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Volunteering
12:00 pm
Sat November 26, 2011

Michigan wants YOU to volunteer

Thanksgiving day volunteers in NYC
Flickr notladj

About 2.3 million people volunteer in Michigan each year. But the state wants even more people to lend a helping hand.

Paula Kaiser VanDam is the executive director of the Michigan Community Service Commission. Even though the holidays are a time when people are feeling especially generous, Kaiser VanDam hopes people will share their time and their selves throughout the year.

“There are volunteer opportunities all year long and we hope people would consider that kind of giving as well.”

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Arts/Culture
12:13 am
Sat November 26, 2011

Frederik Meijer dies at age 91

 

Frederik Meijer, the Chairman Emeritus of Meijer grocery stores has died at the age of 91.

Meijer Corp. owns more than 150 stores in Michigan and around the Midwest.

He also helped establish the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, MI.

Meijer and his wife Lena were major philanthropists in Western Michigan. One organization to receive a major gift was Grand Valley State University, which named its public broadcast center after him.

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Arts/Culture
6:12 pm
Fri November 25, 2011

MSU's Broad Art Museum to open April 21, 2012

Construction at the Broad Art Museum
Photo courtesy of Michigan State University

The long-awaited Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University has officially set its opening date: April 21, 2012.

But there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done;  the Zaha Hadid-designed building is still under construction, exhibits still need to be planned, and positions need to be filled.

But Min Jung Kim, the museum's deputy director, is confident it will all be ready for the museum’s grand opening. She says the whole process of creating a museum from scratch is exciting:

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Politics
5:50 pm
Fri November 25, 2011

Michigan's charitable tax credit expires Dec. 31

Michigan's charitable tax credit allows taxpayers to essentially double their contributions to certain nonprofits
user Penywise morguefile

Nonprofits across Michigan are doing their annual end-of-year holiday push for financial donations. This will be the last time donors will be able to take advantage of a charitable tax credit.

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Arts/Culture
4:10 pm
Fri November 25, 2011

“Buy nothing” day a hit in Grand Rapids park

Celia Perez leads a crochet circle at the 'buy nothing' event in Grand Rapids on Black Friday. 'There's so much stuff in the world - why not just make your own gifts?'
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

In sharp contrast to the chaos at many shopping centers during Black Friday, Occupy Grand Rapids held an event today encouraging people to buy nothing.

“This isn’t the way that Christmas has to be, you know?”

Mandi Creveling lined up clothes, books, kids toys and electronics in neat rows on top of a blue tarp. All of it is up for grabs at the “really free market”. She’s been organizing free markets in Grand Rapids for about 5 years. It’s like a flea market, but where everything is free.

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Detroit
12:03 pm
Fri November 25, 2011

Business leaders react to Detroit mayor's corporate tax proposal

Detroit Regional Chamber President Sandy Baruah
Detroit Regional Chamber

Business leaders in Detroit say they have a little more clarity now on Mayor Dave Bing’s proposal to boost the city’s corporate tax rate.

Bing wants to nearly double the tax – to one-point-nine percent – on C-Corporations. Those are companies that are incorporated. They tend to be larger businesses.

Sandy Baruah is the president of the Detroit Regional Chamber. He says C-Corps also tend to be the businesses that have been doing a lot of recent hiring in Detroit.

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Homelessness
10:00 am
Fri November 25, 2011

Holidays can be stressful for homeless kids

Cyn, Rebecca, Shanika, Nicole
Ozone House website

The holidays often highlight family and special meals. But those can be delicate issues for some people, including homeless kids.  Pam Cornell-Allen is Associate Director of Ozone House, a non-profit that helps homeless youth in Washtenaw County. She says the holidays focus on a sense of family, and that can be a tender subject for homeless kids.

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Your Story
9:07 am
Fri November 25, 2011

Your Story: Once an abandoned liquor store, now a brewery

Barry Van Dyke outside what will soon be the Harmony Brewing Company
courtesy of Barry Van Dyke

Jack’s Liquor Store was never a beautiful building, even before it closed down and stood empty for more than 10 years. It was a dingy, generic convenience store on a corner. In May 2010, 33-year-old Grand Rapids resident Barry Van Dyke and two siblings bought it anyway.

The store sits on the border of the Uptown and Eastown neighborhoods in Grand Rapids. Eastown has been known as a diverse, vibrant business district and the Van Dyke’s wanted to capitalize on the energy and traffic. They plan to open a brewery in the space soon, Harmony Brewery. But converting the formerly empty building has not been easy.

The Van Dykes came into the project with redevelopment experience. Together, with their father, they own a local property management company called Bear Manor. They’ve bought, fixed up, and rented or sold 13 residential and three commercial properties in Grand Rapids, mostly in the Uptown neighborhood.

These 16 buildings are just a dent in the at least 1,078 buildings the city of Grand Rapids has documented as abandoned. Barry Van Dyke isn’t surprised there are so many. He says the thing most people don’t realize about renovating empty places is how long it takes.

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Arts/Culture
4:21 pm
Thu November 24, 2011

In Detroit, a Thanksgiving tradition continues

It’s Thanksgiving Day, and that means it’s time for a parade in downtown Detroit.

As the annual  parade proceeded into the heart of downtown this Thanksgiving, newspaper headlines reminded people that the city stands of the verge of bankruptcy.

But, there are also bright spots. The city's downtown is showing signs of revitalization. And the parade itself is a reminder of many grand traditions in Detroit's history.

The parade is a family tradition for man, including cousins McKenzie Holly and Mariah Bursey.

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Politics
10:33 am
Thu November 24, 2011

Michigan families will find out soon if they're cut from cash assistance

About a thousand Michigan families will find out on Monday or Tuesday whether they will be cut off of cash assistance welfare benefits for hitting a four-year cap.

The state Department of Human Services is holding two days of “rocket docket” hearings.

People challenging their cutoff are expected to show up first thing in the morning, and wait their turn to make their case to a magistrate and a caseworker.

They will be told before they leave whether they still qualify.

Gilda Jacobs directs the Michigan League for Human Services, which opposes the policy. 

“I guess it’s kind of letting people know right away to try to reduce their anxiety, but it’s going to be creating a lot more panic and anxiety if folks find out they’re going to reach that hard cap,” said Jacobs.

The director of the Department of Human Services says the “rocket docket” is meant to end drawn-out appeals.

 Unions are planning to stage protests at some DHS offices.

Offbeat
7:00 am
Thu November 24, 2011

Preserving the classic Thanksgiving turkey

John Harnois raises Narragansett turkeys, one of the so-called heritage breeds. He also raises a few Bourbon Reds, another heritage breed.
Rebecca Williams Michigan Radio

In honor of Thanksgiving... we're revisiting a Michigan farmer who raises heritage turkeys.

Those are turkeys that have a little bit of a wilder history. Some farmers are trying to keep these older turkey breeds from going extinct.

John Harnois has a yard full of turkeys. He says he knows his turkeys so well, he can speak their language.

"The turkeys pip, they bark, they gobble."

These turkeys are mostly males. They're trying to look all big and macho as they strut around in front of the hens. These birds are the Narragansett breed.

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Arts/Culture
9:36 pm
Wed November 23, 2011

Holland Rescue Mission throws record-breaking Thanksgiving Banquet

More than 1,300 people pack into Hope College's field house Wednesday night for the Great Thanksgiving Banquet.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Nearly 500 volunteers served a hot meal to more than 1,300 people in need Wednesday night. That’s a record for the Holland Rescue Mission which has held the annual dinner for nearly 20 years. The non-profit runs a number of programs to help lift people from poverty.

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Auto/Economy
6:10 pm
Wed November 23, 2011

Federal cuts devastate Focus: HOPE

About two-dozen people learned Wednesday would be the last day of their Information Technology certification course at Focus: HOPE. Some were nearly in tears, and most were reluctant to leave.

In all, about 225 people face an abrupt end to job training courses like this one. That’s because of Congress’s inaction on the Workforce Investment Act.

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Black Friday
5:45 pm
Wed November 23, 2011

Feds to retailers: control the crowds on Black Friday

Federal officials are urging the nation’s retailers to control crowds during this year’s Black Friday sales.  

Those crowds could reach record numbers.

Retailers are aggressively advertising Black Friday specials in light of low expectations for holiday sales this year.  Some stores will open as early as 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.   

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Offbeat
5:40 pm
Wed November 23, 2011

Michigan Governor Snyder cooks turkeys, roots for Lions

Governor Rick Snyder says he’s responsible for his family’s Thanksgiving feast this year. But he says working in the kitchen is a lower priority than another holiday tradition – the Detroit Lions Thanksgiving Day football game.

“I’m cooking. I’m doing two turkeys. Actually, we’re cooking them on Friday, though, because I’m hoping – the family’s all going to the Lions game. So, go Lions – We’ve got a great chance to beat those Packers,” said Snyder.

That could cost the governor some support in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where many sports fans have regional loyalty to Green Bay.

The governor has predicted the Lions will be in a Super Bowl before he leaves office.

Politics
5:31 pm
Wed November 23, 2011

Court upholds convictions of prominent Detroit political consultant

The state Court of Appeals has upheld the firearms and assault convictions of a prominent Detroit political consultant accused of attacking his girlfriend – a former state lawmaker.

Ex-state Representative Mary Waters returned home to the apartment she shared with Sam Riddle and found him in bed with another woman.

The couple fought.

She left andcalled 9-1-1 after he pointed shotgun at her.

Waters later tried to recant her accusation, but the prosecutor went ahead with the trial and Riddle was convicted.

Riddle challenged the convictions on several grounds – including Waters’ statement that she never actually feared being hurt.

The appeals court said that’s not relevant –what matters is whether a rational person might reasonably have feared the situation.

Riddle is currently in a federal prison serving a simultaneous sentence on bribery and extortion convictions.

Waters has tried to retract her guilty plea to corruption charges.

Author
3:57 pm
Wed November 23, 2011

A Thanksgiving story

Thanksgiving will be celebrated across the country tomorrow. Many of us will spend the day with friends and family, but it’s not always time spent peacefully and harmoniously, especially when our plans for the holiday are challenged.

Michigan based writer, Wade Rouse has been bringing us stories about the holidays throughout the year. Today, he reflects on Thanksgiving traditions and how important it can be to be open to change.

Wade Rouse lives in Michigan and is the author of "It's All Relative: Two Families, Three Dogs, 34 Holidays and 50 Boxes of Wine.”

Environment
3:18 pm
Wed November 23, 2011

1 in 4 in Michigan buy optional state park pass, $6 million extra raised

The little "P" on your license plate sticker means you paid the extra $10 to get into Michigan's parks. The new system raised extra money for the parks this year.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

The new system to help fund Michigan state parks was a success in its first year.

Before the "Recreation Passport" system was put in place, park visitors had to buy annual or daily window stickers.

Now, people can get access to the parks by paying an extra $10 when registering their motor vehicle at the Michigan Secretary of State (window stickers and daily passes are still an option if you didn't pay extra at the Secretary of State).

The $10 annual fee is a lot less than the $24 people used to pay for an annual window sticker, but because more people participated, more money was raised.

From the MDNR:

In 2011, the program's first year, the DNR set a goal of 24.3 percent participation by Michigan motorists. Final tallies for the first year show that the goal was met and exceeded, with 24.7 percent of Michigan motorists checking "Yes" to support the Recreation Passport when renewing their motor vehicle registration. In total, the revenue generated by the sale of the Recreation Passport was $18,816,500.

Those who paid extra for access to Michigan's state parks have a tiny "P" printed on their license plate renewal sticker (the rectangular sticker on the upper-right part of the Michigan license plate).

Michigan DNR spokesperson Mary Dettloff says park rangers have gotten really good at spotting that tiny "P" from a distance.

For 2011, that little "P" signifies $6 million in extra revenue for the park system.

When lawmakers set up the new program, they anticipated the extra revenue. The $6 million will be be broken up according to a formula in the law:

  • State Parks - Capital Outlay (50 percent): $3,043,250
  • State Parks - Maintenance (30 percent): $1,825,950
  • Local Park Grants (10 percent): $608,650
  • State Forest Recreation (7 percent): $426,055
  • Cultural/Historical Facilities in State Parks (2.75 percent): $167,379
  • Marketing (0.25 percent): $15,216


The MDNR recently announced the recipients for local park grants. The local grants range from a minimum of $7,500 to a maximum of $30,000. MDNR officials say if revenues increase with the new "Recreation Passport" program, the maximum grant amount will increase as well.

24.7 percent participated in the program this year. Next year's goal is 30 percent.

Culture of Class
2:06 pm
Wed November 23, 2011

The Culture of Class (an audio documentary)

If you think about it, class is a tricky word. What does it even mean? How do you define it?

Michigan Radio reporters and producers take a look at how social class impacts our lives - from the way we plan our cities and neighborhoods, to the way we’re treated in a courtroom.

We also hear from folks around the state as they share their thoughts on class.

Part 1

This idea of class – class warfare, class resentment. It’s everywhere. And yet, how are we defining class?

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Environment
1:39 pm
Wed November 23, 2011

Judge approves permit for Kennecott mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula

Resistance to the Kennecott mine project has been going on since the project was first proposed. n 500) near the area. (Photo by Chris McCarus)
Chris McCarus Environment Report

A judge has allowed a controversial mining project in the Upper Peninsula to go forward.

From the Associated Press:

A judge has upheld state regulators' decision to let Kennecott Eagle Minerals Co. build a nickel and copper mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Circuit Judge Paula Manderfield of Ingham County on Wednesday sided against the National Wildlife Federation and other opponents of the mine being constructed in northwestern Marquette County. She ruled the Department of Environmental Quality acted lawfully when it issued a permit allowing the company to build and operate the mine.

An attorney for the wildlife federation says the group hasn't decided whether to appeal.

Kennecott Eagle is targeting an underground ore deposit that is expected to yield up to 300 million pounds of nickel and about 200 million pounds of copper, plus smaller amounts of other metals.

The company began blasting the mine entrance in September.

The controversy around the mine comes from fears of water pollution in the UP.

Mining operations in the U.S. haven't had the best environmental track record. Some old mining operations have left behind some pretty nasty legacy pollution problems (look up the "Berkeley Pit" in Butte, Montana for an example).

Back in 2005, Chris McCarus looked at the controversy surrounding the then proposed nickel mine in the UP for The Environment Report. McCarus reported:

Michelle Halle is a lawyer for the National Wildlife Federation and a local resident. She's got one question.

"I’m always interested in the answer to the question about whether he believes that a mine can exist with 100% perfect track record."

It’s a rhetorical question. She’s confident that the company won’t be able to meet the newer, stricter standards for getting a permit to mine.

"No human error, no design flaws, no natural disasters that are going to cause an impact... I don’t think that any company can say yes to that honestly."

Halle's 2005 hunch was wrong. Kennecott Eagle Minerals Co. did get the permit from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and now a judge says development of the mine can go forward.

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