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Michigan’s Economy Hits 10 Year High

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) reports that Michigan’s economy has reached a 10-year high, according to Comerica Bank’s Michigan Economic Activity Index. The June index jumped 2.0 points in June, spiking to a level of 105.9 – its highest level since 2002. The index has averaged 102 points over the first half of 2012, 11 points above the index average for all of 2011.

“The Michigan economy pushed further ahead in June, with our Michigan Economic Activity Index up strongly for the second month,” said Robert Dye, Chief Economist at Comerica Bank. “The rate of job creation has slowed over the first two quarters of the year as U.S. auto sales have plateaued around a 14 million unit annual sales rate in 2012. But outside of durable goods manufacturing, we are seeing ongoing gains. Housing markets statewide are improving as sales and prices increase. New home construction remains low, but is expected to increase to meet pent up demand.”

The Michigan Economic Activity Index consists of seven variables: nonfarm payrolls, exports, sales tax revenues, hotel occupancy rates, continuing claims for unemployment insurance, building permits, and motor vehicle production. All data are seasonally adjusted, as necessary, and indexed to a base year of 2004.

According to the Michigan Association of Realtors, the number of single family homes sold in Michigan rose 14 percent in July compared to one year earlier. The July 2012 average sales price was $116,116, a 6.55 percent increase over the 2011.

Overall, Michigan is leading the country in economic recovery, according to the Detroit News. The dropping unemployment rate, upswing in home sales and increase in consumer spending are all evidence of a positive outlook for the Great Lakes state.

Photos & Video from the Duck Lake Fire

We’ve collected some photos, video and reports from the Duck Lake Fire. Photos are all courtesy the Michigan DNR.

“This fire is an eye-opener for a lot of people. In the 1930s and ’40s, we had a lot of major fires go through this country and burn a lot of old forests, but we’ve gotten complacent since then. These things can really blow up.”
~Veteran Crystal Falls DNR firefighter Jeff West

Updated May 31 In mLive’s article on the Duck Lake Fire, Jeff West ranked the fire at an 8 or 9 on a scale of 1-10. Today’s DNR report (May 31) says that cooler temperatures Wednesday evening allowed fire crews to get to 57% containment of the fire. There are 40 miles of fireline in this long narrow fire (see map) that has destroyed 132 of 138 structures within its 21,458 acre area.

By contrast, the Sleeper Lake Fire from 2007 was estimated to have burned 18,000 acres. The Christian Science Monitor explains that this is it’s the 2nd largest fire since 1980′s 25,000 acre fire near Mio and the massive 1.1 million acre Great Michigan Fire of 1871 that killed over 200 people.

Today Gov. Rick Snyder toured the fire zone. He heard complaints about cellphone coverage and residents wanting earlier notification. U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow also visited the fire command center in Newberry today, pledging to bring FEMA dollars to help rebuild the destroyed buildings.

If you’re looking to donate to help the firefighters, mLive has the details on Red Cross and Duck Lake Fire Center needs. They go through 488 bananas a day “to get their potassium back in their bodies because they sweat so much.” Skip the candy (except for suckers) in favor of bottles of water & Gatorade and energy bars and beef jerky snacks. The firefighters also need moleskin shoe liners to protect their feet from heat, bandanas and “socks, socks and more socks.”

Tahquamenon Falls State Park remains closed due to the proximity of the Duck Lake Fire in Luce County, and there is currently no estimate on when the Park will re-open.

You can also see some aerial video of the fire from the Michigan DNR.

Proposal 1 asks: Time for a Michigan Constitutional Convention?

We, the people of the State of Michigan, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of freedom, and earnestly desiring to secure these blessings undiminished to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution.

early-documents-thumbnailSo begins the Constitution of the State of Michigan which was last revised in 1963 (pdf of the current Michigan Constitution). You might also check out Michigan’s first Constitution from 1835. The Bentley Historical Library at UM says that in the course of its existence as a state, Michigan has had four different constitutions. In addition two further constitutions were prepared but were rejected by the people. Their Michigan Constitutional Conventions page has documents related to these and at the end of this article you can check out a video from Seeking Michigan of Michigan’s last convention in 1961-62.

Michigan’s Constitution dictates that every 16 years, voters be asked whether or not the document needs to be revised. Proposal 1 on the ballot asks voters: Shall a convention of elected delegates be convened in 2011 to draft a general revision of the State Constitution for presentation to the state’s voters for their approval or rejection? Get the full text of Michigan Proposal 1 from Ballotpedia.

Peter Luke has an excellent article that looks at Proposal 1, those pro and con and what various factions would likely call for. He points out that for perhaps the first time in history, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the Michigan Education Association actually agree on something, in this case that they do not support this measure.

Those recommending revising our Constitution cite school funding, confusing tax structure, over-sized local government, and the general need to modernize and streamline the structure of state government. There’s a Yes on Proposal 1 web site and backers include Governor Granholm, the Lansing State Journal, Detroit Free Press and the Grand Rapids Press.

Those opposed say that a convention would cost at least $45 million, that it would handcuff our newly elected officials and it would create uncertainty for Michigan job providers. There’s a Vote no on Proposal 1 web site and those opposed include both candidates for Governor, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Farm Bureau and the Detroit News.

Michigan Can Lead the Way: Michigan Constitutional Convention from Seeking Michigan on Vimeo.

Mitch Albom interviews Ernie Harwell

We’ll have another post later today, but here’s Mitch Albom interviewing Ernie Harwell at the Fox Theatre last October. It’s a little wobbly but what a great glimpse into Ernie Harwell’s history. Watch this and then read Mitch’s column remembering Harwell below.

Fare Well by .jowo
Fare Well by .jowo

Ernie Harwell — the voice of the Tigers — died in the spring by Mitch Albom begins:

The Voice of Summer died in the spring, just before the Tigers’ first pitch of the evening. That was fitting. Ernie Harwell never wanted to interrupt the game.

Mr. “Looong Gone” is gone now. Like the home run that lands in the seats, like the final out of the ninth inning, like the thousands of games he closed with his signature sign-offs, his genteel voice telling us he’d see us tomorrow. Gone now. No more tomorrows…

Read the rest at the Freep, read more about Ernie Harwell on Absolute Michigan and on Michigan in Pictures, and check out the great slideshow of Ernie Harwell photos that folks have been adding to the Absolute Michigan pool. Please add your own if you have them and add links and comments about Ernie below!

State of the Art in Ypsilanti, 1926

774px-Schreibtelegraf_nach_Morse_1880Laura Bien has a great feature on how “lightning slingers” kept Ypsilantians updated on the saga of Irving Berlin and socialite Ellin Mackay with The 1926 Modem on North Huron Street. It begins:

In the fall of 1925, Ypsilantians, and the nation, were transfixed by the romance of a onetime Lower East Side immigrant kid and a telegraph magnate’s daughter. Her wealthy father, Clarence, the son of Comstock Lode multimillionaire John Mackay, strongly disapproved of his Catholic daughter Ellin’s interest in a Jewish man with what he viewed as a disreputable occupation. Clarence refused to give Ellin his permission to marry. The couple waited in dismay for Clarence to change his mind.

Daily Ypsilantian-Press editor George Handy waited as well for the next tidbit of news—his readers loved the story.

In the fall of 1925, Ypsilantians, and the nation, were transfixed by the romance of a onetime Lower East Side immigrant kid and a telegraph magnate’s daughter. Her wealthy father, Clarence, the son of Comstock Lode multimillionaire John Mackay, strongly disapproved of his Catholic daughter Ellin’s interest in a Jewish man with what he viewed as a disreputable occupation. Clarence refused to give Ellin his permission to marry. The couple waited in dismay for Clarence to change his mind.

Daily Ypsilantian-Press editor George Handy waited as well for the next tidbit of news—his readers loved the story.

When in January of 1926 that news came from New York, it was a bombshell. Ellin Mackay had eloped with and married Irving Berlin.

Handy needed a wedding photograph from New York—and fast—this story was too big to wait for the mail. He called New York.

Half an hour later he had a photograph, thanks to the only modem in Ypsilanti in 1926.

Read on and see the photograph at YpsiNews.com and learn more about telegraphy and photos in Wikipedia!

Michitwitter November 2009

Read a good article or blog post about Michigan? See a cool picture or video? Listen to a great podcast? Attend a fun event or find a new web site?

Scroll down to tell folks in the comments. Please keep them brief and friendly! Subscribe to Michitwitter via RSS or check out Absolute Michigan on Twitter!

Photo: You with the camera, enough pictures!! by Daylily18

Michitwitter October 2009

Read a good article or blog post about Michigan? See a cool picture or video? Listen to a great podcast? Attend a fun event or find a new web site?

Scroll down to tell folks in the comments. Please keep them brief and friendly! Subscribe to Michitwitter via RSS or check out Absolute Michigan on Twitter!

Photo: You with the camera, enough pictures!! by Daylily18

Michitwitter September 2009

Read a good article or blog post about Michigan? See a cool picture or video? Listen to a great podcast? Attend a fun event or find a new web site?

Scroll down to tell folks in the comments. Please keep them brief and friendly! Subscribe to Michitwitter via RSS or check out Absolute Michigan on Twitter!

Photo: You with the camera, enough pictures!! by Daylily18

Michitwitter Rewind August 2009

Saline Summer Sunflower Super Set...Sweet by Andy Tanguay
Saline Summer Sunflower Super Set…Sweet by Andy Tanguay

Throughout each month we post items of Michicentric interest to our Michitwitter page. In case you missed them here is a look back at just a few of those items for the month of August. If you find these interesting there are plenty more for you to check out. We encourage you to add any news items, events, links to vids, podcasts or whatever you find interesting about the Great Lakes State!

The photo featured in this post in from the Absolute Michigan flickr pool and is by Andy Tanguay. Andy has the following to say regarding his photo “Saline Summer Sunflower Super Set“:

You know, I think a monkey hopped up on PCP could take a nice shot in this location. So here’s mine…Ooo Ooo ooo Oooo ah ah ah.

A sunflower farm just west of Saline Mi at sun down. Literally miles and miles of blooming sunflowers right at their peak. The farmers are nice enough to post a sign saying help yourself to pictures, just don’t take any flowers. The farmer came out to greet us. I guess all these go to feed…like bird seed and such.

We’d like to draw attention to two new excellent festivals that were held at the Grand Traverse Commons. Both the Traverse City Wine & Art Festival and the Traverse City Microbrew & Music Festival were great successes and we encourage to check them out next year!

Flint’s Carriage Town makes a comeback

Electric Blues by Rudy Malmquist
The Mason House c 1872 in Carriage Town by mansardroofsf

The New York Times has taken note of an area in Flint called Carriage Town that is making a comeback due to some industrious and motivated homeowners. In the midst of an otherwise impoverished area and dire economic circumstances these people are taking advantage of real estate deals and restoring the beautiful old homes that make up the area. The article Faded Glory: Polishing Flint’s Jewels also notes that as people move in businesses follow and once again becomes a community.

In a city that is synonymous with faded American industrial and automotive power, Carriage Town’s success is both unexpected and inspiring. A persistent group of long-term urban homesteaders — along with newer arrivals eager to live near a downtown showing signs of life — has restored dozens of Victorian-era houses and buildings in the last 20 years. While many Flint neighborhoods feel all but abandoned, in Carriage Town home ownership has increased 10 percent over the last decade, according to Census data.

In a worldwide recession, development projects with more than $47 million in public and private financing are in progress or recently completed in the 30-square-block Carriage Town area, including the conversion of the derelict Berridge Hotel into lofts and the ongoing renovation of the long-vacant Durant Hotel into 93 apartments and commercial space. There are even plans for a neighborhood grocery store.

But there’s no denying that Carriage Town is a work in progress, and that those who call it home must deal with challenges like speculators, abandoned houses and lack of code enforcement by the cash-strapped city.

For more images of Flin’t Carriage Town check out this slideshow from Flickr…