Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Shaman Drum to Close June 30

Posted by Juliew on 10. June 2009

Karl Pohrt announced today that Shaman Drum Bookshop will be closing June 30. The Great Lakes Literary Arts Center will continue.

The text of Pohrt’s message is below:

On the advice of my accountant and my business manager, I am closing Shaman Drum Bookshop June 30. Despite a first rate staff, a fiercely loyal core of customers, a very decent landlord and my own commitment to the community of arts and letters in Ann Arbor, it is clear to me that the bookshop is not a sustainable business.

In spite of the downturn in the economy, Ann Arbor continues to be an excellent book town. There are wonderful independent stores here (Crazy Wisdom, Nicolas’s Books), fine specialty book stores (Vault of Midnight, Aunt Agatha’s) and great used bookshops (Dawn Treader, West Side Books, Motte & Bailey). They need your support.

Over a year ago we began a process to become a non-profit center for the literary arts. I am decoupling Shaman Drum Bookshop from the Great Lakes Literary Arts Center, which should simplify and streamline our IRS application. I will pursue this new venture after we close the store.

Shaman Drum Bookshop has been here for 29 years. We had 28 good years. Thank you for your support. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be a bookseller in Ann Arbor.

-Karl Pohrt

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Washtenaw Community College's new Packard campus?

Posted by Murph on 22. February 2009

Recently, Washtenaw Community College has been considering the acquisition of the Washtenaw Country Club, at Packard and Golfside. The club’s 122 acres, a little over a mile from WCC’s existing campus, would likely continue to be operated as a golf course for the near future, but WCC is more interested in the land for expansion of their academic programs:

To [WCC Trustee Richard] Landau, the offer to take over Washtenaw Country Club is a once-in-a-lifetime growth opportunity for the college to obtain a huge parcel of land at what he calls a “fire sale” price.

Although preliminary discussions call for WCC to continue operating the golf course for at least five years, Landau says that’s only an initial step to redeveloping the property for new academic initiatives – an expansion of the WCC culinary arts curriculum, possibly a new turf management program and future academic programs that no one can envision today.

The college would be assuming the golf course’s $1.9m debts and future operating costs in exchange for a parcel of land assessed at over $6 million.

While some see the move as a win for WCC even if it does not locate new campus facilities there, for the investment value of future real estate development alone, others have questioned whether the college should be making such an investment now: doubting both the wisdom of taking on the near term operating costs of the golf course and the idea of such a bold expansionist move in the current economy. A study of the existing campus has shown that facility space can be increased by 45% within the existing land.

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Co-op legend Luther Buchele dies at age 88

Posted by Murph on 5. August 2008

Luther H. Buchele, who served as the first Executive Secretary and General Manager of Ann Arbor’s Inter-Cooperative Council from 1951 to 1985, died August 1 after a car crash. Buchele had previously helped found the University of Kansas Student Cooperative Association while a student there, was in 1987 inducted into the National Cooperative Hall of Fame.

His involvement in Ann Arbor’s co-op housing system and the National Association of Student Co-operatives (NASCO) continued until his death, including leading a lunchtime sing-along of progressive- and depression-era labor songs at NASCO’s annual conferences. The ICC’s Luther House at 1510-1520 Hill Street (previously the home to John Sinclair and the White Panther Party) is named in his honor.

A memorial website has been set up at, and a Luther Buchele Memorial Scholarship Fund set up at the ICC. (Send donations to ICC, 337 N. William, Ann Arbor, MI 48104.)

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UM Commencement, Saturday April 26

Posted by Juliew on 24. April 2008


The University’s 2008 Commencement will be this Saturday, April 26 in front of the Graduate Library on the Diag on central campus. Normally, the graduation ceremony is in the Stadium and really doesn’t present much of a logistical challenge because the venue is already set up. Not so this year. Extensive work has been done on the Diag and Central Campus to make it ready for the influx of 30,000 attendees. Flooring was laid across the whole Diag, 30,000 chairs have been set up, stages are in place, and huge audio and video setups are going up. It is something to see.

There will be shuttles from outlying parking lots and hotels, but be aware that parking downtown on Saturday will be extremely tight. All University parking structures will be open to graduation attendees and City structures will have a $5 up-front fee rather than hourly rate. The procession of graduates begins at 9:00am followed by the formal program at 10:00am. Admission to the Diag and nearby University buildings will be controlled to a large extent so don’t expect to be able to just saunter on by to see how it is going Saturday morning. If you have a ticket, I recommend getting there early or you will end up sitting behind a tree.

For more information, see the University Record article.

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Catherine Wilkerson trial underway

Posted by Murph on 1. December 2007

This week, Doctor Catherine Wilkerson’s trial on charges of attempting to interfere with police and emergency medical personnel began in Washtenaw County 15th District Court. The charges stem from an incident during a November 30, 2006, talk at the University of Michigan; Wilkerson attempted to intervene in police handling of protester (and AU regular) Blaine Coleman, believing that Coleman, who appeared unconscious, was in danger of asphyxiation. Wilkerson and other protesters in January filed a complaint of police brutality regarding the incident; an Ann Arbor Police investigation found the officers did not act inappropriately.

More coverage and related links at:

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Highest U salary shoots $500k higher

Posted by Murph on 5. May 2007

Dr. Robert Kelch, the UMich Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs (UMHS and hospital) currently received the highest base salary at the University – $656,910, plus a $500,000 after-tax bonus if he stays with the U through 2008. But apparently that’s not enough – the Regents have approved an additional $500,000 after-tax bonus for Kelch to stay on through 2009 – effectively boosting his 2009 salary to the range of $1.2 million, plus whatever the taxes on $500k are.

What was the competing offer that required a $1.5 million salary to keep Kelch on?

At a regular faculty meeting Monday, Coleman said keeping Kelch for an extra year was an important priority for her. “I had to beg and plead for him to stay one more year,’‘ she said. “He’s looking forward to his retirement with his grandchildren.’‘

Not bad work, if you can get it.

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U of M students occupy Coleman's office to protest sweatshop labor

Posted by Chuck Warpehoski on 2. April 2007

We’ve just gotten word about a sit-in at the University of Michigan. Here’s the announcement:

At this very moment, students have taken over Mary Sue Coleman’s office, demanding that U – M cease the use of sweatshop labor. They will not leave until the president agrees to adopt the Designated Suppliers Program, a plan which would allow the University to go sweat-free while continuing to be a top manufacturer of college apparel.

Come show your support of these 11 students, who are risking arrest to help make this a sweat-free campus. There will be a RALLY at NOON at the CUBE calling for an end to U – M sweatshops.

If you want to help out right now, you can call the President’s office and ask that she adopt the DSP. The number to call is (734)764-6270. Call once, call twice, call 50 times! For more information, go to

See you at the cube at noon!


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New construction proposed on East University

Posted by Murph on 10. January 2007

The City has apparently received site plans for “Zaragon Place”, a 10-story building on East University, which would include 66 rental apartments, ground floor retail space, and two levels of that elusive grail, underground parking. The News states that apartments would be furnished, 2- to 6- bedrooms, and priced at around $1,000 per bedroom. (Compare to recent discussion of area rental rates on AAiO.)

These plans have already begun to ring alarms, as the site is currently the home of the Anberay Apartments, pictured. (Photo from City of A2 online assessing database.) As quoted in the News,

Until Sept. 11, 2001, the three-story Anberay was protected as part of Ann Arbor’s Individual Historic Properties Historic District. That historic district was dissolved as the result of a multi-year court battle over whether the city could group individual, scattered properties together for preservation.

The 23-unit Anberay was built in 1923 and designed by Albert Rousseau and George McConkey, who were architecture professors at the U-M. The duo also designed other landmarks, including St. Mary’s Student Chapel and the Trotter House.
. . .
“There are so few (buildings) in that style in Ann Arbor,’‘ said [Susan] Wineberg, who is a board member of the Ann Arbor Historic District Commission. “I think everybody cares a lot about that building; of all the apartment buildings that are from that era … the Anberay is the best of those that still exist.’‘

Maggie Ladd, of the South University Area Association, is quoted as saying that her organization is “happy with the plans”, and that the developer met with the association several times during the design of the project.

Zaragon Place is scheduled to go before the City’s “Advisory Development Committee” this Friday at 2pm; the project is not yet scheduled for an appearance before the Planning Commission.

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Bill Clinton to Give U-M April Commencement

Posted by Ari Paul on 15. December 2006

He’s no David E. Davis (2004 commencement speaker), but the former, two-term President of the United States from a small town called Hope will have to do.

The Michigan Daily has the story.

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A "virtual Research Triangle" for Michigan

Posted by Murph on 28. November 2006

University Research Corridor logoThe University of Michigan, MSU, and Wayne State are announcing the creation of a new partnership, the University Research Corridor. Their vision:

Each of us features complete graduate and undergraduate education, as well as professional degrees in medicine, business and the law. Our research laboratories produce hundreds of patents each year, and our hospitals develop innovative medical treatments that save lives.

The combined experience and know-how of the URC universities are the hope of Michigan’s economy, producing new ideas and bright young minds to lead us all to a better future.

“Talent is our future,” says Wayne State University President Irvin D. Reid. “We are proud of our accomplishments today, but success depends upon our ability to equip tomorrow’s students with the knowledge and diverse learning experiences they need to succeed in a global economic environment.”

From the DetNews:

The greater focus on technology transfer is expected to increase retention of the state’s young creative minds, [WSU President Irvin] Reid said. The alliance builds on the 1999 Life Sciences Corridor initiative, where the three collaborated to help develop a biotechnology industry. Then in an unprecedented move earlier this year, the three university presidents testified together before a state House committee on university funding. Since then, the project for a University Research Corridor has been in the works, according to MSU President Lou Anna Simon.

“People want to invest in a place that they perceive is strong,” Simon said. The universities need to show that “we represent a strong market and we are as competitive as other markets,” she said.

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