News & Notes From Around the Capitol City



From the offices of Mid-Michigan's Elected Officials

DNR News & Notes


News, notes and stories from Michigan's DNR


Our Store to Your Door!  Home Delivery Service from Mert’s Meats

Mert’s is proud to be able to deliver our quality products direct to your door.

Consider home delivery service for your Holiday Products this year.

Our delivery service charge is a flat rate – no extras for mileage or weight or number of bags – no minimum purchase amount – no maximum purchase amount – you just want four links of sausage? – you ordered a 45 pound meat bundle? That’s okay with us! Delivery charges cannot be discounted.  Call the store at 517-574-5014 to inquire about the particular address to which you want a delivery.

Williamston High School Earns College Board AP® Computer Science Female Diversity Award

Williamston, MI – Williamston High School has earned the College Board AP® Computer Science Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in AP Computer Science Principles. Schools honored with the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award have expanded young women’s access to AP computer science courses. 

Out of the 20,000 institutions that offer AP courses, 818 achieved this important result during the 2018-2019 school year--nearly 20% more than the 685 schools recognized last year. In 2019, Williamston High School was one of 639 recognized in the category of AP Computer Science Principles. An additional 36 schools received the award for both CSP and CSA.

“One of our primary goals when we started our district STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) initiative four years ago was to close the gender gap at our high school regarding enrollment in applicable courses,” said Williamston Superintendent Adam Spina. “This recognition is validation of the hard work that our staff has put into realizing this objective.”

Schools receiving the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award have achieved either 50% or higher female representation in either or both of the AP computer science courses, or the percentage of female computer science examinees meets or exceeds that of the school’s female population. “During our first year of AP Computer Science, we had one young woman enrolled,” noted Principal Steve Delp. “Ray Herek, who teaches the course, and our guidance counselors have done a phenomenal job of maintaining the interest in STEAM classes that has been generated by the new opportunities provided to students at our middle school and elementary buildings.”

“Williamston High School is empowering young women to see themselves as creators, innovators, and problem-solvers,” said Stefanie Sanford, College Board global policy chief. “We hope to see even more high schools inspire female students to harness the potential of an AP computer science education. ”The introduction of AP Computer Science Principles in 2016 was the largest course launch in AP Program history. In 2019, nearly 100,000 students took the AP CSP exam, more than doubling participation in three years. During that time, the number of female AP CSP students has far outpaced overall growth, with an increase of 136 percent.

Providing female students with access to computer science courses is necessary to ensuring gender parity in high-paying technology jobs and to drive innovation, creativity, and competition. A 2014 Google study found that women are more likely to pursue computer science if they are given the opportunity to explore it in high school.

Learn more about Williamston’s K-12 STEAM initiative here.


East Lansing Athletic Director Norris Selected for 2020 MHSAA Women In Sports Leadership Award

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Jan. 29 – Over nearly 30 years, Nikki Norris has impacted educational athletics in nearly every role possible as a teacher and athletic director at multiple schools, coach at various levels and game official. Her many and continuing contributions will be celebrated Sunday, Feb. 2, when she receives the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s 33rd Women In Sports Leadership Award during the WISL Banquet at the Crowne Plaza Lansing West. 

Each year, the Representative Council considers the achievements of women coaches, officials and athletic administrators affiliated with the MHSAA who show exemplary leadership capabilities and positive contributions to athletics. Norris is in her second year as athletic director at East Lansing High School after eight in that position for Corunna Public Schools. She previously taught for six years at Carson City-Crystal and then 11 at Corunna before taking over the Cavaliers’ athletic department during the summer of 2010. She coached volleyball at multiple levels over more than 15 years including Corunna’s varsity from 1999-2002 and 2006-09, and also coached high school basketball for a combined eight years during her time at the two schools where she taught. Before and between her volleyball coaching stints, Norris also has served as an MHSAA registered volleyball official for a total of 12 years. 

“I try to connect with all students, athletes or not, because there are so many kids who just need a connection," Norris said. "And if we can find it through sports, or through clubs, or teaching -- I do look at them all as my own children, to a certain extent. We used to say in Corunna, 'They're all our kids.' And I want them to be successful in whatever it is they want. And if I can help them, that's what I'm there for."

Those who wrote letters recommending Norris for this year’s WISL Award especially noted that personal impact she has on students, staff and colleagues, locally and on wide-ranging levels. While at Corunna, Norris served as master scheduler and part of the constitution committee for the Genesee Area Conference. Her schools have hosted various MHSAA Tournament events in multiple sports, in addition to local invitationals and conference meets. She’s served on every type of MHSAA Committee, providing input on a variety of sports, site selection, officials selection and the Scholar-Athlete Award. She also annually volunteers as a tournament administrator at the MHSAA’s Volleyball Finals in November and Baseball/Softball/Girls Soccer Finals in June.  

“Nikki is one of the most genuine, caring and hard-working people I’ve ever met in athletics,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “She has worked extremely hard in both Corunna and East Lansing to develop a first-class program that produced high-character people. Nikki is truly a role model to everyone in the world of athletic administration.” 

A certified Red Cross instructor, Norris has provide CPR/AED training to coaches, bus drivers and staff members. Corunna in multiple years received the state’s HEARTSafe School designation recognizing preparedness to respond to cardiac emergencies. As a member of the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA), she has facilitated sessions and presented at its conferences and served on the newsletter committee.  She was named the MIAAA’s Region 7 “Athletic Director of the Year” in 2016. She also has received “Certified Athletic Administrator” designation from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA). 

A 1987 graduate of Ithaca High School, Norris received her bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in exercise health science from Alma College – where she also competed in track & field – and then earned master’s degrees in biological sciences from Michigan State University and educational leadership from American College of Education. 

Norris lives in Bancroft and is the mother to two daughters, Meredith and Elizabeth Norris. Meredith was named the state’s Miss Volleyball Award winner in 2017 as a senior at Corunna and plays currently at Michigan State. Elizabeth is a senior at Corunna and was a finalist for the same award this past fall, and will continue her academic and volleyball careers at University of North Dakota. 

“I look at the names that are on the (WISL Award) list, and there are so many deserving women who over my career I've looked up to and aspired to be like when I 'grow up,'" Norris said. "So to even be considered in that group is amazing, humbling. It's an honor."

The first Women In Sports Leadership Award was presented in 1990. Past recipients are:

1990 – Carol Seavoy, L’Anse
1991 – Diane Laffey, Harper Woods
1992 – Patricia Ashby, Scotts
1993 – Jo Lake, Grosse Pointe
1994 – Brenda Gatlin, Detroit
1995 – Jane Bennett, Ann Arbor
1996 – Cheryl Amos-Helmicki, Huntington Woods
1997 – Delores L. Elswick, Detroit
1998 – Karen S. Leinaar, Delton
1999 – Kathy McGee, Flint
2000 – Pat Richardson, Grass Lake
2001 – Suzanne Martin, East Lansing
2002 – Susan Barthold, Kentwood
2003 – Nancy Clark, Flint
2004 – Kathy Vruggink Westdorp, Grand Rapids
2005 – Barbara Redding, Capac
2006 – Melanie Miller, Lansing
2007 – Jan Sander, Warren Woods
2008 – Jane Bos, Grand Rapids
2009 – Gail Ganakas, Flint; Deb VanKuiken, Holly
2010 – Gina Mazzolini, Lansing
2011 – Ellen Pugh, West Branch; Patti Tibaldi, Traverse City
2012 – Janet Gillette, Comstock Park
2013 – Barbara Beckett, Traverse City
2014 – Teri Reyburn, DeWitt
2015 – Jean LaClair, Bronson
2016 – Betty Wroubel, Pontiac
2017 – Dottie Davis, Ann Arbor
2018 – Meg Seng, Ann Arbor
2019 – Kris Isom, Adrian 

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.4 million spectators each year. 





Governor Gretchen Whitmer Delivers Democratic Response to the President’s State of The Union Address

Whitmer highlights Democratic work on Health Care, Roads, Jobs 


EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer delivered the Democratic response to President Trump’s State of the Union Address at East Lansing High School, where her daughters attend. In her response, the governor stayed focused on the problems Democrats across the country have taken action on, like rebuilding our infrastructure, creating paths to good-paying jobs, and improving health care, while Republicans in Washington work to move our country backward. 

Right now, more than 275 bipartisan bills are gathering dust on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel’s desk, and Republicans in Washington are working to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and rip health coverage away from people with pre-existing conditions. In her response, the governor highlighted work Democratic governors across the country are doing to improve access to health care. “Instead of looking after people with pre-existing conditions, the president is asking the courts to rip those life-saving protections away, and every other benefit Americans have under the Affordable Care Act,” said Governor Whitmer. “It’s pretty simple. Democrats are trying to make your health care better. Republicans in Washington are trying to take it away.” 

In her State of the State address, Governor Whitmer urged Republicans in the legislature to work across the aisle to enshrine protections for people with pre-existing conditions into state law. In the Michigan House, Democratic Reps. Padma Kuppa, John Hoadley, and Matt Koleszar have offered a good proposal to protect Michiganders’ access to health care in case the president is successful in dismantling the ACA. 

The governor also highlighted action she and Democratic governors are taking to fix our infrastructure so everyone can drive to work and drop their kids at schools safely. 

“During my campaign, people told me to fix the damn roads, because blown tires and broken windshields are downright dangerous,” said Governor Whitmer. “And car repairs take money from rent, child care, or groceries. And we, the Democrats,  are doing something about it.” 

Last week, as part of her Rebuilding Michigan plan, the governor asked the State Transportation Commission to issue $3.5 billion in state road bonds to fix Michigan’s most highly-traveled state roads and freeways. The STC voted 6-0 to approve the bonds, meaning we can start moving dirt and fixing the roads this construction season. 

The governor also focused on jobs and the economy in her remarks. “It doesn’t matter what the president says about the stock market,” said Governor Whitmer. “What matters is that millions of people struggle to get by or don’t have enough at the end of the month after paying for: transportation, student loans, or prescription drugs. American workers are hurting. In my own state. Our neighbors in Wisconsin. And Ohio. And Pennsylvania. All over the country. Wages have stagnated, while CEO pay has skyrocketed.” 

Since she was sworn in as Governor, Michigan has announced nearly 11,000 new good-paying auto jobs for Michiganders. And last year, Governor Whitmer gave tens of thousands of Michigan workers a raise by directing the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity to expand the right to overtime pay. The governor also highlighted Democratic governors’ work across the country to raise wages for hardworking families. 

Governor Whitmer ended her response by urging the American people to stay focused on what their leaders are doing for them, not just what they say. “Remember, listen to what people say, but watch what they do,” said Governor Whitmer.  “It’s time for action. Generations of Americans are counting on us. Let’s not let them down.” 

Linked below is the full text of the governor’s response as prepared for delivery:

Stabenow, Peters Applaud House Passage of Bill to Renew and Expand Funding for the Great Lakes

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Gary Peters (D-MI) applauded the passage of bipartisan legislation to reauthorize and expand funding for the Great Lakes in the House of Representatives. This House bill is the same as the bill introduced by Stabenow and Peters in the U.S. Senate, S. 2295.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) Act would reauthorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which is set to expire at the end of FY 2021, for another five years. This bill increases the current authorization level from $300 million to $375 million in FY 2022 and increases funding by $25 million per year until it reaches $475 million in FY 2026. The bill now awaits action from the U.S. Senate.

“This Initiative is a major success story and the most significant investment ever made to restore and protect our Great Lakes,” said Senator Stabenow. “That’s why both Republicans and Democrats are united in support. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to pass our bill immediately.”

“I’ve seen firsthand the impacts the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has on our waters, our land, and our communities — from restoring habitats to combating invasive species,” said Senator Peters. “I am proud the companion to our legislation passed the House to protect the Great Lakes, which are an economic driver for the nation and source of drinking water for millions of people.”

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is critical in cleaning up our Great Lakes and waterways, and addressing problems that directly impact public health and safety. The Initiative has focused efforts to stop the spread of Asian carp and other invasive species, restore coastline and prevent future contamination. The Initiative has cleaned up environmentally damaged Areas of Concern including White Lake in West Michigan and Deer Lake in the Upper Peninsula. It has reduced phosphorus runoff and the threat of harmful algal blooms like those seen in Lake Erie, and restored wildlife habitats for hunting and fishing over thousands of miles of rivers and waterways. Since 2010, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has provided more than $2.5 billion to fund over 4,700 projects throughout the Great Lakes, including $762 million for 880 projects in Michigan.

The Great Lakes and its watersheds continue to be stressed by contamination and threats to water quality, and are under increasing pressure from new invasive species, climate change, extremes in water levels, intense storms, erosion, and habitat destruction. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act ensures that vital efforts to protect our water can continue and that we can address new and emerging threats to our lakes and waterways.

Slotkin Lauds Passage of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

WASHINGTON –– U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) released the following statement on the urgent need to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill in Congress. Today, House Democrats announced the framework of an infrastructure plan, and in her State of the State address tonight, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced a plan to begin making funds available to repair and rebuild Michigan’s roads.

“No matter if you’re a Democrat, Republican or Independent, the urgent need to fix our roads and infrastructure is something we can all agree on,” Slotkin said. “This is a bipartisan issue in our communities, and it should be the same way in Congress — that’s why I’m eager to work with Republicans to pass a bipartisan bill that rebuilds our systems to last, and am glad to see Governor Whitmer continue to push for action to get our roads fixed as soon as possible.”  

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) released the following statement regarding the House passage today of the bipartisan Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2019, which would reauthorize funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) for five years and increase it by nearly 60 percent during that time.

"In Michigan, we are the stewards of the Great Lakes, because they are the backbone of our economy and our way of life," Slotkin said. "We may not always think about it when we're enjoying our beautiful lakes, but protecting and maintaining our Great Lakes takes investment and commitment — and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has been instrumental over the years in keeping our lakes clean and safe in order to power our state and our economy. Today's vote renews that funding for another six years, and I'm thrilled to see it continues to receive strong, bipartisan support."

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2019 will reauthorize the GLRI, which is set to expire at the end of Fiscal Year 2021, through 2026. The bill also increases the current authorization level from $300 million to $375 million in Fiscal Year 2022 and by $25 million per year after that until it reaches $475 million in Fiscal Year 2026. The bipartisan legislation has 27 Democratic and 22 Republican cosponsors in the House. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where the legislation has been introduced on a bipartisan basis.

Since its inception in 2010, the GLRI has significantly contributed to the protection and preservation of the Great Lakes, which provide more than 1.5 million jobs, supply 90 percent of our nation’s fresh surface water, support over 3,500 species of plants and animals, and generate $62 billion in wages every year. Specifically, the program has helped triple the successful cleanup and delisting of Areas of Concern, restore 50,000 acres of coastal wetlands across the region, reduce phosphorus runoff and the threat of harmful algal blooms, control invasive species, and double farmland acres under nutrient conservation. All of this progress has resulted in economic returns of more than 3-to-1 across the region.

LBRA and Mayor Schor Support Building Restoration with Public Improvements on N. Washington

(LANSING, Mich.) – A highly visible gateway property located on the newly established Saginaw Street corridor improvement authority, is moving closer toward redevelopment. The proposed Michigan Realtors® Headquarters redevelopment includes demolition of the existing functionally obsolete property located at 700 N. Washington and an adjacent building in similar condition at 720 N. Washington. The Lansing Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (LBRA) voted to support the brownfield plan during its Feb. 7, 2020, meeting. The Lansing City Council will receive and refer the plan to its committee on development and planning Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. 

 “Redeveloping this site will make a big impact on a highly traveled corridor in our downtown and will nicely complement Durant Park by improving the overall safety of the surrounding area. We are looking forward to welcoming new visitors to Lansing as they enjoy this new facility,” said Andy Schor, Mayor of Lansing. The proposed $9.2 million project includes a new three-story, 19,443-square foot commercial office building with a roof deck and 72 paved parking spaces designed to accommodate the operations of  the Michigan Realtors® headquarters. 

The new facility will include workplace and conference space for Michigan Realtors® staff, training/meeting space to host dinners, continuing education seminars, committee meetings and other events for members, stakeholders and partners from around the state. “We are excited to be expanding our footprint in Lansing and to be working in partnership with the City to ensure this investment serves the needs of our members, while also addressing the needs of the community,” said Rob Campau, Michigan Realtors CEO. “We are working to create a destination space for our more than 30,000 members from around the state, and this is a great opportunity to invite visitors to experience and explore Lansing as an added benefit. It is my hope that this project will serve as a landmark property and a symbol of Michigan Realtors commitment to the Lansing area.” 

The project includes improved landscaping, sidewalks, parking and enhanced lighting, which will allow easier access to the site and Durant Park. The plan was developed in cooperation with the City Public Service Department which plans to extend streetscape improvements on both sides of Washington Avenue north to Madison Street in the next few years when the street’s sanitary sewers are replaced. These improvements will enhance the aesthetics and curb appeal for Saginaw Street and Washington Avenue, creating a better connection to Durant Park and a safer intersection for both pedestrian and vehicles. “The City of Lansing has been working to strengthen the corridors in many different ways, most recently to pursue the establishment of the Saginaw Street CIA, and I’m excited to see the success continue with this proposed project,” said Hannah Bryant, an economic development specialist at the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), on behalf of the City of Lansing. “Redeveloping a functionally obsolete property would enliven a prominent corner on a major corridor that connects Old Town to Downtown.” 

To overcome the project’s extraordinarily high brownfield costs estimated at $536,276, the Michigan Realtors® have asked the Lansing Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (LBRA) and the City of Lansing to approve a Brownfield Redevelopment Plan. The plan would allow the LBRA to collect the increase in property taxes paid by the Michigan Realtors® on their new building and reimburse them for their brownfield costs. By utilizing the increase in property taxes resulting from the redevelopment of the property, the brownfield plan is self-funding and self-regulating, if the project is not completed the developer will not be reimbursed. 

Following review by the City’s Committee on Development and Planning, final consideration of the brownfield plan by City Council is expected to occur in April. With approval of the plan by council the project will create approximately 30 construction jobs, with site demolition to commence in March 2020 and construction expected to be completed in spring 2021. 


News & Notes from the DNR


2020 Black Lake sturgeon season lasts one day

This year’s sturgeon season on Black Lake (Cheboygan County, Michigan) ended at   1:40 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1 – not quite six hours after the day’s 8 a.m. start. The fishing season, which included spearing or hook-and-line fishing, was scheduled to run Feb. 1-5, or until the harvest quota had been reached. This   year's allocation of sturgeon for Black Lake anglers was seven fish, although   Department of Natural Resources officials set a harvest quota of six fish to reduce the risk of over-fishing.

There were 472 registered anglers on the ice Saturday, the highest total since the inception of the open sturgeon fishery. People of all ages again participated, and from a number of states. According to the DNR, three of the six sturgeon harvested were males ranging from 44 to 60 inches in length, and 16 to 51 pounds in weight. The three females ranged from 47 to 75 inches long, and 19 to 100 pounds in weight.

DNR fisheries biologist Tim Cwalinski said that three of the six fish had been captured before by Michigan State University and the DNR during spring spawning runs in the Black River:

  • A 60-inch male originally was captured in the 2011 spring spawning run, and then recaptured in 2013, 2015 and 2019. 
  • A 65-inch male had been captured and tagged during the 2007, 2015 and 2019 spawning runs. 
  • The largest fish, a 75-inch female weighing 100 pounds, had been captured and tagged during the 2004 and 2008 spawning runs.

Participating anglers were notified of the season’s end in a variety of ways: text alerts   to those who provided cell phone numbers, a fishing telephone hotline, UAW Black Lake Conference Center siren, and ice shanty visits from DNR personnel.   All methods were used within minutes of the final fish being harvested. DNR fisheries and law enforcement officials were embedded in the on-ice fishing communities and were able to quickly report harvested fish and contact all participating anglers about the season's close.

“We allow for any licensed angler to participate – as long as they register – so we need to have a significant on-ice presence to protect the population of lake sturgeon in Black Lake from overharvest,” said Cwalinski. “This year was another successful season for angler participation, fish harvest and quick response   times, as well as from a safety perspective.” 

For more information on lake sturgeon in Michigan, visit Michigan.gov/Sturgeon.