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Low gas prices mean big savings, but do drivers notice?

By Blake Froling
Ingham County Chronicle

The pain most people experience when looking at the rising digits at the gas pump is slightly easier to bear nowadays.

Gas prices hit rock bottom in the past few months, reaching their lowest figures in years. But some consumers do not see much difference in the savings each time they fill up. Prices in Lansing dipped below $1.80 per gallon in January, the first time this has happened since late 2008. This should come as a welcome relief to drivers who had to shell out almost twice that amount in August.

“I have a really good car on gas mileage so it doesn’t affect me as much, but I do notice some savings,” said Brandie Yates, who has a long commute to work every day. “It’s great that the prices have been so low, but they won’t affect any of my driving habits.”

The savings are quite visible from this chart of gas prices for the past year.

The savings are quite visible from this chart of gas prices for the past year.

While the savings might be hard to notice, some simple math can show how the money adds up. For instance, as of Feb. 24, the average price for a gallon of gas in Lansing was $2.36. If a typical car uses 12 gallons of gas, the total cost would be $28.32. But if the price was $3.64 per gallon like it was last February, the total would be $43.68. That is a 54 percentage burden lifted from wallets everywhere.

Unfortunately for the consumers, gas prices have started to climb back up. As of Feb. 24, a gallon of gas costs 41 cents more than it did earlier. However, compared to the sky-high prices from last August, the current ones seem like a gift. Some drivers just do not see the savings.

“It’s not really that great of savings,” said Charlie Nunez. “I haven’t noticed any changes in my driving.”

According to Lansing Gas Prices, gas had not gone below $2.30 since 2009. Based on current price trends, It appears costs will continue to rise as summer approaches, so consumers should take advantage of the huge savings before it is too late.

 

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Expansion and Renovation of the Ingham County Medical Care Facility

By Darien Velasquez
Ingham County Chronicle

ngham County Board of Commissioners discussing the expansion

ngham County Board of Commissioners discussing the expansion

County Commission Chairman Brian McGrain supported the Ingham County Board of Commissioners decision to postpone the decision of expanding and renovating Ingham County Medical Care Facility at Tuesday’s meeting.

Ingham County Department of Human Services requested that the board authorize the expansion of the facility for additional bedding. The facility currently has 178 beds and will have 204 beds. The resolution passed and the facility has a three-phase expansion and renovation plan for further action.

The facility is located off of Dobie road and has accommodations which provide short and long-term medical care for seniors that are not performed in hospitals.

McGrain described the benefits the facility would bring to Ingham County and to local communities. “It’s a great idea to expand the facility because it will provide the additional beds and it’s nice for the senior community.” McGrain continued, “It has been decided and resolved that the Board of Commissioners authorize the expansion, it’s just a matter of meeting up with Ingham County Department of Human Services again and planning out all the details.”

According to the Board of Commissioners the cost must not exceed more than $20,000,000 million. The facility will be financed through its unrestricted cash reserve of $14,000,000 million and from a $6,000,000 million bond secured through Ingham County.
Board members unanimously approved the financial decisions as well as the overall resolution to go forward with the renovation and expansion.

Human Services will be meeting again with the County Commission to finalize and sign any necessary contracts and documents.

In a short interview after the board adjourned, McGrain described his views on the expansion, “The facility needs improvements and we’re ready to take further action, other than waiting for Department of Human Services we’re all good and ready. The facility already has rehabilitation and things like that but it’s a great idea to meet the space and expand on the types of services being provided.”

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Ingham County Board of Commissioners votes ‘no’ for Habitat for Humanity resubmission application

“It does not pass my small test either,” Commissioner Carol Koenig said at the Feb. 24 meeting about Habitat for Humanity's grant resubmission application.

“It does not pass my small test either,” Commissioner Carol Koenig said at the Feb. 24 meeting about Habitat for Humanity’s grant resubmission application.

By Jamie Brewer

Ingham County Chronicle

MASON, Michigan—Ingham County Board of Commissioners voted ‘no’ at the Feb. 24 meeting declining to grant Habitat for Humanity an opportunity to resubmit an application for the remaining allocated money for non-profit organizations.

Ingham County allocates $200,000 to non-profit community agencies that provide food, shelter, clothing or other basic human needs. In October the county allocated most of the money to organizations, with $1,250 left over. The board invited Habitat for Humanity to give it the opportunity to apply for the remaining funds.

Commissioner Brian McGrain wanted to find out a way to include Habitat for Humanity.

“I wanted to give them an opportunity,” McGrain said.  “A lot of these agencies tell us year after year that they’re really dependent on the small amount of money we’re able to give them.”

The application Habitat for Humanity submitted to be granted the remaining money was to help pay for a vehicle.

“The proposal they put forward to us was deemed not to, while they were an organization we funded in the past, fit human needs,” McGrain said.

Commissioners agreed the issue was concerning because the initial application did not fit the application requirements.

“We are now allowing them to re-do their application, and it sets a bad precedent that in the future if another agency submits a grant application and does not conform, are we going to give them the same opportunity to resubmit the application in conformity of our requirements?” Commissioner Bryan Crenshaw said.

A main concern at the meeting was that this was unfair to other organizations.

“There is another agency who requested funding at the same time and we decided to not give them the same opportunity to resubmit,” Commissioner Rebecca Bahar-Cook said. “I’m very uncomfortable with that, it doesn’t pass my small test and I will not be supporting this resolution.”

Representatives from Habitat for Humanity were invited to an earlier meeting to discuss some of the challenges they had but were unable to attend, according to Commissioner Sarah Anthony.

“Therefore we really felt uncomfortable taking any action to the resolution we had at this time,” Anthony said.

Bahar-Cook, who donates personally to Habitat for Humanity, said, “It’s nothing against Habitat. I think they are a fantastic organization.”

The board was directed by its attorney that the demands did not fit their requirements.

“They sent something to us that wasn’t determined to meet basic human needs.  So tonight the board said that just wasn’t part of the process,” McGrain said.

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Oak tree causes controversy among commissioners

By Kellie Van Maele
Ingham County Chronicle

INGHAM COUNTY- Cornell road, an area of natural beauty in Meridian Township, is home to approximately 450 trees, but one in particular is causing controversy. The 180-year-old oak tree is a part of the history of the scenic road, but its size is blocking the visibility of drivers.

The oak tree stands tall on Cornell road

The oak tree stands tall on Cornell road

“The tree is located on the corner of Cornell and Chaggal, a new road that leads to a developing subdivision,” County Commissioner Deb Nolan said. “Many people are concerned that the oak tree located on the corner is blocking visibility to drivers approaching the new street, but I don’t believe it is a concern or a threat to drivers. Rather than taking it down, we are asking for signage or even a speed bump.”

Although there are options to warn drivers of a potential loss of visibility, others say that the tree should be removed.
“My first concern when it comes to roads is public safety,” County Commissioner Randy Schafer said. “I believe in set policies and one of our policies is that drivers should always have a clear field of vision.”

Support for the tree has spread throughout the community and Michigan State University professor Leslie Kuhn decided to take a stance to try to preserve the tree.
In an email Kuhn wrote, “Cornell is a scenic beauty road, not a road slated for urbanization. If kept, it will stand as a living symbol of the beauty, history, natural heritage and vision of Ingham County.”

Kuhn’s efforts, along with the effort of 170 community members, caught the attention of Nolan.

“I agree in that the road is just gorgeous,” Nolan said. “It definitely deserves to remain a natural beauty road.”

To settle the controversy, Nolan proposed an idea to the 14 commissioners on Tuesday night.

“We are asking for a variance from what our road department standard practices would be,” Nolan said. “The normal practices would be to remove the tree.”

While a majority of 13 to 1 voted in support of the variance, commissioner Schafer’s concern for drivers’ safety did not waver.

“I know I was the only commission to vote against the proposal,” Schafer said, “but if I think I am right – I know I am right – that it’s a legitimate safety issue – then I do not deviate.”

The commissioners decided to leaf it at that.

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Rewarding Animal Lovers of Ingham County

By Ashley Jayne
Ingham County Chronicle
INGHAM COUNTY – From 6-9 p.m. March 26, animal lovers from all around Ingham County will gather at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center for the annual Humanitarian Awards Banquet. There will be dinner, awards and silent and live auctions. This event is hosted by the Ingham County Animal Shelter. The 2015 banquet will be the 10th annual banquet hosted by the shelter, and the third at the Kellogg Center, according to shelter volunteer and photographer Larry Hagedorn.
“I really feel that we have found a home at the Kellogg Center,” said Hagedorn.
According to the shelter volunteer coordinator and special events liaison Ashley Hayes, awards are typically given to shelter volunteers, sponsors and veterinarians. However, according to Hagedorn, awards can be given to anyone that the shelter feels deserves one.
“One year, we gave the Ingham County prosecuting attorney an award because a lot of counties don’t prosecute on animal abuse,” said Hagedorn. “We definitely do here. It’s not a good county to get caught in.”

Volunteer, Larry Hagedorn, gives attention to a cat in the shelter.

Volunteer, Larry Hagedorn, gives attention to a cat in the shelter.

The Humanitarian Awards Banquet primarily functions as a reward for shelter volunteers and employees. However, the event’s secondary function is fundraising. According to Hayes, proceeds from the auctions are put into the shelter’s Animal Care Fund. The fund is used for surgeries and expenses that are not included in the normal budget.
“The event is completely privately funded and paid for by sponsors,” said Hayes. “Last year about 170 people attended and we raised $6,000 for the Animal Care Fund, which was huge.”
While raising money for animals in the shelter is a rewarding experience, the best part of the event, according to Hagedorn, is acknowledging his fellow volunteers.
“I like seeing somebody, that I know does a lot of work, being appreciated,” said Hagedorn. “It gets me pumped up for another year.”
Hayes also enjoys the opportunity to reward the people she oversees as the volunteer coordinator.
“A lot of work goes into the shelter. Last year, we logged more than 15,000 volunteer hours,” said Hayes. “It’s nice to have a time when volunteers can just come and relax with each other and have a nice evening out. It’s like the Oscars of animal care.”
The Ingham County Animal Shelter has also partnered with a canine salon and training facility, Annabelle’s Pet Station, to put on the event. According to Annabelle’s Pet Station manager Rachel Kelly, they work together throughout the year to raise money for shelter events and the Animal Care Fund.
“This is the second year we have worked with the Ingham County Animal Shelter,” said Kelly. “We network and often discuss opportunities to work together such as doggy meet-ups and holiday events.”
Tickets are $50 and must be reserved by March 20 as seating is limited. Ashley Hayes can be contacted to reserve seats by phone at 517-242-7440 or by email at ahayes@ingham.org.

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Ingham County residents currently not concerned with May sales tax proposal

By Jamie Brewer

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 7.19.31 PMIngham County Chronicle 

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 7.19.44 PM

INGHAM COUNTY-The sales tax proposal to help fix Michigan’s roads has been the main concern for many politicians, but not for the residents of Ingham County.

On May 5 voters will decide whether to increase sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent to help fix Michigan’s roads, bridges and railways.

The proposal starting Oct. 1 that will raise $1.34 billion will go to fix transit and rail, schools, local units of government and restore the Earned Income Tax credits to low-wage workers that was cut back in 2011.

“Time frame is soon because we have to do something about our roads,” Gov. Rick Snyder said to legislative leaders on Dec. 18.

The proposal passed with two thirds of the vote from the House and Senate on Dec. 12.
The ballot proposal would increase vehicle registration fees by $45 million and fees for heavy trucks by $50 million.

This will end the 10 percent rollback new-car owners receive for three years after purchasing a vehicle.

Bill Conklin, managing director of Ingham County Roads Department, said about half of the roads in Ingham County need repairs and the increase would greatly help the amount of funding the department currently receives.

“There is a continued lack of maintenance,” Conklin said.
Ashley Lamb, manager of Lansing’s Lamb’s Gates Antiques, said the sales tax has not been a topic of conversation.

“It’s not even on our radar right now and customers aren’t even mentioning it,” Lamb said.
Grand River Bait and Tackle president Anna Werner does not think the proposal will affect her.
“Taxes go up and down. I wouldn’t have a second thought,” Werner said.

It is a toss up whether Michigan voters will approve the proposal because it is still early, according to Conklin.

“If people learn more they will have more of an open mind,” Conklin said. “Further information is needed” by the public.

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Should flu shots be optional or required?

Toddlers John Antonio and friend Michael hug each other goodbye at Happy Elephant local daycare.

Toddlers John Antonio and friend Michael hug each other goodbye at Happy Elephant local daycare.

By Darien Velasquez
Ingham County Chronicle

Ingham County – Ingham County parents are choosing to opt out of vaccinating themselves and their children especially. Why? Vaccination cases linked to autism have increased dramatically within the past few years. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses common during the winter. With vaccines readily available at places like Walmart and CVS, why are parents avoiding the flu shot? According to Sparrow Hospital, the number one reason parents are not vaccinating their children is because of the vaccine and autism controversy. With fewer vaccinated children, the absences in schools have gone up drastically.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccinations are very safe and effective and by getting a child vaccinated you can save that child’s life. Vaccinations do not only protect the children but they also protect the people around them. Local daycares like Happy Elephant strongly encourage vaccinations for the prevention of flu and germ spreading.

According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, 46 percent of children between the ages of 6 months and 17 years have received the influenza vaccination in the past year while 30 percent of adults between 18 and 49 have received the influenza vaccination.

Local mother Jennie Honey was asked how she felt about vaccinating her children she said,
“My daughter was not vaccinated for the school year and she ended up getting the flu and missing two weeks of school, I’m not sure if that’s why, but it’s got to mean something.”

One tip to help keep healthy this season is to get vaccinated. There are several flu vaccine options available this year. Keeping healthy also means avoiding close contact with other sick people, wash your hands, avoid touching eyes and mouth, and keep your work and living spaces clean and disinfected to help prevent the spread of germs.

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By Austin H. Goodman

Ingham County Chronicle

Stan Kogut Photo

Mason, Mich.,  ­– Commissioner Randy Schafer disputed the Ingham County Board of Commissioners decision to allocate Health Services Millage dollars to inmates needed psychological care at Tuesday’s meeting.

Item No. 24 was one of the items called to question, due to what Commissioner Randy Schafer referred to as “improper language of the millage.”

The Board was seeking to authorize a contract with the Community Mental Health Authority of Clinton, Eaton and Ingham Counties (CMH). The contract would allocate $144,000 from the Health Services Millage to the CMH in order to aid inmates of county jails with psychological issues that require extra care.

According to Ingham County Chairperson Brian McGrain, the community does not understand the severity of psychological issues on the inmates’ of county jails.

McGrain expressed the threat on the community that inmates could have if they are released without proper psychiatric services. “These are people who are low income, have severe psychological distress or psychological illness.” McGrain continued, “They are probably in and out of jail. We want to make sure that when they are in our care that they are receiving treatment. The last thing that we want to do is release people out into the public that were not receiving the type of care that they needed.”

The resolution passed but Commissioner Randy Schafer of district 13 said, “I will not be voting in favor of this item,” Schafer said, “The language simply just does not line up.”

In an interview after the Board adjourned Commissioner Schafer continued to speak on his strong views of misinterpretation, “The thing that bothers me a great deal, and when I am an elected official and I am getting information from staff or whoever, I expect the information to be very reliable and up-to-date, but the fact that it is not and we discover it, we need to make corrections.”

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Garage Sale and Flea Market

By Ashley Jayne

Ingham County Chronicle

In February 1997, antique traders Randy and Annette Wiles hosted the first annual Tiger Productions Garage Sale and Flea Market at the Ingham County Fairgrounds. Since 1997, the Wileses and other vendors have returned every year, making Feb. 7 and 8, 2015 their 19th annual show. For the 2015 show, 143 vendors came from all around southern Michigan. While some offered homemade items, such as knitted scarves and hand-painted birdhouses, others brought antiques they had collected to sell at the garage sale.
For commercial and industrial painter Mark Haskell, this year’s show was his first as a vendor. Haskell brought hand-painted

First-time vendor Mark Haskell displays his hand-painted items.

First-time vendor Mark Haskell displays his hand-painted items.

items including two vases, a canvas and some mason jars.
“I started to do some artwork around the house, and I felt like enough people were telling me I was good enough at it,” said Haskell. “I wanted to do some cheaper paintings and try to sell them.”
Craig Ferris brought his hand-crafted Native American art. On his tables were woven friendship bracelets, dream catchers, medicine bags and hair accessories. According to Ferris, all his products are made from materials used by Native Americans.
“I used to live on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota,” said Ferris. “I’ve been doing it for 30 years, and take great pride in using all of the real materials. It is all real glass, brass, fur and wood. I don’t use any plastic.”
Several vendors sold collected antiques at the show. Garage sale host Annette Wiles and her husband, Randy, displayed items ranging from old license plates to antique dolls to vintage jewelry. The couple had one of the largest booths in the arena and collects their merchandise from many places.
“We collect from auctions, antique sales and sometimes garage sales,” said Annette Wiles. “It’s good old stuff. That’s what I like to call it.”
Tiger Productions is owned by the Wileses and is a small business that promotes and organizes flea markets, estate sales and garage sales, including the annual Ingham County Garage Sale and Flea Market.
“The turnout here is great, every year,” said Wiles.
The 2015 show seems to be no exception as the Wileses estimated that more than 3,100 people attended the event.
The attendance of the event is exciting and encouraging to the vendors. According to Ferris, his profit from the garage sale has motivated him to sell his products at the Ingham County Sports Show on Feb. 20, 21 and 22. Haskell also found success at the event.
“I have already reserved my spot for the show next year,” said Haskell.

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Dia de la Mujer Conference makes its way through East Lansing

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By Darien Velasquez
Ingham County Chronicle

Save the date for the 22nd annual Dia de la Mujer Conference. This conference is a way to embrace and explore Latina culture and diversity. According to Assistant Coordinator Maria Serrato, one of the main goals of the conference is to break down stereotypes and encourage Latinas and women in general to overcome the restrictions and difficulty that all women face on a daily basis.

Latinas from all over the states are holding workshops and exhibits which focus on Latina empowerment through their stories and successes. There will be 20 workshops that focus on topics like health, education and self empowerment. The conference is also held to discuss concerns within the many communities that Latina women share. Not only is the Dia de la Mujer a way to appreciate other cultures but it is also a way to meet other people who value in creating a better community as a whole.

The guest speaker this year will be Maria Hinojosa. Hinojosa is an award-winning anchor and executive producer of the weekly National Public Radio show Latino USA. The radio show is dedicated to focus on Latino issues. Hinojosa is extremely active within the Latino community. Her main objective is to be the voice for the Latino community in ways that others have been silenced. Maria has been named one of the 100 most influential hispanics by Hispanic Business magazine for her journalism work for CNN, NPR, and CBS.

When advertising student Tiffany Nagy was asked how she felt about this conference she said
“I feel like it’s a great way to raise awareness in the Latina community.”

The conference will be held on Saturday, March 21, 2015 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Michigan State University Kellogg Center. There will also be hotel accommodations reserved at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center.

The conference is organized through the Office of Cultural and Academic Transitions at Michigan State University. The office is responsible for constructing cultural social events to bring people together within the community.

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