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The Eastern Echo Thursday, June 20, 2024 | Print Archive
The Eastern Echo

Podcast: September 29, 2021

Ypsilanti's annual domestic violence walk fees are now directed toward those in need, autonomous shuttles are coming to EMU, and a new restaurant opens in Depot Town. 

Jacob Walter Kendrick: On this week's episode, we’ll be talking about the annual domestic violence walk fees now being directed toward those in need, as well as autonomous shuttles coming to Eastern Michigan University this fall and Thompson and Co. Restaurant opening in Depot Town. I am your host Jacob Walter Kendrick, and this is the Eastern Echo Podcast. 

On Sept. 14, Ypsilanti City Council unanimously voted to waive the park rental fees for the Fifth Annual Domestic Violence Walk, hosted by Women & Men Working for Change. Cherisa Allen, president and founder of the nonprofit organization, Women & Men Working for Change, requested that the city grant a financial hardship waiver to the amount of $735 for park rental fees, according to the resolution.

Allen said to the Echo: “Because this is our main fundraiser, we asked the city to waive the fee. The money that we raise, a portion of it, will go to a family or individual who has experienced or is in the depths of domestic violence. So, we wanted to get the fees waived so that the money can go to better use.”

After the presentation of the resolution, the council members offered their support for the organization and all they do to support victims of domestic violence.

Ypsilanti City Councilperson Anthony Morgan said to the Echo: “I just think that it is extremely important for people to support a cause such as this. With COVID, this is one of the highest increases in crime in our city and across this state. I think that some of these families need some reprieve, so I am in support of this."

The Domestic Violence Walk is an annual 5K walk or run event that seeks to educate and fundraise to support victims of domestic violence in the community, according to the organizers. The hope is to bring more awareness to the issue of domestic violence because the subject is not brought up enough.  

Allen said to the Echo: “The Domestic Violence Walk was born out of my need to bring awareness to this serious issue. I recognized that there was nothing in Ypsilanti regarding resources. So, I put a team together in 2017 to form this annual walk. I just want to bring awareness.”

This year’s Domestic Violence Walk will be held Oct. 2 at Parkridge Park from 9 a.m. to noon, and those that are interested can find more information on their Facebook page.

In other campus news, Eastern Michigan University’s GameAbove College of Engineering and Technology announced they have collaborated with Local Motors to bring an advanced autonomous car shuttle to EMU’s campus later this fall. The college invested $300,000 into the car shuttle, also known as the Olli, which was funded by the GameAbove Alumni Foundation.

Mohamad Qatu, the dean of the College of Engineering and Technology said to the Echo: “Several students have always been pointing out the distance it takes from Sill Hall to the Student Center. Establishing a shuttle has been discussed, but it was not until GameAbove connected us with Local Motors that the idea was achievable.” 

Olli shuttles are low-speed, electrically-powered shuttles built using advanced manufacturing techniques and technology, such as 3D printing, according to the GameAbove College of Engineering and Technology. The shuttles made their debut in 2016 and have since proven to be highly durable and safe, having already been deployed for use in nine countries. 

The two shuttles that will be in use on EMU’s campus will be given various upgrades and enhancements by EMU engineering students throughout the fall.

Qatu said to the Echo, “Not only will the Ollis enable our students to receive hands-on experience working with autonomous vehicles, but they will also provide transportation for the greater campus community,“ 

Engineering and technology students will be working throughout the fall on the logistics of the shuttles, the routes that they should take, where the charging stations should be and how many, and parking spots where the vehicles will be stationed. 

Jay Rogers, CEO of Local Motors said to the Echo:  “This partnership is important to showing the utility and capability of Ollis. The project with EMU will focus on how autonomous solutions, like Olli, connect people with safe transportation alternatives and present new learning opportunities. This kind of deployment, on and around campus, is an ideal setting for Olli." 

The college also announced plans to open a new research and development space, which will be housed at the American Center for Mobility (ACM) in Ypsilanti. Details on the shuttle routes and upgrades will continue to be provided throughout the school year and can be found at

Lastly, the historic Thompson Block building welcomed the restaurant Thompson & Co. to Depot Town Aug. 12.

Thompson & Co., located at 400 N. River Street, features Southern-inspired cuisine and seeks to give patrons a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere where people can regularly hang out, as well as a place to go for a special night out. 

The building, named after the Thompson family, has quite an important place in history. It was erected in 1861 and was initially a hotel and storefront before it became a barrack for the Civil War enlistees, which included the first Michigan Colored Infantry. 

Disa Brown, the general manager of Thompson & Co., said in an email, “The location was chosen by the developers as an opportunity to improve the neighborhood.”

Years prior, a devastating fire had battered the Thompson Block building, and it sat vacant in disrepair for years. Ann Arbor-based development company 3Mission took over the previously vacant building and renovated it to host apartments, restaurants, and retail stores — a subtle nod toward the initial purpose of this historic building. 

The community response to the restaurant was overwhelmingly positive.

Brown continued in the email: “The community has been extremely welcoming. The neighboring businesses have extended their well wishes, and we have already seen many people come in multiple times.”

Patrons can keep an eye out for the opening of the development group’s new business, Mash Whiskey Bar, in the next couple of weeks. The whiskey bar will be located in the lower level of the Thompson Block building and will feature live music where customers can enjoy classic cocktails and, as expected, good whiskey. 

Lisa Brown is also an Eastern Michigan University alumna, having graduated in 2013 with a bachelor’s in business administration. 

Brown advises business students, particularly those interested in restaurant management and the hospitality industry, to learn whatever they can to succeed.

As always, thank you for listening, and don’t forget to tune in next Wednesday and every Wednesday.

Reported: Megan Forystek, Daniel Magrisso, Cedrick Charles, and Areena Basmadjian

Scripted: Tre Briscoe

Produced: Cameron Santangelo

Host: Jacob Walter Kendrick