State budget cuts impact Mason High School funding

By Micaela Colonna
Mason Times staff writer

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The 2008 recession and state funding cuts have meant losses in almost all areas of Mason Public Schools. This has meant some trimming and searches for new revenue in many departments including academic, athletic, arts and personnel. Custodial groups have taken hourly wage cuts to prevent privatization, administrative and faculty positions were eliminated and district-funded sports have become self-funded. Shelbi Frayer, executive director of business and finance at Mason Public Schools, said the changes are a result of the decrease in state funding.

Mason tennis team

The Mason Varsity Tennis team practices indoors on a rainy school afternoon. They have experienced the impact of a decreased budget in the form of equipment cuts.

“We wouldn’t have to make such drastic changes such as losing HR if we didn’t have a cut in funding,” said Frayer. “We would definitely have a lot more programming for students, buses, etc. You learn to be more frugal and live without.”

With the assistance of teachers, Principal Lance Delbridge of Mason High School allocates funds allotted by the Mason Board of Education. Frayer said the focus is primarily on academics. If extracurricular activities such as sports want to expand, they have to do it on their own, as the district does not plan to add money to these budgets.

Greg Lattig, district athletic director of Mason High School, said 500 students at the high school play sports. He said the athletics department has had budget cuts of more than $100,000 over the past five years.

“We’ve cut coaching staff, lower-level programs, programs at the middle school, and some things have become self-funded,” said Lattig. “We’ve significantly reduced our equipment budget and eliminated two-way transportation.”
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Renovations and cleanups coming soon in Mason

By Brian Bobal
Mason Times staff writer

David Haywood speaking at the March 11 planning commission meeting.

David Haywood speaking at the March 11 planning commission meeting.

Perhaps the biggest and most anticipated projects Mason is undergoing is the renovation of the empty, three-story, red brick building on the south side of the courthouse.

David Haywood spoke about the project.

“It’s been a project for the better part of five or six years,” he said.

Haywood also said there have been a lot of organizations involved to help make this project a reality. 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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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.
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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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Mason Middle School updates stimulate student growth

By Micaela Colonna
Mason Times staff writer

Tom Bullock, Mason Middle School's technology education instructor, demonstrates how the CNC machine can cut any image out of metal.

Tom Bullock, Mason Middle School’s technology education instructor, demonstrates how the CNC machine can cut any image out of metal.

The Mason Board of Education met Monday, March 10, at Mason Middle School to discuss changes to the building’s appearance, as well as recent advances in the classroom. The meeting included updated curricula information and a school tour by Principal Dan McConeghy.

Updates have appeared in Jake Lator’s classroom. The Mason seventh and eighth grade math teacher has incorporated Response to Intervention, a learning approach to help struggling students, as well as iPads and BuzzMath into his lectures to help stimulate an eagerness to learn. McConeghy said he believes using this 21st century technology will pique student interest in mathematics.

“You put technology in front of the kids that they use nowadays, and they get very excited,” McConeghy said. “There are so many kids that come out of his class that say math is their favorite subject now.” Continue reading

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Changes to CATA route could improve commute between Mason and Lansing

By Daniel Hamburg
Mason Times staff writer

CATA bus stop Northbound South Jefferson Street past East Maple Street

CATA bus stop Northbound South Jefferson Street past East Maple Street

A grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is helping to gather input from citizens in Mason and Lansing about adding additional CATA bus service between both cities.

Route 46, the bus route between Mason and Lansing, runs one northbound trip daily at 7:05 a.m. from downtown Mason, and one southbound trip at 5 p.m. from the CATA transportation center in downtown Lansing.

Doug Klein, executive director of the Mason Area Chamber of Commerce, said the proposed change would add one more bus in the morning and evening, possibly an hour later than both times, alleviating problems of many people working a 9 to 5 job. Continue reading

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Mason students receive free tuition at The Early College at LCC

By Amanda Cowherd
Mason Times staff writer

Science teacher David McCreight explains physics concepts to Birdie Hall, of Mason.

Science teacher David McCreight explains physics concepts to Birdie Hall, of Mason.

On Monday, Feb. 10, Steve Rosales showed a presentation about The Early College at LCC, a free program he directs, to the Mason Board of Education.

All Ingham County sophomores are invited to apply to The Early College, informally known as TEC. Students in TEC leave their high schools and receive a blended high school and college education for three years. Rosales, who works for Lansing Community College, compared the program to taking an 11th, 12th and 13th grade program. The Ingham Intermediate School District officials choose applicants by lottery.

Rosales said the biggest selling point of The Early College is its free tuition and books. The Ingham Intermediate School District and Lansing Community College fund the program.

“Going to college for free is the best thing we could ever dream of,” Lindsay Coker, who lives in Mason and started TEC in August 2013, said. “I hope to get my associate’s degree before my older brothers, so I can rub it in their faces.”
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The Mid-Michigan Ukulele Group Strum meet in Mason in preparation for Mighty Uke Day

By Graciella Oteto
Mason Times staff writer

The Mid-Michigan Ukulele Group Strum had its monthly meeting Saturday afternoon at Bestsellers Books and Coffee at 360 S. Jefferson St. in Mason, Mich.

The MMUGS members playing at Bestsellers Books & Coffee Co. during their February monthly meeting

The MMUGS members playing at Bestsellers Books & Coffee Co. during their February monthly meeting.

Terry Hill, group leader of the MMUGS has been leading the Ukulele group since 2012, with Saturday being the group’s third anniversary. The ukulele, a small 60cm instrument created in 1879, is a four-string guitar of Hawaiian origin.

The uke comes in soprano, concert, tenor and and baritone. The MMUGS use their own songbooks, they provide ukuleles if needed, plus there is no cost to join.“I don’t like sports, I play the ukulele,” said Hill.

The MMUGS, who have been at Bestsellers for a year now, according to Laura Hill, wife of Terry, recently began playing for retirees and seniors at Green Acres of Mason once a month. The MMUGS come together and play two- to- eight- chord songs that are beginner friendly and fun for the experienced. With a new theme each month, during the next meeting on March 22 at 10:30 a.m. The theme will be Elvis Presley and Friends.

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Walk for Warmth to raise money for low-income families

By Daniel Hamburg
Mason Times staff writer

This Saturday, hundreds of people across Ingham County will brave the cold to raise money for those in need. The 24th annual Walk for Warmth will help the Capital Area Community Services, Inc. continue its services, and help more people in need this winter.

Frigid temperatures throughout Michigan have hit many low-income families especially hard. Marina Poroshin, the rural Ingham center coordinator for the Capital Area Community Services, Inc., hopes that people in Ingham County can help those in need.

“We walk in the cold because we want people to realize how it feels to live in the cold,” Poroshin said. “It drives the idea back home.”

She said because of the bizarre winter facing residents, there is a higher demand for assistance.

“There is an increased need this year, much higher than the last year because the winter is so harsh,” Poroshin said. “People burn through their propane much faster.”

Serving more than nine towns and townships in rural Ingham County, Poroshin’s office provides assistance for low-income families in need of utility and rent payments, propane, and deliverable fuel assistance, among other services. Continue reading

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