Members of the student group Refugee Outreach Kalamazoo at Michigan State University show up to cheer on the Newcomers youth soccer team.

Lansing area provide supports for hundreds of refugees

More 4,900 refugees have been resettled in Michigan so far in 2016, including 864 in the Lansing area, according to the U.S. State Department’s Refugee Processing Center.

That’s up from 2,714 refugees statewide in 2015, and 611 in the Lansing area.

The growth comes despite criticism of some refugee re-settlement programs. During the campaign, President-elect Donald Trump pledged to shut off immigration from Syria to stop terrorists from slipping into the country.

Yet local refugee services groups say they’re committed to continuing to help people fleeing their homelands.

Principal Les Key of Hamady High School near Flint, Michigan, has been an advocate for efforts to fix the city's lead-contaminated water system.

Flint advocate: ‘You can live poor, but you don’t have to live dirty’

Les Key says he is on a mission to help Flint’s youth overcome the city’s struggles. Key is principal of Hamady High School, with is just outside the city. He said half of his students live in the city of Flint, which has been in a state-declared financial emergency since 2011. In 2014, as part efforts to resolve its budget deficit, the city switched its water supply to the more corrosive water of the Flint River, which damaged the city’s water infrastructure and caused lead to leach from the system’s pipes into the water supply. Spartan Newsroom: If you could sum up the attitude of Flint toward politics what would you say? Les Key: When it comes to our city, we just want justice.

Climate change could reshape Michigan’s economy

Climate change could drive economic changes in Michigan, particularly in agriculture, manufacturing and energy, researchers who study climate change issues say. But those changes — at least in the short term — are likely to be shaped in part by the incoming Trump administration. During the campaign, President-elect Donald Trump threatened to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement. In an interview with “Fox News Sunday” on Dec. 11, Trump said he’s open-mined about whether climate change exists, but also said, “Nobody really knows.”

“The conversation about climate change in Washington will be very different now,” said Michael Jones, a Michigan State University fisheries and wildlife professor who studies the efforts of climate change on fisheries in the Great Lakes..

Climate change could make rain and snow unpredictable in Michigan, scientists say, which could affect agriculture, insects and ski slopes.

Researchers: Climate change debate will effect Michigan

The consequences could be severe for Michigan, researchers who study climate change say. Levels of precipitation are likely to become imbalanced, leading to more droughts and floods, making farming more risky and causing insect populations to swell, said Michael Libbee, the director of Michigan Geographic Alliance and professor at Central Michigan University. There likely will be a tick infestation, which will affect hunters, and snowfall may decrease, leaving snowmobilers and skiers out of luck. A 2016 survey of Americans by Muhlenberg College and the University of Michigan found nearly two-thirds believe there is solid evidence of climate change. But 19 percent of those survey said they were unsure and 15 percent said there is no solid evidence.

Student refugees, humanitarian leaders and musicians took the stage together on Nov. 13, 2016 at the MSU Cook Recital Hall.

Storytelling concert puts local refugees on stage

On Nov. 13, students, professors and musicians took the stage at Michigan State University’s Cook Recital Hall to share experiences about what it is like to be a refugee. Emily Worline, founder of the nonprofit Refugee Outreach Kalamazoo, said the goal of this storytelling concert was to help demolish the divide between refugees and other Americans. Worline said her experience volunteering in Greece drove her to start the nonprofit group. While overseas, Worline said she was overwhelmed by the generosity from refugees who expected nothing back in return. “They fed me, they thanked me, they gave me their last fork and they went without and yet I knew that I did nothing for them,” Worline said.

Gabriel Arroh laughs about whether he minds getting sweaty. "No," he said, "it means it is working."

Are students paying more attention to their diets?

Michigan State University Extension Food Educator Joyce McGarry said she has noticed a growing number of college students taking an interest in what they eat. That’s welcome news given reports about the overall health of the state. In 2015, Michigan had the 16th highest adult obesity rate among U.S. states, according to The State of Obesity, a collaborative project of the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “They understand the benefits of eating healthy,” McGarry said of MSU students. “I do think they understand it better than some older people.

Campus incidents spur debate about guns

On a chilly February morning in 2014, a man with a gun walked into Bessey Hall, a classroom building near the center of Michigan State University’s campus. The incident was quickly reported to police, who sent an alert to every cellphone on campus warning of a possible shooter. “We were all so ill-prepared,” said Jack Ritchey, an MSU student inside Bessey that day. “The only thing we thought to do was barricade the door. Some people were genuinely afraid, others weren’t taking the threat seriously.”

The incident turned out to be a misunderstanding — an ROTC student had carried an exposed training weapon into the building — but it highlights a problem facing college campuses.