Snowfall impacts community services in Old Town

By Sumaira Hai 
Old Town Reporter
Old Town Lansing Times 
LANSING – Recent winter snowstorms have had an economic and social effect on the Old Town community. The “polar vortex” of 2014, which brought over an estimated ten inches of snow to various parts of Michigan, took a toll on community services such as the Greater Lansing Food Bank  and the Greater Lansing Housing Coalition>
Joe Wald, executive director of the Greater Lansing Food Bank, said food supplies are down at all seven of the food banks in the area, including the one in Old Town, “The food bank has become the safety net to get nutritious food to those in need across our community,” he said. “Need increased,” Wald said. “In fact, we distributed 10% more food in 2014 than in 2013.”
Snow has caused numerous problems. GLFB had to close its operation during the snowstorm in early February. “We cannot pick up and delivery food if our trucks cannot run…our employees cannot make it to the warehouse…so we try to coordinate with our pantry network,” Wald said.

Virtual Classrooms at MSU

Michigan State University Journalism Instructor Bonnie Bucqueroux understands how difficult it can be to get to campus when conditions are poor. “I have a dirt driveway, a half mile uphill, and, in the ice storms, it’s absolutely impassable,” Bucqueroux said. And with last year’s harsh winter, she took advantage of technology out of concern for her students. “I could get out, but I worried about my students coming across campus. I said, ‘Today, we’re going to hold the class virtually.’

Road restrictions hamper farmers this spring

Capital News Service
LANSING — The farming industry feels the lingering effects of the polar vortex in some parts of the state as cold temperatures continue into spring. County governments implement seasonal weight restrictions on roads every year to reduce the impact heavy trucks can have on roads. “By law, road agencies can enact weight restrictions on roads that are not designated as all-season routes when conditions merit,” County Road Association of Michigan says on its website. Although an annual nuisance for drivers, restrictions on weight, speed and axle-loading are tighter this year and slowing down the farming down in some parts of the state. Frost froze deep into the roads and made them more susceptible to potholes, said Clay Martz, manager of Crop Production Service in Lake Odessa, a company that ships fertilizer to corn growers.

Focal Point Spring 2014 [Show 2]

A new bill proposed may give unpaid interns in Michigan the same protections as other paid employees. MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon gave her annual State of the University address, giving some students reason to speak out against the administration. And, a suspect has been arrested in connection to the death of MSU student Dominique Nolff. Focal Point is an Emmy awarding winning, student produced newscast from the School of Journalism at Michigan State University.

Ready or not? Residents are stocking up on salt and shovels

By Daniel Hamburg
Mason Times staff writer

At Ace Hardware on Cedar Street, Manager Chris Iott says if you wait too long, it’s too late. That’s the case for hundreds of residents in Mason, who have snow- and ice-covered sidewalks and roadways. Part of the problem is people not adequately prepared, according to Iott. “People will prepare for summer because they know they’re going to have to mow the lawn,” Iott said. “People don’t prepare as much for winter because you may or may not get big snow.

Will cold kill grapes? Only spring will tell

Capital News Service
LANSING — The polar vortex has Michigan wine producers worried about their crops. Cold weather is nothing new for Michigan but its vineyards are not used to recent record-breaking lows. The polar vortex in December raised concerns but cold temperatures in late-January have Michigan growers worried that their vineyards may be destroyed. Some grapes can survive temperatures as low as the negative 30s but for certain varieties that grow in Southern Michigan, temperatures even as low as 5 degrees can be dangerous. Southern Michigan was hit the hardest with temperatures as low as minus 15.

Cold spells may kill some but not worst invasive bugs

Capital News Service
LANSING — Severe winter weather may lead to the death of some invasive species, according to a recent study. In negative-10-degree weather, invasive species could freeze and die, the report from the USDA Forest Service and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture said. The report shows the effects of severe weather temperatures on the invasive emerald ash borer, an insect that feeds on ash and kills the tree. Regardless of the study’s findings and the bitter cold affecting Michigan this season, there is little hope for eradication of many of our invasive species, particularly the resilient emerald ash borer, said Deborah McCullough, a Michigan State University professor of entomology and forestry. “Given that temps have gotten really cold, and not for one night but for an extended period, there’s a tendency for a lot of people to hope for insect mortality,” McCullough said.

Cold weather anglers flock to thick ice; effects of ice on fish mixed

Capital News Service
LANSING — In a few years, Michigan anglers might have the polar vortex to thank for good hauls. But in a few months, they might have it to blame for particularly disappointing catches. Fish experts are keeping a close eye on how winter conditions progress, a clue to how fish populations in the Great Lakes and Michigan’s inland lakes will fare. The recent cold and resulting ice might give some fish eggs a better chance of survival, Michael Hoff, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fish biologist, said. But other fish could die in droves due to lack of oxygen mixed with other stressors.

First the Arctic vortex, then the thaw, now potholes

Capital News Service
LANSING — While most of the immediate effects of the Arctic vortex storm have passed, potholes may continue to appear for many weeks. The thaw following the storm has created jagged potholes across many main roads in Michigan. This is common, as the freezing and thawing of pavement causes this to happen every year. Potholes are no small matter. The Michigan Department of Transportation spent $8.2 million in the 2009 fiscal year on pothole repairs alone, and the number of potholes this year is steadily increasing.