NEWS FROM AROUND THE STATE
Issue 100, NOVEMBER 2003

Table of Contents

  1. Biological Survey Reports at Library of Michigan
  2. Michigan History Celebrates "Islands of the Great Lakes"
  3. Treasury Unveils Revamped E-File Web Site
  4. Digging Up Controversy: The Michigan Relics
  5. Michigan Attorney General Cox Announces PayKids Program
  6. Statewide MEAP Scores Released
  7. Governor Granholm Announces Michigan's Quarter Design


(1) Biological Survey Reports at Library of Michigan

As the official depository of Michigan government documents, the Library of Michigan recieves hundreds of staff reports from the Water Division (and its predecessor, the Surface Water Quality Division) of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Although written for experts who are well versed in the science of biological assessments, these documents cover thousands of streams and creeks in Michigan, often down to the level of unnamed tributaries. The catalog records for these documents are available through ANSWER, the Library of Michigan's online catalog, as well as WorldCat, an international database accessible to researchers from around the world.

Unless the librarian is a subject specialist in this field, these items can be quite a challenge to catalog. Nevertheless, researchers may best be served by doing keyword searches for the geograhical location along with subject phrases uch as "water quality bioassay" or "water quality biological assessment". These phrases represent two different topics -- the former refers to studies that determine the degree of polution of water by observing its effecty on a living organism, and the latter refers to evaluation of the condition of a body of water based on surveys and other measurements of the resident plant and animal life.

By providing this research material, the Library of Michigan is doing its part to serve the needs of those seeking to improve the quality of our state's environmental conditions. Also because these records are in WorldCat, researchers in other states can request them through interlibrary loan.

Source: Tim Watters, Special Materials Cataloger, Library of Michigan, "Library of Michigan Continues Cataloging Biological Survey Reports: Over 1500 Available to Researchers", Access, October 2003, p.10-11.

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(2) Michigan History Celebrates "Islands of the Great Lakes"

The November/December 2003 issue of Michigan History magazine will take a special look at the many islands that reside in our waters. This special, 96-page issue will include feature stories about:

Other fantastic articles will talk about: Also in this colorful issue readers will find pictorials on Belle Isle and Mackinac Island and recollections submitted by those who know and love Michigan islands.

Michigan History is available in most Michigan government documents libraries and public libraries. You can also subscribe by calling (800) 366-3703 and putting a charge on your Visa, MasterCard or Discover. Or visit http://www.michiganhistorymagazine.com for more options.

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(3) Treasury Unveils Revamped E-File Web Site

As part of a continuing effort to streamline tax processing and become more cost-effective, the Michigan Department of Treasury has unveiled its newly re-designed e-file web portal. Individual and business taxpayers, as well as tax professionals who assist in the preparation of Michigan Individual Income Tax and Single Business Tax returns, will find all of the information they need to file tax returns electronically at www.mifastfile.org. In addition, all Michigan tax forms and instructions can be easily downloaded from this site. "We expect to see a significant increase in the number of e-filers this coming tax season," said State Treasurer Jay B. Rising. "The information on this site is designed to help taxpayers and preparers better understand the many benefits of e-filing and to assist them through the process, should they be first time electronic filers."

E-filing offers many benefits to both taxpayers and preparers. Taxpayers can e-file returns through a tax professional or on their own, from home or office, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. E-filing may be free to qualifying taxpayers. E-filed returns have significantly less chance of error than paper returns, because mathematical and data entry errors are virtually eliminated. In the e-filing process, taxpayer information is encrypted, so only you and/or your preparer see your confidential data. Unlike paper returns, e-filers receive confirmation that their e-filed return was accepted for processing. In addition, those who file error-free electronic returns generally receive refunds in 7 business days. Paper-filed returns will take significantly longer to process.

Last spring, 1.7 million taxpayers, more than one-third of all Michigan taxpayers, chose to e-file their income tax returns. The Department of Treasury expects e-file to show continued growth in 2004, thanks to increased participation by tax preparation professionals and a statewide marketing campaign.

For more information about filing your 2003 Michigan Individual Income Tax return electronically, free e-file services, help finding a tax preparation professional near you, and other e-file information, go to http://www.mifastfile.org.

Source: Michigan Department of Treasury News Release, Nov. 4, 2003.

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(4) Digging Up Controversy: The Michigan Relics

Between 1890 and 1920, Michigan was the site of archaeological discoveries of mysterious clay, stone and copper artifacts. Known as the Michigan Relics, the artifacts bore intriguing images and strange writing, igniting a debate that continues to this day. The artifacts and the arguments surrounding them have come to downtown Lansing. Both are spotlighted in the special exhibit, Digging Up Controversy: The Michigan Relics, opening Nov. 15 at the Michigan Historical Museum.

“Professional archaeologists of the era dismissed the Michigan Relics as fakes,” said Phillip C. Kwiatkowski, director of the Michigan Historical Museum System. “Believers, however, saw — and continue to see — the relics as evidence of an ancient people in Michigan.

“We’re encouraging visitors to decide for themselves as they view the relics and learn how archaeologists determine what is real and what is fake,” he said.

Since the Michigan Relics collection arrived last year at the Michigan Historical Museum, archaeologists and museum staff have worked side by side to catalog and research the mysterious artifacts. Digging Up Controversy offers the public its first peek at the collection in more than 70 years.

Among the Michigan Relics on exhibit are tablets, boxes, figurines, coins and more. The exhibit will also highlight other controversial artifacts in American archaeology: some thought to be fakes and then determined to be authentic; some thought to be authentic and then determined to be fakes; and some whose authenticity is still widely debated.

Digging Up Controversy will feature hands-on activities every Saturday in the special exhibit gallery from 10 a.m. to noon. Children and adults can try their hands at cuneiform writing, analyze scripts found on the Michigan Relics, and explore the history of coins.

Also in conjunction with Digging Up Controversy, the Michigan Historical Museum will offer a monthly series in 2003/2004 to highlight for general audiences what’s happening in American anthropology and archaeology. The schedule includes:

Digging Up Controversy appears in the Michigan Historical Museum’s first-floor special exhibits gallery through August 15, 2004.

The Michigan Historical Museum is a year-round museum in downtown Lansing. Five exhibit levels – surrounding visitors with Michigan’s past, from prehistoric times through the late 20th century – include an Upper Peninsula copper mine, the 1957 Detroit Auto Show and a one-room school.

The Michigan Historical Museum is located inside the Michigan Library and Historical Center, 702 W. Kalamazoo St., two blocks west of the State Capitol in downtown Lansing. The main entrance and visitor parking are located north of Kalamazoo Street, just east of M. L. King Jr. Boulevard. Museum hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. The museum is closed on official state holidays. For more information visit http://www.michiganhistory.org or telephone (517) 373-3559.

Michigan Department of History, Arts, and Letters News Release, Nov. 7, 2003.

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(5) Michigan Attorney General Cox Announces PayKids Program

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox has announced the PayKids Initiative to enhance efforts to collect unpaid child support for the 650,000 Michigan children who don’t receive the financial assistance they deserve. The PayKids Initiative includes an interactive website to assist parents in recovering child support owed to their children, 39 billboards placed across Michigan to raise awareness on this issue, and a toll-free number for parents to communicate directly with the Attorney General’s Child Support Division.

“This initiative continues my commitment of ensuring that every Michigan child receives the support they deserve. By combining technology, the bully pulpit of government, and the active involvement of law enforcement, we are continuing to find new ways to solve the child support epidemic in Michigan,” stated Attorney General Cox. “We will continue to pressure those deadbeat parents to fulfill their responsibilities to the 650,000 children in Michigan that they owe support.”

The thirty-nine billboards raising awareness on child support will appear in Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, Calhoun, Jackson, Ingham, Kalamazoo, and Kent Counties in various locations. The two different themes adorning the billboards are: “Pay Child Support on Time or Do Time,” and “We Never Treat Deadbeats with Kid Gloves.”

Additionally, people looking for resources to collect child support will have a toll-free number, 866-PAY-KIDS and a website,http://www.paykids.com to assist their efforts.

In Michigan, child support arrearages exceed $7 billion, the third worst total in the country, behind Texas and California. Of that $7 billion, over $3 billion is owed to the State of Michigan and its taxpayers. Over 650,000 children fail to receive the child support they deserve.

This new initiative complements tougher enforcement of non-support laws that the Attorney General’s office has pursued since the Child Support Division became operational in April. To date, the division has arrested 54 people, issued 95 arrest warrants, and collected over $725,000 for Michigan’s children. In Michigan, non-support of a child is a felony punishable by up to four years in prison.

“As Attorney General, these children will be my cause,” noted Cox. “This initiative will make a difference in the lives of Michigan families.”

Michigan Attorney General's Office News Release, Oct. 16, 2003.

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(6) Statewide MEAP Scores Released

The Michigan Department of Treasury has released (October 4th) statewide scores for the Winter 2003 Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th grade tests. Statewide summaries show increases in several areas, including math, science, and social studies.

Sixty-five percent of the 4th grade students who took the mathematics portion of the test met or exceeded Michigan standards, while the number of 5th graders who met or exceeded state standards in science jumped four percent.

Fourth and seventh grade students took a new, combined English Language Arts test last winter. The test includes reading, writing, and a voluntary listening component. At both grade levels, nearly sixty percent of the students taking the ELA test met or exceeded state standards.

The Social Studies test continues to be the most difficult for students, though the 5th and 8th grade students tested showed improvement. The number of 5th graders who met or exceeded Michigan standards jumped six percent, while one-third of Michigan 8th graders met or exceeded state standards.

Summary reports for MEAP testing at all grade levels have been posted on the Michigan Department of Treasury web site at http://www.michigan.gov/treasury
and at http://www.meritaward.state.mi.us.

Scores for public school districts and individual school buildings as well as public school academies are also available on Mi School Info http://www.mcgi.state.mi.us/mischoolinfo/.

MEAP results will be used to finalize Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) reports the Michigan Department of Education will be sending to schools. The calculation of AYP also includes requirements related to the percentage of students tested in the schools, a school's attendance rate, and the graduation rate of high schools. After receiving AYP reports, school districts will have 15 calendar days to review and make any necessary appeals to the state. Some schools around the state have not received all of their final results from winter tests. In those cases, a small number of test booklets has not yet been accounted for. The Department of Treasury, test scoring vendors, other contractors, and each of the school districts continue to work to locate the answer booklets. The Department of Education will work with administrators from the affected districts to determine how AYP reports should be calculated for those schools.

Source: Michigan Department of Treasury News Release, Oct. 3, 2003.

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(7) Governor Granholm Announces Michigan's Quarter Design

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm has announced (October 1) the final selection of Michigan’s quarter design concept, which features a crisp depiction of the state’s distinctive outline, the Great Lakes, and the phrase, “Great Lakes State.” The effort to redesign Michigan’s quarter is part of the U.S. Mint’s 50 State Quarters program.

"The Great Lakes are an unmistakable part of who we are in Michigan,” Granholm said. “I'm proud to recommend a quarter that will showcase our unique connection to these treasures to the world."

Granholm noted that one member of the quarter commission, astronaut Jerry Linenger, summed it up well when he said, “From space, there is no other region on the globe so recognizable. Michigan is one of the defining features on the planet.”

“The Great Lakes made it possible for many innovations to come to light,” said Dr. William Anderson, director of the Department of History, Arts and Libraries (HAL), the department charged with helping to coordinate the Michigan Quarter Commission. “I believe by introducing a quarter that focuses on our water resources and unique geography, we have an excellent opportunity to educate children and the public everywhere about how our state, its industries and livelihood have so strongly been defined by the Great Lakes.”

Source: Michigan Newswire, Oct. 1, 2003.

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