Category Archives: Causes

Pitbull ban under fire from animal rights groups

PitbullThe city of West Branch is coming under fire from Pitbull owners and animal rights groups for their ban against the aforementioned breed.

Breed Specific Legislation are laws that ban certain types of dogs from an area. These laws are nothing new, but controversial nonetheless.
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St. Louis residents continue to deal with Velsicol health impacts

Bench outside former Velsicol plant site

Bench outside former Velsicol plant site

The former Velsicol plant site is surrounded by several community blocks where people still live.

Originally the EPA thought the contamination from the plant could be contained within the borders of the site. However, years after the initial cleanup, EPA officials determined this wasn’t the case. Continue reading

Previously dismissed Saginaw-Chippewa Tribal Court case may be re-opened

Protesters outside the Mt. Pleasant tribal courthouse.

Protesters outside the Mt. Pleasant tribal courthouse.

Signs were held and chants were shouted outside the court house where more than 150 members of the Saginaw-Chippewa Indian Tribe are awaiting a judge’s decision on whether their membership status can be reconsidered by the tribe.

They are still facing the termination of their tribal membership about their blood lineage. Those questions were first dismissed by a judge, with prejudice, in 2009. Continue reading

Lesbian couple alleges Kroger, union discriminated against them


A lesbian couple is filing a federal employment discrimination complaint against a union and one of the state’s largest grocery store chains. Stephanie Citron works in the deli at a Kroger in Birmingham. She and her same-sex partner were married last year while it was briefly legal in Michigan. But her spouse was denied when they tried to add her to Citron’s benefits package.

Citron married her same-sex partner during the brief window last year when it was legal in Michigan. She says that’s when she learned that her health benefits fund only covers the spouses of opposite sex married couples. Continue reading

Poll: Majority of Michigan voters support legalizing pot

imagesA majority of Michigan voters support legalizing small amounts of marijuana, according to a statewide poll released this week.

56% support legalization efforts, while 36% are opposed. The poll, conducted for the Detroit Free Press and WDIV television, surveyed 600 Michigan voters, and had a four percent margin of error. Continue reading

LSSU students educate expectant mothers about perinatal vaccination

LSSUNursinBabyShower8903Soon-to-be mothers in the eastern U-P had the chance recently to learn about the importance of perinatal vaccinations.

Nursing students from Lake Superior State University presented information on the value of perinatal vaccinations to hundreds of expectant mothers and their families. It was part of a community wide baby shower. Continue reading

Utility assistance offered to mid-Michigan residents

Although winter is over, paying utility bills isn’t. A community action group is offering assistance to people in mid-Michigan struggling to pay a back-log of winter bills.

Mid Michigan Community Action is offering assistance to families with lingering utility costs, and providing them with a supply of heating fuel for next winter. Continue reading

Service project aims to “eat away” at invasive species

Volunteers are needed for a series of hunts in northwest lower Michigan, that are meant to curb the spread of an invasive plant species.

The volunteer hunters will be searching for Garlic Mustard. A species that can quickly crowd out native plants. Continue reading

Earth week events encourage “hands on” learning

This is Earth week. It’s dedicated to restoration and conservation efforts.

There are several Earth-friendly events taking place this week at Central Michigan University, including one “hands-on” event.

It’s called “Pick up the Chip”.

It’s a service project aimed at cleaning trash from around the Chippewa river, and part of the Earth-week focus to reduce pollution and teach future generations responsible ways to maintain a healthy ecosystem.

Rachel Ochylski is one of the organizers.

She said, “We really wanted to show the community that you don’t have to live near an ocean to care about marine animals and conservation of their habitat, and you can make a difference here in Michigan and right here in Mount Pleasant.”

Ochylski said event organizers hope to educate people on the importance of habitat conservation and reducing pollution.

Pick up the Chip is scheduled for Friday at noon at Mt Pleasant’s Island Park.

Pick up the Chip

Paws for Freedom: one dog’s rescue story from Iran to Saginaw

Pets take on roles; they’re family members, best friends and sometimes – targets.

Captain has been all three. Today he lives with a family in Saginaw. He was adopted out of Iran. A place where dogs have been outlawed for over thirty years.

Jeff Popovich tells us about Captain, his new family and his remarkable journey:

Despite missing a leg, Captain runs effortlessly to greet, Reza Saffarian.

Saffarian is an Iranian-born American citizen who adopted Captain from his home country two years ago.

He said, “We are just happy to be able to help an animal that had probably been put down overseas if that was not, you know if that was not for the circumstances.”

Dogs have been outlawed in Iran since the Iranian revolution in the late 1970s.

It wasn’t until 2004 the country’s first ever animal shelter was founded. It’s called Vafa. That means loyalty in Farsi, the official Persian language in Iran.

Saffarian said animal activist groups like Vafa have been busy trying to improve the fate of dogs in Iran.

He said, “They were instrumental in identifying these dogs and bringing them in, and sheltering these animals.”

The shelter adopts dogs to safe homes in other countries through their website.

Saffarian said, “We were able to look on their website, read the stories of these dogs, and be able to hook up some of these dogs and he was one of those few, and I think they would tell you that, he was one of the few fortunate dogs to be able to get adopted out of nearly 500 dogs.”

Saffarian decided on Captain because he says he felt the dog would be overlooked by other families looking to adopt because he is missing a leg.

He got in touch with the Vafa representative who handles adoptions to the US.

A few weeks later Captain was on a plane to Boston.

Once he was in the US, his journey continued to Saginaw through a volunteer group called The Liberty Train.

That’s an all volunteer organization dedicated to rescuing and transporting animals to homes across the country.

Laura Harper is transport coordinator and founder of The Liberty Train.

She said, “We get drivers to pick up a dog at one location then they transport them to the next location and pass them off to the next driver and so on and so forth until they get where they’re going.”

Harper said it’s a humbling experience working with so many people that are so willing to help.

She said, “When I get to the end of the week and I know that I’ve got wonderful people like Team Iran and Team US/Canada or the Vafa shelter and all the other rescues that we work with it fills my heart. It keeps me going knowing that there are good people out there.”

Back in Saginaw, Reza Saffarian said he’s grateful to all the people who were involved in Captain’s rescue and transport.

When Captain arrived, the Saffarians were concerned about his stump. It had not been properly amputated when he was still in Iran.

Saffarian said, “So we put him through a surgery shortly after we got him, and ever since I think he has…his life has taken for the better.”

Since his rescue, Captain has adapted to the English language.

He’s also picked up on things that American dogs take for granted, like climbing stairs and even playing with toys.

Saffarian said, “We are delighted…we are really delighted. And I think somehow he appreciates that too you know you saw how he comes to the door and greets us, and how he sticks by me. I think he understands that maybe he is somewhat lucky.”

Captain went from being a target on the streets of Iran to a full fledged Saffarian family member.

Aside from being one lucky dog, Captain’s journey is one example that possibilities are endless.


Vafa Animal Shelter

The Liberty Train

Another million for Michigan waters

The Michigan DNR has awarded one-and-a-quarter million dollars to 7 projects through its Aquatic Habitat Grant Program.

Friends of the Shiawassee received the single largest donation, $365-thousand, for their dam removal project.

Gary Burk is the Board Director for the Friends, he says the project is important for a number of reasons.

“We were actually approached by the State as to whether we could be a local agency to help direct grant dollars and project management for the removal of that dam. There’s a number of reasons for the removal. It’s a deteriorated structure, and we’d like to restore connectivity to the river. Plus, there have been some drownings at the dam.”

For a full list of the projects that were awarded grant money from the DNR visit their website here.

New veteran assistance coalition forms in mid-Michigan

veterans 11-13-13Mid-Michigan area veterans and their families will soon have a new support network to turn to.

The Great Lakes Bay Veteran’s Coalition aims to provide assistance to members of the military, veterans, and their families. Continue reading

Flint grassroots groups address inequity through stories

Race 2 Equity screen image

Race 2 Equity screen image

Event planners for an upcoming event, plan to come up with solutions to local racial inequity, by using storytelling to convey key issues.

March 21 grassroots groups are hosting an event in Flint called “Healing Stories on Racial Equity”.

Organizers said it will focus on unique stories related to water, housing, and criminal justice. Continue reading

Gladwin County recognized for improving internet access

Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

Gladwin county officials said the county has struggled with internet access barriers for years. Now they have been awarded the latest Michigan certified connected status.

The status means the county met internet access goals and offers a variety of service providers to 95 percent of the county.

Officials said even though Gladwin is certified, they will keep improving broadband access. They said they are working on overcoming physical barriers like valleys and a scattered population. Continue reading

Tittabawassee river cleanup update

Tuesday night the EPA will give an update on cleanup work along the Tittabawassee River. It’s part of the at the bi-monthly Community Advisory Group meeting’s.

The current portion of the cleanup is focused on the floodplain of the river. It requires certain areas of soil to be removed and replaced.

The public is invited to the meeting and the local community group is looking to recruit new members.

The meeting is scheduled for the Tittabawassee Township Memorial Park Building in Freeland and begins at 6 PM.

Earlier this year the EPA estimated the entire cleanup would be completed in 2018.