Longtime UP Business Closing Doors, Former UP State Rep Has Home Searched, Sault Ste. Marie School Makes List, Police Officers in Schools, and Local Gov Finance Challenges

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This Week in Rural Insights

This week we will again feature an article by our friend Dr. Russ Magnaghi. He is the biographer of Dr. John X. Jamrich, the former President of NMU, who recently died.

The article is Russ’ memories of working with Dr. Jamrich, and we think you will find it to be a very interesting reflection.

Please send us your thoughts and recommendations on future podcasts, articles and research you would like to see us do in the coming months. We are very interested in your ideas.

Longtime Upper Peninsula Business Closing Doors

As part of a national strategy, Sears is closing its doors in Houghton and Escanaba. Longtime residents of the Upper Peninsula remember going to their community Sears stores, Montgomery Ward, the JC Penny and Woolworth.

What other stores from years ago do you remember that are no longer around? Effects on online shopping and Amazon shipping?

Former Republican UP State Rep Has Home Searched With a Warrant

As part of a criminal probe, former State Rep and House Speaker Lee Chatfield had his home searched recently.

Chatfield at 34 was the youngest Speaker of the House in Michigan history. According to Bridge Michigan he is accused of sexually assaulting his sister-in-law when she was a minor at the school where he taught (a Christian school owned by his father), and the assaults allegedly continued into her twenties when she was married to Chatfield’s brother.

Chatfield says he had a consensual relationship. The courts will have to sort it all out. 

State Schools Listed With High Rate of Getting Low Income Students Into College–Sault Ste. Marie School On List

According to state records and information provided, the Sault Ste. Marie Area High School is on this very exclusive and successful list of schools. It has a rate of 43.8% of students who are economically disadvantaged, and 70.5% of its students enrolled in college in 2021. No other Upper Peninsula schools were on this exclusive list of 19 schools.

Police Officers in Schools

State Representatives have proposed $50 million for this program. These police officers are often called School Resource Officers. Average cost of one of these SRO’s is about $100,000. 

Lots of debate in the last few weeks after the many–too many–school shootings and deaths as to whether using SROs will have any kind of measurable impact on gun assaults in schools. 

Apparently no reliable data is yet available, but advocates say it is being developed now. Same with the debate around arming classroom teachers, and debate continues as to whether it is even a rational proposal.

Debate now is focused more on banning assault weapons, age for purchasing weapons, red flag laws and mental health issues and funding. Michigan will be deep into this debate in coming months as will the federal government.

What do you think of these proposals as they apply to rural schools/UP schools?

Local Government Finance Challenges

Not dissimilar from its urban/suburban counterparts, rural local governments are debating the same dilemma: raise taxes or cut services. The UP’s City of Marquette recently announced a $6 million deficit and only $2 million in its reserve fund.

In 2014 the reserve had $14 million in it. So do they raise millage/taxes or cut services?

In many Upper Peninsula communities many of these deficits are largely due to Brownfield funding, tax abatements for local business and housing developments and tax issues like dark stores.

Our checking in with UP local governments are saying they have very similar revenue issues and talking about “fixes” and solutions. 

Facts From the World Around Us

While only 4% of all cities and towns had a population of 50,000 or more in 2021, collectively they contained 129.3 million people–nearly 39% of the US population, according to Crystal Delbe, a statistician in the population division of the US Census Bureau.

She also said that “on the other hand, of the 19,494 incorporated places in the United States, more than 75% had fewer than 5,000 people.”

All of this is really amazing data/statistics. Would be interesting to see how much of the 75% is rural versus suburban areas in larger metropolitan areas.

Quotes That Make Us Go Hmmm

“Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.” Rheinhold Niebuhr. 

“Only the dead have seen the end of war.” Plato.

Talk To Us

Keep your raves, laurels, rants and darts coming. Send them to us at david@ruralinsights.org. We love to read them. 

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David Haynes

Professor David Haynes is a Professor of Public Administration and teaches in the MPA graduate program at Northern Michigan University, where he previously served as President. David has been involved in the public administration and political science field for over 45 years.

5 Comments

  1. Betsy Dayrell-Hart on June 6, 2022 at 7:25 am

    On low-income students and University education- Lake Superior State University is among the schools who encourage and support these students. Look up the list of scholarships offered. Among them is the Phil Hart Memorial Scholarship, which is specifically for students who are the first in their family to attend university.

  2. Jodi Cornwell on June 6, 2022 at 10:29 am

    In response to having Police Officers In Schools; I have taught in rural UP schools with and without SRO’s and I definitely feel they have value especially as a real live policeman/woman who has an understanding attitude and willing listening ear to all. The serve as an additional adult who is tuned in to what’s going on in the building as they interact everywhere both in and around the school buildings.
    Nation Wide: I definitely am in favor of banning assault weapons and raising the age of gun purchases to even older that 21!
    Where mental health is a concern and there’s a lack of services then provisions should be made to fill that gap.

  3. Dave Brown on June 6, 2022 at 5:16 pm

    Closed chain stores add: K-Mart,
    if you want to go back a long ways: A&P.

    • J N on June 6, 2022 at 10:51 pm

      Add Shopko which also had smaller stores in smaller communities. Sad they are gone as well as Younkers. Where do you shop ??? Walmart, Meijers and Kohls does not cut it.

  4. WRich on June 6, 2022 at 5:53 pm

    Closed chain stores, Kmart
    But what about our old grocery stores? Red Owl, Nagelkirks
    What about the hometown diners? Big Als

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