Mason residents talk Michigan’s same-sex marriage case

Left: Kim Nichols, Right: Deb Spencer

Kim Nichols, left, with Deb Spencer

By Caitlin Taylor
The Mason Times

For Mason resident Jason Nichols, 24, marriage equality has always been something that he was passionate about. Growing up with two moms, Kim Nichols, 44, and Deb Spencer, 51, Nichols and has been hoping for community acceptance and equal treatment for his parents for 17 years – the time since his mother first came out.

“They just want to be recognized as a real couple,” Nichols said.

This April, the state of Michigan will be rehearing the state’s same-sex marriage case, originally heard in 2004. The case was brought forward by two Hazel Park nurses challenging the gay marriage ban in Michigan. The hearing will determine whether the ban should be considered constitutional or unconstitutional – ultimately deciding the fate of many same sex-couples in Michigan, including the city of Mason.

“I like the idea (of rehearing the case) because I believe that all men and women are created equal,” Nichols said. “I don’t think that anyone should be treated any differently because of their sexual orientation.”
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Mason 150 book launched

By Kelley Waterfall
The Mason Times

This year marks the 150th year, or sesquicentennial, of Mason. The town was founded on March 9, 1865 and today has over 8,250 residents

Becky Clinton, of Mason, is on the 150th steering committee. Two years ago, no one was making a book for the anniversary, so Clinton started to make it herself.

Clinton gathered information from the 100th and 125th anniversary books of Mason. “It wasn’t done on computer then, it was done on carbon paper and a typewriter,” said Clinton.

The book covers all 150 years of Mason in which Clinton used about seven sources, between newspapers, historical books, county books and more, she compiled all the years into one book.

Included in this book is the history of how Mason came to be a city, news stories from 1865 to the present, information on the school systems, churches and even a list of events for the 2015 year. Funding for printing was made possible by advertisements of the local businesses around Mason
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Malcolm X spent time growing up in Mason

By Kelley Waterfall
The Mason Times

Famous human rights activist Malcolm X, otherwise known as Malcolm Little, passed away on Feb. 21, 1965. This past weekend was the 50th anniversary of his death.

It was a special time for not only the nation but for the town of Mason. Malcolm X spent part of his childhood years living in the city of Mason.

Marlon Brown, mayor pro tem of Mason, says Malcolm had a variety of Michigan roots ranging from Detroit to Lansing. “After both of his parents died, he was placed into foster care in Mason and completed 8th grade here at Mason High School,” Brown says.
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Start planting with Mason’s Tree Legacy Program

By Kelley Waterfall
The Mason Times

Citizens can help make the city of Mason greener while creating a memory by buying a tree as part of the city’s Tree Legacy Program.

The program was started by the Mason 150th anniversary committee and allows citizens to buy a tree and choose where they want to plant it in the city, explains Mary Grace, assistant to the city manager. “Mason wants to celebrate 150 years by asking people to buy trees to adds to the city” says Grace.

Marty Colburn, the city administrator of Mason, says the public can buy the trees in honor of a person, as a legacy, or even just as a family tree. The trees will be put online as well with information including the type of tree, who it is in honor of, and where it was planted including GPS coordinates. “This way family members maybe 10 years down the line can find their family tree,” said Colburn.
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Proposal on May ballot may fix our roads

By Jasmine Watts
The Mason Times

Gov. Rick Snyder and House and Senate leaders have created a proposal to raise Michigan sales tax from 6 to 7 percent to raise money for fixing roads. Their plan is estimated to increase road funding by $1.3 billion. This proposal will be on the May ballot. Recent polls show vacillating results from Michigan voters on whether or not a sales tax increase will be the option for road funding.

“We should not pay more in sales tax to fix roads,” said Jacqueline Cuff, a resident of Mason. “Michigan should have toll roads like other states for the maintenance of our roads.”

Something must be done about the roads soon.

“I will vote yes on the sales tax increase,” said Vivian Ferguson, a retired teacher in Mason. “I worry about my car being damaged by the roads almost every time I drive.”

Some voters say that road repairs can be funded in other ways.

“Our roads need to be fixed, but there are other funds to dip into to pay for that such as the Pure Michigan campaign,” said Ralph Wegner.

On May 5, Michigan voters will make the final choice.


Parents disagree on vaccines

By Jasmine Watts
The Mason Times

Measles, which was declared eliminated in the United States in 200, is breaking out again. The infection has been traced to the Disneyland theme park in California and its spread is being blamed on parents who do not get their children vaccinated.

Some believe that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine can cause autism, explaining the high number of unvaccinated children.

Although the autism advocacy group states that there is no link between vaccination and autism, there are still parents who do not believe the MMR vaccination is worth the risk.

“Autism is common among young males. I have a 2-year-old son and I do not plan on him getting the vaccination before he starts school,” said Kierra Hughley, a mother of Mason. “I wouldn’t want any chance of him getting autism.”

The autism advocacy group urges that all children should be vaccinated, and other parents agree.

“The government and schools should require parents to vaccinate their children against measles,” said Jacqueline Cuff, another Mason mother. “Just like polio, measles can be wiped out for good if it was required.”

Measles, mumps and rubella can be very serious. Measles can lead to pneumonia and even brain damage.

“If parents don’t take care of their individual household, the rest of society will suffer,” said Nneka Rideout. “When doing research on the MMR vaccine, it is clear that the benefits outweigh the negatives.”

The measles outbreak has already spread to Michigan, and will not take long to hit the schools of Mason.


Mason’s 150th Celebration March 9

By Jasmine Watts

The Mason Times

On March 9, 1865, the government signed Public Act 125, which incorporated Mason as a village. Mason celebrates its 150th birthday this year.

The kick-off for the sesquicentennial celebration will be at 6 p.m. March 9 in the council chambers and community room.

There will be a performance by the color guard, reenactments from the 1860s, proclamations by government officials, and a video from U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to the city.

Michigan Rep. Tom Cochran and county board of commissioners will be present.

“I look forward to attending the sesquicentennial celebration,” said Kierra Hughley, a 20-year-old Mason resident.

Other performances at the sesquicentennial celebration include the Mason High School choir and local artist Dewey Longuski with his song “Making Mason Memories,” which has become the official song of the sesquicentennial.

“This is a very exciting time for our city,” said Marlon Brown, mayor pro tem.

Winners from the College Essay Club’s essay contest for Mason’s 8th graders will be announced and will read their essays.

A historical journal of Mason by Rebecca Clinton will be available for $15.

“Its great that the community is so involved with the 150 year celebration,” said Vivian Ferguson, a retired teacher from Mason.

Two buildings in Mason that have been around since the 1860s have been vacant for more than a decade, 124 Ash St. and 140 Ash St. They are now being rehabilitated with the help of the city, Chamber of Commerce, and the Historical Society. The two buildings’ grand openings are also on March 9, as part of the sesquicentennial celebration.

March 9 is just the kick-off celebration for the sesquicentennial. There will be more events and activities in honor of Mason’s 150th birthday for the rest of the year. 


Hayhoe Riverwalk pedestrian bridge expected in summer

By Harrison Thrasher

The Mason Times

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 1.35.55 PM

The proposal of a pedestrian bridge at the entrance of Mason’s famed Hayhoe Riverwalk  appears to be on track.

Director of zoning and development David Haywood was present at a City Council meeting to discuss where the project stands and what needs to be done moving forward.

The specification package for the bridge has been made by Wolverine Engineers, a surveying company based in Mason. The most pressing issue addressed by Haywood was the construction process and funding.

“We’ve decided to go the route of a pre-manufactured bridge as opposed to designing and building it ourselves,” said Haywood. “To have Wolverine Engineers design the bridge would escalate our engineering costs significantly.”

However, Haywood said that only design and assembly costs escalate in the field, not installation. The bridge can be installed by “any qualified construction company,” in this case, Wolverine Engineers.

Councilman James Mulvany, who made a significant personal donation to the project, clarified the installation process.

“The bridge will be built at a particular location to be transported to Mason, then placed on top of the footings by a crane,” said Mulvany.

Mulvany expressed concern for where the engineering fee is going, as Wolverine Engineers is doing the work on-site, but not the design or assembly. Haywood clarified that there is only one engineering fee that is needed to actually install the bridge and survey the surrounding land, which is essentially what Wolverine Engineers will be paid for.

Mayor Michael Waltz clarified Haywood’s explanation on the engineering fee, saying that giving the fee to Wolverine Engineers would essentially complete the task.

“Once we give them (Wolverine Engineers) the go-ahead, they will take it from A to Z and deliver us a completed project,” said Waltz.

Another important aspect of this project is a trailhead sign in front of the bridge. Mayor Pro Tem Marlon Brown wanted to clarify that the sign is to include the names of all donors (individuals and organizations), which includes two council members, Elaine Ferris and Mulvany.

Haywood clarified that it was the plan to include the donor names, per requirement of the Department of Natural Resources, the regulators of the project.

Haywood said, “We are anticipating to bid approximately April 1, with selection for a contractor sometime in June 2015, and hopefully completed this summer as our funding sources are available.”




Chief weighs in on medical marijuana proposal

By Harrison Thrasher

The Mason Times

A medical marijuana ordinance was the primary feature for the planning commission’s joint meeting with city council on Feb. 10. Perhaps the most animated discussion was by a member of those actually responsible for enforcing the law: the police.

Police Chief John Stressman said he does not want the ordinance to pass.

Stressman cited dangers that could come as a result of passing the ordinance. His most pressing issue was where the supply would come from. As each caregiver would only be allowed 60 plants for five patients maximum, Stressman said the demand would be higher than a caregiver could supply within legal bounds.

Since police would have less authority in stopping marijuana, more illegal transactions could take place for those without a medical marijuana license. “We would possibly be inviting more activity from the cartel,” said Stressman. “The new ordinance would make it more difficult for our officers to identify illegal substances.”

Stressman also said that illegal sales could come from patients who obtain the marijuana legally. “There would still be no control over distribution by the caregiver,” Stressman said, meaning that patients would essentially be able to purchase as much as they pleased without limit.

The problem is that a patient could buy more than needed and then sell the rest under the table. A patient can have as much marijuana as deemed necessary and cannot be charged with possession as long as they have a medical marijuana card. The only exception would be if a patient was caught in an illegal transaction, similar to sales of any other prescription drug.

Stressman said the ordinance was, “egregious and simply poorly thought out.”

However, Stressman said he understands his role and that it is his responsibility to adhere to the actions of the board. He merely shared his feelings on the matter and realizes his duty to serve the community, stating, “If that’s what the community wants, that’s the way it is.”


Waltz steps down from Historical District Commission

By Harrison Thrasher

The Mason Times

After being elected to City Council and then mayor, Michael Waltz has resigned from Mason’s historical district commission.

Waltz not only had to submit a letter of resignation, but also had to bring it to City Council’s attention during the meeting on Feb. 16. Waltz explained the process of a public official resigning, but did acknowledge one step he believed to be unnecessary in this case. Waltz, with the approval of his fellow council members, did not take the trouble of writing a letter addressed to the mayor (himself).

“As mayor, I already knew I was resigning so it seemed kind of redundant to do that,” chuckled Waltz.

Waltz instead submitted a letter to historical district Commissioner David E. Haywood out of courtesy.

The purpose of Waltz bringing his resignation to the attention of the council was to appoint a new member for the historical district commission to fill the vacancy. With Waltz’s recommendation, Rita Vogel, a resident of Mason, was selected to fill the vacancy.
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