CNS bonus budget, Dec. 16, 2022

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Bonus Week – 12/16/22

CNS Budget

To: CNS Editors

From: David Poulson and Judy Putnam

Welcome to the bonus week CNS file of the 2022 fall semester. 

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

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

Editors: This is our traditional end-of-semester bonus budget with some new stories but also some still-timely stories you may not have had space for earlier. There are also commentaries suitable for opinion pages

Coming up: Within a few weeks expect a special package of Michigan environmental stories in collaboration with our partner, Great Lakes Echo.

Here’s your file:


FUNERAL ASSISTANCE:  Unlike several other states, Michigan has not upped the financial assistance provided to low income residents for funeral and burial services since the COVID pandemic. Across the United States, friends and families of those who died from COVID were eligible for up to $9,000 in funeral assistance through FEMA. The program distributed nearly $3 billion to people nationwide and just under $100 million went to about 16,000 Michiganders, according to FEMA’s website. But the up to $600 offered by Michigan is more than just one state of the 20 that provide such support. We talk to Traverse City and Gladwin funeral directors and state officials  By Liam Jackson FOR ALL POINTS. 

ENERGY INSECURITY: Household energy bills rose after the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study shows, creating energy insecurity and leading to people looking for techniques for coping with finances and behavior, including reducing temperatures to an unsafe level. In Michigan, DTE Energy, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Public Service Commission designed a process to provide energy efficiency education and assistance to those struggling with utility bills. We hear from DTE and a researcher. By Borjana Alia. FOR DETROIT, LANSING CITY PULSE, PLANET DETROIT AND ALL POINTS.

HALF WILD: Longtime environmental policy expert Dave Dempsey of Traverse City and now a senior advisor at FLOW (For Love of Waters) talks about his new book, “Half Wild: People, Dogs and Environmental Policy.” It’s an overview of his career, wins and mistakes interspersed with stories about dogs he’s owned. By Vladislava Sukhanovskaya. FOR TRAVERSE CITY, LEELANAU AND ALL POINTS.

w/HALF WILD PHOTO: Cover of “Half Wild: People, Dogs and Environmental Policy.” Credit: Vladislava Sukhanovskaya

You may have missed these stories that moved earlier this semester:

TEACHER HEALTH: Michigan teachers struggled with too many demands even before the pandemic, school psychologists and the teachers’ union say. Districts are seeking ways to help ease the anxiety reported by more than a third of teachers in a nationwide survey last year.  We talk to school psychologists in Sanford near Midland and in the Eastern Upper Peninsula ISD as well as the head of the Michigan Education Association. By Sarah Atwood. FOR ST. IGNACE, SAULT STE. MARIE, MIDLAND AND ALL POINTS.

AFTER  SCHOOL PROGRAMS: More after-school programs will open next year as

 the state passes out $24 million in COVID relief funds. Some programs that operated before the pandemic are expected to reopen. Detroit has just one slot per 300 kids, versus the national standard of one for every 200 children. We talk to a state education

 consultant and Winston Coffee, a coach with Midnight Golf in Detroit. By Janelle James. FOR DETROIT and ALL POINTS.

CHRISTMAS TREES: This growing season for Christmas trees was the best year in a long time, benefiting Michigan’s 500 Christmas tree farmers. Michigan is third in the country in Christmas tree production, producing 2 million trees a year. We talk to farmers in Caledonia, Manton near Cadillac and Port Austin, as well as the head of the Michigan Christmas Tree Association. By Liam Jackson FOR CADILLAC, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, WKTV, CORP!,  MICHIGAN FARM NEWS AND ALL POINTS

w/CHRISTMAS TREES PHOTOS 1: Levi Dutcher, with his family outside of Old Grove Christmas Tree Farm in Caledonia, will carry on a family tradition of selling trees. Credit: Levi Dutcher.

NONPROFIT  INCUBATOR: A coalition of environmental groups has created an incubator

 for new nonprofit organizations that help the environment. Among them are the Black Owners of Solar Services, a Detroit-based environmental news service and a group fighting a pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac. We talk to the Michigan Environmental Council,

 Consumers Energy, Planet Detroit editor, and a board member of BOSS. By Janelle James. FOR PLANET DETROIT, CORP! MAGAZINE, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL AND ALL POINTS.


HOLIDAY PETS:  If your dog throws up her Thanksgiving dinner on that brand new carpet, don’t blame her. Instead, remember to include her in the plans of your next holiday gathering.

Just like people, pets need a routine and a stress-free holiday. We talk to a kennel owner in Ludington, an Oceana County animal control officer and the state’s veterinarian. By Liam Jackson. For news and feature sections. FOR OCEANA, LUDINGTON, LANSING CITY PULSE AND ALL POINTS.

COLLEGE TRANSPORTATION: Attendance at Michigan community colleges is declining, and transportation could be a factor. Most community college students are lower income and more likely to lack reliable transportation. The problem is especially challenging for community colleges that seek students from multiple counties. They are partnering with county transportation systems and establishing emergency funds for students with car trouble. We talk to representatives from Alpena Community College, Delta College, and Kirtland Community College. By Sarah Atwood. FOR ALPENA, MIDLAND, CRAWFORD COUNTY AND ALL POINTS

Editors, note localization opportunity for listing distance between colleges and nearest public transit stops at

These commentaries could run in opinion sections:

COMMENTARY MICHIGAN SUMMERS: For a Missouri girl growing up in St. Louis, summers meant time with grandparents in Ithaca and annual beach holidays on Lake Huron’s Tawas Bay, with ice cream every night, sand castles and grilled hamburgers. By Elaine Mallon. FOR MIDLAND, ALPENA, ALCONA, CHEBOYGAN, MONTMORENCY AND ALL POINTS.

w/MICHIGAN SUMMERS PHOTO: The author, her siblings and their mother at a Lake Huron beach. Credit: Courtesy photo.

COMMENTARY VENGEANCE: How does an 8-year-old wreak revenge when she blames “fat, segmented white larvae” for killing the maple that held the beloved tire swing in her backyard? By Molly Wright. FOR PLANET DETROIT, DETROIT AND ALL POINTS

w/COMMENTARY VENGEANCE PHOTO 1: Grub larvae. Credit:

w/COMMENTARY VENGEANCE PHOTO 2: Molly Wright (left) Grace Huber (middle) and Sean Wright (right) pose with tire swing and downed maple branch. Credit: Courtesy photo.

w/COMMENTARY VENGEANCE PHOTO 3: Maple being cut down. Credit: Courtesy photo


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