CNS bonus budget, Dec. 18, 2020

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Dec. 18, 2020

To: CNS Editors

From: David Poulson and Judy Putnam

For technical problems, contact CNS technical manager Eryn Ho at (616) 485-9295;

For other matters, contact Dave Poulson at (517) 899-1640;

Note: This is a bonus file that contains a new story about Michigan board game sales and some evergreen stories that already moved this semester but that you may have not yet used. Our first file of the spring semester is Friday, Jan. 22.

WELCOME DETROIT NEWS: The Detroit News has become the newest member of Capital News Service.

UPCOMING MICHIGAN ENVIRONMENTAL PACKAGE: In collaboration with our partner Great Lakes Echo, we plan to move a package of Michigan-related environmental stories during the winter break.

Here’s your file:


PANDEMIC GAME EXPLOSION: Michigan retailers are among those benefiting from a virus-fueled interest in board games. The same pandemic restrictions that close movie theaters, bowling alleys, bars and sporting events fuel interest in tabletop games. Interest surged in the games that can be played with family and at small gatherings surged with distribution of stimulus checks.  We talk with retailers and players in Lansing, Grand Rapids, Clawson, Ann Arbor and Detroit about some of the hot sellers and talk to a Central Michigan University expert. By Kyle Davidson FOR LANSING CITY PULSE, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, CORP! DETROIT NEWS AND ALL POINTS.

W/ROOTDISPLAY: This “game of woodland might and right,” has been a hot seller, according to Curtis Sullivan, co-owner of the Michigan-based Vault of Midnight chain of game and comic stores. Credit: Kyle Davidson

W/DICENBOOKS.JPG: Dungeons & Dragons has seen increased interest during the pandemic as players purchase books, figures and dice. Credit: Kyle Davidson

W/ICEWINDDALE: “Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden” is one of the many Dungeons & Dragons gamebooks released in 2020. Credit: Kyle Davidson

W/ROLL 20 BAR CHART: Roll 20 is a gaming website with online tools to help online and in person players. In recent years Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition has consistently been the most popular title among the website’s 4 million players. In the third quarter of 2020, more than 59% of them used the site to play Dungeons & Dragons. Credit: Kyle Davidson.



CAPITOL HEAT PUMP: An obscure door tucked beneath one of the massive stone staircases outside of Michigan’s state capitol reveals yet another steep stairwell leading to a coal-fired boiler room. It was once the center of one of the most sophisticated heating and cooling system of the 19th century. Today, the same room is poised to gather heat from 272 wells sunk 500 feet below the Capitol grounds as part of a complex multi-million dollar utility upgrade. By David Poulson. FOR LANSING CITY PULSE AND ALL POINTS.

BLACKSHAW PIPES– Rob Blackshaw, director of operations for the Michigan State Capitol Commission, walks through the Capitol’s former basement boiler room, which now contains equipment for the building’s new geothermal heating and cooling system. Credit: David Poulson
BLACKSHAW WELLS– Rob Blackshaw, director of operations of the Michigan State Capitol Commission, examines one of the 272 geothermal wells drilled 500 feet below the Capitol grounds. Credit: David Poulson
PLUMBING– A new geothermal energy efficient system will start heating and cooling Michigan’s Capitol in 2021. Credit: David Poulson
BOILER– Original architectural drawing of one of the Capitol’s massive boilers. Credit: The State of Michigan Archives. 

ALPACAS: Move over chickens, cattle and pigs. Alpacas, a transplant from Peru, are growing in popularity among farmers in Michigan and elsewhere in the Great Lakes region. We hear from the owner of a Mount Pleasant alpaca fiber business and the Great Lakes Alpaca Association. By Anne Hooper. FOR MICHIGAN FARM NEWS, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, CORP! AND ALL POINTS.

w/ALPACAS PHOTO1: With the ever-growing push for sustainability, alpaca fiber may stand as the next greatest thing in fashion. Could the animal offer new economic opportunities for Michigan farmers? Credit: Jaddy Liu,

w/ALPACAS PHOTO2: The Great Lakes region has some of the largest alpaca herds in the country. Credit: Anne Hooper.

TRANSIT FUTURE: Federal funding helped Michigan transit agencies stay in good shape throughout the pandemic. It’s the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, 2021 that transportation authorities worry about. Concerns that the pandemic will eat up state revenues for the 2022 fiscal year have transit authorities looking for budget solutions. We talk to a statewide association and authorities in Lansing, Traverse City and Saginaw. By Zholdas Orisbayev. For TRAVERSE CITY, LEELENAU, LANSING CITY PULSE AND ALL POINTS.

HUNGERSPIKE: As the holiday season approaches, the demand for food in Michigan is at a record high because of  COVID-19, according to the state’s food banks. The need for volunteers to distribute it is also at record levels. And monetary donations are up. We talk to several regional food bank officials to get a sense for the increased need for food assistance as the pandemic leads to job loss and new medical expenses. By Zholdas Orisbayev FOR ALL POINTS.

SCHOOL AIR QUALITY: A new statewide program aims to block COVID-19 from spreading through the air of Michigan’s school classrooms. To address the pandemic, the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy and the Department of Education want districts to report the status of  their heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems to the state. Some grants are available for licensed contractors to assess air quality needs. We interview the Kent ISD interim superintendent, a Lansing-based association and the state’s energy ombudsman. By Judy Putnam. FOR GONGWER, MIRS, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, LANSING CITY PULSE AND ALL POINTS.

REALESTATEBOOM:  Michigan builders are responding to a demand for expensive homes, a market driven in part by people investing in homes rather than travel during the pandemic. At the same time, the state lacks housing for moderate-income buyers, such as the workers who build the high-end homes, experts say. It is especially true in northern Michigan resort areas.  Home prices statewide are up about 10% over last year. But last August  the average selling price for homes in Northwest Michigan’s Emmet County was $428,581, up from $344,120 reported for the same month the previous year. FOR BUSINESS AND NEWS PAGES IN TRAVERSE CITY, PETOSKEY, CHEBOYGAN, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, CORP! AND ALL POINTS.

W/REALESTATEBOOM PHOTO: A house in northern East Lansing sold before construction was completed. Credit: Zholdas Orisbayev.

AVOIDING DOWNTOWN DEMISE: Michigan downtowns are headed for long-term trouble with so many workers continuing to work from home, business experts say. Local business groups are fighting back with creative marketing and repurposing commercial property. We talk to a Charlevoix downtown authority, the head of the Small Business Association of Michigan, the state retailers group and the Michigan Downtown Association. By Zholdas Orisbayev FOR PETOSKEY, TRAVERSE CITY, CORP!, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, LANSING CITY PULSE AND ALL POINTS.

NATURE TRAIL: There’s a new wilderness bike/hike trail at the Huron County Nature Center, only two hours from northern Metro Detroit and a shorter drive from Flint and Saginaw. For news and outdoors sections. By Jim DuFresne. FOR ALCONA AND ALL POINTS.
w/NATURE TRAIL PHOTO: the Huron County Nature Center is the site of a new wilderness bike/hike trail. Credit: Huron County Nature Center.

UNIVERSITY BUDGET WOES: Declining enrollment and new costs related to the pandemic have Michigan universities cutting costs, deferring construction projects and laying off employees. The Michigan Association of State Universities projects that the state’s 15 public universities will take a $1.2 billion hit. By Zholdas Orisbayev. FOR SAULT STE. MARIE AND ALL POINTS

DISAPPEARING HISTORY: The once-honored Beechwood Store in Iron River Township, the Flint Brewing Co., the shipwrecked schooner Alvin Clark in Menominee, the Fenton Seminary and the majestic Grand Riviera Theater in Detroit have all disappeared from the prestigious National Register of Historic Places. The National Park Service recently removed their recognition because they’ve been demolished, no longer retain their historic integrity and cannot convey their historic significance, the State Historic Preservation Office says. By Eric Freedman. FOR MARQUETTE, BAY MILLS, SAULT ST. MARIE, LANSING CITY PULSE, ST. IGNACE AND ALL POINTS.
      w/DISAPPEARING HISTORY BEECHWOOD STORE PHOTO: The historic Beechwood Store, which also served as a post office and social center, in 1979. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
w/DISAPPEARING HISTORY ALVIN CLARK:The wooden lumber schooner Alvin Clark. Credit: Wikipedia