Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The average Lansing Board of Water & Light electric and water customer can expect to see their bills increase, if proposed rate hikes go through.

The utility board will decide next week whether to approve the changes. 

“I don’t imagine any customers are looking forward to rate increase,” admits J. Peter Lark, BWL’s General Manager, “but I think it’s essential.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

General Motors is taking the lead in producing cars that can almost drive themselves.

The "driver-assist" and "vehicle-to-vehicle" technology enables cars to communicate with other cars and roadside sensors. That should help drivers avoid accidents and reduce traffic congestion.

GM CEO Mary Barra announced Sunday the automaker will begin offering V2V as an option in the Lansing-built Cadillac CTS starting with the 2017 model year.   

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

When the final bell rings, students stream out of Lansing’s three public high schools. And sometimes that’s when the trouble begins.

In 2013, an after-school shooting outside Lansing’s Sexton High School injured four students.

City officials are hoping a new team of volunteers may help head off problems in the future. 

Police Chief Mike Yankowski says the “school watch” program will operate similar to a “neighborhood watch”, keeping an eye out for trouble during the hours after school.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing’s mayor may have real ‘power’ at his fingertips at times of emergency, if city voters agree in November.

Tens of thousands of Lansing Board of Water and Light customers spent days in the dark last December after a major ice storm.   The utility’s leadership was heavily criticized for a disorganized response to the black out. 

BWL’s response to the storm and its aftermath were the subject of reviews by a panel appointed by Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, the state Public Service Commission and by the utility itself.

Crego Park: Now open
User: Kevin Driedger / Flickr

​LANSING (AP) - Lansing's largest park is back open after more than a quarter-century.

The 200-acre Crego Park was closed in 1986 after industrial waste was found on the property.

The Lansing State Journal reports the city quietly reopened the park earlier this summer, but officially marked its rebirth at a ceremony Thursday.

Several current and former city officials, and more than a dozen relatives of ex-Mayor Ralph Crego took part in a ribbon-cutting.

City officials used a $500,000 grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund and $250,000 from Lansing's parks millage fund to add a parking area, a fishing pier and a launching facility for canoes and kayaks.

Crego Park was closed after 200 drums of paint sludge and other toxic waste were found on the grounds.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week,  activists will ask Lansing city leaders to adopt a resolution welcoming thousands of undocumented children who’ve entered the U.S. this year.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 50,000 children from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador have crossed the southern United States border illegally. Most remain in overcrowded detention centers as their immigration status is reviewed.     

During the past month, anti-immigration groups have held vocal protests against efforts to bring undocumented children to Michigan. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Several thousand people turned out Wednesday night at a Southfield synagogue to show support for Israel in its current conflict in Gaza.

“We stand with Israel,” shouted one speaker.  

The overflow crowd cheered for local people with family members serving in the Israeli army in Gaza.

Speakers blamed Hamas for the conflict, which has cost nearly a thousand lives in the past few weeks.

“We feel for the victims on both sides. We want it to end. But we want Israel to be secure,” says Allan Gale, with the Jewish Community Relations Council.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Lansing is launching an effort to coordinate programs aimed at improving the lives of young people, especially children of color.

Mayor Virg Bernero says the community must work together to provide better opportunities for children and young adults.

BWL's general manager issued a statement saying the utility has "already begun implementing many of the improvements recommended by the MPSC."
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State utility regulators are the latest to give Lansing’s city electric utility poor marks for how it handled a massive ice storm in December.

The Michigan Public Service Commission says the Lansing Board of Water & Light was not prepared for the Dec. 21 ice storm that knocked out power to about 40,000 BWL customers. Many customers had to wait 10 days or more to get their electricity restored.

The MPSC report echoes the findings of BWL’s own internal review and a panel appointed by Lansing’s mayor. Among other things, the MPSC says BWL needs to improve its tree trimming and communications programs. The public service commission does not regulate BWL, so its findings are little more than recommendations for change.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero asked for the state review. He says the three reports will provide a “road map” for BWL to be a more reliable energy provider.

BWL’s general manager issued a statement saying the utility has “already begun implementing many of the improvements recommended by the MPSC.”

Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

A U.S. Supreme Court decision this week may pave the way for casino gambling in Michigan’s capitol city.

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero says a $245 million casino project has been “cleared for takeoff” by the high court’s decision in a different casino case.

State officials sued to close an off-reservation casino opened by the Bay Mills tribe. But the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday ruled against the state of Michigan, saying the tribe has sovereign immunity.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Lansing City Council signed off on next year’s budget last night.

The only controversial part of the budget centered on moving the bulk of the city’s police department from Lansing’s north side to the south side.

Many north-side residents worry moving the patrol and investigative units will bring more crime to their neighborhoods.

Lansing Police Chief Mike Yankowski insists police officers will remain highly visible in north side neighborhoods.

Five thousand Lansing school students will be riding buses operated by a private company this fall.

The school board voted last night to privatize its bus system. Dean Transportation currently provides bus service to a consortium of Ingham County school districts.

When the Lansing School Board tabled a proposal to privatize its bus service in January, the issue seemed to be put on the back burner until next year.

The Michigan Governor's mansion in Lansing.
State of Michigan

LANSING – Yearly funding for building maintenance on the Michigan Capitol and the governor's Lansing residence has passed the state Senate.

The legislation unanimously approved Wednesday would redistribute revenue from taxes on cigarettes. It allocates $3 million to the Capitol fund and between $50,000 and $200,000 to the official residence.

The money comes from the state's general fund and would be adjusted for inflation each year.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The bulk of the Lansing Police Department will move into a temporary home this summer.

Mayor Virg Bernero announced today the city will spend about $1 million to renovate and lease part of the Hill Center on the city’s south side.

The city’s current lease at the Motor Wheel complex on the city’s north side expires in August. Lansing has leased that space for more than a decade.

The new lease is only for four years.

Newspapers, even big-city newspapers, are in a sorry state these days.

Thanks largely to the Internet, their circulation and advertising revenue has been in free fall, with the result that they have far less staff than they once did.

There are also fewer papers than there used to be.

Washtenaw County, outside of Ann Arbor, is home to a collection of fascinating and picturesque little towns like Manchester, Saline, Dexter, and Chelsea. Each had its own thriving weekly newspaper: The Saline Reporter, Dexter Leader, and Chelsea Standard.

Years ago I did some consulting for the local company that owned those papers and learned that no matter how physically close these places might be, the good people of Chelsea did not want Dexter news in their paper, and vice-versa.

Times are different now.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says after nine years of deep budget cuts, the capitol city finally is entering a new fiscal year with a balanced budget.

Bernero unveiled his proposed city budget for next year last night.    

Bernero credits an uptick in property and city income tax revenues for the city’s improved budget picture.  

During the last nine years, the city of Lansing has trimmed its workforce by more than 30% and won contract concessions from its unions.

More state Capitol security, no metal detectors

Mar 16, 2014
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING – Policing will increase this spring at the Michigan Capitol, but officials say they have no plans to add metal detectors. The Detroit Free Press says state police will bring more personnel to the Capitol area and will enhance its technology as well. That includes making better use of video camera monitoring and introducing thermal imaging to spot intruders in parking lots and outside the Capitol after dark.  Capt.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

General Motors plans to spend $162-million to expand its Lansing Grand River Assembly plant.

The plant produces the Cadillac ATS and CTS.

Monday night the Lansing city council will consider calling public hearings on a set of tax incentives for the expansion.

“It’s a welcome addition,” says Bob Trezise, the president of the Lansing Economic Area Partnership, “It really continues to consolidate the future of auto making, high end car making in the Lansing region and in the state of Michigan.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Lansing is stepping up enforcement of its snow removal ordinance.

About 5% of Lansing sidewalks, roughly 22 miles, are still covered in snow in violation of city ordinance

Beginning today, Lansing police officers are ticketing homeowners and businesses that haven’t shoveled their sidewalks clean of snow.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says this is a safety issue for school children and the elderly.

“This winter….these difficult winter conditions are harder on nobody more than the walker,” says Bernero.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

An internal report finds a key communication system that failed during December’s ice storm had been malfunctioning for months before the storm.

The Lansing Board of Water and Light released the findings of an internal review of its response to the storm last night.  More than 35,000 BWL customers lost power, some for as long as 10 days.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The panel that oversees the Lansing Board of Water and Light this evening will review the findings of a "top-to-bottom" internal probe of the utility’s response to a devastating December ice storm.

The Dec. 22 ice storm knocked out electricity to more than 35,000 BWL customers. It took the utility more than a week to get the lights back on.

Customers complain the utility was slow to respond to the outage, and even slower to respond to their telephone calls.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Temperatures are expected to hit 40 degrees in the coming week in Michigan.

The warm up should begin to melt off some of the snow that has built up over the past few months.

But the melting snow is also expected to reveal mounds of fallen tree branches, discarded Christmas trees and garbage that has been entombed in mounds of snow and ice since December.

Paul Dykema is the assistant superintendent in the city of Lansing’s Public Service Department.  He says cleaning that mess up will take some time.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

For the first time in a decade, Lansing leaders will be working this year on a city budget without having to consider millions of dollars in cuts.

Declining tax revenues have forced Lansing city government to shrink during the past decade.

The capitol city has eliminated about a third of its city workforce.

But on Thursday, Mayor Virg Bernero announced that next year’s city budget is projected to be balanced.

A’Lynne Boles is the city council president.   Boles is not sure what it will be like working on a budget without the need for deep spending cuts.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero used his State of the City speech Thursday to make a pitch for state funding to repair local roads.

Mayor Virg Bernero says the city of Lansing plans to spend three million dollars this year to repair pot hole covered roads in the capitol city. 

But the mayor says the city would have to spend five times that much each year for a decade to fix all of Lansing’s road problems.

In his speech, Bernero called on state lawmakers to use part of the state’s billion dollar budget surplus to help repair local roads across Michigan.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Life-threatening wind chills are keeping Michigan's homeless shelters full. The shelters have been at or above capacity for roughly two months.

Darin Estep is the director of community engagement for Volunteers of America in Lansing. He says the ongoing cold is taking a toll.

“It’s asking a lot of folks to sleep on a cot every night,” says Estep. “It’s asking a lot of the staff to take care of the facility every night. There’s a lot of conversion that needs to take place every night to turn a day center into a sleeping area.”

Navy Hale Keiki School /

Last year, Lansing public school officials laid off all their elementary art and music teachers.

The move got national attention from outraged educators and arts groups.

Now, almost a year after the layoffs were announced, Lansing students and teachers are getting used to the new normal.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Lansing school district will continue to operate its own buses next year.

The school board decided Thursday not to go with a private bus company.

Supporters say privatizing the bus service would save the Lansing school district $5 million over the next five years, primarily because the district would not have to replace much of its aging bus fleet.

But school board president Peter Spadafore says now is not the time to privatize the bus service serving thousands of capital city school children.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing Board of Water and Light officials are defending their heavily criticized response to last month’s major power outage.

BWL customers like Alice Dreger are livid over having to wait more than a week for their power to be turned back on.

"Let me tell you, when you have live wires down for nine to 12 days, safety is not job one,” Dreger told a packed meeting last night at BWL’s headquarters.

But a majority of those taking the podium praised the work of BWL employees. Most were BWL employees and officials, though a few were BWL customers.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

In the midst of the current weather crisis, Lansing utility officials plan to spend time tonight trying to figure out what went wrong during the last weather crisis in the capitol city.

Two weeks ago, an ice storm knocked out power to 40% of Lansing Board of Water and Light customers.

Many customers grew very angry as they waited for more than a week to get their electricity turned back on. That anger only grew worse when it was learned that the man in charge of the city’s utility left town during the outage to spend time with his family in New York.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan hospital emergency rooms and urgent care centers are seeing patients who’ve been injured during this cold snap.

Dr. Scott Lazzara is an urgent care physician at McLaren Greater Lansing.  He says he’s seen a lot of slip and falls.

“We’re seeing a lot of people who are falling, breaking their wrist, hurting their back, spraining their ankles,” says Lazzara.

Lazzara says people are so bundled up to fight the cold their vision is impaired and they're less able to avoid slipping and falling.