Independent group offers oversight of East Lansing institutions

When Christine Root became vice chair of the Independent Police Oversight Commission in East Lansing in January 2022, she knew that it was important to look into the ways that institutions with power influence their communities. “Because police have the power to arrest people, and because they carry weapons, it’s an important agency to focus on,” Root said. “They have a lot of authority over people’s lives.”

Initially, the Human Rights Commission was responsible for taking complaints from the public regarding the East Lansing Police Department. As its role began to evolve in the community though, it met with City Council members and agreed that a separate commission needed to be created to handle situations related to the ELPD. 

City Councilwoman Dana Watson was a member of the Human Rights Commission when it took complaints related to the police department. She values the importance of an independent oversight commission that is dedicated to handling complaints to serve the community.

East Lansing creates opportunity for conversations, inclusion

When Karen Hoene joined the East Lansing Human Rights Commission to serve as commissioner, she knew that she wanted to create a safe place for individuals of protected classes. “I want people to know that if they are facing any sort of discrimination, as a protected class, that we have a place they can start by filing a complaint or bringing it to our attention,” Hoene said. “I don’t think a lot of people know that.”

Formerly a member of the East Lansing School Board, Hoene said she wanted to find a way to stay involved with the community civically and was appointed to the commission just over three years ago. When Hoene joined the commission, she came with new ideas to help community members feel comfortable bringing their human rights-related issues to the table. One of these ideas was for events she coined “Coffee and Conversation.”

“It’s an opportunity for community members to get together informally to discuss issues related to human rights and human relations in our community in a facilitated conversation,” Hoene said.

Pizzeria to open in East Lansing

When Peter Coratti and his nephew Anthony Coratti heard that there was availability to open a restaurant in downtown East Lansing, they jumped at the chance. “To have the opportunity to open up a shop in a big-time college town is very rare,” Anthony Coratti said. “East Lansing being one of the best college towns in the country is just, when the opportunity presented itself, we did everything we could to get in there.”

Anthony Coratti first started working with his uncle Peter Corratti when they opened Coratti’s Pizzeria Bar and Bocce in Howell in May of 2021. Anthony Corratti is responsible for the accounting and payroll aspects of the business while Peter Corratti is the owner. 

The restaurant is known for its Napoletana-style pizza as well as its bocce ball courts that draw people in for dinner as well as entertainment. “We figured, one, we were going to provide great Italian food and, two, why not do something to allow our guests to get off their feet and entertain themselves,” Anthony Coratti said.

Hundreds gather to protest Roe v. Wade decision

Sara Gothard attempted to hold back tears while protesting at the Michigan State Capitol building on June 24. “I knew it was going to come, I just didn’t expect it today,” Gothard, 44, said. “How can you be prepared?”

Gothard and hundreds of other people gathered at the Capitol to protest the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the previous 50-year precedent of Roe v. Wade. This ruling leaves the decision of whether abortions are legal up to individual states. 

“This [ruling] impacts everyone,” Gothard said. “It impacts children, it impacts families, it impacts people’s ability to live their lives and have freedom.

East Lansing Parks and Rec connects community

When Catherine DeShambo took over as the East Lansing Parks, Recreation and Arts Department director last August, she knew she would have a vital role in the community. “I like to think that we’re [parks, recreation and arts department] that connective tissue to help our community lead healthy, happy, strong [lives],” DeShambo said. “We provide that opportunity for connection with each other.”

Prior to working at the department, Deshambo has worked for the city of East Lansing for ten years. She has a background in community education, environmental services and general education. 

The parks, recreation and arts department has a wide range of responsibilities including maintaining the parks and trails, hosting various workout and art classes, offering childcare through the schools and running festivals and events for the city. DeShambo credits her success as department director to her staff. 

“We have just the best and most talented staff.