Bath Supervisor Clark wears many hats

By Brendan Smoker
Bath-DeWitt Reporter

Bath growth

Clark became a Bath trustee in 2008 and witnessed growth in Bath ever since. She said big progress that has been made has been a growing library and farmers’ market; all the needed property for the Park Lake project has been purchased; and workers have begun raising Park Lake’s water level by two feet.

Supporting the township’s growth, Treasurer Jeff Garrity said Bath “grew 54 percent” last decade, the second fastest growing town in Michigan during that period.

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Trustee Leon Puttler, Treasurer Jeff Garrity and Supervisor Paula Clark prepare for their board meeting. Photo by Brendan Smoker

New Role 

Following the death of Supervisor Tom Schneider in November 2011, Clark was appointed to fill the position. The following year, Clark was elected to supervisor. Then in September 2013, Superintendent Troy Feltman left his position due to differences in his contract renewal.

“I did not know, nor do I think any of us did, that by law (when the superintendent seat opens up) the supervisor becomes responsible for that position until it is filled,” explained Clark. Clark began filling Feltman’s shoes shortly after his vacancy.

Clark was happy to reveal that the board did approve a recommendation that would allow Planning Consultant Jim Foulds to deal with economic development and the sewer system. “This is very important because I didn’t have the technical skills that I felt the township needed,” Clark explained.

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Planning Commissioner Jim Foulds discusses future plans for Bath’s sewer system. Photo by Brendan Smoker

The Bath Board is interviewing candidates for superintendent. “We had three great candidates,” said trustee Cindy Crook about the finalists. The new superintendent will begin within the next six weeks.

“I’m looking forward to working with the new superintendent,” said board member Leon Puttler. “Hopefully the board and community will reach out to him.”

Many different hats

Clark’s role as superintendent and supervisor do not sum up all the different hats that she wears. She also is an active member of the Lansing Area Economic Partnership board, a regional economic development group trying to enhance the development of Ingham and Clinton County areas. Clark’s steering position on this board was recently renewed for another year this March.

Clark also is a part of MSU Downtown Coaches Club , the Clinton/Shiawassee County Family Independence Agency and State Employee Retiree Association for over 28 years. Clark also has served over 30 years as a faculty member at Lansing Community College, over 28 years working with Michigan’s Department of Human Services and more than 40 years in social work.

In addition to all this, Clark also is a very active member in her community, volunteering at Michigan State University and her hometown church. When asked how she manages everything she does Clark responds, “What I’ve done is all just a part of the role.”

For questions please contact Brendan Smoker at smokerbr@msu.edu.

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DeWitt District Library in trouble

By Mike Moffat

Bath-DeWitt reporter

Breakdown

Things aren’t looking good for the DeWitt library, as they are in panic mode and on the verge of being closed. They have tried many things such as cutting the staff and hours, but those measures haven’t solved their current state.

“We are underfunded and undersized,” said Jenifer Balcom, the DeWitt Library director. “The average budget for a library is $1.6 million, and ours is at only half of a million.”

More Problems

The size of the library is also a problem. The average size of a library is 26,000 square feet, while the DeWitt library is only 6,400 square feet.

As you can see, the size is much smaller than the average library Photo taken by Mike Moffat

As you can see, the size is much smaller than the average library
Photo taken by Mike Moffat

“A lot of people are worried about economic times,” said Helen Davis, the reference manager for the DeWitt Library. “It also doesn’t help when there aren’t a lot of young children in the area.”

Last Chance

The only hope left for this library is a millage proposal later in 2014. This is the third one they have asked for since 2008, with this the second time asking for an increase in mils toward operation.

“We plan on proposing another millage asking for $500,000 this August,” said Paul Perpich, DeWitt Library Board president. “But, if that doesn’t pass, it looks like we’ll be closing by the end of 2014.”

Citizens Contribute

Even though the library is gets funds from taxes, these have decreased, which doesn’t help the library’s case to get more money. But, before this millage proposal happens, the library wants to get input from residents.

Citizens can also visit their website Photo Taken by Mike Moffat

Citizens can also visit their website
Photo Taken by Mike Moffat

“The only way the citizens could help us is help answer the survey we gave them so we can figure out what they want out of us,” said Youth Services Librarian Mindy Schafer. “Hopefully they can see this library as more than just a place to go for books.”

 

For questions or comments, contact Mike Moffat at moffatm2@msu.edu

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RESA Program helps students prep for college

By: Mike Moffat

Bath-DeWitt Reporter

Program Overview

Imagine being able to get hands on experience as a junior in high school and gain credits toward college. Clinton County’s Regional Education Service Agency program has 11 different courses for credit at Lansing Community College.

This program is available to all the schools in Clinton County, and runs during the whole school year. Students from DeWitt High School, Bath High School, Fowler High School, and others job shadow potential courses.

DeWitt High School is one of many that takes part in the program Photo taken by Mike Moffat

DeWitt High School is one of many that takes part in the program
Photo taken by Mike Moffat

Health Popularity

“Our most popular course being taken in this program has got to be allied health,” said Margo Hazelman, Clear Education coordinator. “It allows a wide variety of different options from students to choose from in the health field, from working with children, to working with the elders.”

The more popular topic in allied health is child development. The students travel to the Fuerstenau Early Childhood Center and host special events such as reading hours, or giving them the experience of teaching a child.

Early Childhood Center Photo taken by Mike Moffat

Early Childhood Center
Photo taken by Mike Moffat

“I really like seeing the students’ reactions when they get a first hand experience like this,” said Kathi Senita, principal at Fuerstenau Early Childhood Center. “It really helps them determine whether they are right going into this age group, or if they want to move up to higher education.”

“My favorite part about teaching this course is seeing the students make the connections with the real world,” said Karen Stutzman, allied health professor at Lansing Community College. “Their actions now can help reflect their future, and they really get a sense of why this program helps them prepare.”

Real Hands-On Experience

On the other hand, another popular course in this program is the construction trades class. This course gives the students an overall of the career building structure.

“We go to sites that are currently in progress and see what their layout is going to look like in the end,” said Ross Pope, construction professor at Lansing Community College. “The students can get a really good look at what goes into building the project such as the materials needed, the floor blueprints, the number of hours needed for the project, etc.”

Overall, these students get credit for participating in this program toward Lansing Community College and it gives them a nice head start going into college. Whether it is criminal justice, sports medicine, or emergency services, the RESA program has a spot for these students’ future.

 

For questions or comments, please contact Mike Moffat at moffatm2@msu.edu

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Bath schools move toward “blended learning”

By Brendan Smoker
Bath-DeWitt Reporter

Education proposal

 In President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union Address he mentioned the goal to connect 99 percent of all schools to broadband Internet. In this year’s address, Obama states, “With the support of the FCC and companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sprint, and Verizon, we have got a down payment to start connecting more than 15,000 schools and 20 million students over the next two years, without adding a dime to the deficit. “ The government plans on completing this task within the next four years.

Michigan State student Madeline Verklan studies elementary education and believes all schools should have Internet access. “School is meant to equip children and give them the tools needed to function in the adult world,” said Madeline. “(They) will have to use the Internet almost every day.”

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Bath Elementary computer lab.
Photo by Brendan Smoker

With such an incentive to get schools Internet access, it seems possible that there may be a transition from hard textbooks to Internet-based e-textbooks on tablets like the iPad.  This transition has the possibility to greatly affect Bath schools and most other schools throughout Michigan.

Benefits

 A major component that textbooks cannot match is the stimulating visuals and audio that comes with tablets. Third-grade teacher at Willow Elementary School, Paul Munson said that tablets “use a platform that is engaging and are more fun to use than textbooks.” The apps Munson uses for his classroom are “easier to navigate for students and keeps (their) interest longer,” he explains.

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Bath Elementary has mini-laptops in theirlibrary for students to listen to audio books.
Photo by Brendan smoker

Finding pros in using tablets, Bath technology directory, Doug Murphy explains that “most schools are using technology for what we call blended learning.” Blended learning uses both digital content and instructional content in the classroom, similar to how lots of college courses have both weekly on-campus classes and online material. “(Blended learning) is similar to what kids are going to do when they move on,” said Murphy, advocating for engaging students early on with tablets and the Internet. Continue reading

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“The Hothouse” performance at DeWitt High School

By Mike Moffat

Bath-DeWitt reporter

The Overall Play

DeWitt High School students performed for the first time “The Hothouse.” Written in the 1950′s by Harold Pinter, which is a black comedy about a group of people trying to solve a murder that it ends up in mayhem as they try to figure out who did it.

Cover of the play's program

Cover of the play’s program
Photo taken by Mike Moffat

“We chose this play because it primarily is very challenging,” said Jeff Croley, the head of the theater department at DeWitt High School. “It also is a timeless piece, and it really creates a sense of absurd theater.”

Feedback

Challenging was the common response when asked about the play.

The crew, consisted of only seven people, and they only had three weeks to work on this play when an average play usually takes a few months to complete.

But, that didn’t stop from them performing well each and every time out.

“At the end of every night, we would talk back with the audience to get their opinion on it,” said Geoffrey Croley, who plays the main role of Roote and is also Croley’s son. “They gave us positive reviews every night, and it felt good to hear that.”

Listing of cast members

Listing of cast members
Photo taken by Mike Moffat

Crew’s Ability to Mesh

Not only was the time factor a huge key, but also it really helped them develop the ability to handle tough situations quickly and to build the chemistry between the cast members. Students performed this play four times in a span of four days, twice at 7 p.m., once at 2 p.m., and once at 9 p.m.

“My favorite part of working on this play is how tight this crew is,” said Cameron Cleminson, who plays the part of Lush in the play “We really became a family over this three week period; it came to the point where we trusted each other no matter what.”

 

For questions, please contact Mike Moffat at moffatm2@msu.edu

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Bath Township’s school board appreciation meeting

By: Brendan Smoker
Bath-DeWitt Reporter

The Bath High School bees.

The Bath High School bees.
Photo by Brendan Smoker

Board appreciation

Mark Twain wrote in his novel “Huckleberry Finn” that “God made the idiot for practice, and then he made the school board.” Bath’s Board of Education’s meeting on Monday, Feb. 26 at Bath High School, took on the tone of Twain’s statement.

The meeting focused on appreciating the school board by distributing gift bags to each board member and displaying thank you cards from students in the Bath School District.

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A thank you letter directed to the Bath Township Board of Education.
Photo by Brendan Smoker

Video appreciation

Bath first-graders shared their thanks in a video in which they sing “we appreciate you.” The entire video was six minutes long, but Bath Elementary School Principal Zac Strickler assured everyone two minutes would be plenty to enjoy. “(The video) says a lot about the thoughtfulness of this community,” said Strickler.

Bath Superintendent enjoyed the video as well. “I know the board really appreciated the recognition from our high school and elementary students, especially the video with the first-graders singing,” Huffman said. “These acts of kindness are an example of what makes Bath such a great school and community.”

Senior trip 

Three Bath seniors gave a thank you presentation for a trip the school board donated funds to so that 48 seniors at Bath High School  could attend their senior ski trip. Each student shared pictures of their time at the resort.

Board of Education treasurer since 1998, Dean Sweet Jr., enjoyed the students’ presentation. “What the seniors did was great and I want to see more of it,” he said.

After hearing about the seniors’ ski trip, Michigan State plant biology grad student, Prateek Shetty comments, “Those kids very are fortunate. I was not able to go on my senior trip because I had to pay all of it out of pocket. Our school board would never be so generous.”

A big thank you

The presentations and thank you cards were a compilation thanks to the board for budgeting several class excursions over the past couple years,  as well as a new school bus.

Huffman values the school board and everything they do for the district. “Our school board is progressive and focused on offering excellent educational opportunities to our students,” said Huffman. “Our staff, from support staff to teachers, is top notch and student centered.  No child goes unnoticed at Bath Schools, and every child receives support in working to maximize their educational abilities.”

Future plans for the school board is “finishing our curriculum alignment, implementing a new teacher/administrator evaluation system, and beginning to use a new data warehouse,” said Huffman.

For questions contact Brendan Smoker at smokerbr@msu.edu

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Outstanding Citizen Recognition Award Handed Out

By Mike Moffat

Bath-DeWitt reporter

The Winner

An award was given to Curtis Thayer in DeWitt Township called the Outstanding Citizen Recognition award of 2013. Thayer was handed this award on January 27, 2014.

Thayer, or as his colleagues like to call him “Frog,” has been a resident of DeWitt for over 40 years now. His wife, Linda, didn’t even know about the award, but was very grateful that he received it.

About Thayer

“He has literally done everything for this city, especially the senior citizens,” said Mrs. Thayer. “He has helped mow their lawns, shovel their driveways, anything you can think of, he has done.”

This is one of the plow truck Thayer uses

Plow truck Thayer uses
Photo taken by Mike Moffat

Thayer is a volunteer fireman for DeWitt Township. His co-workers say that he is a favorite around the station.

Here is the Fire Department Thayer volunteers for

Fire Department Thayer volunteers
Photo taken by Mike Moffat

“He’s constantly helping the community because he is the type of guy who will put everyone else before him,” said Lt. King of the fire department. “He truly is a great candidate for the award, and he really deserved it.”

Nomination Process

Similar to the Outstanding Business Recognition Award given out within the township, board members have to nominate the recipient. The main difference between the two awards though is that this one focuses more on what the citizen has done as a whole to the community. Then, members vote on who gets it between the nominations, just like the business award. The person who nominated Thayer was DeWitt Township Clerk, Diane Mosier.

“I nominated Scott because he is the kind of citizen we all want to live next to. He’s familiar with everyone and helping others is always his first priority.” said Mosier.

Thayer looks forward to helping his community every day and every opportunity possible. He really loves what he is currently doing, and his favorite part is being in DeWitt.

“I’ve been here since 1976, and I’ve loved every second of it,” said Thayer “To receive an award like this is truly an honor and I hope that I can inspire others to help the community as much as I have.”

For questions, please contact Mike Moffat at moffatm2@msu.edu

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