A SHOWDOWN ON the dark store issue is coming in Lansing.
In two weeks, Representative John Kivela and State Senator Tom Casperson are planning to introduce their bills that would essentially prevent large box stores from being taxed as though they were vacant (or dark).
Recent rulings by the state’s Tax Tribunal have allowed the stores enormous tax cuts, which have resulted in declining tax revenues for municipalities.
Which affects services like Peter White Public Library and 911.
Kivela and Casperson expect to get at least a couple of dozen co-sponsors, both Democrat and Republican, for their bills. Committee hearings would likely occur within a month.
Kivela says, with luck, the bills might pass before the new year.
The problem? The Chamber of Commerce opposes any such bills because they’re viewed as tax increases. Kivela and Casperson have to convince their colleagues that the bills are not tax increases. Rather, they promote tax fairness and they support local communities.
We’ve been hearing that Indiana, when facing a similar problem with dark stores, simply passed a bill to fix it, almost without opposition. Why can’t we do the same? Kivela says, unfortunately, we can’t do that here in Michigan because our constitution is written differently.
TRAVEL MARQUETTE IS still gathering information on the Michigan HOG rally here in Marquette almost two weeks ago, but some of the preliminary indications are that it was less of a boon for the downtown area than expected.
Travel Marquette director Nicole Young says she’s heard conflicting stories but some restaurateurs and merchants have reported their sales were down.
Not sure why. Still, it seems like a good idea to bring in different groups and different demographics for the Marquette experience.
Speaking of which, the Shriners are coming to town next year–300 in the winter, then 1200 in the summer when they’ll be taking part in two parades downtown. The city’s already preparing.
Officials are hearing that many of the Shriners have never been to the Upper Peninsula, so they’re planning to spend three days in the city, then branch out to other parts of the U.P. for an entire week’s vacation.
IT’S A NEW year for NMU’s North Wind, and hopefully a less tumultuous one for the student newspaper.
You might recall that the newspaper and the administration clashed last year when the newspaper repeatedly requested public records for stories the administration thought were irresponsible.
The fallout? NMU got some negative PR nationwide, the faculty advisor Cheryl Reed was dismissed by the newspaper’s board, and the presumed new-editor-in-chief, Michael Williams, was rejected for the job and subsequently quit.
The new editor-in-chief is Ray Bressette, the paper’s former sports editor. He insists the North Wind will continue to pursue investigative stories and will submit FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests to the university whenever needed.
Bressette did have a one-on-one meeting with University president Fritz Erickson in hopes of clearing the air. Bresette concedes that the newspaper may have gotten “caught up” in the conflict last year and may have been needlessly belligerent, but there was blame on both sides.
Bressette says the North Wind won’t become friends with the administration this year, but it won’t go out of its way to be enemies either.
Let’s hope it continues on its independent course, challenging authority when it’s called for. That’s a basic tenet of good journalism.
JASON SCHNEIDER, THE director of Marquette’s new Chamber of Commerce, is hearing from more and more homeowners who are renting their homes out to tourists through the websites VRBO and Airbnb.
They’re a little confused about the laws regarding such rentals in Marquette, Chocolay Township, and the rest of the county.
Turns out, the zoning laws and their requirements differ from community to community.
Schneider’s hoping to bring the home-renters together and map out a strategy that would bring consistency to the laws, provide tax revenue to the county…and, VERY IMPORTANT, not hurt the hotels.
A tough task.
At last count, 50 Marquette area homeowners were advertising on VRBO, and 20 were on Airbnb. Prices ranged from $50 to $500 a night.
A nice little way to pick up some cash.
IF YOU LIVE on the east side of town, you may have noticed a lot of those big, shady Norway maple trees are not only spotting this summer but they’re also turning brown prematurely.
Some sort of blight. Horticulturists aren’t sure what and why.
It ain’t pretty.
However, some experts will also tell you they’re not fond of Norway maples because they’re not native to this area and they’re invasive, squeezing out other native plants and trees.
WHAT BETTER WAY to celebrate the end of summer than with a barn dance? Or more accurately, a barn concert.
That’s what’s happening this Sunday at the Belsolda Farm out on Mangum Road. Three pm. Everyone’s invited. Come on down.
Bluegrass music with nationally known musicians Billy Strings and Don Julin, food from Dia de los Tacos, and lots of down-home fun.
It’s the fourth concert this year organized and sponsored by Randy Buchler of Shady Grove Farm. The last one attracted 250 revelers.
Much like our immensely popular Farmers’ Market, it marks a return to our roots. It’s a celebration of family, of community, and of a culture that sometimes gets shunted aside to make way for commericialism, computers and congestion.
Question of the Day: “Seriously, Donald Trump as President? Seriously???”
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