Splash park affected by sewage didn’t have required permits

CMU Public Radio News
TRAVERSE CITY — Officials say they did not have the necessary electrical and mechanical permits for a brand new Traverse City splash park that was affected by a sewage overflow last weekend.
City officials say the park opened anyway because of a miscommunication.
An accidental overflow triggered sewer water to leak into the park while children were playing.
Russ Soyring is the Planning Director for Traverse City.
He says an agreement had been made last about a week ago to not open the park due to the lack of permits.
“Unfortunately, there was a communication-link miss and we had an employee of the city that did open the park on Saturday morning,” Soyring said. “He Was not aware of that we would not be running the park. And so it did run and Sunday we had the mishap with the pump. The real fortunate part of it, by having someone there monitoring the water park, we were able to shut that down almost immediately.”
Soyring says if there had been no monitor at the scene, there would have been a larger backflow of sewage into the splash pad.

Capital region could adopt uniform gay rights ordinances

Michigan Public Radio Network
A group of Lansing-area local elected officials are calling for a common anti-discrimination policy for the entire region surrounding the state Capitol. It would include protections for gay and lesbian people. 
Some cities and townships in the Capitol area already have LGBT anti-discrimination ordinances. Others would have to adopt one. 23 local governments across Michigan have similar anti-discrimination laws.
Nathan Triplett is on the city council in East Lansing, which has had an LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance since 1972. 
“If we have a common policy across the entire region, it sends a very clear message that this is an area that values diversity and inclusion and is open for business,” Triplett said.
Triplett says he and other local officials hope the growing number of communities adopting L-G-B-T protections will persuade the Legislature to amend Michigan’s civil rights law. A bill to do that could be introduced soon. There is also a measure under consideration that would preempt local civil rights laws.
Copyright 2013 MPRN

Emmet County dark skies focuses on building community support

One of the country’s only Dark Skies park is planning a special viewing night this weekend.  If you’re into such things you may want to mark your calendar;  it’s taking place near Petoskey.

The Emmet County Dark Skies park is one of only nine such parks in the nation. It’s become the go-to spot for sky watchers in Michigan.  Mary Adams, the Program Director for the Park says the park has become as an essential part of local culture, “Why is the dark sky important to us as a resource. It’s not because from here at Emmet county we’re going to launch a space program. It’s that, it’s fundamental to a basic education. Understanding what the star world it’s coming from cultures around the world. The cultures that are indigenous to this area and then how over time through the history of humanity how it has grown and changed.” 

Adams talks a lot about how the night sky can encourage curiosity  and help kids learn about science, math and culture. She says it’s also becoming more in vogue as communities go green.   She insists that star watchers and light lovers can coexist.  She says it’s a matter of using lights only when and where you need them. And pointing the lights toward the ground instead of the sky.  She makes it sound like common sense; allowing for healthy night time recreation and saving resources at the same time.

“It’s kind of a conservation activity that’s really easy cause, you know if you think about cutting down a tree, it’s going to take a hundred years for it to grow back, but, when it comes to trying to restore the night sky, all you’ve got to do is turn the lights off or turn them down and it’s back.”

This weekend the Emmet County Dark Skies Park will host an evening dedicated to stargazing.  You don’t need a telescope. The program is aimed at inviting the novice sky watcher to learn about the night sky.  Adams says it’s important to introduce more people to the Dark Skies movement; for their own recreation and for the good of the program.  Adams says one of the questions she gets the most from people is how can they can get neighbors to turn off their lights.  She says education is the best approach,  “You have to be a good neighbor, and I think one of the main things that you can do is share information. You can’t go out with a BB gun which is what a lot of people say; you know, “can I just shoot out their lights?” You know the people are just kidding but, you have to really make it something a person wants to do and help to educate them about why it matters.” 

In the meantime, Adams says there are a number of things people can do at their own homes.  “You can start as a homeowner and inventory the light in your own home, on your own property. What kind of light is spilling out of your house into the night. Is it trespassing your neighbors and how can you address that light. But then community wise, we’re working with townships and of course at the county level, looking at the lighting they kind of govern, and deciding on it. Does it need to be capped? Does it, where does it need to be focused? Do we even need the light there. And once that kind of work starts to happen there’s a certain element of; there’s a community that shows up.”

The Dark skies program this weekend is scheduled for Saturday at Petoskey’s Bayfront park.  That night, Adams says she’ll introduce a community wide dark sky challenge planned for next year.  Harbor Springs and Petoskey will compete in what’s being called “lights out across the bay”  and Mackinaw City and St. Ignace will compete in “lights out across the straits”  to see which community can essentially create more darkness on a given night during the year. Adams says it’s an effort to bring more awareness to the issue of light pollution and how it encroaches on one of Michigan’s most beautiful resources, the night sky.

Information about Michigan’s Dark Sky Park and Dark Sky programming is at http://www.emmetcounty.org/darkskypark/

World record bartender

by Amy Robinson

For people who stick around at a job for years; say 20 or 30, maybe 40, they might be rewarded with a certificate or maybe a bit stereotypical,  a gold watch.  One woman in Alpena, is being rewarded with a spot in the book of Guiness Book of World Records.  And nothing about the honor is typical;  Clarise Grenkowisk, a 92-year old great-grandmother, has been recognized under the category: “Longest Career as a Bartender.” 

It was quite a process; the record book checked her birth certificate, marriage certificate, and three letters of verification before approving her accomplishment.

There are things you expect to see when you walk into a bar.  A pool table, Beer taps, maybe a dance floor. And then there are things you don’t expect to see; like a 92-year old woman working behind the counter.

Let me back up. If you live in Charlevoix, Midland, Traverse City or hundreds of other towns throughout Michigan, you don’t expect to see her.  If you live in Alpena and frequent the Maple Wood Tavern, you definitely do.  Clarice Kramer Cadarette Grenkowick has been bartending here, in the same bar, since 1940.

Customers have been showing up at the Maple Wood since prohibition. The bar was built in 1924 as a dry dance hall.  16-years later, Clarice began working in the Tavern when she married her first husband.

“Well, I married Henry and Carol’s dad in 1940, September 6th, and his mother was running this place. My mother in law, Ortha Cadarette, and she needed help so we moved in to stay with her; and I’ve been here ever since.”

Clarice raised her children in the apartment attached to the bar.  Over the years, this tavern itself has become a home to this remarkable woman.  She takes me on a tour to show me the memorabilia saved through the years.

A wall full of old cameras, a display case full of cigarette lighters, and a random roll of novelty toilet paper.

Past the pool tables, there’s a shelf dedicated to Clairce’s family photos.  Memories of nearly 100 years preserved on the back wall of the Maple Wood Tavern.

These days Clarice has the grey hair well earned after more than 90-years of life, but everything else about her belies her age.  She looks a good 20-years younger than her 91 years. The kind of fortunate person that time forgot.

This lifelong bartender has never smoked.  She doesn’t drink.  She can mix drinks with the best of them; She tends toward the alcohol-equivalent of comfort food.

Vodka and Squirt, seven seven.  We have a quite a few different kinds of liquor you know like rum. But nothing fancy it’s just straight up, mostly beer here.

Clarice has a billy club tucked under the counter, just in case.  She said she’s only needed to pull it out twice; and then the threat was enough.

She said most of the people who come in the Maple Wood are no problem at all.  In fact she counts them among her friends.

Clarice has outlived two husbands, her parents, three sisters and many friends.  For this small, sturdy woman, this is home. She’s spent her entire life within about a half-a-mile of this bar, a legacy she seems to enjoy. Clarice said its unreal to believe how many people have passed through her doors.

So we lift a drink to Clarice;  Grandmother, great-grandmother and after 71 years of work, the world’s longest serving bartender.

Biggest Loser in Harrison

By David Nicholas

The rising rates in obesity both nationwide and in the state have led to calls for lifestyle changes to improve personal health.

Mid Michigan will hear from a young woman who made the change in front of millions on “The Biggest Loser.”  Amanda Arlauskas was one of the finalists in 2009 during Season 8 of the show. Since then she has traveled across the country sharing her story of how her life did change when she made it onto the show when she was a 19 year old nursing student.

HealthPlus of Michigan’s Rainmaker 2011 Grant Program and the non profit Northern Transformation Corporation are bringing Miss Arlauskas to Harrison High School Auditorium Wednesday evening at 7 PM, her talk is free and open to the public.

I called Amanda at her home in Butler, New Jersey last week, and I asked her what health initiatives are in place at the state level where she lives..

One of Season 8’s Biggest Losers, Amanda Arlauskas, will bring her inspirational message to Harrison High School this Wednesday, October 26 at 7 PM.  The evening is free and open to the public.

Her appearance is being funded by HealthPlus of Michigan’s Rainmaker 2011 Grant and also made possible by the non-profit Northern Transformation Corporation.

Staff from Mid Michigan Medical Center will also be on hand for questions and they will also be offering free blood pressure testing beginning at 6 PM.

Picture by Amanda Arlauskas

Farwell High School Early College

John Ketchum

It’s no secret that there can be many roadblocks for students from low income areas who are trying to go to college.

Some don’t have the money while others think it’s just not possible.
Farwell high school is trying to change that with a newly launched Early College program.

Farwell High School’s Early College program allows students to complete a high school diploma and an associates degree at the local Community College; all by taking five years of high school. 

Under the program students earn their associates degree for free.  There are similar programs in Clare, Flint, Saginaw and 12 other communities

The program is paid for with Full Time Equivalent funding, that’s the state aid that schools normally receive.  Although Farwell is at the lowest funding level, officials said they still have enough to pay for students’ books and tuition for students.

That’s because, they said, the five-year high school represents not a funding increase but a funding shift.  Farwell teachers are trained to instruct college courses. And the money the school would normally use for high school classes they re-direct to the college courses instead.

Dee Yarger is the principle of Farwell High school, she said although there are other similar programs, Farwell’s is distinct.

“There’s not any out there that are exactly like ours.  Our program sets them up right in the setting that they’re comfortable with right in our Farwell campus with teachers that are” said Yarger.

Early College manager Lynette Leslie said at first students didn’t like the idea of staying in school for an extra year, but with support from the staff and the community they came to see it as a good thing.

“More and more students are coming to me they’re getting really excited they pass me in the hallways and talk about it a lot” said Leslie.

Leslie says besides the positive feedback, the program is giving some students an avenue to realize their full potential.

“What we’re also noticing is that a lot of our students that struggle in their high school career starting out their GPA might be lower, a lot of times this is kids who are not always pushed to their limits when we see them taking college classes their GPA has risen they’ve shown a lot more success, and they’re just rejuvenated, its really good to see.”

Students like Tyler Thayer who will have his associates degree this time next year.

“It was more of a second chance for me, because people have always told me that I had potential and I need to apply myself and I never really looked at it like that.  But this college program has really given me to really apply myself and pursue my dream” said Thayer.

The Early College program at Farwell high school may be the future of education.  Yarger said it will be around for years to come, because the need will continue to exist.

National Writers Series

David Nicholas

Earlier this month, Traverse City author Doug Stanton visited the CMU campus.

He is the author of two New York Times Best Sellers (2002’s In Harm’s Way and 2009’s Horse Soldiers) He is also the found of the National Writers Series.  Since 2009, they have welcomed thirty-five writers in for evenings Stanton describes as a chance for the writers to “come alive.”

Thursday night, the NWS welcomed Jeffery Eugenides and on the 24th, David Sedaris will be the guest.

When Stanton sat down in our studios with David Nicholas, he talked about the impact the series has had on northern Michigan and about the legacy he hopes it create for the future…

Jeffery Eugenides, author of “Middlesex” was at the Lars Hockstad Auditorium Thursday night at 8 pm.  David Sedaris comes to the Traverse City Opera House on Monday, October 24th at 7 pm both events part of the National Writers Series.  More information about the series can be found at www.nationalwritersseries.org