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Alcona MSUE to host ballot proposals webinar

October 11, 2012
Andrew Westrope - News Staff Writer , The Alpena News

HARRISVILLE - Alcona County residents have a chance to participate with other communities across Michigan in a webinar on state ballot proposals hosted by MSU Extension on Oct. 22, featuring a handful of policy experts who will speak about each proposal and field questions afterward. The Alcona County Library's Harrisville branch will accommodate the online forum from 7-9 p.m. for the first 50 people to sign up.

The webinar will cover all six proposals on the Nov. 6 state ballot:

A fact sheet will provide attendees with an overview of all six proposals, then videos prepared by MSU Extension will explain most of them in further detail, and attendees at each of the participating sites - Alcona, Chippewa, Van Buren, and Wayne counties - will discuss the issues and come up with questions for an expert panel of four MSU professors in East Lansing. Moderators will field the questions, and the panel will communicate with the satellite locations via online video conference. A webinar session for Genesee, Grand Traverse, Houghton and Macomb counties will follow on Oct. 24.

MSUE Public Policy education specialist Claire Layman, who came up with the idea, said the forum will allow at least one question per topic from each of the four locations.

"(Participants) will view the video, which is just meant to give an overview, and then they'll discuss that in more depth with people at their table, and then they'll come up with one good question," she said. "So it's both pre-taped videos that they're going to view, and then it's also like a teleconference where they'll be able to have Q&A with those same experts."

Library Director Carol Luck said the library's technological resources, including broadband connectivity and a large screen and projector, made it a natural choice to host the event.

Fact Box

What: MSU Extension ballot proposal forum

When: Oct. 22, from 7-9 p.m.

Where: Alcona County Library Harrisville branch

"Every year when there are proposals, the library likes to have information, and the League of Women Voters have always helped us out with information, and we like to share what information we can, factual and neutral," she said.

MSU Extension historically has published fact sheets on ballot issues for each election, but Layman said she pushed for a statewide webinar event this year to better inform and encourage conversation.

"I thought people needed to talk to each other more about these ballot issues, because all of them are pretty complex and important, so I wanted to do something that was more than just a written piece," she said. "I got some of the idea from a statewide series of workshops about the BioTrust in Michigan, setting up a policy for the BioTrust, and the format lent itself to policy discussion."

Layman also recommended visiting the Citizens Research Council's website,, for more detailed analyses of the six state ballot proposals.

The library's capacity for the webinar is limited to 50, and interested Alcona County residents must pre-register at the library or online at

Andrew Westrope can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5693.



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