Disc golf coming to WCC?
Washtenaw Community College has upgraded its sporting facilities in a major way, but could another project be in the making?
According to Director of Student Development and Activities Ian Griffin, disc golf could be likely.
With the popularity of disc golf rising in the community, a three-hole course may be added behind the softball and baseball fields on the college’s property next to the Health and Fitness Center. The original idea was brought up in Summer of 2007, but was just resurrected during Winter semester.
“The general reaction has been pretty good,” Griffin said. “People who are disc golfers would love just to see the baskets.
“I kind of see this as a means to give people a break if they do have a day where they are taking three classes. I can see people going over and playing a round of disc golf.”
According to Griffin, the three-hole course would cost about $4,500, each basket costing around $1,500. The course may also include a 30-50 meter practice hole.
The college will start mapping out the location of the disc golf course and figuring out how many holes can potentially fit in the limited space.
The plan has been stalled because of the amount of space needed for an actual course; it’s important that spectators are safe, and vehicles can’t be harmed by flying discs, Griffin said.
If the course is built and receives enough activity, it’s possible for the college to expand the course in a different area. A full, 18-hole course, while not likely due to limited space, would cost about $18,000.
The course will be available for anyone’s use, but the college will not supply disc golfing equipment.
“It’s always best to bring your own disc,” Griffin said. “Discs are not very expensive and we do have some in the office.”
Cool heads prevail during Middle East debate at Towsley
ANDREW KUHN WASHTENAW VOICE
About 200 people attended an emotionally-charged “Media Coverage and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” and while some post-lecture comments were confrontational, the audience was largely respectful and studious throughout.
“Life is not a football game,” Alison Weir told a focused crowd in the Morris Lawrence building’s Towsley Auditorium on March 25. Weir is the founder and executive director of If Americans Knew, an organization that seeks to “inform and educate the American public on issues of major significance that are unreported, underreported, or misreported in the American media.”
The event was sponsored by two Washtenaw Community College groups, Students for Peace and Justice and the Muslim Student Association.
Ian Griffin, WCC’s director of Student Development and Activities, lauded the efforts of the groups as well as the behavior of the audience. He explained that while his office exists to support student clubs and organizations, he has no influence on the composition of campus events.
“It’s my job to support the organizations and fund them, but they’re allowed to do as they wish. They’re very organic,” Griffin said. This event cost the college about $300, mostly consisting of travel expenses to get Weir here.
Griffin spoke of the success of this event and the contributions it made to a conversation that will surely extend past campus boundaries.
“This event was one of the largest,” Griffin said. He thinks that the event will contribute to future collaborations, and not just between these two student organizations. With divisions already drawn in this conflict, education is the only way out.
“The best thing to do as an intellectual is to listen to both sides – to read as much as possible, to educate [yourself] on either side of an issue. Then be a part of the conversation,” Griffin added.
The Muslim Student Association meets every Thursday 3:30-5 p.m. in LA 278; and the Students for Peace and Justice meet every Wednesday 12:30-2:30 p.m. in BE 180.
For ‘Earth Day’and ‘Farm Career Day,’ A2 looks to WCC
ROBERT CONRADI WASHTENAW VOICE
Prepare to see a lot of green and white at Washtenaw Community College during April.
Rest easy, Michigan fans – Michigan State isn’t coming to infiltrate the campus. Instead, WCC is hosting a few environmentally focused events, including the 40th Annual Ann Arbor Area Earth Day Festival and the Small Holder Farm Career Day and Job Fair.
“T-shirts for volunteers will say, ‘Ann Arbor’s Green and White,’” said Ian Griffin, director of student activities and development.
Both events will be held in the Morris Lawrence building, and both are new to WCC. While the college has held an Earth Day celebration in the past, this will be the first time that the event will be combined with the city of Ann Arbor’s.
“One of the great advantages to having it at WCC is that we have the Morris Lawrence building, where even if it snows, it’s a hospitable place,” said Laura Lyjak Crawford, WCC’s public relations and marketing senior managing editor. “We have a lot of space. We have great parking.”
For Ann Arbor’s Earth Day celebration, which will happen from 12-4 p.m. on April 25, volunteers and participants will need all the space they can get. Attendance is expected to be between 2,000-3,000 people. Fortunately, the event will be on a Sunday.
“We changed it from being during the school day to being on a Sunday so that it was more convenient for community members,” said Nancy Stone, the public service area communications liaison for Ann Arbor. “This way, there wouldn’t be a parking situation.”
Along with food, entertainment and animals that will be at the event, local children are invited to participate in the much-anticipated All Species Parade. The parade participants dress as their favorite species, be it a plant or an animal. One lucky volunteer will be chosen to lead the parade dressed in “some sort of dinosaur suit,” according to Griffin.
“It’s really colorful and fun and sweet,” said Lyjak Crawford. “We’ve had lions and tigers, of course, but sometimes amoebas.”
Griffin stated that even though WCC will be helping set up and take down the event, he still needs plenty of volunteers. Any and all help is welcome.
The other ML building event, the Farm Career Day and Job Fair, will happen on April 19, from 1-5 p.m. Co-sponsored by WCC and the Food Systems Economic Partnership, this event is more adult-oriented. Victoria Bennett, WCC’s academic administrative associate to the dean of business and computer technologies, is a member of FSEP and helped bring the event to WCC.
The first time Bennett thought of the idea, she was at the HomeGrown Local Food Summit, an annual Ann Arbor event put on by farms and organizations interested in local food.
“In one of the focus groups, there was a farmer that was saying, ‘We need access to people that can work. We need to find employees,’ and he kept pointing at me,” said Bennett. “At that point I was like, ‘OK, not really sure how to do this, but thank you.’”
Soon after, Bennett worked with FSEP to put together the job fair. She cited the idea as a way for students to connect with local farmers and community supported agriculture programs (CSAs) to learn about jobs in everything from Web design to fieldwork.
“Some of the farmers are even open to bartering for services. They might be open to providing fruits and vegetables in the summer in exchange for a professional service,” said Bennett.
Richard Andres is one of the farmers who plans on taking advantage of the job fair. As one of the owers of Tantré Farm in Chelsea, he’s looking for help with welding, repair and maintenance, construction, cheese-making, greenhouse management, bookkeeping and more.
“At that job fair we’re going to have a little display with our history and what we do with vegetables and what our season is like and the work we do here,” said Andres. “We’ll encourage people to come out to the farm for a work day – just see if they like this sort of work and just sort of build relationships.”
Andres first starting farming when he was growing up. He says it was his “first job.” However, it took him a while before he had a farm of his own. The reason he stuck with it is because of the feeling he gets on the farm, after which Tantré Farm is named. The name comes from an old story he heard in the 1980s. The girl in the story was named Tantré.
“It has to do with stillness and clarity,” he said. “I guess when I was out here on the land I felt very calm. Things are fairly clear and that sort of life inspired me.”
Johnny Damon acquisition:Fair or Foul? – Point
Johnny Damon is not going to hit 27 home runs this year. He may not win his third World Series ring in 2010. And Tigers fans should be advised to look away when he makes a throw from the outfield.
But the Tigers signing Damon to a one-year $8 million contract makes all the sense in the world and may be the move that wins the division in a none-too-stellar American League Central.
How can Johnny Damon make the difference on this Tigers team? He can get on base at the top of the lineup. He can work the count and, by doing so, tutor younger hitters to do the same as well as give those who follow him a chance to see more pitches. I like the country pie song that plays when Clete Thomas steps to the plate just as well as anyone else, but there is no way such a free-swinging hitter should be leading off.
And as we see the spring training game schedule beginning, Jim Leyland is making plate discipline and particularly two-strike counts a priority. You can hit all the home runs in the world, but taking pitches also takes opposing pitchers out of games earlier, gets to bullpens earlier—even if outs are recorded, they are productive outs. It’s much easier to hit the third reliever coming out of the bullpen than it is to hit Zack Greinke or Jake Peavy.
The Minnesota Twins look to be Detroit’s biggest competition and will be moving into their new outdoor baseball field this year, giving up what had to be considered the biggest home field advantage in baseball—playing 82 games in the Metrodome. Much like Oakland, a team whose success perennially depends on buying into a philosophy of play, the Twins teams often get to a slow start no doubt in part due to carpet where natural grass should be.
The Chicago White Sox offered Damon less and lost out. Unless they can manage to swing a trade for Adrian Gonzalez or another big offensive contributor (can Alex Rios return to form?), it should be an interesting season of reality television and tweeting for Ozzie Guillen. The Kansas City Royals have Zack Greinke and the Cleveland Indians have Grady Sizemore and both have otherwise young teams that may frustrate the Tigers from time to time, but shouldn’t pose a threat.
I think one reason some Tigers fans dislike the Damon signing has more to do with not liking the Curtis Granderson trade and seeing Damon as a replacement. Granderson is a player with tons of potential who was given a contract that anticipated him developing those abilities further along by this time. It hasn’t happened, particularly against left-handed pitching.
Damon will have a better year than Granderson would have had in Detroit, and if Granderson goes on to hit for career highs it will have more to do with the wind tunnel in right field and the protection through the lineup. Damon has played on successful teams even in small markets (see Oakland), where he has been a key to post season berths.
Is Damon worth the $8 million Detroit will pay him this year? If Magglio Ordonez was worth $19 million last year, then, yes. Absolutely!
Ian Griffin is the director of Washtenaw Community College’s Student Development and Activities, and as a proud citizen of “Red Sox Nation” can speak to the virtues of Johnny Damon.
Remember what you did last summer? She saved Bambi
JOHN ROSSMAN COURTESY PHOTO
April Stafford was rafting down a river with a fellow Washtenaw Community College student when she thought she heard an angry duck around her. The two of them quickly discovered that this was no mad quacker. It was a Bambi in distress.
In the rushing river, the infant deer was struggling to survive.
“It was a little baby deer,” Stafford said. “It couldn’t have been two or three days old.”
Stuck on tree roots, the deer went silent as the raft went past.
“There was no way it would’ve survived, we had to go back,” Stafford said. “We couldn’t go upstream so I had to get out and walk back.”
The cold, wet deer was taken out of the river and returned to a nice spot with the warm sun beaming down. Although Stafford was leaving the deer for its mother to find, she still wasn’t totally happy.
“I really wish I could have taken it home,” Stafford said. “It was so cute. I wanted to raise it. But there has to be some kind of law against taking it home.”
The two students were on a trip with WCC student activities to the University of Michigan Biological Station in Pellston last summer on a two-night stay. The group had so much fun the college is adding a third night and fourth day to the trip this year, planned for June 3-6.
Tickets go on sale March 15 (today) at $100 per student. The money goes toward the transportation to Pellston and a trip to Mackinaw, four days of meals at the station, a ferry trip, activities and rafting. The only thing not covered is food away from the Pellston site.
The University of Michigan facility features cabins on Douglas Lake, where Michigan students stay to study the environment. The cabins are warm and comfortable, and even offer Wi-Fi Internet service.
“For people interested in science, the biology station is enough of a reason to come along,” said Ian Griffin director of student activities and development. “(UM) likes us there because they’re interested in trying to recruit students.”
The food at the dinner halls is mostly organic and local, which make for good meals during the stay.
“Dare I say it’s the best lunch hall in all of Michigan,” Griffin said. “I’ve had people come up to me and say ‘I haven’t eaten as good since I’ve been back.’”
In years past, WCC has gone to Mackinaw and Traverse City while staying at the Days Inn. The cabins offer students more space. If there’s a group of three or four they’ll get their own cabin.
Students on the trip will be able to come and go as they please.
“We’ve had students on honeymoons before,” Griffin said. “They don’t have to do the activities with us. We give them a list of what we’re doing; if they don’t want to we’ll see them Sunday.”
For more information, or to purchase tickets, call WCC Student Development and Activities at (734) 973-3500.
Student athletes finally get access, after hours and for a fee, to HFC
Three years after Washtenaw Community College’s Health and Fitness Center was built, the college’s student athletes are finally able to use the facility. Sort of.
Since October, WCC men’s and women’s basketball teams have been practicing twice a week in the Health and Fitness Center, and the volleyball teams are working to finalize a deal for after-hours practicing at the facility.
Why are the teams just now being allowed to practice? Because it’s a members-first facility, explained WCC President Larry Whitworth.
“The college fitness facility is a community fitness facility,” Whitworth said. “The only way that this fitness facility could be built was with bonds paid back by membership dues. The fitness facility is a self-financed project with no taxpayer dollars being applied to this project.”
The facilities bonds are being paid back by members of the fitness center, and only about a third of the facilities members are students at WCC, he said.
The college is also paying to use its own facility. According to a contract between WCC and the HFC, the men’s basketball team is paying nearly $2,000 to use the facility after hours. The volleyball team is close to completing a contract for much less.
The men’s and women’s basketball teams share practice time on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and if the volleyball contract is finalized, it would practice on Mondays and Thursdays.
For the basketball program, the schedule works out perfectly. The women’s team has a light Wednesday practice, with its game days on Thursday, giving more time for the men to practice. Men’s game day is Sunday, giving the women more practice time on Saturdays.
Despite having to wait three years to finalize a deal for Club Sports team to practice, WCC Club Sports is just happy with being able to prepare a little closer to campus.
“We’re excited to be over at the Fitness Center,” said Director of Student Activities Ian Griffin.
A huge benefit of practicing at the Fitness Center is the location. The teams are able to practice locally, instead of all across Ann Arbor.
“We’re pleased to be in a facility right on a bus line,” said Club Sports Athletic Adviser, Mike Glass. “Lots of players don’t have vehicles.”
With the local practice facility and a bus line, players have much easier access to practice. Cutting practice isn’t a problem and the players are familiar with their environment.
“It’s easier to travel to and from practice because it’s closer,” said Jamal Jackson, 20, a forward on the men’s basketball team. “It’s one distinct location.”
Last year, the teams were practicing all around Ann Arbor. Much of the time, the teams were practicing in small elementary school gyms, and players were restricted from practicing certain skills —particularly prohibitive for volleyball players.
“It might help our [game] performance,” Jackson said of the HFC. “It’s a nice facility to practice in.”
Save the Appalachians!
Mountaintop removal activist to visit WCC
MOUNTAINROADSHOW.COM COURTESY PHOTO
When Larry Gibson was a boy, he climbed to the top on his family’s mountain in West Virginia, and mountains towered around him. Some fifty years later, mountaintop removal coal mining has flattened everything around Gibson’s Kayford Mountain.
But Gibson is fighting to save his mountain and the Appalachians, and more than ten years ago, Dave Cooper joined him in the cause.
“Seeing Larry’s mountain was a life-changing experience for me,” Cooper said. “The coal companies are trying to get his mountain, but he won’t sell it because it’s his heritage. He grew up on this mountain — all his family ancestors are buried on top of his mountain.”
Cooper, a Kentucky native, quit his job as a mechanical engineer and started traveling the country with his Mountaintop Removal Road Show. Cooper will speak at Washtenaw Community College on Thursday, Oct. 26 from 1-2:30 p.m. to tell the story of “Larry’s mountain” and the consequences of mountaintop removal mining.
Although Cooper spoke at WCC last year, Ian Griffin, director of Student Activities and Development, decided to bring the presentation back.
“It was just exceedingly interesting, and up until that point, I really had not heard about mountaintop removal in that great of detail,” Griffin said. “It’s a really stunning story.”
Mountaintop removal mining has gone on since the 1970s, when coal companies realized it would be much faster and cheaper to access rich deposits of coal in the Appalachians by blasting mountains apart rather than hiring underground miners. Since the practice first began, Appalachian communities have suffered tremendous damages.
Mountaintop removal causes flooding for people who live in mountain valleys. When the mountains are stripped of absorptive trees, what remains becomes like a roof with the hollows like a gutter, Cooper explained.
The practice also destroys water because the mining exposes rainfall to heavy metals.
“So when rain runs downstream, instead of having pure mountain spring water purified by forests, you have contaminated water,” Cooper said.
And the Appalachian Mountains are one of the oldest and most biologically diverse mountain ranges in the world.
“It’s destroying our states; it’s destroying our water; it’s destroying our forests,” Cooper said of the practice. “When they’re done mining, they don’t plant trees back — they just spray grass seed, then they go on and get another mountain. And they can take a mountain down in about a year now.”
Mountaintop removal mining also disrupts communities with 24-hour noise — and falling debris.
“There’s blasting of the mountain above their homes, so occasionally you’ll have rocks come crashing down in the community,” Cooper said.
Coal companies have to get government permits for each mining site, so companies give the states’ legislators large amounts of campaign money — in return for help with regulations, Cooper said.
“Legislators aren’t listening to their own people — they’re definitely not looking out for the long-term interests of the people,” Cooper said. “This is a cut-and-run kind of deal: The coal companies come in, blow up the mountain, grab the coal and then their gone. And what’s going to be left 20 or 30 years from now?”
But recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Obama administration pulled 79 permits to look at more closely, an action Cooper applauds.
“The Obama administration has been much better than the Bush administration so far,” Cooper said. “But what we want is a ban on mountaintop removal. They can mine coal with underground mining — and that would actually put a lot of people back to work and create a lot of jobs.
“We’ve got a couple more years, and we’re going to stop it.”
$55,000 for new platform tennis court. Wonder why?
MICHAEL WESTHOFF THE WASHTENAW VOICE
Club Sports has no use for it, the Health and Fitness Center didn’t know it was coming and most students have no clue about the game, yet Washtenaw Community College is investing $55,000 in a heated, lighted platform tennis court.
“This had nothing to do with us,” said Greg Hanby, executive director of the Fitness Center. “It coincided with the soccer fields being put up, and the athletic fields.”
Mike Glass, Club Sports coordinator, couldn’t explain why WCC is spending money on platform tennis. “I don’t have any information,” he said.
Nor Damon Flowers, vice president of Facilities Development/Operations, explain the genesis of the project.
“I don’t know where the idea came from,” Flowers said. “I guess (the president) played it before. . . .”
And President Larry Whitworth apparently enjoyed the game so much, he wants to introduce it to others.
“I’ve played it for years,” Whitworth said. “I expect the students to learn it. It’s for anybody to use. Any student who wants to play it can use it.”
MICHAEL WESTHOFF THE WASHTENAW VOICE
The sport, which originated in Albion in 1898, according to The Atlas of Popular Culture in the Northeastern United States, is sparsely played today except for large pockets in New York City and Los Angeles — and some retirement communities in Arizona, Florida, Hawaii and South Carolina.
Platform tennis is built like a miniature tennis court. The major difference is the 12-foot fencing, eight feet behind baselines and five feet out along the length of the court.
It is also raised off the ground, for a heating structure below it that keeps the playing surface clear year-round.
“It’s a cross between tennis and racquetball,” said Whitworth. “You can play it off the wall like racquetball. It’s a great way to stay in shape.”
The scoring is the same as tennis, love to 15, 30, 40 then game. It can be played singles or doubles matches.
The court is up and nearly ready for play, with eight light structures to allow play at night. The surface is elevated. The fencing around it is up. The only thing left in construction is the heating element to help fend off ice and snow and make it playable all year.
“Getting DTE to get gas service is taking a long time,” Flowers said. “It will be playable in November, but without gas.”
And it’s free.
“There will be a sign-up sheet at the Fitness Center,” said Whitworth. “I expect students on break from classes to go over and play platform tennis.”
Whether or not they do is a matter of concern.
“I don’t want to say $55,000 doesn’t sound like much,” said Ian Griffin, director of Student Activities and Development. “I just hope it gets used. We didn’t have a demand for it. I haven’t heard anyone express excitement from students.”
Some seem willing to give it a try. Mitch Stidham, 19, from South Lyon, has never heard of platform tennis, but he said he’d consider learning it.
“I’d like to see people who know how to play, play it,” he said. “Then I’ll play it with my friends who don’t know how to play either — so I don’t get my butt whipped.”
Others say they have no interest.
“I’ve never heard of it,” said Jean Snyder, 18, from Dexter. “I don’t know what it is, so I probably wouldn’t play it. I would play tennis, but it’s not tennis.”
Indeed, Griffin speculated that interest among students may be higher in a regular tennis court.
“We’ve had requests for tennis teams but haven’t been able to explore it,” Griffin said.
When asked why regular tennis courts weren’t built instead, Flowers speculated that space was the issue.
“I don’t know where we could have put tennis courts though since they’re bigger,” he said. “We’re already tight with space.”
The dimensions of a regular tennis court are 36 feet by 78 feet. Platform tennis dimensions are 30 feet by 60 feet.