Editorial Roundup:

The Mining Journal. September 15, 2020

Marquette area continues to be noted for excellence

To the surprise of absolutely no one who lives here, Marquette has made another of those top 10 or best of lists that come out from time to time. In the latest example, the city and its immediate environs have been named one of the 25 “up-and-coming” small towns in America by Reader’s Digest.

The magazine’s article is titled “25 Small Towns That Are About to Become More Popular.”

It was noted in the Reader’s Digest article that Marquette, home to Northern Michigan University and much, much more, was named the “Top Small Town for Adventure” in 2018 by USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards, according to a Mining Journal story on the issue.

“Recent growth in private investment includes mixed-use developments, affordable housing and hotels,” the article reads. “With an average home price of $219,000, moderate winters and individuals wanting to get back to a simpler life, watch out for Marquette.”

Did they say moderate? Perhaps we’re getting into semantics on the winters as one person’s brutal is the next person’s perfect.

Seriously, though, a huge number of people not only make it through the winters up here, they, indeed, thrive with the many recreational opportunities available.

The magazine also mentioned Marquette’s award-winning craft breweries, an “exciting” local restaurant scene and a “thriving” arts scene, and pointed out it’s a great place to see the northern lights.

Let us take this opportunity to comfirm that the Marquette area is an outstanding place to live and learn — including winter.

And if truth be told, we can’t imagine living anywhere else!

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Traverse City Record-Eagle. September 16, 2020

Workers may need boost into Frontliner education programs

Futures for Frontliners does many things at once: It spends federal CARES Act funding; it shores up falling community college enrollments; it contributes to the state’s 2030 pledge to have 60 percent of the workforce with a secondary degree/certificate; and most important, it gives tangible appreciation and opportunity to those who continued to work face-to-face with us through the scary first days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Investing in Michiganders is a smart, audacious move, and we commend Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her team.

But this is just the beginning of a full-on sprint, and the back-patting will have to wait as there are plenty of hurdles to clear between now and Dec. 31 — the cutoff day for application.

Higher education is not always a field of dreams where “if you build it, they will come.”

That approach works for some — often those with educated family members, in higher income brackets, those in “the know,” and not intimidated by detailed government forms like college applications and FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

But many of those who meet the Futures for Frontliners eligibility requirements (state residents, no college degree, worked at least part-time between April 1 and June 30) may need a boost over the fence.

Econofact found that most frontline workers — healthcare workers, protective service workers (police and EMTs), grocery and retail cashiers, production and food processing workers, janitors and maintenance workers, agricultural workers, and truck drivers — make lower wages on average and come disproportionately from socio-economically disadvantaged groups compared to the overall workforce.

High school, trade and higher education institutions already know well the challenges this population faces, including the application process itself.

Research director Erin Grogan of College Advising Corps called the discrepancy between low- and high income kids applying to college a clear sign of “unnecessary, but very real, barriers on the pathway between high school graduation and college attendance.”

This can result in well-intentioned but under-utilized scholarship programs.

Pell grants, one of many aid-based scholarships, require students to fill out the FAFSA. In 2017, an estimated $2.3 billion dollars in Pell grants went unclaimed.

Even the Montgomery G.I. Bill dollars — where servicemembers contribute $100 a month unless they opt out — are underused to the tune of $145 million (partially because of competing programs).

COVID-19 (and subsequent school closures) already disrupted the application process for many low income students; the National College Attainment Network found that as of mid-April, FAFSA completion rates for U.S. low-income students were 4.2 percentage points lower than where they were last year.

We know that when you really look at it, no one ever really succeeds alone. We can and should help our frontliners utilize this growth opportunity. If you know someone who qualifies, and wants to earn an associate’s degree or a certificate or get a tuition-free GED, encourage them to apply.

Help them with the application and getting the paperwork sorted out. The state already has a Customer Care Center line at 517-636-7000 or email MiStudentAid@Michigan.gov for questions; and there are additional representatives at all of the state’s 28 community colleges that can help.

All residents of Grand Traverse County are considered in-district for Northwestern Michigan College, and admissions can answer questions at 855-346-3662 or frontliners@nmc.edu. The application period runs from now through Dec. 31 for students to begin classes in 2021.

Our frontline workers were there for us when we needed them. Now we have the chance to show our gratitude by not only building a field of dreams, but boosting our players over the fence.

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The Alpena News. September 17, 2020

Glad to see RC tackle runoff

When you live in Michigan, it’s important to understand that cardinal rule. Whatever finds its way into the groundwater, into the stormwater pipes, into the rivers, eventually makes its way to one of the Great Lakes.

For years, stormwater has been a big source of pollution ending up in those lakes. Rainfall runs over the ground, picking up oil spilled from our cars, pesticides sprayed on our fields, plastics littered on the ground, runs its way through the system and eventually ends up, in Northeast Michigan, in Lake Huron.

Now, Rogers City is working to do something about that.

As reported recently by News staff writer Julie Riddle, the city has partnered with six University of Michigan graduate students to develop plans for more efficiently capturing stormwater runoff and filtering it before it makes its way to Lake Huron.

That could include permeable, water-absorbent paving to newly planted trees to plants grown on building roofs.

As Mayor Scott McLennan said, “The monster in the room is, as usual, dollars,” and the city certainly has some obstacles to overcome before it can do all wants or needs to do.

But the conversations have begun, the first steps have been taken, and that is worth celebrating.

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