The DeWitt Police Department’s is working to combat drugged driving

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By Skyler Ashley
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

DEWITT — DeWitt has been facing difficulties in regards to “drugged driving” i.e., driving while under the influence of drugs.

The crime is classified as Operating While Under the Influence of Drugs (OWID) and problems arise for police officers, because there does not exist a simple test for sobriety akin to a Breathalyzer.

Police officers must know the symptoms of the various highs in order to make an effective arrest.

“Prescription meds, heroin, it’s all so prevalent now. In this county, it’s getting to be that 10 percent of our intoxicated drivers are intoxicated under the influence of drugs. We see it steadily going up,” DeWitt Police Chief Bruce Ferguson said.

It is not just prescription medication and drugs that are causing trouble on the road, inhalants such as computer duster have also been worrisome.

In 2015 from May to October, there were 5 deaths across Michigan that all involved huffing while driving.

Ferguson remembers DeWitt itself suffering a similar incident in 2012, involving the death of a teenager due to inhaling computer duster.

Tragically, he had turned to homemade methods of intoxication, as he could no longer use alcohol due to the preliminary breath tests required by his probation.

Circumventing alcohol probation has also been a common risk factor for drug abuse.

“It’s not bizarre anymore; it’s getting pretty commonplace,” Ferguson said.

As drugs become more and more prevalent, especially opiates (which saw a steady rise in prescriptions from 1991 to 2011), so do fatalities from abuse, whether or not they involved automobiles.

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The trend of Opiate Prescriptions, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse

In fact, overdose deaths are now surpassing traffic accident deaths in general. In 2013, the Center for Disease Control reported 43,982 overdose deaths (51.8 percent related to prescription meds), while the National Highway Safety Administration reported 32,719 deaths from auto accidents.

“It’s astronomical,” Ferguson said.

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DeWitt works to battle cyber-bullying

By Connor Clark
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

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DeWitt High School is working on educating their students on the potential issues of cyber bullying.

DEWITT — As social media works to connect people and ideas, advanced technology finds itself in the hands of young adults, and issues of cyber-bullying and sexting have risen for the City of DeWitt and DeWitt Township.

Bruce Ferguson, police chief for the City of DeWitt, warns young adults to watch what they say and do online and on social media.

“Kids don’t realize that what they think is private, isn’t really private,” Ferguson said.

Although complete case numbers have not yet be compiled, according to Ferguson, the frequency of young adult cases on cyber-bullying and blackmailing have risen sharply in previous years. Some cases have involved threats of suicide.

During one case, a 12-year-old boy sent a photograph of himself with a gun to his head. In this photograph, he demanded to receive a naked picture from a girl or else he was going to commit suicide. When the girl received the picture, she alerted her parents, who then contacted the police. Fortunately, there were no deaths that arose from the situation, according to Ferguson.

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DeWitt, once again a Tree City USA, sees the environment as part of the culture

One of the DeWitt parks

One of the DeWitt parks

By Kamen Kessler
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

DEWITT — Last year, the National Arbor Day Foundation named the City of DeWitt a Tree City USA for the 23rd time. This is a unique honor in times where industrial expansion dominates most growing cities in the United States.

So the question remains, is this environmental movement a cosmetic push or does DeWitt find the environment an important element of the city? The overwhelming answer was this is more than for just the looks, that the environmental focus is a part of the culture of DeWitt.

DeWitt has met the four standards to become a Tree City USA: A tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, a comprehensive community forestry program, and Arbor Day observance, according to DeWitt City Administrator Dan Coss.

Coss said, “You have to apply and as long as the requirements are met when they review you get to be named. This is something we are really proud of.”

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In Clinton County, a lack of mass doesn’t preclude mass transit

By Diamond Henry
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

DEWITT — Small cities don’t usually have a lot of traffic flow, but not everyone owns a car. So how do the citizens of DeWitt get to where they need if a car isn’t an option? Clinton Transit is how.

Compared to larger cities like Lansing or Detroit, DeWitt’s need for a large transportation system is not necessary.

“We are different because we don’t have a big population in DeWitt; we have about a population of 76,000 in all of Clinton County,” said The director of Clinton Transit Dawn Benson.

The blue, eye-catching buses of Clinton Transit — founded in 2001 by the county and based in St. Johns — are small, but that’s because it’s a dial-and-ride service.

Map to the Clinton Transit Center

Map to the Clinton Transit Center

“The bus routes aren’t the same every day; they are determined by those who call and need a ride. We go to your house and pick up, and we go to your house and drop you off,” said Benson.

The service isn’t exactly free. According to Benson, everyone who boards pays a fare ranging from 50 cents to $5, depending on certain discounts such as whether they are a senior citizen or a person with disabilities. It’s also operated through a property tax millage, contributions from the state, and FTA federal funds.

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Scoopy-Doo’s to remain open year-round

By Connor Clark
Bath-DeWitt Connection staff reporter

The long time business is now looking to continue their tradition with owner Kelly Smith

The long time business is now looking to open year round under owner Kelly Smith.

DEWITT — The long-time ice cream shop Scoopy-Doo’s has decided to remain open year-round.

With her purchase of Scoopy-Doo’s this past May, owner Kelly Smith looks to continue a tradition of creating high-quality ice cream for the DeWitt community, while also serving a new menu filled with sandwiches and soups.

“People keep telling me it’s a seasonal business … I believe in this community.” Smith said.

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School counselor advocates continuing education advice before high school

School board meeting panel

School board meeting panel

By Diamond Henry
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

DEWITT — At the Nov. 9 DeWitt Public Schools Board of Trustees meeting, Herbison Woods Elementary School counselor Teri Severy discussed her attendance at the Strengthening School Counseling and College Advising conference, held in Florida.

“It was one of the most exciting things I’ve done in my professional life,” said Severy, discussing her trip.

The program’s goal is to try to prepare school counselors to help kids figure out different ways they can continue their education, be it a four-year university or a trade program.

“I think many of us have changed careers or added into our careers, educators included, but we want to expose students to career and college opportunities,” said Severy.

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City thanks DeWitt School Board for support of drainage cleaning grant

People look to get seated before the start of the Nov. 9 School Board meeting

People look to get seated before the start of the Nov. 9 School Board meeting

By Kamen Kessler
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

City of DeWitt Administrator Dan Coss held a presentation at the Nov. 9 DeWitt School Board meeting to thank the board for their support of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality grant that the city recently got approved.

The $1.5 million project is for the inspection and cleaning of all the drainage systems in the city of DeWitt, focusing more on the stormwater system rather than the sanitation one, according to Coss.

The grant is worth around $1.3 million with the city paying the other $200,000 for the project, according to Coss.

Coss said, “The stormwater system is one of the things we have the least information on in the city, and this will help us better understand everything about it.”

The schools support was vital because some of the stormwater systems are on the school grounds, so for approval of the grant, it was important to have the backing of the school board, according to Coss.

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