Waverly Community Schools welcome huge advances thanks to technology bond

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Waverly eleventh graders Sarah Miller (left), Angel Hague (second from right) and friends use newly improved learning space to decorate volleyball posters.

By Jordan Jennings
Lansing Township

LANSING TOWNSHIP — Waverly Community Schools have welcomed COWs” (Computers On Wheels), learning spaces and huge advances thanks to their technology bond that was passed this summer.

“[From] what’s behind the walls—the wiring— to what’s in our closets —the network hardware, the servers—all the way to the desktop computers, everything is brand new this year,” said David Palme, supervisor of LEA technology services at Waverly Community Schools.

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Previously two classrooms, this area of the Waverly Middle School is now remodeled into a learning space, complete with TVs on each wall.

The major technology construction project included about 25 miles of network and cabling, several alternative learning spaces and a One-to-One learning program.

Waverly school board members unopposed in Nov. 4 election

By Kelsie Patrick
Lansing Township News

 

waverly2LANSING TOWNSHIP — The four Waverly School Board members running unopposed to keep their seats next month will spend their terms seeing through a five-year plan to improve the school district.

The board members are Calvin L. Jones, Mary Ann Martin, Britt Slocum and Alan Wright. All citizens within the school district can vote on Tuesday, Nov. 4.

The Waverly Board of Education approved the 2011-2016 plan in May 2011. This Strategic Planning Team was made up of district staff, parents and community members.

The plan consists of five strategies: communications, professional development, instruction, character development and technology. Each of these strategies consists of elements and action plans to enhance Waverly Community Schools. For example, raising standards for new staff in the hiring process, using technology to better educate students and integrating social and behavioral skills into the curriculum.

One Waverly mother said she has noticed some changes.

“One thing I’ve noticed is how much more my kids use technology every year for school,” said Mandy Martin, whose two children attend Waverly schools. “Waverly has really implemented that into their methods of learning.”

After six years, the mess left behind by General Motors is still an issue in Lansing Township

by Liv Larsen
Lansing Township News

LANSING TOWNSHIP -- Since 2011, the Lansing Township Board of Trustees has been working with RACER Trust in the cleanup and redevelopment of the old General Motor plants when they closed in 2008. RACER trust was created after the General Motors bankruptcy and started this project with $4.2 million. On Wednesday October 7, the board members discussed their frustration over the length of this project.

Susan Aten and Kathleen Rodgers listen intently at the Board of Trustees meeting on October 7, 2014

Susan Aten and Kathleen Rodgers listen intently at the Board of Trustees meeting on October 7, 2014

“It’s been taking a long time,” said Lansing Township Supervisor Kathleen Rodgers. “And it will be a long time before these properties will be sold and marketed.”

Part of the reason this project has been taking so long is because when the GM plants moved out, they left a lot of contamination in their wake.

“There has to be a plan to cap or get rid of the contamination of that site. That has to be approved by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality,” Rodgers said. There have been “numerous extensions because of the contamination.”

Because the old plant area is known for the left behind contaminants, Rodgers worries that this could affect how people see neighboring properties of the site.

“People are reluctant to buy property next to a contaminated site,” Rodgers said. “[There's] some PCB (polycholrinated biphenyl) and dioxins.” But she assures that the contamination has “not reached the water table, [and] has not encroached on the groundwater.”

Despite the types of contaminates known to be on the site, RACER Trust officials feel confident they have a handle on the situation. Michigan Cleanup Manger for RACER Trust Grant Trigger said in an emailed statement that the company wouldn’t characterize the work as a struggle and feels that its team will be able to safely complete to work.

From the beginning, township officials have kept the well being of the township at the forefront of their minds and planning.

“We met with GM and asked them what was gonna happen,” said Lansing Township Planning Director Steve Hayward. They told him that they wanted the “highest and best use for this property.” Hayward asked them if “that [meant] to our residents or [their] stockholders…they said stockholders.”

That conversation with GM leaders has inspired the city officials to try and turn this property into something that can benefit the people of Lansing Township.

“At this point we’re trying to take a more affirmative stance on how this property is going to be used so it’s not detrimental,” said Hayward. “We need to have these properties not be a drag on the township.”

Some Lansing Township residents are equally concerned with how the ongoing emptiness of the lots are starting to affect the rest of the area.

“They need to be cleaning up this property,” said Lansing Township resident Vicki Simmons.“We need to get this stuff taken care of [and] bring this town back to life.”

Lansing Township residents express concerns about voting

By Jordan Jennings
Lansing Township News

Find audio of interviewees here: Jrn 4 audio

LANSING TOWNSHIP — Lansing Township community members are expressing concerns about the lack of political self-education today and whether their votes make a difference.

Colette Miller, a crew member at Wendy’s on Saginaw Highway, said she has not been following this fall’s election campaign partly due to lack of resources and partly by choice. “I don’t have cable—I don’t watch TV except for Netflix,” she said.

On a federal level, midterm elections this Nov. 4 will affect all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives as well as 33 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate. In Michigan, senatorial candidates are Democrat Gary Peters and Republican Terri Lynn Land. Republican Rick Snyder and Democrat Mark Schauer are running for governor,contesting issues such as the minimum wage, health care and transportation, among many others.

Miller said she thinks it is a problem if you “don’t know what’s going on around you,” but that being politically uninformed is a common issue.

She believes more people would go to the polls if they felt like their votes actually matter. “Personally… I don’t make it a priority to vote because technically as far as presidents go our vote doesn’t vote the president in, the Electoral College does. So our vote technically doesn’t do anything. So I feel like what’s the point? I’ll give you my opinion but my opinion doesn’t really… change anything.”

Nicole Handley, a Twister’s ice cream shop team member, calls herself “not much of a political person.” She said that lack of interest is because she doesn’t “understand it that much.”

When asked whether she believes Americans neglect their right to vote, Handley replied, “I never thought of it like that. Probably. I mean if you have the chance to vote, why not?”

For Handley, there’s still a question of whether voting makes a difference though.

“To be honest, I was just talking to my sister yesterday about this and she said, ‘Why should I vote? My vote doesn’t matter. You know, if you vote for someone and they don’t win… what does that say?‘“

Handley believes that choosing to vote is “just personal preference,” and is influenced by factors like being raised in a politically-minded home, and personal beliefs.

Ultimately, she said people should take the opportunity to vote if they want to, but they aren’t obliged to.

Mike Anderson, who works at Wireless Wonders Inc. on South Waverly Road, said he doesn’t follow the elections until “it gets down to the nitty gritty.”

When asked whether he thinks Americans abuse our privilege as voters, Anderson said, “all the time.” He added that people can — and should — change that by educating themselves about political issues. “Look around you, watch the news, read the papers—some of this we can change!” Anderson mentioned road conditions as being an important issue to him, and one that is influenced by voting.

Anderson also encouraged voters to “get on the other side” to see why another person voted another way.

He said that each able voter should “stand for something, even if that side doesn’t win.”

J. Jill to Open Eastwood Towne Center Branch

Lansing Township News
By Jonathan Andrews

LANSING TOWNSHIP – This October Eastwood Towne Center will be adding a store to its lineup of storefronts. In between the American Eagle and Express stores will be a new J. Jill store, which focuses on women’s apparel, accessories and shoes.

“J. Jill has been renovating the space since August,” said Vice President and Leasing Director of Eastwood Towne Center Greg Goldberg. “They are expected to open in late October.”

The addition of this store will add to the list of apparel outfitters such as Banana Republic, J. Crew and the Gap. Unlike these stores that are already established in the Towne Center though, J. Jill focuses on strictly women’s fashion.

Incumbent Schor facing different type of campaign

By Nick Barnowski
Lansing Township News

Listen to an interview clip with Rep. Schor by clicking here.

While some candidates ramping up their campaigns under pressure to secure votes, state Rep. Andy Schor is calm and collected ahead of the Nov. 4 general election.

The Democrat, who represents Michigan’s 68th District, which covers parts of Lansing and Lansing Township in Ingham County, said running as an incumbent relives some of the pressure he faced when running for an open seat two years ago.

“I think it’s easier,” Schor said. “People know what I’ve done and they know the legislation that I’ve pushed.”

New hotels, apartment complex give Eastwood more to offer

By Nick Barnowski
Lansing Township News

Eastwood Mall Area Construction Progress - 9/26/14

Overhead view of The Heights at Eastwood. Photo courtesy of Steven Hayward.

LANSING TWP. – Construction has picked back up on four new complexes located north of the Eastwood Towne Center.

The buildings will be part of The Heights at Eastwood, a public-private project developed by Lansing Township.

Hyatt Place, Marriott Fairfield Inn & Suites and DTN’s The Vista at the Heights are expected to open during the second quarter of 2015, said Steven Hayward, executive director of Lansing Township’s Downtown Development Authority. A Hilton Homewood Suites is slated to open one year later.

Hayward said the complexes will be a crucial addition to both Lansing Township and Eastwood. The township is still seeking to replace 28 percent of its tax base that was associated with the demolition of 2.1 million square feet of General Motors manufacturing facilities in 2007.

“It is important for Eastwood since it adds more sustainability to the existing retailers by introducing additional individuals with discretionary income,” Hayward said.