Current State

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Mid-Michigan's news destination for the informed, the caring and the curious. News and issues, arts and attitudes, and the personalities that make the heart of Michigan beat.

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We’ve all whiled away a few idle minutes here and there lost in fascination over aerial imagery online. It’s fascinating to be able to zoom in on your own house and then drag your mouse to the other side of the world on your screen and scan some exotic country. There are many practical applications for digital aerial photos, of course. In Michigan, state officials have recently wrapped up an annual mission to photograph 12,000 square miles of the state.

Courtesy University of Michigan College of Engineering

Think about an everyday substance like pollen. There’s lots of it floating around right now. It’s probably on your car windows. Botanists think of pollen’s role in the world as helping propagate new plants. Allergists think of pollen’s role as being something that causes sneezing.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

It’s another Live Music Friday here on Current State, and we’re happy to welcome Jackalope to WKAR’s Studio S. The guys in Jackalope are Charlie Richardson, David Stowe and Mike Lawrence. They played their country, blues, and western Americana music throughout the show.

Current State #534 | May 7, 2015

May 7, 2015

Today on Current State: Michigan's teacher shortage; an update on Lansing's bald eagles; workplace deaths in Michigan; Scott D. Southard reviews "Station Eleven" by Emily St. John Mandel; and a preview of Mighty Uke Day 5.

Courtesy MSU College of Education

Ask a five year old what they want to be when they grow up and chances are you’ll hear things like a doctor, a teacher, and maybe Batman. Obviously, not many kids grow up to be Batman, but increasingly there are also fewer and fewer growing up to be teachers. Across the country and here in Michigan, the number of students choosing to go into teaching preparation programs is declining.

Christopher N. Hull

Dozens of bird lovers have journeyed to Lansing’s Potter Park Zoo recently to view the area’s first nesting bald eagles in decades. The nest sits in a large tree in a marshy area in the middle of the Red Cedar river. What’s the likelihood that the birds could make that area a permanent home? Biologist Christopher Hull has his doubts. He has vield the nest and the eagles a number of times, and he thinks the eagles may be in the process of abandoning the nest now.

Flickr - jpowers65

Workers Memorial Day was last week in the U.S. If you’ve never heard of the observance, it’s something labor unions worldwide conceived to raise consciousness about fatalities on the job. This week, there’s news of a Detroit man crushed to death in a stamping plant accident. There are about 5,000 workplace deaths around the country each year, and Michigan State University has a role in keeping track of those that occur in Michigan.

These days, it seems every writer, producer, and director out there wants to say something about the apocalypse. Whether it’s a TV show full of zombies or a movie about an alien invasion, you just can’t seem to escape the end of the world. "Station Eleven" by Emily St. John Mandel is also about the end of life as we know it, but don’t let that deter you. This book is about more than just survival and desperation. It’s about humanity itself.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

Mighty Uke Day 5 is Friday through Sunday in Old Town Lansing. It’s promoted as a celebration of the “diminutive yet dynamic” instrument and its ties to Michigan culture. There will be performances by professionals, and opportunities for beginners to try their hand at playing the ukulele.

Current State #533 | May 6, 2015

May 6, 2015

Today on Current State: What's next after voter rejection of Proposal 1; the campaign challenging motorists not to drive solo; Neighbors in Action: Listening Ear; and a new book examines the link between values and science in the climate change debate.

Jake Neher/MPRN

Last night, months of impassioned rhetoric, TV spots and old fashioned stumping came to an abrupt end. Michigan voters soundly defeated Proposal 1, the constitutional amendment designed to fund repairs to the state’s faltering roads. The proposal would have increased the state sales tax by one percent, while also sending money to schools and local governments.

State officials and other stakeholders are asking Michigan commuters a question: do you drive to work alone? If so,  they want to remind you of options that could not only reduce air pollution, but lower your gas budget and benefit your health. Governor Rick Snyder has declared May Commuter Challenge Month. Part of the effort is aimed at the many drive alone commuters that you see on the state’s roads every day.

Wednesday on CS means it’s time for Neighbors in Action, when we feature people and organizations working to make Greater Lansing a better place. Today, we hear about Listening Ear, an organization that offers support and counseling to people in crisis.

Dr. Andrew Hoffman is the Holcim Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan. His new book "How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate" examines ways in which non-scientific views shape opinion on the subject of global climate shifts.

Current State #532 | May 5, 2015

May 5, 2015

Today on Current State: GM has built 500-million vehicles and is investing in plants around the country, including Lansing; the MSU Living History Project with 98-year-old Helen Glass of Lansing; tracking Michigan butterflies; International Toastmasters President Muhammad Murad; and Keys in the City brings pianos decorated by artists to Lansing and East Lansing.

Courtesy © General Motors

General Motors has been around for 106 years, and they’ve built a lot of vehicles. In fact, that number has recently surpassed 500-million. Half a billion Chevys, Cadillacs, and, of course, Lansing-built Oldsmobiles, and others. It's an amazing number. That’s far more than any other car company.

Courtesy MSU Living History Project

For the past year, students in MSU's School of Journalism have documented the life experiences of seniors in our state as part of the multimedia initiative "The Living History Project: Stories Told by Michigan's Oldest Old." Oldest old refers to individuals who are 85 years old or older. It's also the fastest growing age group in the U-S.

Ashley Wick

Along with the spring tulips and early morning birds, you might have also started to notice a few butterflies now that the weather has warmed up. Michigan is home to over 150 species of butterflies, from swallowtails to monarchs. And that means that  soon, volunteer monitors will be out in full force for the annual state butterfly survey.

Integrity. Respect. Service. Excellence. For its 313,000 members around the world, those are the stated values of International Toastmasters. Toastmasters’ focus is on developing communication and leadership skills in its members.

When you’re walking around Lansing and East Lansing this summer, one of the new attractions you’ll be seeing will be pianos. Not indoors, in entertainment venues where you might expect them, but outdoors, and they won’t be ordinary pianos, either. Each will have been decorated by a local artist. It’s all part of a new project from the Capital Area Blues Society called Keys in the Cities.

Current State #531| May 4, 2015

May 4, 2015

Today on Current State: the CATA Multi-Modal Gateway is set to open in July; golfboarding in Ann Arbor; training volunteers for Michigan's Foster Care Review Board program; MSU retiree Ken Dawson hikes the Continental Divide, and no more dues for the MSU Alumni Association.

New East Lansing CATA center nears completion

May 4, 2015
WKAR File Photo

The Capital Area Transportation Authority will soon unveil its new Multi Modal Gateway in East Lansing.

The station, just south of East Lansing’s existing Amtrak facility will incorporate rail, city, regional and national bus lines in one large modern locale.

The Multi Modal Gateway is slated to open this July, which is earlier than originally expected.

Courtesy Diana Kuenzli

You’ve heard of surfing. You’ve heard of skateboarding. You’ve heard of snowboarding. Maybe you’ve even tried one of them, or all of them. But you might never have heard of golfboarding.

Golfboarding is a new phenomenon in golf. Rather than walking or using a golf cart, golfers step onto a motorized skateboard-like device to get around the course. It looks like a cross between an oversized skateboard and a segway.

WKAR File Photo

Last Friday, we aired an interview with Jose Carrera, the director of clinical services at St. Vincent Catholic Charities in Lansing.  Mr. Carrera spoke of an ongoing program at St. Vincent that evaluates an at-risk child’s physical and emotional well-being.  Some of those children are in foster care.

Today we look at a different facet of the foster care system. 

WKAR File Photo

A recently retired Michigan State University employee is not taking his retirement lying down.  

Back in March, Mr. Ken Dawson told Current State about his plan to spend five months hiking America’s Continental Divide.  The 3,100-mile solo adventure began April 15 in in extreme southern New Mexico, not far from the Mexican border.

Current State’s Mark Bashore connected with Ken Dawson by phone on Saturday as he was passing through Pie Town, New Mexico.    

Current State #530 | May 1, 2015

May 1, 2015

Today on Current State: Proposal 1 opponent Paul Mitchell; solving the 1980 disappearance of a Michigan girl; a new assessment program placing at-risk kids in appropriate care settings; and Live Music Friday with Jen Sygit.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

In four days, Michigan voters will decide whether or not to increase the state sales tax by one cent on the dollar. Proposal 1 would raise just over $1.2-billion which would, in a couple of years, be spent on road and bridge improvements. But the measure also earmarks about $800-million for areas including education, municipalities and help for some low income Michigan residents.

WOOD-TV

Social media and the internet have helped solve a Michigan-based disappearance dating back more than 30-years. 17-year old Carol Ann Cole of Kalamazoo vanished in 1980 shortly after leaving Michigan for Texas. For about as long, Louisiana authorities had been trying to identify the body of a young woman found in woods near Shreveport. Posts on Facebook and Craigslist, described as “happenstance”, helped bring together authorities and members of Cole’s family in February. It was six days after the Facebook page was launched.

Kevin Lavery/WKAR

St. Vincent Catholic Charities in Lansing is one of the largest human service providers in Michigan. One of its core missions is caring for at-risk children. Some have direct, ongoing ties with their parents, while others are in foster care. The organization has just completed its first year of a new clinical assessment program designed to place kids in the best possible care setting.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

Our Live Music Friday guest today is local singer-songwriter Jen Sygit. Jen has been featured on WKAR-TV’s “Backstage  Pass,” and she sat in a few weeks ago here on Current State with Brendan Doherty. It seems she’s everywhere there’s live music in Lansing, including the open mic scene, and she’s working on an exciting recording project we’ll learn more about.

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