The happenings in Grand Ledge, Michigan

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Grand Ledge sees slight population decrease after 10 years

By Courtney Rivette
Living on the Ledge Staff Writer 

Amid the overall population decrease in Michigan, the city of Grand Ledge is holding its own in the struggle to keep residents.  The city has only lost 20 people in the last 10 years.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Grand Ledge population fell from 7,804 in 2000 to 7,784 in 2010, a 0.3 percent decrease.  Michigan was the only state to lose population, with a 0.06 percent decrease.

“I want to stress that a population loss of only 20 is pretty good for a city in Michigan,” said Kalmin Smith, mayor of Grand Ledge.   “Most cities had much larger losses, such as a negative 25 percent in Detroit.  If there were people living in our 300 empty houses, we would have had a very healthy population increase.” Read the rest of this page »

Grand Ledge MEAP Scores Above State Average

By Brooks Laimbeer

A Living On The Ledge Writer

According to the Michigan Educational Department website, the Grand Ledge School District was at or above the state average Michigan Educational Assessment Program scores in mathematics and reading.

Only one score, math for third graders, in the Grand Ledge school district fell below the state average; this score was 4 percent lower than the 95 percent state average.

“Until I have all my students scoring as 100 percent proficient, I am never going to be satisfied because I want all my students to be successful,” said Kathy Peasley, Grand Ledge Public School curriculum director.

During the past year, the Grand Ledge School Districthas lost 100 students and is now at a total of 5,141, which is less than 10 students per grade level, Peasley said.

Graph of MEAP scores in mathematics

The city of Grand Ledge has also seen its total population decline from 7,806 to 7,786, according to the 2010 US Census Bureau.

A population decrease does not affect MEAP scores unless the decrease is dramatic, Peasley said.

The biggest factors that effect a school district’s MEAP score are the school district’s curriculum and students who enter into a new school district in the middle of a district’s academic curriculum.

“When you have students moving in and out of your school district, there is a higher potential that they haven’t learned the concepts for a particular grade-level MEAP,” Peasley said.

Because of Grand Ledge’s geographical location, they do not receive as many applicants for “schools of choice” students. Read the rest of this page »

The Ledges: A Resource to Protect or Neglect?

Brandon Grenier

Living on the Ledge staff writer

U.S. Census Bureau officials began collecting data this month on outdoor recreation for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which determines how they allocate funds from their budget.  The local climbing spot known as ‘The Ledges’ in Oak Park that Grand Ledge is so famous for could receive government funding for maintenance through the survey; though not everyone agrees that the rock climbing hotspot should remain a recreation site.

Beginning on April 1, Census Bureau officials will be interviewing 53,000 households from across the nation about wildlife recreation.  Grand Ledge climbers say they would like to see some of that money to have The Ledges maintained, but Mike Hood, Director and Chief Guide at Vertical Ventures, does not want people climbing there anymore, at all. For those who climb at The Ledges, and for the city that sees business from what Mike Hood estimates at around 8,000 visiting climbers each year, this is a controversial idea.

Vertical Ventures, an outdoor adventure company that was operated out of Grand Ledge for 19 years, stopped providing guided tours there about five years ago because of the apparent environmental impact.  Vertical Venture Guides now drive as far as Ontario, Canada to teach. Hood, who said he has probably climbed at The Ledges more than any other person, now strongly opposes any use of The Ledges for recreation.

“It’s wrong, and it’s destructive to the park,” said Hood. “The cliff edge environment is in jeopardy, and hanging by a thread.”

“Climbing is a high impact sport,” said Mike Hood, Director and Chief Guide at Vertical Ventures. “It’s a very small area affected, but it’s used so intensively that the cliffs are essentially sterilized.” Photo by Brandon Grenier

Hood explained that the ropes rock climbers use compact the soil on top of the cliffs, in turn smothering and killing the tree roots as the top soil erodes away. The ropes also erode the cliff-sides themselves, because the cliffs are made of soft and porous sandstone. He said he and his business partners put in between five and six thousand volunteer hours trying to restore and repair the cliff ecosystems, but ultimately realized there was only one solution.

“We were lying to ourselves,” said Hood. “If we really want to save the park, it needs to be closed from climbing.”

Read the rest of this page »

Downtown Development Authority finances fire department equipment

By Mandilyn Kerr

Living on the Ledge Staff Writer

 The Grand Ledge Downtown Development Authority is financing new fire apparatus’ for the Grand Ledge Area Emergency Services Authority.

 In the last two years, GLAESA’s budget has been cut 12.18 percent.  Paying for new equipment while keeping full-time staff members can be difficult.

GLAESA will receive a new fire apparatus financed be the DDA. Photo Credit: Mandilyn Kerr

The challenge is, “providing the service and the quality and quantity of service with reduced funds,” said Grand Ledge Fire Chief, Casey Godlewski.

The department hired three people in 2005 and another in 2009 and one has recently left the department to pursue other career opportunities, Godlewski said.

Read the rest of this page »

Grand Ledge Economy holds its own

Brandon Grenier

Living on the Ledge staff writer

Throughout the state, Michiganders seem to be running to find greener pastures. As a retail and service based economy, Grand Ledge may be in danger of losing business as its population drops by close to 100 this year, but officials think it should be manageable.

According to the 2009 census projections, Grand Ledges population, like the rest of Michigan, is on the decline.  Michigan’s population in the last decade has dropped 0.6% according to the 2010 census. Projections suggest that the new 2010 data will show similar results, and Grand Ledge’s Treasurer and Financial Director Jon Bayless agrees.

The population is definitely on the decline, said Bayless, but it is small enough that the economy should be able to adjust itself.

“(The economy is) holding its own, kind of in neutral right now,” Bayless said. “Much like the balance of nature, you see new firms coming, and old firms going out of business or changing.”

Lickity Split, a Popular Business in Grand Ledge Photo By Brandon Grenier

Bayless spoke of a trend he had noticed where employees are shifting from their ‘ma and pa’ jobs to larger scale chains like Meijer and Subway. These changes are hard on the smaller operators, and hurts business while they try to compete with larger businesses.

Read the rest of this page »

Grand Ledge High School athletics in danger of being Cut

By Mandilyn Kerr

Living on the Ledge Staff Writer

               Pep rallies and cheering on players may no longer be associated with the high school experience for Grand Ledge High School students if the athletics program is cut due to Gov. Snyder’s proposed budget plan.

At the past two school board meetings, the budget has been the major focus. How the district will deal with the proposed budget cuts have yet to be finalized. Cutting athletic programs and bussing are two of the proposed scenarios.  If bussing and athletic programs were to be cut, the district would still have to downsize. The district must cut $4 million from a total budget of $44 million. The extent of the downsizing is still unclear. Snyder’s proposed budget includes reducing per pupil funding by $470 per student.

Cuts

        Grand Ledge School BoardPresident Donald Symonds said there is “the possibility of eliminating all contributions to athletics. I’m cautious there because I’m not sure we’ll eliminate athletics because I think the community would make sure athletics stayed alive.”

Grand Ledge High School athletics has an annual budget of $500,000. Photo Credit: Grand Ledge High School

Athletics makes up $500,000 of the annual budget for the district.

Cutting athletics alone would not solve the problem. Read the rest of this page »

Grand Ledge community fights against budget cuts

By Carlee Schepeler

Living on the Ledge Staff Writer

Grand Ledge residents showed up March 28 to voice their opinions on Snyder’s proposal. Photo by Alan Miller.

More than 500 Grand Ledge residents attended the March 28 school board meeting to protest Gov. Snyder’s proposal

to reduce per pupil funding by $470.

“[Legislators] don’t listen to school board members,” Trustee Kim Mulvenna said to the audience, “but they will listen to you.”

Mulvenna has lived in Grand Ledge since 1994, and has served on the Board of Education since 2001. Her son graduated from the Grand Ledge Public Schools. Read the rest of this page »

Downtown mural brings community together

By Courtney Rivette
Living on the Ledge Staff Writer

Grand Ledge community members are in the process of painting a mural that will soon be part of the downtown.  Money from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Rural Arts grant helped to fund the project in Grand Ledge, as well as 11 other communities throughout the state.

The preliminary mural design. Contributors include: Arlene Bragg, Chadwick Willobee, Kaitlyn Slack, Robert Brown, Chad Stueken & Nell Floeter (ranging in ages 10-63). Photo provided by Tony Hendrick

The mural that began as an idea last October is now nearing completion.  The final price tag of the mural project is approximately $15,000.  The Rural Arts Grant matched up to $7,500 of the cost, and the rest of the money came from donations from the community.

Other qualifications for the grant included having a population of 15,000 or less and using the money for a community art project that targeted different segments of the community in age and demographics. Read the rest of this page »

Proposals Trouble School Districts

Written By Brooks Laimbeer

Living On The Ledge Staff Writer

In the most recent budget proposal for the state of Michigan, Gov. Rick Synder has proposed to cut $470 per pupil from each public school district in Michigan. 

“If the governor succeeds at cutting $470 per-pupil for next year, I don’t know a district in the state that won’t have to touch something in the way of curriculum,” chief financial officer of Troy’s School District, Mark Rajter said.

There are three things that the Grand Ledge School District is looking to do to help school funding.

Photo by Brooks Laimbeer

One is a 14 percent pay-cut in the administration.  Two is to park the buses and cut the athletics programs.  Finally the last option is to bring in an emergency financial manager from the state, which acts like a dictator, Grand Ledge School District’s chief financial officer, Tom Goodwin said.

“We are all frustrated with the instructional and non-instructional cuts and the governor is going to decimate public education if he continues down this road,” Rajter said.

Grand Ledge Schools District’s Problems

The Grand Ledge Public School system receives $7,426 per pupil, which ranks in the bottom 15th percentile in terms of state funding per student, 657 out of 775 public schools, in the state of Michigan, Goodwin said.

“This district (Grand Ledge) is just barely above the minimum in terms of what it funds its schools,” Goodwin said.

Read the rest of this page »

Marijuana in Grand Ledge

By Brandon Grenier

Living on the Ledge Staff Writer


Grand Ledge Senator Rick Jones this January proposed a medical marijuana bill that is in March being looked at in the capitol. As the moratorium on medicinal marijuana laws ends in Grand Ledge, the city will have to decide how it wants to tackle the issue.

All across the state cities are now faced with the task of passing legislation to regulate medical marijuana. The state has its own broad laws, but it leaves a lot of space to tailor specific details to each cities individual needs. Each city must decide how strict they want to be on the distribution of marijuana, and whether or not they want to allow the establishment of dispensaries.

Senator Rick Jones with Governor Rick Snyder, photo courtesy of Senate Photowire

Read the rest of this page »