Proposal 1: Improvements to Michigan roads and transportation come at high cost

By Brittanie Chludzinski
Entirely East Lansing

Dodging potholes and avoiding crumbling roads have become common burdens for Michigan residents.

“I don’t think it’s a secret to anyone that drives on our roads that they have gone from bad, to worse, to dangerous,” Roger Martin, a spokesman for the Safe Roads Yes campaign said.

The future of the state’s roadways will be determined by the results of the May 5 ballot proposal, which will ask voters to support an increase in both the state gas tax and the state sales tax in order to raise revenue for Michigan’s roads, bridges and transportation.

Proposal 1 would eliminate both the sales tax and state tax on fuel and replace it with a new wholesale fuel tax. As the first gas tax increase since 1997, Martin said every penny of the wholesale tax would be spent on road repairs and transportation.

In addition, the proposal would raise the state sales tax on non-fuel products from 6 percent to 7 percent. As the 6 percent sales tax on fuel currently funds public schools and local governments across Michigan, this penny increase on the retail sales tax would prevent the new fuel tax from creating holes in school and city budgets.

“Finally, we will have a tax system in place that is actually sending all the state gas taxes we pay to fix our roads and bridges,” Martin said.

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MSUFCU expansion means opportunity for company and community

By Savannah Swix
Entirely East Lansing

A plan that began over two years ago will finally go into motion as Michigan State University Federal Credit Union receives approval to build a $43 million expansion at its headquarters in East Lansing. Construction of the three-story, 187,300 square-foot office building is expected to begin in June of 2015 at the 2800 State Road property.

Credit Union Chief Executive Officer April Clobes said that the company’s success, as well as employee and membership growth, has contributed to the need for the additional space.

The headquarters, according to Clobes, holds close to 500 employees and the next building is projected to hold a similar number.

“We have about 200,000 members right now and 642 employees,” said Clobes. “A little over 220 (employees) are in our branches, so that means 400-450 employees are in this building. Then, if you have our growth in the next few years, we’ll be out of space.”

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#EastLansing

By Megan McDonnell
Entirely East Lansing

East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas introduced a new social media marketing campaign during a joint meeting between the East Lansing Public School Board and City Council on March 31.

East Lansing residents holding a #EastLansing pamphlet.

East Lansing is now operating its own hashtag, #EastLansing, on various forms of social media.

A hashtag is something used on social media websites, such as Twitter, and is a word or phrase that is accompanied with a hash sign (#) to link messages on a certain topic.

“So what this does is … show everybody who has an interest in following the city, what different venues (it’s) available on,” said Lahanas.

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New parking meter app may come to East Lansing soon

By Andrea Urban
Entirely East Lansing

East Lansing parking administrators are working with a company on an app that might allow you to pay for your parking meter through the app on your phone.

The newly installed IPS meters that will work with the app.

The newly installed IPS meters that will work with the app.

The app is called PassportParking Mobile Pay. It’s the first pay-by-phone service provider to offer different forms of mobile payments.

PassportParking can be used and synced only with a specific type of parking meter. IPS meters connect with the mobile app, manage data, process credit and debit cards, and accept quarters.

PassportParking would let you check your meter by its number. You would be able to see how much time is left on the meter, get alerts for when the time is almost up, and have the option to renew the meter just by using the app.

IPS Group, a telecommunications and parking company, that has created these IPS meters that are technologically advance and that the app would work with.

On April 9, the city’s parking administration installed 10 new IPS meters on Albert Avenue and Charles Street. The city plans on testing these 10 meters for 90 days before purchasing more.
“The IPS meters cost about $500 each, but they are more efficient and up to date with the technologies available today,” said East Lansing’s parking administrator, Dan O’Connor.

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Proposed East Lansing construction – “I’m worried about the trees.”

500 albert

The proposed construction site of 500 Albert Ave.

By Megan McDonnell
Entirely East Lansing

Approval for construction has not yet been given for East Lansing property owner Lingg Brewer to turn two of his properties into a four-story, mixed-use building in East Lansing’s City Center Commercial District.

Brewer’s application for a Site Plan and Special Use Permit approval for 500 Albert Ave. and 122 Division St. was discussed during the East Lansing Planning Commission meeting on April 8. The proposed property will contain 13 apartments as well as approximately 1,000 square feet of non-residential space, according to the application.

Directly next to 500 Albert Ave. is The Wild Goose Inn Bed & Breakfast, owned by Al Bay. Along the property line of Bay’s inn and Brewer’s current building at Albert Avenue is a stretch of trees, which tower above both properties. Continue reading

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Michigan faces new FOIA request regulations beginning July 1

By Brittanie Chludzinski
Entirely East Lansing

New legislation under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) will require government bodies to enforce a comprehensive policy and modify specific procedures for responding to FOIA requests beginning July 1.

FOIA Infographic

Government entities will be expected to provide the public with detailed guidelines for submitting FOIA requests, including information on estimated charges and opportunities to appeal the public body’s response.

Aside from encouraging more accountability within Michigan government, East Lansing FOIA Coordinator Marie Wicks said the amendments focus on reducing the costs for the public requestors.

“Some cities see it as a revenue stream, but it cannot be this because that defeats the whole purpose of being accountable and transparent,” Wicks said.

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MSU’s renewable energy initiative

By Sean Deters

Entirely East Lansing

 

A panel that included Michigan State President Lou Anna K. Simon spoke about the university’s growing role in alternative energy research and development. The conversation was streamed online at energytransition.msu.edu. on April 8.

Michigan State will end its coal use entirely by the end of 2016, according to Simon. The other panelists were optimistic about the role that Michigan State is currently playing and what the future holds for sustainable energy practices.

“Michigan State is ideal to lead this campaign because we generate our own electric and thermal power, we have enough land to try new solutions and we are a top research university with leading experts to try and solve the energy problem,” said Wolfgang Bauer, a senior consultant for admission services at Michigan State.

Customer First Renewables, located in Maryland, is working with the university to build wind turbines on campus.

“These efforts will save Michigan State money in the future,” said President and CEO of Customer First Renewables, Gary Farha.

Implementing energy policy that is clean, reliable and affordable is not only suitable for the environment, but for students who want to work in the renewable energy field as well. Gary Rochow, vice president of customer experience for Consumers Energy, said the partnership between Consumers Energy and Michigan State provides students with job opportunities.

“We want progressive, well-educated students to come work for us,” said Rochow.

Simon said the energy transition is going to change how professors teach and how students learn. In the next 20 years, teaching and learning will be more hands-on and technology intensive.

Simon urged the Michigan State community to make the energy transition a priority and to set the example for others to follow.

“Part of this is a cultural change, not a technology change. The real challenge for Michigan State is to not chase numbers, but to think about renewable energy on a regular basis and lead a truly spartan green lifestyle,” said Simon.

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Chili cook-off heats up East Lansing

 

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Carly Giles hands out chili outside of Leo’s Coney Island on Albert Avenue.

By Sean Deters

Entirely East Lansing

Harper’s Restaurant and Brew Pub won the East Lansing chili cook-off.

Eight restaurants participated in the chili cook-off that took place in downtown East Lansing on March 28. Participants  competed for the Golden Spoon Trophy, bragging rights and  $300 in advertising supplied by the East Lansing Downtown Management Board.

Competitors included Beggars Banquet, Buffalo Wild Wings, Cosi, Harper’s Restaurant and Brew Pub, HopCat, Leo’s Coney Island, Potbelly Sandwich Shop and What Up Dawg? Samplers were asked to rate the color, aroma, flavor and heat of each restaurant’s chili.

Amanda Lapres, who works at HopCat, was optimistic about winning the event.

“Just look at how the chili glistens in the sun, the color is beautiful and it tastes delicious,” she said.

While some had stations outside, other restaurants set up their chili stations indoors. Matt Post, who was managing Harper’s during the cook-off, not only viewed the cook-off as a great community event, but an opportunity to turn a profit as well.

“I’m hoping people will buy a beer to go along with the chili,” said Post. “Ours is pretty spicy and a cold beer is the remedy,” he joked.

A few restaurants offered cheese and peppers as toppings while others including Cosi provided bread as a complement to the chili. Lansing Community College Sophomore Mariah Dulmage said the bread along with the chili made Cosi the winner in her mind.

“The chili alone is great, but dipping the bread in it takes it to another level,” she said.

“I liked how theirs was green,” Dulmage’s friend Kara Blattler added. “Everyone else’s was red… Cosi stood out from the rest,” said Blattler

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ELHS Athletics pursue safety and efficiency with Spartan Performance

By Savannah Swix
Entirely East Lansing

On March 18, the East Lansing High School Athletic Department announced its partnership with Michigan State University’s Spartan Performance.

East Lansing High School Athletic Director Tom Hunt said the partnership aims to help athletes realize the bigger picture of athletic performance and health.

“It was our desire here to have a more systematic approach to conditioning and training, incorporate nutrition and sports psychology,” said Hunt. “We’re not just getting the biceps and the muscles, we’re getting the whole athlete to perform at a high level, the highest level that they can.”

Athletic Director Tom Hunt outside of his office at East Lansing High School.

Athletic Director Tom Hunt outside of his office at East Lansing High School.

Spartan Performance is a training and athletic research organization that educates athletes about nutrition, how to avoid injury and improve their game.

“Our mission is to provide young athletes in the mid-Michigan community with services related to testing, training, sports nutrition and sports psychology,” said Joey Eisenmann, director of Spartan Performance.

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Get a Taste of East Lansing April 25

2014 Taste of East Lansing (courtesy of City of East Lansing Facebook)

2014 Taste of East Lansing
(courtesy of City of East Lansing Facebook)

By Chris Boggus
Entirely East Lansing

All residents of the Lansing area will be able to gather downtown, April 25, for the fourth annual Taste of East Lansing. There will be 15 food vendors, live music, and children’s activities from 3-6 p.m. that Saturday.

“Two dollars per ticket: one dollar goes to the vendor, and one dollar is split between the Community Relations Coalition and our community sponsor, which this year is Capital Area Housing Partnership,” said Megan Clark, assistant to the city manager. “It’s a joint fundraiser, and a good opportunity for vendors because it gets their name out there, and supports two nonprofit organizations.”

Clark (left) and Annette Irwin holding the Taste of East Lansing promotional flyer.

Megan Clark (left) and Annette Irwin holding the Taste of East Lansing promotional flyer.

Clark is on the board for the Community Relations Coalition.

“The primary purpose of the organization is to create a really good foundation between students and permanent residents, and it has really morphed into a community-building function,” said Clark. “Every year we hire ten interns that are funded through the CRC and they are partnered with an East Lansing resident who helps take them under their wing.”

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