Nominees and winners increase for Meridian Township's 2016 Environmental Stewardship Awards

By Erica Marra
The Meridian Times Staff Reporter

Though Meridian Township resides less than two miles away from Michigan State University, a look at the recent increase in nominations for the township’s annual Environmental Stewardship Awards is evidence that some community members view the phrase “go green” a bit differently than their neighbors down the road. “For the 2016 awards, we have had a larger pool of nominees than in years past, which is exciting,” said Meridian Township Associate Planner and staff liaison to the township’s Environmental Commission, Harmony Gmazel. “In years past, we usually just have two or three nominations per year. This is the most we’ve had in quite a while.” Meridian Charter Township’s Environmental Stewardship awards are held to honor residents who advocate for the environment through “local habitat stewardship, recycling, or anything in between”.

Streamlined Meridian Township burn policies work to keep blazes under control

By Erica Marra
The Meridian Times Staff Reporter

The summer before heading off to college is typically considered to be the perfect time for recent high school graduates to create long-lasting memories with their
friends. While 2012 Okemos High School graduate Colin Jackson said that he expected to create some moments he would never forget before leaving his hometown, he never expected them to be so incendiary. “The summer I graduated, there was a rumor going around that a girl I knew accidentally set fire to a field called ‘The Shire’ that we used to have bonfires at,” Jackson said. “Apparently she didn’t put a fire out all the way and ended up burning down a good chunk of [the field].”

Jackson said his curiosity led him to revisit the alleged burn site to see if the rumors were true. “I went back this year and all of the grass is like, seriously lower and you can still see where stuff is charred, so I guess it actually happened,” Jackson said.

Meridian Township celebrates womanhood in light of Women's History Month

By Erica Marra
The Meridian Times Staff Reporter

March marks Women’s History Month, and the Meridian Township Communications Department is taking full advantage of the opportunity to educate community members about females and their accomplishments of both the past and present. Andrea Smiley, administrative assistant for the Meridian Township Communications Department, said that the township used a variety of methods to celebrate womanhood with community members. “We have shown the importance of Women’s History Month in many ways including sharing on social media, such as Meridian Township’s Facebook page, our HOMTV & Township eNewsletters, an intern story which airs on our government access channel HOMTV 21, and an interview that showcased female athletes, which also aired on HOMTV 21 in our sports show, ‘All Access’,” Smiley said. According to the United States Census Bureau, Women’s History Month first began on March 8, 1857, when female factory workers in New York City staged a protest over poor working conditions. Formally recognized as just one week, it was not until 1987 that the United States’ Congress formally recognized Women’s History Month as the full month of March.

The pros and cons of Meridian Township's emergency communication policies

By Erica Marra
The Meridian Times Staff Reporter

With winter weather scares already in the books for the new year, Meridian Township public officials are relying on the township’s emergency operations plan to keep residents safe and informed during Michigan’s temperamental transition from winter to spring. Meridian Township Fire Chief and Emergency Manager Fred Cowper said the plan values transparency between city officials and Meridian residents. “The plan is updated nearly every year and is shared online and at board meetings,” Cowper said. “Our communications director is always a part of our emergency meetings. She makes sure everything is up to date with contacting media sources and putting information on Facebook and Twitter.”

After reviewing Meridian’s communication outlets and social platforms, Juan Mundel, doctoral student within Michigan State University’s Department of Advertising and Public Relations, noted some strengths and weaknesses within the township’s policies.

The latest threat to Meridian Township's lakes and rivers? Dog poop

By Erica Marra
The Meridian Times Staff Reporter

Unattended pet waste across Meridian Township is posing problems for the community, and not just because it’s an eyesore. With all of the melting snow, the animal waste left behind by pet owners is draining its way into the township’s storm water system, creating an environmental hazard. Thomas Voice, a Michigan State University professor within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said that the issue is a common occurrence that many cities face with the change of seasons. “In those first spring thaws, a huge amount of the pollutants that build up over the winter flush into the river and it typically has a significant impact,” he said. “Pet waste is fecal material and there’s certainly the possibility of diseases being transferred this way.”

Voice said that because Meridian Township’s drinking water supply comes from a system of deep wells separate from the storm water system, there is an unlikely chance that the township’s drinking water supply is harmed.

Hard work, wealth drives Okemos High School’s continued excellence

By Erica Marra
The Meridian Times Staff Reporter

OKEMOS — After being rated the 10th-best high school in the state of Michigan by U.S. News & World Report in 2015, Okemos High School is striving to continue their high rankings into the current year. The U.S. News & World Report base their yearly rankings off of factors including student-to-teacher ratios, college readiness, and proficiency in mathematics and reading. By earning high numbers across the board, Okemos received the U.S. News & World Report’s “Gold Medal” award, which is given only to the top 500 schools in the country based on highest college readiness. In order to sustain classroom success in the 2015-2016 school year, Okemos High School English teacher Laura Ross said that the school implemented new plans and policies to increase student comprehension and engagement. “We’re working really hard to reach all segments of our student body,” Ross said.

Local health food stores impact community and competition

By Erica Marra
The Meridian Times Staff Reporter

A new branch of popular health food chain Whole Foods Market is scheduled to open for business on East Grand River Avenue this April, which will mark the third natural food store to open in or around the Meridian area within a five-mile radius. The market will join the ranks of 18-year-old local business Foods For Living and Meijer-invested Fresh Thyme, a Midwest chain that opened its first Michigan store in East Lansing last year. With Whole Foods Market opening less than half a mile away from Foods For Living, experts expect a disruption in competition to alter business transactions among the health food stores in the Meridian area. Thomas Page, former Meridian Township resident and Associate Professor within Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business, said he expects corporate-owned Whole Foods to take a notable slice of consumer traffic. “Whole Foods is expensive, but it’s also a much bigger store and it’s going to draw a bigger influx of customers just because of the fact that it’s much more well-known.