Saturday Shorts: Let private prison reopen

The Detroit News

The Michigan House is considering a bill that would allow a private prison near Baldwin to reopen to house inmates from other states.

The former "punk prison" once handled Michigan's younger inmates, but closed four years ago amid controversy.

This time, GEO Group of Florida says it will house only adult prisoners from outside Michigan.

Though it left open the possibility of eventually taking Michigan inmates, the state says it has no intention of sending prisoners to the facility.

Opponents fear that allowing the prison to reopen is the first step in privatizing other Michigan correctional facilities. But if GEO Group can prove it can get it right this time, that wouldn't be a bad outcome.

Meanwhile, reopening the prison would bring 150 jobs to an area of the state that badly needs them.

Let them eat cookies

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would restore common sense to state school nutrition policies. The House Education Committee passed a bill that would let schools hold to fund-raising bake sales a week that would include cookies and other treats.

Federal nutrition guidelines banned cookies and most other sweets from school grounds, but states are allowed exemptions. Michigan's Department of Education opted to meet the federal rules.

The legislation would change that policy. An amendment to the bill requires parents be notified of all bake sales on school property.

Kids and cookies are a natural combination. Attempting to ban the reasonable consumption of sweets is a futile effort. Restoring the bake sales will help with fundraising and make school just a bit more fun for students. This bill should pass.

I-94 project should go forward

Some opposition has been voiced to the planned expansion of I-94 between Connor and I-96. The 7-mile-long project will also include rebuilding or replacing 67 overpasses and bridges as well as installing a new sub-base and pavement. Lighting also will be upgraded.

It should make driving safer and traffic smoother. Rob Morosi, a spokesman for Michigan Department of Transportation, says the widening work is not just to reduce traffic bottlenecks. Plans include construction of additional lanes to revamp the interchange at I-94 and the Lodge Freeway for smoother traffic flow. The left exit and entrance lanes will be replaced with standard right lanes for those purposes. Also, acceleration lanes will be constructed to help vehicles entering the expressway more easily merge with traffic.

Opponents question the traffic projections and complain some buildings will be demolished, including the historic United Sound Systems Recording Studios. Morosi notes the MDOT is willing to move the structure if the owner agrees, which is a reasonable alternative.

The stretch of I-94 that will be repaired is heavily traveled. The project will make the commute better for the 145,000 motorists who use it daily.