State funeral funds remain stagnant after pandemic

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.

Slow start to snowmobiling season but outlook good

SNOWMOBILE TRAILS: Snowmobile trail groomers anticipate more snow this year than last winter but the season is not off to a good start. Editors: Possible localization opportunity with this map of the state’s trails and their grooming sponsors –

Copy of 2022 Recreation Passport Award List

Time to play: Rec facilities boosted across state

RECREATION PASSPORT: Michigan ice rinks, volleyball courts and parks just got a $2 million boost from state park access fees. The payments range from $83,600 for upgrades to a township park in Delta County to $150,000 awards for an ice arena in L’Anse and another for volleyball courts in Alpena. Editors: We discovered these awards before they were announced. Not all local officials are aware that they are successful. By Liam Jackson. FOR ALPENA, MARQUETTE, ST. IGNACE AND ALL POINTS. w/ PARKS LIST – For possible localization: A list of the parks receiving state improvement grants.

Wood products from urban sources a growing trend

URBAN WOOD: City trees and demolished buildings could help save the environment and small businesses. A growing “urban wood” movement is producing building materials and lumber salvaged from city streets and buildings. The practice also locks global warming greenhouse gases into products. We talk to mill operators in Hillsdale and Detroit and an Ann Arbor-based wood recycling expert. FOR HILLSDALE, DETROIT, TRAVERSE CITY AND ALL POINTS By Liam Jackson

Holidays can be stressful for all, including pets

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.

Undocumented workers could be untapped revenue source

DRIVER’S LICENSES: Undocumented Michiganders are fighting for the right to obtain a driver’s license, an action supporters say could generate $100 million for the state. An initiative called Drive SAFE could pave the way. Bills introduced last year will die at the end of the calendar year but advocates hope to push it in the next legislative session. We talk to Sparta apple grower who supports the legislation, a state senator, and the Michigan League for Public Policy. By Liam Jackson. FOR LANSING, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL, MICHIGAN FARM NEWS, WKTV, BLISSFIELD, ADRIAN, OCEANA, LUDINGTON, IONIA, HOLLAND, HILLSDALE, FOWLERVILLE, GREENVILLE, BIG RAPIDS, MONTMORENCY AND ALL POINTS.

Asparagus growers target online sales 

SPECIALTY CROPS – Promoting online sales of asparagus is among the $1.2 million in projects to support Michigan specialty crops recently awarded by federal officials. The COVID19 pandemic proved that asparagus didn’t benefit from the surge of online buying, farm officials said. Addressing that deficit is among the dozen projects recently awarded federal support. Others include hops and cherries. BY LIAM JACKSON. FOR MICHIGAN FARM NEWS, CORP!, TRAVERSE CITY, OCEANA COUNTY, LANSING, GRAND RAPIDS AND ALL POINTS.

Levi Dutcher, with his family outside of Old Grove Christmas Tree Farm in Caledonia, will carry on a family tradition of selling trees.

‘Best year’ in long time boosts Christmas tree farms

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. FOR CADILLAC, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, WKTV, MICHIGAN FARM NEWS AND ALL POINTS

Gaps grow for walking, biking behaviors

WALKING AND BIKING: Older and poorer people in Michigan walk and bike far less than their younger and richer counterparts, a gap that grew during the COVID-19 pandemic, a recent study reports. Age, education and identification as a minority correlate with less walking and biking for recreation, the study said. One reason why lower-income people walked less than wealthier people during the pandemic could be that more of them had to work in the service sector as essential workers. We talk to an Michigan State University expert, the Michigan Municipal League and the League of Michigan Bicyclists.By Liam Jackson FOR HOLLAND, LUDINGTON AND ALL POINTS.