M22: More than just a highway; it represents Northern Michigan’s way of life

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — M22 is no longer just a 116.7-mile state highway that runs through Northern Michigan. The highway’s route marker is now a brand showing the pride that many people (both citizens and tourists alike) hold for Northern Michigan. A company going by the same name printed its first shirt in 2004, opened it’s first store in 2007, and now has over 40 employees between it’s two locations. Nick Madrick, the chief operating officer of M22, says, “In 2004 we had about two stock-keeping units and now we have over 200 in our line.

Journalism at Michigan State University

The Traverse City Film Festival: increased popularity and great opportunity for volunteers and interns

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Traverse City held the 13th consecutive Traverse City Film Festival July 25-30. The annual Northern Michigan festival, which began in 2005, had around 120,000 attendees this year. Meg Weichman, creative director at TCFF, says, “With the addition of new venues, as well as word getting out about what a great festival we have, we have seen both community and regional support, as well as national interest increase.”

Weichman says, “The TCFF is something Traverse City is very proud of. It is a true example of our community coming together to create something magical and special for our area, not only in terms of economic impact, but cultural and social as well.

More people + more things to do = more 911 calls in Traverse City

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Although it may not be surprising, 911 calls increase during times of tourism peaks in this Northwest Michigan town (for example, the annual National Cherry Festival last week), but why is this? Jim Danek, a 911 dispatcher, says, “Calls increase due to the amount of alcohol consumed during the National Cherry Festival and around the Fourth of July holiday. Both for medical and behavior issues. Traffic collisions increase due to the increased number of vehicles on the roadways and add some really cool air shows to distract the drivers and it’s an obvious recipe for disaster.”

Danek worked a total of 40 hours of overtime during the National Cherry Festival week. He says, “There is hardly a shortage of overtime shifts available during the Cherry Festival.

Brook trout brouhaha brews in the U.P.

Capital News Service
LANSING – Brook trout experts have asked the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to put on hold a proposal to double the brook trout creel limit in 10 streams in the Upper Peninsula. They claim the proposal carries a political agenda and lacks scientific data, potentially threatening the overall brook trout habitat. The agency’s proposal would allow anglers to take 10 fish per day per person. The current limit has existed for more than a decade. The daily possession limit would be 10 fish and the minimum size would be 7 inches.

More farms up north mean opportunity, development

Capital News Service
LANSING – More farming opportunities have come to northern Michigan this year because of climate changes and global warming, agriculture experts say. According to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Michigan is home to 10 million acres of farmland, but only 10 percent is in the northern parts. Department Director Jamie Clover Adams said there are additional farming opportunities in the north (both the Upper Peninsula and the northern Lower Peninsula) and that there is a trend of more acres being farmed in those regions. “In theory that would mostly be rooted in climate change enabling a longer growing season for areas in northern Michigan,” Jeremy  Nagel, the media relations specialist for the Michigan Farm Bureau, said. Nagel said, “Agriculture up there is mostly hay, some small grains, potatoes, beef cattle and dairy.

Homelessness down statewide, but higher in the Northern Lower Penninsula

Capital News Service
LANSING – While improving economic conditions have reduced homelessness overall in the state, the numbers are still rising for some regions, including the Northern Lower Penninsula. A total of 94,033 people were homeless in Michigan sometime in 2011, according to the Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness. That is down 6 percent from the previous year. That reduction is strong evidence of successful work by programs such as the Michigan Campaign to End Homelessness, said Eric Hufnagel, executive director of the coalition. This campaign was launched in 2006 to prevent homelessness and support people at risk of becoming homeless.

Lawmakers want more local authority over ORVs

Capital News Service
LANSING – Northern Michigan local governments may soon be able to authorize off-road vehicle (ORV) regulations and ordinances. Rep. Joel Johnson, R-Clare, said he is trying to make it easier for ORV riders to use the designated trail systems within the counties in northern Michigan. The proposal would allow local governments to adopt ordinances to permit ORV riders to avoid the long detours between designated ORV routes. Riders could either drive on shoulders of state trunk line highways or local governments could authorize connections on dislocated segments of ORV trails in certain northern roadways, including ones in Mason, Gladwin, Wexford and Crawford counties. Johnson’s bill would give the state Transportation Department 60 days to decide if local governments could authorize such ordinances.

Bill would end tax spike when cottages handed down

Capital News Service
LANSING — A widely-supported bill that would prevent property tax increases for owners who transfer family-owned land has a high chance of becoming law before the end of the year, according to the sponsor, Rep. Peter Pettalia, R-Presque Isle. The bill would primarily benefit families who own cottages or lakefront property, Pettalia said. Current law decrees that the taxable value of a home cannot increase from one year to the next by more than 5 percent or the increase in the consumer price index. When property is sold or transferred, however, the restriction doesn’t apply, and property taxes generally increase to reflect the value of the property. That law can put families planning to pass on their cottages or waterfront property in a bind, Pettalia said.

Up North luring tourists with dogs, bikes, skis

Capital News Service
LANSING – The wind is cooler, leaves are changing color and winter is around the corner but Northern Michigan experts say they can lure tourists this fall and winter. Pure Michigan revealed its new fall advertising campaign, Michelle Begnoche, communications specialist said. “Michigan really is a four-season state,” Begnoche said. “Residents from across the country will travel to see our fall color displays in Northern Michigan, along with the great cider mills that we have to offer.”

The program’s advertising budget is around $2.6 million and includes almost $400,000 in private funding. “We are working really hard to get people to travel here,” she said.