Staff reports

Employee partner health benefits

Ferris State, along with two other west Michigan universities, recently voted to grant unmarried partners of university employees health benefits.

The Ferris Board of Trustees recently voted unanimously to pass the measure, which does not discriminate by gender and will be classified as “Other Eligible Adult.” Grand Valley State University and Western Michigan University are the other two universities in West Michigan who have passed similar measures.

Two of the current Ferris faculty, Jim Rumpf and Marc Sheehan, have stated that they believe this will help to retain and attract new quality employees.

One of the stipulations is that the partner has to have lived in the same residence as the employee for 18 months and not as a tenant.

Michigan Texting Ban

The Michigan legislature voted in early December to ban text messaging while driving.

The State House and Senate have passed different versions of the bill, and are currently working to settle the differences that are present. Once signed by Governor Granholm, texting will be a secondary offense for motorists.

This secondary offense means that violators cannot be pulled over for text messaging alone, but can be punished for it if they are in violation when pulled over for something else.

Recent polls have shown that an overwhelming majority of Americans support the ban, while about half support the banning of cell phone use altogether.

Many other state legislatures have already voted to ban text messaging while driving, and Michigan is soon to be among that group. More than half of all states nationwide will have some sort of ban active in 2010.

Big Rapids Skate Park

A local skate park committee has recently been awarded a $5,000 grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation to improve the skate park in Big Rapids.

The current park includes mobile ramps, and the committee has been looking to improve the facility for the benefit of its users. After the winter months pass, the renovation will start.

The Pioneer recently reported that local skateboarders have been practicing their tricks around town at places such as the library where some damage has been caused.

The hope of the committee is that with more durable and re-done ramps, the skate park will attract more patrons. Parents have also shown enthusiasm because they want their children to have an outlet to skateboard.