Inside the Newsroom

News, commentary, insight on local happenings and fun from the staff of The Saline Reporter and Milan News-Leader.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Individual wrestling takes teamwork, too

I attended the individual wrestling regional tournament in Warren on Saturday where three Milan wrestlers qualified to advance to the state finals March 6-8 at The Palace of Auburn Hills. David Box became Milan's first heavyweight regional champion and state qualifier. Dan Vivian at 125-lb and Jacob Nelson at 160-lb each finished fourth.

As far as I can tell from MHSAA archives, this is the first time in at least a decade that three Milan wrestlers have made it to state. We've had two make it before, but it looks like three is a first. I think it's the start of a trend because all three of these guys are juniors and there are a number of talented young wrestlers coming up behind them.

On Saturday, it occurred to me that there is a myth surrounding wrestling, particularly at the individual tournaments. The true part of the myth is that when a wrestler is on the mat he is on his own (with the help of some shouted coaching from two chairs at the corner, of course). Each wrestler ultimately determines his own fate. There is no one they can turn to for assistance; no one they can depend on to have their back if they slip up. There is not another teammate who can pick them up and save the team. It is all on the individual wrestler. They do it on their own.

That part is true. Here's what's not true: They do it on their own. As I witnessed on Saturday, there actually is some teamwork involved in the individual tournaments. Or maybe it would be more appropriate to call it "familywork." The Milan contingent of friends and family had secured a table overlooking the mats and had food, water, Gatorade, changes of clothes. You name it. They were there for the their wrestlers. Make no mistake, it was a long day -- began at 10 a.m. and didn't wrap up until after 6 p.m. I can't imagine any wrestler doing well on the mat without that kind of support. It's hard to wrestle well when there is no one cheering for you; when there is no one afterwards to pat you on the shoulder, hand you some water. The Milan wrestlers didn't have to worry about that.

State-quality individual wrestling performances demand the best a wrestler has on the mat. They also demand a strong support network. You know, almost like a team.

The Palace of Auburn Hills, here we come!

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Ryan Predicts Academy Award Winners

Hi, this is Ryan Michaels, an 11-year-old from Ann Arbor, reporting on the 80th annual Academy Awards for The Saline Reporter and Milan News-Leader. Recently, the writers strike threatened the being of the ceremony, but thankfully it ceased. So now that the ceremony is on for good, we may casually talk about it. I have screened the nominees for the Oscars, and here are my takes on them:

Atonement is an amazing film, because of the acting, acting, script, production value, twist ending and, of course, the green dress Keira Knightley wears. And the infamous shot of Dunkirk Beach.

The Plot: A lie told by a young girl destroys three lives…

The Best Part: The amazing sequence at Dunkirk Beach, although the shocker of an ending is effective, too.

Its Chances: Despite my love of it, I simply don’t think it stands up against the other main contenders. Although, a shocker of a win wouldn’t make me upset.

Juno is a whip-smart, uplifting, gut-bustlingly funny movie that’s kind of like the Little Miss Sunshine of this year. Except better.

The Plot: A sarcastic, whip-smart teenager gets pregnant, and deals with the results in her own unique way.

The Best Part: The meeting between Juno and her father. Hilarious, yet moving.

Its Chances: Well, No Country has the best chances, but Juno is kind of the dark horse, and a win is not unrealistic at all.

Michael Clayton is a classy, adult thriller with big legal talk, and to be perfectly honest, I understood about 75 percent of the dialouge. Hey, forgive me for not knowing a litigating firm at age 11! But the performances and the great dialouge pushes it forward.

The Plot: A burnout lawyer stumbles upon a case with deadly consequences.

The Best Part: The last shot of the movie. Haunting, yet says much about the main character without a word spoken.

Its Chances: Of the five, in my opinion this is the weakest film. They are all great in their own way, but I truly don’t think it has the power.

No Country for Old Men will rock you, creep you, and make you laugh. It will move you and disturb you. It will make you think about the moral choices. But two hints. Don’t complain about the ending. And peek through your eyes during…Well, any scene with Javier Bardem.

The Plot: A poor farmer stumbles upon $2 million. Chaos ensues, including that of a ruthless bounty hunter and an experienced sheriff.

The Best Part: The tense standoff with the sheriff. People who have seen the movie, you know what I mean.

Its Chances: It has been the front-runner, picking up just about every major award. It’s not my personal favorite of the year, but will most likely win.

There Will Be Blood is an American masterpiece, up with the likes of Citizen Kane and The Godfather. No other film this year deserves to be uttered in the same breath. Seeing Daniel Day-Lewis’ tour-de-force performance, and Paul Thomas Anderson’s sweeping direction honestly haunted me. And also, Jonny Greenwood’s AMAZING score serves as an, almost an emotion in the film itself. Don’t miss it.

The Plot: The story of a demented oilman and his battle of wits with a charismatic priest.

The Best Part: Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance, among the very finest of all time.

Its Chances: My personal pick for the best pick of the year, but it’s likely too offbeat for the Academy. Plus, Day-Lewis is guaranteed a win for Best Actor.

I personally would be satisfied if No Country garnered a win, which is very likely. However, I think it’s a very open-race, and anything can happen. But…

My Prediction: No Country for Old Men

My Preference: There Will Be Blood

What are your predictions?

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Put your art on this year's Celtic Fest poster

You've been to the festival, now get the shirt...better yet, make the shirt!

The Saline Celtic Festival committee and Two Twelve Arts Center are sponsoring a poster and T-shirt art contest for this year's event, one of the country's leading Celtic heritage festivals. Artists of all ages may submit a two-dimensional piece of art for use on the festival's advertising material, including T-shirts and commemorative apparel.
The contest is open through March 6. Application and submission criteria are available online and at stores in downtown Saline.
There will be two contests, one for the 13th annual Saline Celtic Festival and one for the Masters Championship of the Highland Heavy Athletic Games, new to Saline this year.
The international event is expected to bring up to 100 competitors 40 years and older to Mill Pond Park during the festival. The submissions may reflect Saline's heritage, the sister city relationship with Brecon, Wales, and the breadth of activities that make the festival so unique
The winner will be announced at a community-wide St. Patrick's Day celebration planned for March 17 to honor the artist and kick off Celtic Festival excitement. Can you say Green Beer???
always best. For more information on the contest visit the Web sites or


Monday, February 18, 2008

History lovers welcome

History lovers will enjoy a new column the Saline Area Historical Society plans to debut in The Saline Reporter. Bob Lane plans to pen a monthly column about the area's rich history and is considering a Q&A format. He wants readers to submit their questions about the area's history. Maybe there's an old farmhouse and you're curious about the original owners or a famous soldier buried in a local cemetery. Pose your questions to so he can start researching the answers. Also, if you know any interesting facts about Saline's historic landmarks, longtime families, political figures or community leaders, feel free to post your comments here. We'd love to learn from you.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Readers touched by column

I just edited Alison Marable's "Cancer Declassified" column for our Feb. 21 edition and wanted to post it online right away. It's great to know the topic she is writing about is helping a lot of people and I am proud Heritage Newspapers' Western Region publications, including The Saline Reporter and The Milan News-Leader, are carrying it, reaching more than 27,000 readers. As some of you may know from reading this blog, Alison is a friend of mine and I am glad we were able to give her this opportunity, while also benefiting our readers. Read her column below and the feedback she has received from readers like you.

By Alison Marable, Special Writer

The night before the debut of “Cancer Declassified,” I felt a sense of panic that maybe I wasn’t ready to share this with the world yet. At that point, of course, it was too late to change my mind.

The next morning, my inbox filled up with e-mail messages with subject titles such as “your article,” “newspaper series” and “what you wrote.” I was hesitant to read the contents, wondering if readers might somehow be offended. Disinterested readers won’t send me their comments, but an angry reader might.

The first e-mail I received put all my worries to rest. It was a lengthy, thought-filled message. She wrote, “Your analogy of the piece of paper that you just cannot seem to put down was right on.” Another woman wrote, “The paper analogy is perfect –– how long do we have to carry it?”

From that point on, I willingly and eagerly opened the many e-mail messages that arrived for several weeks. “It’s nice to hear the thoughts of other women who are living with the after-effects of this disease.”

Another reader wrote, “I admire your courage to go public with your story in order to help other women and their families.”

There were calls from readers in Grass Lake, Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Dexter, Saline, Manchester and locations even farther away because the column is accessible online. Employees at dentist offices and schools, shoppers in stores, even children spoke to me about my column. How rewarding to think that my writing has initiated family conversations with children.

It wasn’t only women who responded to my column. One man in particular wrote me a beautiful message that said, “It takes a very special, and generous kind of individual to share so openly in the public forum. Obviously, you are such a person. May God bless your efforts.”

Women wrote about sharing the columns with the men in their lives, something that I believe is so essential. “I’ve forwarded them to my husband and son,” said one reader.

Another reader described reading one of them to her husband, while trying not to cry, and that her husband was touched by the words.

Breast cancer can and does affect men, my father being one of the few men to be diagnosed with the disease. More importantly, women don’t go through this disease alone. We have sons, husbands and male friends who shouldn’t be excluded from the conversation. These men should be educated on what we experience as well as take part in our healing process.

Many individuals commented on the column titled “The Caregiver” that revealed my great appreciation for my husband’s care. I ran into a woman at the grocery store who said, “It was nice to see someone lift up their husband, instead of cut them down. That’s pretty rare.”

I also received an e-mail that said, “What a testament to your husband and to your marriage! It was very well done.”

Sharing one’s own frightening and personal experience is part of the healing process. “My wife found great support from discussing her grief with friends,” wrote a reader.

Many readers wrote or called me simply to thank me for sharing my story. I shared with readers and the readers, in turn, shared back with me.

One woman who works with patients with Alzheimer’s disease spoke in great detail about her own experience with breast cancer. That woman expressed gratitude for my columns, stating that it’s important to put the thoughts down on paper. She said she had experienced many of the same feelings, noting similar incidents regarding the reactions of other people.

Our phone call lasted at least half an hour and it was apparent that she had endured great obstacles. “Cancer taught me to forge ahead,” she said.

Feeling blessed, she makes a yearly phone call to her doctor to thank him for saving her life, noting the number of years that have passed with each call.

Readers called and e-mailed me with words of encouragement. To point out my impact, someone wrote, “I’m sharing them with a colleague who is currently undergoing what hopes to be her last treatment for breast cancer. See, you’re already reaching people you don’t even know!”

A school employee generously wrote, “You sound like a very strong and spirited woman –– someone your daughter must be very proud of.”

Many women related to the sense of fear that accompanies a cancer diagnosis. Listen to one woman’s words, “I wonder all the time if I'm ever going to stop thinking about this 24/7.”

To offer me hope, I received the words, “I willed myself for hope, optimism and the unshakeable belief that cancer would not get me, stop me in my life in any way other than to point out all the good things/people that were standing beside me.”

And that is the truth. There are countless friends who extended help to us. My husband and children are priceless. And the cancer diagnosis has opened the door to many new relationships with people who I would otherwise never have met –– staff at the hospital, other cancer survivors and the readers who took the time to reassure me that my column is indeed worthwhile.

Alison Marable is a breast cancer survivor and has a master’s degree in social work from Eastern Michigan University. She can be reached at Comment on her column via our November staff blog, Inside the Newsroom,” at

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Memories of Sable Rose Martin

In memory of Sable Rose Martin
(pictured here with the apple of her eye, her niece Olivia Martin)
Add your comments, memories and thoughts about Sable here.
From Ms. Marsh's class at Saline Alternative High School:
I will never be able to forget any of the memories I have shared with Sable Martin. She was one of the greatest friends I ever had. We always had the best tiem when we hung out no matter waht we were doing. She always made me think positive and helped me get through some rough times. I'm going to miss her so much but she will alwyas be here with us, just in a different way.
Sable and I had started hanging out when we were both going to school at Saline Alternative and we have been good friends ever since. It seemed almost every time I saw her she had a huge smile on her face. She loved life and just having fun.
It broke my heart when I received the news about Sable. I just couldn't believe it nor did I want to. It was like a bad dream I couldn't wake up from which is what most of her friends were saying. We have all just been sticking close together trying to help each other get through this hard time. But it will never be the same again without Sable.
I know she is looking down on all of us right now helping us and keeping us safe. She will always stay in our hearts and her memory will neer be forgotten.
Rest in Peace Sable Rose
We all love you and miss you.
Michelle Byrd
The first day I met Sable was when I was in seventh grade and she was in eighth. We met at a friend's birthday party. I was the only guy there and every one wanted to go roller skating. Ever since then me and Sable have been really close. I remember going to Heath Beach with her over the summers along with other friends. There was one time when Sable came over to my house and Sable's mom Rose dropped her off and saw me. Later that night Sable didn't get home until pretty late and my mom ended up driving her home with her dad on the other line not sounding too happy. Sable was an amazing person who had a log going for her. She always spoke her mind and said what she wanted to say. I know Sable's mom who worked with me at Saline High School. Sable is loved by many and iwll be issed; we love you tons. Sean Lyos

Stunning Beauty. That's the only way to describe Sable Martin. We were great friends and I will miss her always! She will always have a place in my heart, I will always remember the great memories we shared together. Laughing about pretty much anything in every class we had together.
Brett Steiber
Sable can make a MEAN taco salad! I thought she was a whacko putting Italian dressing in it, but it turned out to be a stroke of genius!
Hoestly, I didn't know Sable as well as other people, but I knew her enough. She was hilarious and super gorgeous. I will seriously miss her.
I only knew Sable Martin for probably 3 weeks. Even though I only knew her for a short period of time she was still a good friend of mine. She was in two of my classes and she used to be really nice to me. From the first day of school she started to talk to me and she was asking me a lot of questions. I really liked her. She was a sweet girl and a good friend. I saw myself that she was a helpful person and she was trying to do her best in everything. Another thing that I saw was tht she had big dreams about her future plans. Probably not everyone knew about her big dreams but she told the class what she wanted to do in the near future. She was a simple person but she had a big heart. The day she died one person came into my work and told me that one girl named Sable Martin died and I was thinking who that might be. I knew it was Sable, my classmate and my friend, and I was really upset. I stil can't believe that she dies.
But, I know one thing: that no one person knows when the end is for them. Jesus is the only person that knows when to take someone's life. Jesus knows when he should end someone's life and we cannot do anything about it after a person is dead. We all suffer but I k now that one day we will all die, either now or later. I know it is hard because it's a big loss, but it happens every day. I am so sorry for Sable's death, I as a person would do anything to get her back but there is nothing that i can do about it now because it is too late. She may rest in peace. I loved Sable a lot; she was a nice and lovely person and i know that if she was alive now she was going to be one my my good friends. Love you Sable.
Dana Leahu


5,000 kids under 16 take their first drink daily

That's a crazy stat! My friend Kathy Roth brought me some info on a cool program happening at Saline High School March 5 at 7:00pm. Saline has been chosen to host "Take It Back" a community briefing sponsored by a national initiative organizing 350 youth groups from 49 states to simultaneously hold the youth-led meeting. Cool.

The movement is driven by facts like these:
1. Each day, more than 5,400 kids in the US under the age of 16 take their first drink.
2. Each year, more than 97,000 students between the ages of 18 to 24 are victimes of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
3. IN the US alone, alcohol kills more kids than all illegal drugs combined.

Take it Back says, "Sometimes adults think it's okay to buy alcohol for underage youth as long as they take the car keys. But taking hte car keys won't stop them from having unplanned or unprotected sex, drinking until they pass out or getting into a fight. If you want to keep kids safe, stop kidding yourself - and stop providing."

Plan to attend the Take it Bak Community Briefing, hosted by SADD at Saline High School, 7 - 8:30pm, March 5. At the Briefing, we will focus on these issues found during research in our community:
1. An increase in Minor in Possession Charges
2. Increase in school issues related to alcohol
3. Availability in our community.



Monday, February 11, 2008

What Makes Saline So Great?

By now, you’ve heard Saline was ranked among CNN/Money Magazine’s top 100 best places to live in the country in 2007. The Saline Reporter wants to celebrate that accomplishment with a newspaper supplement highlighting 59 things that make Saline great.

Here’s how you can help. We are looking for nominations from the community. What do you think makes Saline great? We will use these suggestions to compile the editorial content for the tab and video coverage for our Web site.

From Saline’s magnificent parks to its top-rated hospital and outstanding school system, what makes Saline such a great place to live in? Along with your answer, explain why you consider parks, for example, something that makes Saline one of the top places in the country to live in. Share a personal experience as to why you picked that particular aspect of the community.

We also plan to feature the top 10 vote-getters in a ranking and highlight them in the opening article with quotes from city officials, local leaders and residents about the biggest draws to living in Saline.

Possible categories include recreation, entertainment, professional services, commercial, retail, industrial base, government services, community amenities such as parks, nonprofit organizations, cultural opportunities, retirement communities, job opportunities, proximity to Ann Arbor and Detroit Metro.

The plan is to celebrate Saline’s honor before the new list comes out this summer. Saline holds the distinction of being the only Michigan city to make the list twice. Maybe 2008 will bring an even higher distinction.

In compiling its list, CNN/Money Magazine editors focused on smaller places that offered the best combination of economic opportunity, good schools, safe streets, things to do, and a "real sense of community."

“Saline knows a lot about hometown pride,” the editors wrote. “The area is blossoming into its own, but also reaps benefits from Ann Arbor, its bigger neighbor.”

CNN/Money began with 2,876 cities with populations above 7,500 and under 50,000. They screened out retirement-oriented communities, places where income is less than 90 percent or more than 180 percent of the state median, and towns that are more than 95 percent Caucasian. The editors then eliminated towns with low education scores, high crime rates, declines or sharp increases in population, projected job losses or lack of access to airports or teaching hospitals.

The remaining 466 towns were ranked based on job, income, and cost-of-living data; housing affordability; school quality; arts and leisure opportunities; ease of living; health-care access; and racial diversity. Towns falling into the top 70 were further broken down by job markets, housing prices, schools and ambiance.

To nominate something for the "59 Things that Make Saline Great" newspaper supplement, e-mail Editor Michelle Rogers at by March 6.

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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Time is running out for school board candidates to file

This is just a reminder. Time is running out for anyone interested in running for a seat on the Saline or Milan school boards.

The filing deadline is 4 p.m. Feb. 13 -- next Wednesday. Time to get on your horse!

Two seats are up on each board. In Saline, Lisa Slawson is running again, but Kim Van Hoek is not. In Milan, Mary Mehringer has thrown her hat in the ring again, but Dennis Albers last week announced that because of work commitments he was not up for another term.

The terms on the two school boards run from July 1 to June 30, 2012, with the election taking place May 6.

To run for school board, you must be at least 18 years old, a resident of the district and registered to vote. You need to collect between 40 and 100 signatures on a petition before filing with the Washtenaw County clerk or you can cough up a $100 filing fee.

Petitions may be picked up at district offices or the County Clerk's office. In Milan, applications are available at the central office at the high school and in Saline, petitions are available in the financial office on the second-floor of Union School.

This is a critical time for both districts. There are financial challenges to be met and both will be under the guidance of new superintendents come July 1.

These boards will not have an easy time the next few years and will have to make some tough decisions. Good people are needed.

Are you one?

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Saline High principal sends message to all families

This recorded phone message was sent to Saline High School families Wednesday evening. The crisis team at the high school decided it was better for the kids to receive the details of the accident while they were at home, in a safe family environment. Here's what they heard from principal Ben Williams:

Good evening. This message is from Saline High School.

Early this afternoon Saline Area Schools personnel was notified that the Saline High School and Saline Area Schools family had suffered a tragedy.
We were informed by the local police department that senior student, Sable Martin passed away in a very tragic automobile accident. All of our Saline Area Schools family is greiving of course with this loss.

This message is to explain to parents and students we will have our guidance staff available here at the high school as well as at Alternative Ed High School. We will provide support for all of our students in the main office and in the guidance office.

And to each and every one of you who knew Sable please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers. I regret to have to bring this message to you.

Once again, thank you for your understanding and if any student needs support tomorrow, don't hesitate to reach out to your counsellors, your teachers, your administrators. The entire faculty of Saline High School is here and ready to assist.

Have a good night.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Tragedy in Saline today

Sitting in my office, overlooking Michigan Ave downtown Saline I can watch the world go by. I can watch a procession of cars file into Oakwood Cemetary. I watch an elderly (yes, elderly) couple walk hand in hand down the sidewalk each morning. I watched the low old buildings across the street face demolition and look forward to watching the new Concannon project go up some day. Soon, I hope. I watch race weekend traffic go west, then east again through town.

I can also hear the world go by.
Mostly sirens, booming truck traffic and noisy mufflers. Mostly sirens, though.

This morning when I heard one siren, then another and another as the entire police and fire departments' fleets sped west on Michigan Ave. I said a prayer then called to find out what had happened. "A bad, bad accident," said the dispatcher. Something told me this was going to be really sad. I got in my car, with a camera and notepad and pulled out behind a white squad car heading to the accident.

Officer Dave was stopping traffic three miles or so out of town, diverting cars through the back roads to avoid the accident. "No, you don't want to go down there for pictures yet," he said. I drove up as far as I could, bundled up and started walking, keeping my eyes fixed on the display of red and blue flashing lights up ahead.

Detective Don Lupi was in a squad car and rolled down his window. "There was a fatality. Can't see why you can't go down there if you want to," he said pointing to the flashing lights a quarter mile further along Michigan Ave. It was drizzling a really wet snow.

The road was empty so I walked carefully down the middle of the highway as the last fire engine and Saline police car drove away from the mess. Nobody was around. The sirens had stopped. It was really quiet.

One state police car was left, two officers making notes. I looked at the mangled little blue car sitting in the ditch and said another prayer. "Can't have you taking pictures here, maam." said the Michigan Statie (those guys always scare me). I understood (though legally, I couldv'e made a stink and taken more photos, my editor reminded me later).

I turned and walked back to my car. Said another prayer for all the guys working in the icy cold. For the families of the victims. Wasn't until later Brian Cox found out from the staties in Ypsi (who handled the report) that a Saline High School student was the victim. How absolutely awful.

Throughout the afternoon and early evening I talked to high school counsellor Michelle Monahan (an old neighbor whom I trust), Saline acting superintendent Scot Graden, an officer in Ypsi and firefighter Russ Girbach here in Saline. I found out the young lady, Sable Martin was a student at the Alternative High School and that her mom worked at Heritage School. Her dad is well known in Saline. My prayers for strength go out to these parents. My daughter will get her drivers license in the next few weeks and my heart is breaking for this family as I can only imagine a snippet of the pain they must be experiencing. Join me here in sharing your thoughts, memories of Sable and wishes for her friends and family.

Smarty pants at Saline Middle School

On Saturday I popped into the cafeteria at Saline Middle School where there were 80 display boards set up for the annual science fair. What a bunch of amazing kids! Science teacher Grant Fanning had called to invite me to come check it out. I'm glad I did. Gone are the days of paper mache' volcanoes spewing baking soda lava. These experiments were creative, timely and relevant to the kids' lives. One girl compared mascaras to prove a theory on which is least likely to smudge (Maybelline Full 'N Safe is the best bet, she concluded). Sounds like a fun experiment and she used the scientific method to provide a hypothesis, test data, show her procedure and come to a conclusion. Another student proved that Wintergreen Lifesavers are indeed the only mints that will shoot lightening in your mouth (apparently it's the steric acid, the teen scientist explained). Kudos to Mr Fanning and all the science teachers at SMS for encouraging students to study something relevant. Nice job kids. I'm writing a story that will include all the participants names and the fair winners. Watch for it in the Reporter (next week or so).


Milan is SOooo Cool

Yesterday I spent over an hour talking to a group of entrepreneurs in Milan who have started a new business and will bring about 20 jobs to the City. Over at Milan Biodiesel on Redman, just north of Wabash sit two unassuming buildings next to the railroad. I thought I'd pulled into the wrong place but was greeted by Bob Karpiuk, one of the partners who welcomed me warmly. He and his crew have pumped over a million bucks into the business which converts used restaurant grease into useful fuel that powers buses, trucks and any vehicle that runs on diesel. They buy this grease (filter out the french fry bits and chicken nugget crumbs), clean it, test it, mix it, test it, test it some more then sell it to folks like the AA Transit Authority to power their fleet. Very cool. They are not using corn and virgin oils, so farmers need not worry that the business is contributing to the ethanol/crop price debate.

What a pleasure meeting these guys. John Bolz, Gary Graves and Chris Moellers (representing investor, Cretwood Energy) were there too. Mayor Kym Muckler spent the morning with us, asking questions (her habits learned as a reporter at the News-Leader kicked in) and giving them props for bringing good, clean business to Milan. I'm working on a story that will run in the next few weeks. Check it out. Oh yeah, they are taking resumes for production workers and a plant manager- fax your resume to 734-439-4057. Please please don't stop by yet, they say, just fax a resume with your experience.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Define Elderly

Had I known the adjective "elderly" was so offensive to so many people, particularly baby boomers, who make up the bulk of our readers, I probably would have thought longer than 15 seconds when writing a headline for last week's article on the murder of 63-year-old Robert Green of Saline.

When I received the first complaint Thursday morning, I was baffled and asked myself, "Is the term derogatory or ageist?" I didn't think that much of it when I wrote it. I figured it was like referring to a young adult as a teenager. I also wondered why the outrage in the community wasn't directed at the fact a murder had occurred, the first in Saline since 1981, rather than the fact the victim was described as elderly in the headline.

Initially, I thought maybe I had made a huge mistake. I looked up the word in the AP Stylebook, a style guide used by journalists. It warns to use the term carefully. I regretted that I hadn't looked it up before going to press, but, again, it didn't initially strike me as anything other than a word to describe an older adult.

Two more phone calls came in from readers complaining that it was offensive. The next day, two e-mails came in. That's when I decided to do a google search. What I found made me feel a little better and that I shouldn't be required the wear a shirt bearing the letter "A" on it for ageist.

The term isn't universally considered offensive, thank goodness. In fact, most define elderly as adults 65 and older and some define it as 60 and older, so I was in the right range.
The U.S. government defines elderly as "a person greater than or equal to 65 years of age" and has set that age for purposes of government subsidy and retirement. In addition, the publication "Therapeutic Applications of NSAIDs" reports it's "customary to refer to those 65 and older as elderly."

According to the publication "Communication and Aging," it's not an ageist term, which cited ageist terms as "old bag" "coot," "granny," "old maid" and "hag."
But the Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse reports phrases like “our seniors," "the elderly" or "your loved one" can be ageist. "These terms treat older people as they are someone's property, possessions or objects, not as individuals," it states. I never thought of it that way.

I discovered there are two sets of elderly: Those considered "young elderly" are 65 through 74 and the "intermediate elderly" are 75 through 84, according to several medical Web sites.

I also found that nearly 35 million Americans are 65 years and older, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, and that number is expected to double by 2030 to 20 percent of the population. That got me to thinking of other things I've heard, such as 40 is the new 30, which means 65 is the new 55, and maybe age is simply a state of mind.

So as the population ages and baby boomers remain active mentally and physically, the term "elderly" should, indeed, be used more carefully, sparingly and sensitively, keeping in mind we are as old as we feel and many older adults do not feel "elderly."

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Friday, February 1, 2008

Snow day WOOOOOO?

So it's Friday, there's a half-foot or so of snow on the ground, and like the many high school student-athletes I cover for a living, I'm at home. Unlike those student-athletes, though, who are likely playing the cool new videogame they got for Christmas (I wanna try that Bioshock game I've heard is fun) or browsing through a hundred Facebook messages, I'm working. Or at least trying to when not staring wistfully out the window.

This is one of the uncool things about working for newspapers. There are dozens of cool things, of course, so don't take this the wrong way ... but holidays and snow days and any other days where other people aren't working aren't one of those things, because we usually are. Martin Luther King Day? Worked it. Fourth of July? Worked it. Christmas Eve? Left the office at noon, but yeah, I worked that morning. Even the big holidays don't feel quite as much like holidays as they used to, because we have two papers to get out the door every Thursday whether it's New Year's or Thanksgiving or Labor Day or not, and whatever work we don't do on our day off gets done in double-time the next day.

This is the part where you, the reader, say "Geez, Jerry, would you like some cheese with that whine?" and I say "Well, yeah, I am whining, but I would like some cheese if you're offering. Some smoked cheddar sounds good right now." Because a) I like cheese b) my whine has a point, sort of: the newspaper that arrives on your doorstep or in the box on the corner has an awful lot of hard work put in by a lot of good people, people that occasionally the sort of small workin'on-a-snow-day sacrifice that has to be made days to make sure that paper is worth your 75 cents (or less, if you're one of those smart people who subscribe).

I am NOT suggesting we're all some kind of martrys for it, mind you. There are a ton of jobs out there that require the same thing or much, much worse, and even a couple--doctors, firemen, etc.--who I guess do things more important than reporting on the local basketball teams. It's just something to remember, occasionally, when you crack open your new paper on Thursdays.

Two quick notes on the area's girls' basketball teams ...

--Perhaps this weeks' biggest game is this coming Monday in Milan, where the Big Red girls will be looking to get their first win of the season against Dundee. The Big Reds have several winnable games to close the season, but Dundee is one of only two home games and arguably more manageable of the two (with the other being Airport, who beat Milan by 16 in their first meeting). It's not "do-or-die" for the Big Reds in terms of a potential winless season, but it might be their single best shot at a W.

The good news? Milan is currently playing their best basketball of the year, having stayed within single digits of both Grosse Ile and St. Mary Catholic Central into the fourth quarter last week (not that straight score comparisons are ever that meaningful, but it might be worth looking at what, say, Airport did against SMCC their last go-round vs. Milan's performance against the Kestrels). Those two teams have easily been the class of the league for multiple seasons, and if the Big Reds can continue that level of play Monday, they'll have a great shot. It won't be easy, but it won't be the scaling-of-Everest challenge of SMCC or Ida, either.

--Entering Thursday night, the Saline girls had lost only four times all season, with two of those L's coming to SEC Red leader and state Division 1 No. 10 Bedford, and one to Bedford's closest SEC challenger in Ann Arbor Huron. The only "upset" Saline had suffered this season came at the hands of Tecumseh, by two points Jan. 4. But that result didn't look quite so surprising this week, after Tecumseh pushed Bedford all the way to the wire in a 42-38 loss. The upshot of that surprise is that a) neither Saline's first loss to the Indians nor Thursday night's road loss in Tecumseh should really be viewed as an "upset" b) a district field that already looked challenging now looks downright murderous. Lincoln looks like the odd team out and Adrian is right around .500, but the other four teams--Bedford, Saline, Tecumseh, and Monroe--are all well over .500 and enjoying terrific seasons. It's going to be a dogfight.

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