Category Archives: Ypsilanti

“Police: Ski pole brandished as weapon during fight near EMU campus”

From mLive comes “Police: Ski pole brandished as weapon during fight near EMU campus.” I always love these kinds of headlines.

A customer at a party store near Eastern Michigan University’s campus was so upset over a bottle return dispute he went out to his car and grabbed a ski pole to use as a weapon Thursday, police said.

The clerk at the Kampus Korner, located 819 N. Huron St., Ypsilanti, went to grab a baseball bat.

The two squared off in the parking lot with their respective weapons until EMU police officers on patrol broke up the fight, according to Chief Bob Heighes.

Bat beats ski pole every time.

Ypsilanti Heritage Festival this weekend

I just found out that this weekend is the annual Ypsilanti Heritage Festival.  Check out their web site.

I’m not a big fan one way or the other of the Heritage Festival– it seems to me like it’s still seeking some kind of unifying theme. But jeez, they sure could do a better job of promoting this thing. I found out about it in the “things to do around town this weekend” blurb on mLive.

Wrapping up the Demarius Reed murder trial while the Julia Niswender homicide is still under investigation

The murder trial for Demarius Reed is wrapping up/has wrapped up. This article from mLive, “Demarius Reed’s killer: ‘He fell to the ground and I shot him,'” sums up what’s happened I think. As I understand it, the person who actually pulled the trigger in killing Reed, Kristopher Pratt, took a plea bargain where he could be out of prison in 18 years instead of life. In exchange, he agreed to testify against Ed Thomas, the other guy charged with the murder. One thing I don’t quite get is it seems possible that the guy who did the actual shooting might end up serving less time in jail than the accomplice.

Also in disturbing news about the trial and testimony is this from the Ypsilanti Courier, Gunman testifies during second day of Demarius Reed murder trial.” In my view, this is a case where the reporter really buried the lead. This article also recounts the testimony from Pratt, but then it has this near the end:

Detective Joe Yuhas, of the Ypsilanti Police Department, also took the stand during Thursday’s court session. Yuhas was the officer in charge of Reed’s homicide investigation last year.

During Brown’s cross-examination, Yuhas admitted telling Thomas during a previous conversation that the investigation was under a lot of pressure due to an unusual amount of media attention. Yuhas confirmed under oath that the Ypsilanti Police had been contacted by out-of-state news outlets including the Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, TMZ and MTV.

“I did say, regrettably, that if it was just a nobody EMU student, we wouldn’t have put this many resources into the investigation,” Yuhas said Thursday.

A nobody EMU student. Yikes.

You know, the Ypsi Proud faithful took great offense for EMU BOR member Francine Parker’s comment last year about building a moat around campus to protect it from Ypsilanti. But with bullshitty admissions like Yuhas’, that “nobody” EMU students don’t get the same level of police protection and interest from the city, maybe Parker was right.

Speaking of which: there is also this in mLive, “Julia Niswender’s mother frustrated with lack of progress in homicide case.”  A quote from that piece:

A year before Reed was killed, 23-year-old Julia Niswender was found dead in the bathtub at her apartment in Peninsular Place, the complex adjacent to Reed’s along LeForge Road in Ypsilanti.

Despite almost two years having passed, no one has been arrested and police say they’ve exhausted nearly all their leads.

[Nieswender's mother Kimberly] Turnquist said she is very frustrated that the case is still hanging out there and believes police could be doing more.

“There is absolutely no new update,” she said Friday. “I’m frustrated with the lack of time that is put into Julia’s case.”

One the one hand, the circumstances surrounding Nieswender’s homicide seem a lot more complicated than the Reed murder. On the other hand, Detective Yuhas’ comment doesn’t exactly seem at odds with with Turnquist’s argument.

Watch your step traveling Ypsilanti Saturday morning or someone will throw colored corn starch at you

As mLive reminded me, the annual “Color Run” is coming to downtown Ypsilanti Saturday morning. Here’s a link to the Color Run Inc. page for the event in Ypsi.  The race/event starts at 8 am, snakes around Depot Town, along the river, and the east side of campus. Apparently there are 14,000 people registered for it, so unless you are planning on running yourself, tomorrow is probably not a good day to come to Ypsilanti.

If this is the kind of event that makes people feel like they are one with the universe and celebrating their YOLO spirit or whatever, that’s fine, I guess. I assume it’s good for local Ypsi businesses, especially those that serve breakfast and lunch, I’m guessing. But just to be clear: it’s as much of a charity as Chevrolet or Nike (which also donates money to food banks and the like) and that colored starch “mostly” comes out in the wash.

“Zingerman’s, Espresso Royale sign letters of intent to occupy Thompson Block building in Ypsilanti”

This could be interesting; as reported at mLive, “Zingerman’s, Espresso Royale sign letters of intent to occupy Thompson Block building in Ypsilanti.”

Zingerman’s Community of Businesses and Espresso Royale might be moving into Ypsilant’s Thompson Block building in Depot Town.

According to Thompson Block Partners spokesman Tyler Weston, the two businesses have signed non-binding letters of intent, where Zingerman’s will occupy 3,500 square feet of commercial space in the building and Espresso Royale will get a 3,300-square-foot commercial space.

I don’t understand all the details here, but as I understand it, I think there’s a ways to go from “letter of intent” to opening businesses. Still, this is progress and it would be an awesome addition to the area.

Any thoughts on the #ypsipooper?

Apparently, someone has been shitting on the slide in the playground in Prospect Park in Ypsilanti. As reported in mLive a few weeks ago, “Police hunting ‘mystery pooper’ defecating on park slides.” Then, just the other day, Adams Outdoor Advertising put up some ads on its electronic billboard at the South Huron Street exit off of I-94 that are somewhere between funny and insulting about the whole thing.  As mLive described it, “Billboard seeks to flush out ‘mystery pooper.'” I’ve included a sample of that billboard art here; other rotating messages on the billboard included “Do your civic doody, report the pooper,” “Help us flush the pooper,” and “Help us catch the poopetrator.”

By the way, there was some debate about the merits (or lack thereof) for this billboard way back when on this site.

Now, that initial story said it was “a mystery” who put up that billboard. But as was reported in a follow-up piece, “Officials ‘closing in on’ mystery pooper,” the billboard was put together by none other than Adams Outdoor Advertising themselves, and they see this as a “Pubic Service Announcement.”   Though I don’t know if you can actually say this is a PSA since the city doesn’t want it and seems to find the whole message and hashtag about a pooper in Ypsilanti insulting. Here’s a quote from that mLive piece:

General manager Todd McWilliams said his company took the initiative to design and post the signs after an employee saw a news report about the mystery pooper and brought it up in the office.

“The goal would be that someone would call the police if they know, or to at least scare the person into stopping,” McWilliams said.

Ypsilanti City Manager Ralph Lange said that the company did not consult with anyone from city administration before posting the billboards.

“We’re not authorizing it and we don’t need it,” Lange said.

“We have a person of interest in the case, it’s an ongoing investigation and we’re closing in on that individual.”

According to the Detroit Free Press, Adams Outdoor Advertising agreed to take down the billboard Friday afternoon, per the city’s request.

Mark Maynard has been blogging about this too, and you can probably tell his take on Adams Outdoor Advertising by the title of his post “You don’t have to be the Mystery Pooper to shit on Ypsilanti… You can be a corporation.”  Here’s a quote from Maynard’s blog:

It’s been a huge hit for Adams, getting coverage on sites like Deadspin and Gawker, and I’m sure that McWilliams and his team are feeling pretty good about themselves. Unfortunately, though, we’ve still got a local deviant who’s shitting on, and possibly fucking, a play structure outside a local elementary school. And, as hilarious as some people might find the thought of children playing in the feces and ejaculate of the mentally ill, a lot of us appreciate it for the health and safety risk that it is.

I suppose we should just be thankful that they didn’t put up a “Home of the Pooper” billboard.

I don’t quite know what to think about all this. I suppose the story was inevitable, given the circumstances. Dog shit in a playground isn’t a story, even if it had been on a slide. Human shit in an undesirable/wrong place isn’t a story per se– that is, poop in an office hallway is disgusting and wrong and would need to be stopped, but it wouldn’t be news. But human shit on a playground slide? Stop the presses.

I agree with Mark in that this is actually a serious issue and it’s just another unfortunate reason for people to dump on Ypsilanti (pun intended). Still, the scatalogical humor here is kind of hard to deny or to stop, which is why there are hundreds (probably thousands) of Tweets with the hashtag #ypsipooper.

In the end, I think everyone just hopes the cops catch this person.

“The Wurst Challenge: the magic of giant sausage brings the community together, quality arts programming to kids, and the nation’s attention to Ypsi”

From Mark Maynard comes “The Wurst Challenge: the magic of giant sausage brings the community together, quality arts programming to kids, and the nation’s attention to Ypsi,” which is a recap of the sausage eating contest/fund raiser that featured EMU President Susan Martin. I was out of town this past weekend at a conference, but I have to say I wish I was there and I might try to make it next time– if there is a next time.

In fact, I have a suggestion for Maynard and the folks at the Wurst Bar and the folks who benefited from this fundraiser, FLY Children’s Art Center: make it a “pro-am.” One of my many fascinations is with the weird world of competitive eating, and, believe it or not, there is indeed a professional circuit out there. So what I’m saying is have the fundraiser you just had, but have a truly professional version too. If they did that, I’ll bet you’d get several folks who actually finish that sausage.

Anyway, congrats on raising the money for a good cause and a good PR move for EMU to participate, too.

Two (and a half) for the road: CIT and a couple of Mark Maynard posts

I have to get out of town for this conference, but I had to mention two (and a half) other things/suggestions for further reading:

First, from our friends over at Eagle Totem comes “EMU Wins Basketball Game, Loses the Internet.” Basically, the Emus won it’s basketball game in the CIT last night in front of a crowd of 373 fans. One of the players sent out some negative and not well-worded “tweets” about the whole experience, and that appears to have received more attention than the game itself. mLive has the story here, too.

And what the hell is the “CIT?” And is this the sort of “post-season play” that is entitling Rob Murphy to a bonus this year? If you ask me, this is a waste of time and money on all fronts– zero to negative PR value/visibility issue for EMU, it takes students out of the classroom for no good reason, it costs us money we don’t have, etc., etc.

Second, Mark Maynard has two posts of interest: “EMU venturing into the community, making damn good videos,” which is about a video made by the office of Campus Life about the Ypsi Food Co-op, a video that I would agree is very well done.  The other post is “Participants in Thursday’s Wurst Challenge already raise $3,624 for Ypsilanti’s FLY Creativity Lab, aim for even more,” which is an update on the sausage eating contest that will feature EMU President Susan Martin. I’ll be out of town, but it looks like an event worth attending and/or donating to.

Maynard challenges Martin to Sausage Eating Contest

Well, sort of at least.

As Mark Maynard noted on his blog, “Consuming 20 feet of meat is apparently newsworthy… Seattle and San Francisco take notice of the Wurst Challenge.”   The “Wurst Challenge” is actually a fundraiser for FLY, which is a “mobile” children’s art center that brings cool art making and DIY projects to kids in Ypsilanti and throughout Southeast Michigan. Here’s a quote from Maynard’s blog:

The Ann Arbor News ran a story about the event today, and it got picked up by the Associated Press. As of right now, it looks as though the story has been reprinted by about 20 different media outlets across the United States, from the CBS affiliate in Grand Rapids and WEMU, to the San Francisco Chronicle and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. One would hope that increased contributions for FLY’s downtown Creativity Lab might follow, but I haven’t seen today’s tally yet. As of last night, though, our nine participants had raised $886, which I think it is a pretty respectable start. (Our Mayor is currently in 5th place, having brought in $76 in pledges, well behind Jason “Knifebeard SausageHawk” Youngs, who leads the pack with $335.)

If you have a few dollars and want to support a worthy cause, just click here, choose your champion, and leave a contribution so that FLY can keep inspiring our kids at their downtown Ypsilanti Creativity Lab. And come to the Wurst Bar on the 20th to see these nine brave, sausage-loving philanthropists wolf down impossible amounts of meat.

In that mLive/Ann Arbor News article Maynard mentions, he specifically calls out EMU President Susan Martin to throw her hat (napkin?) into the ring and enter the contest. He writes about that a bit more on his blog, too:

For what it’s worth, I didn’t mean any disrespect by it. I do think, however, it would be awesome to have a representative from EMU sit alongside our Mayor and the various local luminaries we have joining us for the challenge. And, President Martin, if you’re reading this, you should know that, if you were to join us, you wouldn’t have to consume the entire 20 feet of meat. Even if you could only manage a few inches, we’d appreciate your effort. The important thing, from my perspective, is to help build that bridge between campus and the community, and I can’t imagine a better way than to have your support for FLY’s Creativity Lab. But, if you’re not a sausage fan, I’ve got two other suggestions for you to consider. One, you could appoint someone to eat in your place, like an art professor or regent. Or, two, you could contribute financially. Jesse Kranyak, the owner of the Wurst Bar, will be donating ten cents for every inch of sausage consumed by our nine contestants, and it would be awesome if you could match him. The kids of Ypsilanti would very much appreciate it.

Maybe a regent, but I don’t know any art professors who would have much of a chance in a sausage eating contest. In any event, a good and fun cause, and I hope Martin takes up Maynard on the challenge.

A few links about the Water Street Dilemma

A loyal reader sent me this link to mLive, “$12M affordable housing project: More apartments proposed for Ypsilanti’s Water Street.” This prompted me to see what local blogger/man about town Mark Maynard has had to say about this; his latest post is “Ypsilanti Township official calls the proposed Water Street Flats low-income housing development a “terrible waste of taxpayer dollars” that will be disastrous for Ypsi… Does she have a point?”

Oh, and here’s another mLive article too: “Ypsilanti residents say $12M affordable housing project could become undesirable ‘tenement house.'”

I don’t know as much about the whole Water Street thing as perhaps I should, but as I understand the situation, there is just no good solution here. Hindsight is 20/20 of course, but it seems to me the city of Ypsilanti paid way too much for this property and tried to develop projects that are completely unrealistic.  The choices now seem to be to sell off the property at deep discounts to projects that aren’t exactly going to bring in a lot of tax revenue and/or raise the profile of downtown Ypsi (e.g., a Dollar Store, a low-income apartment complex, etc.) or to hang on to the project longer, which could speed Ypsi’s (perhaps inevitable?) trip to an Emergency Financial Manager and bankruptcy.