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Buckeye Local has special student send-offs | News, Sports, Jobs

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SAYING GOODBYE — Students received a warm send-off from Buckeye South, North and West Elementary Schools as parents drove them around the school building to collect their meals and belongings. Teachers at West greeted kids by collecting homework and giving them some Hugs juice drinks and Hershey Kisses as treats. — Contributed

TILTONSVILLE — The school year officially drew to a close after COVID-19 shut down buildings across the country, but Buckeye Local elementary students were sent off with warm wishes from faculty and staff.

Pupils at Buckeye South in Tiltonsville, Buckeye North in Brilliant and Buckeye West in Adena gathered their belongings and bid farewell to educators on May 20 after being separated for weeks due to the coronavirus. Buses and buildings were also decked out with cheerful messages and hopes are high to reunite soon as Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine permitted classes to resume this fall.

School districts will dictate their exact calendars, but until then the brief reunion at the three elementary buildings offered some consolation amid the wait.

Teachers — and even a few students — greeted each other with signs and cheers as the youngsters arrived to gather their belongings for summer. Faculty and staff donned red T-shirts reading “We Are in This Together” and bearing the district logo. The shirts were purchased for teacher and staff appreciation week. Some popsicles were donated by Ziegenfelder Frozen Treat Co. in Wheeling.

The event was the idea of Buckeye South Principal Julie Packer, who said everyone had missed each other and the extended school break has been a challenge.

“It happened so quickly and there was not time to mentally or psychologically prepare for the changes that were forced to take place. School as we knew it did a 360-degree turn in the blink of an eye,” Packer said. “We adjusted and so did the students, but it was very different. Seeing them on a computer screen was better than not at all, but there was still a feeling of disconnect. We missed the students so much and not being able to say a traditional goodbye in May was taking a toll on everyone.

“That is what prompted my idea of doing a send-off. My staff was 100-percent on board and thrilled with the idea, so we proceeded with getting approval from (Buckeye Local superintendent) Kim Leonard and sharing the idea with the other Buckeye Local schools.”

Packer thanked the school faculty and staff, as well as the community and parents for their support and patience during this challenging time.

“We love our students as our own. We miss them greatly and can’t wait to have them back in our building.”

In Adena, teachers held camp at Buckeye West Elementary and provided treats and kind words as parents drove the kids around the building to collect food and items they had left at school prior to the lockdown. Principal Jim Rocchi said it has been a difficult time for everyone since they were apart, so it was important to see each other again.

“It was a very emotional day for students and teachers and there were many tears shed by both. We had so many positive comments on our PTO Facebook page,” Rocchi said. “To say we all wish we didn’t have to go through those last nine weeks the way we did is an understatement. We all would much rather be together.”

At Buckeye North in Brilliant, teachers also stood along the driveway to welcome students through and give them meals and messages of missed time together.

“We did a drive-through goodbye with our students,” said Principal Susan Nolan. “All of the students were invited to drive through with their parents whether they were online students or (had) paper packets. They could drop off their paper packets, get treats and goodbye notes from their teachers and get to see everyone. It was really great.”

Nolan said everyone was overjoyed to see each other and there were signs and decorated cars to make the moment even more cheerful.

“I think that everyone came together to realize how lucky we were and parents and students gained a little more respect for the teachers, and the teachers more respect for the parents. I believe it was a learning experience to bring us back to reality. I pray and hope we return to a normal school year this fall.”

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Labor Day Festival canceled | News, Sports, Jobs

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ISHPEMING — Add the Labor Day Festival, put on by the Upper Peninsula Regional Labor Federation, as another event canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event, which would have been the 31st consecutive festival, was scheduled to take place on Sept. 7 at Lake Bancroft Park in Ishpeming.

UPRLF President Mike Thibault confirmed the cancellation was related to the pandemic.

“We made a decision pretty early on that it was a year that we’d have to skip because we do get a couple thousand people there and there’s no social distancing,” Thibault said. “I mean, it’d be pretty hard to do.”

He acknowledged it was a hard decision.

“It’s a day that we recognize working families and share the day with working families and employees across the U.P.,” Thibault said.

The Labor Day Festival, he noted, typically entails a parade through Ishpeming, a picnic lunch and guest speakers from various affiliated labor unions. With 2020 being an election year, the event likely would have included elected officials and people running for office.

The UPRLF is the parent organization to the Central Labor Councils in the U.P. Community labor councils in the U.P. provide the grassroots network of the labor movement’s efforts to ensure that economic, education, health care and other policies benefit working families, according to its website at www.uplabor.com.

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net

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US Allows H-1B Visa Holders To Return For Same Jobs They Did Before Ban

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US Allows H-1B Visa Holders To Return For Same Jobs They Did Before Ban

Trump administration has relaxed some rules for H-1B visas.

Washington:

The Trump administration has relaxed some rules for H-1B visas allowing visa holders to enter the US if they return to the same jobs they had before the visa ban.

The US Department of State advisory said dependents, or spouses and children, would also be allowed to travel with the visa holders.

“Travel by applicants seeking to resume ongoing employment in the United States in the same position with the same employer and visa classification,” the state department advisory said.

The US has also allowed travel by technical specialists, senior-level managers and other workers who hold H-1B visas, saying it is necessary to facilitate the “immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States”.

President Donald Trump had signed a proclamation on June 22 banning the entry of certain non-immigrants with H-1B and L1 visas until the end of the year to protect the US labour market following record unemployment rates because of the Covid19 pandemic.

The US tech industry, including Facebook, Microsoft and Apple, had backed a lawsuit against the move.

America has also allowed the travel of visa holders working as public health or healthcare professionals, or researchers as the country battles the raging pandemic.

“Travel supported by a request from a US government agency or entity to meet critical US foreign policy objectives or to satisfy treaty or contractual obligations. This would include individuals, identified by the Department of Defense or another US government agency, performing research, providing IT support/services, or engaging other similar projects essential to a US government agency,” the advisory stated.

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County seeks grant for gravemarkers in township cemeteries | News, Sports, Jobs

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News Photo by Steve Schulwitz
Alpena County Veteran Affairs Director George Stevens shows what new gravemarkers and flags would look like if they are installed at cemeteries in county townships. The Veterans Affairs Office applied for a grant to purchase gravemarkers and flags for area veterans’ graves.

ALPENA — The Alpena County Veteran Affairs office is working to place gravemarkers and American flags at the graves of veterans around the county.

The office applied for a $7,600 grant from the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency for the project, county Veterans Service Officer Dan Perge said. The office also has $2,000 leftover from a prior project that it plans to contribute to the memorials in township cemeteries without their own veteran grave program.

“They will be used as a way to honor the veterans in the township cemeteries, and we should find out if we got the grant this week, I hope,” Perge said.

Alpena already honors veterans at the city-owned cemetery with gravemarkers and flags, but most townships have few memorials outside of what family or friends plant or place near the graves, Perge said.

If the office wins the grant, Perge will begin working with township officials to get an accurate count of how many veterans’ graves need markers.

“We haven’t quite got to that point, but we will be working with the townships to determine what we need to do and go over logistics like who will place them,” Perge said. “Right now, we’re just getting things going.”.

Veteran Affairs Director George Stevens said township graves contain the bodies of soldiers dating back to the Civil War and every war after, buried in cemeteries large and small around the county.

He said people enjoy walking through cemeteries and admiring the gravestones, learning about those who died. Adding the gravemarkers will add to that experience, Stevens said.

Tammy Bates, trustee in Green Township, where there are two cemeteries, Greely Cemetery and Spratt Cemetery, said the township is always looking for ways to improve its parks, cemeteries, and facilities, but it’s hard to do so with so little wiggle room in the budget.

“People take pride in their cemeteries, and this will help to make it look better, while honoring the veterans appropriately,” Bates said. “Right now, we have identified 63 veterans that we know of. We may inject some more help from people, because there could be some that we haven’t identified. We want to include everybody, if possible.”

Stevens said people always show up in large numbers for Memorial Day and Veterans Day, when there are special parades and ceremonies at Little Flander’s Field.

He said the Avenue of Flags set up along Washington Avenue by the Alpena Kiwanis Club and Alpena Booster Club is another example of how the community supports military heroes.

“Sometimes, you can drive or walk by Evergreen Cemetery and there are American flags as far as you can see, and it is just great,” he said. “The people in the area have always had a deep respect and appreciation for veterans, so we’ll see where this goes. We’ll know more about the grant soon.”

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