Inside the Newsroom

News, commentary, insight on local happenings and fun from the staff of The Saline Reporter and Milan News-Leader.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ann Arbor gets presidential

I know traffic is going to be terrible. I know I won't be able to eat at an area restaurant without waiting for three hours first. I understand it might even rain.
In spite of all of this, I couldn't be more excited about President Barack Obama coming to Ann Arbor on Saturday.
To consider the magnitude and historicity of his office, one can't help but be moved in some meaningful way when the sitting US President is in our town.
I know current political positioning seems to require either a 'love em' or 'hate em' attitude toward politicians of all varieties, but regardless of his agenda, Obama is our president.
There's only been 44 of these men throughout our national history, and many residents and visitors will get to see one of them.
Those who were able to see President Bill Clinton as well in Ypsilanti in the late 90s can say they've seen two.
So, welcome Mr. President. Don't forget to stop at Zingerman's.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dicover Milan! (which I intend to do)

I've never been to the Discover Milan! festivities and am taking tips on what my wife and I should see when we visit on May 8.

The list of potential activities is enormous, so I'm soliciting fan favorites from readers to get an idea of how to prioritize the day.

I know the 125th celebration and time capsule extraction will be a highlight, but what else?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Have you driven a Ford lately?

I want to say congratulations to my father, Gary, and the entire team at Ford Motor Company on the announcement of their $2.1 billion first quarter profit.

I grew up in the shadows of Ford in Dearborn Heights. My first job was at The Henry Ford Museum (now The Henry Ford). As I said, my dad is an employee of the company, doing product design work for many years. My wife and I loyally lease Ford cars and trucks.

The auto show is a sacred yearly tradition.

With all that said, Ford is in my blood and when it does well it makes me happy.

Of course, the announcement is fantastic as well to a region that has swallowed its fair share of negative news over the past few years, so I hope we continue to hear of Ford's success well into the future and that other companies are able to follow suit.

The photo is of my wife, Jackie, in her dream car.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Health department investigating E. coli outbreak

From the Washtenaw County Health Department:



Possible Link to Similar Outbreak in Ohio

YPSILANTI, Mich., April 26, 2010 — In cooperation with multiple agencies, Washtenaw County Public Health continues investigating an outbreak of food-related illness. Preliminary results from the Michigan Department of Community Health indicate that this is a toxin-producing E. coli non-0157 strain. Seven of the local cases have been confirmed as E. coli non-0157 and are related to one another. Fourteen cases are awaiting laboratory confirmation of E. coli. Persons reporting illness consistent with the outbreak were likely exposed between April 7th and April 15th and became ill between April 9th and April 16th. Persons typically experience symptoms three to four days after eating foods contaminated with E. coli.

The process of identifying common food sources is complex. Initial findings indicated ill persons were exposed at one or more local eateries. Additional evidence now indicates there may have been a problem related to the distribution of certain foods received locally. The Michigan Department of Agriculture is conducting a traceback to determine whether a common food distributor or supplier may be involved. Similar cases are also under investigation in Ohio. Columbus Public Health in Columbus, OH is reporting five confirmed cases of E.coli non-0157, with several more pending confirmation.

“Our investigation is progressing,” says Dr. Diana Torres-Burgos, MD, MPH, Medical Director of Washtenaw County Public Health. “Outbreaks like these are incredibly time-consuming and difficult, and we continue to share the information we can confirm.”

Symptoms of E. coli infection include abdominal cramping followed by diarrhea that progressively worsens and is often bloody. Typically, there is no fever. Anyone with similar symptoms should seek medical attention. Individuals are also asked to report suspected E. coli illness to Washtenaw County Public Health at 734-544-6700.

Most persons sickened with E. coli recover within a week; however, some infections can be serious. The non-0157 strain of E. coli identified in the outbreak is less common, but it is still capable of producing severe illness.

Proper hand washing, food handling and cooking are critical to preventing the spread of foodborne illness. The Washtenaw County Public Health Fact Sheet on E. coli is available at:

Labels: , ,

"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you..."

Attending the Saline Middle School's French Exchange Club welcome party last week was something of a throwback for me.

I took French in high school for several years (I'm proud of my C+ average given my memory) and enjoyed learning of a country that seemed substantially different yet oddly similar all at the same time.

My teacher teased these discrepancies out using home videos of her personal trips to France, as well as those by television travel hosts (Perhaps that's why I can't pass up a Rick Steves episode).

While some major points of cultural uniqueness did become clear, my experience could never have compared with the total immersion facilitated by an actual trip overseas as these Saline students and their French counterparts get to take part in.

It wasn't until many years later when my wife and I went to Paris on our honeymoon that I realized just how decontextualizing experiencing a foreign culture first hand really can be.

Many aspects of life seem so obviously different that you can't help but question them. Just by being there you are forced to consider aesthetic choices like clothing and architecture, the food is strange and you wonder about that. People carry themselves differently and have different values.

This intrinsic deconstruction is important for kids who have grown up in the advertising generation and can easily understand the American status quo as simply 'how things are.'

I had always considered myself a student of culture, but nothing could have prepared me for the true sense of culture shock when I got off the subway and walked up on to those ancient Parisian streets.

My first impression was that everything seemed much older than in the U.S., which is funny because many of the Parisian students said "everything is so new" when telling me of arriving in Saline.

When my wife and I got to our Latin Quarter hotel and we had to go up on the elevator one person at a time because the space could only accommodate one bag and one body, I thought "Wow, everything is so small." Again, this is antithetical to the Parisian students' reactions to Saline, which generally were, "Everything is so big."

Of course these are just surface observations, but they're the beginning of a development of a cultural lens that can help facilitate a better understanding of people outside the U.S. and, reciprocally, ourselves.

Yet in spite of all the differences, the students at the exchange party all just seemed like normal teenagers (The kids wearing Abercrombie and American Eagle were not all American).

We could just chalk this up to competent brand marketing, but really if you think of young people as metaphoric 'clean slates' their similarities to one another seem to suggest that, in essence, people are just people.

As we grow, we participate in diverse social, religious, political and economic activities which individualize us, but at some point we were the same before all of that was written into our lives.

Anyway, similarities and differences aside, I hope all of the Parisians are able to enjoy Saline for all it is worth and go home with a more finely-tuned cultural lens.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Results of our recent online polls

Thank you to everyone participating in our online polls. Here are the results of our most recent questions.

Do you think Sgt. Tim Casey should be demoted from sergeant to police officer over the firecracker incident (in Milan)?
Yes: 55 percent
No: 45 percent

What does spring inspire you to do?
Get outdoors and exercise: 36 percent
Gardening work: 27 percent
Clean house: 20 percent
Home fix-it projects: 16 percent

What's your main dish for Easter?
Ham: 64 percent
Chef's Choice: 17 percent
Something vegetarian: 12 percent
Turkey: 7 percent

What kind of content would you like to see from your community this summer?
More youth sports coverage: 33 percent
Gardening content with expert advice and video garden tours: 33 percent
Local home tours with photos and video: 22 percent
A wine column by an expert with video: 11 percent


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sheriff's department warns of 'works bombs'

From the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department:
Community Engagement **Safety Alert**

On 4/18/2010 at approximately 8:00 AM, WCSO Deputy Mansell was dispatched to Bemis Road in York Township for a possible explosive device. Upon arrival it was discovered the object was an unexploded “Works Bomb” in the front yard. After Mansell cleared it away from the residence it detonated itself within 30 seconds. After leaving this residence he located another “Works Bomb” a couple doors down laying again in the front yard. Luckily no one has been hurt in these two situations; however please take this time to educate yourself and family.

The chemical reaction between the chemicals creates a volatile build up of gases and subsequently detonates the bottle with a great amount of force. Once the detonation occurs, the chemical substance that is in the bottle is actually boiling liquid. The amount of force that is generated at the time of the explosion is enough to severe fingers and also delivers 2nd and 3rd degree chemical burns to the victim. The chemicals can possibly cause blindness and the toxic fumes can be harmful.

When you are out in your yards, please be mindful of these devices, and use the following precautions.

1. If you find a soda bottle or any other bottles, examine it carefully before you touch it or get near it. If it shows signs of swelling, or melting in any way or simply just has liquid inside of it, DO NOT TOUCH IT! Call 911 and let us respond to take care of it.

Both of the bombs listed above appeared to be slightly swollen, with a dark colored liquid, inside of it. This liquid could have easily been mistaken for left over soda.

In closing, please educate your children on the dangers and consequences of making these devices. It has become popular with the youth in the past few years, to do this as a prank, but there have been some changes to the law. Not only could it be deadly to the maker or the victim, but making one these devices is called, "Possession of a Substance with Explosive Capabilities". If it causes no damage, it’s a 15 year Felony. If it causes damage, it’s a 20 year Felony. If it causes physical injury, it’s a 25 year Felony. If it causes serious injury, the penalty can be "Up to life", and if it causes death, it’s Mandatory Life without the possibility of Parole. These are statutory guidelines only. These penalties are what could be imposed but it does not necessarily mean that these penalties would be imposed.

We have included a video link to show you what happens when the “Works Bomb” detonates.

Derrick Jackson-Community Engagement Director
Contact Information (734) 973-4503

Dieter Heren – Law Enforcement Commander
Contact Information (734) 973-4949

Labels: ,

Monday, April 19, 2010

A hundred years hence (and some change)

I walked through what was Kelly's and The Saline Cafe with new owner Pete Toarmina a few times over the last month and found the place a storehouse of local history.

Not to be too figurative, but I began thinking how old buildings such as those are something like ancestors, in the way that they seem to embody the good and the bad of the people who came before us.

Just like fathers and mothers, these structures have aged, some better than others depending upon maintenance, and hold the wisdom of collected years. They've seen a thing or two.

So, just as we might go to our own mom or dad seeking advice, we should also look to these buildings for advice, because all of the positive and negative aspects of their history can help us to direct our own lives with more precision.

The 103 and 105 block of W. Michigan Ave. that houses what was The Saline Cafe dates to 1876 a bit more than a decade after the Civil War.

As Pete would tell you, there are many functional problems to address with a building of this age, but, for the most part, it is intact and standing up well for its years.

That's quite an accomplishment and a blessing our ancestors left. Think of all the mid to late-19th century downtown districts we have in Michigan and how much we adore them for their charm and character.

They looked to the Italians and Greeks for civil inspiration, and we can look to these 19th century leaders and admire their collective resolve to achieve great things in times of hardship.

David Rhoads spoke about his own fondness for buildings of this era at the 'Saline Salutes' award ceremony hosted by the chamber of commerce over the weekend.

He said he loves working with structures such as these because they speak to him of the tenacity of those who put them up.

Rhoads' point is a good one to consider. Why is it so important that these people built in styles such as Italianate, Greek Revival, Neo-Classical and the like?

I tend to think Rhoads is correct about their tenaciousness dispositions, in that these motifs symbolize greatness and civic pride, as well as an abiding sense that we will get ahead and be OK.

Far from being irrelevant, these concepts can help us a great deal as we consider our own contemporary financial woes among other burning issues. Will we chose to have resolve and find ways to showcase that sensibility in our town?

Our ancestors were not perfect, for from it, but their architecture seems to have many redeeming values we should most certainly attempt to learn from.

Perhaps this is why I become so sullen when I hear of another historical building torn down, or have to drive by and see one neglected for years on end.

It feels like burying a family member.

Labels: , ,

Friday, April 16, 2010

Local reporters win Excellence in Journalism Awards

Three Heritage Newspapers reporters swept the sports columnist category in the Society of Professional Journalists Detroit chapter's 2009 Excellence in Journalism Awards.

At a dinner held April 14 at the San Marino Club in Troy, Jana Miller, Mike Larson and Don Richter won first through third place, respectively, in the sports columnist category in print, Class B, with a circulation less than 100,000.

In addition, reporter Gerald LaVaute won third place for investigative reporting for his piece "Police Compensation Comparison."

LaVaute is a staff writer for The View in Belleville and The Milan News-Leader.

Miller, a former Saline and Milan sports reporter, is a copy editor and reporter for The Manchester Enterprise. Judges noted that all three of her entries were award worthy. They were "Hush, hush controversy brings sex into sports," "Academics and athletics can mix" and "Gender equity in sports."

Richter, a former sports reporter for The Chelsea Standard and The Dexter Leader, now covers sports for The Saline Reporter and The Milan News-Leader. His winning piece was his farewell column to Chelsea and Dexter readers.

Larson, a sports reporter for The Ann Arbor Journal, a new publication launched July 9, 2009, by Heritage Newspapers, won for his column "Medal More than Award." This is the first award produced from the A2 Journal. The other Heritage publications have a long history of winning journalism awards in the SPJ contest, as well as in the Michigan Press Association Better Newspapers Contest and Suburban Newspapers of America editorial contest.

This year's competition was judged by the North Central Florida Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, SPJ Minnesota Pro Chapter and Chicago Headline Club.

More than 100 Excellence in Media awards were given to area journalists during the banquet.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Memories of Kelly's and the Saline Cafe

Many of you have already heard the downtown storefronts that were once Kelly's and the Saline Cafe are being purchased to be converted into new food service establishments.

The closing on the properties has not yet taken place, so I'm holding back specifics until that transpires at the request of the new owners.

I'm bringing it up here because I would like to include the thoughts and memories of community members about those building that take up 103, 105 and 107 W. Michigan Ave when I write the article.

From what I understand, the Saline Cafe was a popular place for wedding rehearsal dinners and the like, and who doesn't have a good story about their favorite watering hole?

Also, if anyone has historic photos of that particular block, I know myself and the new owners will be much obliged.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

"When daisies pied, and violets paint the meadows with delight"

I experienced my first Saline Easter last weekend and it was certainly a conglomerate of all the good things spring has to offer.

The weather was warm and sunny on Saturday. So warm in fact, Pete Toarmina was a bit uncomfortable in the Easter Bunny costume he wears each year for the Eggstravaganza event put on by the chamber of commerce. (Of course, we all know he was just filling in for the actual Easter Bunny who simply can't be everywhere at once.)

Because of the heat, Pete was spotted behind the Mickey's Dairy Twist establishment, which he owns with his wife, enjoying one of their critically acclaimed ice cream cones.

The children, out seeking eggs filled with various candies, were able to search without the constraints of winter jackets, which are usually the norm this time of year.

On Sunday, Saline residents could be seen walking out of the various churches around town wearing pastel dresses and colorful ties, and strolling leisurely back home to celebrate Easter dinner with friends and family.

It was a pleasant and extremely memorable span of time, and seems to have truly initiated the spring season. At least in my mind.

So lets hope the traditional April snow has taken the hint and stays up there in Canada.

Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]