NMU Screens Film “The True Cost” March 21

March 20, 2018

Marquette, Mich.– NMU screens film “The True Cost,” in the Jamrich Hall Room 1318, 6:30 p.m.

“The True Cost” is a documentary about the clothes people wear, the people who make them and the impact it is having on the world. The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. This documentary considers the question of who pays the price for clothing. Filmed in countries all over the world, “The True Cost” features interviews with many leading influencers, including Stella McCartney, Livia Firth, and Vandana Shiva. It runs 92 minutes.

Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services Offers Tips to Prepare for Spring’s Extreme Weather

March 20, 2018

Marquette, Mich.– The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) encourages Michiganders to be prepared for spring storms by reviewing their home insurance policies to make sure they have adequate coverage and preparing a home inventory.

“Having the appropriate insurance coverages will help you get your life back to normal as soon as possible after your home is damaged,” said DIFS Director Patrick McPharlin.

If severe weather causes damage to your home:

  • Contact your insurance company’s claims hotline and/or your agent to report your claim. Have your policy number and other relevant information readily available. (Insurance Claims Tracking Sheet)
  • If you have water damage, when contacting your insurance company be sure to communicate that you have experienced water damage and are looking to determine what coverage you have available. Do not simply state that your damage is due to a flood as there may be additional causes for water damage, such as a sewer backup or failing sump pump that may be covered under your policy.
  • Take steps to protect your property and prevent further loss.
  • Document your loss. Take pictures or videos of the damaged items and do not get rid of the items until the insurance company instructs you to remove the items.

Anyone with questions or concerns about their insurance coverage is asked to call the DIFS toll-free hotline at 877-999-6442.

If you believe your insurance company has not handled your claim properly, you can file a complaint with DIFS. When you file a complaint, DIFS acts as a link between you and the company or agent. DIFS will try to resolve the complaint and see that your questions are answered.

For more information, visit “How to File a Complaint” on the DIFS website. For a copy of DIFS Insurance Tracking Sheet, please visit the Disaster tab on the consumer page.

For more information about DIFS or the services provided, please visit the website at www.michigan.gov/difs, follow them on Twitter or “Like” them on Facebook.

$18 M in Federal Grants Available to Public and Non-profit Groups to Provide Services to Crime Victims

March 20, 2018

Elder abuse services RFP announced today, due April 19

Marquette, Mich. – Local organizations across the state will be able to apply for $18 million in Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grants to provide services to crime victims over the next three months, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced today.

The MDHHS Crime Victim Services Commission has posted the first of five Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for VOCA Victim Services funding. The RFP focuses on services for victims of elder abuse.

The Division of Victim Services is accepting proposals from organizations that would provide direct services, resources and care to elder abuse victims. The purpose of the $3.75 million elder abuse grant is to provide services for those who are sexually, physically, emotionally and financially abused. MDHHS will award three- to five-year U.S. Department of Justice grants of $50,000 to $750,000.

Questions about the RFP for victims of elder abuse can be emailed to MDHHS-CVSC-VOCA-GRANTS@michigan.gov and must be submitted by Friday, March 30, 2018, by 5 p.m. The deadline for proposals is Thursday, April 19 by 3 p.m.

The remaining four RFPs will be available in April and May and will focus on supervised visits and safe exchange, sexual assault services, tribal victim services and children’s advocacy center development. The release dates for those RFPs are April 5 for supervised visits and safe exchange, April 19 for sexual assault services, May 3 for tribal victim services and May 15 for children’s advocacy center development.

Applicant agencies must be public or non-profit organizations – including faith-based entities and American Indian tribes – that provide direct services to crime victims. The purpose of the funding is to expand and enhance services to victims of crime, such as responding to the immediate needs of crime victims, reducing psychological consequences of victimization and helping restore victims’ sense of dignity and self-esteem.

For more information or to apply, visit the MI E-Grants Website at Egrams-mi.com/dch and select the “About EGrAMS” link on the left panel to access the Crime Victims Agreement training manual. The RFP is located under “Legal and Policy Affairs” in the Current Grants section.

For more information about Michigan’s Division of Victim Services, visit Michigan.gov/crimevictims.

MVAA Celebrates Fifth Year of Helping Michigan Veterans

March 20, 2018

Marquette, Mich. – The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency marked its fifth anniversary on Tuesday, as the agency continues to serve as the central coordinating point, providing support, care, advocacy and customer service to the state’s veterans and their families.

Gov. Rick Snyder issued Executive Order 2013-2 on Jan. 18, 2013, creating the agency to help to better connect eligible veterans with the benefits they have earned through their military service.

“For five rewarding years, the hundreds of members within MVAA have come to work each day to serve those who have served us,” said MVAA Director James Robert Redford. “Today MVAA is a robust and growing state agency that is, more than ever, focused and determined to realize our vision of making Michigan the best place for veterans to live, raise a family, work and retire. Five years in, MVAA has much to be proud of, yet much to accomplish.”

Since its launch on March 20, 2013, MVAA has worked to make Michigan a better place for veterans to live and work, focusing on the areas of health care, employment, education and quality of life.

MVAA works hand-in-hand with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, other state and county agencies and community and veterans service organizations throughout the state. By building a comprehensive network of resources and service providers, MVAA and its partners ensure veterans receive the assistance they need through its ‘no wrong door’ policy.

Redford noted key achievements since the agency’s creation, including the Michigan Veteran Resource Service Center and the Michigan Veterans Community Action Teams both receiving Abraham Lincoln Pillars of Excellence Awards in 2016, and for the first time in memory, both the DJ Jacobetti and Grand Rapids veterans homes met or provisionally met all standards in the annual VA survey in 2017.

Today, veterans are receiving 55 percent more in Compensation and Pension Benefits from the VA than when the agency was established, and the percentage of Michigan veterans receiving those benefits is also up. Through the County Incentive Grant program, more veterans in more counties are being serviced today than on day one, with 60 more counselors in the field and 8 new county-level departments of veterans affairs. The 135 total counselors have distributed more than $600,000 to enhance or increase county veteran service provision.

Additional accomplishments include:

  • The Michigan Veterans’ Trust Fund helped 7,520 war era veterans with $8,224,618 to overcome temporary financial crises since 2013.
  • The Michigan Veterans Homeowners Assistance Program helped 805 veterans receive $4.8 million in grants to help stay in their home, recover from a foreclosure or complete necessary repairs to their homes between 2013 and 2016.
  • The award-winning MVRSC has resolved more than 60,000 cases to help veterans and family members connect with benefits and services.
  • The Veteran Friendly Employer program, which helps Michigan’s veterans identify job providers who value and want them and helps job providers develop internal processes and programs to support employees who are veterans and active military members and their families, has grown leaps and bounds. There are now 180 certified Veteran-Friendly Employers.
  • The Veteran Friendly School program has taken off, with 70 institutions now committed to supporting the needs of student veterans and dependents.
  • The Michigan Veterans Facility Authority was established to ensure a long-term solution to provide higher quality of care for Michigan’s veterans through the construction of new veterans homes throughout the state, initially with one replacing the existing facility in Grand Rapids and a brand-new facility in southeast Michigan.

“From Detroit to Lansing to Grand Rapids and Marquette, MVAA has, through its dedicated staff and the support of our legislative partners and Governor Snyder, left an indelible mark in the lives of the 608,000 veterans who call our state home. It is an incredible privilege to serve our veterans, and I look forward to what we can accomplish together in the next five years and beyond.”

NMU Grad Works with Grammy Artists

March 20, 2018

Marquette, Mich.–  As a Northern student, Mike Picotte (BS 2001) spent much of his free time in the campus audio production labs, becoming proficient in their specialized software and equipment. Now he is realizing a major return on that investment. The Gwinn native is a senior sales engineer for Sweetwater, billed as “the world’s leading music technology and instrument retailer.” Picotte advises clients on gear purchases and designs recording studios and live venues. He also consults on complex sound systems for large tours by artists such as Carrie Underwood, Katy Perry, and Justin Timberlake. In addition to his day job, Picotte has earned a stellar reputation among high-profile artists for his side passions: serving as a front-of-house engineer for concerts; and mixing/mastering records.

“There’s a rush that comes with delivering a performance to a large crowd at a live show,” Picotte said. “But you have only one shot to get the sound right; you can’t press stop and fix something. I like that pressure. It requires you to think fast and be a good problem-solver. If there’s a technical issue, you’ll destroy an artist’s confidence if they see you panic. You just have to roll with it and work around it.

“In the studio, the rush is in the creative process of influencing the final product in a beneficial way. But you don’t want to over-produce it to the point it doesn’t sound like the artist anymore. Even with all of the technology, you still have to approach it artistically with an ear for music, an appreciation for the blend and an understanding of the artist’s vision.”

Picotte has carved out a niche in the Latin pop market. He worked on an album by Mario Bautista on the Warner Mexico label, which had crossover success in the United States. That led to an opportunity to master a few songs for Luis Fonsi, though not on his Grammy-nominated “Despacito” album. Other high-profile artists he has collaborated with range from Earth, Wind and Fire, Styx, Lee Ann Womack and the Steve Miller Band to Pharrell Williams, Coolio, Theory of a Dead Man, 10 Years and Hollywood Undead.

There are a number of perks associated with this work. Picotte has received special guest admission to the Grammy Awards. He has worked in studios many artists aspire to record in, such as the Village in Los Angeles and Ocean Way in Nashville. Picotte was invited to sit in on a film mix at Sony Pictures while in California attending NAMM, one of the largest music, sound and event technology trade shows. He also was hired to record, mix and master a live record with Ray Fuller & the Bluesrockers at Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago.

Staying active in the music industry is a natural complement to Picotte’s day job with Sweetwater, which he started in 2002. He said the Indiana-based retailer is on the forefront of introducing new technology to the market, offers intensive training and certification programs to employees and boasts clients around the world. He added that Sweetwater’s Gear Fest trade show each June draws about 15,000 people to its campus.

Beyond the musical realm, Picotte is consulting with the NFL on technology used to transmit the Super Bowl. The goal is that future game coverage be piped between the host stadium, Culver City, Calif., and producers and directors in New York City via fiber networks. Picotte specializes in a relevant product line from a brand that Sweetwater carries.

Picotte recently worked with an NMU grad student and professor to update a campus audio recording studio (see related story here). He was named outstanding graduating senior by the Communication and Performance Studies Department and still keeps in touch with faculty members. His most influential mentor was the late Professor Chuck Ganzert.

“I was hit hard by Chuck’s death,” he said. “I would visit him when I came back to the area and send him records I worked on with a thank you note for his guidance and friendship. When I was a student, Chuck was always shocked at how early I got up to work in the audio production lab. Partway through the semester, he realized I wasn’t a morning person at all; I was just wrapping up an all-night session. That was a joke between us, but I learned a lot working on my own extra hours with the tools in the labs. I became extremely well-versed in Pro Tools software, and now I’m a specialist with that line.

“My advice to students is to dive in and take advantage of all opportunities available and build relationships with Northern professors because they’re helpful and have an open-door policy. Also, do more than what’s required and don’t procrastinate on projects. It can be scary stepping into a new professional environment after school. You have to be confident in your abilities and willing to continue learning and training to stay on top of your game. I feel blessed that I’ve reached the point that people value my opinion and ask to work with me.”

Prominent music schools have learned of Picotte’s reputation and tried to recruit him. He said he plans to immerse himself in his career for another 20 years, but does anticipate a future shift to education. He enjoys teaching master classes for advanced audio students from a nearby college and leading training sessions for new employees at Sweetwater University.

When it’s time to decompress and disengage from audio technology, Picotte is an avid mountain biker and competes in endurance events of 50 miles or more. His biography on the Sweetwater website includes his personal motto, which could very well apply to both his biking hobby and his successful career: “Only those who risk going too far will ever know how far they can go.”

NMU ‘Teachers of Promise’ Attend Education Summit

March 20, 2018

Marquette, Mich.– Northern Michigan University education students Jennie Baker of Munising and Amy Burley of Marquette were among the “Teachers of Promise” who attended the Governor’s Education and Talent Summit March 12-13 in Novi. The Network of Michigan Educators invited universities to select their top two pre-service teachers for the designation. The students were honored at a banquet and had an opportunity to network with education leaders from across the state at the conference.

Jennie Baker is an English-secondary and social studies-secondary education major. During her time at NMU, she has gained experience working with before- and after-school programs, outdoor education experiences and community education on campus as a teaching assistant and resident adviser. Baker has had teaching experiences as far away as Sapporo, Japan, and into the close-knit communities of her Alger County. She is graduating summa cum laude in May 2018.

Baker said the conference had interactive sessions, including Power by Teach to Lead, in which she worked with a team to solve a given problem: designing an internship program for Rochester High School seniors.

“It was enlightening to experience the ‘behind-the-scenes’ aspect of educational programming, particularly in terms of funding and the relationships between administrators and their staff,” she said. “I definitely left with ideas of how to make some of my goals take shape at my school. Speakers on the second day opened my eyes to a new concept of classroom management that embraces use of technology by students and flips the script on outdated models based on compliance. Being named a Teacher of Promise feels like a vow: people believe in me and what I can do for the future of education, so I want to dedicate myself to that future. Everything that has been given to me, I want to give back ten-fold.”

Amy Burley is an integrated science, chemistry and mathematics-secondary education major from Marquette. She has integrated her educational focus into local science classes, homework clubs and labs. She served as a teaching assistant for the NMU Mathematics and Computer Science Department and helped to lead instruction for the Seaborg Center. During her time at NMU, Burley also volunteered as a science tutor for a local high school student. She will graduate in May 2018.

Burley said the summit taught her that leadership in schools does not need to originate with administration alone.

“Any educator is capable of being a leader in the field of education, and the influence of any teacher does not need to stop in his or her own classroom,” she said. “This means that teachers should constantly be working together to raise each other up, and help one another out rather than creating a competitive, closed-door atmosphere. I am excited to implement this concept in my future profession. I am honored to have been selected as a Michigan Teacher of Promise. However, I know that this is not a stopping point. To me, it is a reminder to continuously be developing as a professional educator and to set a goal to be a better teacher each and every day.”

Calendar – Films/Documentaries – CineArts Film Series to Screen “Labyrinth of Lies” – Mar. 23

March 20, 2018

Marquette – CineArts Films, a series devoted to foreign and independent films, will offer a screening of the 2014 film “Labyrinth of Lies” on Friday, March 23 at 6 p.m. in the Community Room of the Peter White Public Library.

In Germany, 13 years after World War II, Johann Radmann, a young prosecutor, examines the case of a teacher who has been recently identified as a former Auschwitz guard. Working through a web of repression and denial, Radmann devotes himself to finding out what really happened at Auschwitz and forces an entire country to face its past.

The historical drama in German with English subtitles is rated R and runs for 2 hours 4 minutes. This is a BYO dinner event. There is no admission charge. For more information, visit www.pwpl.info or call 226-4309.

Calendar – Benefits/Fundraisers – Crunch for a Cause Taco Dinner Fundraiser – Mar. 23

March 20, 2018

Harvey – Ending Hunger Alliance of Marquette will host its Crunch for a Cause taco dinner fundraiser on Friday, March 23 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Silver Creek Church, 219 Silver Creek Road in Harvey.

In addition to the dinner, there will be many raffle items. There is no cost for the dinner, but donations will be accepted. Proceeds will be used to support the alliance’s mission, and help provide food for area children and families in need.

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