DNRE investigates shooting of bald eagle

State wildlife officials are investigating the shooting of a bald eagle in Genesee County.
The eagle was shot last week near the Gaines Township – Argentine Township line.
“The eagle did have a broken wing as a result of the gunshot wound,” said Mary Detloff, spokesperson for the Department of Natural Resources and Environment. 
The eagle, however, was mobile and eluded capture, she said.
“We had to call in some specialists who handle birds of prey, including sports falconers and wildlife rehabilitators to help us,” Detloff said.
The eagle is now being treated by a wildlife rehabilitator, with hopes that it will someday be strong enough to return to the wild.
“If they bird is able to be rehabilitated to the point where we feel it could survive in the wild, the bird will be released,” Drtloff said. “If it can’t be released into the wild, the eagle will likely be held by the rehabilitator and used in educational or nature programs.”
Anyone with information about the case is asked to report it to the DNRE.
Tips can be left anonymously on the agency’s “Report all Poaching” hotline: 1-800-292-7800. Tips can also be left online at Michigan.gov/conservationofficers.
Photo (above): The injured bald eagle, after being rescued in Genesee County’s Gaines Township on Feb. 17. DNRE officials are seeking information about the shooting.

Legislation expected to ease potential burden on small business

Some small business owners say part of last year’s health care overhaul requires a burdensome amount of tax paperwork.  A portion of that legislation would require businesses to report purchases of  goods worth $600 or more, if it goes into effect next January.

Laurie Moncrieff is President of Adaptive Manufacturing Solutions and Schmald Tool & Die, based in Genesee County.  She says she hopes the requirement is repealed.

“I am hopeful that legislators are cognizant of the fact that job creation is going to come out of small business, and we need to do everything in our power to assist small business in growing and allowing us to create the jobs that I believe are going to come out of small business.”

Moncrieff says if the reporting requirement goes into effect next January, it would be a burden for business.

“It’ll just put a more onerous and rigorous amount of paperwork on our business.  We don’t need to add any more overhead or cost.  It’s just not a good time, and it serves no real purpose, in my opinion.”

Senator Debbie Stabenow sponsored legislation to repeal that requirement.  The Senate passed the bill two weeks ago, and a House committee has begun considering it.

The Senator says she’s heard from some small business leaders, who have told her that the reporting requirement could take time and attention away from helping a business grow.

“As they are struggling with getting access to capital to be able to expand, or to be able to just survive as the economy continues to inch forward — it’s getting more positive, but very slowly — the last thing they need is to have a whole bunch of new paperwork dumped on them.  So this is something that I think is a welcome relief for small businesses.”

Eighty-one Senators voted to do away with the requirement, and Senator Stabenow says she’s confident the House will also vote to repeal it.

Senator Stabenow met Tuesday with members of the Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce to discuss repealing the requirement.  She plans to meet Wednesday with members of the Midland chamber.

City officials react to governor’s budget proposal

Gov. Rick Snyder gave his state of the budget address this week.  
One part of the governor’s proposal shows an elimination of statutory revenue sharing payments for cities, villages and townships in 2012.
This will affect more than 500 local governments.
Clare City Manager Ken Hibl says they will feel a hit, but he says the state simply cannot continue to do business the way it has been.  He says Clare stands to lose $100,000 of revenue under the proposal.
“That’s no where near as much as what some of our larger neighbors are going to endure.  But it still has an impact on us and we’re going to have to make some changes.  But we don’t believe the sky’s falling we’re just going to have to make some changes and plan accordingly” said Hibl.
Hibl says Clare has been trying to reduce dependency on revenue sharing for the past few years by attempting to cut its budget.
He says many other municipalities across the state have done the same thing.
Hibl says Clare has other problems on top of the loss of revenue.  The budget cycle in Clare is different than the rest of the state. 
“Our budget cycle is July 1 June 30 where as the state’s is October 1 through December.  So we’ve got to make some decisions before we figure out what the impact is going to be.  So it’s going to be challenging and interesting.  But we don’t believe the sky’s falling and we will figure how to get through this” Hibl said.
Although Governor Snyder’s budget proposal cuts statutory revenue sharing, it increases constitutional revenue sharing by 4 percent. 
The Governor says the elimination of statutory revenue sharing will save more than $90 million.
Hibl says it’s hard to judge whether that will help.  He says it depends on what tax revenue the state garners.

More Michigan residents requesting local food assistance

Since the recession there has been an increase in demand for food assistance.  
One Michigan agency says they’re still seeing demand climb, even after some economists have declared the recession over.
The Mid-Michigan community action agency says over the past three years its seen a 200-250 percent increase in demand for its emergency food pantry service.
Jill Sutton is the Executive Director for the agency.  She said the increase may be due to more people living pay check to pay check.  She says those people may be the lucky ones.
“Those that have a pay check they’re living pay check to pay check and those that don’t they’re just trying to survive out there.  It’s a tough world.  The poverty rate in Michigan isn’t getting any better they’re getting worse.  It may look like the economy is getting better but it’s not here in Michigan, especially in our local communities” said Sutton.
Sutton says local emergency food pantries are holding on because of large community donations, but she says federal programs; such as the one they offer where people sign up for ongoing food assistance are a different story.
“Our federal based programs we don’t see any increases in funds in those right now. We did receive some of the stimulus funds to increase that last year but not this year so it was helpful then but at this point we anticipate any more people in that program for several years” Sutton said.
Sutton says monthly distribution of food is increasing as well.  She says in the past people would sign up for assistance but would not always show up to get it.  She says lately the food pantry has been seeing 100 percent of its clients pick up food.

Michigan sees fewest hunting accidents on record in 2010

State officials say 2010 was the safest year on record for Michigan hunting seasons.

“The 2010 hunting season in Michigan turned out to be one of the safest hunting seasons we’ve had on record.  We only had 14 incidents reported to us — that included three fatalities.  We had 19 accidents in 2009,” says Mary Dettloff, a spokesperson for the state Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

She says although there were also slightly fewer hunters, the decrease in accidents is due to more attention to safety.

“The decrease in hunting accidents we attribute more to the fact that we do have a requirement that you take hunters safety if you’re born after 1960, and also the hunter orange law, which has really helped reduce the number of fatalities we’ve had over the years.  If you go back, we had easily ten times as many folks getting killed before the hunter orange law was put in place.”

Dettloff says the state began recording hunting accidents more than seventy years ago.  She says the number of incidents has consistently dropped over the past several years.  Most accidents occur in deer seasons, which are most popular.

CMU students react to new bridge card qualifications

CMU Public Radio News

In today’s economy it can be argued that it’s tougher for college students to make ends meet.  Many students resort to obtaining a state issued bridge card for food assistance.

However, it was announced yesterday that the state Department of Human Services will no longer offer food assistance grants to college students unless they have children.

The Department says it’s attempting to thwart the current misuse of the system.  College students receive cards regardless of whether they have a real need for assistance.  
The Department has decided that student status doesn’t always equal need.

The new policy does not go into affect until April, but students at Central Michigan University were abuzz with feedback about the issue yesterday.

All over campus, students were talking about the new bridge card provisions.  Quite a few strong opinions were thrown around.

Lauren Haas was sitting in a corridor of Anspach hall waiting for her next class when she heard the news.  The senior from Farmington says college students shouldn’t be allowed to have bridge cards because most of them don’t really need one.

Haas says her roommates all have their own cards and the fridge is always bursting with food they don’t eat.  She says she’s glad college student status alone won’t qualify a person for a card.

“I’m for it, I’m okay with that.  I think they should ban them anyway, for college students.  It makes me upset when it’s just kind of cheating the government.”

Katie Laskowska was walking to her class in Pearce Hall when she heard that her own bridge card may be discontinued in April.  The junior from Clarkston says that her card makes paying her rent and bills so much easier, especially when she doesn’t have to worry about setting money aside to feed herself.

“I understand that they’re trying to crack down on people who are abusing the cards, but I think that they’re taking them away from the wrong people.”

Laskowska says it should be non-college students who should be punished, like people who are not contributing to society or people who illegally sell their cards to others to use.  She says she would have a difficult time adjusting if she no longer had her card.

“I guess I would just eat less.  But, I mean, I would obviously figure something out, but it would just make things harder on me.”

Jackson senior Lindsay Adams was reading in the education building when she had to think about life without her bridge card.  The full-time student is putting herself through college and working a part-time job in the education building office.

Adams says she gets $200/month on her card.  Although she says she is grateful for that amount, she doesn’t need that much.  In terms of disqualifying college students without children from receiving cards, she says she has mixed feelings.

“I agree because I feel like a lot of college students do take it for granted, especially since like everyone I talk to has a bridge card.  You know, what I don’t need could go to somebody else who needs it.  But then I also kind of disagree because like in my situation, I don’t have those extra funds to be able to buy what I need.”

Ryan Ehlke and Chad Weaver heard the news in Moore hall working in a co-curricular office.  Ehlke, a junior from Waterford, looked shocked as he took it in.

“I’m a little upset after hearing that news.  I’m gonna raise some hell.  I kind of need it, I mean I don’t have all the time in the world to, you know, pay off all the bills that I need to, so to take something like this away from me would just kind of discourage me a bit.  And it would be back to bologna sandwiches 24-7 for me.”

Ehlke currently says he works at the Big Boy in Mount Pleasant about 30 hours per week.  He says having a bridge card takes stress off of working even more hours to pay for everything a college student needs.

Ehlke says he feels the current system isn’t fair.  He receives $75 a month.  He’s a full-time student and says he’s constantly working.  But he says his roommates get $200 a month on their cards when they don’t work and get constant funding from their parents.

Chad Weaver, a St. Charles senior, says the 200-a-month he gets on his bridge card allows him to work less and spend more time on extra curricular and academics.  Things that he thinks will help him get a job after he graduates.

“You know, when you think of all the other people getting the bridge card and the amount of time they’re staying on it, I think it’s awful because my whole reason behind originally not wanting a bridge card is because I think it’s a crutch.  And that crutch allows people to be lazy, in general.  So I think college students who are actually using it for a means to an end to get somewhere, to help themselves get by, you know, to get to that next step in life, I think it’s an awful thing to do to take that away from them, I mean it’s something they need.”

Weaver says that if he didn’t have a bridge card, he wouldn’t be able to maintain his healthy eating because fresh produce is expensive.  He says it would be back to a Ramen Noodle diet.

Whether students are truly in need of a bridge card or not, they may have to come to terms with a new reality – life without it.

House committee votes to boost Pure Michigan funding

The Pure Michigan advertising campaign is one step closer to getting a funding boost for the current fiscal year.
The State House Natural Resources, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Committee has signed off on a bill diverting $10 million from the 21st Century Jobs fund to the Pure Michigan campaign. 
That would bump the total investment in Pure Michigan up to $25 million for the current fiscal year.
The advertising campaign has been a boon for Michigan, bringing in over $2 in tax revenue for every dollar spent.
Representative Wayne Schmidt of Traverse City said the advertising campaign is helping to rebrand Michigan at the national level.
“Whether you’re talking the $18 billion tourism industry, whether your talking about getting people to just get in here to take a look at it to create jobs or place a business here in Michigan, it’s really part of rebranding Michigan,” he said.
The measure now moves to the full house for consideration. It also must be approved by the State Senate.