Veterans are a shrinking part of county’s homeless population

By Xin Wen
Ingham County Chronicle Staff Reporter

Around 6.5 percent of people living in Ingham County — 14,808 residents — have veteran status in Ingham County, according to the Census Reporter web site.

And the number of those who are homeless is quickly dropping. The total count of homeless veterans in the city of Lansing decreased from 485 to 241 during the year 2015, according to the 2015 homeless data from City of Lansing Human Relations and Community Service Department.

U.S Department of Veterans Affairs is committed to ending homelessness among veterans. There were 2,490 veterans who received VA Disability Compensation or Pension benefits during 2015 in Ingham County, according to a report.

Thompson said she was glad to see the result.

“Lansing and the state Michigan Veterans Agency have been working very hard to move the vets from the homeless shelters to their places, most likely with HUDVSH assistance,” said Brook Thompson, a veteran, the board chairperson of the Michigan Women’s Commission and the representative on the veteran subcommittee. “In the last three years there has been a statewide effort to coordinate better support activities for vets, so it is more of a ‘one stop shop’ kind of activity. I am glad to see that it appears to be working.”

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Bus Rapid Transit could replace CATA’s Route 1 bus

Number one bus at Meridian Mall about to depart to downtown Lansing. Photo by Griffin Wasik

Number one bus at Meridian Mall about to depart to downtown Lansing. Photo by Griffin Wasik

By Griffin Wasik
Ingham County Chronicle Staff Reporter

A $143 million proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system could be finished as soon as 2018. The BRT would run from the Capitol to Meridian Mall via Michigan and Grand River avenues. It would also add a designated bus lane, remove current bus stops, and add traffic signals, according to Meridian Township documents.

“The total cost of the BRT is not $133 million,” John R. Veenstra, a Trustee member on the Meridian Township Board of Commissioners, said. “Many people are getting this confused. That is the construction cost, not the total cost. The total cost is approximately $143 million.”

The BRT would replace CATA’s Route 1: Downtown Lansing to Meridian Mall. Route 1 serves the Michigan and Grand River avenues corridor and provides as many as 6,900 trips per day when school is in session, making it CATA’s busiest route, according to CATA.

Bus stop in downtown Lansing, where the number one bus begins its route to the Meridian Mall. Photo by Griffin Wasik

Bus stop in downtown Lansing, where the number one bus begins its route to the Meridian Mall. Photo by Griffin Wasik

“The BRT is a project CATA is working on behalf of the entire region,” Laurie Robison, CATA Director of Marketing, said. “It is a transportation system that is very much like a rail system, but it uses high capacity buses that will operate in dedicated, or shared, bus lanes.”

“The BRT is a transformational project that will serve to enhance CATA’s efficiency in delivering quality public transportation services and maximize the number of people who travel through the corridor – not just today but into the future; it is expected to stimulate new business development and the economy (a phenomena that, in present times, is ostensibly evident); enhance traffic flow and pedestrian safety; improve our region’s multimodal transportation network, mitigate congestion; create jobs and placemaking … the list goes on,” Robison later said in an email.

“In certain places they would take out and devote specific portions of streets or create another lane in places for the bus to go,” Scott Witter, professor at MSU’s School of Planning, Design and Construction, said. “The main thing is to keep car traffic out of that lane. I think in front of campus, that’s not the case. But certainly from the west side of campus on into the Capitol, they would add lanes into those places.”

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Gun crimes dipping in Michigan

By Andrew Merkle
Ingham County Chronicle Staff Reporter

Guns have a negative connotation for many Americans these days. Most news reports Americans see about guns describe the most recent mass shooting on United States soil or terror attack overseas. These stories can create the perception that gun crimes are on the rise, and sometimes the media is blamed for stirring the pot.

In Michigan, however, gun crime is not on the rise. In fact, gun crimes have dipped in the past decade.

According to annual crime reports released by the Michigan State Police, the state of Michigan has seen a relatively consistent dip in reported weapons offenses since 2005. There has been an even more noticeable decrease in the number of murders in Michigan throughout the same time period.

The number of weapons offenses per year in the state of Michigan has been generally constant after a stark decline that began in 2006 and lasted until 2009. Chart by Andrew Merkle. Source: Michigan State Police.

The number of weapons offenses per year in the state of Michigan has been generally constant after a stark decline that began in 2006 and lasted until 2009. Chart by Andrew Merkle.
Source: Michigan State Police.

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Schools are not immune from discrimination

By Xin Wen
Ingham County Chronicle Staff Reporter

Discrimination is a wide problem in modern society, and schools are not immune.

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Since 2010, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights received 1,305 education contacts. The department has started 445 educational complaint investigations.

“Individuals can first file a complaint with us and then we will start our investigation process,” said Mark C. Bishop, who is the strategic partnership coordinator at the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. “If you file the complaint, we will first do the investigation and find out what’s going on for the complaint. Then we can make a decision that is this the discrimination.”

Bishop said even though it’s an individual experience, the issue can be much bigger once the issue is determined. The department will have a long and efficient complaint investigation process to protect everyone’s rights.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

Meridian Township Municipal Building. Photo by Griffin Wasik

Meridian Township Municipal Building. Photo by Griffin Wasik

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. “We are going to have to find other funding sources for that, probably both federal and state money. Our budget will not allow us to do that by ourselves.”

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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.

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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.

Mason High School. Photo by Griffin Wasik

Mason High School.
Photo by Griffin Wasik

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. This will allow us to provide more devices at the hands of our students and teachers. We will also improve our infrastructure and wireless internet capacity.”

If approved, the millage rate would increase to 6.85 mills, which is still one of the lowest rates in Ingham County, according to officials at the meeting.

Homeowners would approximately have to pay $13 more per month for every $100,000 in market value of their home, according to officials at the meeting.

The bond will address the overcrowding issue in the district by building a new fourth/fifth grade building. Today, the district’s elementary schools average 484 students, but were designed for an average of 405 students, according to officials at the meeting.

“The new four/five grade building will immediately release the overcrowding in the elementary schools,” Drzewicki said. “It will take the fourth- and fifth-graders of the current kindergarten through fifth grade buildings and allow those buildings to breathe. There will be more space for classrooms and less traffic because the fourth- and fifth-graders will be going to the four/five building.”

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