ANN ARBOR, MI – From a large party hosted before Independence Day being linked to a surge of new coronavirus cases in Washtenaw County to an Ypsilanti-area elementary school being damaged in a suspected arson fire, a lot has been going on in the area this week.
Here are some headlines you might have missed.
Large Saline-area house party causes coronavirus outbreak in Washtenaw County
A large house party in the Saline area during the 4th of July weekend has caused an outbreak of novel coronavirus, particularly among young people, in the Ann Arbor area, health officials said.
The Washtenaw County Health Department has identified 43 positive cases of COVID-19 and 66 exposed close contacts, not including patients’ household members, from the party on July 2-3.
The large house party also has led to exposures in local businesses, restaurants, a retirement community, clubs, camps, athletic teams and canoe liveries, health officials said.
Washtenaw County officials seeing uptick in coronavirus cases
New daily novel coronavirus cases in Washtenaw County have been growing in mid-July.
There was a slump in cases in June, but new cases are now on the rise again throughout Michigan.
Twenty-nine new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed between 11 a.m. Tuesday, July 14, and 11 a.m. Wednesday, July 15, the Washtenaw County Health Department said on its database updated daily. The county has now had more than 2,000 combined confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus since March.
$500,000 in damage caused by suspected arson fire in Ypsilanti-area elementary school
A fire that officials suspect could have been intentionally set inside an Ypsilanti-area elementary school caused more than $500,000 in damage to the school and supplies.
Fire crews were called at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 15, to Ford Early Learning Center, 2440 Clark Road, for a report of heavy smoke coming from the building, according to the Ypsilanti Township Fire Department.
Firefighters arrived to find flames coming from a single classroom in the back of the school, which they managed to contain and prevent from spreading, though the entire school suffered varying degrees of smoke damage.
‘A tough exterior’ with ‘a heart of gold,’ family says of man killed in I-94 crash
Caring for others came naturally to Matthew Griebe, a man his family said would put the needs of those around him ahead of himself.
For the greater part of his adult life Griebe, 36, of Warren, followed the path of a lifesaver, working as a CPR instructor, an imaging assistant at a Detroit hospital and, for a short time, a paramedic, his sister Stacey Griebe said.
It was his sense of selflessness his family fears put him in harms way on Friday, July 10, when he got out of his vehicle to check on the driver of a car he hydroplaned into on I-94.
Man who shot roommate during coronavirus argument charged with murder
A man accused of shooting and killing his roommate in March during an argument about COVID-19 restrictions has been charged with murder.
Patrick Carl Brooks, 50, was arraigned Wednesday, July 15, on one felony count each of open murder and felony firearms for the death of Jason Ruff.
Brooks is accused of shooting Ruff multiple times the evening of March 19 in their home in the 1700 block of Weldon Boulevard in the Dicken neighborhood of Ann Arbor.
Public input sought on U.S. 23 Flex Route extension
The public is invited to a virtual meeting to learn more about the extension of the U.S. 23 Flex Route.
The Michigan Department of Transportation is hosting the meeting from 3 to 4 p.m. Monday, July 27, on Microsoft Teams to discuss the progress of the flex route, which would extend seven miles to the interchange at I-96 and U.S. 23.
Everyone required to wear mask everywhere on all 3 University of Michigan campuses
The University of Michigan announced Wednesday that anyone on campus must wear a face covering over their mouth and nose.
The policy went into effect July 15 and applies to all locations on the Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Flint and Michigan Medicine campuses, according to a university news release. Masks or face coverings must be worn indoors, outdoors and on UM transportation, the release states.
It’s difficult to maintain distance from groups while outdoors on a busy university campus, the policy states, and wearing a mask outside will help slow the spread of the virus.
Cannabis retailer aims to break down stigma by ‘normalizing’ marijuana
Normalizing cannabis has been Mark Passerini’s goal since the 1990s.
In 1993, the Om of Medicine owner learned cannabis was decriminalized in Ann Arbor after he and his friend were pulled over by a local police officer. It led him to pursue his passion in the area.
He wanted to normalize and educate others on the plant that he spent years consuming, so he did some research on California’s model, promoted health care studies on the benefits of marijuana and conceived his business.
Wave of oversight changes, police reform coming to Washtenaw Sheriff’s Office
A wave of oversight changes is coming to the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office.
Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton on Wednesday, July 15 announced the creation of the 21st Century Policing Compliance Initiative and Commission, the Police Reform Academy and a police hiring committee that will include non-police members in the hiring process.
Clayton also announced the creation of a new position at the Sheriff’s Office, the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion who be responsible for providing leadership and helping transform the Sheriff’s Office into a more inclusive and diverse organization.
One-way traffic, limited guests, extra sanitizer in reopened coworking spaces in Washtenaw County
Several Ann Arbor-area coworking spaces are enforcing new rules to accommodate members, with some denying guests altogether as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues.
Some who used the spaces have felt anxious to return since Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has allowed people to return to work, causing a drop in memberships or fewer people accessing spaces, those who operate the coworking spaces have said.
Late University of Michigan athletic doctor ‘was coldest, meanest psychopath I’ve ever met,’ female survivor says
Cathy Kalahar had physical exams as a high school athlete, with her parents present, so she thought she knew what to expect when she went to play tennis at the University of Michigan.
But, nothing before had prepared her for what she said happened to her at the hands of late UM athletic doctor Robert Anderson.
Recent shootings, evictions bring neighborhood together against apartment management
Taking a break from grilling hot dogs during a small community gathering, Antonio Washington tried to capture the essence of his challenges as a resident of Sycamore Meadows apartments while his five children scurried around him.
Over the past few weeks, the complex had been subject to alleged retaliatory eviction notices and two shootings within days of each other in the area referred to as “The Green,” leaving Washington to analyze life as he knows it inside a complex he’s been “in and out of” his whole life.
Those recent events have put the MacArthur Boulevard neighborhood where Sycamore Meadows is located back in the spotlight, with residents and advocates calling for better security and less of a law enforcement presence on responses to calls for non-violent crimes.
Ann Arbor teachers on a return to in-person classes: ‘We do not feel safe’
As school districts across the state prepare for and weigh the risks of a return to the classroom in the fall, Ann Arbor Public Schools teachers have expressed they don’t yet feel safe enough returning to in-person classes.
The Ann Arbor Education Association detailed those concerns in a wide-ranging social media post Tuesday, July 14, asking the district to “stand on the side of saving lives” by continuing with remote schooling in the fall.
Orphaned animals finding homes faster than ever during COVID-19 pandemic
The novel coronavirus pandemic has hurt many businesses and industries, but but orphaned animals are finding fortune in Washtenaw County.
The Humane Society of Huron Valley is seeing an increase in pet adoptions during the outbreak, said Wendy Welch, director of communications, adding that animals are leaving the shelter faster than she’s ever seen.
“It’s definitely unprecedented interest in adoption,” Welch said. “We’ve never seen this many people interested in adoption before.”
Dexter mayor says he mistakenly approved BLM fundraiser thinking it was a protest
A Dexter fundraiser weeks in the planning has been canceled after the mayor rescinded the event’s permit.
Dexter’s Black Lives Matter Fundraiser was set to take place Saturday, July 18, at Monument Park and would have featured multiple vendors and live music, said organizer Georgia Frost. The event’s purpose, she said, was to raise money for specific causes related to the overall Black Lives Matter movement by having local vendors sell art pieces.
But, after realizing the event was a fundraiser and not a protest like he initially thought, Dexter Mayor Shawn Keough revoked its permit on Monday, July 13, citing the potential of it drawing a large crowd during the novel coronavirus pandemic.