Foundation hits bumps on way to new library building

The Williamston Community Library is housed in one room of the Williamston Community Center

By Justine McGuire
Williamston Post staff writer

WILLIAMSTON – Wheatfield Township trustees decided not to send a representative to form a joint building authority, putting a snag in the Williamston Community Library Foundation’s plans for a new library building.

The current plans require the City of Williamston, Williamstown Township and Wheatfield Township to form a joint building authority, then agree on the details of the building before the three municipalities can apply to put this initiative on the ballot.

Williamstown has agreed to send a representative to negotiate on the joint building authority committee. Williamston recently selected Kathleen DeForest, Mayor James DeForest’s wife, to represent the city.

Jack Helder, the foundation’s president and a resident of Wheatfield, said that the main reason Wheatfield gave for declining to send a representative was a lack of support in the community.

However, Wheatfield Treasurer Holly Miller said that lack of support was one of many reasons for the board’s decision.

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City prepares for 41st Red Cedar Jubilee

By Mallory Estepp
Williamston Post staff writer

WILLIAMSTON — As winter warms into spring, Williamston ends its hibernation to plan for the 41st Annual Red Cedar Jubilee during the first week of summer.

The weeklong festival will start June 18 in downtown Williamston. It has lawn mower races, an enduro derby and Lions-sponsored beer and food tents.

The city’s Kiwanis, Lions and Rotary clubs host the jubilee. All the money earned at the event goes back to the city, said Sandy Bowden-Whelton, president of the Red Cedar Jubilee Committee.

Whelton said the week features a different event every night.

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City Council passes ordinance regarding medical marijuana shops

Williamston City Hall-- photo provided by the city hall website.

By Eric Walters
Williamston Post staff writer

On March 12, the Williamston City Council passed an ordinance that will prohibit the construction and operation of medical marijuana shops.

Timothy Perrone, the Williamston city attorney, said that the ordinance disallows the zoning administration from issuing a permit for the use of something that is illegal under federal law. Medicinal marijuana, despite being legal in the state of Michigan as of 2008, is illegal under federal law. This means that, with the new ordinance, the zoning commission in Williamston cannot issue a permit for a medical marijuana shop.

The ordinance passed 4-1. The only city council member who voted against it was Sandy Whelton. Former mayor Michelle Van Wert was absent from the meeting.
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Williamston High School in acceptance stage after fatal accident

How the lockers appear now.

By Eric Walters
Williamston Post staff writer

In October 2011, Williamston High School freshman Gabe Corbett died after a locker room wall he was climbing on collapsed, falling on top of him.

“We remember him every day and he’ll never be forgotten. But, people have begun to realize that we need to move on, we can’t be crying every day, we have to focus on other things,” said Williamston High School principal Dr. Jeffrey Thoenes.

Thoenes said the aftermath of Corbett’s death went better than expected, a fact that he credits to his students.

“Our kids are remarkable. After Gabe’s death they put together a celebration of his life that we held on our football field, that went extremely well,” Thoenes said. “They’ve been there for each other, supported each other the whole way.”

To help students cope with Corbett’s death, the school offered counseling for all students and even paid for a few to have out-of-school counseling. After dealing with the initial shock of the accident, the next step was to determine how the accident happened, and what to do with the locker room area.
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Scattered clouds spoil Sunshine Week

March 11-17 is Sunshine Week, so we checked to see how well the sun shines in Ingham County. Let’s call it mostly cloudy with some bright spots.

Sunshine refers to light that the Freedom of Information and Open Meetings acts bring to government. The laws are intended to help citizens see how their governments operate and spend their money.

On Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 29, the Spartan Online News Network, powered by Michigan State University journalism students, emailed most of the municipalities and school districts in Ingham County with a simple request. The students asked how many Freedom of Information Act requests these entities had received in each of the five preceding years. They cited the FOIA in their requests.

Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act
says local government should respond or ask for an extension within five business days. We felt the request could be answered quickly, without straining local clerks. In some cases, this was true. In others, we have not heard back, long after the five-day response period has passed.
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Businesses offer classes on the side

By Maranda Trombley
Williamston Post staff writer

WILLIAMSTON- Williamston is small, but the number of things to do is large.

Many local businesses are offering classes to boost business and give its people a reason to get out of the house.

The bar area that serves as the students' work area.

Gracie’s Place offers a one-night, three-hour class for bartending or cooking. The class includes an introduction to both and allows students to consume everything they make.

Bartending lessons are $45 per person and cooking lessons are $55 per person with a group of four or more rate of $45. For lesson dates, times and registration call Ben Donnelly at 517-655-1100.

“It gets a little louder at the end of the bartending class than when it firsts starts,” said Donnelly, general manager at Gracie’s Place.

Another business that offers lessons is Six String Place. Owner Don Warren is proud to have brought musical education and supplies to Williamston for more than six years.

Instructor Nick May shows his student how a piece is played.

“We’re devoted mainly to education and empowering people through making music,” says Warren.

Six String Place offers music lessons for guitar, piano, drums, bass, ukulele, mandolin, banjo, most other fretted instruments and vocals. Six instructors teach more than 100 students at Six String Place. To sign up contact Don Warren at 517-282-3266.

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Sports suffer minimal losses at Williamston High School

artwork on display in the Williamston High School cafeteria

By Justine McGuire
Williamston Post staff writer

WILLIAMSTON – Loss of funds has not stopped Williamston High School from providing sports programs for its students.

The high school has avoided cutting sports teams and coaching positions but has had to trade two part-time athletic directors for one part-time athletic director and assistant principal, Mike Freeman, who took on the extra role without additional pay. The school has also had to cut back on uniforms, supplies and materials.

Finance Director Steve Cook said the district has lost $270 per student, or about $500,000. The district’s total budget is just shy of $16 million.

Williamston High School Principal Jeffery Thoenes said that sports have had minimal cuts because, overtime, general funding for sports has been replaced with sports boosters.

The district has avoided cutting any sports programs because of the possibility that students might use school of choice to play their sport elsewhere.

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Budget cuts limiting Williamston schools

Williamston High School

By Justine McGuire
Williamston Post staff writer

WILLIAMSTON – Williamston Community Schools have had to cut spending for academics, faculty and administration.

Finance Director Steve Cook said that for this school year the district lost $470 per student but regained $200 per student in incentive money based on percentage growth in state test scores. In total, the district lost $270 per student or about $500,000.

The district now gets $6,888 per student, or a total budget just shy of $16 million.

Cook said that there is a potential for gaining another $90 per student through incentives for the coming school year, and that other money for the district should stay the same.

Budget cuts have made classes a little different at the high school this year.

“Prior to my arrival here, Williamston schools did everything they could to keep cuts away from the classroom,” Thoenes said. “This last year (budget cuts) impacted the classroom directly.”

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Williamston High School Choir performs

WILLIAMSTON — Williamston High School’s choirs hosted their annual pre-festival concert Feb. 15, in the school’s McGoff Performing Arts Center.

The event, which was free and open to public, preceded the District Choir Festival, Feb 22-23 at Holt High School.

The choirs same sang the songs they rehearsed for the District Choir Festival said Adam Boyce, the choirs’ director and teacher.

Boyce, who has been teaching at Williamston High School for four years, said he loves his teaching experience.

He said the Williamston community is very supportive of the choirs, the theater and the fine arts.

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Williamston Community Schools’ School Choice accepts new students

WILLIAMSTON — School-of-choice applications were reviewed for the spring at Williamston Community Schools.

The 15-day application window closed on Jan. 17.

Janet Eidt, executive assistant to Superintendent Narda Murphy, said that the school district accepted 37 school-of-choice students.

However, only four of those students are brand new to the school district, Eidt said.

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