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First Tee of Mid-Michigan Takes On City's Sycamore Golf Training Center

Due to budget issues, Lansing has had to close several of its golf courses, but thanks to First Tee of Mid-Michigan, the Sycamore Golf Training Center and Driving Range will remain open and save the city more than $65,000.

"The city was going to close it," says John Greenslit, executive director of First Tee Mid-Michigan. "We took it over."

First Tee of Mid-Michigan teaches golf to children age 7 to 17 and Greenslit says they focus on "at-risk kids," but they also "don't deny any youngsters."

Greenslit says that the non-profit's running of the training center and driving range will not involve any expense to the city.

Helping kids learn the game is not the only goal of First Tee of Mid-Michigan. Along with the four other chapters in Michigan, First Tee combines golf :with citizenship and nine core values," says Greenslit. Those values include honesty, sportsmanship and respect. "40 to 50 percent of our kids come back and re-enroll," he adds.

While First Tee of Mid-Michigan is responsible for maintenance and groundskeeping oat Sycamore, Greenslit empahsizes that "no one [with the city] has lost their job."

Both the training center and driving range are now open.

Source: John Greenslit, First Tee of Mid-Michigan

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


New Prep School Targets Young Professional Parents in Downtown Lansing

Little Scholars Preparatory School will be opening its doors in Downtown Lansing in late April or early May.

The school is "very small and elite," says founder and owner Audrey Pallone. "We are only taking four kids under the age of two-and-a-half, and 12 over the age of two and a half."

Pallone invested $12,000 into a three-story building located at 416 W. Ottawa. The bulk of the investment went toward getting the building up to code. The children will only occupy the 1,000 sq. ft. first floor, and Pallone says, "we're making sure the fixtures are safe for kids."

"Local day cares have waiting lists," she says of her inspiration to open the school. A lack of day care options Downtown was another reason.

"There is a big crowd of young professionals in stages of having kids," Pallone says. Her focus is to target professionals that work Downtown with extended hours: 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. "That helps parents who have different hours," explains Pallone.

"There will be three teachers," explains Pallone, each certified and licensed to teach in Michigan. "Your child is going to be learning," says Pallone, who taught first grade for five years at a charter school. The curriculum will feature reading, math, writing and music, as well as character education.

Little Scholars is located at 416 W. Ottawa, half a block West of the Capitol. Online enrollment is open now.

Source: Audrey Pallone

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan


Spartan Internet Breaks Ground on $2 Million Holmes Street School Renovation

Ryan Vartoogian, president of Spartan Internet Consulting, recently joined several community leaders to celebrate the groundbreaking at the $2 million renovation of the Holmes Street School on Lansing’s Eastside.

The long anticipated project is a complete overhaul of the old building, which will be turned into a technology and educational hub in September.

When the building’s finished, Spartan Internet Consulting will occupy the third floor, software security technology company Aegis Bleu will occupy the second and the Information Technology Empowerment Center (ITEC) will move into the first.

The ITEC is a nonprofit organization that offers hand-on activities designed to engage kids in math and science.

ITEC plans on offering digital media, robotics and other technology courses at the school in the winter. ITEC has been offering these classes since 2007, but since it hasn’t had a headquarters, has been operating from a variety of different locations. ITEC will also offer homework help to neighborhood kids.

“This is a way of grounding ITEC in the neighborhood,” says Kirk Riley, executive director of ITEC. “We don’t want residents or kids in the neighborhood to see ITEC as a place where people do science and technology and they have nothing to do with it. We want them to see it as relevant to their lives.”

Capital Area Michigan Works! summer Youth to Work Program will allow eight local students interested in construction to help with the demolition and rehabilitation of the building.

“This is a nice tie in with what it will ultimately be,” says Vartoogian. “With the ITEC, this will be a place of learning. Even during construction.”

Source: Ryan Vartoogian, Spartan Internet Consulting

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


First Stage of $800,000 Gier Community Center Renovation Complete

The first portion of an $800,000 renovation to the Lansing-based Gier Community Center is complete, providing additional gym space and spectator seating for community members.

“We were able to make our facility safer by giving spectators a place to sit,” says Gier Community Center Director Brett Kaschinske. “In doing that, we were able to add a few features including two more basketball courts and a batting tunnel.”

Gier Community Center hosts youth basketball programs, floor hockey teams, after-school programs, summer camps, teen programs and aerobics classes. Kaschinske says the center’s been in need of a renovation since its inception in 1975 and has been building a construction budget for the last several years.

“It’s an $800,000 investment, but our total costs aren’t up to that right now. But we are doing some other things,” he says.

Renovations started in June. In October, the Gier Community Center held an open house to celebrate the new gym space. Kincaid Henry Building Group worked on the project.

Source: Brett Kaschinske, Gier Community Center

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.


Eastside Neighborhood Makes Plans for $100,000 Outdoor Venue in Hunter Park

Keeping up with the community developments on Lansing’s Eastside can be tricky. At the behest of the Allen Neighborhood Center, the community is constantly upgrading and adding services for Eastside residents.

Now the City of Lansing is preparing to construct a $100,000 picnic shelter near the popular hoop house in Hunter Park.

“In the summer the greenhouse is too hot,” says Joan Nelson with the Allen Neighborhood Center. “You have to go outside into 85 degree weather to cool off. But it’s during that season that people are excited to learn about gardening.”

The shelter will provide space for the obvious activities — summer barbeques and birthday parties — and act as an extension to the Allen Neighborhood Center’s commitment to sustainable living. During the summer, gardening courses will be moved out of the greenhouse and into the shelter.

“We’re putting it out to bid,” Nelson says. “As soon as the ground is soft enough, we will put it in.”

The shelter will also include grills and painted chess tables. Nelson says there’s some chatter about using the outdoor shelter as a neighborhood movie theater in the summer.

The shelter is the last of the big ticket items laid out in the 2004 Hunter Park master plan, which included adding paths, a green house and benches.

Source: Joan Nelson, Allen Neighborhood Center

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.


City of Lansing Welcomes New $2.3 Million Southside Community Center

The City of Lansing invested $2.3 million in the Southside Community Center, renovating portions of the building as well as constructing a 5,656 square foot addition.

“This new community center will expand recreational opportunities for all of our residents,” said Mayor Bernero.  “Now children and seniors will be able to enjoy themselves, exercise or meet at this wonderful new facility.”    

The new community center is located in the former Harry Hill High School on Lansing’s Southside. As part of the investment, the city paid for renovations to the gym, pool and auditorium. The space also includes a game room, meeting space and an administrative area.

The Lansing School District and the city have agreed to share the building. The shared areas include the gym, swimming pool, oak room and auditorium. The addition is being used as administrative space for the city. The school district continues to use a portion of the building for classes.

The Southside Community Center is located at 5825 Wise Rd. 

Source: Murdock Jemerson, City of Lansing

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


DeWitt Creativity Group Developing 3,200 Sq Ft Arts and Technology Center

A group of high school students and some very dedicated advisors are working on developing a 3,200 square foot arts and technology center on the second floor of the Riverview Office Center in DeWitt.

“We were talking about the possibilities of locating a creative area where students could express their creativity and also try to get some space for them to start a business after they’ve gone through high school,” says Jason LaFay, faculty advisor for the DeWitt Creativity Group (DCG).

The DCG was created to connect creative high school students to the community and entrepreneurship. The group was founded last year. Although the group currently only occupies a portion of the 3,200 square foot space, it has big plans to use it all.

“It will be a multi-use space,” LaFay says. “We’d like to put a little café in there that’s sort of like a student-run business.”

He also wants to include a general study area, performance space and smaller areas where students can launch business ideas.

Not only does the 240 S. Bridge St. facility offer space for a group that engages the community, it also gives the community a better impression of what LaFay says is building that is a bit more modern looking than other DeWitt buildings.

“It has as spectacular view of the Looking Glass River in downtown DeWitt,” LaFay says. “It has that industrial feel that you get in cities like Chicago and New York.”

Right now the DCG is leasing a smaller space in the building, but is in the middle of a campaign to raise $50,000 to build out the rest of the space. LaFay and Jeff Croley, who is the DCG director and also a faculty member at DeWitt High School, want to be able to hold meetings and events in the space as well as offer a place where students can display their creative work.

The DWC has hosted several events and has worked closely with community members to build a bridge between students, community, business and the arts.

Nov. 12, they will host a discussion about the city after an "Our Town" performance. For more information, email LaFay here.

Source: Jason LaFay, DeWitt Creativity Group

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.


Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan Moves to 9,480 Sq Ft Space in Old Town

The Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan are the latest tenants in Old Town, moving to a 9,480 square foot office/retail space on Turner Street.

“We were in Holt for many years, but about a year ago, we merged five Girl Scout councils into one,” says Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan Communications Specialist Char Luttrell. “This streamlines operations and provides more services to the girls and the volunteers.”

The Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan serves about 25,000 girls and moved to Old Town in October. The Lansing Regional Center, located at 1223 Turner Street, includes a 7600-square-foot office suite and a street-level, 1880-square-foot retail space.

“Old Town is delightful,” she says. “It’s a great mix of businesses and various members of the staff are excited to be in such a vibrant area.”

The new Girl Scout regional center is the former headquarters of the Greater Lansing Michigan Convention & Visitors Bureau

Source: Char Luttrell, Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.


MSU Opens $3.5 million, 24,000 Sq Foot Shooting Sports Education Center

The $3.5 million John and Marnie Demmer Shooting Sports Education and Training Center on Michigan State University’s (MSU) campus is now open.

MSU broke ground on the facility last fall. The sports center has three outdoor archery ranges, an indoor archery range and two, eight-lane ballistic ranges for accepted .22 caliber rifles and pistols.

“The focus is on training and education, it’s not just another shooting range,” says Chuck Reid, director of MSU’s Office Land Management, which oversees the facility. “Originally, this was conceived for the home of a future NCAA mixed rifle team.”

Reid says the team may eventually come to fruition, but in the meantime, the facility is used by faculty members and is also open to the public. Everyone who uses the facility receives training and safety education. 

The center is one of the largest indoor shooting facilities in the Midwest. Individuals can bring their own equipment, but can also rent archery, .22 firearm and air rifle equipment.

The John and Marnie Demmer Shooting Sports Education and Training Center, 3365 E. Jolly Road, is located south of campus, midway between College and Hagadorn Roads.

Source: MSU

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.


Leslie Athlete Returns Home, Opens 46,000 Sq Ft Preparatory School for Athletes

After going to Louisiana to play college basketball and California for a job, Leslie native Erika Ernst has returned home and is turning a 46,000 square foot historic building into a preparatory school for top-notch athletes.

Ernst is rehabbing the old school building on Woodworth Street in Leslie. She plans to open the Ernst Preparatory School in October.

“It’s not just a school boarding program for student athletes,” she says. “It’s only for high-level student athletes.”

The school will train students in baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, cheer and dance. This year, Ernst is accepting eighth through tenth graders. Eventually, she’ll accept post-graduate athletes.

Ernst likens the program to popular tennis programs where the athletes work with the same coaches and trainers throughout their training. She has a trainer and strength coordinator who works with the Detroit Pistons and the Detroit Tigers lined up to work at the school and is recruiting other high-quality coaches. She says Florida-based IMG Academies is the only other program in the U.S. that offers similar services.

“This is a great thing for these kids because it helps them get their education rather than just pushing them through the system,” Ernst says.

Before Ernst came along, the building’s owner thought of turning it into a daycare facility or elderly home.

“What I’m trying to do with this school is bring it back to its history,” Ernst says. She’s tearing down walls, pulling out dropped ceilings to expose the original arches and replacing bricks.

Source: Erika Ernst, Ernst Preparatory School

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.


2,700 Sq Ft County-Run Preschool in Mason Reopening as Early Childcare Center

After cuts to the Ingham Intermediate School District threatened to force the dissolution of the 2,700 square foot Galileo childcare center in Mason, Cora and David Zink decided to take over the operation.

Now, the Zinks are enrolling three and four year olds in the renamed Renaissance Early Childhood Center. Not only has the name changed, but the curriculum has as well.

“The main difference in the programs is that this is child-driven rather than thematic,” says Cora Zink. “Other programs would have a planned program, but we really cue into what the children’s natural interests are, and if we notice that there’s a pattern and that several children are becoming interested in it, we really focus on it.”

The Zinks plan on adding summer programs and creating a resource room for parents on the upper floor.

“I think this space is very suitable for so many camps — reading, writing, math, science. I think it could be a really valuable part of the community,” she says.

The Zinks will keep the classroom size to 15 students, hosting one class in the morning and one in the afternoon. Classes will start Sept. 14. The Renaissance Early Childhood Center will host an open house from 6 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 5. The center is located at 2949 Sandhill Road in Mason.

Source: Cora Zink, Renaissance Early Childhood Center

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.


East Lansing's 27,000 Sq Ft Walnut Hills Celebrates After Restructuring

After a nearly three month-long renovation and upgrade, Walnut Hills, the East Lansing country club that was in financial turmoil, has a fresh new look.

“Basically we’ve done some basic renovations,” says Walnut Hills partner Kip Miller. “We painted the new sign and worked on the pool to make it a nicer place to sit and eat. We did some very minor things, but aesthetically, it needed it.”

Aside from changing the physical look of Walnut Hills, Miller and his business partner, Paul Vlahakis, changed their marketing strategy, targeting families. Though the former owners welcomed families, the new owners are specifically trying to attract families.

“What we realized is that we’re a great golf course, but it just wasn’t enough to fit the bill,” Miller says. “The country club life is not what they (customers) want. They want it to be kid friendly. We’ve gotten our demographic down to where they’re in their 30s and 40s.”

Since Miller and Vlahakis took over, membership has increased by 17-20 percent. Miller attributes the increase to the club’s renewed financial stability and its focus on family.

On June 23, the owners and community celebrated an open house at Walnut Hills.

“We did our due diligence,” Miller says about the venture. “We thought it would be a good thing to turn around. It’s a great piece of land in a beautiful area of town.”

Source: Emily Wenstrom, Motion Marketing & Media

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


City of Lansing Puts $25,000 into New Playground for Old Town Park

On Aug. 17, community members will volunteer their time to put together a new playground in Old Town.

The playground, which will be constructed in Old Town’s Burchard Park, is designed to make Old Town more of a destination for area families, according to Old Town Commercial Association Board Member Heather Chunko.

“We were trying to come up with some ideas on how to better utilize the park and we realized that there wasn’t much in Old Town for families,” Chunko says.

The OTCA approached the City of Lansing about the project and the city helped the OTCA find more than $25,000 in funding for the park.

“I think with the money that we raised and the money the city agreed to provide, we’re pretty well set,” she says.

The playground will include new slides, a new age teeter-totter and tiered platforms.

The OTCA is still looking for volunteers to help build the park. If you’re interested, click here.

Source: Heather Chunko, OTCA

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


Preuss Pets, Lansing Community College Partner on $10,000 Teaching Tank

Old Town pet shop, Preuss Pets, has donated more than $10,000 worth of equipment to Lansing Community College (LCC) for the construction of a perfect eco-system tank.

The 150-gallon coral reef tank was put together this spring, but will take several months to “get up to its full glory,” according to Tom Deits, chair of the LCC Science Department.

The tank contains coral beauty, pink skunk clown fish, bangai cardinal fish, zebra dart gobies, tang, flame angel and a bicolor blenny fish.

Deits says the college will use the tank as a teaching tool.

Students "have no idea that the animal kingdom is so diverse,” he says. “We want to teach them about their environment and how the balance works.”

LCC is setting up some internships with Preuss so students can learn about the system and help maintain the aquarium.

“What we need to do is think about the tank as planet Earth on its own,” Deits says. “It’s a closed system, so you have to think about food, the chemicals necessary for life, partners in the environment, predators, prey and parasites. You have to sort out a way to make that all happen—like in a spaceship.”

LCC had a saltwater aquarium years ago, but it was outdated and the college had some issues with the equipment so it was removed.

“This is a significant donation, there’s no doubt about that,” Deits says.

Source: Tom Deits, LCC

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


LCC Invests $1.7 Million in 12,000 Sq Ft Child Development and Daycare Facility

The Lansing Community College (LCC) Board of Trustees recently approved a $1.7 million budget to turn the college’s 12,000 square foot former photography building into a children’s learning center.

“The number one reason for doing this is a financial one,” says Linda Heard, communications specialist for LCC. “Students and faculty are under financial challenges just like the rest of us and if we can lighten that burden, it frees up students to learn.”

Not only will the center provide daycare services for staff and students, it will also give Early Learning Children’s Community (Early LCC) students internship experience working with young children.

“Not only will we be providing services for these people, but it will also be a learning center,” Heard says.

LCC has been trying to create an on-site daycare facility for more than 30 years. The facility, which will be open year-round and is scheduled to be finished in the fall of 2010, will accommodate 93 children. Heard says if the center does not reach capacity, LCC will allow community members to enroll their children at the facility.

Source: Linda Heard, LCC

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here

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