Lent in Meridian

The New Hope church in Meridian

The New Hope church in Meridian

 

By John Moffett
The Meridian Times

The season of Lent is upon us, where Christians give up something for 40 days to remind themselves of when Jesus Christ spent 40 days in the desert. People in Meridian are giving up many different things for Lent.

Nancy King, a grandmother who lives in Meridian, said she gave up chocolate for Lent.

“Chocolate is my weakness.” King said. “I always have a little bowl of chocolate in my house, so I know it will be hard, but I think I can do it. And it will be even harder considering all the chocolate I got from my husband and my grandkids.” When asked what she did on Fat Tuesday, also known as Mardi Gras, where people indulge themselves on what they are about to give up for 40 days, she said, “Oh I had a lot of chocolate, I wouldn’t like to say how much, but probably too much for the age I’m at.” Continue reading

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Winter Farmers Market

A look inside the winter market

A look inside the winter market

By John Moffett
The Meridian Times

The Farmers Market has been doing well after relocating to the Meridian Mall for the winter.

Christine Miller, who helps organize the market, said the turnout has been good. “I think all our vendors would say that the turnout is good considering that it’s hard to go out anywhere with this snow and ice.” Miller said.

Miller also added that people can pick up recipes they can use for food they picked up at the market. “Some people really like some the recipes we have, like a great blueberry cobbler or spinach artichoke dip.” Miller said. Continue reading

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Gas Prices in Meridian

Adam Zimmer

Adam Zimmer

 

By John Moffett
The Meridian Times

Gas prices have been down recently in the United States. Americans could save up to $452 dollars if current trends keep steady, according to Bankrate.com. We asked people what they were doing with that extra money in their pocket.

Cary Tims, a 29-year-old resident of Meridian, said that with freezing weather, most of his extra cash has been going into energy bills.

“With this winter being so cold, I’ve noticedmy energy bills just getting higher by the month.” Tims said. “The lower gas prices have really been helping out with the bills. I have been splurging on my girlfriend a little bit though. I think she’s worth it.” Tims said.

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Board looks for Qualified Legal Counsel

Bingqing Mao
The Meridian Times

The Meridian Township Board planned to have its request for proposals, for finding new legal counsels, finalized by March 6. Proposals will be due on March 31 at 5 p.m. and the committee will narrow the search to three firms, being prepared to submit that list to the township board at the April 21 board meeting.

(John R. Veenstra)

(John R. Veenstra)


Board Member John R. Veenstra said they had received many law firms’ applications and they were all interested in what kind of law firms they were looking for.

Treasurer Julie Brixie said that in the Feb. 24 meeting, the board stated a desire to keep the criminal prosecution services and cable TV legal services separate from other legal services.

Since the township didn’t have a law firm at this time, the board also approved the hiring of an interim attorney to be at the township for up to four months.

Ronald Styka, who is not only the legal services subcommittee member, but also an attorney, said, “The part-time attorney we hired should be sufficient until a full-time contract is entered into.”

Choosing a law firm is a priority because the township has so many legha needs including code enforcement, ordinance writing, labor issues, elections, real estate transactions and the defense of lawsuits.

The board members agreed that the most important quality that law firms should have is knowing about the township.

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Vidual Feast Presented at Meridian Mall

By Bingqing Mao
The Meridian Times

Audiences enjoyed a visual feast at the Greater Lansing Chinese New Year Celebration Gala Feb. 21 at Meridian Mall.

The Lion and dragon parade throughout Meridian Mall began at 1:30 p.m. and attracted most people’s attention. Many passersby followed the lion and dragon off the stage, watching the performance by people from different religions, ages and countries.

Lion dance,a traditional Chinese ritual performed to bring good luck, especially at Chinese New Year

Lion dance,a traditional Chinese ritual performed to bring good luck, especially at Chinese New Year

Lisa Johnson and Jack Johnson are a couple who adopted a girl from China. This is the second time they came to the show, for they wanted to know more about Chinese culture. Jack Johnson said that he liked the lion and dragon dance best because it was vivid.
Lisa Johnson said,“It is really amazing! The culture is so beautiful, even drinking tea is so elegant. I love Chinese culture so much.”

Joseph Dever, a father who came to the show with his daughter, said, “My daughter loves watching fashion show. The dress is traditional and elegant and we would not see these in magazines. ”

Totaq Chaiq whose ancestral home is Taiwan said that even though most programs are fantastic, especially the group song “Happy New Year” and the fashion show, there was still something needing to improve.

“Qipao (a Chinese-style woman’s dress with a high neck and slit skirt) is beautiful, but it is Manchu, Huqin (a musical instrument) is also not Han but Hu (the northern barbarian tribes in ancient China). They are not really Chinese traditional cultures,” he said. “The selection of music is also not perfect. ‘My Hometown is the Other Side of the Mountain’ and ‘The Spring River Flows East’ are very representative Chinese songs, maybe in the future singers can sing them.”

Qing Fan

Qing Fan

Qing Fan, the solo soprano, sang three songs: “Mother”, “Sear Lover Washing Clothes in the river” and “Nessun Drma”.

“I choose ‘Mother’ to express the thoughts of mother. We are all far away from our homeland and missing families a lot,” Fan said. “My friends made a video called ‘Go Home Often’, then sent it to families on New Year’s Eve. Their families are all touched.”

In addition to the Chinese-style programs, the gala also had some modern programs, such as hip-hop dance, band music and opera.

The band “Burning Engine” drove young people crazy. Audiences sang with them, screaming and clapping. Three high school students from Lansing High thought it was pretty cool and said they became fans of the band.

Chinese New Year, also known as the spring fetival. The Greater Lansing Chinese Association held this big gala to celebrate the Chinese New Year is becuase the Spring Festival is the year’s most important festival for Chinese people. In China, families get together to celebrate their harvest and make a good wish for the next year. Even though now these Chinese people are in United States, they still come together and celebrate the festival with other cultures.

Lisa Johnson said that from her perspective, the Chinese New Year was more like a cultural feast. Joseph Dever also agreed and said Chinese New Year was more positive and happier.

This is the third year that Greater Lansing Chinese Association hold Chinese New Year Celebration Gala at the Meridian Mall. Julie Brixie, the treasurer of Meridian Township, said that after Michigan State University decided to increase the number of international students, the township wanted to soptlight Chinese people and to draw more people come to Meridian Township.

There is no doubt that the cultural difference between Chinese people and American people is huge. But just because of the cultural difference, people with various backgrounds come together and enjoy each other.

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Okemos school board honors Superintendent Ash

By Jason Ruff
The Meridian Times

The Superintendent of Schools in Okemos has been given a 3-year contract extension.

Dr. Catherine Ash

The Okemos Board of Education gave Dr. Catherine Ash, superintendent, with a contract extension during its latest meeting on Feb. 23. The extension keeps Ash employed as superintendent through June 30, 2018.

According to the review, Ash, who holds a doctorate in education administration from Michigan State University, had received a mean score of “commendable” or “distinguished” in all 54 categories evaluated.

According to the report, Ash’s leadership qualities have been a key factor in her performance. “You (Ash) keep appraised of developments relating to educational policy, and encourage staff members to achieve professional excellence through external continuing education opportunities and participation in the Professional Learning Communities,” said the report.

“These achievements,” the report continued, “ demonstrate your strong professional and leadership qualities, and the Board is pleased with your commitment to the improvement of all aspects of the district.”

Robert Clark, director of finance for the district, added that Ash’s leadership skills make her a remarkable administrator.

“I’ve worked for a lot of leaders, some good, some bad, some really good. Catherine Ash is the finest leader I’ve ever been around,” Clark said. “She is the most competent professional I’ve ever worked for.”

Okemos Board of Education President Melanie Lynn also lauded Ash’s leadership qualities.

“She is wonderful at commanding the respect of her team. She has a wonderful leadership team and I think she does a good job of utilizing the significant skills of all of her team,” Lynn said. “She also has a very wonderful appreciation of the Okemos School District.”

One of Ash’s most notable achievements, according to Lynn, has been ensuring that the Okemos student body has continued to grow and thrive despite economic challenges.

“Our student body has continued to thrive educationally, socially and I think that is a testament to her leadership and the position of the board,” said Lynn.

Ash, who has been superintendent since 2010, had three primary goals as her focus for the 2014-15 academic year.

“My goals this year were to create a culturally competent and responsive school environment, also to create and implement a plan of renovation for some of our existing facilities,” Ash said. Ash also emphasized the need to increase the educational proficiency of identified subgroups, children at a disadvantage due to economic status or learning disabilities.

According to the report, Ash made “commendable progress” toward all three goals.

Ash insists that her successes are due largely to her leadership team.

“I was very pleased with way that (the evaluation) turned out … but I would also comment that my success is only because of the great people I have surrounding me,” she said.

When asked what the future holds for the district, Ash expressed both concern and optimism.

“I think right now the biggest challenge facing the board is financial. You know, I think we will continue to progress towards academic excellence and success for all of our students,” Ash said. “We’re never happy with where we are, so we’re constantly striving to be better and looking for ways to enhance our excellence.”

Despite the challenges ahead for the school district, Lynn believes that the future is bright under Ash.

“I think that we will continue to be the wonderful district that we are because Dr. Ash is a wonderful superintendent,” Lynn said. “This district is an exemplary district because Dr. Ash is an exemplary leader.”

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Board Sets Timetable for Finding New Legal Counsel

By Lauren N. Shields
The Meridian Times

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Meridian Township Manager Frank Walsh discusses the meeting’s events with a local resident.

The Meridian Township Board has decided on the process in the selection of its new legal representation. In a special meeting on Feb. 24, the board passed the motion for a committee of three board members, along with Meridian Township Manager Frank Walsh, to develop the criteria for the search. Once proposals came back, the committee will narrow the field to three candidates that will be interviewed by the full board.

“I move to set up a committee comprised of the manager, who we also need on that committee, Supervisor (Elizabeth) LeGoff, Trustee (Ronald) Styka and Clerk (Brett) Dreyfus to evaluate the (request for proposal) for legal services and to carry out the search process and bring to the board three finalists to interview,” said Treasurer Julie Brixie.

In the Feb. 17 meeting, Trustee John Veenstra mentioned the possibility of hiring an in-house attorney. The board has since decided that it will hire an outside firm that is more generalized, giving preference to those that are local.

Since 2001, Hubbard Law Firm represented the board as a general counsel. Because Hubbard Law Firm closed on Feb. 13, the board is without legal representation during this selection process. Not having legal counsel concerned Trustee Angela Wilson.

“We don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow, or next week, that maybe the treasurer’s office needs to deal with, or our planning department or our assessor or our clerk’s office or any one of our parks – anybody,” said Wilson. “Something could come up that (a department is) going to need legal counsel for and right now we don’t have it.”

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