Watch Focal Point: Mel Tucker becomes the new football coach, New Hampshire Democratic Primaries, Michigan towns apply for make-overs

This week on Focal Point, we’re live from a local flower shop to see how people are sharing the love on Valentine’s Day. Over the weekend, the Lansing Women’s Expo celebrated 20 years with more than 300 attendees. The Lansing Pup House celebrates Valentine’s Day with their pets during speed dating for dogs.  In entertainment, the 92nd Oscar’s had a lot of firsts and Justin Bieber returns from a four-year hiatus with a new album. 

This and more on this episode of Focal Point.

County road commissions say tax vote is crucial

Capital News Service
LANSING — Across northern Michigan, county road commissions struggle to repair roads, replace old bridges and plow fresh snow with what they say is a serious shortfall in funding. “Overall, our roads are failing,” said Jesse Campbell, manager of the Alcona County Road Commission. “Over the last 10 years, we have lost about a third of our workforce, and we are also working with very outdated equipment.”
Wexford County is also struggling, and its problems aren’t isolated, said Alan Cooper, the county’s road commission manager. “We’re trying to do the best we can, but funding is sorely needed,” Cooper said. “It’s not just Wexford County that is hurting, it’s the entire state.”
On May 5, Michigan residents will vote on a ballot initiative to raise the state sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent.

Local officials increasingly convert paved roads to gravel ones as lawmakers debate how to fund repairs

Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan communities might see more local roads turned to gravel in coming months, thanks to winter’s remaining grip. The rough winter has given Michigan’s road funding concerns a violent push into statewide spotlight as discussion swirls at the Capitol. But road commissions across the state are eyeing the immediate impact that deeply rooted frost has on a local level. County road commissions have increasingly taken up the practice of permanently or temporarily turning paved roads into gravel in recent years to deal with issues of low funding and poor road conditions, said Joe Pulver, Clinton County Road Commission managing director. Last year, about half of Michigan counties were forced to convert paved roads to gravel, said Monica Ware, the communications and development manager for the County Road Association of Michigan.

As road money declines, salt, labor cost more

Capital News Service
LANSING – State and local transportation agencies face a steady decrease in road funding and an increase in costs, and no short-term solution is likely. “We are at a critical point,” said Bob Felt of the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Office of Communications. “We may not have enough state funding.”
According to MDOT, state level transportation funding has been decreasing for the past 10 years and will continue to drop until 2015. “It peaked in 2004 and kept declining after that,” Felt said. Receipts from gasoline taxes, diesel taxes, vehicle registration fees and other revenues are the main sources of the state’s transportation funding, had fallen to less than $1.86 billion in fiscal year 2012.

Small towns could lose control of state road funding

Attention editors: List of Michigan cities that could lose control of this road funding is at end of story. By SAM INGLOT
Capital News Service
LANSING–More than 100 small Michigan communities may lose control of state road funds if Gov. Rick Snyder’s recently proposed reforms take effect. The change in local spending is one of many Snyder outlined in a special message on roadway and transportation reforms. It would take state road funding from cities and villages that receive less than $50,000 and give it to counties to distribute. The goal of the proposal is to cut costs by cutting layers of bureaucracy. But it has some small town officials nervous.