MDOT Changes Plowing Proceedures

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Dow Brings in New Solar Machine

Dow got their hands on some new equipment  that will further their investment in solar technology. 

Dow’s long awaited Injection Molding Machine is projected to have a huge impact on the company’s investment in solar technology. 
It will mass produce solar roof shingles that will be directly built in to both commercial and residential buildings.

 Bob (Clear*Men) Cleeremen is with Dow.

“What we’re trying to do here at Dow is create the technology that will let us put this into very high scale mass production.  We’re talking millions and millions of units to go after the solar market.  For instance one gigawatt of solar is fifty million shingles.  This machine we’re taking of acquisition of this month is simply one piece of that mass production system.  But it’s a very key piece because it changes the way products like this type are manufactured.”

Cleeremen also says these new machines are cost effective and will make the price of solar energy cheaper.

Hoekstra Has Alternatives To Bailout



U.S Representative Pete Hoekstra says congress should consider alternatives to the possible bailout of the auto industry.

Hoekstra says if officials shell out over 20 billion dollars to the big three, executives and their employees must make sacrifices.  Pay cuts being one of them.

Hoekstra says one alternative congress should look into is putting a tax credit on new car purchases so that consumer demand for vehicles will go up.

“The federal government and I think state government should provide tax incentives for consumers to go out and buy new cars.  The problem is the cars are not selling.  We need to get the cars off of dealer lots.  We need to clear the inventory. Every time you sell a car you’re putting more back into the automobile industry.  Lets have this bailout be driven by consumer demand.  Not by a direct infusion of cash.”

Hoekstra also says that delaying the 2011 fuel-efficiency mandate is the smartest economical decision for automakers.


Toll increase proposed for International Bridge

The authority that oversees the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge has proposed raising tolls to offset a decline in revenues caused by a drop in traffic between the U.S and Canada.
Phil Becker, General Manager of the International Bridge, says most of the bridge’s revenue comes from tolls. Which makes declining traffic on the bridge a major problem.
“Traffic is about half of what it was about 15 years ago,” said Becker.  “In the early to mid 90s, traffic crossings peaked at about 3.6 million. This year, we hope to see about 1.9 million.”
Annual toll revenues currently average $6 million per year. $4.3 million a year is spent on normal maintenance and operations. That leaves little to work with for larger projects, that are needed to ensure the long-term stability of the bridge.
Proposed toll increases (in U.S. dollars) include:
  • Passenger vehicle tolls would increase from the current $2 per trip to $2.50 on April 1, 2009, and to $3 on April 1, 2010.
  • Frequent user tolls (Prox card users) would increase from the current $1.40 per trip to $1.80 on April 1, 2009, and to $2.10 on April 1, 2010 (30 percent discount).
  • Pulled trailers tolls, per axle, would increase from the current $1 to $1.25 on April 1, 2009, and to $1.50 on April 1, 2010.
  • Recreational vehicle tolls, per axle, would increase from the current $2 to $2.40 on April 1, 2009, and to $2.75 on April 1, 2010.
  • Bus tolls, per axle, would increase from the current $3 to $3.50 on April 1, 2009, and to $4 on April 1, 2010.
  • Commercial vehicle tolls, per axle, would increase from the current $3 to $3.50 on April 1, 2009, and to $4 on April 1, 201
Several public hearings have been scheduled to gather feedback about the toll increase. They include:
  • Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario: Tuesday, December 2, 7 p.m. at Holiday Inn, 208 St. Mary’s River Drive, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
  • Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.: Wednesday, December 3, 7 p.m. at the Ramada Plaza Hotel – Ojibway, 240 W. Portage Ave., Sault Ste. Marie, Mich
  • Lansing, Mich.: Thursday, December 4, 3 p.m. at the Lansing Transportation Service Center, 3101 Technology Blvd., Lansing

House Republicans select Elsenheimer as minority leader

Northern Michigan will be well-represented in leadership posts when the new state legislature convenes in January.

House Republicans on Thursday elected Kevin Elsenheimer (R-Kewadin) to be the new house minority leader. He represents Northwest Michigan’s 105th house district.

Elsenheimer will take over the caucus after a dismal election for Republicans. Democrats will enjoy a 67-43 majority in the house, their largest margin in three decades.

That will create some obvious challenges for the minority party, explained Elsenheimer.

“When you have a caucus of 43,” he said, “the goal is obviously to rebuild. And that’s what we’re going to be investing our time in.”

Still, he expressed hope for bipartisan cooperation when the new house meets early next year.

“I’m more confident about our future than I have been in some time,” Elsenheimer said in a writen statement. “Our discussions on how to make Michigan better have been focused on ideas and positive efforts, and I’m proud to be a part of making our goals a reality.

“We’re going to work with the other side to make sure that we’re pursuing the best policy for this state,” he said. “I look forward to speaking to Speaker Dillon, I look forward to talking to Leader Bishop, and to helping to move this state forward.”

Elsenheimer was just elected to his third house term.

Prior to serving in the house, he was an assistant Antrim County prosecutor, school board member and chair of the Antrim County Republican Party.

Photo: State Rep. Kevin Elsenheimer (Courtesy of Rep. Elsenheimer’s Office).

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Invasive plant species found in Sault Ste. Marie

Lake Superior State University Biology Professor Dr. Greg Zimmerman was leading his class on a field trip when he spotted an unusual plant.

“I had not seen it before,” he said. “We were out on a field trip to one of our local natural areas, and saw a big showy purple flowered plant, and thought ‘that’s kind of odd.'”

So he collected a sample and took it back to his lab, where he discovered it was Himalayan touch-me-not (Impatiens glandulifera). It’s a fast growing species that shades out native plants, and even releases chemicals to prevent other plants from growing around it.

It also produces a lot of nectar, said Zimmerman.

“And so that makes it a particularly effective competitor for pollinators,” he explained. “And so the insects want to go to that plant because it’s got so much more nectar, and they tend to leave the native plants alone.”

Zimmerman’s class later returned to the site, where they removed all the Himalayan touch-me-not they could find.

He says pulling the plant out is an effective control method. But he also recommended conferring with a local university or conservation, forest or DNR district office before starting any removal efforts.

Photo: Lake Superior State University’s BIOL337 ecology class poses with an unexpected find they made along a Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., public hiking trail. Photo courtesy John Shibley, Lake Superior State University.

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Winter heating cost update

    With the price of oil plunging- for example gasoline now is at a 21-month low – the question as we head into the cold winter months is; what sort of impact will that have on home heating costs?
  The answer; not as much as you might think.
    In Michigan the big natural gas utilities buy their winter’s supply of heating fuel in the summer, when prices are traditionally lower.
    The gas is stored underground, and when winter demand hits, Michigan prices are typically among the lowest in the country.
    Until this year.  Now that summer gas is looking pretty expensive compared with today’s prices.

    Judy Palnow is with the Michigan Public Service Commission.  She says this year’s seasonal price flip-flop could never have been predicted.

“In fact I asked some of the people here if they ever recall that happening and no one could recall a year where for that reason, you know without Hurricanes like Katrina, that something like this had ever happened.”

    Still with the mild weather so far this year, customers will see a bit of a break in heating bills.   Consumers Energy and Michcon had originally predicted a 21% price hike this year.  Now they’ve changed that to ten-percent.