Trinity Wesleyan Church in Remus is celebrating Flag Day Friday with a display of more than 60 flags.
Even though the church is a bit out of the way, driving past, there is no way you could miss it.
Around 65 flags flutter in a summer breeze on the front lawn.
Pastor Scott Touzel tells me this is a travelling display called the 'healing field,' a place where people can go and remember or pray for those who have given their lives for American freedom.
"They're set up to honor our veterans, our servicemen, our public servants, somebody has lost a loved one is a war or a conflict they can come and we'll pray with them. It's just a time to celebrate our country and give thanks," Touzel said.
Inside the church there are a few displays containing copies of historical documents and explanations of their significance to America, called the 'Freedom Shrine.'
This country has been celebrating Flag Day since 1777, and Trinity Wesleyan is one place where the past and the present are being remembered and celebrated.
It sure isn't winter, but the Central Michigan University Police Department is feeling Christmas cheer.
The department's participation in the annual Toys-for-Tots campaign brought them the 2013 traveling trophy.
CMU Police received the award over other agencies for their significant contributions this past year.
Officer William Martinez has been involved with Toys for Tots for over 20 years.
"It's nice winning the trophy, but I feel our biggest reward is knowing that these toys are going to kids that otherwise wouldn't have a good Christmas. Also knowing a child's going to wake up and see that there are presents under the tree with their name on it, and they have a big smile," Martinez said.
Other law enforcement agencies involved were the Michigan State Police, the Mount Pleasant Police Department, the Isabella Sheriff's Department and the Tribal Police Department.
Michigan veterans and active military service members impacted by the 2006 foreclosure crisis may now be able to find relief.
The Michigan Veterans Homeowners Assistance program provides five million dollars from a lawsuit settlement as grants for veterans that have faced or are facing losing their home.
Jeff Barnes the director of Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency said that foreclosure to a service member could mean they also lose their security clearance. That can jeopardize their career in the military and interfere with transitions into civilian jobs.
Barnes said having a home can be the point on which a civilian life is built, and without that stability it can be a difficult transition.
"Being able to get them the stable anchor point to start their next chapter of their life is extremely important and homeownership is a major part of that and so this is a major step forward for veterans to take advantage of that have fallen prey to this and we try to help them get back up on their feet and ready to move forward." Barnes said.
Barnes said cases will be considered on a first-come-first-served basis because funds are limited.
May is Foster Care Month and several organizations are using the opportunity to celebrate the services they offer to young people and their caregiver families.
Eagle Village in Osceola County operates a rural setting for children with emotional and behavioral challenges and also licenses their own foster homes.
Officials there say this month is a targeted time to recruit parents and establish more foster homes.
Cathey Prudhomme, President and CEO at Eagle Village, said their efforts are meant to raise the hopes for children and young people in the foster care system.
"We also replace children in those homes and supervise them, as well as work with the biological families of those children to determine if they can learn and earn the great privilege of parenting their children again." Prudhomme said
Prudhomme said the ultimate goal is to always reunite the children with their biological parents.
For more information on Eagle Village and their specific promotions and programs, you can visit their website at www.eaglevillage.org.
Alzheimer's affects one in three elderly Americans. And a Mount Pleasant man is willing to push his mind and body to the limit to find a cure.
CMU employee Brad Kloha will compete in 100 obstacle races in one year in an effort to raise a million dollars
Kloha will be taking on challenges most of us could never do.
"At times it'll be carrying a 40 pound sandbag up a mountain, sometimes you're throwing a spear, crawling through rocks, you're lugging up 5 gallon buckets of gravel up a mountain pulling concrete blocks behind you." Kloha said.
Kloha said he'll begin the challenge in June.
"My Grandma passed away from alzheimers disease on June 18, 2011. So I wanted to start and end my campaign right around that time." Kloha said.
Ferris State University is preparing for the Big Event 2013. It is said to be the university's largest student-run volunteer project, and it benefits people throughout the Big Rapids community.
Last year more than 18-hundred students volunteered, helping fix up 290 homes in the Big Rapids area. Many of the tasks were small, like raking leaves or cleaning gutters, but they had a big impact on the community.
Sandy Gholston is the spokesperson for Ferris State University. He said, The Big Event.
"One of the reasons that this is so important is because our students really understand the value of community service. They also understand the value of bringing together the Big Rapids community and the Ferris Community so we can be one big community. This is one small way that the students really reach out and give back to the community." Gholston said.
Gholston said volunteers begin the day with a free breakfast and t-shirt with the Ferris President and the Big Rapids Mayor.
In Charlevoix, a former commercial videographer and documentarian saw a need for public access television, and for people to be able to create their own audio and video stories. So the videographer, named Rebecca Glotfelty founded a nonprofit organization called Real People Media.
Recently, she hosted an open house and invited members of the community to come and check out a newly-remodeled television studio as well as several thousand dollar's worth of video and audio editing equipment.
Tucked back along an industrial park drive is a building that houses Real People Media.
Real People Media is a center that provides equipment and training to people who want to make video or audio stories about their work or lives. Rebecca Glotfelty is the founder and director of the nonprofit organization.
"People kept saying, 'Can you come and video tape this meeting, this event that we're having. We don't have any money, we're a nonprofit.' I saw there was a need in this area to train people to do basic video production to tell their own story." Glotfelty said.
Recently, Glotfelty hosted a holiday open house to show off a newly remodeled television studio. The organization also received $5,000 in professional audio equipment, television lighting and editing equipment. Those additions were funded by a grant from the Chicago-based Leo S. Guthman Fund.
Evan Beane is one of the kids enjoying the open house. The nine-year-old from Charlevoix is making a stop-motion video with a Lego set. These videos are a pastime of his. He posts his finished productions to a YouTube account called "Nave107."
"You put them on a set, then you move them a little bit and take a picture, then move them a little bit and take a picture, and when you put all the pictures together, it makes one movie." Beane said.
The movie he is making at the open house is holiday-themed.
"Santa is getting chased by people that want to see him." He said.
In another room, attendees are video taping holiday greetings against a green screen. One person making a greeting is Matt Koontz, a flutemaker from Petoskey.
The greetings will be set against a photo of the attendee's choice, and will be posted to YouTube.
Glotfelty said YouTube is one way people who use Real People Media's studios can show their projects. People can also share television shows they have made through local public access stations. One, called Sunrise Cable, is located in Onaway. Another, called Up North TV, is located in Traverse City.
"But I saw there was a need for this and this area for something like this. Hopefully, we're fulfilling a need but for this to work it takes volunteers, and takes people that are interested in learning to share what's happening." Glotfelty said.
People interested in using the facility or learning video or audio production can become members of the nonprofit. Memberships cost $20 and classes cost between $30 and $40. To learn more, visit www.realpeoplemedia.org.
Richard Baldwin is a self published mystery author, who's helping to raise money for the Roscommon Area District Library's new building.
Baldwin will be speaking at the event tomorrow afternoon, August 31, about his recent release, Murder at the Cherry Festival.
For every copy sold he said he will donate 5 dollars toward the building.
The book starts off when a wealthy business owner and the Grand Marshal of the festival are shot. The community is stunned, but the parade and the Festival continues.
"So you get swat members on various buildings in the city, you have low flying helicopters out, you have the full force out because of the crisis. And the decision is made to go ahead with the parade as planned and trust that the police and sheriff people will have it be a safe event, which it is."
But then the reader, Baldwin said, is left with wondering why the men were shot and how.
"It's fiction of course so while the driver of that float is walking around talking to people the murderer is able to make her way into that vehicle and fire the shot with the silencer so not many people hear much and walk away from the float and oh boy now we got a problem."
The reader is left trying to solve the mystery with the main character Lou Searing.
Murder at the Cherry Festival won't be the only topic discussed at the Roscommon event. Baldwin said he will also be talking about the business end of novel writing and its challenges.
"So I talk a little about the business side, then I talk about the marketing side. So now I have the book what do you do, how do you in front of people and get them to know about it. I try to be motivating, the worst thing I can have happen is someone come to it that's a writer or thinks they are and leaves thinking boy I don't want to do all that."
Baldwin said he is willing to answer any questions, and wants to help aspiring authors and meet fans along the way.
Sargent "Sarge" Shriver, founder of the Peace Corps and a prominent political and humanitarian figure for the last half of the twentieth century, passed away in 2011 following a battle with Alzheimer's.
Mark Shriver, one of his five children, has written a book based on the stories told to him about not only his father's work, but also the type of man he was.
It's called "A Good Man: Rediscovering My Father, Sargent Shriver."
CMU Public Radio's David Nicholas spoke recently with Mark Shriver about the book and carrying his father's legacy...
Author and son, Mark Shriver, speaking with CMU Public Radio's David Nicholas about his book in tribute to his father, Sargent Shriver, "A Good Man." The book is published by Henry Holt and Company.
Mark Shriver is the senior vice president of U.S. Programs at Save the Children in Washington, D.C., and a former Maryland state legislator. Shriver also started the Choice Program and served on the coalition to create the National Commission on Children and Disasters following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
This Memorial Day, as America honors its war dead, some organizations are stepping up their efforts to serve veterans, especially at the end of their lives.
Statistics show that each year, 25 percent of those who die are veterans. Yet few hospices offer services specifically for veterans.
But that's changing.
Woodland Hospice in Mount Pleasant recently became a partner in the "We Honor Veterans" program. Hospice manager Lou Howard said the idea is to honor veterans not only as they embark upon their final journey, but also after they've passed away...
"We have a small ceremony at the bedside with peopel that would want to be included in it, the family, the staff here and volunteers at the hospice house. And we would have several readings, and they would chose those readings. We would play taps. And then, as the body's being escorted out, it would be covered with the flag."
Over 50 Michigan hospices are now participating in the program.
DTE Energy Foundation awarded a ten thousand dollar grant to the After 26 project.
The project is creating a restaurant and gift shop in Cadillac that will employ thirty special needs adults.
Andrew MacDonald, a board member for After 26, said the project isn't about making a profit; it's to help special needs adults.
"And so this effort is really not so much about the money to pay them, although they do get a paycheck, and all that good stuff, but it's really about the opportunity to have a job. The opportunity to get that self-esteem, of having a job, and a sense of belonging that goes with."
McDonald said in the After 26 Depot Café and Unique Gifts, every gift they sell will be made by a special needs person.
The DTE grant, he said, is extremely valuable to the restaurant.
It allows the After 26 project to use the money for whatever expenses are deemed most necessary.
However McDonald said the project still needs other individual and corporate donors to get the restaurant up and running.
Michigan's second annual No Kill Conference is coming up on September 20 and 21 and takes place in Lansing.
One persistent problem, particularly as spring terms let out on college campuses, puppies and kittens start to overflow the shelters.
Debra Schutt is the Chair of the board of Michigan Pet Fund Alliance. She said Michigan's No Kill Conference purpose is in its name, to save more if not all of the stray animals all over Michigan...
"The purpose of the conference is to really have a paradigm shift in sheltering of homeless cats and dogs in the state of Michigan and teach the 11 programs that will get you every shelter in the state whether you're open admission or not to a no kill status."
In Michigan alone we have 44 no kill animal shelters, including locations in Traverse City, Ann Arbor, St. Clair and Grand Rapids.
Jill Irving is executive director of HATS in Mount Pleasant. She said in order to become no kill status the shelter must have a less than 10 percent euthanasia rate. Several shelters, she said, are striving to become a "no kill facility."
June 11 marks "Just One Day," a nation wide event that asks animal shelters to take a pledge suspend euthanasia and promote more animal adoption.
A dog that survived being put down in a pet shelter gas chamber paid a visit to the state Capitol Thursday. Daniel and his owner Joe Dwyer of Nutley-New Jersey tour the country to campaign against the use of gas chambers by pet shelters. Dwyer said many shelters that use gas chambers to euthanize animals don't use humane methods.
"The animals are packed into the gas chamber, the gas is just turned on and there is a frantic, very and horrible situation that takes place and that is why Daniel is such a miracle because when he lived, the others did die that day in the gas chamber."
Michigan's Humane Society invited Dwyer and Daniel to lobby for a state law that would outlaw the use of gas chambers by pet shelters. The Humane Society said there are only a handful of shelters that still use gas instead of lethal injection to euthanize abandoned animals.
A Northern Michigan humane society is suffering from an influx of kittens.
They've picked up 46 three-week old kittens; all from one overwhelmed women.
Mary Singer is with the Little Traverse Bay Humane Society. She said the women started out with two cats and the situation quickly grew out of control.
"I mean I think you start out with two and you don't realize how important it is to spay and neuter them and then quickly, I mean within a year the situation got so out of control, she's overwhelmed, in total that's 66 cats! Between the kittens 46 and twenty adults."
According to the website "Stray Pet Advocacy", in the course of her lifetime, one unspayed female, with all her unspayed female offspring, can be expected to be responsible for more than 3000 kittens if there is no human intervention.
Singer says all the kittens will be spayed and neutered and ready for adoption next month.
More than a decade ago, a group of volunteers decided to start up an organization to help conserve the rivers of Midland county.
Now, the organization will receive a grant to expand the initiative.
In honor of the Little Forks Conservancy's 15th anniversary, the J.A. Woollam Foundation awarded the conservancy with a 15,000 challenge grant.
The foundation is challenging the conservancy to expand its outreach.
The foundation will match every dollar donated to the conservancy until it reaches the 15,000 dollar mark.
The foundation will only match the donations from first-time donors OR from previous donors who increased their donation by at least 500 dollars.
Douglas Koop is the Executive Director of the Little Forks Conservancy. He said the grant will help the organization reach out to new donors.
"It's sort of a little incentive for people who have maybe been thinking about ways to support the environment or trying to come up with a way to help protect the area's natural beauty to participate. For us then, if we can get those people in to participate, talk to them and share our program, we hope to build long term relationships and build long term support."
Koop said the challenge grant will run the entire year.
Central Michigan University interior design students are heading to the Detroit area this semester to give a children's hospital a makeover.
The decision comes after a successful project at the Midland women's shelter
CMU inteior design students were given the unique opportunity to gain hands on experience in their field.
The students remodeled 3 rooms at the Midland Women's Shelter.
Brenda Skeel is a teacher in the Interior Design Department at CMU. She said there are more projects like the Midland Shelter ahead.
"We hope to continue to do more project s like this as a matter of fact I'm working with a group of 12 students for this semester and we are working with the children's hospital in Detroit and their art director there. It's a whole group of people working on this. So we're working with them to update or add art work to their treatment rooms."
Skeel sa the Detroit project should wrap up by the end of May.
Northern Michigan cities wrapped up a carton recycling challenge this week.
Emmet County Recycling said the challenge helped raise awareness about recycling cartons like milk, juice and ice cream.
The challenge may be wrapping up but awareness is still spreading.
Elisa Seltzer is the County Recycling director. She said two larger than life birds have been created out of recycled cartons. And have been used in different parts of Emmet county to raise awareness.
"And they've generated quite a lot of buzz and there have been requests coming in from all over to see if these large sculptures made of cartons could visit communities. So one will be flitting off to the Charevoix Country Library. So they will be spreading their wings beyond Emmet County and visiting our other recycling communities."
Seltzer said the program also encouraged one of the Boyne City public schools to begin a carton recycling program.
Officials in Shiawassee county were fielding calls Monday about the closing of their animal shelter. The shelter stopped taking animals January 11. Now homeless pets are being taken to the local Humane Society.
Monday the county shelter was down to placing its last two dogs. But comments began surfacing on commercial media websites that any dogs that didn't find homes would be euthanized.
Shiawassee county Sheriff George Braidwood said that's not the case. He said housing dogs at the Humane Society is a good move for the county and the Humane Society.
"it actually worked out to be a super partnership. the human society's excited about it because they like to try and find homes for the animals. It actually relieves our animal control officer from having to do any duties at a shelter, so he can devote 100% of his time now to animal control issues. So it's worked out good for everybody."
Sheriff Braidwood said the county decided to close the animal shelter as a cost-cutting move. He said the facility was old and maintenance costs continued to climb.
During these hard economic times, a local non profit organization is not taking a hit. In fact, the organization is taking off and extending its efforts to neighboring states.
The Yellow Jug Old Drugs program recently held its quarterly collection in Michigan. The program collected more than 7,000 pounds of drugs, both prescription and over the counter.
That was 1,000 pounds more than their estimate.
The non profit has been around for three years now. It works with more than 200 local pharmacies to collect and dispose of unused and unwanted drugs to keep our water clean.
Chris Angel is with the Yellow Jug Old Drugs program. He said the organization has a bright future.
"Our goal since starting the program is two-fold. It is to expand the program and our board of directors has set that goal within 3 to 5 years to be available in all of the Great Lakes states and we are on target for that. "
Angel said more than 30,000 pounds of unwanted drugs have been collected since the program started in 2009. He said the program will be expanding to Wisconsin and Illinois this year.
In these touch economic times, people have had to tighten their belts and cut back on everything, from vacations and entertainment to kids' activities and deserts. But what about pets? Do recessions like the present one have an impact on pets and the people attempting to take care of them?
Toby: Julie Degroot, has served the Little Traverse Bay Humane Society for more than 10 years. For the last 3 of those years, she has been its Director of Operations. While her organization has not seen an increase in the number of people dropping off or surrendering their animals as the economy has bottomed out, she has seen the recession take a toll on the pet population in other ways...
Julie: So we had a woman come in the other day with a dog that she needed to surrender, because unfortunately she was loosing her home to foreclosure. She couldn't find a place that would allow her to take her dog. What were finding is people do want to keep their animal but unfortunately places that rent, most of the time do not allow pets.
Toby: But even those pet owners who are managing to hang onto their homes or apartments are struggling to provide for their pets in other important ways...
Julie: What we are seeing an increase of over the last year or so, are people calling us not necessarily to bring their animals in, but they may not be able to afford normal routine vet care, or if their animal is injured, or has an ear infection. They can't afford necessarily the medical care to take care of their animals.
Toby: Humane Societies like the one here in Emmet County offer a tremendous array of services to area pet owners, particularly in times of economic hardship. But in order to access that support, people need to plan ahead and ask...
Julie: So what we would really like to stress is if people know that they may be loosing their homes, whether it be in four months or six months, please give us a call and give us the heads up. That way we can make sure when that time comes if you haven't found an alternative situation for your animal we can get it in.
Toby: No one knows for sure when the economy here in Michigan will rebound. But in the meantime, humane societies like the one in little Traverse Bay, and veterinary clinics like Bay Pines will continue to do everything they can to help pets and their owners navigate through the difficult waters of a prolonged recession.
Two students in Ann Arbor have collected more than 50-thousand petition signatures they hope will help strengthen an anti-bullying proposal in the state Legislature.
The students, an 8th grader and an 11th grader, started the online petition in response to a proposal approved by the state Senate earlier this month. The measure would have allowed bullying based on religious or moral convictions. Mark Anthony Dingbaum is with Change.org. That's the website that hosted the petition drive. Dingbaum said the response was quick and overwhelming.
"And so it's been really powerful, and with every signer that's sending a message to the Legislature."
The petition is being sent to Senate Majority Randy Richardville. It calls for an anti-bullying measure that lists characteristics that should be protected from bullying, such as sexual orientation and gender. The kids who started the petition said they were bullied for being gay, or perceived as gay. Some Republican lawmakers argue that if the bill lists characteristics, it would inadvertently leave some kids unprotected.
Rural communities throughout Northern Michigan will see better looking homes this year. This thanks to a grant from the USDA totaling nearly a quarter of a million dollars.
Eight Communities in Northern Michigan received grants from the USDA to repair homes and improve housing conditions for low income residents.
In all the amount of money coming to the communities is $245,000. Those funds will go toward repairs to 54 housing units throughout Michigan.
Bobby Lewis is the Chief of Staff with the Rural Housing Service in Washington D.C. He says that housing committees throughout Northern Michigan played a big part in funding the projects.
"Our money helps raise other money, they're actually spending a lot more money than they get from us. We're a partner and they're able to repair a lot more houses with their program. One of the reasons Michigan and these communities were so successful is because they raised a lot of money and they got a lot more for the amount of leveraging" said Lewis.
The Committees receiving the funding are the Oscoda Housing Commission, Alpena Home Improvement Program, the Crawford County Home Improvement Program and the Northwest Community Action Agency.
"There are specific purposes that the funds can be used for. Generally they are for needed repairs to the water systems, for roofing repairs weatherization or for other repairs to make sure the home remains habitable" said Bryan Hooper, Deputy Administrator for the Office of Multi-Family Housing in Washington, D.C.
The funding is made available through the USDA Rural Development Housing Program. Michigan got a similar grant last year.
It's no secret that there can be many roadblocks for students from low income areas who are trying to go to college.
Some don't have the money while others think it's just not possible.
Farwell high school is trying to change that with a newly launched Early College program.
Farwell High School's Early College program allows students to complete a high school diploma and an associates degree at the local Community College; all by taking five years of high school.
Under the program students earn their associates degree for free. There are similar programs in Clare, Flint, Saginaw and 12 other communities
The program is paid for with Full Time Equivalent funding, that's the state aid that schools normally receive. Although Farwell is at the lowest funding level, officials said they still have enough to pay for students' books and tuition for students.
That's because, they said, the five-year high school represents not a funding increase but a funding shift. Farwell teachers are trained to instruct college courses. And the money the school would normally use for high school classes they re-direct to the college courses instead.
Dee Yarger is the principle of Farwell High school, she said although there are other similar programs, Farwell's is distinct.
"There's not any out there that are exactly like ours. Our program sets them up right in the setting that they're comfortable with right in our Farwell campus with teachers that are" said Yarger.
Early College manager Lynette Leslie said at first students didn't like the idea of staying in school for an extra year, but with support from the staff and the community they came to see it as a good thing.
"More and more students are coming to me they're getting really excited they pass me in the hallways and talk about it a lot" said Leslie.
Leslie says besides the positive feedback, the program is giving some students an avenue to realize their full potential.
"What we're also noticing is that a lot of our students that struggle in their high school career starting out their GPA might be lower, a lot of times this is kids who are not always pushed to their limits when we see them taking college classes their GPA has risen they've shown a lot more success, and they're just rejuvenated, its really good to see."
Students like Tyler Thayer who will have his associates degree this time next year.
"It was more of a second chance for me, because people have always told me that I had potential and I need to apply myself and I never really looked at it like that. But this college program has really given me to really apply myself and pursue my dream" said Thayer.
The Early College program at Farwell high school may be the future of education. Yarger said it will be around for years to come, because the need will continue to exist.
"NPR is my favorite radio station" and "My favorite part...is the World Cafe"
We hear those kinds of sentiments a lot, especially during fundraising on CMU Public Radio.
But we heard them from a unique young man last week in a letter he typed up to go along with his donation: of three-dollars and ten cents.
8-year old Sam is without a doubt among of the youngest listeners of CMU Public Radio
Amy Robinson met with him and his parents yesterday. She tells us more about the message of Sam.
In a lot of ways, Sam is a typical eight year old. He loves to watch his older brother play video games. And he loves to spring surprises on adults.
He leads me down the hallway to his bedroom. The sign on the door declares this is "Sam's Awesome Building Place of Fun." The small radio next to the bed is one of the things Sam loves the most.
"My radio is tuned to NPR! (Amy) and that's where it always is tuned. (Sam) yeah. Only if it isn't on the air. That's the only case I'd change it to a different station.
Sam goes to sleep every night to the World Cafe. He wakes up to Morning Edition. Mom, Sarah.
"Yeah he does. He's come in and he said 'Hey did you know, such and such is happening' and it will be some world event. I know now where he's hearing it, but at first I thought where did you hear that? Oh it was on Morning Edition or something he heard.
Sam found CMU Public Radio this summer. He said it was kind of an accident
(Sam) Well I discovered it because, once I found out that my radio had a radio option, I tuned it to the one clear number and that was NPR.
(Sarah) If it's off, it gets turned back on. He'll come in and let me know in the middle of the night and let me know ' you turned off my radio. So I don't do that any more.
Sarah said Sam is high functioning on the autism spectrum. She said the radio seems to offer non-threatening social contact.
He hears voices there that are company to him and socially he likes to have friends, but sometimes too many people, certain things can cause kind of an overload, sensory type of thing, so if it's just coming out of a radio, maybe that's, we're still learning so. Maybe that gives him a social thing, but not where he's having to interact on his own.'
(Sam) I don't know why I need some noise to go to sleep. Usually it just gives me company and I don't like being away from like people so much. And that makes me feel like I'm close to someone.
Human connection over the airwaves. Sam can't get enough. So when our fundraiser started this fall, Sarah did what to her was the logical thing. She asked Sam if he wanted to support this thing that he loves.
I had WCMU on the computer, live-streaming, and I said, just listen to this for a minute. You listen to this all the time. Is that something that you would you like to share some of your money with them to help keep that going? There was just no hesitation, 'oh yes.' He grabbed wallet and sorted through it and pulled out his crispy, crunchy little bills and had to say "I have to give them some change' and he sorted through his change. picket for quite a while. He said 'a dime,I need to find a dime". and he pulled out a dime and...
And he sent us three, crispy, crunchy dollar bills and ten cents.
Cause I didn't have tons of money, and I didn't have a tiny little amount (Amy) so you came up with something in the middle (Sam) mm-hmm
Three dollars and ten cents. And a note, typed laboriously, from the heart.
This is my vintage typewriter. and it is. An old fashion olive green, manual typewriter. And like a favorite toy, Sam sees it's quirks and loves it anyway.
The downside is that once you type something, or a mistake, there's no way you can erase it. (Amy) do you know that most people don't have a typewriter like this? (Sam) what?!
And that sense of shock is similar to the reaction that I got when I asked this little donor what he'd do without us.
(Amy) how would you feel if you couldn't listen to NPR? (Sam) on one night? (Amy) Ever. What if it wasn't there? (Sam) Like one day it was just gone? I'd be extremely mad and upset. And now I know why I sent in my donation.
From the mouth of babes. So, Sam we'll work hard to put your money to good use. And thanks again for the dollars, the dime and the dedicated listening.
Governor Rick Snyder will deliver the opening remarks today at a gathering in Ypsilanti of health professionals and government officials trying to find ways to bring down Michigan's high infant mortality rate. The governor called for the summit to find out why the state has one of the nations' higher mortality rates.
In Michigan, almost eight infants of every thousand born don't live to see their first birthday. Among African-Americans, that number is much bigger 15 infants out of every thousand don't live to age one. The national average is six-point-seven births per thousand.
For the past 30 years, the infant mortality rate has improved in Michigan, but that trend has reversed over the past three years, said Angela Minicuci of the state Department of Community Health.
"The main purpose of this summit is to really find out what is causing this increase, especially over the last three years and what we can do to address it."
The infant mortality rate is also considered a useful measure of how well the health care system is working. Governor Snyder called for reducing infant mortality in a health care message that also focused on Michigan's high rate of obesity.
Recycling can sometimes be a nuisance but Emmet County's program makes the task easier and more beneficial for residents.
Elisa Seltzer, head of the Emmet County program, is being recognized for her work. She's received the Michigan Recycling Coalition's 2011 Recycler of The Year Award.
Seltzer said the county's recycling program works so well because it offers incentives for people to participate.
"So the more they throw out the more they pay but they can recycle at no charge, so each individual can look at what they have and say if I throw it out it costs money the more I recycle the more I save. So there is a really strong incentive for people to recycle, and we make it really convenient and cost effective."
Eighty percent of county residents use the program.
Seltzer said it's easy to use. Residents don't need to separate their recyclables, and it can go out with the trash every week.
The program is funded through revenue gained from the recyclables.
A proposal to build a publicly owned second bridge between Detroit and Canada could be nearing a critical vote at the state Capitol. It's still unclear if the proposal has enough support to win approval by the Legislature.
Republican state Senator Mike Kowall chairs the committee considering the bridge proposal. He said lawmakers have discussed the proposal ad nauseum, and collected a wealth of information from both sides of the debate over the past few months.
"You know, it's my responsibility to gather up all of the information, and I think we're just about to the end of it."
But Kowall said he does not think he has the votes among Republicans on his committee to approve the proposal. If the measure does not move out of that committee, it could be reassigned by Republican leaders to another committee with more Republican support. Governor Rick Snyder's administration also said it may pursue other avenues to build the bridge if the Legislature fails to approve the project.
As you hit the road for your evening commute, think for a moment how much different your travels would be in a car with no radio, no air conditioning and, with a top speed of 50 miles an hour, definitely no speeding.
A Traverse City, Michigan man has has been enjoying this kind of automotive counter-culture for nearly a year now. He's been tooling around the Midwest in a royal blue Model A.
Besides what some might call automotive deprivation, there is a point to all this.
So, when I think of a Model A, I picture the classic antique car, the stately old gentleman of the automotive world.
No one told me that stately old gentleman would be so loud.
Do you ever feel like it's gona fall apart? "Hahaha, actually I, ha, I used to be a stickler for uh, ya know if you had any bit of rattle or squeak inside my car, but yes, in this car you quickly get over it."
Jonathon Klinger has had 11 months to get over his squeak-aversion. This 29-year old has committed himself to one year of driving an 81-year old car.
His rules: this is the only care he'll drive, no matter what the weather or the distance. The only exception is if he has to fly for work. Car rentals have a lot of models, but no stately gentlemen. Most of the car, including the horn, is original. The only modifications were for safety; seat belts, safety glass and radial tires. No hidden radio or creature comforts.
"For the most part, the car is exactly as it would have rolled off the assembly line back in 1930."
Klinger, who lives in the Traverse City area, has been all over the Midwest in the A. Indiana, Ohio of course Michigan. He's even braved the Windy City.
"I hit Chicago at 5:30, on a Wednesday which was like two days before Christmas, and it was snowing and I just figured I was doomed. And it actually wasn't that bad."
The Mighty Model A cruises along nicely at 45 or 50 miles an hour. It can hit 65, but Klinger says that's for sprinting, not for distance.
"I have a few times legitimately passed someone and boy is that a sense of accomplishment when you do that."
He said what the car lacks in speed it makes up for in determination. Apparently I was the only one who was skeptical that it'd make it up the hill.
"This is this shows extent of a 40 horse power. Haha, it's, it's, it's going I think I can, I think I can. That's all 40 horses working there. Yup, and we made it."
Klinger said there are a couple hundred thousand Model A's in at least near-drivable condition in the US. He said he's one of only a handful of people who actually drive one. And he said he's one of a tiny micro-chasm of the Model A community with no backup ride waiting in the garage.
Klinger launched his project "365 Days of A" to make a few points; That not everything we own has to have a computer in it. That you don't have to be a millionaire to own a classic car. He said this one cost 11-grand. And that these octogenarian automobiles can and should be driven.
"I don't understand that whole trailer queen phenomenon when it comes to people with old cars. What I, what I mean by trailer queen is there's some people that have a car that the only time it ever gets run is when they drive it from in their garage into their enclosed trailer, they haul it to the car show, then they back it off the trailer and back it off onto the show field and they're wearing white gloves and they spend the whole day, ya know worried, don't touch it, ya know, and heaven forbid it might get dusty, they dusted it off. And for me that's no fun."
Klinger may have seen some of those trailer queens on his grand finale trip; he's just returned from a big car show in Hersey Pennsylvania.
He said after 13,000 miles, he's learned a lot from the Model A. That a car with skinny tires and low power handles great in the snow. But in the summer, the upright windshield hits every bug that comes along. And that the stately old gentleman of the automotive world has a lot to teach us about longevity, determination and enjoying the journey.
Refurbishing abandoned buildings is becoming a trend in Michigan. Ferris State University is following the trend by encouraging community members to give their opinion on how buildings in the Big Rapids area should be reused.
Professor William Culpepper is head of the project. He said graphic design students were assigned buildings this week and were stationed at the buildings to solicit the input from the public.
Professor Culpepper said engaging the community in dialogue is the first step toward the ultimate goal...
"Getting the community civic leaders involved and actually having somebody occupy these spaces would be the ultimate end result. Where actually a tenet moves into these spaces based on conversations that the projections initially started."
Culpepper said residents had the opportunity to draw out their ideas on 'projection screens'.
Four Big Rapids area buildings hosted the students in locations that included abandoned schools and restaurants.
There are fewer resources in rural parts of the country for sexual assault victims but experts said sexual violence is just as prevalent.
The Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women is working to address the problem by awarding six grants totaling 2.7 million dollars.
Shelter Inc. in Alpena will be awarded a 450-thousand dollar, three-year grant. The shelter will use the funding to launch a project known as the Sexual Assault Demonstration Initiative.
Sandra Pilgrim-Lewis is the director of Shelter Inc. She said the main goals of the initiative are to increase outreach and prioritize the needs of survivors.
She said, per capita, sexual violence is just as common in rural communities as it is in urban areas.
"In rural areas it is very difficult sometimes to reach those sexual assault survivors because the person who perpetrated the crime may be very involved with someone within the very system that should cause protection."
Pilgrim-Lewis said in urban areas it's easier for a survivor to remain anonymous.
She said the program will help communities open the dialog for survivors to come forward and get the treatment they need.
Dow Chemical executives and colleges students and faculty have spent the weekend in Washington D.C. for the first U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon.
Public Radio spoke with Pat Nugent, director of business for Dow Solar, via phone from the event.
She said Dow is proud to support several key events and two student teams.
She said 20 high school teams built and designed their own energy-efficient model homes.
"And they are going to start next week giving awards for different levels of energy efficiency, or how they met the architecture, market appeal, engineering, affordability, so there are at least ten different areas that they are going to get awards on and scores."
Dow Solar's managing director will announce the winning homes October 1.
She said the Decathlon is designed to help educate everyone from Congress to students on the value of solar energy.
At the state Capitol, the House and the Senate have approved separate measures that would ban a controversial abortion procedure that is already illegal under federal law. Both bills were approved by commanding majorities. Neither will go to Governor Rick Snyder for his signature until it is approved by the other branch of the Legislature.
The debate was about enacting a state ban on one particular procedure. But the debate often wandered off into a larger discussion about abortion.
Democratic state Representative Jimmy Womack is also a minister and a doctor. He was a "no" vote.
"The God that I worship gives me the gift to choose. I think we ought to be very careful and we are sliding down a slippery slope when we take away the gift to choose. I am pro-life and pro-choice, and for people who think you can't be both, they need to review what those definitions mean again."
The Republican sponsors said a state ban is needed in case the federal law banning the dilation-and extraction procedure is repealed. Earlier efforts by the state to enact a ban on the procedure have been struck down by federal courts.
The Republican leader of the state House said he would like to see a law in Michigan that allows teachers to opt out of joining a union or paying union dues as a condition of working for a school district. House Speaker Jase Bolger endorsed a "right-to-teach" law this Friday morning on a statewide public radio call-in show.
Bolger's support would appear to clear a path through the Legislature for a "right-to-work" law that applies only to teachers. The Senate majority leader has already expressed his support and said he expects to see the measure come up for a vote.
Bolger said a "right-to-teach" law is not a poke at teachers unions that have tangled with Republicans on school reforms, and have backed the recall of G-O-P lawmakers. Bolger said the measure is meant to respect teachers by giving them more control over their paychecks.
"We've heard from teachers who are not happy with how their union dues are being used. They're not happy with what's going on."
Bolger said he is not yet ready to embrace a more sweeping "right-to-work" bill, although he said that should also be discussed.
The House Democratic leader said targeting one profession for a "right-to-work" law smacks of retribution.
Governor Rick Snyder said people need to take more responsibility for their own health if Michigan is going to reverse some dismal trends and save money on healthcare. That was part of a health care reform message he delivered today Wednesday at a Grand Rapids clinic.
Governor Snyder said too many Michiganders smoke, are overweight, and don't exercise. Michigan ranks 10th in the country in people who are overweight or obese. Nearly two in 10 people still smoke.
"We have a crisis in our country and our state on healthcare. We're not doing well."
The governor said Michigan needs to address a physician shortage and improve infant mortality rates in urban areas. He wants to update insurance rules and the public health code.
"We have a broken system."
The governor wants the Legislature to adopt many of his health reform ideas including some controversial insurance mandates by Thanksgiving. But the governor said state government cannot force people to adopt healthy lifestyles. So the governor said he will lead by example. He set a goal of dropping 10 pounds by the end of the year.
Governor Rick Snyder's health care agenda appears at the outset to be more popular with Democrats at the state Capitol than with the governor's fellow Republicans.
There are a couple proposals that have G-O-P leaders particularly concerned.
Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger said he is all for encouraging personal responsibility in health and wellness, and he said he would like to lead by example. But he said he is not interested in some of the governor's proposed mandates. That includes requiring health insurance companies cover treatments for autistic children. Bolger said he's not ready to support the proposal, but he's not ruling it out either.
"What's a pull is the serious issue that those families face. It's a very real issue and they bring up very good points. The issue is not on my agenda, but I'm willing to talk about it."
Democrats in the Legislature, as well as Republican Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, have tried for several years to approve autism treatment coverage. Democratic leaders said they appreciate many aspects of the governor's health reform agenda.
Saturday is Constitution Day, it marks the day the constitution was signed in 1787.
Events are planned across the state honoring the constitution, including a public forum at Saginaw Valley State University.
John Kaczynski is director of S-V-S-U's Center for Public Policy and Service.
He said the forum will examine the ever-evolving nature of the constitution, and how recent court decisions have impacted it.
"We'll talk about Supreme Court cases that have been decided upon over the last two to three years. And some of those cases range from the Westboro Baptist Case, to the case commonly referred to as the 'Bong Hit for Jesus' case."
The S-V-S-U forum is Wednesday night at the Regional Education Center on campus. It begins at 7 p-m.
In his address to a joint session of Congress last night, President Barak Obama presented the House and Senate with the American Jobs Act.
The proposal focuses on job creation, including investment in infrastructure projects. Michigan's USDA Rural Development Director Jim Turner said projects have been on-going from monies allocated earlier this year and last year.
"Just in the last couple of years, we've invested on the order of $400 million in community infrastructure. We provide loans and grants to rural communities to finance sewer system improvements and water system improvements and we've also financed important other community facility things which can be buildings and equipment."
Turner pointed to a water distribution project in three Midland County townships. It is designed to produce better drinking water from wells an ongoing problem due to the shallow aquifer.
There is a similar project being done in Saginaw County's Albee Township. Both projects are in cooperation with the respective cities.
Turner adds that future funding will be dependent on funding allocated from Congress specifically under the goals of the president's proposal and also from the annual fiscal year budget.
A change of leadership appears to be underway at the Michigan A-F-of-L C-I-O. A-F-of-L C-I-O President Mark Gaffney is on his way out and is expected to be replaced by Karla Swift. Gaffney said it is time for a new set of labor leaders to take on the conservative tide that's swept over the state Capitol.
Mark Gaffney's led the state A-F-of-L C-I-O labor umbrella for a dozen years. He said the sweeping G-O-P victories over Democrats in the last election emboldened Republicans in Lansing.
"And, frankly, my skill set is better at pulling people together and building than standing toe to toe, eye to eye, and slugging things out."
Sources within labor and the state Democratic Party said the changes reflect fears that Republicans are intent on passing some onerously anti-union laws including right to work. His likely replacement is Karla Swift. She comes out of the United Auto Workers, but most of her recent activities involve political organizing, and working to expand the base of the labor movement by advocating for more family-friendly workplace rules.
After a summer of monitoring Cass River, the Saginaw Bay Resource Conservation and Development Council, or RC and D has determined the water quality is poor. The team is now deciding what action to take.
The Cass River in the thumb is battling nutrient loading, e-coli and dissolved action problems.
Ben Belkholm is with the Saginaw Bay RC&D. He said the council is designing a Watershed Management Plan to handle the crisis.
"The Watershed Management Plan is a document that will outline not only the main concerns that are in the watershed but the specific locations that we think need the most focus."
Belkholm said the plan will also outline the necessary action to improve the water quality.
He said the RC&D will suggest education for farmers on how to properly dispose of cattle waste, and for local residents on how to maintain their septic tanks.
About two thousand medical marijuana supporters rallied at the state Capitol Wednesday. They gathered to protest proposals to regulate the state's Medical Marijuana Act.
Medical marijuana users and supporters cheered and laughed as a plane flew over head, circling the Capitol with a banner that read state Attorney General Bill Schuette wants to "Keep Patients off the Streets."
Many people in the crowd held "Don't Tread On Me" flags alongside signs asking Schuette and lawmakers not to treat medical marijuana users like criminals.
"They're damaging what we set out to make legal, and what the voters want in Michigan."
That's Bill Teichman, a member of a medical marijuana club in Oakland County. Teichman says the medical marijuana community is frustrated by state officials who are trying to regulate a law that was approved by voters by a wide margin in 2008.
One crucial support group for sexual assault victims in the
state is waiting for word on funding.
Sexual Aggression Peer Advocates at Central Michigan
University has reapplied for "The Violence Against Women's Act Campus Grant."
The group has received the $300,000 dollar three year grant
for six years.
Steve Thompson is the director of SAPA at CMU.
He said even without the grant, the program will survive.
"Even if we don't get the grant SAPA will be alive and well.
As long as we have SAPA there will be services for survivors. They're helping
2-300 hundreds of human beings during the years and doing over 260 programs and
the grant pays for none of that. What the grant does pay for is support for the
SAPA and support for the survivors."
Thompson said without the grant funding the SAPA budget is
He said SAPA will know by the end of September whether or
not it gets the grant.
The Department of Natural Resources is asking people to share their opinion on what guidelines should be created for a new youth hunting program.
The Mentored Youth Hunting program was introduced earlier this year. It allows for children of any age to participate in some forms of hunting in the state with adult supervision.
The DNR assembled a work group to conduct the online survey that will gather the public's recommendations on what guidelines should apply under the law.
Mary Dettloff is with the DNR. She said the input is important in developing guidelines to ensure the safety of the children. She said the survey will cover many different issues.
"Such as what type of hunter ed education should there be for youth, what type of requirements should there be for the mentor and the relationship. Should they have a certain number of years experience under their belt?" Said Dettloff.
Dettloff said the information gathered from the survey will be presented by the work group to the Natural Resources Commission in November.
She said there is a lot of concern in the public about putting a fire arm in the hands of a young child. But she statistically youth hunters are among the safest hunters.
A coalition of hospitals, schools and health centers are working together to enroll children in the state's free and low-cost health insurance plans.
Phil Bergquist is the manager of health center operations at the Michigan Primary Care Association. He said there are about 127 thousand uninsured kids in Michigan. Sixty five percent of those kids are eligible for free medical insurance but haven't applied.
He said state offered programs such as Healthy Kids and MiChild are based on income and are aimed at working families.
He said a family of four making about 44 thousand a year would qualify.
"If families aren't sure they qualify or if your income is a little bit above that we encourage families to give us a call so that we can kind of look at that income situation with you and see what deductions the families may qualify fir as well." Said Bergquist.
Berquist said the application process takes less than thirty minutes and is as simple as dialing 211 on your phone.
Central Michigan University Research Corp. and Mid Michigan Community College's Small Business and Technology Development Center are working together to council emerging and growing small businesses.
Resources being offered range from developing business plans to assistance in securing financing.
The teams goal is to encourage job growth in Michigan.
Tony Fox is with SBTDC. He said the two organizations will combine their resources to offer start ups a helping hand. He said services will include training, counseling, primary and secondary research and assistance in obtaining debt and equity financing.
Fox said funding to offer the services comes from the Small Business Administration and the Michigan Economic Development Corp.
"And now the new support is to increase capacity through the CMURC. All of those bodies have an interest in tax base and all of them have an interest in tax creation in the area. So our goal ultimately is to help people create jobs." Said Fox.
Fox said creating jobs will widen the tax base, ultimately benefiting the companies funding his organization.
Oscoda County's Extension Service will be closing it's doors beginning next year.
The state director of the Extension Program said Oscoda is the first county to ever eliminate the program.
Extension programs offer services like 4-H and gardening programs among other things.
Oscoda County Extension educator said the community wants to keep the extension program but are unable to find the funding for it.
Other counties are facing possible shut down, including Iosco and Benzie.
Thomas Coon is the State Director of the MSU Extension Program. He said between three and six counties have threatened to close their extension programs each year since the economy began to decline. But Oscoda is the first to actually do so.
"They're facing a double whammy with reduction in state funding and tax property revenue so they're they're all struggling on how to continue to provide public services with a drastically decreased budget."
Coon said counties are having a hard time finding funding for mandatory services like the sheriffs office. He said elective programs like extension are low on the list of priorities.
He said MSU Extension will work with struggling counties individually to try and keep them alive.
The non-profit conservation organization, Huron Pines is hosting a volunteer project this Saturday to help reduce erosion in the Rifle River in Ogemaw Counties.
Erosion is casing concern in Michigan. Too much can have harmful impacts on fish. Aby Ertel is the watershed project manager for Huron Pines. She said erosion changes the fish habitat by making it difficult for fish to find food, among other things.
She said there are many ways volunteers will learn how to reduce the impacts of erosion.
"We'll also be installing something called bio-logs. These are logs made out of coconut fiber and anchor them into place against the bank. You can plant native plants in them which we'll be doing and they also start to grow additional vegetation, capture sediment that may be eroding." Said Ertel.
Ertel said other ways to collect sediment is by planting large trees and bundling brush.
She said volunteers hard work and dedication make projects like these possible.
K-12 schools are scheduled to begin September 6th but several Michigan teacher unions are still without a contract.
Rosemarry Carry is with the MEA. She said her organization released a critical list of unions she said are struggling.
"A critical List is a listing of those who are having difficulty in bargaining, difficulty in reaching a settlements, usually they are on the list because they've been bargaining for quite a long time."
Carry said the list informs people as to what is going on in their school. And encourages other school unions to show their support.
Schools on the list include Flint and Port Huron.
She said union members will continue to work without contracts this upcoming school year.
The Michigan Commission for the Blind launched a new program yesterday for the state's visually impaired teens.
The four-day camp is called Transition Zone. In it, visually impaired youths will take part in multiple physical challenges and workshops.
Julie Clark is the program director of Transition Zone.
She said 17 Michigan teens have gathered at Camp Daggett in Petoskey to participate.
Among the activities are a high ropes course challenge, a safety workshop, horseback riding and boating, and a dance.
"We do have a prom component. A lot of the students have never even been to a dance, so this is a huge deal for them. We have been gifted cars that are coming in, convertibles and stuff, to give them rides around the camp and then drop them off at prom. They'll have a formal dinner and then have a very, very nice time."
Clark said during the transition workshop, speakers from institutions like Michigan Works and North Central Community College will visit and instruct the campers in "transitioning" from high school to college or employment.
Reverend Jesse Jackson is in Michigan this week to continue his campaign against the sweeping emergency manager law.
As Michigan Public Radio's Laura Weber reports, Jackson wants to expand his Rainbow PUSH Coalition in Michigan to increase action against the politics of Governor Rick Snyder and the Republican-led Legislature.
Jackson said large businesses in Michigan have been allowed for too long to make huge profits while many people have struggled to make ends meet or find a job.
"Michiganders have something to say about restructuring our economy."
Jackson said there are two issues in Michigan that are most concerning to the state's economic and political future. The first is the expansion of the emergency manager law, which he says negates voter rights. The second is a looming decision in the Legislature to place a lifetime cap on welfare benefits at four years. With one procedural action left in the Senate, the measure is expected to go to Governor Snyder for his signature and begin on October first.
Jackson said October first would become a sort of Armageddon Day for Michigan's most struggling residents.
The recent Board of Trustees meeting at Lake Superior State University was more profitable than usual, thanks to a million-dollar donation and a crew of contributors.
Two new scholarship opportunities were set up at the meeting July 15th.
Tom Coates is the Executive Director of the LSSU Foundation. He said one of the scholarships comes from an eastern UP resident, Tom Considine, who is an advocate of people learning technical skills.
Coates said Considine wanted to give back to his hometown by donating over $1 million towards two annual full-tuition scholarships to LSSU.
Coates said the timing of these donations is perfect, since LSSU wants to put more attention toward scholarship opportunities.
"It's really an area that we're trying to focus on, and with the challenges students are having to fund a college education, we're just hoping that we can continue to grow and make more opportunities available for student that want to attend LSSU."
Coates said the second scholarship announced at the board meeting was an endowment fund that finally reached its goal of $25 thousand. The scholarship is named after LSSU business professor Madan Saluja. Contributions toward this fund came mostly from alumni - many of them Saluja's former students
Picture by Bobak Ha'Eri (Own work) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-2.5 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
Four new counties have been added to the 211 coverage area in Michigan as of Tuesday. Now more residents have access to the service call center.
211 is a number designed by the Federal Communications Commission as a community resource and referral answering point.
Judy Palnau is with the Michigan Public Service Commission. She said this means that people can call 211 from an area phone to get answers to questions about where to go for various kinds of help.
"If you've got a health care issue or you're unemployed and you're running out of food and those sorts of things you can call there and they've got highly-trained folks at those phone number locations where they can get you to the help you need."
The Michigan Public Service Commission has approved 211 service for Lake, Mecosta, Newaygo, and Osceola Counties.
As of right now, 85% of Michigan has 211 coverage areas. Palnau said Michigan 211 is working to bring the service to the remaining 15% as soon as possible.
Some small businesses in the state could soon get a boost in capital to expand operations and hire more employees. That is the intention of a new public-private partnership investment fund that would supply Michigan businesses with as much as 130 (m) million dollars.
Karen Mills is with the U-S Small Business Association. She said expanding small businesses is especially important in states with high unemployment rates, such as Michigan.
"Two out of every three jobs that are created in this country comes from small business. So if we're going to out-build, and out-innovate, and out-compete the rest of the world, it's going to be because we build and grow our innovative small businesses."
The program is a joint effort between the Small Business Association and Dow Chemical in Midland. The state will also invest tens of (m) millions of dollars through the employee retirement fund and from Department of Natural Resources trust funds.
The Michigan economy continues to pound Northern Michigan families who are struggling to put food on their tables, as CMU Public Radio's Toby Jones reports from Harbor Spring, local food banks continue to see the fallout.
The Manna Food Project, a food bank that acts as a supplier for food pantries and hungry families in a three county area, reports serving nearly 11,000 families already in just the first six months of 2011.
Manna's long-time Executive Director Kathy Hart notes that the complexion of the clients utilizing Northern Michigan food pantries has changed.
"More and more of our clients are working but still having trouble paying their bills.
Elmer Denniston is a regular at Manna, even though he works full-time for Stafford's Perry Hotel in Petoskey as a maintenance man.
"I've been coming to Manna for four years. I do work full-time for minimum wage. I have one son. Manna provides the needs that I am unable to provide all the way for my son."
Hart believes that part of what makes putting food on the table so difficult for working people in this part of Michigan is the high cost of heat and winter fuel.
"This year in particular, many of our folks used the Winter Protection Plan to keep their utilities on through the cold weather months, but are now getting huge utility bills with no way to pay for them."
As demand on Manna and its associated pantries increases, some of their funding sources have dried up. A local revenue sharing grant from the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians was recently re-routed to the local school district and community college. But other sources of funds continue to fill the void. Hart reports that, "More and more organizations and individual have come to us with plans for a small fundraiser or food drive to benefit The Manna Food Project and many of the families we help end up volunteering and serving our program as well."
"The biggest challenge we face right now is trying to decide what the next 5-10 years is going to bring. We are purchasing a second vehicle to use for our ever-expanding food rescue program, our growing Food 4 Kids Weekend food program (backpacks), and our e-commerce ordering system for the pantries. Expanding our building and freezer capacity is an increasing necessity.
I would say that a major focus moving forward is making sure that kids are getting fed, both after school and on the weekends."
As for what the future holds for Elmer Denniston...
"My goal is to someday be able to become self-sufficient and be able to return the favors that Manna has done for me."
But in the meantime, Elmer Denniston and 11,000 other northern Michigan families will rely on food banks like Mann to keep them fed.
FLINT -- On Mackinac Island, it's the start of Day 2 of the pro-business Detroit Chamber Policy Conference. Attendees there are applauding Republican fiscal responsibility.
Meanwhile, in Flint, it's Day 2 of a conference on transforming communities. Attendees there have a different goal.
The National Employment Law Project, known as NELP, set up the conference yesterday and today as an alternative to the Mackinac Conference. They chose Flint for it's pro-union tradition and for its pioneering land bank program that began a decade ago. NELP's executive staff flew in from New York. They are graduates of prestigious law schools. But their mission is to raise the living standards of working class people.
One of the speakers invited was Glenn Puitt. He works for the Michigan Land Use Institute in Traverse City. He's spent the past six months documenting the lives of working people in rural northern Michigan. Yesterday at the conference, Puitt described one of the famiies he wrote about.
"Eight and 9 dollar an hour jobs, completely dependent on the public transit system, usually takes an hour longer than it would in a car. They lived in a trailer out in the woods. Poorly insulated, problem with the water pump, energy bill was $800-900 a month. They ended up homeless living in a tent for for months with this young child," said Puitt.
Puitt says the family finally got placed in a decent apartment closer to town. But he says many rural Michiganders don't want to ask for help.
Richard Carson came up from Dearborn where he runs energy efficiency programs. Carson said trailer homes up north have similar problems as houses in metro Detroit.
"Our houses are poorly insulated, and they are paying these astronomical electric and gas bills, but that's the only difference," he said. "And transportation is a huge problem....having people spend 3 hours coming to and from work because a lot of our jobs are in our suburban areas."
Modern market capitalism has widened the gap between rich and poor. And not much tax revenue been collected for public transit, especially in Michigan.
Another trend has developed in the last couple years. Foundations are stepping in where business and government do not.
The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation is sponsoring the Flint conference today. The Kellogg Foundation is shining the spotlight on struggling families. And the Kresge Foundation is willing to spend $35 million on a light rail project in Detroit.
A Genesee County soldier and his wife plan to honor fallen members of the armed forces Saturday morning, with a march in memory of men and women who have given their lives for country.
Richard Dunkley is a second lieutenant in the Army National Guard. He and his wife modeled the march after a similar event in Tennessee.
"I was inspired by an article I read about a master sergeant in Tennessee who, after coming back from Iraq, felt the need to go out and honor his fallen soldiers. So he went out with a flag and his uniform, and started marching. He dedicated one mile to each soldier. They lost nine soldiers on his tour in Iraq."
Lieutenant Dunkley says the length of Saturday's march didn't originally have special meaning, but after planning the 13-mile route, something came to light that makes the tribute even more meaningful.
"Coincidentally, throughout the planning of this, and working with different people in my battalion as well as outside, independent organizations that help support families of fallen soldiers, we had discovered that my battalion, the 125th Infantry Battalion, has lost to date 13 soldiers."
Lieutenant Dunkley says anyone is welcome to join the march at nine o'clock Saturday morning, at VFW Post 4642 in Linden. They'll walk to Great Lakes National Cemetery in nearby Holly Township.
He says he's been thinking about his own upcoming deployment to Afghanistan while planning this tribute.
"I want to make sure that, you know, before myself and other soldiers are being deployed, that we honor those who have given their lives before us in both past and present conflicts. I feel it's heartfelt that we should honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms."
A potluck is expected to follow the march, and marchers are encouraged to bring a dish to pass.
Dow Corning and the UK-based Centre for Vision in the Developing World (CVDW) say they plan to combat a shortage of eye-care professionals in developing countries. The partners plan to improve children's vision using innovative, cost-efficient eyeglasses.
The adjustable eyeglasses let users fine-tune the amount of silicone fluid inside the lenses, to tweak the glasses' strength.
Officials from the partner organizations say the glasses can improve children's vision. Lindsay Kuhnle, Global Marketing Communications Leader for Dow Corning Healthcare, says the initiative has implications beyond simply improving vision.
"The aim is to increase the effectiveness overall of classroom-based education by improving the child's ability to see the blackboard. Can you imagine being in a classroom, and not having the appropriate or any vision correction, and the challenges you would have with being able to see the blackboard? So what we're ultimately hoping to do is by improving and increasing vision correction for these children, that ultimately we'll be impacting their education."
Kuhnle says the adult glasses are relatively inexpensive.
"The glasses that are out there cost about $20, but in order to make this mass production and to get this to more children, we know that we'll need to bring the cost of the overall glasses down. So the overall goal is to significantly decrease that $20 cost of the current pair, and make them much more cost-effective to hopefully increase distribution of the child-specific glasses."
Kuhnle says the CVDW has already distributed adjustable glasses to 40,000 adults in developing countries. She says the children's glasses are based on that design.
"Picture putting on these glasses that have syringes and tubes on the side, and these little adjustment wheels. And by adding or removing the fluid, via the removable syringes and the dials, the wearer can modify the power of the lens. So the glasses are designed to provide vision correction, and they don't need to have an eye-care professional there to actually do that."
Dow Corning has committed $3 million of funding and materials-expertise to the project.
Kuhnle says the partners plan to distribute 50,000 pairs of glasses to kids in developing countries within 12 to 18 months. The partners still have to determine where exactly the glasses will go.
The two-day Michigan Teen Conference wrapped up Wednesday afternoon on the campus of Central Michigan University.
The conference is meant to help teenagers in the state's foster care system transition to adulthood.
Over 100 teenagers were at this year's conference.
Teens like Delawrence Billingsley of Detroit, who just recently "aged out" of foster care.
"I've been in foster care from the age of 10," said Billingsley. "I've been neglected and abused by my mother. She was on drugs."
Delawrence's life has been full of uncertainty. He lived in four foster homes in seven years and has attended two different high schools.
Delawrence, and teens just like him from across the state gathered at CMU this week, to talk about their experiences in foster care and to learn some valuable life skills for the future.
"For those of us who did not grow up in foster care, we learned these things from our families," said Laura Mitchell with Lutheran Social Services of Michigan. She was chairperson of the conference. "
"Just how to do laundry, or what to do to open a bank account, just all that basic stuff in life. Sometimes kids who are in foster care, their focus is elsewhere," she said.
According to Mitchell, that's why the Michigan teen conference was started 10 years ago - to teach foster teens skills they might not get anywhere else.
"Managing money, we have a workshop on teen dating violence, we have a workshop on how to access funds through the State of Michigan. A whole variety, 12 different workshops, all geared toward the teenagers," said Mitchell.
The conference also brings in foster care success stories to talk with the teens.
"I'm Cherish Thomas. I'm a former foster care alumn, and I graduated from the University of Michigan, currently a grad student in the school of social work."
Thomas was one of the conference's keynote speakers.
Her message for the teens was one of self-worth and personal identity.
"When the system comes in and takes us from our parents, a lot of times we lose who we are because we don't know where we came from," said Thomas. "And you lose a sense of self."
"I think that as a child, being able to grow up in a two-parent household, having the privilege to know who your parents are, seeing their interactions, knowing where you get certain traits from and being able to identify with them culturally, foster care kids don't have that anymore," she said.
"They're ripped from that. So a lot of times we try to find ourselves through other people, and who we look at. And they lose the sense of self, they try to adapt to what somebody else has."
Thomas encourages foster teens to find their own sense of self "by finding out what they like, what they don't like. What they want, what they don't want. And really being able to do self assessments and self evaluation to be able to refine themselves throughout their journey."
The Teen Conference is all about making sure foster children are as prepared as they can be for the adult world, says Denita Echols.
She's a foster alum, and now works for the state Department of Human Services...
"Foster care is a very temporary thing, although it feels like forever," said Echols. "When I was seven, I couldn't imagine being 18. And after 18, I wanted to go back. Because to me, the State of Michigan was my parent."
"You know, they took me from my mom, which that was a good decision, but my mom was not able to parent me. I looked for the state to parent me, and they were not able to do a good job. But everybody else, when they had a problem in college, they went home to their parents. And I tried that, and I was rejected," she said.
"So I feel it's important that my young people learn that there's gonna be obstacles, but you have to prepare for them. And part of that is learning, getting as much information as possible, and learning," Echols said.
That's exactly what Delawrence Billingsley was doing this week. He'll be heading off to Western Michigan University this fall to study social work.
He eventually wants to help other kids in the foster system.
"I can't say I can know what they've been through, but I know the similarities," he said. "I know I can feel their pain, and give them feedback that can help them move on and do something with themselves."
Maybe, in a few years, the tables will turn, and it will be Delawrence speaking to foster children, telling them success is always within arm's reach, no matter where they come from in life.
Around 260 Red Cross blood services employees in Michigan went on strike Wednesday morning. They allege the Red Cross is engaged in unfair labor practices and violated FDA regulations.
The Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 459 represents the strikers, twenty of whom are in Petoskey.
Lance Rhines is a service representative with the union. He says the strike will end Friday.
"If we were out here just trying to leverage contract negotiations, this would be an open-ended strike, and the issues would be much different. This message is about engaging the communities to look at what's going on with the American Red Cross and to help us turn this organization back around."
Monica Stoneking is the Communications Manager for the Great Lakes Region of the Red Cross. She says the Red Cross is compliant with FDA regulations, and that stalled contract negotiations triggered the strike.
"The main issue at hand is that the American Red Cross, across the board, has asked its non-union and union staff members to pay the same amount for healthcare. Unfortunately for our union staff members, they're being asked to pay about twice as much."
Union members also say the strike is to draw attention to FDA fines against the Red Cross for preventable errors in handling blood products. Stoneking says clerical errors triggered all eleven recalls of blood products in the Great Lakes Region of the Red Cross last year.
Both the union and the Red Cross say the strike will not disrupt services. The strike began with one thousand employees in Michigan, Connecticut, Ohio, West Virginia, and California.
The National Labor Relations Board will hear arguments about unfair labor practices between union members and the Red Cross on June 21.
Ryan Griffus looks like the All American athlete. And in school he was. You can practically picture him as that student that all the other kids liked. But he was also the kid who as young as 12 -years old lived a life that he hid from everyone - in an abusive home with a drug addicted father. "I, at this age, was taught how to shoot a 9mm handgun. Where to position myself if there's a knock at the door. What to say. The stories he tells are horrific. And where to start shooting on the door if in fact that person wasn't an individual that wasn't identified by me as a safe person. which scared me out of my mind." He says he remembers his childhood as quote "a big ball of dysfunction. A dark spot" in his life. He remembers watching from his bedroom as his father spit in his step mother's face. The step mother attacked his father with a knife. I closed the door and things got really quiet and I thought that he had been stabbed at that point. I thought he was dead. I called the police that night from my bedroom" Ryan says in some ways, he preferred it when his dad wasn't home. And at one point, his father was sent to jail on a drug conviction and he got his wish. For a month. "You talk about your all time cases of a kids slipping through the cracks. I maintained a household as a 12-year old child for a month by myself. Had friends visit my house, but nobody really asked where's your dad? I went to school every day, had perfect attendance. I still pride myself on that; had perfect attendance. you know when I was in elementary, middle school, high school, I was fantastic about getting to school. Probably because it was a safety net for me, that was a safe place you know. My house is a war zone, and I go to school and kind of forget about it for awhile. I slipped right through the cracks." And it seems the flawed safety net never got repaired because when he was 12 Ryan left his dad's home and never returned. He lived with friends. More than 20 different homes until he graduated high school. "I was everywhere. All over Saginaw County basically. From Merril to St. Charles to Chesening to Saginaw, I was in different spots, on couches and on beds and all over the place" It's hard to know if Ryan's case is extreme or typical. In truth, every crime victim has their own story to tell. Ryan's job now is helping other abused children tell their stories and get the help they need. He's a Child Protective Services worker. "It's a challenge. It's a challenge for somebody who hasn't experienced any type of trauma in their life, um, then you throw in the dynamics of having experienced your own trauma in your life. It's a constant battle, always balancing your emotions with your professional responsibilities and that is, that's a daily challenge for me" But Ryan says he can relate to the children. he understands why they don't want to talk about the bad things that happen at home. but he says it's still hard to take. "Kids are very good at keeping secrets unfortunately. And I've experienced an interview recently that's still tearing me up inside. because I know that there's something there. And we get it all the time, kids are scared because of I guess the unknown. they're not aware of what Children's Protective Services does or maybe even law enforcement, or how the law can work for them to keep them safe and that's unfortunate. And that was a definite example of a kid scared to say anything." Ryan says he's optimistic that when abused kids grow up they'll be able to live productive lives. He stresses that they're not destined to repeat their parent's mistakes. These days he says he keeps in touch with his father. Cautiously and mainly through email. He says his dad is in poor health, and when he passes away, Ryan says he doesn't think he'll be able to bring himself to go to the funeral. It seems past memories and the visceral reaction they evoke don't die easily. "Hearing his voice at this point, and again, I'm 28-years old. I'm a grown man. I'm a father. It rattles me. It rattles me something terrible and it really resonates for days on end afterward. My anxiety goes sky-high after hearing his voice. And I'm at the point where if a voice mail is left on my phone, it stays there for days until I get the courage up to listen to it, and even then I only listen to the first portion of it and if his voice heightens or if he starts talking about how bad me not contacting him is hurting him, I can't continue on. I have to erase that voice mail and just sit there and concentrate on the rest of my day. I mean it's still going. Unfortunately it's still going" Ryan says he hopes that by helping kids stuck in abusive homes they'll be able to avoid the kind of memories that he'll carry for the rest of this life.
Isabella County Prosecutor Larry Burdick is used to talking in front of people but this is not his normal crowd. Nor is it his normal material.
Burdick left the courtroom in favor of the classroom over the last couple of weeks in order to get a message to the children. He visits second grade students and reads Clover's Secret to the kids. It's a story about a young fairy named Clover who can't fly because she's sad. A friend discovers why in a scene that Burdick says sadly reflects reality for some kids...
"There's the one page in the story that talks about Clover's friend going over to see what happened to her; running into her parents arguing and fighting and Clover is curled up in a ball outside the home. That's the picture that's in the story book. And we've seen that same type of thing, we've seen police reports where police have responded to a domestic violence call and they've found the child out literally in the dog house in the backyard cowering in fear and so on"
It's a heavy lesson for seven year olds who have, well, other things on their minds.
"I'm getting a bigger bike soon.. It's 20-inch. It's purple"
But Kaitlyn Bootz seemed to get the point of the story.
"I think it was trying to tell you that if something's going wrong and your parents are fighting, or anyone in your family are fighting, get someone who's safe."
And eight-year old Nicholas Parker gave us his interpretation.
"I usually know this, but if you hit people you could get in a lot of trouble. Even at school"
Burdick says second grade is not too early to start teaching kids about domestic violence... and more importantly... who can help. He says some kids do break the much discussed 'circle of violence' , but some don't. Including one pair of brothers from a violent home that he met years ago. And still thinks about today.
"The 12-year old, you could already tell that it had reached him. He was an angry young boy. But the 9-year old still carried that sweetness about him. And it wasn't too many years after that that we began prosecuting the nine-year old, well he wasn't nine then, we prosecuted him I think the first time when he was 14 or 15. and since then he's been sent to prison for assaults. and that's just a tremendously sad thing."
Burdick says any efforts that prevent violence are well worth his time. And he says taking this week to acknowledge and support victims of all types of crime is the right thing to do.
"Victims of crime, it's quite a gauntlet, especially victims of violent crimes that they have to go through. From their victimization, to the police investigation to the charging and then through the criminal justice process, and it can take many months, and it can be very stressful. And we think it's important for the community to step back once in while and recognized the folks in our community that have been touched like that."
And he says it's important for the community to try and help and prevent future victims. Even if those efforts are as simple as reading a storybook to children.