A 100-car caravan organized by the Michigan and Metro-Lansing Poor People’s Campaign rolled through Lansing on Monday, advocating affordable and healthy housing, homelessness prevention, juvenile justice reforms and clean water restoration. The event was part of a nationwide movement which sponsors “Moral Mondays” to continue work started by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Lansing’s first homicide of 2021
Troy Lee Jenks, 36, of Lansing, faces a murder charge after Lansing Police Department officers said he stabbed and killed a 37-year-old man. Cops were reportedly called to the 3300 block of Young Avenue where they found Darrell Leon Gains, 37, of Lansing, injured in the front yard. He died in the hospital. Lansing police also found a 33-year-old man dead in a tent at a homeless encampment. Other guests suspect the man died of an overdose, and authorities are awaiting results of an autopsy before releasing details.
Cash needed for socially distancing
The city of East Lansing in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. is trying to raise $50,000 by Feb. 10 to launch several permanent and temporary public spaces — including a new market space, enhanced outdoor seating options, light installations and artwork. The project is designed to use matching grants to assist businesses in “reshaping how people live, work and play” in a socially distanced downtown East Lansing while providing new ways for residents to gather safely. Donations are accepted online at patronicity.com/placeproject
Sharpshooters close East Lansing parks
for deer cull
Several parks in East Lansing are closing on intermittent weekdays through March 1 as sharpshooters with the U.S. Agriculture Department work to kill off an overabundance of deer. When closed, park entrances will be barricaded and signs will be posted. It will be illegal for anyone to enter or remain in the parks during those closures, city officials said.
Man charged in bomb threat
Michael Varrone, 48, of Charlotte faces felony terrorism charges after authorities said he made a threatening phone call on Thursday claiming there was a bomb in the Michigan Capitol building. Authorities quickly determined the threat was false but also connected Varrone with recent death threats made against state Rep. Cynthia Johnson. Varrone was lodged at the lockup beneath Lansing City Hall and could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Whitmer praises gun ban
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer applauded the Michigan Capitol Commission for banning the open carry of guns in the Capitol. Those discussions were reignited this month following an armed protest at the Capitol last April and the armed insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Direct flights to Cancun
Want to get away from it all? Apple Leisure Group announced this week that direct flights from the Capital Region International Airport to Cancun and Riviera Maya will resume in February and continue through April 4 — with enhanced social distance precautions, of course.
City Hall by appointment only
Lansing Mayor Andy Schor signed an executive order closing City Hall and other city-owned buildings to the general public due to COVID-19. Until further notice, you must make an appointment to gain access.
Internal auditor returns
Former Internal Auditor Eric Brewer is returning to a temporary version of his old job with the city of Lansing after he resigned from the post last year for personal reasons. Since Brewer left, city officials have struggled to find a replacement — at least twice offering the job to candidates that rejected the offer in recent months. Brewer’s new temporary contract extends only through June while city officials look to finalize a permanent replacement within the next month.
Council panels streamlined
Newly reelected City Council President Peter Spadafore is tinkering with the committee structure for the Lansing City Council, this week combining the Committee on Public Service and on General Services into a new Committee on City Operations. Spadafore also eliminated the mostly defunct Committee on Intergovernmental Relations, shifting any regional future work from that three-person committee to the full Council on the existing Committee of the Whole.
Mayor, others give up raises
Lansing Mayor Andy Schor and a dozen department directors have declined annual raises this year in recognition of the economic impact that COVID-19 has had. With the failure of the federal government to provide recovery funds to cities, Lansing will face more budget struggles that can only be solved by reducing expenses, said Schor, who will lose out on a $2,800 raise in 2021. His salary is about $137,000. Additionally, Teamsters Local 243 also agreed to keep wages flat through the end of 2021.
Mail-in tax scam
State officials warned this week of an aggressive scam making its rounds through the U.S. Postal Service. In the scheme, taxpayers receive a letter about an overdue tax bill that must be resolved, threatening to seize property, bank accounts, wages and more if left unsettled. The state Treasury Department corresponds in writing only through official state letterhead. Those who received a letter or who have questions about their debts are asked to call 517-636-5265.