News Highlights from the Last 7 Days


The Lansing Ethics Board voted Tuesday night to urge the Lansing City Council to educate itself better on procedures in light of the findings of an independent report it had ordered that found City Council member Jeffrey Brown guilty of two violations of the ethics ordinance.  Brown’s lawyer denied the accusations. The report, by Southfield attorney Gouri Sashital, said Brown “has suggested that his support on matters is based upon whether he has received reciprocal support on a matter of importance to him.” It also said that Brown overstepped his authority by presenting a grant funding request to Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin for two projects he hoped the city would fund. The investigation followed a complaint filed by Mayor Andy Schor and five of the other seven Council members. Brown’s lawyers called the original complaint “frivolous.” (For more on this story, see 


Barb Byrum announced she isn’t running for the Democratic nomination for Elissa Slotkin’s U.S. House seat next year but will seek a fourth term as Ingham County clerk. The Onondaga Democrat expressed confidence she could have won the 7th District seat but spun her decision as believing “voters need me to remain here to stand up against the election misinformation and disinformation and ensure their access to the ballot box.” Byrum may have learned that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is averse to primaries, has settled on another candidate. Her decision has cleared the field for a run by former state Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., who has been mum. On the GOP side, former state Sen. Tom Barrett of Charlotte, whom Slotkin defeated by 5% in 2022, is expected to run again.


Duane Vernon, a Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Famer and longtime supporter of various Lansing-area organizations, died at 91. Vernon attended Ithaca High School, where he was the school’s first tennis letter winner and a member of the school’s first cross-country team to win a state championship. After graduating from Michigan State University, he was a president of the MSU Alumni Club of Mid-Michigan, receiving the Outstanding Club Presidents Award in 1969; a founding member of MSU’s Beaumont Tower Society; and chairperson of the Parade of Champions in 1979 and 2000, celebrating national-championship-winning MSU men’s basketball teams. He was also a former president of the Lansing Jaycees, the Rotary Club of Lansing and Waverly Community Schools’ Sideliners Athletic Booster Club and supported many other organizations throughout the Lansing area. He received the Spartan Hero Award from the MSU Mid-Michigan Alumni Club, Sparrow Health System’s Founders Award and the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Community Service Award, among other accolades. A funeral service will be held 12:30 p.m. Wednesday (June 7) at the Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel. Interment will follow in Evergreen Cemetery.


The Lansing School District obtained a nearly $1 million grant to recruit and train teachers in specialized subjects. The $959,694 grant, funded by the federal American Rescue Plan and presented by the Michigan Department of Education, will be used to support the school district’s “Grow Your Own” program, which will help teachers and staff within the district and new teachers who want to work within the district gain state certifications in specialized areas of education. After a screening, if applicants meet established goals for specific certifications, the district will partner with Central Michigan University to help pay for the required education credits and classes. The teachers will then be guaranteed a job in the district in their area of specialty. The district will also begin offering teaching courses in its Career and Technical Education catalog, which will allow students to try out the career path prior to college. The district hopes the program will bring in more full-time teachers since many have retired or left the profession since the onset of COVID-19. Substitute teachers have stepped in to cover classes in some of the district’s schools, but they may not have qualified certifications in specialized areas like special education, art, math and physical education. 


The proposed redevelopment of the former Pleasant Grove Elementary School building in southwest Lansing is moving forward, but developers aren’t sure exactly what the new development will be or when it will be completed, the Lansing State Journal reported. The redevelopment of the site at Pleasant Grove and West Holmes roads has been in the works for years. In 2022, Ferguson Development said construction was expected to be completed by summer 2024, but COVID-19, supply chain delays and a brownfield remediation to address pollution on the site got in the way. The developers plan to demolish the run-down school and create a 27,000-square-foot commercial building with space for office, financial and medical companies as well as a 19,000-square-foot building with 30 residential apartments. The apartments could end up being veteran-focused housing, and the buildings could also contain a coffee shop or internet café. Developers plan to honor Malcolm X, who attended kindergarten at Pleasant Grove in 1931, with murals and possibly donated items. If brownfield plans are completed, the building could be demolished within the next year. 


Sparrow Health System will change its name to University of Michigan Health-Sparrow beginning April 1, 2024. Until then, it will continue using Sparrow Health System in internal and external communications. U-M Health officially acquired Sparrow April 1, making it the second-largest health system by revenue in the state, valued at $7.8 billion. “University of Michigan Health-Sparrow reflects a partnership going forward, building on the equity of both brands,” said James Dover, Sparrow president and CEO. “Sparrow has an unmatched reputation in Mid-Michigan while U-M Health is the preeminent health system in Michigan. The new name highlights a continued commitment to bringing patients the right care at the right time at the right place, closer to home.”


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