IT’S TAKEN SIX long, sometimes contentious months, but it looks like NMU faculty members finally have a new contract deal.
Negotiators for the administration and the American Association of University Professors have reached a tentative agreement. Faculty members will be getting the details in the next couple of days. They’ll vote on ratification on Thursday, June 4th. The Board will follow with ratification afterwards.
No surprises or stumbling blocks are expected.
Faculty negotiators say the deal is a fair one. It calls for adequate pay raises while also requiring the faculty to pay more for health insurance. It’ll allow them to keep up with inflation, but not much more.
It’s a five year pact. That’s highly unusual. Good for both sides because it guarantees stability.
The raises are less than robust because NMU’s enrollment has recently been declining which means tuition revenue has declined, and that directly affects faculty salaries.
To reverse the enrollment declines, both sides are now talking about having professors play a more active role in recruiting students. If enrollment increased, faculty salaries would get a little boost.
No one’s gonna get rich, but it’s a start.
And regardless, labor peace on NMU’s campus is a good thing for everyone–the professors, the students, the administration and the community.
THE OLD, FORLORN Backroom Obsessions building on Front Street is moving closer to a rebirth.
An architect has come up with a design for the project and bank financing is in place. The last step is getting grant money from MEDC and MSHDA. That, the owners hope, will come this summer so that construction can begin.
The building has sat vacant for the last few years.
The owners are three sisters–Ann White, Katy White, and Sara Hall–who bought the building more than a year ago. They grew up here in Marquette (they were known as the “White girls”) but then as adults moved away. They maintained local ties, though, and during a visit two winters ago, decided to jointly invest in their hometown.
Now Ann has returned permanently to help oversee the project which will entail stripping down the badly neglected building, then reconfiguring it with apartments and a business on the sidewalk side of the main floor.
What kind of business? The sisters (who won’t run the business) don’t know yet but they’ve been asking friends what would work there. And the answer from eight out of ten people? A wine bar.
Yep, a wine bar.
Great news for those of us who love the idea of brew pubs and microbreweries but aren’t necessarily fond of beer.
Let’s temper our enthusiasm, though. The grants still have to be approved, and then someone has to come up with a business plan and money. And wine.
Final question: Does downtown Marquette really need another spot where you can buy wine? Just asking.
THE DARK STORE legislation in Lansing is being delayed. Imagine that. Delays in Lansing.
The bills proposed by State Representative John Kivela and State Senator Tom Casperson are designed to tax box stores at a rate closer to their actual value as opposed to taxing them just as if they were abandoned buildings. The loss of property tax revenue has been crippling to some municipalities in Michigan, especially in the U.P.
Two months ago Kivela had hoped the bills would come before the House and Senate by mid-April…then it was late April…then May…and now? Maybe June, maybe not until September.
Why the delays? Mainly because the legislature is focusing on 1) coming up with a state budget, and 2) trying to find funds for our crumbling roads and bridges, since Proposal One went down to a stunning defeat.
Smaller problems like under-funded libraries and 911 services get shunted aside.
Expect Kivela and Casperson to announce their strategy in the next few weeks.
YOU GOT A spare $100,000 or so and a desire to help your community, and maybe make a little money in the process? Maybe make some big money?
Well, Marquette’s brand new angel investors club–the Innovation Shores Angel Network–holds its first official meeting at the Landmark Inn next Monday at 5:30. Come on down. They’re looking for new members.
The Board of Directors has already been set up. They include: Tim Appleberry, Mark Ehlers, Steve Hicks, Tom Kilpela, Robert Mahaney, David Rowe, Laura Songer, and Rich Vander Veen.
Their idea is to find young, promising, local businesses in need of cash….and match them with local investors who want to spend their money locally. Win-win.
Not everyone can join the club. You need a net worth over a million dollars (not counting your house) or a yearly income over $200,000 or a trust with assets in excess of $5 million.
School teachers, baristas, and bloggers (and NMU professors) need not apply.
Seriously, it’s pretty big deal for Marquette. These investors may well determine whether the Smartzone here succeeds or fails.
MARQUETTE’S POPULATION IS growing by leaps and….Well, maybe not leaps and bounds, but how about a hop? A tiny hop.
The numbers are in for 2014, and the city added exactly 17 people last year. We’re now at 21,441.
Marquette Township gained 4 citizens, Chocolay picked up 3, Negaunee lost 1, and Ishpeming lost 4.
Hey, that’s not bad. Lots of towns in the U.P. are steadily shrinking, and Detroit continues its downward slide–another 6000 moved out last year.
And let’s be honest. Very few of us would like to see a huge influx of population here. We’ll take some businesses (good, clean ones), some jobs (high-paying, rewarding ones), and money, but don’t crowd us with cars and people. Keep the congestion on the other side of the bridge.
Question of the Day: What if we were to wake up one morning and suddenly decide that tattoos–especially those of the huge, look-at-me variety–were stupid and unsightly?
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