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A roundup of recent Michigan newspaper editorials

October 1, 2018

The Detroit News. September 26, 2018

All right already, finish road projects

Major road construction projects have been at a standstill in Michigan for three weeks. Even a meeting with Gov. Rick Snyder this week couldn’t end the standoff between the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, the contractors’ group, and the labor union, Operating Engineers 324. If not resolved, Michigan drivers will pay a heavy price.

At stake is completion of more than 150 road projects before the rapidly approaching end of the construction season.

If that work is not finished, motorists will have to contend with orange barrels and lane closures throughout the challenging winter driving season.

Among the projects that are on hold is the rebuild of I-696 and the final piece of southbound I-75.

Ari Adler, spokesman for the governor, said that Snyder hoped to leave the between the union and contractors’ group Tuesday with a short term plan, perhaps extending the contract through the end of the year, that would get the workers back fixing the roads.

But differences between the two sides remain elusive.

“It’s clear the parties were not in agreement, that there’s no activity that’s immediately going to take place to get the road work going again,” Snyder said.

The contractors say they have begun hiring non-union operators to keep the projects moving.

Those willing workers should be dispatched to the most critical projects.

Mike Nystrom, executive vice president of MITA, told the Detroit News that some work has already restarted.

The price for both sides in this labor dispute is high. Workers are home without pay.

And contractors are at risk of losing bonuses awarded for finishing state-funded road work ahead of schedule.

The incentive for either an extension or a settlement is powerful.

But that does not seem to be moving the opponents toward compromise. In fact, talks appear to be deteriorating.

The union says it no longer wants to anything to do with the MITA bureaucracy and would rather deal with each contractor individually. That could further lengthen the process of getting new contracts signed.

Road construction effectively ends in mid-November when the first frost sets in and currently there are many projects far from completion.

The state has hinted it may call in the National Guard to perform some roadworking tasks.

But that is an extreme measure to be deployed when all other options are exhausted.

If the contractors can find enough non-union employees, there’s still hope that the projects can stay close to schedule.

If not, the governor may have to intervene to protect Michigan motorists.

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Times Herald(Port Huron). September 27, 2018

Narcan is now basic first aid

What is astonishing is that Yale Schools is the first district in St. Clair County to consider getting naloxone training for its staff.

What is profoundly sad is that Yale does need to teach its administrators, teachers, coaches and probably others how to administer the life-saving drug.

The opioid epidemic is everywhere. Opioid overdoses are everywhere. Lives are being saved everywhere by the timely administration of naloxone, known also by the brand name Narcan. An opioid overdose kills by suppressing a victim’s breathing reflexes. Naloxone reverses that and saves victims from suffocation.

Yale School officials don’t anticipate having to use the drug on students. If only opioids were that selective. The headlines are full of too many teenagers addicted to opioids because of the painkillers prescribed after things as seemingly routine as wisdom tooth extractions. That used to be an adolescent rite of passage; with the wrong prescription, it could be a death threat.

For teenagers with teeth, Yale needs to have naloxone handy and must have someone ready to administer it.

But the schools also come into daily contact with adults — parents, visitors, fans at Friday night football games — who may have been trapped by opioid marketing. Their lives are worth saving, too.

A number of Sanilac County schools have already completed the training, and some are repeating it. All Blue Water Area school districts owe it to their students and the families of their students to make similar preparations.

State law requires them to teach every one of their students CPR. They have first-aid kits and automated external defibrillators. The schools are stocked with epinephrine injectors to reverse a life-threatening allergic reaction and staff members are trained to use them.

In 2018, sadly, no first aid kit should be without adhesive bandages, rolls of gauze — and naloxone.

That includes your first aid kit. Getting trained and certified in CPR and first aid is one of the things we do to be good citizens. Being prepared for emergencies protects our families and our communities. Why stop short? Opioid overdoses are killing more Americans than cars or guns. We need to be prepared for that, too.

You can get free training — it takes only an hour — in how to recognize the signs of an overdose and to safely and effectively administer naloxone from the St. Clair County Health Department. Compete the training and the department will give a free rescue kit.

Training sessions are scheduled at 5 p.m. every second Monday of the month — the next one is Oct. 8 — at the health department, 3415 28th St., Port Huron.

To register for the free class, call (810) 987-5300. Get trained. Safe a life.

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Lansing State Journal. September 23, 2018

Lansing Housing needs drastic changes

The Lansing Housing Commission needs to do better. To be better.

The long history of lax enforcement, incomplete inspections, repeat safety issues, even death in public housing - inadequately addressed by the governing board of commissioners - needs to be put behind them.

The time has come to move forward and ensure the safety of Lansing’s public housing residents.

The executive director of the Lansing Housing Commission, Martell Armstrong, resigned at the beginning of this month amidst harsh criticism of his leadership; two new commissioners have been appointed to the five-person board this summer, replacing a resident whose term expired and a non-resident commissioner who resigned in August without giving a reason other than to allow ‘new blood’ the ability to serve.

That’s a good start.

However, communication and transparency must be top priority for the board and must increase significantly to address ongoing criticism. The Lansing City Council’s resolution of no confidence in July is a strong indicator there’s much to be done.

It followed a June 7 fire that claimed the life of a woman and her 5-year-old son in a property that was behind on inspections.

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor has said he does not believe that inspection would have prevented the fire. The cause, however, is yet to be reported.

Since the fire, Schor has accelerated efforts to inspect each of the 800 units the commission manages. The results so far: Persistent safety issues and lax enforcement of safety protocols which must be dealt with swiftly and decisively.

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor gives reporters updates on last week’s fatal fire at a publicly-managed housing complex. Sarah Lehr, Lansing State Journal

It’s time to clean up Lansing’s public housing issues.

Thousands of people rely on the commission to provide safe, affordable housing that is up to date on inspections and compliant with safety protocols.

The city and commission are saying the right things in the wake of the most-recent publicized problems. They must follow up these words with drastic action.

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The Mining Journal. September 27, 2018

U.P a top location to take in autumn’s dazzling colors

We have seen a real shift in the weather over the month of September, and as October rolls in — so does the fall color season and the stream of tourists that come with it.

Peak leaf viewing is mid-September to mid-October, according to Tom Nemacheck, executive director of Upper Peninsula Travel and Recreation Association. However, traffic is generally pretty steady until Halloween.

“We have actually enough events in some of the communities here that there’s legitimate fall traffic right to Halloween,” Nemacheck said. “People are still coming up for colors usually but now there’s activities from the middle of October on.”

The U.P. sees people from all over the country and world this time of the year, Nemacheck said. While some travel to lighthouses, waterfalls and other popular sightseeing locations, they’re generally drawn to the Great Lakes shoreline, he added.

“Some people aren’t aware colors change inland first and then changes toward the Great Lakes,” Nemacheck said. “If they come up a little early, they’re surprised there’s not a lot of fall color near the lakeshore, but if they were to leave the shoreline and go in a couple miles and drive down a secondary road, they could jump literally from an area that’s at 20 percent and all of a sudden see 80 to 100 percent (foliage).”

UPTRA releases an update of fall foliage on its website every Wednesday, which can be viewed at www.uptravel.com/fall-color-reports-56

In a currently active USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice 2018 poll, people can vote on the “local experts and editors” top 20 fall foliage destinations in the U.S. The U.P. was in first place on Wednesday, but the leaderboard has now been closed until noon Oct. 12 when the winner will be announced.

Pollsters are able to vote once per day until noon Tuesday at www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-destination-for-fall-foliage.

We urge our readers to go and vote so that the rest of the country will know what we already know — the U.P. is a beautiful place to visit all year long, but there’s simply no better place to view the fall colors than right here.

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