NEWS FROM AROUND THE STATE
Issue 102, March 2004

Table of Contents

  1. Michigan Watchable Wildlife Site
  2. Governor Granholm Launches E-Newsletter
  3. Director's Pothole Hotline Helps Keep Michigan Moving Smoothly
  4. Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth
  5. New Features Added to Michigan Talent Bank Web Page
  6. Mysterious Force Draws Michigan Natives Over Niagara Falls


(1) Watchable Wildlife Site

Letting people know where they can go to watch bald eagles, Kirtland's warblers, moose, elk, and other wildlife is the sole purpose of a new wildlife web site -- called Watchable Wildlife -- available now from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Michigan is the first state in the nation to make the popular Wildlife Viewing guidebook available online. First published in 1994 in cooperation with Michigan State University, it highlights 121 of the best places in Michigan to view wildlife.

“The goal of the wildlife viewing program is to assist Michigan residents in finding optimal places to see and enjoy the diversity of wildlife found in Michigan.” said Ray Rustem, Supervisor of the Wildlife Division Natural Heritage Unit. “Placing the guide online makes this information more accessible.”

Each viewing area description includes information on habitat types, wildlife that can be viewed, the best viewing times, and a map to the viewing site. There also are links provided to help visitors find local lodging and dining destinations and volunteer activities that involve the public.

This project was supported with citizen contributions to the Nongame Fish and Wildlife Fund and with funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program.

DNR officials anticipate that the web site may eventually replace the need for Michigan DNR's Watchable Wildlife book, which is still currently available for $14.95 by writing the Natural Heritage Unit, Wildlife Division, MDNR, P. O. Box 301801, Lansing, MI 48909 or by calling (517) 373-1263.

Source: Michigan Newswire, March 11, 2004.

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(2) Governor Granholm Launches E-Newsletter

Governor Granholm has launched the first installment of her new electronic newsletter. The e-newsletter, “News from the Governor’s Office,” will provide regular updates on the state’s progress on the 7-point plan to grow Michigan’s economy outlined in the State of the State address, as well as information about a variety of initiatives the Granholm administration is working on.

“We live in a fast-paced information age and many people like to get their news and information online and via email,” said Granholm. “This e-newsletter is a great way to provide people with information in a format and delivery method they prefer. In this high tech world we live in, we have to communicate with people in a variety of ways, and email is certainly one of the easiest and most popular.”

Individuals interested in receiving Granholm’s electronic newsletter via email every month can go to her website at http://www.michigan.gov/gov and sign up by clicking on the “Email from the Governor” link. The e-newsletter will also be posted online at http://www.michigan.gov/enews.

Anyone who already receives press releases and other information via email from Governor Granholm’s office will automatically receive the e-newsletter.

Source: Michigan Newswire, February 19, 2004.

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(3) Director's Pothole Hotline Helps Keep Michigan Moving Smoothly

The Michigan Department of Transportation has announced one more way for motorists to tell us how MDOT can help. A toll-free phone number and easy e-mail reporting are now available so that Michigan citizens can identify the location of potholes and MDOT can transmit this information to the nearest Transportation Service Center (TSC).

"The hotline is a convenient and effective way for citizens to help MDOT identify potholes that need to be repaired," said State Transportation Director Gloria J. Jeff. "The toll-free phone number and e-mail reporting is convenient and effective, which means a quick fix and smoother, more dependable ride for everyone who uses Michigan's transportation system."

The Director's Pothole Hotline is available around-the-clock, seven days a week at 1-888-296-4546, or by logging onto the MDOT Web site at Report a Pothole. Callers and those reporting pothole locations by e-mail are asked to provide the route name, the county, the nearest community, and the closest cross street or interchange.

"As spring approaches, I urge Michigan citizens to be part of the solution by using MDOT's toll-free number or convenient e-mail to report potholes. We all can to do our part to help preserve our roads and keep Michigan's economy moving," said Governor Jennifer M. Granholm.

Source: Michigan Newswire, February 27, 2004.

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(4) Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today (March 15th) announced that she is creating a commission to focus on the future of higher education and its role in Michigan’s 21st century economy. The commission will focus on doubling the number of college graduates and ensuring that they have the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century workplace.

The Governor has asked Lieutenant Governor John D. Cherry to head the commission, which will begin its work in June. The commission will be created by an executive order the Governor will sign by the end of March.

“Our higher education system is the jet fuel that propels our economy,” Granholm said. “If we want a high-performance economy, we must work now to improve the strength, depth, and adaptability of our colleges and universities. The mission of this commission could not be more critical to our state.”

The Cherry Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth will have two main charges:

  • doubling the number of Michigan college graduates over the next 10 years, making Michigan the national leader in producing college graduates; and
    • ensuring that Michigan’s system of higher education furnishes our citizens with the general and specific skills they need to embrace the jobs of the 21st century.
    “To ensure the economic strength and security of our state, we must address the skills gap that exists in Michigan,” Cherry said. “Our higher education system must keep pace with the new economy and the challenges our state faces. We must expand and sustain a highly educated workforce to spread economic opportunity and prosperity to more Michigan citizens.”

    The Governor said the state’s skills gap threatens Michigan’s position as an economic powerhouse state. Today, fewer than 22 percent of Michigan adults have attained bachelor’s or advanced degrees – 2 percent below the national average and more than 10 percent below the states that are leading the nation in terms of both educational attainment and economic growth. Further, only 34 percent of Michigan citizens between the ages of 25 and 34 have obtained post-secondary degrees. Michigan is in the bottom tier of states in terms of adults with post-secondary degrees.

    “Michigan exports too many of our highly educated younger workers,” Granholm said. “To compete in the new, knowledge-driven economy, we must determine how we can maintain our educated workforce – the future of this state is in their hands.”

    “The demand for college educated labor over the next 10 years necessitates that we do everything we can now to strengthen our higher education system and maximize its connection to economic growth,” Cherry said. “Michigan is projected to have shortages in many skilled and technical labor fields, which will make it difficult to create and retain good-paying jobs in advanced manufacturing, engineering, and high-tech sectors.”

    The Cherry Commission will be composed of key state leaders representing business, K-12 education, labor, parents, students, and citizens. Lt. Governor Cherry will announce members of the commission by June 1. The commission will report its findings by January 1, 2005.

    Source: Michigan Newswire, March 15, 2004.

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    (5) New Features Added to Michigan Talent Bank Web Page

    New features recently added to the Michigan Talent Bank (MTB), the state’s Internet-based public job-matching system, have improved services to both job seekers and businesses, Brenda Njiwaji, interim director of Workforce Programs, Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth (DLEG), said today (March 17th). “The Michigan Talent Bank has always been very user-friendly,” Njiwaji said. “These additional features have made it even easier for job seekers to search for jobs and for businesses to find qualified workers by using the Talent Bank.” The Michigan Talent Bank can be accessed via the Michigan Career Portal at http://www.michigan.gov/careers.

    The features added to help job seekers include the ability to:

    The features added to help businesses include the ability to:

    In addition, privacy and terms-of-use statements have been revised and updated for both businesses and job seekers. Other enhancements to the MTB include upgrades to its hardware and software, which will improve system performance and reliability.

    Satisfaction with the MTB has been consistently high since it made its debut in 1998. A January 2004 survey indicated that of those who responded, 84 percent of job seekers and 94 percent of businesses were satisfied.

    In February, 946 new businesses registered with the MTB and 21,179 new jobs were listed. Businesses conducted 58,377 separate searches of MTB resumes, while job seekers entered 35,378 new resumes and conducted 1,174,393 searches for job listings.

    The Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth is the newest department of state government. It is charged with promoting economic growth, job creation and enhancing the quality of life for Michigan citizens. Part of this mission also includes meeting Michigan’s workforce needs to enhance and maintain its economy. To this end, the state’s career and workforce development programs work with employers, K-12 schools, community colleges, and local Workforce Development Boards to operate a comprehensive career development system.

    Source: Michigan Newswire, March 17, 2004.

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    (6) Mysterious Force Draws Michigan Natives Over Niagara Falls

    Take a look at http://www.michiganhistorymagazine.com/feature_images/march04/taylor.html.

    "No, she’s not dropping a kitten into the barrel. The woman is Annie Edson Taylor of Bay City. She was the childless widow of a Civil War veteran, who in 1901, took on a daring, albeit foolish act in an effort to gain fame and fortune. Taylor climbed into this barrel, rode through the rapids and plunged over Canada’s “Horseshoe Falls.” She became the first person to go over the falls and survive, though her barrel was damaged beyond repair. Taylor toured the country displaying a replica of the barrel, but her stunt didn’t prove as lucrative as she would have liked, and she died a pauper in 1921. Her photo and a short article appear in the January/February 1995 issue of Michigan History magazine."

    Annie Taylor may have started a trend of Michigan residents going over the falls!

    Kirk Jones of Canton Township, another Michigan resident down on his luck, duplicated the feat last October 20th without benefit of a barrel or a life preserver, becoming the first person to survive an unprotected plunge over the Horseshoe Falls. Jones has also reaped some temporary fame from the stunt, appearing on TV shows and landing a contract to perform as a circust stunt performer for $100,000 a year.

    According to news sources, Jones does not recommend that anyone try to duplicate his feat. And he has not been rewarded with an article in Michigan History magazine at least to my knowledge.

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