MMUGS creates a community of ukulele players

By Amanda Cowherd
Mason Times staff writer

Mid-Michigan Ukulele Group Strum met on Saturday, March 22, to play and sing along to Elvis Presley songs. MMUGS founder Terry Hill said he has gotten involved in the ukulele community in Michigan and beyond. Hill visited Australia last month because of fellow ukulele players he met through Facebook. Mason resident David Birney has spent the past year making ukuleles for friends. Anyone—musically talented or not—is welcome to come to the next MMUGS meeting on Saturday, April 26.

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Sesquicentennial banners to go up in spring

By Brian Bobal
Mason Times staff writer

Doug Klein standing next to one of the sesquicentennial banners.

Doug Klein standing next to one of the sesquicentennial banners.

Mason is approaching a milestone in its history. 2015 will mark the city’s 150th birthday. Starting in 2013, the Mason Chamber of Commerce has mixed a city tradition with a new look to try and get people excited about the sesquicentennial.

The streetlight banner program gives individuals and businesses an opportunity to sponsor their own banner, which is displayed on streetlights downtown and along North Cedar Street. For members of the Mason Chamber of Commerce, the banners cost $125 and for nonmembers, the cost is $175. Any additional banners cost $80.

Doug Klein, executive director of the Mason Chamber of Commerce, talked about the origins of the program. Continue reading

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Tree City U.S.A. kicks off its Legacy Tree Program

By Brian Bobal
Mason Times staff writer

Doug Klein is very enthusiastic about the program.

Doug Klein is very enthusiastic about the program.

In preparation for Mason’s sesquicentennial, a new program is being launched called the “Legacy Tree Program.”

“We started looking at what other communities have done,” said Brown. “As part of (Escanaba’s) 150th, they did a tree project. We kind of latched onto that idea.”

The program is designed so an individual, business, group or organization can buy a tree for $150, which will be planted in one of the city parks. The tree will be dedicated to whomever the buyer wishes.

Brown says the community is behind and excited about the program. Continue reading

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Mason High School hosts district robotics competition

By Daniel Hamburg
Mason Times staff writer

Mason High School is hosting over 1,500 students, faculty and family from across Michigan for the 2014 Lansing FIRST Robotics District Competition on Friday and Saturday.

With hundreds of teams throughout Michigan, qualifying district events like this allow teams to earn points to get to the state championship and possibly the world championship.

“Unlike other educational competitive events, instead of trying to disqualify people, you’re always trying to encourage them and help them and get their designs working right,” said Mason High School Teacher Ben Shoemaker. “Gracious professionalism and coopertition are the two big things that we push. We want people to be gracious and professional about how they carry themselves, and also to help their teammates and help their opponents be as good as they can too.”

To see the full schedule of events this weekend, click here.

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Knights of Columbus host Lenten fish fry

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St. James parishioners and other community members share a Lenten meal on Friday, March 21.

By Micaela Colonna
Mason Times staff writer

Each Friday during Lent, the Mason Knights of Columbus Council #9182 hosts a fish fry at St. James Catholic Church. Per tradition, practicing Catholics make sacrifices during Lent and abstain from eating meat on Friday as a reminder of Jesus’ crucifixion.

“We remember the 40 days when Jesus was in the desert,” said Father Kusitino Cobona, the pastor at St. James. “For us, the Lenten season is trying to be with Jesus and having the desert experience by giving up things we love to eat and love to do.”

Ten dollars buys each guest an all-you-can-eat meal of baked and fried fish, shrimp, French fries, macaroni and cheese, green beans, coleslaw, rolls, desserts and drinks. The money is donated to causes in the community. Continue reading

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Gay couples in Michigan disappointed in Gov. Snyder’s decision

By Daniel Hamburg
Mason Times staff writer

Gov. Rick Snyder announced Wednesday that more than 300 marriages of same-sex couples on Saturday were performed legally by county clerks across the state of Michigan, but will not be recognized for benefits by the state until the case is resolved by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

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Jen Loforese and Jean Baker sign their marriage licences.

Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum said she performed the first of 57 same-sex marriage ceremonies a couple of minutes after 8 o’clock on Saturday morning. She also said five officiants showed up to help perform marriages, including East Lansing Mayor Nathan Triplett.

“It was an absolutely amazing experience,” Byrum said. This entire courthouse was loud. We had kids everywhere, families everywhere, tears of joy were just a flowing.”

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Barb Byrum, center, officiates the wedding of Justin Maynard, left, and Joe Bissell, right.

Joe Bissell and his partner Justin Maynard were wed by Byrum, shortly after 9 a.m. After seeing on Facebook that Byrum opened the courthouse early on Saturday, he picked up his partner of 15 years, Justin Maynard, at work and drove over.

“We never talked about it,” Bissell said. “The instant I realized that for the first time ever it was possible, and knowing that it might be a while before we’d have the chance to do it again, knowing that a stay would be issued most likely, I was immediately like, ‘we’ve got to get married.’ There’s no question. I knew we needed to do it.” Continue reading

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The Drop-In Lego Club meet for Lego show and tell

By Graciella Oteto
Mason Times staff writer

The Drop-In Lego club had its second monthly meeting on March 27 at the Mason Library at 145 Ash St. in Mason.

The Mason Drop-In Clubs for kids and teens meet at least twice a month, with the Lego club being one of the clubs designed for kids ages 6 and up. Created by John Takis and a former head employee of the library, the Lego club is casual and allows kids to come as they will with no formal membership. With an average of 12 – 20 people in attendance depending on weather.

“I love how the kids are working together, it’s a non-judgmental thing,” said first-time attendee Kayla Bender, a Michigan State University psychology senior, who was bringing her little sister from a Big Brothers Big Sisters Association program she does.

Mason resident Jamie Haynie assists her children break down Legos after show and tell

Mason resident Jamie Haynie assists her children break down Legos after show and tell

Mason resident Jamie Haynie has been attending the club meetings for about a year and a half, bringing in her two children to build and create anything they want.
“John takes time to teach and give attention to each child, whether it’s something simple or elaborate”…said Haynie, “he gives each child the same amount of time to create.”

Continue reading

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Animal shelter recognizes citizens for services and dedication

By Micaela Colonna
Mason Times staff writer

Ingham County Animal Control & Shelter hosted its annual Humanitarian Awards Banquet on Thursday, March 13, at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing.

The Ingham County Animal Shelter holds adoptions at select locations for pets needing a good home. For more information about an upcoming adoption, visit http://ac.ingham.org .

The Ingham County Animal Shelter holds adoptions at select locations for pets needing a good home. For more information about an upcoming adoption, visit http://ac.ingham.org

The event, which included an auction and dinner, awards volunteers, media, companies, law enforcement and veterinarians in Ingham County who made substantial contributions to the shelter in 2013.

“Most of our awards go to the volunteers,” said Ashley Hayes, volunteer coordinator for the animal shelter. “But we also have media personnel who do stories on animal welfare, law enforcement officials who have helped out, and vets that have done pro bono work, offering free services to the shelter or people in the community.”

Barbara Paul received this year’s Beebe Humanitarian Award, the highest honor given to a volunteer. A member of the Dog Walking Club, Paul said she’s always had a soft spot for dogs. Continue reading

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Mason City Council regulates medical marijuana dispensaries

By Amanda Cowherd
Mason Times staff writer

Mason City Council members adopted an ordinance and a moratorium on regulating local medical marijuana dispensaries on Monday, March 17.

Ordinance 196 requires that marijuana dispensaries be licensed and regulated by the city. The moratorium pushes back any licensing 180 days.

Councilmembers were prompted to vote on the preventative measures after the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the city of Wyoming couldn’t ban the use or growth of medical marijuana within its boundaries.

Mason City Attorney Dennis McGinty told the councilmembers that there were no regulations on marijuana dispensaries in Mason, prompting the discussion of Ordinance 196.

Mason City Attorney Dennis McGinty tells the councilmembers that there are no regulations on marijuana dispensaries in Mason, prompting the discussion of Ordinance 196.

“I feel that the moratorium gives us protection while we wait for the fluidity of legislation or the federal government to rule one way or another,” said Mayor Pro Tem Robin Naeyaert.

Naeyaert said the federal or state governments could pass marijuana regulation legislation soon—especially with elections coming up.

Police Chief John Stressman said he was not opposed to the ordinance and that he believes marijuana soon will be either legalized or handled mostly by pharmacies.
Continue reading

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Mason 150 Anniversary Committee needs funds for celebration activities in 2015

By Amanda Cowherd
Mason Times staff writer

The Mason 150 Sesquicentennial Anniversary Committee only has $40 in the treasury to spend on its 150 anniversary activities. Fundraising during the rest of 2014 is essential to have events and merchandise in 2015.

When the committee was formed in fall 2012, people were assigned tasks, such as managing the Mason 150 Tree Legacy Project, organizing the Mason 150 Club or creating a souvenir journal. Mason Councilmember Marlon Brown, chairperson of the committee, sent out a press release encouraging people to donate or become involved in these projects.

Committee chairperson Marlon Brown reviews the meeting agenda.

Committee chairperson Marlon Brown reviews the meeting agenda.

The Mason 150 Club is a fundraiser sponsored by the Mason Area Chamber of Commerce. The chamber’s 2015 events will be co-branded with Mason’s anniversary. Residents can join the 150 Club by donating $150.

Douglas Klein, executive director of the Mason Area Chamber of Commerce, brought in sample merchandise—such as a coffee mug, key chain and magnetic clip—that will serve as thank-you gifts for Mason 150 Club members. The gifts will be branded with the Mason 150 logo. Brown called the products Klein’s bag of swag. Continue reading

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