Ask ELi Grab Bag: Biggby, Schools, F-18s, and a Snapping Turtle

Print More

A snapping turtle (Courtesy of Michigan State University); Marble Elementary School (Dylan Lees for ELi); and an FA-18C Hornet fighter jet (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Samuel Ruiz)

In this edition of Ask ELi to Investigate, we bring you three reader questions that we recently received, related to local development, school signage, and military planes. We also bring you an interesting tidbit submitted by a reader.

Do you have a question about something in East Lansing that you want answered? Submit your question to us here, and we will try our best to get you an answer!

“Did a warplane just fly over East Lansing?”

That was a question posed to ELi by a Twitter user on Saturday, Aug. 21. Some members of the ELi team heard the planes again on Sunday, Aug. 22. (We also saw chatter and debates about this elsewhere on social media.)

To get to the bottom of it, we reached out to Katherine Japinga, the Director of Marketing for the Capital Region Airport Authority.

Japinga confirmed that four FA-18 fighter jets flew overhead on Aug. 21 sometime between noon and 1 p.m. and then again in the afternoon or early evening of Aug. 22.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Samuel Ruiz.

An F/A-18C Hornet takes off from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California.

So why were military aircraft flying over East Lansing?

“On Saturday, the community (Charlotte, specifically) welcomed home Medal of Honor recipient Francis Flaherty, 80 years after his death – a Charlotte native who died on the U.S.S. Oklahoma during the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941,” wrote Japinga to ELi. “It is my understanding the Navy was able to identify his remains two years ago with DNA testing.”

Regional media, including the Lansing State Journal and Fox47 News, reported on Flaherty’s life and recent burial.

“The F-18 aircrafts did a flyover following his burial ceremony in Charlotte,” Japinga told ELi. “They were pretty low flying and quite loud. They left on Sunday later afternoon.”

“The redevelopment of the former QD on Trowbridge Road has appeared to stall after moving along slowly over the past year. (Past coverage here.) Your previous reporting indicated a Biggby with a drive-through for the location. Although site work appears to be nearing completion, work on the building hasn’t seemed to advance as I’ve driven by on my way to campus. A “for lease” sign noting an available drive-through recently went up. Could the tenants for the building have backed out, stalling work?”

To get an answer to this question, we reached out to the City of East Lansing’s Communications Coordinator Mikell Frey, who passed along our question to Planning and Zoning Administrator Peter Menser.

According to Menser, Biggby Coffee and “another yet-to-be-named commercial tenant” will be using the building, with Biggby using the drive-thru window. So, the reason you’re seeing a “for lease” sign is because the intention is to have a second commercial tenant share the space.

“Our understanding is that Biggby is currently in the process of finishing site improvements and working on the interior of the building,” wrote Menser.

Menser also explained that the project was approved by City Council in 2017 and approved again in 2019, after the initial approval expired.

“I noticed recently that as they finish up Marble [Elementary] School, they have put up the lettering on the brick exterior near the main door that identifies the building, just as on the other new elementary schools. However, there is a difference. This one says ‘MARBLE ELEMENTARY,’ whereas all of the others have their full names: ‘PINECREST ELEMENTARY SCHOOL,’ ‘GLENCAIRN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL,’ etc. There’s plenty of room on the wall at Marble for the missing ‘SCHOOL,’ so why isn’t it there?”

Dylan Lees for ELi

Sign near the entry to Marble Elementary School

ELi reached out to East Lansing Public Schools Superintendent Dori Leyko to find out why the lettering near Marble’s main entrance did not include “School.”

“This is an easy one!” Leyko answered by email. “It was a mistake (was spec’d incorrectly) and is being fixed to include the word School. We’ll adjust the spacing of the lines.”

By way of background, East Lansing voters approved a bond in 2017 to renovate and rebuild the elementary schools in the district. Since then, many elementary schools have been demolished and rebuilt, and the ELPS Board of Education has kept an eye toward constructing the new schools in an equitable manner.

And, on the lighter side, we received a tidbit – not really a question – from a reader.

“Yesterday I noticed a large snapping turtle had taken up residence in the WJ Beal Botanical Garden pond. Not sure if this is a thing you’d want to share,” wrote our reader.

Courtesy of Michigan State University

A snapping turtle

We do! We love sharing that kind of around-town news. Remember you can always contact us with local news tips and questions. We are a nonprofit public news service here for you.

Comments are closed.