Saving Lansing Eastern High School

By Ryan Squanda
The Lansing Star

LANSING – It’s Friday morning at Lansing Eastern High School, and Principal Donna Pohl doesn’t have a second to spare. In just the last 30 minutes of her busy morning, Pohl has worked on a task on LEHS’s third floor, made her way back down for the morning announcements and is already on her way to complete the day’s next mission.

“Let’s walk and talk. We multitask around here,” she says as she makes her way to set up for in-school truancy court before she’s scheduled to meet with someone in a little over 10 minutes.

“As the leader of this building, I have a lot of hats to wear.”

This is a sight that can be seen a lot these days at Lansing Eastern High School. Ever since 2002 and the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act, Eastern has been recognized by the Michigan Department of Education in some variation of what’s known today as a “Priority School” – meaning it falls within the bottom 5 percent of public schools in Michigan in terms of student performance in mathematics, reading, writing, science and social studies and graduation rate data.

For Eastern, they score below average in several of these categories and more. Continue reading

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Lansing’s Roads Continue to Crumble

Chloe Huard
Lansing Star

The cracks in Lansing’s roads widen each year. Photo by Chloe Huard.

The cracks in Lansing’s roads widen each year. Photo by Chloe Huard.

LANSING — The path to Lansing is not an easy one. Potholes surround the sides of many roads and cracks have begun to widen in more than one place. The city itself is little better. While the roads around the Capitol building have been kept in good shape, it only takes a short walk to see the state of disrepair return.

Last winter’s polar vortex saw the city of Lansing suffer freezing temperatures and power failures for several weeks straight. Mayor Virg Bernero issued a snow emergency that prohibited non-essential travel and shut down non-essential government offices. And, in the wake of last winter, the terrible conditions left behind a more permanent mark on the road system of Lansing.

conditions summary from the city of Lansing shows the critical conditions. Nearly 70 percent of Lansing’s roads need either capital preventive maintenance or structural improvement.

Lansing citizens are well aware of the state of their roads.

“The potholes are ridiculous,” said Gail Ericks, who moved to Lansing 15 years ago. “Everything underneath my car, I swear, is damaged.”

“We’re in a situation where we have some of the worst roads in the country and part of that is that we’re sitting in a climate that has a lot of frost-free cycles. We’re also sitting in an area geographically that has a lot of clay underneath the ground,” said president of Superior Asphalt Jeff Kresnak. “We have a lot of swamps in Michigan versus a lot of other states..so when you look geographically at where we sit as a state with all the rivers and streams and farmland it contributes to us having a lot of heavy soils underneath the roads, which creates problems with the roads buckling.”

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Delta Township looks to buy Grand Woods Park from city of Lansing

By Ryan Squanda
The Lansing Star

LANSING - With the approval of 56 percent of voters, the city of Lansing has been given the green light to sell the 128-acre Grand Woods Park, located at 4500 Willow Highway.

The park runs along the Grand River and has many amenities to offer, including a picnic shelter, a pavilion, playground equipment, a fishing pond, nature trails and a softball field.

For now, the likely buyers of the park appear to be Delta Township, a community adjacent to Lansing which has leased the property for the past 30 years for $1 a year.

Members of the Michigan State running club pose for a picture following one of Grand Woods Park's many cross country meets in the fall.

Members of the Michigan State Running Club pose for a picture following one of Grand Woods Park’s many cross country meets in the fall.

“The park was actually originally a gift to the city of Lansing,” Lansing Parks and Recreation Director Brett Kaschinske said. “And in 1984 (Lansing) made an agreement with Delta to maintain the area as a park. It’s actually outside of (Lansing’s) city limits and lies under (Delta’s) jurisdiction.”

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Bryan Beverly wins seat on Lansing School Board thanks to help from friends and family

By Josh Thall
The Lansing Star

Bryan Beverly, 36, won a seat on the Lansing Board of Education last Tuesday, beating out another newcomer candidate, Thomas Morgan, 34, by a margin of 9,115 votes to Morgan’s 8,778 votes.  

Two of the spots on the School Board were won by incumbents Shirley Rodgers and Guillermo Lopez. Beverly was able to secure the final spot on the school board, which was vacated by Charles Ford, who chose not to run for reelection this year.

Shirley Rodgers 20%, Guillermo Lopez 19% ad Bryan Beverly 16% won seats on the Lansing Board of Education.

Shirley Rodgers 20%, Guillermo Lopez 19% ad Bryan Beverly 16% won seats on the Lansing Board of Education. Photo credit Josh Thall

Beverly said during his campaign his team did a lot of work on social media, which played a large part in his campaign.

“We were very heavy on social media during the campaign,” Beverly said. “There were several posts throughout the campaign about fundraising, getting out to vote and then getting my message and platform out there.”

Tony Baltimore, Beverly’s campaign manager, said people responded in an overwhelmingly positive way on social media, which really helped the campaign at the community level.

Beverly said that fundraising allowed his team to do mailings of informational postcards about his campaign, yard signs and a robocall which was put out the night before the election to remind people to go vote.

Diamond said the cost of Beverly’s election was around $9,000-$10,000, most of which came from family, friends and fundraising.

Baltimore said one of the main ways that money was raised for the campaign was word of mouth and people just wanting to help

“When we took to social media we promoted the fundraisers and people were all on board trying to find out where and how they could donate,” Baltimore said. “We also had friends that he and I both tapped into to help raise the funds – we asked people to be on host committees, people were willing to do fundraisers and at the end of the day, that all adds up. Continue reading

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Lansing citizens have mixed feelings toward election results

By Chloe Huard
Lansing Star

LANSING – The votes have been counted and the winners have been declared. Now all that’s left is for the residents of Lansing to see what their voting contributions – or lack thereof – will bring in the next few years.

On Nov. 4, Michigan voters re-elected Governor Rick Snyder. In addition, new officials were chosen for state congress, state house and senate, and the state board of education. A majority of these races were won by Republican candidates. The results of these races did not surprise many voters.

Chart depicts the winning party for the gubernatorial race by county. Created by Chloe Huard.

Chart depicts the winning party for the gubernatorial race by county. Created by Chloe Huard.

“I kind of predicted that Snyder was going to win just because everybody knew who he was,” said Angelica Bower, a 31-year-old military veteran.

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Lansing voters raise financial concerns after election

By Derek Nesbitt
The Lansing Star

LANSING – Some young voters in Lansing are worried that the outcome of last week’s national and state elections could affect funding for colleges and poorer residents.

Michigan State University psychology junior, Moriah Hill, 20, of Detroit, Michigan, said this election had more of an affect on her than presidential elections because of issues that are taken care of through state government.

“The governor is in charge of my state, which means every decision the governor makes has an impact on me,” said Hill who has been a Lansing resident for the past two years. “This election related more to the public than the presidential election in my opinion because we are directly affected by governmental decisions.”

Michigan Statue University junior Moriah Hill posing in a classroom in Holden Halls.

Michigan Statue University junior Moriah Hill posing in a classroom in Holden Halls.

Jhane Hemingway, 20, a Michigan State University human development and family studies junior who is also a current Lansing resident, said this election was more important than the presidential election because it focused on matters that directly affect the state of Michigan.

“Even though presidential elections are pretty important, this one directly touched on matters that I think are important for Michigan and will impact us directly,” said Hemingway who voted at Forest View School.

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Snyder re-elected after projected close race

By Connor Hansen
The Lansing Star

 

After an expected tight race for Michigan’s Governor, incumbent Rick Snyder was re-elected over Mark Schauer.

Snyder won with a 51 percent vote over Schauer’s 47 from 99 percent of the precincts. After Schauer made a last minute push for votes, getting over 145,000 more votes than Snyder in Wayne County, it was not enough to get the turnout he needed in Detroit.

Getting voters to come out in Detroit was Schauer’s greatest hope in winning this election, since they historically lean towards the Democratic candidate. Paul Conn, a former political science professor at Michigan State University and political consultant, does not think Schauer did everything he could to get vote from Detroit Democrats. “It’s tough to overcome when unemployment is down, more people are working and there is more optimism,” Conn said.

Detroit Democrats might not have felt the need to go out and vote, because things are getting better in the City and they didn’t feel the need for change. “The state is in better shape than it was two years ago, more people are working and things are getting better,” Conn said Continue reading

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Lansing voters make sure they’re counted at 35th Precinct

By Derek Nesbitt
The Lansing Star

LANSING – Voters and precinct workers expressed the importance of voting and shared their 2014 election experiences Nov. 4 the Grace Lutheran Church, Lansing’s 35th Precinct on the city’s north side.

Precinct worker Robert Garrett, who also has a radio-talk show at Ovid Elsie High School where he speaks with various government officials, said Election Day for him was interesting, with more middle-aged adults showing up to vote rather than the youth and elderly.

Precinct worker Robert Garrett posing before 35th Precinct on Lansing's north side.

Precinct worker Robert Garrett posing before 35th Precinct on Lansing’s north side.

‘It hasn’t been too many young people, but it hasn’t been too many older people, it’s mostly been middle aged,” Garrett said. “I find this precinct more interesting just because it’s actually fast paced and moving.”

According to the Michigan Secretary of State website, Precinct 35 had 2,311 registered voters with a 631 turnout and 27 percent voting. Rick Snyder won the state of Michigan but lost to candidate Mark Schauer at the 35th Precinct by 297 votes.

Garrett said voting is very important because without voting, citizens have no say on what’s going on with our government.

“If we don’t voice our opinions and support our candidate, our ideas cannot be presented to our state and local government,” Garrett said.

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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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