The Lansing Township Board denied the Whiskey Barrel Saloon a renewal of their amusement device license because of delinquent taxes.
At the Lansing Charter Township Board of Trustees meeting on Jan. 28, the board members had seven businesses requesting renewal for their amusement device licenses. Of the seven, only six were approved.
The businesses that were approved for renewal were Gus’s Bar, NCG Cinemas, Sunshine Laundromat, VFW 701, VFW 6132 and Westgate Tavern. The one that was not was the Whiskey Barrel Saloon.
A local township ordinance requires that each business with amusement devices, which is anything that is coin operated, renew the license necessary for those machines annually. The cost is $25 per device.
According to Township Treasurer Leo Rodgers, the Whiskey Barrel Saloon was denied because they are delinquent on their taxes.
“The total is not over $750, but they have been unresponsive to my letters,” Leo Rodgers said.
This was two weeks ago.
The Whiskey Barrel Saloon is known for being Lansing’s largest country bar. They are frequently bringing in small-time country acts to perform. The bar is also home to a mechanical bull, which is the amusement device they were attempting to renew the license for.
In a follow up interview with Rodgers, he had no new information.
“I have tried to contact the Whiskey Barrel regarding their delinquent taxes, but unfortunately I have not heard from them. I wish I could give you more information, but I cannot at this time,” Rodgers said.
The meeting scheduled for last night, Feb. 11, was cancelled because of extenuating circumstances. The next board meeting will be on Feb. 25. Rodgers said if he has any information to provide before then, he will be happy to share.
– Amanda Chaperon
President Barack Obama has signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for all federal workers, almost a three dollar hike from the current $7.25 an hour. He is also pushing Congress to do the same for all workers across the nation. Those that are pro-wage increase point to the rise in inflation during the last seven years since the last minimum wage increase.
Logan Ball, a Lansing Community College student who works at Dunham’s Discount Sports in Frandor, is concerned about raising minimum wage.
“I believe it will hurt the country,” said Ball. “It will jump everything 25 percent at a minimum.”
Local stores and businesses may also be affected by this issue. Grocery stores like Meijer depend on part-time workers to fill their shifts but if the minimum wage is increased, how will the store realign hours to remain cost-effective?
Joshua Stinson, a part-time employee at the Lake Lansing Meijer, fears losing hours because of the increase in minimum wage.
“You’re going to see many people get their hours cut,” said Stinson. “I can’t work full-time with my classes, but I can’t afford to pay off my student loans.”
Although this is a national issue, this particular issue actually affects very few on a national scale. According to a 2012 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about 3.6 million workers earn at or below minimum wage or about 2.5 percent of workers in the United States. Only 1.1 percent of those workers are over the age of 25.
The main argument by President Barack Obama for a raise in minimum wage is that it will help full-time workers who are the primary wage earners in their households.
Those who oppose raising the minimum wage typically argue that doing so will help very families that are in poverty. According to a 2010 study in the Southern Economic Journal, of the workers that earn less than $9.50 per hour, only 37 percent are the majority earners in their household.
As of now, the American voters favor a raise in the minimum wage by a considerable wage. According to a Quinnipiac University poll last month, 71 percent of American voters favor an increase in the federal minimum wage. This included over half of Republicans who were polled.
Capital City Homebrew Supply is a local supply company owned by Todd Branstner, specializing in helping people develop their passion for brewing beer and fermenting wine. CCHS opened in 2012 and is committed to helping others become their own brewers.
Branstner says that the key to a successful homebrew business is to understand that you can’t expect to have a lot of customers over night. His goal is to build ‘young professionals’.
“The most important thing from a business perspective is to build your clientele,” said Branstner. “Customer service is important. A lot of our customers are former Michigan State students. Our goal is to make a good impression with our customers and get them to become better brewers.”
Jordan Artuso, the general manager of CCHS has been with the company since it opened.
“It’s a friendly business,” said Artuso. “After I did communications in the army, I wanted to do something I loved, something that was fun.”
Artuso got into brewing beer and believes it is a rewarding career. Over time, Artuso got better and better at making his own beer and has made a career out of it.
“It became a real hobby for me,” said Artuso. “I got into it and felt like I could do something I loved, and help a lot of people get into brewing their own beer.
Aside from brewing their own beer and wine, CCHS offers sample classes and beginning brew classes for beer and wine twice a month. CCHS also has advanced equipment like refractometers which help you measure beer level. As a supply company, they want to sell their products, but they want to do it while educating their customers.
Artuso agrees that helping people make their own beer is a key to their business. The bi-weekly classes CCHS offers helps customers discover how to make the brewing process easier and more efficient.
“We get a lot of people that bring in their own beer,” said Artuso. “They’ll say that they made this beer, and they want us to try it and see what we think. We try to help everyone get better at brewing beer.”
Jason Horrocks, a regular customer of CCHS, says that Artuso played a huge role in his appreciation for brewing.
“I started brewing this summer,” said Horrocks. “A lot of it was because of this store. These guys are passionate about what they do. I liked beer enough to see how it was made. I found out that it’s really easy to make good beer.”
Horrocks said that because of CCHS, he is going to brew his own beer for his wedding this upcoming summer.
Artuso believes that brewing your own beer is better than going to a bar and getting beer.
“A lot of times the kegs at the bar have been sitting there for a couple months,” said Artuso. “It’s hard to find fresh beer at a bar, but if you know how to brew your own beer, you can find out that it’s really easy to make your own. It tastes great and you get a great value out of how much it costs to make good beer.”
Branstner says that he made a Belgian-style beer that cost only $23 to make a five-gallon batch. This cCompares to a microbrew that could cost that much for a few glasses at a restaurant or bar .
“The key with IPAs and Pale Ales is freshness,” said Branstner. “We have over thirty different hops. When you make your own beer like we do, you’re able to enjoy it at its peak freshness.”
Artuso has found enjoyment in brewing beer and wine and wants to help others find the same passion he has for brewing.
“Brewing your own beer can be an overwhelming process,” said Artuso. “We try to show people that once you know how to brew your own beer, it’s something you can really enjoy doing.”
Brewing your own beer can be something you can put in a lot of time in, or a little time in depending on how much you want to put into it. Branstner’s CCHS helps brewers at all levels.
“Formulating recipes, ingredients, even small questions,” said Branstner. “This business is here to help people with making their own beer.”
– Jacque De Witt
Tattoo art is not only a job, but a way of life. For Drake, owner of the Local Tattoo & Laser Co. and a tattoo artist for 22 years, the journey into the tattoo industry started during the early 90s. “I fell into it honestly,” said Drake. “It was really underground back in the early 90s, so it was hard to find a job, and I just got lucky and landed a spot.”
Drake began his career as a pencil artist,working at Splash of Color, then located on South Cedar in Lansing. The parlor has since moved to East Lansing. Drake’s experience there helped him open his own tattoo business. The Local Tattoo & Laser Co., located at 2020 E. Michigan Ave. in Lansing, has been in business for the past four years.
“We set up our tattoo rooms the same way they have theirs set up,” said Drake. “Because I worked there so long and I only know that way.”
Jay Ellis, a tattoo artist who works for Drake, said that he has seen a shift in the types of art that are featured in tattoo parlors during his seven years in the business.
“We have seen a change to more realism type art as far as what customers are requesting,” said Ellis. “Also the equipment and technology is far more advanced these days.”
According to Drake, the biggest change in the tattoo industry is the emphasis on educated artists who have gone to art school.
“The newest generation of tattoo artists are bachelor degree holders,” said Drake. “Coming right out and able to do anything that you want.”
Drake also notices the change in equipment from electric-coil machines (which are quite loud) compared to the newer rotary machines (which are almost silent). Although many tattoo parlors have made the shift towards the rotary tattoo machines, Drake is hesitant to make the shift just yet.
“My buddies have told me that they like the way I tattoo with electric coil,” said Drake. “I may go rotary, but I don’t know if I want my work to suffer from the transition.”
When a person first comes in for a tattoo, there are a few basic steps. The customer has to know what they want first.
“If the customer comes in and absolutely has no idea what they want, we’ll tell them to go home and think more about it,” said Ellis.
After a customer finds out what they want for a tattoo, they then have to figure out where on the body the tattoo should go.
“Some parts of the body stretch out more,” said Ellis. “Like when you’re doing a tattoo near the rib area, you really have to make sure you take into account how much the skin stretches when sketching the tattoo.”
According to Ellis, half of the time customers come in with their own custom art that they want done on their body.
“There is a collaboration process when dealing with custom made art,” said Ellis. “We find that some customers are open to small changes being made to make the finished piece better.”
The starting price for most tattoos is around $50 .An average tattoo usually takes around 15 to 20 minutes to complete.
According to Drake the best part about being a tattoo artist is the canvas an artist gets to use.
“The fact that you get to put art on people’s bodies,” said Drake. “It’s an awesome canvas to work on. It’s like no other canvas.”
Drake has few complaints about the career about but he warns that, as with any business, it is tough at first to make a profit and be successful.
“Your first year into it you can’t think you’re going to make $30,000,” said Drake. “It takes 100 percent dedication. If it’s not a lifestyle then you won’t be successful.”
Residents of the Tollgate District will receive a letter within the next week explaining why they owe an average of $700 each.
Lansing Township Supervisor Kathy Rodgers passed around a copy of the letter at the township board meeting on Jan. 28, which will likely cause an uproar amongst the community.
“As a result of early principal payoffs by many of the property owners in the Tollgate District, coupled with historically low bank interest rates on these funds over recent years, the Debt Service Account for the Tollgate Drain is short of funds to cover the final three years of Ingham County’s bond payments,” said Rodgers.
Lansing Township Trustee Diontrae Hayes expressed surprise about the debt left for the township.
“I would be really mad if I opened up my mailbox to find an extra bill I have to pay for something that was done years ago,” said Hayes.
On an even more personal note, the person who has to be the bearer of the bad news to the Tollgate District is, in fact, a resident there as well.
Rodgers lives in the Tollgate District and is being affected just as much as any other citizen, so she feels it is her duty to answer any and all questions and arguments brought up by the other residents.
William Donald, a Lansing Township Trustee, is concerned about what feedback Rodgers will receive after they send out the letters.
“I can’t imagine the uproar this letter will cause in the community,” said Donald. “Not only does Kathy (Rodgers) have to pay extra just like any other resident, she also has to feel the wrath of fellow angry residents.”
The Tollgate Drainage District Sewer Separation Project covers a watershed of 234 acres, more than 550 residential homes, 10 commercial properties, 1,000 plus apartment units, and 4 governmental agencies.
The project separated a combined sewer system and created a wetland detention basin for storm water in the community.
The Tollgate Drainage system was inserted into the Lansing Township community in 1997.
From then until 2005, many properties in the Tollgate District were sold and at the closing, the amount of drain assessments for the properties was paid off in full.
In Rodgers’ letter, she explains why the Tollgate District in in debt from the drainage system.
The properties that were paid off in full were deposited into the Debt Service Account for the Tollgate Drain Bonds and due to bank interest rates being high, there was enough to make up the interest lost due to early pay off.
“During the recent ‘Great Recession’ properties continued to be sold in the Tollgate District resulting in more early payoffs of drain assessments. However, because interest rates nationwide tumbled (near zero), the Debt Service Account was no longer able to which made the Debt Service Account no longer able to earn enough interest to cover the last few years of Tollgate Drain Bond payments,” said Rodgers.
A three-year debt will have to be collected throughout the community from August 2014 to August 2016.
Current citizens of the district are responsible to pay off the debt and can do so in partial payments or in full as long as it is paid by August for the next three years
The letter, which will be sent Feb. 10, is enclosed with the citizen’s first bill and an Amortization Table showing the amounts of their next two bills.
Although no one is sure how residents of the Tollgate District will react, Rodgers knows there is no way to escape it.
“There are only a few things in life that are for sure,” said Rodgers, “and one of them is taxes.”
On Super Bowl Sunday, Rick Snyder’s re-campaign commercial began airing its way into the homes of Michigan families watching the game. The commercial opens with Snyder scuba diving. Residents in Lansing Township had mixed feelings toward the commercial.
Michael Craven, a Lansing Community College student and part-time cashier at the Frandor Dunham’s Discount Sports, didn’t agree with the commercial’s message portraying Snyder as “The Comeback Kid.”
“I don’t think he’s done enough to earn that title,” said Craven. “I haven’t gotten enough exposure to what he’s actually done as Governor.”
Carl Yorimoto, a senior journalism student at Michigan State who describes himself as a free-market anarchist, agreed with Craven.
“They paid about $8 million for that commercial,” said Yorimoto. “They probably should’ve spent that on financial aid for college students or new roads or something that could make a difference to people not just in the community, but the entire state.”
Erin Castillo, a sophomore education major at Michigan State felt that the scuba diving part of the commercial was good for Snyder.
“I liked it,” said Castillo. “It showed his personal side with the scuba diving scene. It was a nice touch. I felt like you got to know him a little.”
“Our Governor loves budgets, ignores politics and brings results,” the ad said.
Yorimoto did not agree that the commercial was effective.
“I thought the commercial was odd,” said Yorimoto. “I’m confused as to what we’re supposed to make of that weird snorkeling bit. “The whole ‘self-made, tough nerd’ labels of cheesy forced self-branding.”
Craven agreed with Yorimoto that Snyder doesn’t follow that motto.
“I haven’t heard enough from everyone I know that knows politics,” said Kraven. “At the end of the day, I ask myself what has he done for us?”
Although the commercial was received differently by residents of Lansing Township, the commercial garnered plenty of attention from its viewers. The commercial generated plenty of publicity for Snyder, both negative and positive. The question still remains who were the main targets of the commercial, whether it was trying to get the attention of the Snyder opposition, supporters, or the undecided. Nevertheless, students and community members had an opinion on it; because his decisions affect the Lansing Township Community.
Lansing Township could have four more years, if he is re-elected to office. Some like Yorimoto are hoping that’s not the case.
“Snyder is just another example of the government’s inability to fix anything,” said Yorimoto.
– Jacque De Witt
In Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero’s State of the City address, he asked the state for more funding for area roads.
Due to harsh weather this winter, Michigan has been hit hard with deteriorating road conditions. After the winter season subsides, the roads will only get worse.
According to the local NBC news station WILX, Bernero has already set aside $3 million this year to take care of the roads, but it will not be enough.
“The cost to build new roads with curb and gutter is about $1 million per mile,” Bernero said.
Bernero is now turning to the state for extra funding.
“The money we’ve been getting from the state, from the gas tax, has been dwindling. You’ve got a surplus. Put it into our roads,” Bernero said. “We need help. Cities across the state…this affects our daily quality of life, it affects economic development.”
Hitting a pothole while driving can do major damage to your vehicle, and the repairs can be costly.
According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, rough roads add an average $335 to the annual cost of owning a car, and it can add an additional $740 in some big cities.
Lansing Township resident Hannah Anderson is one of many who has fallen victim to these rough road conditions, costing her a fortune.
“The roads in Michigan are horrible,” Anderson said. “The other day, I was on my way to work and I hit a pothole. It popped my tire, bent my rim and other things that ended up costing me almost $450.”
As a working college student, Anderson can’t afford the expense and expressed concern that she isn’t seeing anything being done to fix the issue.
“You know, it actually pisses me off that the roads are so terrible,” Anderson said. “I work to put myself through school and taxes are taken out of every one of my paychecks. So, what are those taxes going to? Because it certainly doesn’t look like my money is going into fixing the roads.”