jackson

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The nearly $10 million renovation of the Cascades Falls in Jackson begins Monday.

The colorful fountains were built during the height of the Great Depression. The Falls was the brainchild of William Sparks, who made a fortune from car horns and radios. The Falls is modeled on a fountain in Barcelona, Spain. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Backers of a plan to bring pro-baseball to downtown Jackson may make their pitch official this week.

The group behind the ballpark plan isn’t saying much just yet. But they do have a website.

It says the group is conducting a market study. They’re trying to gauge potential public support for the plan which would include a privately financed stadium and possibly a crowd-source funded team of players.

There are about a half dozen minor league and independent baseball teams in Michigan:

Cascades are open every night this summer 8-11pm. Tickets are $4 per person.
User: michchick98 / Flickr

We recently asked people on our Facebook page for their ideas about hidden gems in Michigan. One of the answers was the Cascade Falls in Jackson. The landmark was created in the 1930s by a local businessman. But these days the Cascades need some help. The county parks department is trying to raise almost $10 million for renovations to the mechanical, plumbing, and electrical parts of the falls.  Michigan Radio’s Kyle Norris and Lucy Perkins decided to visit the Cascades and describe what happens at this manmade attraction.  * Listen to the full story above. 
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Jackson voters face a controversial ballot question next week.

They will decide Tuesday if they want to pay a new fee to have their leaves collected.

In 2011, the Jackson City Council created a fee to pay for leaf pick up, street cleaning and other things needed to be done to keep the city’s storm drains clear of debris. The fee raised over $1 million annually. 

But Jackson County government and local businessmen took the city to court.      

Chrystal Weesner / Pinterest

A piece of Jackson’s art history, which narrowly avoided the wrecking ball, may soon have new life.

The 28' x 9' glass mural depicting the history of electric power hung in Consumers Energy’s old Jackson headquarters for more than four decades.   

Preservationists were able to save it from the wrecking ball that brought the building down last year. The mural was disassembled and has been in storage ever since.

The plan now is to reconstruct the glass mural, replace its internal lighting system, and build a new outdoor display to house the mural.

The mural would be placed on the grounds of a new city park being built on the site of the old Consumers Energy headquarters.

“We hope to be able to have the new mural in place by….this time next year,” says Grant Bauman, whose part of the team working on the project.

He says the glass mural will add to the mix of public art in downtown Jackson.

This month, the project received a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Organizers still need to raise about $200,000 for the glass mural project.

A Consumers Energy spokesman says the company has contributed to the preservation of the mural in the past, but has not committed to donating to the current project.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This Saturday, a unique museum experience will open in Michigan.

“Cell Block 7” at the state prison in Jackson will officially open to the public.  The museum is located in the old Southern Michigan Correctional Facility. The cell block was closed in 2007.  

The museum will chronicle the history of state prisons in Jackson, which dates back to the 1830s.    

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There’s a new effort underway to make smaller Michigan cities more attractive to young professionals.

After college, many up and coming young professionals are drawn to the big cities where the nightlife is livelier and there's more diversity. But several smaller Michigan cities are trying to change that perspective.

Jackson recently launched the Anchor Initiative.  More than a dozen of the city’s largest employers are joining forces to make Jackson’s downtown more attractive to young professionals looking for a place to live and work.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING – Michigan is helping provide lower interest rates to first-time homebuyers in eight cities.

About 300 individual or families in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint, Pontiac, Saginaw, Battle Creek, Benton Harbor, and Jackson can take advantage of a program announced Friday.

First-time homebuyers who meet eligibility requirements can get a 3.125% mortgage interest rate without down payment assistance. If they need help with their down payment, the interest rate is 3.625%.

Gov. Rick Snyder says he wants to increase home sales in five cities hit hard by blight and three other cities needing a boost.

Michigan State Housing Development Authority Executive Director Scott Woosley says most of Michigan's real estate market has bounced back, but some areas are still experiencing significant sales declines.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Potential layoffs to the city of Jackson’s police and fire departments will figure prominently at a public hearing tonight.

The city of Jackson needs to trim more than $700,000 from next year’s budget. The plan now calls for most of that to come from cuts to the city’s public safety budget and it would include several layoffs.

“While we don’t want to cut, sometimes when you are in an urban core community … where (property) values and revenues are going down ... we don’t have that much of a choice,” says Jackson City Manager Patrick Burtch.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Jackson residents may decide in August if they are willing to pay a special tax to clean up their city streets.

Last year, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled the city of Jackson’s storm water fee was actually an illegal tax. The fee generated about a million dollars a year for street cleaning and leaf pickup programs which without funding the city cancelled last year.

Councilman Derek Dobies says that meant homeowners couldn’t just sweep their leaves into the street they had to dispose of the leaves themselves.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Some University of Michigan graduate students spent a few hours today outlining plans for using new technologies to make local governments more open.

The students have been using the city of Jackson as a civic laboratory to come up with ways to improve connections between local governments and residents.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Warmer temperatures may help break ice jams that have kept about a hundred homes and businesses in Jackson from having running water.

The deep freeze that gripped the state in January froze the pipes linking city water mains to more than 150 homes and businesses in Jackson. The problem is many of the lines were not buried below the frost line.   

Many of the pipes are buried about four feet down.   But this year, the record cold sent the frost line down five to seven feet. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

JACKSON – A fresh wave of snow has fallen on much of Michigan over the weekend, but for once the worst of the weather is elsewhere in the region as CMS Energy Corp. dispatches dozens of its employees to help with a severe ice storm expected to hit Kentucky.

Slippery streets and highways have caused numerous accidents in Michigan, including one in which a car hit a state police patrol car handling an earlier accident on Interstate 696 in Southfield.

WWJ-AM says the trooper escaped injury in the crash. Traffic was halted on eastbound I-696.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) - Graduate students at the University of Michigan are turning the city of Jackson into a classroom.

About three dozen students in the School of Information are tackling 10 projects in Jackson, including ways to promote vaccinations and digitize cemetery records. They'll help the police department adopt an anonymous text message tip system.

Donald Harrison / Flickr

Jackson, Michigan was home to one of the largest prisons in the world – the Michigan State Prison, later renamed the State Prison of Southern Michigan.

We went on a tour of the old prison with Jackson Historic Prison Tours. While there we met some former prisoners and prison staff, and decided to follow up with them afterwards.

Listen to their powerful stories above.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

General Motors is heading back to its roots.

The automaker announced today that it will sponsor Flint’s “Back to the Bricks” car show for the next five years. The show features hundreds of ‘classic’ cars and trucks.

“This is an event that is more than just a car cruise and a car show,” says GM spokesman Tom Wickham, “It brings people into a community…provides an economic boost to a community and we need an economic boost.”

About a half million people attended Back to the Bricks in Flint this year.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Jackson residents are spending a final weekend dragging loads of leaves around town.

A court ruling against the city led to an unusual leaf pick up in Jackson.

Like in most suburban communities, homeowners in Jackson are used to raking leafs into large piles at the curb, where city workers scoop the leaves up and take them away.  But not this year.

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled the storm water fee the city charged to pay for the leaf pick up was actually an illegal tax.

user paigefiller / Flickr

It's been less than a week since voters in three very different Michigan cities all approved ballot initiatives allowing small amounts of marijuana for personal use on private property.

And that has pro-marijuana advocates hoping those votes will boost pressure on state lawmakers to legalize or decriminalize pot.

Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing correspondent Jake Neher joined us today to give an overview of what efforts are underway.

Listen to the full interview above.

Marijuana plant.
USFWS

Marijuana was on the ballot on Lansing, Jackson and Ferndale, and voters in all three cities said "yes" to decriminalizing pot.

Michigan Radio’s Steve Carmody joined us today to talk about the impact of this vote.

Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero says he hopes Tuesday’s election results will put an end to “sniping” in city politics.

Bernero easily won his third term as the capitol city’s mayor.  His slate of city council candidates also won. 

Bernero says the results show voters want to end the gridlock on the Lansing city council.

“This is realignment.  This is the voters saying to the council ‘Get with the program’.”]

Bernero believes it’s his ‘program’ the voters want.

Marijuana plant.
USFWS

Voters in three more Michigan cities approved ballot questions today decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana.

Ballot proposals in Lansing, Jackson and Ferndale each passed with more than 60% of the vote.

“This is an historic night ... a landslide by all considerations,” says Jeff Hank, who headed Lansing’s pro-marijuana campaign. “It sends a message not only to our local politicians, but politicians at the state level that it’s time to do something.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

On Tuesday, voters in Jackson, Ferndale and Lansing will decide if they want their police departments to focus less on busting people for small amounts of marijuana.

The results should tell us something about whether Michigan is getting more comfortable with pot.  

In Jackson, Steve Sharpe says volunteers have been handing out fliers and signs, talking with prospective voters and encouraging supporters to get out and vote.   

He admits he’s been waiting for opposition that so far hasn’t appeared.

“No one’s come to me and complained about this,” says Sharpe, who adds when he’s asked if he’s surprised by the lack of a sizable opposition, “I am totally surprised.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Beginning Tuesday, the subsidy that Amtrak gets from the state of Michigan is about to triple, from $8 million to nearly $25 million a year.   

The reason for the increase is a 2008 federal law that requires greater cost sharing between the federal government and the states where Amtrak operates.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Autumn is a lovely time in Jackson.    But people living along Jackson‘s tree lined streets will face a problem this Fall: How to get rid of all those falling leaves?

It’s something of a suburban ritual.   Once the leaves fall, homeowners rake them into the street to be cleared away.     But not this fall in Jackson.

The city recently lost a legal challenge to its storm water fee.   The Court of the Appeals ruled the fee was actually an illegal tax.  

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

After days of worry, demolition crews successfully brought down part of one downtown Jackson landmark without damaging another.

Demolition crews have spent months gutting the old Consumers Energy headquarters in Jackson.

But Thursday, part of the building started leaning precariously toward a century and a half old church next door.  First Congregational Church and other nearby buildings were evacuated as a precaution.

 

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Deadline set for the removal of pet coke

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has ordered the removal of all petroleum coke from the city's riverfront.  Detroit Bulk Storage must remove the material by Aug. 27.  The Associated Press reports that the storage company failed to move the pet coke by a previous deadline set by Detroit's Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department.

Jackson city employees face layoffs

Some Jackson employees may be laid off after a blow to the city's budget.  The Michigan Court of Appeals struck down Jackson's storm water fee as an illegal tax.  Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports that "since 2011, the city collected more than two million dollars from the fee to pay for street cleaning and leaf pick up. But without the storm water fee revenues, Mayor Martin Griffin says the city will have to cancel those city services and lay off the city employees who performed them."

Oakland County leverages DIA millage

Oakland County is trying to protect its contributions to the Detroit Institute of Arts.  There is concern that the $23 million in annual millage money from several counties may fall into Detroit's creditor's hands rather than the DIA.  Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reports that "Oakland County officials have threatened to revoke its portion of the millage if the DIA’s assets are diminished, or if any of that millage money ends up going to pay off the city’s debts."

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Some Jackson city employees are getting layoff notices this morning.

The layoffs come as city leaders come to grips with a court ruling striking down Jackson’s storm water fee.

This month, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled Jackson’s storm water fee was an illegal tax.   The city has decided not to appeal the ruling.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Federal prosecutors reached a multimillion-dollar, out-of-court settlement this week with a Jackson cardiologist in a health care fraud case.

It’s the latest in a string of Medicare and Medicaid fraud cases in Michigan. Federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of Michigan have filed nearly 300 charges of health care fraud during the past five years. Half the time, defendants have pled guilty or were convicted. And the pace of prosecutions has picked up during the past few years.

DETROIT (AP) - The closings of three air traffic control towers in Michigan are among 149 nationwide that will be delayed.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday it needs more time to deal with legal challenges to the closures announced because of government-wide spending cuts.

The planned tower shutdowns include those at W.K. Kellogg Airport in Battle Creek, Coleman A. Young in Detroit and Sawyer International in Marquette County's Sands Township.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

More than a hundred medical marijuana patients and their supporters turned out for a rally in Jackson today.   They’re concerned that legal wrangling is getting in the way of patient care.

A month ago, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that medical marijuana dispensaries are illegal.

The court's decision came in a case out of Mt. Pleasant.  

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