Lansing Community College students express concerns about parking costs

By Derek Nesbitt
The Lansing Star

LANSING — Lansing Community College students expressed concerns Monday, Oct. 29, about public parking in Lansing and how big of an expense it can be for college students. But it turns out the students were unaware of parking discount cards available to the public.

Anyone, including students, may use the discount card known as the V.I.P card for parking structures at any time, which allows a discounted rate of 70 cents per hour, according to Lansing Parking Services supervisor Susan E. Wyatt.

Lansing Parking Services supervisor Susan Wyatt posing in office

Lansing Parking Services supervisor Susan Wyatt posing in office

Wyatt also said it would be less expensive for a student attending school or someone working in the downtown area to park in a structure during the time period of class or work, while errands would be easier to run parking a vehicle at a meter instead of a parking structure.

According to the city of Lansing Parking Services website, parking rates vary by location and facility.

Student Aireyana Jones said parking in Lansing can be ridiculous with rates that are too high for college students driving to campus to attend class.

“Lansing is a city where kids go to school and are expected to pay high rates for parking such as 65 cents an hour, which is high for a college student like myself,” said Jones. “Sometimes when I finish two classes in one day, I spend almost $10 on parking because Lansing Community College has no student parking.”

Jones said before leaving home each day, she tries to remember to gather enough change for meters so she can avoid parking tickets but also tries her hardest to avoid driving to campus for that specific reason.

“I try not to drive to campus by riding with someone else so I don’t have to worry myself about parking tickets because of parking meters,” Jones said.

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City Council sets Nov. 10 for public hearing on snow removal ordinance

By Connor Hansen

The Lansing Star

LANSING — The Lansing City Council has set Nov 10 to be the date for a public hearing for an ordinance that would change the policy on snow removal from residents’ sidewalks.

“What we have before us now is a resolution that instead of a notice being given when an infraction was committed, what would happen is there would be a general notice telling everybody at the beginning of the snow season that this is a city requirement. If you don’t do it then the city will come in and clean it and then you will be billed,” Carol Wood, at large member of the Lansing City Council, said at the Oct. 27 meeting.

Residents will be given 24 hours to clear the snow and ice after the snowfall before the city can clear it and automatically bill them.

The current ordinance, in effect last winter, requires the city to send a letter in the mail notifying residents of the snow or ice on their property, and then eventually send contractors to clear it and charge them. Wood said that since mail now has to go through Grand Rapids instead of Lansing, notices can take much longer to reach property owners.

Wood said a potential problem with the ordinance is that the public would be notified of their responsibilities only through advertising in one news publication.

“Unless I’m reading every public notice, it’s one of those things that can often be missed,” Wood said. “The administration has indicated that they’ll try a number of things such as putting it on our webpage, putting in in the Board of Water and Light bill and a number of different avenues, but the ordinance only requires notification in a public newspaper so it always depends on who happens to be responsible at what time and if they’re following the letter of the law.”

For Lansing resident Ryan Best, simply putting the notice in a public newspaper will not be enough.

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In a matter of weeks our now dry sidewalks will be bombarded by another Michigan winter. (Photo by Connor Hansen)

“My grandma might read it, because she also lives in Lansing and she might tell me, but that’s the only way I hear about things written in the local newspaper,” said Best, who lives on S. Magnolia Street in Lansing and attends Michigan State University.

Wood expressed concern about the city even being able to meet this 24 hour deadline for clearing its own sidewalks.

“The City has a number of sidewalks that they are responsible for that are around parks, public buildings and things like that and often our sidewalks are not cleared within 24 hours after a snow event,” Wood said. “I personally would expect that if I’m telling somebody else to do something, I better be doing it myself and I better be doing it in a timely matter, so I as a council member would want to make sure that before anybody is sent out to clean anybody’s walks, that ours are done first.” Continue reading

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Not too late for Lansing residents to pick up absentee ballots

By Ryan Squanda
The Lansing Star

Lansing – It’s nearing the eve of Michigan’s statewide general election on Nov. 4, but according to Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope, there’s still time for residents of Lansing to get an absentee ballot in.

“But you need to act quickly,” he said in a press release Wednesday morning.

According to the press release, in addition to being able to go into Lansing City Hall Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. to complete the ballot, voters in Lansing will have expanded opportunities for walk-in voting hours at the South Washington Office Complex Election Unit throughout this week. The office, at 2500 South Washington Avenue, will stay open later on Wednesday, Oct. 29 until 7 p.m. and on Saturday, Nov. 1 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Continue reading

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Lansing schools administrator seeks to decrease suspensions

By Asha Johnson
The Lansing Star

 

Lansing – Often when students have behavioral issues in school they are suspended, but Assistant Superintendent Diana Rouse of the Lansing Schools believes a suspension only worsens the situation rather than making it better for that child.

Schools exist to help children learn and grow, Rouse said, and it is only fair to keep them in school and get help from qualified teachers.

“Having students off the streets and in school works for students and parents. Students suspended need very clear home guidelines,” Rouse said.

According to Rouse, suspensions vary depending on what the student did and to the extent as well as how many times the child has done it.

“We have behavior specialists and student assistant providers in the schools,” said Rouse. “They work on changing student behavior.”
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Sparrow Hospital and Carson Health continue toward full integration

By Josh Thall
The Lansing Star

Lansing — Sparrow Hospital and Carson Health are working on a deal to fully merge with each other to be able to profit from the other’s strengths.

Carson Health has been an affiliate of Sparrow Hospital since 1997. The two boards have signed a letter of intent and hope to have a formal agreement to integrate by the end of 2014, according to a press release issued by Sparrow.

Director of Marketing for Carson Health Jaime Cassady said Sparrow has owned between 30 and 35 percent of Carson Health since 1997, and  the two sides have had a strong relationship since then.

Carson Health, located in Carson City which is approximately 47.5 miles northwest of

Sparrow Hospital in comparison to Carson Health.

Sparrow Hospital in comparison to Carson Health. Photo credit Josh Thall.

Lansing is much smaller than Sparrow. Carson Health has approximately 61 beds in its facility, according to the press release, while Sparrow has around 630 beds available for patients, according to Sparrow’s Director of Marketing John Foren.

Financial details of the deal were not released.

Foren said Sparrow and Carson integrating now is partly a result of natural outgrowth of the positive relationship which already existed between the two, and the nature of the healthcare environment.

“What you are seeing in the healthcare environment is people collaborating a lot more,” Foren said. “It is harder for smaller hospitals to stand on their own.” Continue reading

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Potter Park Zoo holds “Boo at the Zoo”

Chloe Huard
The Lansing Star 

Spiderman and his family look at the otters. Photo by Chloe Huard.

Spiderman and his family look at the otters. Photo by Chloe Huard.

LANSING – The scene at the Potter Park Zoo on Sunday was a colorful din of children, animals and children dressed as animals. Small superheroes ran toward the otter exhibit with glee, while dozens of Elsas skipped around singing “Let It Go.” Parents sipped cider and watched with amusement as their children tried to navigate a hay barrel maze.

During the last two weekends in October, Potter Park hosted “Boo at the Zoo,” a yearly event that allows children and their families to visit the zoo in their costumes, see the animals and trick-or-treat around the park.

“We wanted to give (the kids) an opportunity to see the animals and dress up and just have a good time for Halloween,” said father of two Andy Bossory, who brought his children to the zoo because he had been there before.

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In addition to an animal interaction center, guests visited many Halloween-themed attractions. Zoo employees were on hand to make the experience memorable for everyone in attendance by passing out candy and talking about the zoo’s animals.

“I’m trained to handle the animals and talk about the education stuff because I’m a teaching assistant. So I help out with all the classes,” said new zoo employee Lindsey Berg while holding a rabbit out to a family. “Do you guys want to touch the rabbit?”

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Lansing Police Department work to make Lansing a safe environment

By Derek Nesbitt
The Lansing Star

LANSING – With problems occurring across the country between police departments and the citizens they’re sworn to protect, a Lansing Police Department information officer said Lansing police continue to work to make Lansing a safer environment and build relationships with their residents.

“We work with the community non-stop and a part of our big resources is that we’re very effective; at least 200 strong,” Police Information Officer Robert Merritt said.

Merritt stated that the feedback and help police receive from the community is very important toward making Lansing a safer environment. Leaders in different Lansing communities work with the department to help make the environment a safer place to live.

“Most definitely we’re on board with the community; we meet with them communicating what we have for data and what they have for information,” Merritt said.

Rikkiyah Manning, 18, a communication student at Lansing Community College, agreed that the Lansing Police Department works toward making Lansing a safer environment and building relationships with their residents.

Lansing Community College communication student Rikkiyah Manning posing in front of Tim Horton's

Lansing Community College communication student Rikkiyah Manning posing in front of Tim Horton’s

“The Lansing Police Department take their job very serious but I know it’s for a good cause,” Manning said. “Everywhere I go, I see a police officer helping out with at least one person in the community and they are always on patrol.”

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MSU students not attracted to Downtown Lansing

By Ryan Squanda
The Lansing Star

LANSING – In addition to serving as Michigan’s Capital city, Lansing is home to over 113,000 people. Filled with its many shops, bars and restaurants, there’s no question Lansing offers leisure and activities to people from all over the area.

Downtown Lansing is less than a four mile drive down Michigan Avenue from MSU's campus. (Photo by Ryan Squanda)

Downtown Lansing is less than a four mile drive down Michigan Avenue from MSU’s campus. (Photo by Ryan Squanda)

And with nearby Michigan State University just a four mile drive down Michigan Avenue from Lansing’s Capitol building, one would think the downtown area would attract a good number of the students that make of MSU’s 50,085 enrollment number.

However, after talking to numerous Michigan State students, The Lansing Star has found this not necessarily to be the case. Continue reading

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Lansing School Board approves contract extension for superintendent

Peter Spadafore to the left, Yvonne Caamal Canul center.

Peter Spadafore to the left, Yvonne Caamal Canul center.

LANSING — The School Board unanimously voted to extend current Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul’s contract through 2018 at its Oct. 16 meeting.

Board Secretary Veronica Wood refused to release details of the contract and insisted that a Freedom of Information Act request be filed. However, the district issued a press release on Oct. 16 saying that Canul would not receive an increase in pay from her current $180,000 annual salary.

Board President Peter Spadafore said before the vote that the contract extension would give the board a “solid number of years to focus on a consistent vision and leadership.” Then, speaking for himself, he said that he was pleased being able to extend the contract.

Board member Amy Hodgin voted yes but then asked why the contract was being extended now, when the current contract runs through 2015.

“We determined after the start of the school year that it was important to the district to demonstrate that there was consistency in the leadership and that the board was supportive of that consistency to go ahead and extend the contract,” Spadafore said in response to Hodgin’s question.

Canul’s executive assistant, Janelle Jenkins, said the superintendent was too busy to respond to questions about her goals through 2018.

Spadafore said Canul was providing good leadership for the district.

“(Canul’s) got some very good ideas; she’s working on a cohesive district strategy so that education around Lansing makes sense,” Spadafore said. “So that everyone across the district has the same educational experience, the same good educational experience.

“We’ve also seen for the first time since 2001, enrollment has stabilized in the district.”

Taxi driver and Lansing resident Chris Gathof said he supports the decision to extend Canul’s contract if she can perform the required duties. Gathof provided a few things he would like to see changed throughout the district.

“I would like to see far less school violence in schools and a very big crackdown on bullying,” Gathof said.

“As a cab driver, I sometimes drive children to school. The amount of books that these children carry has to somehow create medical problems for some,” Gathof said. “I would like to see a way that those books can be digitized into a format that a actual hardback is no longer required.”

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Bullying: Underreported or overrated?

By Asha Johnson
The Lansing Star

LANSING — Bullying isn’t taken lightly in the Lansing School District, but according to Dr. M.J. Garcia, there have been some misunderstandings of what bullying is and what it isn’t.

Garcia is a recently retired educator who taught middle and high school in the Lansing School District and also taught at the college level. He said that when it comes to bullying, there is nothing new under the sun.

“After having 30 years of education up under my belt, I have seen all types of bullying, so believe me when I say bullying isn’t overrated because there are so many forms of it,” said Garcia.

There are several levels of consequences that students in the Lansing schools have to undergo if they are accused of bullying, but people differ in their opinions of what the word bullying really means.

A question that arose several times at the Lansing School Board meeting on Oct. 16 was how to differentiate between someone being bullied and someone being over-sensitive.

“It is said that often times students don’t report that they are bullied because they are afraid, but that is no longer my concern,” said Lansing’s Board of Education Vice President Myra Ford. “My concern is for the students who may joke around with others and become labeled as a bully for something that wasn’t intended to do any harm.”

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Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul and President Peter Spadafore at a recent Lansing School Board meeting. Photo by Asha Johnson.

Bullying, Garcia said, is situational and conditional. If a friend comes up to you and pushes you, you might think he or she is joking around, but it’s different if someone who you aren’t well acquainted with shoves you to the ground. They are the same action but one is bullying and one is not, depending on the interpretation and/or circumstance.

“You must be completely clear on the reaction of the recipient and intent of the giver when it comes to bullying,” said Garcia in a phone interview.
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