With Michigan High School Sports approaching a month into the winter season, Colin Jankowski breaks down how Meridian Township Schools are tackling the return to sports during the COVID-19 pandemic. Update: Jankowski learned after the filing of this story that the boys’ basketball team at Okemos High School has an outbreak of COVID-19. Critics of the return to sports in Michigan voiced concerns that social distancing procedures wouldn’t be followed, whereas supporters felt athletes and spectators could handle it. “I think we’ve done just about as good of a job as you can,” Okemos High School Athletic Director Brian Fuller said about Okemos’ handling of COVID-19 safety protocols. Monday marked three weeks since the Michigan High School Athletic Association and the state of Michigan gave the all-clear to resume high school sports in Michigan while the state continues to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Meridian Township Zoning Board of Appeals approved unanimously on Feb. 24, 2021 a variance request made by Johnson Sign Company to install a second wall sign at 2076 Towner Rd. Proposed design of the new sign at 2076 Towner Rd. by Johnson Sign Company
Jim Johnson from Johnson Sign Company spoke to the board at the meeting, representing his tenant, Great Lakes Office Furniture, and gave justification for the request. Johnson said his client feels it would be in the public interest to add a sign on the north side of the building, as both clients that also includes Retractable Solutions Inc. and delivery drivers traveling west on Saginaw Highway often have difficulty finding his client’s business.
The entrance to the Meridian Large Dog Park, located at 1990 Central Park Dr. in Okemos, is open to residents of the township and non-residents. Online registration is now available for Meridian Township’s dog parks, including a new off-leash large dog park. The new park, which opened in September, is located behind the mall at Central Park South. The large dog park is for dogs over 30 pounds, while the small dog park, which opened June 2019, is located at Nancy Moore Park at 1960 Gaylord C Smith Ct., East Lansing, is for dogs under 30 pounds. About 100 dogs registered for the large dog park and 250 registered for the small dog park, said Parks and Recreation Director LuAnn Meisner.
Annual park fee
According to a press release, owners registering their dog will pay an annual fee to maintain the parks’ high standards.
Photo of 4700 South Hagadorn Rd. in Meridian Township where Wayfair planned to set up its call center. Credit: Asya Lawrence
Although Wayfair, an online store for furniture, decor, housewares and more, was not clear about why exactly they changed their minds about opening a call center in Meridian Township on South Hagadorn Road, city officials speculate it was due to COVID-19.
“They did not say exactly what the reason was, but they let us know as soon as they knew that they were not looking for long-term locations,” said Amber Clark, Meridian Township’s Neighborhood and Economic Development Director.
“Like other organizations due to the Covid-19 crisis they aren’t looking for in person locations, that’s our speculation,” said Frank Walsh, Township Manager, who explained that though this decision came as a surprise, it was expected. “We were surprised, but we also had our doubts once Covid-19 hit five or six months ago. We could see that it was going to be easier and safer for people to work out of their homes rather than putting 500 people in the building.”
“Although the news is devastating, we certainly understand it’s a safety and health issue here,” Walsh said.
The Meridian Township Board announced Amber Clark as the new Director of Neighborhoods and Economic Development during its last meeting on Oct. 5.
Clark proposed the position be restructured to serve neighborhoods, as most of Okemos and Haslett residents live in suburban areas. Keeping neighborhoods in the loop
As Clark moved into the director position, she told the city manager and team about her plans to reinvigorate the role. “Upon taking the position, I told the team I was interested in drawing in the neighborhoods of such a residential-heavy township,” Clark said. “The core areas looking to develop immediately touch the residents in these neighborhoods, and economic development isn’t just about bringing in new businesses.”
If redevelopment funding is secured, the development team plans to complete demolition and asbestos abatement of buildings on the west side of the community by Dec.
The 2020 Michigan Solar Home tour hosted by the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association took place Saturday, October 3, over Zoom instead of the traditional walkthrough home tour. The annual event is in its 24th year.
In previous years, people would showcase their home or businesses’ solar systems throughout Michigan. Due to the virtual nature of the event, guests were able to see every solar system. The tour, which went from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., allowed guests to understand how solar energy can reduce your monthly energy bill while promoting a clean environment. A typical “tour” used Zoom’s screen-sharing tool in which speakers showed pictures and statistics of their solar systems.
Twelve people showcased their solar system, including MSU Professor David Arnosti.
The Meridian Mall Food Court entrance has the mall’s COVID-19 protective measures and protocols posted on it. (Photo/Isaiah Hall)
While there were challenges of operating a business during the pandemic, retailers in the Meridian Mall have been able to sustain their business because of its transition to new customer service approaches.
“The closures also provided an opportunity for innovation,” said Stacey Keating, senior director of public relations & corporate communications at CBL Properties, the Tennessee-based company that owns the Meridian Mall. “Many retailers quickly launched curbside delivery programs and restaurants ramped up their delivery and curbside takeout options. “New delivery and curbside programs are continuing to evolve and we expect this to be a trend into the holiday season and beyond. As restrictions were lifted and malls reopened, we’ve seen traffic slowly build, and retailers have reported that sales are healthy and conversion rates are high.”
Shoppers have more cash
Businesses in the mall credit part of the reason why the conversion rates — the percentage of users who visit the mall who purchase goods or services — are high is that people have more money in their pockets, said Kris Vezino, Meridian Mall Sunglass Hut Store manager.
Once a journalist and now a full-time romance novel writer, meet Lyssa Kay Adams. Photo by Julian Stainback. Lyssa Kay Adams wasn’t always into romance novels until she read her first one in the eighth grade. She was inspired to create more romance novels on her own ever since.
Adams was an award-winning journalist of nearly 20 years who gave up the world of telling true stories to write her own romance novels.
Some of her novels have gotten nominations by the RWA, or Romance Writers of America, like “Wild in Rio” and “Seventh Inning Heat.” Since then, she has been a full-time writer for romance.
Her latest book, “The Bromance Book Club,” made its debut at Schuler Books in Okemos on Nov. 6.
With romance and a little comedy, Adams expects her latest book to give everyone an important lesson to learn.