ypsilanti

taliesin / Morgue File

Ypsilanti's city council approved body cameras for police officers at Tuesday night’s meeting in city hall.

Police Chief Tony DeGiusti requested the cameras as part of a series of overdue updates to the department’s deteriorating patrol car cameras, microphones and the DVD burning system police use to make copies of patrol videos for lawyers.

taliesin / Morgue File

In the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the Obama administration announced that it will dedicate $263 million to body cameras for police officers. 

The White House has said it will match the spending of local law enforcement agencies in hopes of making body cameras more prominent.

826 Michigan/Facebook page

    

Most kids in the state are on summer break. And, while the year wrapped up with final tests, and end of year activities, one group of students celebrated the end of their school by becoming published authors.

826 Michigan is a nonprofit organization that supports students in developing their writing skills and helps teachers inspire students to write. This year the students worked with English Language Learner students and teachers at Ypsilanti Community High School.

This book is called Enjoy! – Recipes for Building Community. It includes essays, letters and recipes from the students and from chefs and other members of the local food community.

Joining us today were Liz Sirman, an ELL teacher at Ypsilanti Community High School, Lucy Centeno, one of the student writers from Ypsilanti Community High School, Ari Weinzweig, co-owner and founding partner of Zingerman’s.

What stories should we tell about the arts?

That's a question we sometimes ask on our Facebook page. Jason Towler suggested we profile Ypsilanti music teacher Crystal Harding and he had a good reason to suggest her.

Harding was Towler's music teacher back in 1988, when Towler was a first-grader at Erickson Elementary School.  Harding is all about having a good time through music, singing, and dancing. Here she is in action:

Harding made a big impression on the shy young man, and that's what this story is about.

http://uofmhealthblogs.org

A new organization in Ypsilanti that promotes cancer awareness for Native Americans is struggling to stay afloat.

Shoshana Beth Phillips is executive director of Heritage of Healing. It incorporates native traditions and activities into its services, and supports families with a parent dealing with cancer. (Phillips is originally from the Omaha Nation of Nebraska and was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer seven years ago.) 

Kyle Norris/Michigan Radio

Meet the Gold family. They're modern day homesteaders. 

Their goal is to live as self-sufficiently as possible on their three-acre farm in Ypsilanti. (They often say they use yesterday's knowledge combined with today's technology.)

Two years ago they started the Michigan Folk School. The school promotes traditional folk arts and the preservation of forest and farmland.

To find out why the family started the school, and why they became homesteaders in the first place, listen to this week's Environment Report, right here.

Heritage Media / Flickr

Some people in Ypsilanti Township want a name change. They believe the name "Ford Lake Township" would provide "a stronger identity that would help improve economic growth."

Tom Perkins for The Ann Arbor News reported that the idea grew out of discussions between residents Mary Gooden, Kaffa Hayes, Amy Boyd and Samantha Towler:

Bob Jagendorf / Flickr

People are willing to loan money to Michigan public entities again: that's according to Brian O'Connor, the finance editor at the Detroit News.

O'Connor writes that when Ypsilanti Community Schools and the state sold bonds yesterday, it marked the "first time since Detroit filed for bankruptcy" that public debt was issued in Michigan. 

From The Detroit News:

Ypsilanti Community Schools

Ypsilanti’s school district is pushing for a districtwide scholarship program that will provide tuition funds to its graduates.

On Monday, Ypsilanti Community Schools officially opened its doors. YCS is the product of school consolidation in Washtenaw County. Earlier this year, voters approved the combination of the financially troubled Ypsilanti Public School district and Willow Run Community Schools.

With a new mascot selected and a logo finalized, the merged district is beginning to rebrand its image.

School supporters hope a new scholarship program that would provide funding for community college tuition for all qualifying students will be a big part of that new image.

Chart by Lucy Perkins, and Mark Brush.
Lucy Perkins, Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers are working on legislation they hope will prevent another crisis like the one in the Buena Vista school district. Students there sat at home while school was closed for two weeks last month because the district couldn’t afford to pay its teachers. Buena Vista is not alone; a number of districts have had problems keeping their doors open because of financial problems this year.

annarbor.com

The litany of school districts in serious money trouble is long and growing longer: Buena Vista, Benton Harbor, Detroit, Pontiac, Albion.

Now we hear that Hazel Park schools are broke, according to the Superintendent, who blames an "unexpected drop" in student enrollment.

Close to fifty public school districts across our state are facing deep deficits. Buena Vista actually closed down for two weeks while scrambling to find enough money to keep things running.

Other districts have implemented layoffs and program cuts.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. And some say Michigan has too many school districts, and that consolidating some of these districts is a prudent choice.

Last year, the state encouraged Ypsilanti and nearby Willow Run schools to consolidate.

After tough decisions regarding layoffs, staff restructuring and closing buildings, the consolidation will happen July 1.

Scott Menzel is the superintendent of the Washtenaw Intermediate School District and, come July 1, he will be the superintendent of the new unified district: Ypsilanti Community Schools.

He joined us today in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

His name is Matt Jones. He's 35 and he's based in Ypsilanti. He's been writing songs and performing around Michigan for the past 15 years. He has growing audience of fans and has received more critical acclaim.

And his story is one of overcoming personal demons and finding salvation in the thing he loves best: making music.

Matt joined us in the studio today to talk about his music.

Click the link above to hear Cyndy's conversation with Matt.

Matt also performed for our "Songs from Studio East" series. You can check out that performance here:

You can check out more of Matt's music here: http://mattjones.bandcamp.com/

U.S. Dept. of Education

DETROIT (AP) - President Obama's education secretary will be in Detroit on Monday for a town hall meeting on education issues and visits to three area schools.

The Detroit Public Schools and Gov. Rick Snyder's office say Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Snyder will visit a fifth-grade class at Thirkell Elementary School.

The school has about 490 students from preschool to eighth grade. It's about 31/2 northwest of downtown Detroit.

Additional Staff Cuts for Ypsilanti Schools

Jan 8, 2013
Ypsilanti Schools

Ypsilanti’s Public Schools continue to battle red ink before consolidating with Willow Run Community Schools this summer.

Dedrick Martin is Superintendent of Ypsilanti schools and says his job may even go away as part of the consolidation process this summer. 

YPSILANTI TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - A fire has heavily damaged a building at a Washtenaw County apartment complex, displacing 12 families.

The fire broke out Monday afternoon at the Schooner Cove apartment complex in Ypsilanti Township, east of Ann Arbor.

Township Fire Chief Eric Copeland tells AnnArbor.com that the fire started in a second- or third-floor apartment at the front of the building.

Copeland says the cause of the fire isn't yet known.

How a Nobel Prize-winning economist became an advocate for preschool

Nov 28, 2012
heckmanequation.org

There's a growing consensus that more needs to be done to prepare children for kindergarten. 

But does preschool really have a significant impact on the lives of children? State of Opportunity's Dustin Dwyer recently sat down with economist James Heckman to find out.

A school board will be appointed Monday for the merging Ypsilanti and Willow Run school districts.

As many as 650 voters in Ypsilanti may have received absentee ballots in the mail without any instructions.

Francis McMullen, the Ypsilanti City Clerk, says only two voters have contacted her office so far, but she wants all voters to have what they need.  So her team is mailing instructions to everyone who received an absentee ballot.

On today's show we talk with Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton updates on CAW negotiations. We talk with University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman about her upcoming trip to Brazil. We get an update on Michigan wines and the Detroit Film Festival. We talk with Rick Devos about ArtPrize. We visit Ypsilanti and tour "Pianos around Town.

Becky Trombley Domegan / Facebook

"Basically, it's just free and fun."

That's the motto of Pianos 'Round Town, an event beginning today through Oct. 9th in Ypsilanti.  Pianos are set outside in the open for the public to enjoy. Anyone at anytime can sit down and play.

Korin Hancherlian-Amos, the founder of Pianos 'Round Town, got the idea from British artist Luke Jerram. Jerram began the project, Play Me I'm Yours, in 2008 in London, which has since grown to cities all around the world. 

In 2010, Hancherlian-Amos called her long-time friend, Tim Hoy, owner of Steinway Piano Gallery in Detroit. Hoy agreed to lend the pianos for the event, making Pianos 'Round Town possible. 

Lead in text: 
Status Creative, the media firm responsible for the viral "lip dub" video shot in Grand Rapids last year, is at it again. They have teamed up with the Pure Michigan campaign to shoot another lip dub video featuring shots from 50 Michigan cities captured in one week. Here are some pictures of the process when the crew came to Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti yesterday.
Arts & Culture
Ypsilanti Public Schools

Two struggling Michigan school districts will ask voters in November if they should merge.

Ypsilanti Public Schools has about 3,600 students; Willow Run Public Schools has about 1,600.

Both districts have serious financial problems, along with poor student test scores and low graduation rates.

Both districts' high schools failed to meet adequate yearly progress under the No Child Left Behind law last year. 

Dedrick Martin is Superintendent of Ypsilanti Public Schools.

http://www.ypsd.org/district/superintendentsmessage/

Superintendent Dedric Martin says the school system could need an emergency manager, unless staff agree to deeper cuts. 

Martin acknowledges staff already took a 10 percent salary cut. 

“That comes on the heels of additional concessions that they've made. And we've had reductions at all levels. Unfortunately it's not enough to carry a balanced budget and pay back money that has already been borrowed and spent," he said.

Martin says he knows the "emergency manager" card could be perceived as a ploy to get further concessions from unions.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

A crowd wearing hooded sweaters of all colors gathered in downtown Ypsilanti Monday afternoon, one month after the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin of Florida.

The unarmed black teenager was wearing a hoodie when he was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in a gated community in Sanford, Florida. The man who shot Martin has not been arrested.

 Jeff Clark lives in Ypsilanti, and helped organize the event.

YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) — Leaders of the Willow Run and Ypsilanti school districts say plans to consolidate could prevent them from being placed under the control of an emergency financial manager.

AnnArbor.com reports both school districts have been on the state's list of districts operating with a deficit consistently since 2009. Ypsilanti Public Schools has a total projected deficit of $9.4 million and Willow Run Community Schools has a $1.7 million deficit.

The superintendents of both districts said Tuesday that consolidation could prevent an emergency manager and improve student achievement.

Ypsilanti Superintendent Dedrick Martin says his district has spent more than it has taken in since 2004-05. Willow Run Superintendent Laura Lisiscki says school officials are looking to take a local, proactive approach to solving their schools' growing financial and student achievement problems.

The police chief at Eastern Michigan University has died in a suicide. The Washtenaw County sheriff's office says Greg O'Dell was found dead Friday just west of Ann Arbor. He was 54 years old.
    

O'Dell had recently returned to Ypsilanti as EMU's police chief after three months as public safety chief at the University of Michigan. He said he wanted to return to a job he loved.
    

EMU President Susan Martin says the campus is "shocked and saddened" by O'Dell's death. He was in law enforcement for 30 years, much of it with Ann Arbor police.

Doug Aikenhead / Michigan Radio Picture Project

You can file this story under "silver lining."

Michigan's recession has left a lot of empty buildings in its wake. When James Marks was looking for a larger building to house his t-shirt and flat screen printing company, VG Kids, he looked at a two-story brick building on Railroad Street in Ypsilanti.

The building had plenty of space, but was divided into dozens of small rooms. Marks says the space wasn't a good fit for his company, but it was perfect for artists’ studios: