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$190,038 in Land Grants to Farmers Markets

By Akshita Verma
Ingham County Chronicle

A total of $190,038 in federal land grants will help the Michigan Farmers Market Association and Allen Neighborhood Group expand both size of the market and access to local farmers, according to U.S. Sen Debbie Stabenow’s office.

Allen Neighborhood Farmers Market

Allen Neighborhood Farmers Market

The grants, announced Sept. 30, come from the 2014 Farm Bill signed into law by President Obama.

“The reactions have been pretty positive, and I think it is a positive thing,” said Lizy Ferguson, market manager of Allen Street Farmers Market.

Michigan Farmers Market Association will receive $99,660 and Allen Neighborhood Group will receive $90,378.

“The money will go toward promoting the indoor market,” said Ferguson.

The outdoor farmers market is open only until Oct. 22, but the indoor market will run year round, according to Ferguson.

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Ingham County Animal Shelter

By Akshita Verma
Ingham County Chronicle

Ingham County Animal Shelter has many different types of dogs up for adoption

Ingham County Animal Shelter has many different types of dogs up for adoption

The first thing one notices when walking into the Ingham County Animal Control Shelter is a room full of cats of all different colors and personalities.

Some cats are energetic while some are hostile. All are in need of a home.

Finding a home for domesticated animals is the shelter’s job, according to Volunteer and Special Events Coordinator Ashley Hayes.
“We house all domesticated animals,” said Hayes. “We have had everything from birds, lizards, snakes and guinea pigs. We even get farm animals like pigs and goats.”

The Ingham County Animal Control Shelter was established in 1971, and all of its basic needs are paid for by the county.
“The county provides food, water, and shelter for the animals. However, special events, special programs like low cost vaccinations, these things are covered by donations by the public,” said Hayes.

The public can help the shelter pay for their programs and events by attending the multiple fundraisers the shelter does throughout the year, according to Hayes.

According to Hayes, there was a fundraiser just last saturday to raise money for a new shelter. Right now, there is a fundraiser to help cover costs for New Pets for Vets.

“New Pets for Vets, on Nov. 8, is an events we do to honor Veteran’s Day,” said Hayes.

After this, there will be a fundraiser to help cover the cost for the lower adoption fees that the shelter will do for their holiday open house and their holiday all nighter.  Continue reading

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Ballot Buzz: Millage proposal would connect trails

By Cameron Billes
Ingham County Chronicle

The Ingham County trails and parks could soon be upgraded.

Ingham County Parks Department director Willis Bennett reviews the potential trails plan.

Willis Bennett reviews the potential trails plan.

In the Nov. 4 election, a trails and parks millage proposal will be on the ballot to create, upgrade and maintain the recreational trails and parks through 2019. If the proposal passes, approximately $3.2 million will be raised within the first year. Continue reading

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Functional illiteracy rises in Lansing area

By Whitney Bunn
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer

Read to Succeed volunteer Allison Kramer works with student, Debora, on her reading skills.

Read to Succeed volunteer Allison Kramer works with Lansing area student Debora on her reading skills.

Can you read a pay stub? Understand the directions on a bottle of medicine? Read a menu?

Many adults in the Greater Lansing area can’t.

Adults who are functionally illiterate cannot read above a third-grade level and struggle with everyday tasks.

Between 2000 and 2012, the number of adults in Lansing with a high school diploma has dropped by one percentage point, while those with college degrees have increased by two percentage point. The smart are getting smarter, as the amount of those who lack higher education continue to fall.

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Rebecca Klegon, a senior student in the College of Education at Michigan State University, is completing her pre-internship at Attwood Elementary School in the Lansing School District.

“I think there is a huge literacy problem,” she said.
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Ingham County in search for new director of animal control

By Chris Gray
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer

Donations, monetary and otherwise, make up a large portion of the shelter’s budget. An increased focus on fundraising was one of several ways former director Jamie McAloon-Lampman improved the shelter.

Donations, monetary and otherwise, make up a large portion of the shelter’s budget. An increased focus on fundraising was one of several ways former director Jamie McAloon-Lampman improved the shelter.

The Ingham County Animal Shelter is seeking a new director after Jamie McAloon-Lampman, the leader of the department for nine years, resigned Feb. 5 to take a new position out of state.

McAloon-Lampman implemented several changes to the department, which now features an on-site surgical suite, a new position to investigate animal cruelty and adoption events throughout the year. McAloon-Lampman also increased fundraising dollars and volunteer hours to levels the department has never experienced, leaving big shoes to fill for the next director.

The board of commissioners established a committee to search for a new director. Commissioner Rebecca Bahar-Cook is the chairperson of the eight-person committee. Bahar-Cook said the county will look for qualified candidates to ensure the department retains its level of success.

“We are looking for a candidate that will maintain the quality of the stay for the animals and save as many as possible by trying to find a good home.” Bahar-Cook said.

Before working for the county, McAloon-Lampman worked for the humane society. As a result, the department fosters the qualities of a shelter instead of a typical “catch and kill” animal control.

“It is hard to go from a humane society background to animal control,” Bahar-Cook said. “We were very fortunate.”  Continue reading

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Commissioners pass resolution calling for equality in Michigan

By Chris Gray
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer

A resolution calling for recognition of same-sex marriages in Ingham County was met with praise and opposition from commissioners.

A resolution calling for recognition of same-sex marriages in Ingham County was met with praise and opposition from commissioners.

The Ingham County board of commissioners had a 40-item agenda for their March 25 meeting that included a resolution calling on the state of Michigan and its attorney general to recognize the same-sex marriages performed in the county over the weekend.

 On March 21, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman ruled that Michigan’s voter-approved 2004 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. At the time, Bernard’s ruling briefly allowed same-sex weddings. County Clerk Barb Byrum opened her office to wed same-sex couples on Saturday but was unable to continue during the week because a stay was issued a short time later – meaning the ban was back in effect.

Byrum took advantage of the public comment period during the meeting to discuss how Saturday’s opening of the County Courthouse became possible. Byrum said all but one employee was able to work on Saturday, which allowed her to issue marriage licenses before Monday, the next official business day.

“I couldn’t sleep that Friday night knowing that I would be making so many couples who have waited decades to marry their partner wait two more days,” Byrum said.  Continue reading

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County Parks Department eyes millage in November election

By Chris Gray
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer

Since 2009, the Ingham County Parks department has had less money appropriated toward its general fund every year. Funding for the 2012 fiscal year was $1.22 million which is 62% of the amount appropriated in 2009.

Since 2009, the Ingham County Parks department has had less money appropriated toward its general fund every year. Funding for the 2012 fiscal year was $1.22 million which is 62% of the amount appropriated in 2009.

The Ingham County Parks Department is eyeing a potential millage to help increase its budget to make up for shortfalls in past years and improve park services across the county. The millage is still in the early stages of planning but could be on the ballot for Nov 4.

For the millage proposal to make it to the ballot, it must first be approved by the County Services Committee. The proposal has been a topic of discussion at recent meetings and will continue to be. Once the County Services Committee has decided on language for the millage, it will move on to the county commissioners. The 14 commissioners have the final say on whether the millage should proceed to voters.

Because the millage is still in planning, there is no definite amount or timeframe yet. According to Willis Bennett, director of the Ingham County Parks Department, the amount could be equal or less than a previous millage proposal of 0.5 mills.

If passed at 0.5 mills, the millage would cost $50 for a homeowner of a house with a market value of $200,000, raising millions of dollars for the parks department. The length of the millage has not been decided.  Continue reading

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Ingham County 4-H, a springtime tradition

By Whitney Bunn
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer

Spring is in the air. The birds are chirping, and the cows are … moo-ing?

4-H clubs around the county are gearing up for the 160th Annual Ingham County Fair this August.

Ranging from livestock sales to dog agility to sewing, 4-H participants around the country make final decisions in early spring about the projects they will pursue at the fair.

The 4-H organization emphasizes hands-on learning, promoting teamwork, responsibility and cooperation, said Carol Fanson, leader of the Aurelius 4-H Club in Ingham County.

Fanson, an active member of Ingham County’s 4-H community for more than 50 years, manages a club of more than 75 members.

“At this point in the spring, it’s time for the kids to decide what they’re doing,” said Fanson. Continue reading

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Illiteracy in Ingham County is a ‘huge problem’

By Whitney Bunn
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer

How does literacy in Ingham County stack up?

According to Andrew Falk, not very well.

Falk is an intern for the Capital Area Literacy Coalition (CALC), a nonprofit organization that specializes in promoting literacy growth in the Lansing area.

Falk said that around 35 percent of Lansing citizens are functionally illiterate, meaning they have trouble with basic reading, writing, speaking and computational skills – things like reading a menu or understanding a paycheck.

The Downtown Lansing branch of the Capital Area District Libraries boasts a large children's section to foster literacy learning.

The Downtown Lansing branch of the Capital Area District Libraries boasts a large children’s section to foster literacy learning.

Most literate adults are unaware of the major problem of illiteracy in the United States, said Falk.

“We have a variety of programs. We encompass all age groups into the literacy bracket because everybody in Lansing basically needs help,” Falk said.

Rebecca Klegon, a senior student in the College of Education at Michigan State University, is completing her pre-internship at Attwood Elementary School in the Lansing School District.

“I think there is a huge literacy problem,” she said.

Working with a sixth-grade class for the 2013-2014 school year, Klegon notes that nearly three-quarters of her students read below the standard reading level for sixth-graders.

Klegon said most of her students come from low-income families. “I don’t feel like they have enough opportunities to read at home,” she said. Continue reading

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Winter leaves roads in tough shape

By Whitney Bunn
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer

With this season’s whale of a winter, county commissioners have had to deal with the county’s roads on top of their regular responsibilities.

This past winter season wreaked havoc on Ingham County roads.

This past winter season wreaked havoc on Ingham County roads.

Last year, Ingham County eliminated its independent road commission, opting to absorb the county’s road duties into its own agenda.

In February of 2012, Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation allowing a county’s government to absorb their county road commissions with the hope that this plan would bring efficiency and accountability to local governments.

At the time the bill was signed, Michigan had 81 county road commissions – nearly half were not accountable to the county government.

Ingham County became one of the first counties in the state to absorb its previously independent road commission.

A very mild winter greeted the bill in its first year of adoption. Now in its second year, the severity of winter has struck without relent, and the Ingham County Board of Commissioners is facing the reality of winter and its side effects on county roads. Continue reading

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