Good Morning, Mason

by Shane Stockwell
The Mason Times

The city of Mason had one of its most successful turnouts at “Good Morning, Mason” October 30, said Kathy Morse, co-owner of Mason Today. This event was created for local businesses to network and help build the community bond between companies. The agenda included: Mason Area Chamber, Ingham County Public Safety, Mason Area Schools, and many other topics.

“Good Morning, Mason meets six times a year and provides an opportunity for local business owners and workers to get to meet one another and inform each other on new ideas or business opportunities,” said Doug Klein, executive director of Mason Area Chamber of Commerce.
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Drocha, Waltz, Brown elected

By Cameron Dunlap
The Mason Times

Although it was projected to rain, that did not stop voters from getting out to City Hall and voting.

“I’ve been working the polls before President Obama’s first election and this seems to be the second biggest turnout including the presidential elections,” said Christine McElhone.

Final unofficial results for the Mason City Council showed that Marlon Brown and Jon Droscha will return to council for another term. Mike Waltz, who held a seat from 2007-2012, will rejoin council.

Of 6,077 votes, Droscha came in first, accounting for 1,341 of the votes. Mike Waltz was second with 1,258 and Brown was third with 1,165 votes. Rita Vogel received 903, Angela Madden had 716 and Jeffrey Wiggins received 694.
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By Ben Stram and Emily Hummel
The Mason Times

Mason’s 150th year will be guided by three familiar faces elected to 2-year City Council terms on Nov. 4.

Jon Droscha and Marlon Brown were elected to second terms and Mike Waltz, who served five and a half years in the past will be coming back.

Droscha received the most votes with 1,341. Waltz had 1,258 and Brown was a close third with 1,165. Droscha said he was surprised by the final results.

“It’s really pretty humbling,” he said. “The support has been amazing. Being the top vote-getter … I never imagined I’d be the top vote-getter.”
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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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