Rural development grant 2.18

Michigan State University (MSU) is slated to be the focus of rural development research and education for the Midwest beginning July 1. The university recently won a competitive grant of nearly $2 million that will make it the host of the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development (NCRCRD) for the next five years.

The NCRCRD is one of four regional centers charged with strengthening the ability of the land-grant university system and its partners to help build rural community capacity, create vibrant and sustainable economies, and cultivate inclusive governance to enhance regional well-being.

MSU Extension, the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station and the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) will jointly administer the center, thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.

“Because 59 of Michigan’s 83 counties are considered rural, it is only natural that we are dedicated to helping rural communities thrive,” says Frank Fear, senior associate dean of the MSU CANR. “This opportunity allows our faculty and staff members to work with neighboring states to foster research and outreach efforts throughout the North Central Region.”

The USDA North Central Region consists of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Extension organizations, including MSU Extension, serve as the outreach arm that transfers research from universities to communities where information can be successfully implemented to trigger economic development.

“Applying education to economic development is our driving force,” says Tom Coon, director of MSU Extension. “We look forward to fostering multistate collaborations that can address needs of rural communities in Michigan and across the Midwest.”

Scott Loveridge, MSU Extension state leader for community and economic development, will serve as the center’s transitional director. He will chair a nationwide search to find a permanent director for the NCRCRD.

“The center was crucial in helping me launch my research program at the beginning of my career,” Loveridge says. “I plan to help the center continue to play that role as we establish it here at MSU and seek a full-time director.”

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    NICE WORK—A spider remains at the center of a web, awaiting visitors, during a moist morning last month. The was built in front of Eagle Funeral Home in Morenci.
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    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
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    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
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    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
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    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
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    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
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    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
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    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
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    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.