Category Archives: Community

Ingham County: A Changing Community

By Alexa McCarthy
Ingham County Chronicle

Stephanie Vanis, born and raised in East Lansing and a junior at East Lansing High School, is starting her college search and hesitant to got to Michigan State University.

“I don’t want to go to MSU because I think it’s a bad school or because I don’t like it, but rather because I’ve been here my whole life. I want to leave.” For Vanis, getting away from the family and what’s familiar is a draw just like for so many other people her age.

Vanis says she feels the stress to stay close to home and save money because there are plenty of opportunities close by.

Sitting in her family’s restaurant, Vanis says she feels the stress to stay close to home and save money because there are plenty of opportunities close by.

While Vanis may just be starting to explore what her post-high school life will be like, she represents a similar mentality for area high school and college students

For many years, young professionals, college students and recent college grads have not seen the Ingham County area as anything more than a place to go to college for four years. This is something that the Ingham County area is trying to change perceptions about.
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Ingham Votes ‘Yes’ for Health and Parks millages

By Alexa McCarthy
Ingham County Chronicle

Ingham County residents voted ‘yes’ for both county millages in Tuesday’s midterm elections. The Trails and Parks millage won with a margin of 54 percent to 45 percent. The Ingham Health Plan millage was renewed with a wide margin of 70 percent to 29 percent. Both results are with 100 percent of precincts reported, according to unofficial election results.

Trails and Parks Millage

The Ingham County Trails and Parks millage will be a .5-mill levy, or 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value for six years. The millage will cost an Ingham County resident who owns a $100,000 house $50 per year. The millage will raise $3.2 million in the first year for a county system of recreational trails and adjacent park trails.

The idea for the millage was originally brought to the county commissioners in 2012 by Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero to regionalize the trails and parks in the county. The proposal was put on the ballot in August 2014.
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Fun Events at Potter Park Zoo

By Akshita Verma
Ingham County Chronicle

The Potter Park Zoo, on South Pennsylvania Avenue in Lansing, has many family oriented events coming up in the fall and winter.

The main events of the fall season are Boo at the Zoo and Tailgate for the Animals, and the main events for winter are Wonderland of Lights and a beer and wine tasting event.

Potter Park Zoo let's their peacocks wander aroudn outside of their cages.

Potter Park Zoo let’s their peacocks wander aroudn outside of their cages.

The Potter Park Zoo isn’t like other zoos, according to Special Event Coordinator Jen Rostar.

“We will never be the biggest zoo around,” said Rostar. “The Potter Park Zoo is focused on wildlife conservation and education programs, and we work with many endangered animals.”

Therefore, most of these events are fundraisers for the zoo.

The Potter Park Zoo focuses on children from kindergarten all the way to Michigan State University students. These education programs, according to Rostar, help bring awareness on caring for animals, especially endangered species.

The first event coming up is Tailgate for the Animals. The Potter Park Zoo website says that the event is on Oct. 4, 1 to 3 p.m. According to Rostar, Oct. 4 is also the day that the residents of Ingham County visit the zoo for free.

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Potter Park Zoo Animal Hospital Set for a Makeover

By Alexa McCarthy
Ingham County Chronicle

Architects from Design Level Architecture revealed the phase one design plan for a new animal health-care and teaching facility to the Potter Park Zoo Board On Wednesday, Oct. 9.

Plans for a new health-care facility are part of the zoo’s master plan conceived in 2010. According to the zoo’s website the plan’s goal is “to improve not just our exhibits and our grounds, but our education and conservation missions, our visitor experience, and our sustainability.”

The original designs for the zoo's Master Plan in 2010. The location of the proposed heath care facility has since moved to the west side of the park.

The original designs for the zoo’s Master Plan in 2010. The location of the proposed heath care facility has since moved to the west side of the park.

Zoo Director Sheri Graham said that the original plan was to work on the new Great Lakes collection first, but since that developed in 2012 the zoo decided to move the health-care facility higher on the to-do list. While the zoo currently has a center to treat sick animals, it’s no bigger than a classroom and contains X-ray, treatment and surgery all in one room. “We’ve had as many as 30 people in there working on a tiger!” said Graham. “And it gets crowded.”

The updated plan designs a whole new building that will be located on a hill, west of the zoo entrance. “We wanted to make sure the hospital is on the perimeter of the zoo campus and has significant space, so that we can take an infectious animal to MSU without dragging it through the whole zoo.”

While the board may want to keep sick animals a safe distance from the rest of the zoo, the design does not hide the facility. The building will also be used as  teaching. he new design emphasizes  visitor engagement, with windows to treatment and surgery rooms that create a controlled viewing environment.

The design is a collaboration between C2AE architecture, engineering and planning firm out of Lansing and Design Level Architecture from Columbus, Ohio.

Tracy Kameoka of Design Level Architecture presents the new design for the health care facility. She said working with the coexisting site was one of the important elements of creating the design.

“The main reason this team was chosen was for their experience and expertise in animal care facilities,” said Graham. Design level has worked on 11 zoo projects including projects in Cleveland, Milwaukee and Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida.

“Animal hospitals have to be safe for humans and animals,” said Douglas Barga, an architect on the project. “And those two things often challenge each other.” Compared to the zoo’s current one-room facility the new design has multiple rooms for surgery, X-ray, quarantine and animal holding rooms. The design is similar to a human hospital in the sense that it creates “straight-forward circulation” that emphasises efficiency and safety.

Something that zoo visitors may not know is that before a new animal can be released and live with other animals in an exhibit, it must be quarantined for 30 days to ensure it is virus-free.  Design Level wanted to accommodate the zoo’s need for special quarantine rooms.

Another thing the firm focused on was the existing site and the natural beauty within the park. “This zoo is unique because it is in a park, with a view and we had opportunity to take advantage of that,” said Kameoka. “It is unlike other zoos that are contained within a city.”

The building design is meant to co-exist with the natural surroundings and the firm wanted to create a continuation between the outside and inside elements as a way to invite visitors in. The firm emphasized that visitor engagement with treatment rooms was extremely important to the design and a way to encourage education.

While the back of the building will be used as a loading dock and animal entranceway, the front outdoor patio will be used as a space to rent out for parties and receptions.

Kameoka said, “Every zoo project we work on is more innovative than the last, and this will be one of the most functionally efficient plans out there.”

While the design mock-ups are not for public display yet, the zoo is anticipating moving forward with the design in spring 2015.

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County marks Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Sara Marino looks on as friends and families of victims share their stories at a candlelight vigil, hosted by the Michigan Women’s Historical Center.

Sara Marino looks on as friends and families of victims share their stories at a candlelight vigil, hosted by the Michigan Women’s Historical Center.

By Alexa McCarthy
Ingham County Chronicle

Sexual assault has seen a spark in public interest that is partially due to recent domestic violence incidents involving NFL players Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy and Jonathan Dwyer that has thrust the issue into the public eye. It is a problem that many, including Mary Keef, executive director at Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, feel will no longer be brushed aside as it has in the past.

Evolved from the “Day of Unity” held in October 1981 and conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed in 1987.

Sara Marino looks on as friends and families of victims share their stories at a candlelight vigil, hosted by the Michigan Women’s Historical Center.

“It’s going to be more than just purple ribbons for us to make this big change and you’re witnessing that right now,” said Keef. “She explained that it’s not about the money, but rather the public awareness and a call for change that puts stricter policies in place.
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Animal Shelter hopes fun events will place more animals

By Erin Eschels
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer

Shelter volunteer Trisha Struck plays with an adoptable dog

Shelter volunteer Trisha Struck plays with an adoptable dog

With large numbers of shelter animals, the Ingham County Animal Shelter has been eager to find fun ways to show the community the animals it has to offer. Recently, the shelter hosted the Humanitarian Awards Banquet to honor those who dedicate a lot to the shelter. The next major event is the annual Woofer Walk 2014, where dogs and their owners participate in a 1.5-mile walk around Michigan State University’s campus to raise money for homeless animals. During June 13-14, the 30-hour Adopt-A-Fest will take place at Potter Park Zoo to bring awareness to the animals in need and increase adoption opportunities.

Besides the annual events, the shelter also has weekly events to showcase its animal residents, such as the Dog Walking Club and the mobile, on-site adoption appearances.

Humanitarian Awards Banquet

The annual awards banquet, held March 13, was a way for Ingham County to recognize members of the community that help with the animals.

“The media that helps and the volunteers are given awards, as well for certain things like the extreme foster award, or those that volunteer over 500 hours, or those in the community that help with monetary donations or advertising for free, things like that,” said Cinnamon Simpson, an awards selection committee member and adoption counselor for the shelter.

Woofer Walk 2014

“We have big things coming up, mainly the Woofer Walk on May 17,” said shelter volunteer Jackie Gates. “We walk on the MSU campus along the river, it’s really beautiful and it’s a fundraiser for the animal care fund, so it’s a great cause.”

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After perfect year, Animal Shelter close to breaking euthanization streak

By Erin Eschels
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer

Volunteer Jackie Gates works at a pet adoption event at Petco in Lansing Charter Township, Michigan

Volunteer Jackie Gates works at a pet adoption event at Petco in Lansing Charter Township, Michigan

The Ingham County Animal Shelter went all of 2013 without putting down a single animal because of overcrowding. This year, the shelter is struggling to find room with animals coming in every single day, said Director Jamie McAloon-Lampman.

Last year, the shelter took in a little more than 3,300 animals, which was less than normal. In 2012, with more than 3,500 animals coming through the shelter, staff was forced to put down almost 150 animals due to the lack of space. However, this year’s peak summer season of the shelter is quickly approaching. In May through August, the number of animals brought in daily is overwhelming for the shelter’s staff and volunteers.

In hopes of continuing their streak of no animals being put down, volunteers at the shelter run mobile adoption events for on-site adoptions just about every Saturday to increase awareness of the animals.

“These programs that are all funded by donations and all handled with volunteer labor, are what’s actually reducing those numbers of unwanted animals in the community,” said McAloon-Lampman. “That’s what you have to do, reduce that number and then your shelter won’t have to work as hard at finding homes.”

For these weekly events, “the shelter will send some animals that they believe might do well in the mobile area,” said adoption counselor Cinnamon Simpson. “Most of the time, if there are animals in foster, this is the only exposure they get other than the websites.”

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Potter Park Zoo Board welcomes new member, discusses military discount

By Kyle Koehler
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer

The Potter Park Zoo Board met Wednesday, Feb. 12 to welcome Kyle Binkley to the board and discuss a military discount.

Binkley is a Lansing native who graduated from Lansing Everett High School. “I’ve always enjoyed (the zoo),” Binkley said.

Binkley works for the state of Michigan and found the position when he was looking for volunteer opportunities in his community.

“This and the city position came up,” Binkley said. “I applied to both.”

The board also discussed the possibility of offering military discounts.

“From time to time, we get asked if we do military discounts,” said Sherrie Graham, the zoo director at Potter Park Zoo. “We don’t.”

Graham said she recently received a message from the National Guard, asking if the zoo would consider having April as Military Discount Month.
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Tri-County Regional Planning Commission look to residents and professionals for brainstorming sessions

By Missy Sebring
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer

The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission asked members of nearby communities and professionals from across the country to put their heads together on ways to improve the Michigan Avenue and Grand River Avenue corridor with a charrette. A charrette is a planning and design session for problem solving.

While these changes won’t happen overnight, they will give the planning commission direction on what the community wants for the future. Open houses and design sessions were held in Lansing and Okemos from Oct. 22-30.

Rick Brown, a member of Tri-County Bike Association, went to the final work-in-progress presentation on Oct. 30 in East Lansing. He said that a major discussion item was the CATA bus rapid transit system and where the endpoint should be.

“They discussed what spaces would be for that terminus end station,” said Brown. “The Best Buy site, the mall site or the Meijer site.”

The planning commission has not made any final decisions, it is just hoping for feedback from the community. It also discussed ways to increase density in areas so that there would be businesses on the main floor and housing above, especially in the Frandor area. The recycling and energy coordinator for Meridian Township, LeRoy Harvey, said that energy use is tied to global change.

“How do we develop and include things like the environment, economy and social well-being as we grow and evolve as a community and as a region?” said Harvey. “If we can save energy, we can address economic and environmental issues.”

Harvey also said it is important that places are created where people want to be.
“Places that are interesting, attractive, fun, full of cultural amenities, and places where you want to hang out,” said Harvey. “Places that are accessible and convenient and rich in the arts.”

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Onondaga Township hopes to purchase Baldwin Park from Ingham County

By Missy Sebring
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer

Onondaga Township approached Ingham County this year hoping to purchase Baldwin Park from the county and assume responsibility of upkeep and management. The director of parks for Ingham County said it seems to be in favor of this plan because the park is not a lot of work, but is 12 miles from the park center.

“It will just continue to get better because the county doesn’t have the time and resources to manicure it on a daily basis,” said the director of parks for Ingham county, Willis Bennett.

The township felt like this was the right time to take over the park for a combination of reasons.

“It is not a lot of upkeep for the park and we got a new board last year,” said Onondaga Trustee, Russell Bodell. “We are already paying money to the county and the park seems to get less attention every year, so why not take care of it ourselves.”

Bodell said that a master plan is in the works for the park that should take effect once the park is officially owned by the township. The Ingham County Planning Commission will discuss this item during their meeting on November 5 and Bodell is hoping for approval by mid-December.

The master plan includes a hiking trail, a BMX trail, and a canoe and kayak boat launch. They are also hoping to renovate the bathroom, pavilion and fence by the road. Bodell said the township has received minimal oppositions with about one percent or less thinking it is a waste of the township budget.
Bodell said it will rely a lot on volunteers to donate time and hopefully form a group to brainstorm ideas to make the park better every year.

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