Community Funding for Community Work: How $500 Helps a Lansing Charity

By Ian Wendrow
Listen Up, Lansing

LANSING — Andrew Brewer Jr. didn’t expect his modest barbecue outing with neighbors to be anything more than a fun get together. Starting out with only 20 men hanging out at Hawk Island County Park, Brewer now captains the Men Making A Difference (MMAD) charity, an organization that has existed for about four years now with about 200 active members. “It started with just a group of us out barbecuing one day when I said, ‘We should do more to give back.’ Everyone else seemed to agree and that’s really how this organization got started,” Brewer said. MMAD has been busy in its short four years as a legally-recognized charity. Working alongside the local church groups and neighborhood blocs, MMAD has helped paint woodchips, clean up overgrown shrubbery, and plant flowers in some of Lansing’s more run-down areas.

Do party stores promote environment for crime?

Averill Woods Neighborhood Association questions whether liquor stores selling alcohol are fostering crime

Crime across Averill Woods have reportedly varied from prostitutes to loose domestic animals, but liquor stores may be one of the biggest curators

Melissa Huber, president of the Averill Woods Neighborhood Association, raised concerns that party stores across Waverly Road in Eaton County contribute to problems in their neighborhood. “These businesses have been a challenge to our neighborhood quality of life,” she said. “The problems with alcohol and drugs have spilled over from those locations into our neighborhood at times” Huber said “Our neighborhood to the south, Churchill Downs, has worked cooperatively with both Lansing Police Department and Eaton County sheriff to address these problems.”

After the liquor licensing laws changed in Michigan, the Lansing City Council have also tried to have an impact on these problems.

“The state has complete control over the liquor licenses now. It’s a recent change we are just now realizing and trying to figure out what to do about it.” Huber said. “City Council member Carol Wood is working on potential ordinances to address this change.”




City Council undergoes Capital Improvement Program training

The city of Lansing held training on understanding and improving its annual Capital Improvement Program on budget issues involved in making capital improvements for  the city of Lansing. Two Michigan State University researchers and CIP experts, Kurt Schindler and Glen Pape, presented information to help aide city council. “A good CIP enhances opportunities for receiving grants.” Schindler said. Saving money and spending it in the right place is very important for the city of Lansing because funds are scarce. “We have to have a special ways of means(check the quote –  this doesn’t make sense),” said Lansing City Council President A’Lynne Robinson, “This is coming through because we have a very strict timeline to follow through and a set amount of dollars to work with.”

Photobooth business leaves Averill Woods

Local photographer recently moved her studio to a large facility in Holt but she’s not severing ties. Joni Preston, he owner of Photobug Photobooth, has been shooting weddings, proms and community events since 2011. The most recent event Preston covered was the Dice and Ice event at Munn Ice Arena. “It was a casino-themed party,” Preston said “For several events, they’ve had us at a photo booth.”

The UAB has done a lot of work with Preston and her company. Stephanie Strawska, who’s is the events director with the activities board, was responsible for directly working with Preston on the event.

Lansing City Council members struggle to deal with snow cleanup as temperatures plunge

During the public comment session, some citizens expressed frustration with maneuvering around the areas in Lansing where the snow seems to pile up around the most. “It’s definitely been annoying how much snow has buildup,” Shay Cameron, a Lansing resident said. “But I understand how hard it may be to clean it all up.”

Cameron, who has two young children at home, considers it very difficult to drop her kids off at school in the morning. “It’s especially hard when you have elementary-aged students,” Cameron said. “Sometimes I can’t even see over large piles of snow when I drive, and I fear for the safety of my kids when they walk on icy sidewalks.”

In some areas, the snow is so high it obstructs the vision of drivers and pedestrians alike.

Averill Woods Neighborhood Association looks back on ice storm and prepares residents

During its first meeting of the year, the Averill Woods Neighborhood Association assessed the response to the recent ice storm and how residents could  prepare for any future emergencies. Many citizens had complaints about the way the local government handled its responsibility to communicate to the residents of  Lansing. (Averill Woods is in Lansing, not East Lansing.) Some members of the association had some dissenting opinions. “The magnitude of the ice storm was something we have never seen,” said association member Ken Jones. “Could there have been better communication?

The Food Network comes to Lansing

The Food Network plans to film an episode of “Food Court Wars” at the Lansing Mall and the Lansing City Market this week. The show, hosted by Chef Tyler Florence, brings two teams of entrepreneurs against each other to compete for their own food court restaurant at the Lansing Mall, rent-free for a year.  The object is to test each team’s ability to make food and run a business. Every week the Food Network travels around to a different U.S. mall to open a brand new local eatery that offers a region-specific menu, says. Two unannounced local businesses will be competing for the prize. The two teams will offer samples of their food from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday at the Lansing City Market.

A’Lynne Boles catches up with Averill

Snow removal and safety dominated Averill Woods meeting with council president. Third Ward Council Member A’Lynne Boles, newly elected president of the Lansing City Council, held her monthly meeting with the residents of the Averill Woods Neighborhood to talk over the recent snow and the possibility of starting a Neighborhood Watch. Boles routinely meets with the residents of Averill Woods on the second Saturday of every month to discuss concerns in the neighborhood and update the citizens on the Lansing City Council. Residents raised concerns about how well the city was coping with record amounts of snow. According to, Lansing exceeded it’s average precipitation by almost an inch during January and February.

Family Dollar plans new location in Lansing this spring

Family Dollar announced plans to  open its 10th location in Lansing with a new story on the corner of Aurelius and Cavanaugh roads. The addition of yet another dollar store was revealed at the most recent Lansing 3rd Ward meeting at Lansing Fire Station #46 a few weeks ago. The exact opening date has yet to be announced. Other details, such as the store hours, are also still undetermined, according to Cliff Cermak, Family Dollar community affairs specialist. Cermak said the company is expanding because of its success in Lansing.

What it takes to roll with the Lansing Derby Vixens

After arriving an hour early to practice, the Lansing Derby Vixens are eager to get on the rink and begin skating. As the women laced up their skates and put on their safety equipment, they leave their everyday life and enter the Vixen world with their own unique derby name. Earning the right to use your derby name is part of the award for completing the Derby 101, a twelve-week training program and right to passage on the rink. The girls spend these weeks training and thinking of their derby name.  Mullicious Intent, Chelsea Chelsea Bang bang, Ida Stroya, and Annie Oxidant, are just a few. This is where beginner derby girls learn advanced skating, proper blocking and safe falling skills.  These skills can make or break a skater.