Urban sustainability in Mason means more than expanding infrastructure

“Cooperation and planning forms a vibrant city,” said Robert Liberty, director of the Urban Sustainability Accelerator at Portland State University of Oregon. Liberty presented his urban sustainability plan at the Mason City Council Meeting on Nov. 2.

Mid-Michigan is participating in “Imagine Mid-Michigan,” the Urban Sustainability Accelerator program directed by Liberty. This plan includes downtown success, farmland preservation, and much more that affect long-term “fiscal health and sustainability of government,” said Liberty.

Robert Liberty converses with a community member prior to the meeting

“Why should you care when your responsibility is here in Mason?” Liberty asked the Council. Mason is part of the regional housing market as well as regional employment, so urban sustainability in even a small town such as Mason affects all of Michigan. However, Liberty did make it clear how beneficial a new urban zoning plan would be for citizens of Mason. “We want to maintain a quality of life here in Mason,” said Liberty, and sustainability helps to “maintain a sense of place.”

David Haywood, zoning and development director in Mason, said that urban planning is changing. “We just adopted an update in 2014. We call for at least three areas where we anticipate growing. We have room in the city to grow. We study those areas to determine how we want it to develop.”

For taxpayers of Mason, urban sustainability means a lot more than simply expanding the town’s development. “If you allow growth to happen without order, suburban sprawl or low density, you’ll have a lower value tax return to be able to pay for utilities and services,” said Haywood. The taxpayer’s cost will rise if the community can not handle all of its obligations. However, if the value of the city is higher after being expanded, Haywood said, “that development will help pay for itself and taxpayers will pay less.”

Effective urban planning has positive impacts besides the monetary perspective. Haywood explained how expansion and development has many environmental benefits as well, including an example as simple as making the city more walkable, so fewer pollutants will be emitted from vehicles.

“If there’s no cost or replacement planning, that’s bad. The community can’t afford itself and its infrastructure,” Haywood said. “When you can’t provide resources, you can’t provide amenities to the community.”

Dennis O’Brien honored at The Mason Tree Commission

By Maria Braganini
The Mason Times

Countless hours spent maintaining city parks and caring for the trees at Maple Grove Cemetery has earned Dennis O’Brien honoree status at The Mason Tree Commission.

O’Brien began his career as a laborer for the Department of Public Works in May 1978. In August 2005, more than 30 years later, he retired as an arborist and superintendent of cemetery, parks and forestry.

The planting of a sugar maple tree in honor of O’Brien is scheduled for noon on Arbor Day, Friday April 24 at the Maple Grove Cemetery in Mason and open to the public.
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Proposal 1, better for Mason’s future?

By Maria Braganini
The Mason Times

Intermodal Policy Section Manager for the Michigan Department of Transportation Rob Balmes provided a brief overview of Proposal 1 at the March 16 City Council Meeting detailing main changes taxpayers will witness if the Proposal is passed.

“Proposal 1,” Balmes said, “will increase sales tax from 6 to 7 percent, while exempting fuel purchases, if approved by a vote to amend the Michigan Constitution May 5.

Sent to ballot by the House and the Senate, Proposal 1 would trigger a series of other laws designed to maximize new investments on road funding and minimize growing tax burdens for low-income residents, Balmes said.
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Sesquicentennial ceremony program lineup

By Maria Braganini
The Mason Times

Marlon Brown discuses the program for the Mason Sesquicentennial Anniversary Ceremony scheduled for March 9 at 6 p.m.

Brown plans to introduce the Mason 150 Sesquicentennial Anniversary Committee to begin the celebration.

After introductions, the Fire Department and 7th Michigan Volunteer Infantry Company B Color Guard will perform.
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Essay contest gives back to Mason Public Schools

By Maria Braganini
The Mason Times

Winners of the Mason College Club’s eighth grade essay contest will be announced at the March 9 sesquicentennial celebration. City Councilman Marlon Brown said he would present winners with a certificate bearing the city’s sesquicentennial seal.

Mason Councilman Marlon Brown and Mason College Club President Cheryl Lariviere discuss the essay contest and logistics in celebrating the eighth graders.

Mason Councilman Marlon Brown and Mason College Club President Cheryl Lariviere discuss the essay contest and logistics in celebrating the eighth graders.

The essay contest, held for Mason Middle School eighth graders, was hosted by Mason College Club and Scott Shattuck, eighth grade history teacher.

Students were asked to write a two-page prompt regarding the history of Mason streets named after families.

The club choose three winners and one honorable mention from more than 8 submissions.

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Proposal on May ballot may fix 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.


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

New movie theater, sports fields, art could come to Mason

By Abbie Newton
Mason Times staff writer

Mason hopes to improve its sports fields, entertainment venues and public art in the next five years, the zoning and development director said in a city council meeting in September.

Zoning and Development Director David Haywood said the ideas to add the new recreational resources are detailed in the city’s five-year recreation plan that was released in February.

Haywood and other officials sought input on the community-based plan to help guide the vision for recreation opportunities.

“It is important to have a goal and a vision so we know where we are going and what we are doing as a city. It spells out what community members want and what is feasible for the local government to provide.” –Zoning and Development Director David Haywood

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Jail in Mason key issue in sheriff’s race

By Rokeyta Roberson
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer

HOMTV and Meridian Township have teamed up to provide county residents with coverage of local elections. Ballot Meridian 2012 coverage includes live debates, candidate interviews, and candidate statements.

“I think it is very important for local candidates to share their stances on problems facing the communities they wish to serve,” said Ingham County resident Ashley Lawrence. “If debates between candidates that are running for a county-wide position are broadcast, then it can help residents become more informed and not place their vote because off of familiarity.”

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Sparrow cuts Mason urgent care hours

By Kate Vogel
Mason Times staff writer

MASON — Sparrow Urgent Care, the sole urgent care provider in Mason, has recently cut out two hours of service each day.

The exterior to Mason Urgent Care. The center now closes at 9 p.m. instead of 10 p.m.

This change amounts to 30 days of service a year that is lost from the Mason community. Sparrow representative John Foren said this change was made to create more efficient service for the patients. Sparrow Urgent Care, 800 E. Columbia St., is the closest urgent care provider for Mason residents.

Mason City Administrator Martin Colburn said, “[Mason residents] are very frustrated with Sparrow that they would close and lock the doors on us. People have seen the reduction of services to our community.”

Sparrow Health’s announced the reduction in an Oct. 19 news release that read, “As of Nov. 6, both locations [Mason and Okemos] will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. to provide more continuity and consistency for patients. As always, Sparrow Urgent Care is open 365 days a year providing non-life threatening urgent care to walk-in patients.”

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