A role of stickers for voters sit on a table at a voting precinct in Delhi Township.

Michigan youth vote dipped in 2016, but might have surged in 2018

The 2016 presidential election was a polarizing time for the country, and Michigan was no exception. Donald Trump won Michigan by 0.3 percent, taking the presidency with him by a margin of fewer than 10,000 votes, according to the New York Times. In contrast, Barack Obama won Michigan by 9.5 percent in 2012, netting roughly 450,000 more votes than his runner-up. MLive attributes this swing, at least partially, to voter turnout: More people voted in terms of raw numbers, but fewer voters turned out in traditionally Democratic counties. While partisan shifts are apparent in results, changing participation among Michigan’s voter demographics could provide more insight into the state’s level of civic participation and how it ranks alongside the Midwest and the rest of the country.

Legal marijuana proposal could bring financial benefits to Michigan

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Proposal 1, Michigan’s ballot initiative to legalize the recreational use and possession of marijuana, could have a sizable financial impact on the state. A study commissioned by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol estimates the proposal, if successful, will bring roughly $134 million in tax revenue a year to the state by 2023, which could be used for continually underfunded areas such as roads, schools and local governments. “We’re under no assumption that legalizing marijuana is going to solve all our school funding issues and road funding issues,” said Josh Hovey, spokesman for the coalition. “Instead, it’s going to generate hundreds of millions of dollars more than what we’re raising now, which is none.”

Eight of the nine states with legal recreational marijuana became that way because of ballot initiatives, starting with Washington state and Colorado in 2012. States with legal marijuana have reaped financial benefits: In Colorado, the legal marijuana industry has generated more than a billion dollars a year in revenue since 2016, with the state raking in $247 million in taxes and fees in 2017, according to the Denver Post.

Politics just don’t interest Harrison Township non-voter

Roughly 37 percent of Michigan’s voting-age population did not vote in the 2016 presidential election, according to the Michigan Secretary of State’s website. David Hilt, 21, of Harrison Township, is one of those 2,862,631 eligible non-voters. “Politics don’t interest me,” Hilt said. “I’m not really into it, I never look into it at all.”

Hilt belongs to a family he would describe as middle-class: His father a carpenter, his mother a manager at a fertility center. Like many, Hilt would never bring up politics at the dinner table, he said.

Bath and DeWitt downtowns anticipate, experience development

The neighboring communities of Bath and DeWitt differ greatly: DeWitt Township has a higher population in a smaller area than Bath Township, and the same is true for their central enclaves. Downtown DeWitt prepares for the opening of Looking Glass Brewing Company, a new business highly anticipated by DeWitt officials and residents. The Bath Village Diner opened its doors in early 2016. A few months later, it purchased a neighboring bar and expanded into it. Later in the year, the diner had closed down.

Bath Township passes millage to turn Library Center into public library

A millage that passed in Bath Township Tuesday will generate funding to expand the Bath Township Library Center into an official public library. The millage might have also saved the Library Center in general, Sue Garrity, president of Friends of Bath Township Library Center. “Because of a change in the leadership, there had been signals from the new township board of trustees that they were no longer going to fund a library at all,” Garrity said. “It was going to close at the end of December.”

Voters approved the millage by a vote of 835 – 590, according to unofficial results posted on Bath Township’s webpage. The Clinton County Clerk will likely certify the results within a week, according to the website.

In divisive times, DeWitt eschews partisanship

When brothers Andrew and Billy McElfresh made the decision to live in DeWitt, proximity to work was a primary motivator. Politics were not. “It’s like a hit-or-miss, depends on the subject,” Billy McElfresh said. “Healthcare, stuff that affects me. I know, sounds very arrogant or ignorant, but I don’t pay attention to the big stuff, just stuff that directly affects me.”

Neither brother voted in the 2016 presidential election, and though they had strong opinions on healthcare, gun laws and education funding, time hasn’t convinced them to lean one way or another.

At Chandler Crossings, MSU students colonize Bath Township

If one were to send mail to someone living at Chandler Crossings, their mailing address would suggest they live in East Lansing. However, the cluster of student neighborhoods north of MSU is actually under the jurisdiction of Bath Township. Chandler Crossings is a high-growth area that sees more development than the rest of Bath Township, tending to center around student housing, Bath Planning Commission Chair and MSU professor Dan Kramer said. “It’s a more dynamic area for sure, in terms of the pace of development and the number of units developed,” Kramer said. As Chandler Crossings lies under the jurisdiction of Bath Township, residents make use of Bath Township Police Department and other township resources and services.

Appointments bring variety of expertise to DeWitt City Council

If there is a vacancy in an elected position, the DeWitt City Charter requires it to be filled within 30 days. DeWitt City Council has needed to fill a vacancy more than a few times since the early 2000s. Six out of the seven current members of DeWitt City Council originally got there via appointment, including Mayor Sue Leeming and Mayor Pro Tem Dave Hunsaker. However, this is not a hindrance or a sign of turnover issues, but instead an opportunity to ensure council has a variety of experience and get lower-level city employees to take the next step, Leeming said. “Since I was appointed to council 14 years ago, there seems to have been a pattern for about the last 14-16 years of vacancies on council being filled with appointments and then the people who were appointed to fill those vacancies running for office and being elected,” Hunsaker said.

Bath Police use Facebook to ‘humanize’ officers, create outreach

When Bath Township Police Officer Michael Lapham first created a Facebook page for the department, it began as mostly unremarkable. As the department’s K-9 officer, Lapham did not have enough time at first to dedicate to the Facebook page, BTPD Officer Avery Lyon said. When Lyon and Officer Trenton Bailey joined the department, they showed interest in improving the department’s social media, Lapham said. Lyon and Bailey were able to attend a social media training session, and the three officers acted to revamp the department’s social media strategy. Now, the page has 24,132 followers – a following more than 10 times as large as the population of Bath itself.

Cat in the Tub: How a cougar invaded Bath Township

Bath Township made quite a splash in June when it became the site of a landmark occurrence. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, or DNR, confirmed a cougar sighting as legitimate, the first confirmed appearance of the big cat species in the Lower Peninsula in over a century. “Cougars were native to Michigan, but they were totally eliminated from Michigan just because of fear and livestock depredations long ago,” DNR wildlife biologist Kevin Swanson said. “We have no evidence of a breeding population, but we get these transients that come through mostly the Upper Peninsula from time to time.” A Michigan press release with Swanson listed as a contact states the last time a wild cougar was taken in the state was in 1906.