Scott Smith, chief technology officer of Water Defense and Ben Ranger of Plumbers Local 370 Union hold water samples taken from Flint Mayor Karen Weaver's water heater on April 24, 2016, at the mayor's home.

A coalition that fights for Flint, communities facing environmental racism

When it was discovered that Flint’s municipal water supply was contaminated with lead, environmental and community groups mobilized to push local and state government officials to address the problem. But Flint is not the only place in Michigan where residents are fighting for environmental justice. Jeremy Orr is the environmental justice coordinator of the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition. His job is to work with people in those communities to help make sure their voices are heard. Spartan Newsroom: Your coalition consist of over 50 organizations around the state. How were these groups able to come together and form this coalition?

Milton Scales serves as a Meridian Township trustee.

Minority candidates face higher hurdles for elected office

 

When Milton Scales ran for a trustee position in Meridian Township, he knew he needed to do the impossible to get elected. No other African-American had been elected to a township office. “The odds were stacked against me,” said Scales, a Detroit native who has called Meridian Township home for more than nine years. Scales won that race and became a trustee for the township. But he wanted more.

Old Town: Now a thriving community despite a rough past

By Sergio Martínez-Beltrán
Old Town Lansing Times reporter

When Aura Ozbourne decided she was going to open a shop in Old Town, she knew it was a risk. Everyone knew. “When I first opened up, (Old Town) was extremely dilapidated and unloved for the most part,” Ozburn said. “Many people were afraid of the neighborhood.”

When Ozbourne opened her store October Moon in 119 E Grand River Ave. 14 years ago, the situation was not the best one, however, it was not the worst.

Lansing School District plans to remove underground fuel tanks

By Sergio Martínez-Beltrán
Old Town Lansing Times Staff Reporter

Seven underground fuel tanks owned by the Lansing Board of Education could be removed after a vote on Nov. 5 by the board to recommend Lansing-based Triterra for the part of sub-contractor of the project. Lansing School District Chief of Operations Teresa Szymanski said the fuel tanks, located at the Lansing School District’s Service Center at 1717 Sam’s Way, are now unnecessary and their removal should be made as soon as possible. “We needed to have them for a fleet of 70-odd buses because we added the fuel in anticipation,” Szymanski said. “The kind of vehicle we have right now does not require that amount of critical mass of fuel we have right now.”

Szymanski said the area needed to be cleaned anyway.

As temperatures drop, so do sales in Old Town

By Sergio Martínez-Beltrán
Old Town Lansing Times Staff Reporter

Winters in Michigan can be rough and unbearable, and not residents but businesses are affected during the season. Old Town Lansing is not the exception. Lambs’ Gate Antiques owner Carol Lamb said she sees a decrease in sales during the colder months. “We are still pretty good in January, towards the end of January it slows down,” Lamb said. “People are tired of shopping.”

The store, located at 1219 Turner St., specializes in all sorts of antiques from across Michigan.

Washington Avenue redevelopment project on its way. Someday.

By Sergio Martínez-Beltrán
Old Town Lansing Times Staff Reporter

A project that would make Old Town Lansing greener and more accessible has been on hold for years. Just the fact there’s a project — albeit a paused one — is news to some. According to the website of the Old Town Commercial Association, “the City of Lansing is planning to redevelop Old Town’s section of Washington Avenue… (the) redevelopment will allow for bike-friendly and pedestrian-friendly enhancements.”

The project will create bike lanes to Washington Avenue, add rain gardens and implement historic lighting that would match the ones on Grand River Avenue. The project also seeks to add back-in angled parking. However, Old Town Commercial Association Executive Director Austin Ashley said he is not aware of any updates to the project that was put on hold by the City of Lansing.

Creativity pays in Old Town

By Sergio Martínez-Beltrán
Old Town Lansing Times staff reporter

When Terry Terry came to Old Town for the first time in the 1980s, the town was not as vibrant as it is today — not even close. It was a ghost town, Terry’s assistant Linda Burnham said. “In the early 1980s, this area was probably less than one percent occupied,” Burnham said. It was then when Terry decided to bring MessageMakers, his creative company, to Old Town Lansing. “Terry came to Old Town and bought a building here,” Burnham said.

Pay to play: The cost of living in Old Town

By Sergio Martínez-Beltrán
Old Town Lansing Times staff reporter

Living in a vibrant neighborhood means having cultural and fun events right in your back yard, but it also means paying more for living in a prime location. Old Town Lansing is one of those locations where the residents understand the reality of paying for the environment they live in. “I love this area,” Old Town resident Sarah Christiansen said. “I fell in love with it before I lived here, or bought a shop here.”

Christiansen is also a business owner and part of the board of the Old Town Commercial Association — she rents the second floor of her store for residential purposes. But living in Old Town includes amenities that are hard to find somewhere else.

Businesses in Old Town find success despite economic hardships

By Sergio Martínez-Beltrán
Old Town Lansing Times staff reporter

In a world where the economic markets are failing, it is hard for owners of small businesses to maintain their businesses while competing with megastores. However, there are places that are sustain just by small, local businesses — Old Town Lansing is one of these places. According to the Old Town Lansing business directory antique stores, restaurants, clothing stores, pet stores and creative companies have stayed in Old Town Lansing. But, why Old Town Lansing and not Downtown Lansing or any other community? “The rent is cheaper than downtown for the most part and that could be a starting point,” Old Town Commercial Association Executive Director Austin Ashley said.