo, Ohio, areas, mainly shipping auto and other manufacturing goods. It operates 50 miles of track between Ann Arbor and Toledo and has Toledo-area terminals serving General Motors Co., Chrysler and Ford Motor Co.

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