September 1 2011
The state Senate and House passed legislation Wednesday that will save half a billion dollars in taxpayer money for the costs of public employee benefits, said bill sponsor Sen. Mark C. Jansen, R-Gaines Township. Senate Bill 7 limits the amount a public employer can spend toward health care unless employees increase their contribution. “Ordinary taxpayers suffering under one of the worst economies for the past 10 years have been paying to maintain public employees’ benefits,” Jansen said. “This legislation provides some much-needed relief and helps us stretch our tax dollars.” The reform will save an estimated $500 million in benefit costs for school district, local government, and community college employees. The measure caps public employer contributions to employee health care costs at a fixed dollar amount, or it divides the costs so employees contribute 20 percent of the costs. Jansen said the measure addresses long-term budget concerns and strengthens local governments and school districts. “This change is long overdue,” Jansen said. “In addition to providing schools and local governments with the necessary tools to address the rising cost of benefits and keep education dollars in the classroom, it addresses an inequity in the system.” Jansen pointed out that private-sector employees in the Midwest on average pay significantly more for their health care benefits than their public-sector counterparts: 21 percent for single coverage and 30 percent for family coverage for private employees, compared with only 10 percent and 15 percent respectively for those in the public sector. The money saved by local units of government and school districts will stay within that entity, Jansen said. “These funds could help pay for more local services or be used to hire more police officers,” he said. “Local school districts may be able to put more teachers in the classroom. This is the best benefit of all.” Senate Bill 7 now heads to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.
Local sites offer plenty of options Julie Buehler of Our Lady of Consolation Church (OLC) and School, said Michigan Blood donates $10 to the school’s youth program for every person who attempts to donate blood at the twice-annual blood drives there. This year, a larger-than-normal shortage in blood caused the organization to add another drive. The next opportunity to donate at OLC will be on October 20 from noon to 7 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments make things run more smoothly. The blood drive is just one of many community events that take place on the church property throughout the year, which makes the church a good community neighbor. About 1,700 families are members and 160 students are enrolled in the school, which is pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. OLC was founded in 1971 as an offshoot of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church in Belmont. The affiliated churches share many resources, including the nuns of the Consolata Missionary Sisters, who celebrated their 100th year as an order in 2010. The sisters were brought here from Italy in the 1960s by Msgr. Podjeski from their mother house in Turin, Italy. In addition to Belmont, the order has 12 missionaries throughout the world, including parishes in the most impoverished areas of Alabama. The sisters came here, studied for their calling at Aquinas College and then became any number of professionals, from teachers to social workers or nurses. Nancy Prominski and Paul Sobie, who shared this information about the two churches and their missionary sisters, called the Consolata sisters “a wonderful order and a gift from God.” The church works well with Michigan Blood, which keeps local donations right here in West Michigan. While being prepped to give blood, donors are tested for anemia. Blood cells are separated after donation into red and white blood cells. Plasma can be frozen and saved for use at a later date. Surprisingly, CoCo Wheats are an excellent source of iron, which enriches red blood cells. Also useful are broccoli, raisins and grapes. Steffes, who is a regular blood donor, said more people would enjoy giving if they try it once. “It makes you feel really good,” she said of the donation, which can literally be a gift […]
Week One — The Red Arrows host the Rams If week one is any type of projection of those to come, then fans, we’re in for some kind of treat. This week we will recap the Lowell vs Rockford game from the eyes of a fan and not a reporter. Keep in mind we are Ram fans but our loyalty lies with the experience and not with the outcome of the game. Some of you may be wondering how we plan on rating these experiences and if we have any bias, well although we admit it’s not fail proof, we also think our system is very fair throughout. We judge the FNLE, and not the performance of the teams. We calculate an overall rating between 1 and 10 based on 7 categories of which 3 are double weighted due to the overall significance of the experience. As we arrive in Red Arrow country we immediately notice that this is no ordinary game for the Lowell program. The parking lot is filling up and it’s only 4:45 p.m. and kickoff isn’t until 7 p.m. So we decide to take a spot on the outer edge of the lot in hopes that we might get a jump on the crowd when it comes to an end. Another thing about parking for the big game that we notice is that even with the magnitude of tonight’s game, there isn’t anyone really manning the parking lots or any information regarding where the fans should park. On a side note, the media lot did have two parking guides, but shouldn’t the media know where to go?? Funny thing, we didn’t. As we walk up to the front gates things are a little hectic but the Lowell staff seems to have a pretty good handle on everything going on. We enter the gates greeted by cheerleaders from Lowell welcoming all fans, not just the home crowd. We do notice that for such a large local rivalry there’s really no corporate sponsorship or pre game activities that we’ve encountered at other venues. We then find a wide array of food stands to which we have no complaints. From a spectators view, this is the best high school selection of food that we’ve […]
Injuries hamper team’s efforts by JIM COOPER and MATT WEAVER The last time the Rockford Rams and the Lowell Red Arrows met on the gridiron, it was November 9, 1973. The country was being rocked by the Watergate scandal. Memories of the Vietnam War were fresh in the nation’s minds. The number one song in America was Eddie Kendricks’ “Keep On Truckin’.” High school football was still decades from being the phenomenon we know today. Rockford and Lowell combined for a total of just 105 wins in the previous 10 years. Flash forward to August 25, 2011, and you have a game that was touted as the top opening game in Michigan. The two schools have now won over 200 games in the last decade, with three state titles apiece in the same span. Fans from both sides had been clamoring for this game and, finally, after 38 years, the two teams collided once more. Emotions were high at Bob Perry Field in Lowell as the two teams took the field. After deferring the opening kickoff, the Rams were successful in containing the Red Arrow’s explosive dual-threat quarterback Gabe Dean on the opening possession of the game. However, a Lowell fumble recovery on Rockford’s first play from scrimmage put the ball back in the hands of the elite player. Three plays later, Dean ran for 20 yards to the end zone, with the extra point putting the Red Arrows up 7-0. Three-and-a-half minutes later, Dean made the Rams pay for a second lost fumble, allowing Lowell to take a 14-0 lead within the first eight minutes of the game. After the two teams swapped possessions for the remainder of the first quarter and the first six minutes of the second, Dean struck again, this time with a 26-yard touchdown pass. Trailing by 21, Rockford’s Connor Darby managed to break loose on the ensuing kickoff, taking the ball into the Red Arrows’ end zone. However, the play was called back due to an illegal handoff on the Rams’ tried and true starburst kickoff return formation. The following drive ended with Rockford’s Mark LaPrairie hobbling off the field with help from the trainer. The senior quarterback suffered a dislocated toe that kept him out of action for […]