All posts by Matt Mikus

I'm a young reporter in Northern Michigan. I like to talk about journalism, health, current events and news, science and technology. This blog is a way for me to share interesting articles and subjects in the news.

The Gone Wired Café

Once in a while you find a shop that stands out among the rest.  The Gone Wired Café on Michigan Avenue had an atmosphere unlike any other coffee shop I have ever seen.

Walking into the store, it is much too big to be a café. But the extra space is what makes the café amazing. There is a creaky old staircase that leads to more seating on a balcony.  The seats and tables seem a little worn down, as if they were bought from a thrift shop. But this lends to a creative mixture and a refreshing change from all the Starbucks that all feel the same.

The café offers free WiFi, and has computers to surf the internet. Even so, the coffee store feels free from the manufacturing

The walls have photographs from around the world on sale, and the proceeds go to organizations that teach children to read in Africa.  They are refreshing to stare at and imaging being there, seeing with your own eyes.

Next time I head down Michigan Avenue, I’ll swing by  the Gone Wired Café, and I might just have to buy a cup of coffee.

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Thank You, Lansing Township

The end of the semester is here. I want to thank all of the people who I have talked to during my time reporting for Lansing Township. It was amazing to experience meeting residents of Lansing Township.

I’ll never forget the first time I came to Lansing Charter Township Hall. I decided to take the bus from East Lansing and then bike to the hall from the bus stop. The weather was horrible, and biking in the snow is deffinitely not easy. But I was determined not to miss my meeting at the hall.

So I rode my bike through the snow. I was soaked, and my cell phone broke because it was so wet. When I made it to the hall and walked in the office, I introduced myself to John Daher, supervisor for the township.  He asked me why I was drenched. When I explained my expedition on my bicycle, Daher said one thing.

“You know there’s a bus that runs out here,” said Daher.

So to Daher, Police Chief Kay Hoffman, Matt Brinkley and everyone else that I might have forgotten, thank you for your kindness and opening up to me honestly.

You truly are a unique community.

Municipalities Work Together for Michigan Avenue

With the help of Lansing, East Lansing and Lansing Township, Michigan Avenue is expecting to have a face lift and local business owners are looking forward to change.

In 2007, the three municipalities formed the Michigan Avenue Corridor Improvement Initiative to create improvements for Michigan Avenue. The initiative created a nine-member committee to revitalize Michigan Avenue. The committee is composed of three representatives from each of the local governments. Continue reading Municipalities Work Together for Michigan Avenue

School Of Choice

Parents in Lansing Township have a choice when it comes to their children’s education, and some school districts like Waverly Community Schools are benefiting from being one of their options.

According to the Michigan Department of Education website, School of Choice gives students the option to choose where they attend school. Through this state law, families can enroll their students in a school outside of the district in which they reside. Once a student is accepted to a school through school of choice, they can stay in that district until they graduate from high school or decide to leave.

School districts do not have to participate in School of Choice.

Continue reading School Of Choice

Samson Rides Along

As a child, my parents always taught me to never accept a ride from a stranger.

But what do you do when a stranger asks you for a ride?

In January, a friend and I went to cover an event in Lansing for a campus publication. I was taking pictures at a mixed martial arts fight, while my friend wrote about the fight. After the event, we called our editor to see if she would come pick us up, since the buses were not running. We said we would meet her at a parking lot of a church.

Then along came Samson.

Continue reading Samson Rides Along

Lansing Township Walks and Bikes

Imagine spending a day in town; shopping, going to the movies, topped with a delicious dinner at a fancy restaurant, without having to spend a dollar on gas.

Sounds crazy, right?

But that is exactly what Lansing Township hopes to accomplish with their development plan of creating pedestrian and bicycle paths throughout the northeastern quadrant of the township. The plan would use a mixture of shared-use pathways for bikes and walkers, sidewalks, bike lanes and bike routes to give residents a broader choice when it comes to transportation.

Steven Hayward, director of development for the township, said that the goal of the plan was to offer alternative transportation methods without slowing down traffic. “There should never be a hindrance,” said Hayward, “otherwise that is where conflict begins.”

The township developed a concept plan in 2005 that proposed the idea of developing pedestrian walkways and bicycle paths throughout the township, Dewitt Township, Lansing and East Lansing, spanning both Ingham and Clinton Counties.

The plan would create four corridors, each reaching out from the Eastwood Towne Center: North corridor would run to two major mobile home communities and Granger Meadows Park in Dewitt, South would reach toward Pattengill Middle School, Lansing Catholic Central High School and Eastern High School through Groesbeck neighborhood and Wood Road; Southwest would stretch in towards the northern side of Lansing using Lansing River Trail and through Lansing Old Town; and East would link to East Lansing and Dewitt Township.

The plan outlined many benefits for creating new walkways and bicycle paths, including safer travel for non-motorized transportation, reducing motor vehicle congestion, and improving property values.
Adding sidewalks to the roads is considerably inexpensive, costing about $10 per foot of sidewalks. Because bike lanes only require restriping the roads and adding signs they cost only $.05 per foot according to Steven Hayward, director of Planning and Development for the township.

Maintaining both sidewalks and bike lanes is easier than roads because they cause less stress on the roads then automobiles and funding for the bike system comes from the Tax Increment Financing Authority, which redistributes 25% of the increases in taxes and reinvests them in development.

Hayward said that since the township formed the plan, they have created bike lanes and sidewalks along Wood Street, Lake Lansing Road, and Kerry Street.

Creating pedestrian friendly paths is not only a priority for the township, but for other municipalities as well. Hayward said that the City of Lansing is planning to place bicycle paths on Lake Lansing Road from the Quality Dairy to the city limit this spring. In 2009, East Lansing plans to extend the bicycle lanes of Coleman Road to Wood Street.

John Daher, supervisor of Lansing Township, thinks that developing bike paths and pedestrian walkways can help the Greater Lansing area economically and environmentally. Daher thinks that it can help local businesses when residents decide to walk instead of drive. “Cars drive right through,” said Daher. “Walkers and bikers stop and shop.”

Hayward believes that these pathways could enhance business. “Not everyone wishes or can afford to drive a car. Also, the idea that one within Eastwood that you can easily walk to your next location makes it more convenient for people to stick around and support the businesses.”

Erica Capetillo works at the management office at Eastwood Towne Center and sees many shoppers who walk to the shopping center.

“It would be pretty convenient for both workers and shoppers,” said Capetillo. “I hear plenty of costumers who said they walked here.”

Strategic Plan Improves Education, Communication and Character

Waverly Community Schools 2006-2007 Strategic Planning Update, presented to the board of education in June of 2007 shows that the Waverly school district has progressed in the past year in curriculum, communication but falls short in their plan of increasing diversity throughout the school system.

The Strategic Plan started in 1995 as a five-year project in order to improve the education of students in the school district. After the first phase, the Strategic Plan was adopted in May of 2006.

Wavlery Board of Education Treasurer Calvin Jones feels that the Strategic Plan will help members of the community see how the school is developing. Jones feels that the Strategic Plan makes the Waverly district unique.

“All of the community had a different vision of why we were unique,” said Jones. “This puts everybody on a level playing field.”

Mary Ann Martin, a Waverly school district board of education trustee, said that she thought the Strategic Plan was very effective. “It’s a wonderful thing,” said Martin. “It offers us a guide to help direct the district.”

Waverly Superintendent Tom Pillar said that the goal of the Strategic Plan is to develop systems throughout the district that will help students learn and faculty teach.

The Strategic Plan outlines a plan to help students to “achieve personally challenging educational goals… demonstrate the ability to think, problem solve, communicate and apply social and technological skills… [And] the percentage of students who meet or exceed the state standard on all areas tested in the Michigan Educational Assessment will increase annually.”

The plan outlines a four-step strategy to achieve the goals of the plan: Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment; Communications; Diversity and Character Development.

“We don’t want to establish one plan,” said Pillar, “and establish another. Then we would make more [plans] and it would never end. The goal is to see four overall strategies acculturated in the organization so that they are automatic.”

The Curriculum Instruction and Assessment focuses on improving students’ performance on the MEAP test through online practice tests provided by Study Island, a company focused on developing educational computer programs that prepare students for standardized tests.

The Communications step will work to improve communication throughout the school districts. According to the plan, schools will implement an online system called Study Buddy. By improving communication through a Waverly Intranet system, the district will increase efficiency between officials.

The school district will also work to increase awareness and respect for diversity throughout the district in the third step of the Strategic Plan. The plan will offer diversity celebrations, as well as hiring a more diverse staff.

The final step is Character Development, which focuses on the evaluation of individual students traits, encouraging members of the community to support these character traits and hold faculty members to that standard. The plan calls for creating Student code of conduct, a Relay for Life team and a non violent crisis prevention program.

Halfway through the project, Waverly Community Schools has seen a great improvement to their educational programs. According to the Strategic Planning Update for the 2006-07 school year, the district has met all their goals for curriculum, diversity and character development. But they have not been able to reach their goals for communication. The report also says that they are working to increase diverse representation in Waverly’s staff.

Pillar said that the Strategic Plan helps the school district control their future. Pillar believes that more schools will develop their own strategic plans. “The environment for education is very unstable right now,” said Pillar. “And that comes from the state, because of necessary cuts that are unforeseen.”

Assistant Superintendent Jacklin Blodgett feels that overall the plan is successful. With only two and a half years completed, the plan “helps bring together the community to work on improving school. It gives us a direction.”