Bus Rapid Transit could replace CATA's Route 1 bus

By Griffin Wasik
Ingham County Chronicle Staff Reporter

A $143 million proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system could be finished as soon as 2018. The BRT would run from the Capitol to Meridian Mall via Michigan and Grand River avenues. It would also add a designated bus lane, remove current bus stops, and add traffic signals, according to Meridian Township documents. “The total cost of the BRT is not $133 million,” John R. Veenstra, a Trustee member on the Meridian Township Board of Commissioners, said. “Many people are getting this confused.

Gun crimes dipping in Michigan

By Andrew Merkle
Ingham County Chronicle Staff Reporter

Guns have a negative connotation for many Americans these days. Most news reports Americans see about guns describe the most recent mass shooting on United States soil or terror attack overseas. These stories can create the perception that gun crimes are on the rise, and sometimes the media is blamed for stirring the pot. In Michigan, however, gun crime is not on the rise. In fact, gun crimes have dipped in the past decade.

Okemos schools looking to enhance foreign language learning opportunities

By Andrew Merkle
Ingham County Chronicle Staff Reporter

OKEMOS — At a recent Okemos Public Schools board meeting, Deputy Superintendent Patricia Telstad presented to the rest of the board recommendations for introducing foreign language learning opportunities. Telstad even recommended a partnership with Michigan State University’s Center for Language Teaching and Advancement in order to provide foreign language learning at the elementary school level. “We want to increase world language options, especially at the elementary level,” Telstad said. The Center for Language Teaching and Advancement is the internal support unit for language learning and teaching at Michigan State University according to the school’s College of Arts and Letters. One of the options Telstad outlined was an exploratory program for students in kindergarten up to the fourth grade that could take place either before or after school, and as an activity on early release days.

Eighty more miles of bicycle paths coming to Ingham County

By Griffin Wasik
Ingham County Chronicle Staff Reporter

The Meridian Township Board of Commissioners recently unanimously passed a revision to the Pedestrian-Bicycle Master Plan will add nearly 80 more miles of bicycle paths on shoulders of roads, cross-country paths, and unpaved roads to Ingham County. There are currently about 110 miles of such paths, according to meeting officials. The plan will improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists who are trying to access parks, businesses, or people out exercising, according to meeting officials. The master plan deals with much bigger things, Ron Styka, a trustee member on the Meridian Township Board of Commissioners, said. “Our goal is to have people be able to travel anywhere in this township by biking or hiking all the way to Lansing,” Styka said.

Big changes may be coming to Mason Public Schools, if voters are willing to foot the bill

By Griffin Wasik
Ingham County Chronicle Staff Reporter

The Mason Public Schools Board of Education voted unanimously to accept the recommendation of the Facilities Improvement Steering Committee to place a $79,845,000 bond on the May 3, ballot, according to a school board meeting. If approved, the bond would fund facility improvements, security upgrades, and new technology at all school buildings in the district, according to discussions at meeting. Money from the bond would buy new computers and tablets for students to use for educational purposes, according to meeting officials. “This has a $4.5 million investment in technology over nine years,” Mason Public Schools District Superintendent Ronald Drzewicki said. “It will allow us to provide more 21st century environments technology driven.

Opioid-related deaths on the rise in Ingham County

By Andrew Merkle
Ingham County Chronicle Staff Reporter

The Ingham County Health Department reported that opioid-related deaths have increased by nearly 66 percent over the last five years after a relatively constant rate from 2003-2010. Heroin is the most common narcotic among the 50 opioid-related deaths in Ingham County last year, according to the Ingham County Health Department. Ingham County is not an anomaly, either. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heroin-related overdose deaths had nearly quadrupled nationwide between 2002 and 2013, with more than 8,200 such deaths occurring in 2013. As the county and nation are seeing an increase in opioid-related overdose deaths, it should surprise no one that the state of Michigan has seen an increased rate in opioid-related hospitalizations as well.

First reported case of Zika Virus in Ingham County

By Griffin Wasik
Ingham County Chronicle Staff Reporter

The first reported case of the Zika Virus in Michigan occurred in Ingham County on Feb. 23, health officials said in a press release. The patient, a female resident of Ingham County, caught the virus when traveling in a country where Zika can be passed on, according to the release. The patient, who was not pregnant, had Zika symptoms shortly after returning to Michigan, according to the release. “This person who has/had Zika, picked it up elsewhere,” Dr. Edward D. (“Ned”) Walker, professor in the Department of Entomology and the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Michigan State University, said.

Ingham County tech officials say the county's website lacks security

By Andrew Merkle
Ingham County Chronicle Staff Reporter

According to the Ingham County Innovation and Technology Department (IT), applications that the county website (ingham.org) uses lack security. Vince Foess, interim IT director, recently presented this information to the County Services Committee. When asked by Chairperson Deb Nolan about the urgency of the issue, Foess told the committee that the issue is extremely urgent, adding that there are a dangerous amount of security risks facing the county’s website. “There is zero security on the back end,” Foess said. “Personal information and Social Security numbers are exposed to anyone in the world.

Democrats dominate Ingham County Board of Commissioners. Why?

By Griffin Wasik
Ingham County Chronicle Staff Reporter

Eleven out of 14 members on the Ingham County Board of Commissioners belong to the Democratic Party. And Democrats control all countywide elected offices as well, Democrat Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum of Onondaga said. “There are six countywide elected officials for Ingham County and they are all Democrats. Then there are the 14 commissioners that represent portions of the county,” only three of which are Republicans. That’s no surprise, given the county’s demographics.