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Friday, September 02, 2005

Five Things You Need to Know for Friday, September 2, 2005

Gloomy News Bits from the Great Lakes Information Network: New rules would allow power plants to pollute more, Michigan's park system is sinking fast, legislature raiding Michigan's Harbor Development Fund.

Michigan Food Banks and Efforts to Aid Katrina Victims
Agencies that collect and distribute food for the hungry say emergency food needs are increasing in Michigan amid a tough economy and are encouraging gardeners to donate extra produce to their local food bank. The LSJ reports on a massive relief effort with the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus and the Lansing School District to bring up to 1,500 victims of the hurricane to Lansing and Detroit,
Read Gardeners help fill need at food banks in Michigan in the Detroit Free Press
Also see Michiganders offer shelter to survivors in the Freep
Read Recently closed Lansing schools could house hundreds of refugees in the Lansing State Journal
Visit KatrinaHousing.org

Lansing Group Works to Develop Media Center
The Lansing City Pulse reports on efforts to organize a media center to take over Comcast's public access duties in Lansing, East Lansing and Meridian Township and serve individuals and non-profits. The center would capture and broadcast significant local cultural events such as the Great Lakes Folk Festival, allow neighborhood groups to host programs and produce teen talk shows and other shows.
Visit Capital Area Community Voices

Unclear if Fish Stocking Helps Reproduction
Detroit Free Press outdoor writer Eric Sharp says that although Michigan spends a lot of money and effort putting trout, salmon, walleyes and other species into our waters for anglers to catch, fisheries biologists can't say for sure whether or not stocking helps reproduction. Several experiements are underway to find an answer.

UP Town of Curtis Settled Late, Has Centennial This Weekend
The Mining Journal has an article on the history of the Upper Peninsula village of Curtis (on the Manistique Lake chain) and their Centennial celebration that begins today (Sep 2) and features Bill Haley's Comets. Although Chippewa and others used the area as a summer encampment for growing wild rice and fishing, few Indians were in the area when homesteaders arrived in the late 19th Century.
Also see Centennial bash: Curtis celebration begins Friday in the Mining Journal

Cell Phone Users, Obnoxious Drivers Targetted
The Detroit Free Press reports that Sen. Buzz Thomas (D-Detroit) has announced plans for legislation to prohibit drivers from talking on cell phones while in the left or passing lane and to make obnoxious driving (speeding, tailgating, failing to yield and passing on the shoulder) a crime.

Read More (external link) »

# posted by farlane @ 10:14 AM 0 comments
Thursday, September 01, 2005

Five Things You Need to Know for Thursday, September 1, 2005

Can't think of anything to say except "Enjoy your Weekend!"

Absolute Michigan Editorial: Will High Gas Prices Ruin Your Labor Day Weekend ... or our Future?
The Detroit News reports (contrary to yesterday's upbeat picture) that gas prices, the slumping economy and pre-Labor Day school openings are threatening to make one of Michigan's biggest travel weekends a major bust for hotels, motels, b&bs and other lodging and travel businesses. Travel Michigan, the state's tourism bureau, says Labor Day reservations are weak across the state despite last-minute deals offered by many.

OK, that's the news, here's the editorializing: Michigan Gas Prices shows stations as high as $3.50 per gallon, Google News pulls in about 3000 news articles for Michigan Gas and it's clear we're probably never going to see sub $2 per gallon gas again. The News article quotes AAA Michigan spokesman Jim Rink as saying that high gas prices are more a psychological barrier to travel than an economic one, and he's right. We think little of dropping $30 on lunch, and that's about what these high prices will add to your Michigan vacation. Solution: Pack PB&Js and Get off the Couch! Even if you don't make the drive, there's plenty of happenings everywhere in Michigan (probably within walking or biking distance for most of us) that are well worth your time.

The Labor Day Weekend problem is a small one. The future of our state is larger. Our economy is largely built on the assumption of cheap fuel to power our industry and our #1 product (and allow people to tour our State). While an extra $30 or $50 dollars is not a show-killer for one weekend, over the course of a year, it has grave implications for every aspect of our lives. In addition to the automobile, much of our other industry is petroleum driven. Michigan is not warm in the winter and high heating prices will really hurt. The list goes on and on and "business as usual" looks to be a path to economic ruin.

Could this be the impetus we need to retool Michigan's economy for the 21st century? Here's hoping that the answer is "Yes".

Read Tourists in short supply in the Detroit News

Katrina Impact on Michigan Could Exceed $5,000,000,000.00
The Detroit News reports that in addition to skyrocketing gas prices, state officials and other leaders are bracing for the damage the hurricane's aftermath will inflict on the state's troubled auto industry and weakened job market. By one estimate, the impact on Michigan could exceed $5 billion -- or nearly 2 percent of the gross state product.

Detroit Firefighters
The Detroit Free Press has an excellent article by Bill McGraw profiling Detroit firefighters (with a photo gallery). According to the city's statistics, Detroit firefighters spent 33,431 hours at fires in 2004, more that 2003 and 3 times the hours of 1954, when Detroit had twice the population it does today.
View a photo gallery of the fire that destroyed the Detroit Studebaker plant

Michigan National Guard to Aid Hurricane Victims
WOOD-TV Grand Rapids reports that (along with millions of dollars contributed by Michiganders) 182 Michigan National Guard members from Owosso, Pontiac and Taylor plus two aircraft from Selfridge Air Force Base in Macomb County are headed to Louisiana to help maintain order. The state House and Senate have already begun the process of approving an emergency spending bill.

New Winery Shipping Bill Passed by State House
The AP reports that a bill approved Wednesday by the state House would allow wineries inside and outside Michigan to directly ship about 500 cases of wine a year to state residents, but that retailers and restaurants no longer could buy directly from Michigan wineries. Sponsors changed the legislation after consumers outcry and winery claims that a ban could force them to lose business, lay off workers and possibly close.

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# posted by farlane @ 10:41 AM 0 comments
Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Chapel Rock Wave

Chapel Rock Wave
Originally uploaded by farlane.
Chapel Rock has to be one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. Words or pictures can't accurately describe it. If you ever have a chance, go to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and see it for yourself!

Read More (external link) »

# posted by farlane @ 9:28 AM 0 comments

Five Things You Need to Know for Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Michigan History Magazine tells us that on August 31, 1809, Michigan's first newspaper The Michigan Essay or Impartial Observer was printed. Despite promises that the Essay would be printed each Thursday, no other issues were forthcoming.

Gov. Granholm Details 5 Point Plan
The Ludington Daily News has a feature on Gov. Granholm's recent visit to Ludington and details on her five-point plan to improve the state's economy and secure Michigan's growth and place in a new global marketplace. The plan includes restructuring state business taxes to meet present-day economic concerns, the MI Opportunity Partnership to train or retrain unemployed workers, the Jobs Today Initiative to accelerate infrastructure projects, doubling the number of college graduates by back-loading the Merit scholarship and investing $2 billion toward diversifying the state's economy by building on our strengths in the manufacturing and automotive sectors and continuing development in the life sciences corridor. A detailed article and well worth your time

Detroit Most Impoverished City, Michigan Salaries Fall
The Free Press reports that according to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, Detroit tops the list of the country's most impoverished cities. The survey found that 33.6% of residents live in poverty and that Detroit is the country's 11th largest city (pop. just over 900,000). The News adds that Michigan is one of 8 states where salaries fell in 2004 - 3% to an average of $44,300.
Also see Report: Michigan paychecks shrinking in the Detroit News

Gas Prices Not Expected to Affect Labor Day Travel
The Lansing State Journal reports that travel experts say soaring gas prices won't stop many Michigan motorists from hitting the road this Labor Day weekend (although these travelers are expected to spend less on souveniers, food and entertainment). About 1.4 million state residents will travel this weekend, the highest since 1.7 million 2001, according to AAA Michigan.

Grand Rapids Schools Get Creative with Busing
The Detroit Free Press reports that Grand Rapids school districts are turning to a variety of experimental solutions to keep costs in check while still getting students to and from class including consolidating or cutting routes, "subscribe to ride" and mileage increasing fuel additives. Although the schools purchase gas tax-free and in bulk, they expected per-gallon costs of $1.45 instead of $2.

Bridge History Lost in Mackinaw City Fire
The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports that authorities are still trying to determine the cause of a fire Sunday that destroyed the largest known collection of artifacts from the Mackinac Bridge construction. The Mackinac Bridge Museum housed artifacts including drawings and designs of the bridge, documents, photographs, tools used during construction, hard-hats and a diving suit.

Read More (external link) »

# posted by farlane @ 9:25 AM 0 comments
Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Five Things You Need to Know for Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Detroit Lion's Monday Night football appearance featured new jerseys, but it looks as if the same old Lions are wearing them.

Northwest Lower Michigan Organic FoodFest and Farmers Market
The FoodFest will be held from 8 AM - 2 PM on Labor Day (Sep 5) at the Antrim County Farmers Market on M-88 in Bellaire. In addition to an extensive selection of foods raised without synthetic chemicals, antibiotics and hormones, the one-day special market includes a certified organic pancake breakfast, a chicken salad lunch with naturally raised local chicken and music and children's activities.
Visit the Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance

Great Lakes IT Report Launches Podcast
The Great Lakes IT Report has launched a new podcast that will feature editor Matt Roush exploring an issue of interest in more depth and will appear several times a week. The initial cast features Compuware Corp. CEO Peter Karmanos Jr. (a certified master gardener) talking about what he likes about growing vegetables.

Michigan Apple Crop Looking Good
The Detroit Free Press reports that the Michigan Apple Committee says a combination of lots of sun (makes for redder apples) and hot days (increases sugar content) should bring a great Michigan apple crop. Many U-pick apple orchards and cider mills open over Labor Day weekend and the Freep has a guide to SE Michigan locations.
Michigan Apple Committee web site
Michigan Orchard Guide from the Apple Journal (highly recommended!)

Solar System to Serve as Training Lab
The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports that the largest commercial solar electric power system in northern Michigan will be installed at the Michigan Technological Education Center. Northwestern Michigan College & Traverse City Light and Power received a $60,000 state energy grant to install solar equipment and the system will serve as a training lab for solar technicians and for solar education.
Michigan Technological Education Center web site

College Drinking: Turns Out Everyone Isn't Doing It
The Saginaw News has a feature on an effort by Michigan colleges & universities to reduce student drinking. After a national study in 2000 found that students overestimate the number of drinks per week fellow collegians consume, MSU conducted a marketing campaign to give students a true look at their peers' habits. MSU says overall drinking is down and high-risk drinking is down dramatically.

Read More (external link) »

# posted by farlane @ 9:44 AM 0 comments
Monday, August 29, 2005

Five Things You Need to Know for Monday, August 29, 2005

The Lansing State Journal reports that a systemwide blackout in Michigan's prisons has been issued for the premiere of a new action thriller from Fox Television titled "Prison Break".

In other Michigan related television news, the Detroit Lions make their inaugural Ford Field (pre-season) Monday Night Football appearance against the St. Louis Rams tonight at 8 PM. Word has it the network wants to feel out the venue for Super Bowl XL.

Who Controls the Mighty Mac?
A fight is flaring up between the Granholm administration and northern Michigan lawmakers involving oversight of the Mackinac Bridge. The Michigan Department of Transportation has taken control of some functions previously handled by the Mackinac Bridge Authority, including bridge inspections, security and insurance. The state also is overseeing the investment of money used for future maintenance projects and the bidding of contracts. The authority, created in 1950, has operated and maintained the bridge since it opened in 1957.

Great Lakes Protection Lacking
A decade-old federal push to keep some of the worst toxic chemicals out of the Great Lakes can't do much more to control pollution levels because it doesn't include some of the biggest sources of pollution, a government audit found.

State Representative Looks to Spark Interest in Biofuels
Rep. Michael Sak, D-Grand Rapids, is hoping to garner interest in a six-bill package he's co-sponsoring in the House that takes a long view on the surge in gas prices and looks to reduce the nation's dependence on oil exports. The package provides tax credits for companies that build facilities that produce and blend ethanol and biodiesel fuel, made from corn and soybeans, respectively.

Mass Transit: Detroit's Pipe Dream?
Metro Detroit leaders were just handed $100 million in federal money to design a light-rail line they say could carry commuters between Ann Arbor and Detroit, prompting hope for the future and concern that the money could end up squandered.

Ann Arbor Tech Company Attracts Interest from Investors
Sensicore, which develops a lab-on-a-chip for water testing, has landed another $12 million from a group of venture capitalists lead by Ardesta. Sensicore was Ardesta’s first start up in 2001. Sensicore’s core technology uses a disposable silicon-based chip the size of a small button to chemically profile the purity and surety of water in less than 4 minutes. Combined with a smart handheld system, the chip provides 14 critical water quality measurements that help users understand the health of their water and their water infrastructure.

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# posted by farlane @ 1:23 PM 0 comments
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