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.

East Lansing schools working to educate homeless children

By Xin Wen
Ingham County Chronicle Staff Reporter

EAST LANSING — Kris Chapman, the director of special education for East Lansing schools, addressed the McKinney-Vento Act at a recent meeting of East Lansing Board of Education. Chapman said the primary purpose of the act is to aid educational opportunities for students who have been through homelessness. “Children who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence could ask for help and contact the program,” she said, “ The McKinney-Vento Act would assurance for educational stability to the homelessness like immediate enrollment, free breakfast and lunch, transportation, title services, clothing and school supplies such as backpacks.”

Chapman said students’ parents do not need to have the typical documentation that is usually required, such as vaccination records, to enroll immediately. Chapman gave the examples of situations where children and youth fall within the M-V law. “Children and youth who share housing due to the loss of housing, economic hardship or similar reason, live in motels, hotels, trailer parks or campgrounds due to lack of alternative accommodation, live in emergency or transitional shelters or live in cars, parks, public spaces and abandon buildings, await foster care placement are all of the examples of situations,” she said.

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.

Ingham County population much more mobile than state, national averages

By Xin Wen
Ingham County Chronicle Staff Reporter

The percentage of people who are geographically mobile in Ingham County is nearly double the rate in Michigan and even the national percentage. In Ingham County, 27.4 percent of people have moved since the previous year, according to the censusreporter.org.The national rate of geographically mobility people is 14.9 percent, while the percentage in the state of Michigan is also at 14.9 percent>. Data from censusreporter.org showing that the percentage of population moving within Ingham County is 14 percent, which is about 1.5 times the rate in Michigan. Data from censusreporter.org showing that the percentage of Ingham’s population moving from different counties is 10 percent, which more than double the rate in Michigan. Hillary Henderson, a real estate agent working on the Coldwell Banker Hubbell BriarWood, said the most of customers she faces recently are Michigan State faculty.

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.

Ingham County residents stunned, disappointed by prosecutor’s arrest

By Griffin Wasik, Andy Merkle, and Xin Wen
Ingham County Chronicle Staff Reporters

Ingham County residents were stunned, shocked, and disappointed upon learning that Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III was arrested due to a human trafficking investigation. Tina Timm, a professor at the School of Social Work at Michigan State University, said she was stunned with Dunnings’ arrest. “He was such a strong advocate to eliminate those issues,” Timm said. “It’s fascinating to me, the louder they protest something, and the more of a psychological need there is to actually do these things behind the scenes. “Dunnings’ wife also filed for divorce.

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.

County to seek grant for park and landing renovations, construction

By Xin Wen
Ingham County Chronicle Staff Reporter

At the Feb. 29 Ingham County Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, there was a recommendation to the Ingham County Parks Department to apply for grants to renovate the overlook shelter and picnic area at Burchfield Park. The department would apply to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for a Recreation Passport grant to fund those renovations and also the construction of a canoe/kayak launch at McNamara Landing for the purpose of providing a universally-accessible landing site. Jeff Dehl, the manager of Burchfield Park, said the grant money would improve public accessibility and enhance recreational experience, promote recreational activity and healthy lifestyles, promote local tourism, and create economic benefits, among other benefits. Laura Granger, from the Washtanong, a non-profit river conservancy, said she totally agrees with theidea and the commission can try to gather voluntary contributions of money or other resources through fundraisers.