Shrinking enrollment creates empty school buildings

ABANDONED BUILDINGS: School districts have closed 130 buildings in the past decade, mostly victims of a shrinking number of school-age children, including one in Jackson that was shuttered in 2020 after a half-century of service to elementary schoolchildren. The superintendent of a Manistee County district explains why two elementary buildings have stood empty since 2010. We also hear from an Education Department expert. By Elaine Mallon. FOR MANISTEE, LUDINGTON, DETROIT AND ALL POINTS.

State officials concerned about vaccine misinformation on social media

VACCINE MISINFORMATION: Attorney General Nessel and the state’s chief medical executive say misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines on social media can be harmful to public health. That includes bogus claims that the vaccine affects fertility and that 5G cell phone towers can exacerbate COVID-19 symptoms. An MSU professor says research shows a correlation between misinformation about vaccines and people’s decision not to get the shots. Nessel’s office is asking platforms like Facebook and Google to take down such websites. By Brandon Chew. FOR ALL POINTS.

A new EPA app aims to help track water quality at beaches

WATER TESTING: The EPA has a new app to help monitor contamination at freshwater beaches and other water recreation spots. But Michigan is ahead of the game with the BeachGuard program it’s been using for years. Last summer’s closures included beaches in Leelanau, Grand Traverse, Macomb, Hurron and Isabella counties. We talk to the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy and District Health Department #10, which covers Crawford, Kalkaska, Lake, Manistee, Mason, Mecosta, Missaukee, Newaygo and Oceana counties. By Sophia Lada. FORCRAWFORD COUNTY, OCEANA COUNTY, BIG RAPIDS, LUDINGTON, LAKE COUNTY, MANISTEE, TRAVERSE CITY, LEELANAU, DETROIT AND ALL POINTS.

Some music festivals scheduled with social distancing guidelines

MUSIC FESTIVALS: The pandemic decimated Michigan’s music festival theme last summer, and many organizers have pulled the plug again for this year. However, plans are underway for some others to continue, at least for now, including the Unity Christian Music Festival in Muskegon and Faster Horses Music Festival in Brooklyn. Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival in Marquette explains why it’s been cancelled this year. Among the other cancellations: Detroit’s Movement Electronic Music Festival. For news and entertainment sections. By Elaine Mallon. FOR LUDINGTON, DETROIT, HOLLAND, OCEANA, MARQUETTE, SAULT STE. MARIE, LANSING CITY PULSE AND ALL POINTS.

Blue spruce fungus hits Christmas tree, landscape tree growers

BLUE SPRUCE: Disease and a recently discovered fungus are hitting Michigan’s blue spruce hard, and that’s bad news for growers of Christmas trees and landscape trees. We hear from a Van Buren COunty nursery owner, Grand Rapids arborist and an MSU Extension expert. By Kristia Potsema. FOR STURGIS, THREE RIVERS, HOLLAND, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, GREENVILLE, MICHIGAN FARM NEWS AND ALL POINTS.

Tribal eagle rescue center eyed for Harbor Springs area

TRIBAL EAGLE AVIARY: A tribal aviary north of Harbor Springs will be the first of its kind east of the Mississippi River. A local raptor rescue-and-release nonprofit organization in northern Michigan and the Little Traverse Bay Bands of the Odawa Indians planning to open an eagle aviary and rehabilitation center. The buildings will be known as the Migizi Aviary and the Wings of Wonder Rehabilitation Center. By Meghan King. FOR BAY MILLS, PETOSKEY, HARBOR SPRINGS, TRAVERSE CITY, SAULT STE. MARIE, MARQUETTE, LEELANAU, HOLLAND AND ALL POINTS.

Despite Obstacles, young entrepreneurs keep pushing

In a new booming market, plant-based restaurant owners were forced to overcome obstacles to provide healthy food to their communities. Making their cities a better place is the gas that fills these entrepreneurs’ tanks. Vegan Taste Catering

Pr’Phec Hamilton, CEO of Vegan Taste Catering

Food isn’t the only thing made from scratch and lots of love at Vegan Taste Catering in Detroit. 

Pr’phec Hamilton, 23, has worn many hats to ensure the vision of her business comes into fruition. She was willing to break all barriers to succeed, especially being as a young African American woman from Detroit’s east side.  

Hamilton is not only the chef and CEO of Vegan Taste Catering, but the entrepreneur who was willing to get her hands dirty and become the contractor. It was a family affair. Hamilton and her cousin, Zachary Crawford, completely renovated the building that’s now home to not only Vegan Taste Catering, but Hypewhore Vintage and Current Art Studio, which is owned by Crawford.

Social districts hope to draw summer crowds, stimulate local economies

SOCIAL DISTRICTS: So far, 39 municipalities are taking advantage of a law allowing them to create social districts where visitors can consume alcohol outdoors. The intent is to help bars and restaurants recover from pandemic-related losses and to lure local residents and visitors downtown. They include Petoskey, Ludington, Sturgis, Three Rivers, Cadillac, Wyandotte, Dundee, Adrian, Northville and Mount Clemens. Officials from Greenville and Petoskey and the Michigan Restaurant and Hospitality Association discuss. By Sheldon Krause, FOR GREENVILLE, GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, IONIA, PETOSKEY, HARBOR SPRINGS, BLISSFIELD, CORP! STURGIS, THREE RIVERS, DETROIT, CADILLAC, MONROE AND ALL POINTS.

Big Sable Point Lighthouse in Ludington.

Lighthouses plan to pursue restoration plans

LIGHTHOUSES: Lighthouse boosters and planning to kick off this year’s restoration projects, including necessary fundraising. They include Big Sable Point Lighthouse in Ludington, Marquette Harbor Lighthouse, Muskegon South Pierhead Lighthouse and Muskegon Breakwater Light. By Kristia Potsema. FOR HOLLAND, MANISTEE, ALCONA, OCEANA, MONROE, LUDINGTON, HARBOR SPRINGS, MARQUETTE, HARBOR SPRINGS, LEELANAU, PETOSKEY, TRAVERSE CITY, CHEBOYGAN, SAULT STE, MARIE, OCEANA, BENZIE, ST. IGNACE AND ALL POINTS.

Skilled worker shortage leads to efforts to strengthen future workforce

TRADES: The Michigan construction and manufacturing industries already face a shortage of skilled workers, and that shortage is likely to worsen. Associated Builders and Contractors West Michigan chapter, Downriver Career Technical Consortium and Michigan Workforce Development Institute talk about efforts to attract more young people to the skilled trades for well-paying jobs. Includes references to Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Saginaw, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Flat Rock, Madison Heights and Detroit. For news and business sections. By Kristia Potsema. FOR GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS, CORP!, DETROIT, HOLLAND, LUDINGTON, MANISTEE, GREENVILLE, IONIA, MONROE AND ALL POINTS.