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Lansing State Journal. Feb. 19.

BWL review first step in reputation fix

Lansing Board of Water & Light's internal review of its response to the Dec. 21 ice storm is 80 pages of worthwhile reading. In it, BWL goes into great detail in assessing how its systems and procedures failed. It offers 54 steps it has taken, is taking or will take to perform better in the future.

The report is candid in exposing serious lapses, including that a new outage management system installed in February had significant software problems still awaiting fixes at the time of the ice storm. A critical glitch had developed in May with its "conductor cut function," which is key in tracking outages.

A needed repair was only part way through testing at the time of the storm. The BWL made the fix live on its system several days into the restoration period, but doing so caused some outage areas to show as repaired and some repaired areas to show as still out. The report says: "To correct for these discrepancies, the BWL dropped all outages in the OMS. So when customers who had called in an outage earlier called again to check on the status of their outage, the BWL did not recognize the customer as being out of service. This caused confusion and anger among customers." Indeed.

The report also notes capacity problems with the BWL's phone systems, issues with tree trimming, and cites the need for better communication with local government officials.

Yet a key gap was caught by BWL Vice Chairman Dennis Louney, who noted the lack of "an analysis of management, what they did and didn't do."

Another lapse (not mentioned in the report, but known due to Freedom of Information requests) is that Lark deleted his emails, which eliminated one tool for assessing his performance.

Evaluating management's role now becomes crucial for Brig. Gen. Michael McDaniel's independent review team. Insight they might consider comes from the Institute for Crisis Management in Louisville, Ky., which specializes in crisis communications. Its 20 years of analyzing business crises produced data showing that the majority "smolder" first: "In other words management knows or should know about them before they go public. Another fallacy is that most crises are caused by employee errors or natural disasters. The reality is that most newsworthy business crises are the results of management decisions, actions or inaction."

While BWL takes steps to improve its performance, customers will look to McDaniel's team to assess why there were 54 areas needing improvement.


Daily Press & Argus (Howell). Feb. 20.

Bright idea for final lesson at school

How do you teach kids something? You tell them how it should be done, give them the little hints and tricks that make the job easier, and then you let them give it a try.

But what if the task is something like using a sledgehammer to bust a hole in a cinder block wall? Firefighters have to know how to do that. That's how they access a room when fire, or some other disaster, has cut off regular access. It's a skill they may have to have to save their own lives. Should they ever find themselves trapped in a room by fire, they may have to use a sledgehammer to make their way out.

One more little problem . got a cinder block wall you can spare for some studentpractice? Most building owners object to that sort of thing.

That's why it was a stroke of genius when Howell High School took the students of its Firefighters 1 and 2 classes over to the old Latson Elementary School last weekend and let them have at it. Roughly two dozen firefighter hopefuls smashed through doors and tore through walls Saturday at Latson.

The old school is closed and scheduled for demolition.

The students broke through walls, then crawled through the holes while dressed in full firefighting gear, itself a challenge.

They practiced forced entries, forced exits. They filled a room with smoke and let the students search for and rescue a victim.

All are skills firefighters need to learn but something that can't be practiced just anywhere. You sure don't want them practicing those skills at your house.

Brighton Area Fire Department Lt. Tom Kiurski, who is the lead instructor for Howell High School's firefighting classes, called it a "practical day" for his students.

"We're more than halfway through the book, and this is a chance to work on the techniques they've learned," Kiurski told Daily Press & Argus reporter Wayne Peal.

Built in 1979, the school was closed in 2011 and its students were transferred to the newer Three Fires school building in Genoa Township.

The Howell Public Schools Board of Education made the decision to tear the building down this year. It was closed due to the construction of the Latson Road interchange. And the district hopes to sell the land to developers, who might be able to make use of the commercial possibilities now that the interchange is open.

But before the building gets torn down later this year, there was one last chance to use it for an educational purpose . firefighter training.

Nicely done.


Grand Haven Tribune. Feb. 18.

CVS rightly says no to tobacco

CVS Caremark Corp. recently decided to pull tobacco products from its store shelves. Love it or hate it, good for the management of CVS for taking a stand for what they believe in.

There are those who disagree with the store's choice and feel that the decision to purchase the product should be left up to the consumer. However, people can still purchase tobacco products, just not any longer at CVS pharmacies.

What about soda pop? Candy? Snacks and chips? Should those items be pulled from the shelves, too?

If the purpose for pulling the products is a healthier community, one could make the argument that those products should also be pulled from the shelves. Obesity, especially childhood obesity, is a major health care issue, and much of that can be attributed to those products that kids consume.

The difference is that the occasional bag of chips or candy bar doesn't have the same negative impact as the occasional smoke does on those who consume them. One cigarette, however, does cause damage — not to mention the second-hand smoke implications that it creates for others.

We hope that, regardless of the financial impact, CVS Caremark will stick to their guns and others will follow suit.


The Mining Journal (Marquette). Feb. 19.

New longer, sharper teeth placed in state anti-poaching laws

Thinking about doing a little spotlighting, also known as poaching? If you get caught — and in all likelihood, you will — be prepared to pay big bucks to the state.

That's because recent changes in state law have increased the penalties associated with illegally shooting whitetail deer. A front-page story last week in The Mining Journal penned by Staff Writer John Pepin had details.

Pepin wrote that the new laws include a progressive penalty system, which affects restitution for poaching antlered bucks. For poaching any deer, with or without antlers, the base restitution will be $1,000. Poaching an antlered deer will increase the restitution by another $1,000.

In addition to the restitution, poaching of any antlered deer with 8 to 10 points, another $500 fine will be assessed for each point and an additional $750 for each point for deer with 11 or more points.

In addition to the restitution, poachers will be subject to fines and court costs, Pepin noted.

Extended periods of lost hunting privileges will also be levied against poachers under the new laws.

The new laws also increase the civil damage award landowners may recover from recreational trespassers.

Previously, the maximum amount a landowner could recover from someone who trespasses to hunt or engage in other recreational activity was $250 or actual property damages. Under the new law, the civil action increases to $750 or actual property damages.

There is a temptation to grab a gun and light and just head for the woods. We hope area residents resist the temptation and opt to play by the rules.

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