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steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A Kansas City-based developer is buying nearly 260 acres of former General Motors land in Lansing.

The vacant land is being sold by the Racer Trust, which is disposing of GM properties separated from the automaker during its 2009 bankruptcy. 

Chad Meyer is the CEO of NorthPoint Development. He says the company plans to redevelop the land for industrial use, but declined to give specifics or a timetable.

“It’s typically [the] more manufacturing investment intensive [the] project is, the longer it takes to get those details worked through,” says Meyer.

Portland General Electric / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Last week, amid the frenzy that followed the presidential election, the Michigan Senate passed a pair of bills that would mean a dramatic overhaul of Michigan’s energy policy. The bills, which still have to make it through the Michigan House of Representatives, would be the first new energy policy in Michigan since 2008.

We spoke with Rick Pluta, Michigan Radio’s Lansing Bureau Chief, about the new legislation. He told us that, although the two bills both had bipartisan support and passed by wide margins, they also have detractors.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Medical marijuana growers in Lansing may soon have to register with city, if they use an “excessive” amount of electricity.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero is proposing an ordinance to require people who continuously use 5000 kilowatts of electricity to register with the city.   

“We have seen a number of cases where the growing equipment used to cultivate medical marijuana overloads the electrical circuits in the home,” says Bernero. “This, of course, creates a fire hazard.”

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Voters in Flint and Lansing approved renewals of their public safety millages.

Flint police chief Tim Johnson says renewing the millage will help expand the number of officers on Flint’s streets.

“For the last probably four or five months, I’ve really been stretching the Flint police officers across the board and I don’t want them to hit no burnout stage,” says Johnson, “but I can see that coming if we don’t get some more officers in there.”

A Flint firefighters teaches adult volunteers how to escape from a smoky home.
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Next week, people in Flint, Lansing and Royal Oak will vote on renewing public safety millages.

Flint police officers are spending their off-duty hours handing out information to promote the vote. Last night, firefighters showed volunteers how to escape a smoky fire, while city officials talked up the millage renewal.  

The renewal vote could be the difference between Flint hiring new firefighters or layoffs.

Artist's conception of proposed Lansing casino.
Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

Next month’s presidential election is causing some concern for those backing a proposed casino in downtown Lansing.

More than two years ago, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians asked the U.S. Interior Department to take some land in Lansing into trust for the tribe. 

The tribe wants to build a casino on land next to Lansing’s convention center, but nothing can happen until the Interior Department decided whether or not to take the land into trust.

Homeless man
SamPac / creative commons

The last residents in Lansing’s homeless hotel are moving out today.

The owners of the Magnuson hotel announced in August that they were evicting more than a hundred people. The owners said they were closing the south side hotel so it could be renovated. They gave the residents two weeks to move out.

“Most of the people have some type of disability or no jobs,” says Joan Jackson Johnson, Lansing’s director of Human Relations and Human Services. 

Holman told us some of the top jobs in Michigan are for CNC operators and welders, but employers are having a hard time filling those positions.
flickr user David Urbonas / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

The message we’ve been hearing in Michigan is pretty consistent: employers are having a hard time filling jobs that pay well – jobs that rely on skills in science, math, technology, arts and engineering.

Chris Holman is leading a push to make mid-Michigan’s capital region a national leader in STEAM education and fields.

Holman is CEO of the Michigan Business Network and the Chair of T3: Teach. Talent. Thrive.

T3 released a report last week regarding the “State of STEAM” in mid-Michigan right now.

After becoming Lansing's first African-American teacher, Dr. Olivia Letts later became the school district's first African-American principal.
Rick Pluta / Michigan Radio

This week, the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame welcomes its latest group of honorees.

One of the five contemporary honorees who will be inducted on Wednesday night is Dr. Olivia Letts. She was the first African-American teacher hired by the Lansing School District. She started that job in 1951 and from there, Letts spent her life as an advocate for education, community service and civil rights.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A federal lawsuit alleges the chairman of Michigan State University’s Board of Trustees is running a “racketeering enterprise” in Lansing. The suit targets Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and MSU Board of Trustees Chairman Joel Ferguson, among others.

“This is about an elaborate extortion scheme over a project that some say is worth as much at $380 million,” attorney Mike Cox said.

Cox filed the suit on behalf of two businessmen who pitched the development project in 2012. But he says Ferguson used his political influence to win the project instead.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

An Ingham County judge has issued a temporary restraining order blocking a Lansing hotel from evicting nearly 100 homeless people.  

The owners of the Magnuson Hotel say they want to close for needed renovations.

But the city of Lansing sought the injunction to delay the closing by up to 120 days, saying it needs that much time to relocate dozens of homeless men, women and children living there.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero has not spoken about why Lansing's former city attorney Janene McIntyre resigned, nor why she was given $160,000 in salary and accrued benefits upon doing so.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero has taken an unusual step – he’s declared a housing emergency in the Capitol city.

The declaration comes after a south side Lansing hotel informed dozens and dozens of residents they’ll be evicted in just the next few weeks.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing’s mayor has taken the unusual step of declaring a housing emergency in the Capitol city.

Mayor Virg Bernero declared the emergency after a hotel on the city's south side informed dozens of residents they will be evicted in the next few weeks.

The main field at Urbandale Farm used to be a vacant lot filled with downed trees. It’s now used to grow a variety of flowers, herbs and vegetables.
Daniel Rayzel / Michigan Radio

Just a few minutes away from our state Capitol building rests Lansing’s Urbandale neighborhood – an area trapped in the city’s 100-year floodplain.

The floodplain designation led to rising insurance costs, abandoned homes, and vacant lots overgrown with trees. Locals took it upon themselves to make the best of the situation by growing some fruits and veggies, and starting Urbandale Farm.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Lansing has a new city attorney.

The city council confirmed Jim Smiertka Monday night. He replaces interim city attorney Joseph Abood.   Abood came on board after the sudden departure earlier this year of City Attorney Janene McIntyre. 

McIntyre’s unexplained departure and her $160,000 severance package raised questions about transparency at city hall.

Smiertka says he will work to address those concerns.

“I think it’s important to send a signal that going forward there won’t be these issues,” says Smiertka. 

user mconnors / morgueFile

Michigan State Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., D-East Lansing, introduced a new bill to ban registered sex offenders from working in organizations that serve sexual assault victims or children.

He drafted the bill in response to recent reports that three registered sexual offenders were found working for The Listening Ear in Lansing. The Listening Ear runs a crisis hotline for sexual assault victims. 

Hertel said he assumed it must be illegal already for the organization to have neglected screening volunteers for being on the sex offender registry, but it was completely legal.

Virg Bernero, mayor of Lansing.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing's mayor has vetoed a city council decision on affordable housing, which may or may not be about affordable housing.

The city council approved a moratorium on tax breaks for affordable housing on a five to three vote.   

Mayor Virg Bernero says the moratorium discriminates against low income residents, so he vetoed it Wednesday.  It will take six votes to override his veto. 

The veto is the latest salvo in a conflict between the mayor and city council involving affordable housing.  

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero has not spoken about why Lansing's former city attorney Janene McIntyre resigned, nor why she was given $160,000 in salary and accrued benefits upon doing so.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There are still unanswered questions and a growing pile of legal bills swirling around the sudden resignation of Lansing's former city attorney.

Janene McIntyre resigned March 4, but was still paid $160,000 in salary and accrued benefits. Now legal costs related to the separation are mounting.

In the meantime, neither McIntyre nor Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero will say why she left and why she was given such a generous payout. 

Courtesy of Dan4th Nicholas from Flickr

While some cities across the U.S. are passing plastic bag bans and taxes, local governments in Michigan may not get to join in. 

The state Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would prevent local governments from regulating bags used in stores. The measure passed by a 25 to 12 vote, and now heads to the state House.

State Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, is lead sponsor of the bill. He said some businesses, though he wouldn't specify which, have approached him and asked to ensure such bag regulations are uniform across the state, which should help business operations. 

Alton / Creative Commons

Bills heading to Gov. Rick Snyder's desk would make it a misdemeanor, with possible jail time, for posting sexually explicit photos or videos of someone in order to threaten or intimidate them.

“I’ve had numerous complaints from mothers that their daughters had to leave high school because an ex-boyfriend put their nude image all over the high school,” says Republican State Sen. Rick Jones, one of the bill’s sponsors.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There’s something brewing around Lansing’s City Hall.

On March 4, Lansing’s city attorney Janene McIntyre resigned voluntarily, but the Lansing State Journal reports that McIntyre was still paid $160,000 in salary and accrued benefits. McIntyre and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero have repeatedly declined to discuss the details about why she left and why she was given such a substantial payment by the city.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The issue of tax credits for affordable housing is expected to come up again at Monday night’s Lansing city council meeting.

The city council recently rejected a request for special tax credits for a low-income development in Lansing’s Old Town section.

Julie Powers is with the Greater Lansing Housing Authority. She claims several city council members worried about who the 24-unit development would attract.

“What we were told at the committee of the whole meeting was that “those people” aren’t wanted in Old Town,” says Powers.

Lansing's mayor wants to move city hall

Mar 22, 2016
Virg Bernero, mayor of Lansing.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing City Hall could soon have a new home.

Mayor Virg Bernero wants to move it from its current location across from the state capitol building to a less developed area several blocks south.

Bernero's chief of staff Randy Hannan says the current city hall building is aging and in need of updates. Hannan says it would cost  at least $50 to $60 million to bring it up to modern standards.

Grand Ledge native Calum Ramm at the first leg of the World Marathon Challenge in Antarctica.
Calum Ramm

If someone told you that a man completed seven marathons in seven days, you would probably be impressed. Likely amazed.

If somehow that wasn’t enough to drop your jaw, how about if those seven marathons were run on seven different continents?

That’s what Marine Capt. Calum Ramm, a Lansing native, did as one of the 15 runners who took part in the World Marathon Challenge.

Before you break out the calculator, here are the numbers:

MSU will not sell off its broadcast frequency

Jan 11, 2016
Communicat Arts and Science building on Michigan State University's campus
MSU Infrastructure Planning and Facilities

Mid-Michigan Downton Abbey fans are likely resting a little easier tonight.

Michigan State University says it will not auction off the broadcast frequency used by its public television station, WKAR-TV.

Instead, MSU is partnering with Detroit Public Television to offer more programming across multiple platforms. 

MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon made the announcement at a Monday press conference.

"We want to be the intellectual partner for the station as we think community engagement, and as we think about the needs of the community," Simon said.

Alvimann / morgueFile

Wireless companies in the U.S. are hungry for more bandwidth. So the federal government is holding a big auction, and inviting TV stations to sell off their broadcast frequencies.

Several Michigan broadcasters are considering it, like WKAR-TV in the Lansing area.

They're holding public forums about what selling their broadcast spectrum frequency could mean for the 1.6 million people in their viewing area.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The police chief in Lansing is defending his officers in the fatal shooting of a 24-year-old man who was killed after a two-hour standoff, a house fire and an exchange of gunfire.

  Chief Mike Yankowski says, "We have a justified police shooting at this time."

  The victim was identified as Terrozza Griffin of Lansing, who was suspected of a home invasion Thursday night. After two hours, officers noticed a fire and entered the home but were met with gunfire.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A growing number of Michigan cities are opening their doors to immigrants, despite a national debate over allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S.

Lansing city officials today signed a pledge making the capitol one of nearly a dozen Michigan cities pledging to welcome immigrants.

Mayor Virg Bernero laments the current national debate over Syrian refugees is creating negative feelings about immigration.

Sparrow Hospital entrance in Lansing
Allen Neighborhood Center / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Michigan Nurses Association has filed an unfair labor complaint against Sparrow Hospital in Lansing.

It stems from the hospital's recent decision to close its substance abuse intake unit and move services to the hospital's main campus.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Nearly two years ago, a massive ice storm knocked out power for more than a week to thousands of people in Lansing.  The utility company is promising in a new report it won’t happen again.

Just before Christmas, 2013, an ice storm knocked out power to 40,000 Lansing Board of Water &Light customers.  Many were still without power on New Year’s Eve.

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