Meridian Township helps those in need

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 12 percent of Meridian Township residents are living below the poverty level. For those who are struggling, Meridian Township has many resources and programs for families in need. One is Meridian Cares. Darla Jackson is a human services specialist for the Meridian Cares program. Jackson helps families with finding shelter, covering utilities, rent to avoid eviction and even help with medications and furniture.

In Williamston, running a business, being a mother is a juggling act

The house at 5108 Barton Road in Williamston looks like any other house. There are trees out front, a few cars parked in the driveway and a garage door wide open, giving people a glimpse of the backyard. All seems normal until the sound of dogs, chickens and alpacas fill the air. Yes, alpacas. In the backyard of this home lies Circle 6 Alpacas, a fiber production farm that houses 30 alpacas, one goat, three horses, two dogs, five cats and 10 chickens.

Calls for national cattle tracking system follow Michigan’s success

By CRYSTAL CHEN
Capital News Service
LANSING – Michigan was the first state to implement a mandatory cattle traceability program. Michigan was prompted in 2007 by an outbreak of bovine tuberculosis to better track beef and dairy cattle from the farm to the consumer. All Michigan cattle must be identified with radio frequency identification (RFID) ear tags before they are moved. The tags are scanned by readers when they leave a farm or go to a slaughter house. A state database tracks their location.

New invasive plant plan fights monarch nemesis

By CASEY HULL
Capital News Service
LANSING —  A new invasive species management plan may help state agencies combat intrusive plants — and rescue wildlife at risk. That’s good news for the monarch butterfly which has declined in numbers and lost its habitat because of  the black swallow-wort. The invasive vine displaces milkweed, the butterfly’s source of food. It is also poisonous to monarch caterpillars. The vine grows predominantly in Southern Michigan.

Solar power changes cause critics to sizzle

By CASEY HULL
Capital News Service
LANSING — A new order by the Public Service Commission (PSC) will reduce savings for homes deciding to generate electricity from solar energy, according to some lawmakers. And that means less savings and reduced incentives for anyone hoping to save money by adding solar panels to their home. The solar power community is upset by the change and some legislators are attempting to reverse the effect of the ruling. Under the order, utility companies will have to pay solar households only the wholesale cost for the energy they produce. Utilities must pay a household or small business for putting energy into their grid.

Campaign against plastic straws picks up speed

By AGNES BAO
Capital News Service
LANSING – People like plastic straws, but they’re not good for the environment, experts say. Using plastic straws “cause problems in a variety of aspects,” said Mick DeGraeve, the director and senior environmental scientist at the Great Lakes Environmental Center based in Traverse City. “Straws are small, and people just inadvertently or intentionally leave them lying on the sidewalk,” said DeGraeve, adding that they not only spoil natural beauty but also harm wildlife. Animals might ingest plastic straws that aren’t digestible. Every day, Americans use 500 million plastic straws — enough to fill over 125 school buses — according to a report from the Eco-Cycle, a nonprofit recycler based in Boulder, Colorado.

European wine shortage might not affect price of Michigan wine

By RILEY MURDOCK
Capital News Service
LANSING – While poor weather in Europe appears poised to raise wine prices worldwide, Michigan’s own grapes might grow unhindered. According to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine, wine production hit a historic low in 2017, spurred by poor weather in the European Union and other important producers.  
However, Michigan vineyards might not raise their prices just to fall in line, according to Chateau Grand Traverse Winery President Eddie O’Keefe. Most smaller wineries depend on direct-to-consumer business, such as in-person tastings or mail order sales, rather than retail stores, where they compete side by side with higher-priced European wines, O’Keefe said. That’s why many Michigan wineries won’t see price spikes from market forces.

Electric cars fighting for fuel in Michigan

By RILEY MURDOCK
Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan’s automotive future is looking more electric. Consumers Energy and DTE Energy, the state’s two largest utility companies, have announced pilot programs in the coming year that will study the number and efficiency of charging stations and consider improvements to promote the adoption of electric vehicles. The Public Service Commission has held two conferences  on “alternative fuel” vehicles to encourage public discussion of the state’s role in electric vehicle charging, said Nick Assendelft, the media relations and public information specialist for the commission. Participants raised questions about the regulatory framework, such as whether users would pay directly for charging stations or through utility companies, Assendelft said. Pilot programs discussed included initiatives by Consumers Energy and DTE Energy to partner with automakers and charging station companies in places like Ann Arbor and Detroit, Assendelft said.