Watch a new episode of Focal Point

A new $88 million MSU research facility opens in Grand Rapids. Students must follow new moped parking rules next year. Plus construction updates in our on-campus report. Those stories and more on Focal Point.

Focal Point – March 24, 2017

Check out our third show of the semester, as we bring you local and national stories. We break down how President Trump’s new budget proposal can impact local arts funding; Distracted Driving awareness week reminds us of a tragic incident that took the life of a local teen; and we also give you this week’s breakdown of MSU sports. These stories and much more on this week’s Focal Point.

Democratic dominance taking over Meridian

The 2016 Meridian Township election saw yet another train of dominance from the Democratic Party, as all eight local level openings were filled with the party’s candidates. Democrats continue to hold each of the seven Township Board positions in a one-sided township government. Meridian had been a predominantly Republican area through the 1980s, but Township Clerk Brett Dreyfus said the change started to occur in the 1990s. “People can try to guess why that is and what the factors are, one argument is how the community started to get younger and more diversity started occurring,” said Dreyfus, who was reelected as Clerk for his second term. “People started being unhappy with the Republican-dominated mindset and started thinking we need to change something.

Meridian Mall closed on Thanksgiving, open late for Black Friday

Early Black Friday shoppers will have to look outside of Meridian Township to find the best deals this year. The Meridian Mall will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, with doors opening Friday at 6 a.m. Only some of the mall’s outside retailers will open early, like Macy’s at 5 p.m. on Thursday, and will stay open all night leading up to the mall’s opening in the morning. “We wanted our employees and our retail partner employees to have the holiday back to celebrate with their families,” said Todd Huhn, the mall’s general manager. “That was the biggest driving factor in our decision. Everyone is very happy that we’re giving Thanksgiving back and respecting the holiday.”

Huhn said the mall has only received positive remarks and comments regarding the switch.

No concern for local businesses as Costco enters Meridian

Monticello’s is a family-run market in Haslett branded as the local, fresh market and butcher of the community. With a new Costco store coming to Meridian in Fall 2017, local businesses like Monticello’s understand how different their stores are from the big corporations. “Us and Costco attract two different types of shoppers,” said a manager at Monticello’s, who wished her name to not be made public. “If you want a 4-inch steak, I’ll cut you a 4-inch steak. If you want a half-inch steak, I’ll cut you a half-inch steak.

Wonch Park summer renovations completed

The Meridian Township Parks and Recreation Department have wrapped up the renovations at Wonch Park this month. Residents now enjoy a new set of outdoor fitness equipment, a new perimeter loop pathway, a repaved parking lot and a large mural displayed at the entrance of the park. “Wonch Park was really one that we needed to get at,” said LuAnn Maisner, director of Parks and Recreation. “It needed some love, it was tired. It’s one of the oldest parks in our community and was important for us to get that taken care of.”

The outdoor fitness equipment has created a great buzz in the community.

Early computer crash challenges Meridian precinct

Meridian’s second voting precinct at Haslett High School tried to get ahead of the game by taking two hours Monday night to set up and prepare for the big day. Despite the effort, an early crash in the voting booth computers brought a rough start to Election Day. A glitch in the booth computers halted the operation just minutes after the doors opened, which made an already long line get even worse. “Oh yeah, it caused a jam,” said precinct co-chair Ginger Petty. “The line snaked all around inside the gym and even started outside the door at one point.

New Towner Park coming to Meridian

The former Applegate Driving Range in Meridian Township will become a 23-acre park, with the start of construction planned for early 2017 and the debut expected in 2019. Located in the northern Haslett area off Lake Lansing, Towner Road Park aims to attract as many residents as possible.