East Lansing Transportation Commission Recommends Glencairn Stop Sign

By Lauren Walker
Entirely East Lansing staff writer

Take a ride down Sunset Lane going the required 25 mph to see if you think a four-way stop is needed at Sunset Lane and Clarendon Road. The actual crossing of the intersection appears in black and white at :19.

On Nov. 15, residents of the Glencairn neighborhood who had been lobbying for a four-way stop got the answer they had been looking for.

The East Lansing Transportation Commission unanimously approved a motion to send a request to the City Council to install a four-way stop at Sunset Lane and Clarendon Road. The vote came after a lengthy discussion.

About a dozen residents who live near the intersection in the northeast corner of Glencairn near Saginaw Street and Abbott Road attended the meeting and were adamant about the need for a stop sign at the intersection.

Joe Tuchinsky has lived at the intersection for more than 30 years. He has been involved in the Sunset and Clarendon issue since it was first presented to the commission June 21. It was tabled to await the results of a traffic study, which was conducted in September.

“We ask for what we didn’t receive in June, a motion of a commissioner to recommend to City Council that it put a stop sign in,” Tuchinsky said. “Having stop signs at one additional corner does not interfere a great deal with the 2,000 and some motorists who go through that route in a four-day period, but it will certainly give us a great deal of relief that the safety of our children is something our city cares about.”

Department of Public Works Director Todd Sneathen said installing a traffic stop is not recommended and it is has nothing to do with a lack of concern for children’s safety. He said that stop signs are typically installed in areas where assignment of right-of-way is a concern and where speeds exceed 30 mph. A sign costs about $1,000. The September traffic study did not appear to reflect either of these issues at the Sunset and Clarendon intersection.

Regardless of the findings, Steve Lanthom, who lives on Sunset Lane, said that a stop sign is necessary for the safety of pedestrians and neighbors.

“Our point is that those numbers sometimes don’t necessarily deal with the reality of the neighborhood,” Lanthom said. “If there’s a better way to slow traffic down, we’re certainly open to hearing that, but from our lay perspective the best option is to make (the intersection) into a four-way to stop and force people to stop, slow down and have less of that straight shot through the neighborhood in which to accelerate to see how quickly they can get around the traffic and or get back onto Saginaw.”

View of the Sunset Lane and Clarendon Road Intersection from the southbound Sunset Lane perspective

Sunset Lane is one of the only straight roads connecting Grand River and Saginaw in the neighborhood, and Lanthom was referring to drivers trying to avoid traffic backups on either Abbott Road or Saginaw. He also reiterated what many of his neighbors noted, including the lack of sidewalks in the area, the four accidents that have occurred near the intersection in the past 20 years and the amount of children and traffic consisting of taxi-cabs and delivery cars in the area.

Board Member Barbara Hollstein warned residents about a false sense of security it may provide.

“The studies will let us know that, even if you put a stop sign up, they stop for the sign, but they’ll accelerate after it,” she said. “We have parameters that we study and we look at for our staff to say when a stop sign is effective and the numbers that are being presented here are right on a margin that says you may feel better about it, but you may not get a better result if you have stop sign.”

The motion passed and was sent to the City Council, where it was put on the Dec. 7 agenda.

If the council agrees to establish a four-way stop at Sunset and Clarendon, the transportation commission is planning a follow-up traffic study to gauge its effectiveness.

Following commission approval of the motion, Tuchinsky rose to thank the board. His neighbors offered a round of applause.

“In a couple of years, you may have other options to discuss if the data at that time indicates that the speeding problem really hasn’t evaded through the stop sign effort, but for the support in trying to find a solution, thank you,” Tuchinsky said.

See the Glencairn Neighborhood boundaries and location of the Sunset Lane/Clarendon Road intersection here:

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After 251 Days, City Council Approves Rezoning on Lake Lansing Road

By Hannah Saunders
Entirely East Lansing staff writer

It has been the most drawn-out East Lansing City Council issue over a patch of land this year and, on Tuesday, the debate finally came to a close. Despite the absence of two ccouncil members, the remaining three voted unanimously in favor of the rezoning of the lot at the southwest corner of Coolidge and Lake Lansing roads.

Former Blue Cross Blue Shield Building

Former Blue Cross Blue Shield Building

The former Blue Cross Blue Shield Building at this location, 1525 W. Lake Lansing Road, has sat empty since its final day of operation on Oct. 3, 2008, when employees relocated to consolidate with the Lansing branch. It was first proposed by Caddis Development Group on March 31, 2010, that this property be rezoned from a B-4 to a B-5, which would allow for commercial use.

The community was not as favorable as the council was of rezoning, and that led to an eight-and-a-half-month struggle. Residents protested at every meeting about the plan. Among the residents, the Pinecrest Neighborhood Association opposed the rezoning because of a conflict with its vision of northwestern East Lansing as a residential community without a lot of retailers to attract noise, traffic and clutter. “I liked living in a calm suburban community, but I’ve seen it change direction the past few years,” said Pinecrest Neighborhood’s James Downey. “I’m really worried of my home becoming more urban … I believe the rezoning will make my community more like a city.”

President of Caddis Development Group Kevin McGraw is relieved that the thrice-revised plan has been settled at last. “It’s exciting because we get to move forward,” he said. McGraw said that tens of thousands of dollars were spent to respond to the objections. “The most frustrating thing was having to hear the people talk about the same things over and over … they’re nice people and I did what I could to respond.”

According to McGraw, a bank and pharmacy will replace the deserted BCBS building, possibly along with a hotel. As far as which bank and pharmacy are coming to East Lansing, McGraw said, “Both are of well-known, national chains.” All Caddis needs to do now is obtain a special-use permit and site plan approval, then it will announce by mid-February who the newest additions to Lake Lansing will be.

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Steiner Chorale Kicks off 41st Season With International Holiday Music and Stories

By Hannah Saunders
Entirely East Lansing staff writer

Songs in not only English but Latin, Latvian and Russian rang in every corner, pew and ear of the audience at All Saints’ Episcopalian Church on Abbott Road Saturday evening. The source of stunning melodies and harmonies, along with six short readings of holiday tales, was East Lansing’s own Steiner Chorale, debuting its 41st season.

The Steiner Chorale at All Saints' Episcopal Church

The Steiner Chorale at All Saints' Episcopal Church

Treasurer and 22-year chorale member Robert Clarke said that the goal of the night was to  provide a twist to typical holiday music. “At this time of year, it’s a good thing to get people in the spirit of the season outside of the drivel you hear on the radio every day.”

Although the group rehearses every Monday evening to provide unique, classical music to the community, Clarke added that the group’s cause is not only about the spectators. “We don’t sing just for the audience’s pleasure, we sing for our own pleasure … I truly get a great lift singing this sacred music, this classical, choral, sacred music. It speaks to my soul.”

The Steiner Chorale is a non-profit group founded by former East Lansing High School Music Director William Steiner in 1968. In his honor, the group funds an annual scholarship competition.

Orilla McHarris, who sat alone in the last row, has loyally attended every one of her husband Bill’s concerts since he joined three years ago. “I’m proud of him. I really like classical music without all that rock,” McHarris said. With a laugh, she added that there is an additional perk to his hobby: “It gets him out of the house!”

Rehearsals begin this week for the Steiner Chorale’s next concert, in which it will perform Mozart’s Requiem accompanied by the Mason Orchestral Society and the Arts Chorale of Greater Lansing. It will take place Sunday, March 27 at 4 p.m. at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Lansing.

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City Council Recognizes East Lansing High School Student

Ian Hoopingarner, East Lansing High School student

By Amber Johnson-Weeks
Entirely East Lansing staff writer

Ian Hoopingarner, East Lansing High School junior, received special at a recent City Council meeting.

Hoopingarner gathered students to form a peaceful counter-protest against Westboro Baptist Church in its condemnation of gay people. The protest took place Nov 18. in response to students writing a letter to the church requesting that it stop picketing at soldiers’ funerals.  Church members travel the country protesting issues such as abortion and homosexuality.

City Councilman Nathan Triplett presented the resolution, signed by the mayor.

“It was a good opportunity to take the energy from WBC and put it toward something positive,” said Hoopingarner. Triplett also applauded him for raising $1,200 for the Lansing Aids Area Network (LAAN), AIDS Research Aliance (ARA), and the Southern Poverty Law Center. LAAN is dedicated to the delivery of services and programs for those living with HIV and AIDS and to help prevent the further spread of the virus. ARA works to cure AIDS through research and studies of new treatments. The Southern Poverty Law Center is a civil law firm that represents social and racial injustice cases.

City Councilman Roger Peters acknowledged Deputy Chief Juli Liebler along with the East Lansing Police Department and the school system for “their help with ensuring a peaceful protest.”

“There were no complaints of violence. We had no crimes committed. Everyone was able to speak freely. It went as well as it could have gone,” said Liebler.

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Viola Marie Arend, Co-Founder of Arend Tree Farms

By Samantha Shaughnessy
Entirely East Lansing staff writer

Born to William and Anna Sanderson in Willis, Mich., on April 25, 1913, Viola Arend’s life came to an end on Dec, 3 at the age of 97.

“She will truly be missed,” said her youngest daughter, Joyce McGarry.

Viola Marie Arend

After attending Grass Lake High School and the Hamilton Business College in Ann Arbor, Arend became the personal secretary for the city attorney of Ann Arbor, quite an accomplishment for a woman of her time.

In 1932, Arend was crowned the most beautiful young lady in Ann Arbor.  Although her good looks and kindly personality remained for years to come, they never went to her head.

“She was always very humble and always put others ahead of herself,” said McGarry.

Viola wed John Lewis Arend, a University of Michigan graduate, on June 20, 1937.

They were the founders of Arend Tree Farms in Grass Lake and Brooklyn, Mich.  Their farms were best-known for allowing customers to cut their own Christmas trees.

After 71 years of marriage, John Arend preceded her in death.

Because her husband served in the U.S. Navy Air Corps during World War II, Viola Arend was passionate about being involved in the lives of veterans, and volunteered in many organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion Auxiliary Post (where she was president) and the East Lansing’s Woman’s Club.

“She was such an active member in the community,” said McGarry.  “Not one person’s life went untouched after meeting her.”

Viola Arend was member of the University Lutheran Church in East Lansing for more than 50 years.  Through the church, she participated in various services including the Ronald McDonald House, soup kitchens and food drives.

Family played an integral role throughout Viola Arend’s life.  With three brothers: Leon, George and Carl, and a sister, Hazel, it was no surprise that she wanted to surround herself with a big family.  Viola and John had four children: Anne Bohman of Dublin, Ohio, Lewis Arend from Houston, John Arend of Chelsea, Mich., and McGarry from Holt, Mich. Viola Arend leaves 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

“I know she’s gone to a better place now, but life is just not going to be the same without her,” said McGarry.

Services were held on Tuesday, Dec. 14, at 2 p.m. at the University Lutheran Church. Memorial contributions may be made in her memory to the church

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Westboro Baptists Picket Spawns 2 East Lansing Protests

By Lauren Walker
Entirely East Lansing staff writer

“God is your enemy” and “God hates your feelings” were just two of the many messages that the Westboro Baptist Church hurled at the East Lansing community on Thursday, Nov. 18.

Three members of the Westboro Baptist Church, including Margie Phelps, lawyer and daughter of Pastor Fred Phelps, picketed outside East Lansing High School. The church’s Nov. 5 new release stated its motivation: “We will give your children an opportunity to see what truth looks like, the face of what they were entitled to have from every adult that ever touched their lives!”

The Kansas church, which has become notorious for protesting military funerals in opposition to America’s tolerance of homosexuality, picketed East Lansing High School. According to reports from the State News, the church chose to picket the high school because of condemning e-mails that were sent by students.

The picket also coincided with Margie Phelps’ visit to the MSU College of Law, where she spoke on a First Amendment panel earlier in the day.

East Lansing High School student Stephanie Rau attended the picket, which began when school was dismissed at 2:50 p.m. The demonstration lasted 30 minutes. She believed that e-mails were an unlikely cause of the picket because she hadn’t heard anything about them leading up to the event at school. She also said that the entire incident was unexpected and unwanted.

“They shouldn’t be at our school. I feel kind of mad. They don’t know who we are. They don’t know anything about us,” Rau said in response to Westboro calling the students worthless brats on their website.

Rau was one of the hundreds who gathered across Old Hickory Lane in opposition to the Counter-protespicketers. The entire rally was a vivid event contrasted against the dull November backdrop. Flags striped in red, white, blue and the color of the rainbow bobbed along the bleak, gray sky while attendees donned costumes ranging from a soldier in uniform to a gorilla.

While fervor filled the air, the protest concluded without any major incidents, according to East Lansing Police. The Michigan Peace Team, which advocated a peaceful protest, was pleased with East Lansing’s reaction to the group.

Ypsilanti resident Sheri Wander attended the rally because of her involvement with the peace team and said that while the event was rooted in something horrible and ugly, she was impressed with how the community gathered to create something positive.

“There’s so much energy put into responding to these four individuals and we can look at that and say that’s stupid and horrible or we could look at it and say it catalyzed our community to come together for diversity and to come together in strength. That can continue way beyond what happens here today,” she said.

The counter-protest that occurred at All Saints Episcopal Church on 800 Abbot Rd. was a lucid sign of East Lansing’s ability to come together. The counter-protest was organized after local officials urged the community to avoid the high school area during the picket. It was designed as a peaceful alternative to the Westboro event.

“From the moment we learned that the WBC planned to stage a protest at East Lansing High School, city officials, the ELPD, East Lansing High School administrators, teachers, students and the faith community came together to develop a positive response to their messages of hate and intolerance,” said City Manager Ted Staton in his blog on Nov. 19. “It quickly became clear that WBC’s visit would not fly under the radar, so to speak, and that an alternative gathering could serve as an outlet for those who wanted to drown out their rhetoric.”

The counter-protest was a success. It had more in attendance than the Westboro picket and it was arguably more alive, complete with a DJ and a car decorated with balloons that carried inspirational messages from throughout the community. Hundreds of people lined Abbot Road holding signs and encouraging those to honk in support as they passed.

East Lansing resident and All Saints Episcopal Church member Kathy Boyle found it imperative to attend only the Abbot Road the counter-protest because she, like many members of the community including city manager Ted Staton, did not want to give the Westboro picketers any more attention than they had already received. She has lived in East Lansing for 25 years and believes that while the community has become increasingly reserved over the years, standing up against extreme groups such as Westboro Church is second nature in a community like East Lansing.

“It’s important any time you have a group that is so intolerant coming to a community that prides itself in its openness and tolerance to show that we’re not the sort of community that would buy into that line of reasoning or lack of reasoning,” said Boyle.

After the three Westboro picketers were guided outside of the city by a police escort, protesters from both assemblies gathered for a march to the site of the Westboro picket on Old Hickory Lane in an attempt to “sweep away the hate” that many believe Westboro ushered in.

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Video of picketing against Westboro Church appearance here.

Locations of both the WBC picket and the counter-protest:

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Startup Weekend comes to Lansing

By Maria Daskas
Entirely East Lansing staff writer

Students and residents of East Lansing and Lansing gathered to develop new business ideas in Lansing’s first Startup Weekend on Nov. 5 in the East Lansing Technological Innovation Center.

MSU senior Eric Jorgenson, who participated in Startup Weekend Detroit in the spring, and decided it was something Lansing could use, organized the event. The Startup Weekend competition gives young and aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to develop and implement their own businesses. Participants broke into seven teams and discussed their business idea as well as methods of pitching that idea to a panel of judges on the evening of Nov.7.

Bryce Colquitt and his team won Startup. Their business is called Jolly Digital, and itdesigns educational games to teach children about finances. The team received a package of prizes, including $2,000 to launch the company.

“Some people come out of this with a cool experience, and that’s what I have also,” Colquitt said. “But I also have a company that I’m actually going to run and that I actually plan on making money and making an impact.”

One of the most challenging aspects was getting different groups of people with different skills on board with the idea, said Jorgenson.

“For a good Startup Weekend you need developers, designers and social media people … and I’m well tied with some of those groups and some of the others I wasn’t at all,” said Jorgenson.  He added that in the end, the event was successful because it brought people with different skills together who hadn’t known each other previously.

Having developed several of his own companies since age 17, Jorgenson understood the typical obstacles students face.  “The most challenging part for some people is taking that leap of faith … the willingness to walk down a road and you don’t really know where it’s going to go,” he said.

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