UP Electric Co-Ops, Michigan Veteran Homelessness, UP Scholars, Lead Levels in UP City Water? And More…

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Upper Peninsula Electric Co-Ops

Word is that the 19 electrical co-ops in the Upper Peninsula are considering/discussing forming one big UP-wide electrical co-op, whisperers tell us.

Discussions are in early stages. Will it reduce electrical rates for UP-rate payers? Energy issues are front and center in the UP and across the state.

Veteran Homelessness In Michigan

A survey released found a 7% increase in veteran homeless in Michigan.

That is compared to a 0.7% increase in the general homeless population. Yes, we have many, many veterans in the UP who are homeless.

Both of these statewide numbers are horrible and need to be addressed. Veteran observers told me that this 7% increase in veteran homelessness is just horrible and every Michigan citizen should be ashamed that this is happening.

The veteran observers add that everyone who avoided military service in the last 60-plus years should be even more embarrassed. Same is true is of the extremely high number of veteran suicides and other related mental and physical health related issues.

Veterans are more and more holding policy makers accountable on these numbers.

Upper Peninsula Scholars

The University of Michigan has a new program and financial support for students in UP high schools who want to study at UofM. It is called UP Scholars, and is a very interesting opportunity for UP students. Here is how the university describes it:

“The first cohort of U.P. Scholars was admitted in in 2020. The first classes of students selected will help build—from the ground up—a new community exclusively tailored to their experiences as students from the Upper Peninsula. In addition to receiving substantial financial assistance, they will also receive individualized support to help them thrive in their studies at Michigan.”

“Student background and experiences growing up in the Upper Peninsula means you have valuable insights that will help make U-M a better place. Be yourself. Bring what you know. Share your dreams with us, and we will assure your success at Michigan”

“The U.P. Scholarship provides up to $15,000 per year for four years of undergraduate study. In addition to supporting you financially, the U.P. Scholars Program is custom-tailored to help you get the most out of your time at the University of Michigan—and to prepare you for whatever comes next.”

If a high school student wants to go to Ann Arbor to study at the University of Michigan, here is a unique opportunity just for them.

The mission of Rural Insights is to provide information and opportunities to UP residents–and this is a great example of that.

Lead Levels in UP City Water?

Whisperers tell us that there are rumors about concerns that lead levels are high in some UP communities’ water supplies.

This has been a problem downstate, and might be producing the concern about UP towns and water quality. No facts to report now, but we are looking into it.

We are told the issue came up during a recent meeting with a couple of UP legislators and community leaders.

Good News for Diabetics Needing Insulin

The legislation was introduced by the UP’s State Representative Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette). The bill establishes a $50 out-of-pocket cap for a 30-day supply of insulin.

This bill was hailed as good news for diabetics around the UP and throughout the state. You can get more info on the Legislature’s website.

Radio Station of the Year in UP

Congrats to UP radio station Sunny 101.9, WKQS for recently being named the the Market 4 commercial radio station of the year in Michigan.

Special kudos to Sunny 101.9 News Director Walt Lindala and his team for doing all the hard work that resulted in this honor. The award was announced by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.

Taxing Drivers By Miles Driven

Rural drivers could be impacted by a proposal being discussed among policy makers and influencers in Washington, D.C.

The idea is to tax drivers by the miles they drive. This road user fee would be used to fund highway repairs. This is an effort to replace dollars for road repairs, etc., because the existing federal gas tax is not enough to meet rising costs.

According to advocates, the idea is that drivers would report miles driven electronically via a plug-in device in their cars. Drivers could also use a smartphone app.

Rural policy analysts are concerned about rural drivers bearing an unfair tax burden because rural drivers have to drive more miles to get to work, shop, go to school, etc.

Also, rural families have less access to public transportation and therefore have to drive more regularly to complete daily tasks in their everyday lives.

No facts and data available yet on this proposal. This is not yet a federal legislative proposal, but some say it is going to be part of an upcoming infrastructure bill to be introduced in Congress.

A proposal is forthcoming from the Secretary of Transportation on behalf of the White House. Some reports say that the Secretary is interested in this miles driven proposal and might include it in his proposal to Congress.

Rural policymakers–elected and appointed–are expected to keep a close eye on this proposal as it gets revealed in coming weeks. We will all want to see how it impacts the Upper Peninsula and neighboring rural communities.

University Enrollment Numbers Down

“Michigan high school graduates enrolled in college this past fall are at the lowest rate in at least a decade, amid a once-in-a-century pandemic.”

“Less than 55 percent of 2020 Michigan high school graduates enrolled in college within six months of getting diplomas, a plummet of 5 percentage points in one year, according to data from the Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Information, which tracks state education data.” (Bridge Magazine/Center for Michigan).

These are alarming statistics and have a huge impact on state university and college enrollment at a time of difficulty for these institutions–economic drivers in their local regions and in the state.

Quotes (that make you go hmmm)

“To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.” George Orwell.

“Message to all politicians: become leaders not panderers.” Fareed Zakaria.

“Journalists should give readers the facts, not play to fears.” Bret Strephens, NYT.

Tell us what you would like to see us research and write about in Rural Insights

Are there issues or ideas that you think are important to the Upper Peninsula that we should explore? We can’t guarantee that we will research every issue or idea that you send us, but we will take a hard look and see what we can find out.

Are there enough data and facts for us to publish, etc. Let us know what you are thinking about. Send your ideas, issues and thoughts to david@ruralinsights.org.

Tips, Story Ideas, Your Story and More

Our readers are always smarter than we are in given areas. On any given day there are other people doing a better job than we are. Each of them represents a better input. We at Rural Insights try to put all the inputs together for our readers. We all learn from each other and these inputs.

Commenting and Contacting Us: If you prefer to not leave your comments and suggestions in the Comments Box provided after each story, please feel free to contact us via email at david@ruralinsights.org.

We read each and every one of them. Your comments, ideas and tips are important to us.

If you would like to write something for us please send it to us. We cannot promise to print everything we get, but we will read it and consider it for publication.

Please include information on how to contact you if we want to discuss with you what you send us.

We are also interested in reading stories about how growing up in the Upper Peninsula impacted you: your value system, your family life, your professional life etc. Tell us what it meant to the development of you.

We look for 300 to 1,000 words, approximately. We can’t promise to publish everything, but we promise to read everything you send in and consider it for publication in our series called Rural Voices.

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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.

3 Comments

  1. Avatar Deborah Mann on March 29, 2021 at 9:31 am

    Can you write about recruiting Developers to the Upper Peninsula?
    We have vacant buildings that need to be renovated or restored or rebuilt from the ground up. How do we entice a developer to put money into a property – a mixed use property? How do
    we attract that developer to take on a project that could have a major impact to our downtown?

  2. Avatar Michael John Devlin on March 29, 2021 at 9:55 am

    There is 95% pork in this new covid spending bill. Why not give a big hunk to the vets. Build housing for them. Give money to Wounded Warriors, Disabled American Vets, Paralyzed American Vets. More money to VA hospitals. We owe these Vets. Our congress can do better. Our governor can do better. Wake up America.

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