Zorn bill seeks to improve safety at railroad crossings

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn has introduced legislation to create a program aimed at enhancing safety and traffic flow at rail crossings.

“The goal is to help the state and local communities resolve long-standing congestion issues at railroad crossings and improve the safety of Michigan drivers by reducing — and eventually eliminating — the chance of a collision with a train,” said Zorn, R-Ida.

Senate Bill 364 would create a new Local Grade Separation Grant Program to provide state matching funds for local governments and the rail industry interested in pursuing high-priority railroad grade separations on local roads. The funds would be used to transform a crossing so that road traffic would travel either over or under the railroad.

“As the rail industry becomes more efficient and trains increase in length, they will block crossings for longer periods of time,” Zorn said. “This is bad for first responders for whom time is critical, manufacturers whose workers or trucks are delayed, and local businesses who lose customers as drivers take different routes to avoid a blocked crossing.”

According to the Michigan Railroads Association, Michigan ranks 15th worst in the nation for the number of collisions, injuries, and fatalities at highway-rail crossings.

“My bill is modeled after a program in Indiana and will create partnerships between the state, local governments and the industry to address this growing infrastructure problem,” Zorn said.

SB 364 has been referred to the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for consideration.

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**PHOTO ADVISORY** Zorn welcomes Monroe County assistant prosecutor to Capitol

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, welcomed Monroe County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Allison Arnold to the state Capitol on Tuesday.

Arnold was in Lansing to testify in support of Zorn’s legislation to allow a prosecutor to bring charges in the drug-overdose death of someone who consumes the drugs or dies in the county, even if the illegal drugs were purchased in another county.

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Editor’s note: The above photograph is available by clicking on the image or by visiting www.SenatorDaleZorn.com/Photowire.

Zorn: Enjoy free outdoor summer fun this weekend

LANSING, Mich. Sen. Dale Zorn is reminding residents that they can enjoy some of their favorite summertime outdoor activities this Saturday and Sunday at no cost.

“This weekend, Michigan is offering a great opportunity for Michigan anglers and out-of-state visitors to experience some of the world’s best fishing — free of charge,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “I encourage families to take advantage of this free weekend of summer fun to relax while enjoying some world-class fishing or rev it up during the first of the state’s two summer free ORV weekends.”

Since 1986, Michigan has celebrated the free fishing weekend as a way to promote awareness of the state’s vast aquatic resources and to give families a great chance to pass along the joy of fishing to the next generation. It concludes Michigan Boating Week, which offers many opportunities to start boating, get back onboard or learn some new skills.

During June 8-9, all fishing license fees will be waived, but all fishing regulations still apply. The state will also waive the regular Recreation Passport entry fee for vehicle access to Michigan’s 103 state parks and recreation areas.

On Saturday and Sunday, off-road enthusiasts can ride designated routes and trails without an ORV license or trail permit. Riders can find out more at www.Michigan.gov/ORVInfo.

For more information on the Summer Free Fishing Weekend, including a list of activities across the state, visit www.michigan.gov/freefishing.

There are two local events listed on the site. The annual Tecumseh Free Fishing Derby for kids age 12 and under is on Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m. at Tecumseh City Park, 403 Adrian St. in Tecumseh.

Also on June 8, is a night of free fishing at Sterling State Park, located at 2800 State Park Road in Monroe. It runs from 7 to 10 p.m. Bait, tackle and rods will be provided.

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Senate passes Zorn’s high school press box exemption bill

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday approved Sen. Dale Zorn’s legislation to clearly state that football stadium press boxes, concession stands and ticket booths do not need to be heated as “occupied” spaces.

“We need to insert some common sense into the current law and end a ridiculous delay to a local high school construction project,” said Zorn, R-Ida.

Madison School District in Adrian is trying to build a press box this summer as part of a larger upgrade to their football and track facilities. However, state building inspectors are interpreting current mechanical codes to say that the press box is an “occupied space” and must have permanent heating facilities capable of maintaining a minimum room temperature of 68 degrees.

“Now that the Senate has approved this reform, I hope the House will act quickly to resolve this disagreement and prevent local taxpayer dollars from being wasted,” Zorn said.

Senate Bill 294 would amend Michigan’s construction code to clarify that interior spaces, such as press boxes, that are built as viewing areas for outdoor sporting activities are exempt from the permanent heating requirements.

As passed by the Senate, the bill would also exempt ticket booths and concession stands from the heating requirement. The bill also adds clarity to the existing exemption that press boxes with an aggregate area of 500 square feet or less are not required to have an elevator.

“Requiring heat for a seasonal building used periodically through the fall athletic season is not only unnecessary but would substantially increase construction costs related to the project,” said Dr. Ryan Rowe, superintendent of Madison School District.

The district is preparing to put in bleachers in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and build a new press box and team room near the football field and track.

SB 294 now heads to the House of Representatives.

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Zorn applauds area Marshall Plan for Talent grants

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Monday applauded seven area school districts that are part of three talent consortiums recently awarded Marshall Plan for Talent grants to improve the state’s talent development and education system.

“The Marshall Plan for Talent brings education, business and community leaders together to encourage more students to pursue new, in-demand careers and ensure they are prepared to succeed in those careers,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “I applaud these area schools and their community partners for earning these competitive grants that will help them provide students access to innovative ways of learning and industry connections that can give them a huge advantage in having a long career in exciting, high-wage fields.”

The Align Lenawee consortium was awarded $788,976 in the latest round of Marshall Plan for Talent Innovation Grants announced on May 31 by the Michigan Talent and Economic Development Department and Department of Education.

Align Lenawee will serve 8,970 students and includes Adrian Public Schools, Clinton Community Schools, Hudson Area Schools, the Madison School District, Onsted Community Schools, and the Lenawee ISD. It also features several area partners, including Adrian Steel, Anderson Development, Kapnick Insurance, ProMedica Bixby and Herrick Hospitals, PlaneWave Industries, Adrian College, Jackson College, Siena Heights University, the Human Resource Association of Southeast Michigan, Michigan Works! Southeast, One Lenawee and Lenawee Now.

Monroe Public Schools is one of seven K-12 partners in the Geospatial Technologies Talent Consortium, which was awarded a grant of $988,707. The consortium will serve 12,466 students and includes the Monroe County Planning Commission Planning Division among its 30 partners.

Hudson Area Schools is also one of six school districts in the Great Lakes Advanced Manufacturing Consortium, which received a $3 million grant. The consortium includes 29 partners in six counties and will service 12,340 students.

Of the nearly $14 million in grants awarded statewide, $6.89 million will go to purchasing state-of-the-art equipment students can use to learn with hands-on techniques and $6.14 million will help develop world-class curricula for each consortium. The remaining funds will go toward evolving some districts to a competency-based education model and hiring career navigators who will help students explore career options and pathways while providing needed support to overwhelmed school counselors.

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