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.

Lansing Township Files Lawsuit Against Lansing Board of Water and Light

By Kelsie Patrick
Lansing Township News

mapLANSING TOWNSHIP — Lansing Charter Township and the Lansing Township Downtown Development Authority have filed a federal lawsuit against the Lansing Board of Water & Light in an effort to force the utility to pay for cleanup of contamination at the North Lansing Landfill.

According to Lansing Township Director of Planning and Development Steve Hayward, the North Lansing Landfill — located north of Groesbeck Golf Course — was used from 1979 to 1995 as a storage place to get rid of ash and coalfrom local power plants.

Before the Board of Water and Light knew storing the coal and ash on landfill grounds would create a contamination of water supply issue for Lansing Township, the Board of Water & Light used an old gravel pit on the landfill grounds to store old coal and dust from the power plants, Hayward said.

According to Hayward, the water table later penetrated the pit and caused a large amount of environmental contamination in North Lansing. The pit also stored stormwater from the entire region, which also became contaminated. The BWL was then forced by Lansing Township to cap and fill the pit, and then pour the waste onto private property, Hayward said.

As a result of the contamination from the Board of Water and Light, in 2013 Ingham County drain commissioner Pat Lindemann attempted to charge Lansing Township $6 million for the repair from all contamination, Hayward said. The township filed suit in May to avoid that payment.

“This lawsuit has been filed to protect the residents of Lansing Township from having to pay moneyfor BWL’s environmental contamination,” Township Supervisor Kathleen Rodgers said.

New technology bond might give Waverly School District a much needed boost

By Liv Larsen
Lansing Township Times

LANSING TOWNSHIP — The start of the 2014 academic school year was a little different for students of the Waverly School District since the passing of the technology bond  in May 2013. The technology bond passed by voters is an $18.4 million bond that will stretch out over the next 10 years.

“All schools in Michigan are struggling from lack of funding,” said Waverly School Board Treasurer Alan Wright. “[The bond] takes some of the pressure off the regular budget.”

The technology bond gives each student an electronic device, such as an iPad or tablet, and will hopefully help with the overall academic goal of raising test scores among the students.

“It’ll increase interactivity with teachers,” Wright said. “[There’s] more individual learning…more comprehension work.”

As the school district itself becomes more technology based, other standardized Michigan tests are also starting to move online.

“MEAP testing is going to be online…this year” Wright said. “Waverly is ready for that.”

Local officer seeks to change stereotypes

By Liv Larsen

LANSING TOWNSHIPLansing Charter Township Police Officer Aaron Lightner has been with the Lansing Township Police Department since 2006 — that is, if you ignore the one month he worked at the MSU Police Department in 2011 before promptly opting to move back.

Lightner enjoys the intensity that comes with the auto accidents which happen frequently along the highway in Lansing Township.

“I like the type of work we do here,”  Lightner said. “We average 90 crashes a month…I like the fact that we’re busy.”

Unlike some departments where the officers pass along cases to the detectives, at LTPD the officers see their cases from start to finish.

“They do their own follow ups,” Lansing Township Chief Kay Hoffman said. “It gives a certain amount of pride.”

MSU Police Detective Chad Davis, a former co-worker of Lightner’s, knows the type of person it takes to enjoy the fast paced style at LTPD.

“You have to be incredibly independent,” said Davis. “You handle every type of call.”

Not only does Lightner enjoy the fast pace that comes with being an officer at the LTPD, but he also makes it a point to nail the essence of a role model, particularly to young children.

“I’ll see some kids playing basketball on the side of the street and I’ll get out [of my car] and I’ll play basketball with them,” said Lightner.

Another time while patrolling, Lightner drove past the local St. Vincent Home, a program providing a safe school atmosphere for children with disrupted lives, and saw an opportunity to interact with the children and staff of that facility.

“I got to play football with the kids at the St. Vincent Home,” said Lightner while remembering a particular day of patrolling. “I got out and asked if I could play — as long as I could be quarterback… I played for like a half hour with them.”

Not only does Lightner aim to help the lives of kids, and get to know the people of the community, he also aims to change what he called the overall negative stereotype that looms around police officers; even more so now in the wake of the riots in Ferguson, Mo., that erupted after a local officer shot and killed an unarmed teenager.

Lansing Township Police Department was one of the first local departments to go back to using the traditional black and white cop cars.

Lansing Township Police Department was one of the first local departments to go back to using the traditional black and white cop cars. Photo by Liv Larsen

“My goal in law enforcement is to change people’s opinion about officers,” Lightner said. “I want people to know there are still officers out there that are good people, that can treat you fairly and respectfully. I want them to remember how I treated them. There is a negative stereotype, and we need to change that.”