Old Town residents see Obama and Romney equal after two

By Kara Albrecht
Old Town Lansing Times Staff Writer

LANSING, MI. – Old Town Lansing residents said President Obama has re-joined the presidential race after his performance in the first debate. According to CBS News,  many Americans said Mitt Romney won the debate. However, the second debate was a tie. Old Town Resident Amy Kwiatkowski said, “I think Obama represented himself better in the second debate due to his knowledge of the subjects discussed, his persona and he did not try to bash Romney as much as Romney did him.”

Old Town resident Ryan Hodges, who is not even an Obama endorser, felt Obama won the second debate against Romney. “I dislike him, but he represented himself better,” Hodges said.

Residents React to VP Debate Using Social Media

By Justin Anderson

Old Town Lansing Times Staff Writer


The Vice Presidential debate evoked strong emotions Thursday from an increasingly social media savvy population in Old Town. The debate between U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Republican candidate Paul Ryan took place Thursday, Oct. 11, and included topics like taxes, foreign policy, and Medicare. Social Media’s Role

Social media is playing an increasingly larger role on the voting population in the current election. As many people turn to social media sites to gather information about the candidates and their policies, it is becoming less important for people to be available to watch political debates precisely at the time they are aired, said Old Town visitor Robert Bergen.

“I didn’t watch the debate on Thursday when it was on,” Bergen said.

Lansing School District Takes First Step with Transportation Consortium

By Kara Albrecht
Old Town Lansing Times Staff Writer 

LANSING, MI. – The Lansing School District  joined the Ingham Intermediate School District’s  General Education Pupil Transportation Consortium with a unanimous 7-0 roll call vote on Oct. 4, 2012. Lansing School District is ninth out of 12 districts to join the consortium. Three school districts already use it, and East Lansing is one of them.

'To Tax or Not to Tax'

LANSING, MI. – Michigan Senatorial Election candidates Debbie Stabenow and Pete Hoekstra are fighting for voters’ attention when it comes to taxes. Old Town is a neighborhood that thrives off small businesses and some say they know how important it is for Old Town to pay attention to issues that affect their community. “They’re pretty politically motivated here,” said Old Town visitor Cindy Collins. “That’s always been my impression.”

Pace and Partners Senior Public Relations and Policy Manager Mike Nowlin said, “Lansing usually votes Democratic.” This implies that the town would be more likely to support Stabenow.

Preuss Pets Sparks Interest in Aquariums

By Katie Harrington
Old Town Times Staff Writer

Rick Preuss has a dream, a dream for our planet, our oceans, our wildlife and for our community.  His vision is to inspire others to save our earth, and since he opened Preuss Pets in 1982, he has worked to make this dream a reality. “To have a reef tank in a classroom or in a living room where a child is growing up so they can identify what coral is, what a clown fish is, what an anemone is … that’s the value of this business,” said Preuss, the owner of Preuss Pets in Old Town Lansing.  “The best we can do is to hope that these bright, young minds witnessing these reef tanks will be inspired to protect the resources that are out there.”

In the Lansing community, saltwater aquariums are gaining popularity, thanks to Preuss, who says that anyone can establish an aquarium at home.  Since the opening of Preuss Pets, Preuss has inspired hobbyists, students and school children alike to take up an interest in these fascinating underwater microcosms.

“Every customer can be successful and every costumer can grow their own coral to a full size coral,” Preuss said.  “You’re really just providing consistency and as long as you provide that, your corals grow on their own.”

Janet Riefer, an East Lansing resident who was introduced to indoor reef-keeping by Preuss, started her own saltwater aquarium eight years ago.  She said that having her own aquarium is like having a little piece of the beach at her home. “I love everything about it,” said Riefer.  “I love looking at it, I love cleaning it, I love rearranging it, I love sharing it with people.  It’s like indoor gardening!”

As for the upkeep of the aquarium, Riefer insists that it’s really not much work. “People say that it’s expensive and hard to keep and all those excuses, but I disagree,” said Riefer.  “I started with a tank we had at home and everything else I’ve bought, I’ve bought from a used equipment room that Rick has.”

And the myth that saltwater aquariums are expensive is also false.  Preuss Pets sells coral fragments which grow relatively quickly (about an inch a month) for about $15.

Music Program May Need More Funding in Lansing Public Schools

The Lansing Board of Education is considering an increase in funding for beginning music programs at Otto Middle School, which serves Old Town, and other elementary and middle schools. There currently are no band, string or orchestra programs at the elementary level in Lansing Public Schools, explained Deputy Superintendent James Davis.  Every elementary building has put in a request to re-instate the programs, he said. “We had orchestra and band in elementary until this year,” said Davis.  “It was cut as part of our budget cuts at the end of the semester.”

Davis explained that in the current system, there is a general music teacher for each elementary school.  This teacher has a 45 minutes class in each grade level that meets twice a week.  The band, string and orchestra programs are pull-out programs (program that ‘pulls-out’ students from their regularly-scheduled academic class) that operate independently from this general music course. Davis stressed that some middle school bands were still in great shape, namely Pattengill Middle School which has received high rankings in solo and ensemble festivals for the last few years. “We used to have an amazing music program, and Pattengill and Everett still have amazing music programs,” said Myra Ford, secretary of the Lansing Board of Education.  “When I look at Pattengill, which is our smallest middle school,  and I see what they are offering, and then I look at Gardner and I look at Otto, I’m really disheartened at the fact that we have what we have there.”

Otto Middle School serves much of the North Lansing Area, including the Old Town Community.

Michigan Welfare Limit Raises Questions

By Katie Harrington
Old Town Times staff writer

The new four-year limit on families receiving welfare in Michigan has raised questions about increased crime and homelessness in Old Town. Sheila Maxwell, an Associate Professor at Michigan State University’s School of Criminal Justice, said that since the assumption is that the people who are being taken off welfare really need assistance, there would be a lot of people in trouble.  “[The senate] didn’t want people to abuse welfare, but if these people indeed really did need assistance, they would be out on the street,” Maxwell said. “Whenever you see people removed from welfare rolls, you can expect to see an increase in crime and disorder,” said Bonnie Bucqueroux, former associate director of the National Center for Community Policing at Michigan State University’s School of Criminal Justice.  “For a community like Old Town, my concern would be an increase in shoplifting, panhandling, prostitution and street corner drug sales.”

Lansing Police Lt. Noel Garcia said he would not speculate about possible outcomes and that the police department currently doesn’t have any strategies to deal with the issues if they do come up. “I would think police would want to get ahead of the issue rather than play catch up,” said Bucqueroux. Judy Putnam, the communications director for the Michigan League for Human Services, said there is no concern for increased homelessness and crime in the Lansing area.  “I don’t think we should assume that because people are low income they are criminals,” Putnam said.  “And we have to remember that Ingham County is not going to be affected as much as other counties because there are only 70 cases of people losing their assistance here.”

In fact, Ingham County is ranked number 12 on the list of most families being affected by the measure.  Wayne County is number one with 6,560 families affected.

Old Town Boundaries Cause Conflict

By Katie Harrington
Old Town Times staff writer

Old Town may be a Lansing treasure, full of art and entertainment and growing in popularity each day.  But to some, Old Town has extended its boundaries too far into neighboring residential areas, and recently there has been an increasing problem of where exactly those boundaries are. The issue of Old Town’s borders first began to unfold with the opening of Rizzi Designs, located on North Pine Street in Lansing. “When they opened, [The owner of Rizzi Designs] stated that she was in Old Town when she is not,” said Rina Risper, the publisher of The New Citizens Press and a resident of the Walnut neighborhood in Lansing.  “She did this to market herself better.  In my opinion it’s deceptive marketing.”

Although Rizzi Designs is a member of the Old Town Commercial Association, an organization that anyone can join, Risper claims that the store is not within the boundaries of Old Town, and that this has blurred the lines of what exactly constitutes a part of Old Town. Risper said that the neighborhood she lives in, Walnut neighborhood, located west of the center of Old Town, has also been called part of Old Town.  However, she insists that it is not. “[Old Town] is its own distinct place, and we are distinct,” Risper said.  “I’ve been here for 20 years, and nobody thinks my neighborhood is part of Old Town.”

Eric Schertzing, the Ingham County treasurer, said that although there are boundaries for the OTCA, the boundaries for Old Town are not laid out anywhere.

Oktoberfest a Major Boost to OTCA Budget

By Jack Crawley
Old Town Times staff writer

While Old Town’s Oktoberfest aims to make a cultural impact as “Mid-Michigan’s only German-style event,” it also makes a major contribution to the Old Town Commercial Association’s finances — to the (polka) tune of almost 20% of its annual budget. OTCA Executive Director Brittney Hoszkiw confirmed that the 2010 Oktoberfest brought in more than $12,000, and she expects this year’s festival, on Friday, Oct. 7 and Saturday Oct. 8,, to be even bigger. This is the festival’s sixth year and Hoszkiw says it has consistently made a profit for OTCA.

Lansing School Board Begins Restructuring Process

By Katie Harrington
Old Town Times Staff Writer

The Lansing School Board began a restructuring process last Monday that includes forming committees and getting the community involved in their decision-making process. “We’re in the opening stages right now,” said Board Member Guillermo Lopez.  “We have to right-size the district in order to fit the declining student population.”

Currently, possible school closings are not an issue since the committee is in the planning stages. “Right now we are assessing data and have not come to any discussion regarding building closures,” said Board Member Nicole Armbruster. Jim Davis, the Lansing School District deputy superintendent, agreed.  “The citizens committee has been organized to have a discussion as to what the possibilities are for building reconfiguration, but there won’t be any serious discussions about recommendations for the district until January,” he said. Although there are no definite plans to close any schools, some fear that Otto Middle School might be cloosed since an announcement last spring suggested a possible closure.