Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

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20 Years of Celebrating Nature: Raven Hill Discovery Center

Kristi Kates - August 29th, 2011
20 Years of Celebrating Nature: Raven Hill Discovery Center
By Kristi Kates
It‘s difficult to believe that Raven Hill Discovery Center has been around for 20 years. The Center in East Jordan is one of those places intrinsic to Northern Michigan; it just seems like it‘s always been there, yet it manages to stay fresh and find new ways to introduce visitors to new discoveries.
Celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, co-founder Cheri Leach (with Tim Leach) explains how Raven Hill Discovery Center has evolved.

“Since 1991, Raven Hill‘s focus on connections have strengthened,“ Leach says. “Visitors experience the strands of science and technology, culture, history, and the arts interwoven throughout the Center‘s hands-on exhibits and displays.“
Over the past 20 years the Center has added five outbuildings and six major outdoor exhibits.
“Current facilities include the main museum, fiber studio, print shop, ARt Pavilion, school house, alternative energy house, and tree house,“ Leach says. “Our outdoor exhibits range from a half-acre pond and medicinal gardens to The Ancient World, the labyrinth, wetlands boardwalk, the Earth Tones Music Garden, the Taxonomic Trail with trees grouped by families, ‘Art and Architecture in Smallville,‘ and ‘Beyond Jurassic Park: The Earth‘s Geologic History.‘ Programs change with the seasons.“

With so many offering, it might be a little tricky choosing what to start with at the Center. Leach suggests the hands-on areas, and visiting some of Raven Hill Discovery Center‘s ‘residents.‘
“Visitors enjoy the hands-on museum indoors, and the Earth Tones Music Garden outside,“ she says. “The average indoor visit is a couple of hours; most visitors explore indoors and then move to the outdoor exhibits, depending on the weather. When it‘s really hot, the outdoors is popular early in the morning, and then the indoors is a cool retreat in the afternoon. Some bring a picnic lunch and stay all day.“
The animals are the other most popular attraction, “especially Sheldon the tortoise and Checkers the corn snake,“ Leach smiles. Sheldon, the African spurred tortoise, is another favorite. The Center is, in part, also an orphanage.
“We take in animals that people buy at pet stores and eventually don‘t want any more,“ Leach says. “So we try to educate people about what makes a good pet, and encourage them to visit the snakes, lizards, and turtles here.“
“We also do not keep any Michigan animals,“ she continues, “Michigan protects its animals, and there is a fine for catching and keeping Michigan reptiles or amphibians or fish in your homes, so we don‘t keep them here. Even though we have the proper permits, it just sends the wrong message.“

On weekends and during the summer, the Center is popular with the public exploring the grounds and buildings. Field trips, teachers completing work for graduate credits, and outreach programs round out the schedule.
“Raven Hill was recognized as a Crooked Tree Arts Center eddi Award recipient for Arts and Cultural Organizations,“ Leach says, “and has also garnered 11 consecutive grant awards from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.“
Until Labor Day, the Center is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Once winter arrives, the center is still open on weekends (noon to 4:00 p.m. on Saturdays, and 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Sundays), and Leach says they often add extra days over holiday breaks. Classes are also offered year-round.
The Center also offers over 90 classes, Leach says. “Some of the most popular are learning to make hot glass beads, polishing fossils, and learning survival skills.“
Classes are scheduled by request. “Participants can call and tell us what class they want, the day they want, and the time they want, and most of the time we can accommodate them.“
Special events during the fall and winter include a new astronomy event on September 22 celebrating the Fall Equinox, the Winter Equinox on December 21, and the center‘s annual Holiday Open House, “which is always December 28th,“ Leach says.

The future looks bright for Raven Hill Discover Center, especially with the addition of astronomy expert Bryan Shumaker.
“Bryan and his wife, Linda, recently retired to Northern Michigan,“ Leach explains, “Bryan was director of Oakland University‘s Astronomy Observatory, and he will share his enthusiasm about astronomy and telescopes, plus his plans for an Astronomy Club, during our September 22 event. The Center actually has one of the best observing sites in all of Michigan with a dark sky and low horizons.“
Raven Hill‘s ‘Beyond Jurassic Park‘ outdoor exhibit is expanding, as well, with the addition of a ‘Coral Reef‘ that will feature artistic interpretations of prehistoric creatures that lived in the shallow seas that covered Michigan 450 milion years ago, including the famed ‘Petoskey Stones.‘
Also in the works - a Time Tunnel that the center hopes to build next year; but that one might be up to you.
“The Center is looking for grants and donations for that project,“ Leach says, “it will be a long, narrow exhibit that will have ‘timelines‘ that will highlight the changes over time in buttons, toys, cameras, irons, typewriters, calculators, washing machines, and other aspects of our daily lives. Visitors will be able to stop at 1650 to see what people were using, then, for example, move back to 1250 or forward to 1950.“
Raven Hill Discovery Center is actually always looking for support, Leach says. Their biggest need right now is more space.
“It would be nice to not have to keep ‘morphing‘ the print shop into a glass studio or wood shop,“ she says.
Those interested can contact the center to help, learn more about the Center itself, or make plans to visit; the Center is fortunate in that it‘s already so well-done, it‘s likely to inspire donations and help from its visitors for another 20 years.

*Raven Hill Discovery Center is located at 04737 Fuller Road in East Jordan, telephone 231-536-3369 (toll-free 877-833-4254); more info can be found online at www.ravenhilldiscoverycenter.org.*

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