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Stress relief in new ways

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New events at this semester’s Stressbreaker
Jamie Koebke
Business Editor

Some people believe that a smile can change someone’s day, what do you think they’d say about a room of smiles?
On Tuesday December 1 Student Government hosted a stress breaker that involved a room full of smiles, they had four dogs brought to the school to try and relieve stress from students.
“Student Government makes people happy,” said Student Government Vice President Justin Woolman said.
The dogs brought in were therapy dogs and a six month old puppy who is being trained to be a leader dog.
There was so much excitement about dogs being on campus that it was all over social media. Four out of the five students I asked said they heard about it the dogs on twitter.
Student Andrew Hinojosa, 21 said, “This was a good idea, everyone loves puppies! Even when you first walk in they have instant smiles! No one is thinking about tests or finals all their thinking about is puppies!”
The dogs were not the only way campus clubs helped relive stress for students throughout the week, Guitar Hero was set up in the Cafeteria, musical performance by the Gasoline Gypsies and much more were available for free for students.
The Gasoline Gypsies are a local band from Port Huron. The Gypsies have a new album coming out soon. They were brought to students by the Erie Square Gazette. They were on campus for three hours on December 3. They were located in the college center.
“The Gasoline Gypsies was a really good stress reliever, I got to listen to good music with good friends.” student Macy Wurmlinger, 17, said.

Letter from the Editor

Emily Mainguy
Editor-in-Chief

As fall comes to an end I would like to thank our readers for another great semester!
We will be back next semester with a new issue coming out on Jan. 21. With a new semester comes new opportunities to join our crew. If you are interested in joining us you can stop by our meetings on Thursdays from 2-3p.m. in the Main Building or you can sign up for our class which is listed as CM 110.
The Erie Square Gazette is also looking for freshmen students who are interested in pursuing an Editor position with us next fall (2016). We will be training interested individuals in journalism skills such as writing, editing, and publishing newspapers during the Winter Semester.
If you are interested in a future editor position please shoot us an email to, eriesquaregazette@gmail.com including a letter of intent and a resume.

A new face in the Marketing Department

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New beginnings for former Times Herald Sports Writer
Nick “Chico” Hernandez
Managing Editor
Paul Costanzo is a new face St. Clair County Community College, but a seasoned resident of the Port Huron area. Costanzo, 33 of Fort Gratiot, is the Digital Content and Communications Coordinator for the Marketing Department.
Before taking the plunge into SC4, Costanzo worked at The Times Herald for nine and a half years covering any kind of sports event in the area. “I was a sports writer. I was constantly around what I love,” Costanzo said.
Ever since sixth grade, Costanzo knew he wanted to write about sports. He graduated from Alma High School in Nebraska and went on to Central Michigan University to earn a Bachelors in Science and Journalism with a Concentration in Advertising.
The reason for a Concentration in Advertising came to Costanzo after a talk with his mother whom told him, “your tastes are too expensive to be a journalist, you should go into advertising. I tried, but I just couldn’t.” Costanzo said as his reasoning for not jumping into advertising first, “I liked it, but I liked the writing more.”
Costanzo is also a family man, which became a big reason to transition to SC4 from The Times Heard. Costanzo sighted opposite work schedules as the big reason for changing jobs. “My wife, Kate, is a middle school teacher here in town. She was working during the day and I was dropping the kids with her after she got out of work. Then I was going to work. It was like I was a single parent while she was at work, then when I was at work she was a single parent.”
“It’s different,” Costanzo said of his new job. He cited his connections to the people that already work in the Marketing Department as the reason he’s been able to adapt quickly. “They been able to ease me into it, and let me start with things I’m comfortable with,” Costanzo said.

Cheap textbooks websites

Save some money by shopping textbooks online
Nick “Chico” Hernandez
Managing Editor
The bane of many college students comes from not just finals and annoying classmates, but sinking hard earned cash into dead trees with words on them. Textbooks, while also giving large amounts of profits to corporations, are usually required for any class that a student would need to graduate. Amongst the rise of textbook prices has come web sites that sell textbooks as cheap as possible.
The first site for any penny-pinching student to visit is Amazon. Finding textbooks on Amazon is easy enough, and tracking ISBN through the search bar is just as simple. Amazon also has the option to rent the book from them, and it is usually cheaper than renting from the SC4 book store. Along with legendary customer service, Amazon should be a first draft pick for students hoping to save a few bucks.
eBay isn’t the best choice for textbooks. Use this site only if desperation is in full swing; however, eBay owns half.com which specializes in selling books. Aside from that, a side list will pop up called “dorm entertainment.” That list, appropriately enough, has such titles as Wedding Crashers and Gears of War.
Texts.com brings a few choices to the table. On one side, it supports a “marketplace” for local buyers and sellers. Example: Seller A has a book for sale in the Main Building. Buyer B in the CEM building wants said book. They discuss where to meet, and then have a personal transaction. Alternately, Buyer B could also pay Seller A with PayPal and still have the face-to-face transaction.
Texts.com also allows you to use an internet search engine of sorts. This isn’t new, and many other book sites use this tactic as well. The search engine allows anyone to type in the name of a book (example: English Comp & Style) and the result will be a full list of sites that have this book in stock along with their respective prices.
Although the internet is scattered with thousands of other book sites, these three should be on the first round draft pick of any student hoping to save some money. Because education is cool, but overpriced textbooks aren’t.

The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee comes to town

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SC4 Players perform a musical
Emily Mainguy
Editor-in-Chief
“Are you one of our Spellers?” Greeted Tom Kephart, director of this year’s musical, as guests entered the theatre. The musical “The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee” was performed this past weekend in the Fine Arts Theatre by the SC4 Players.
“Putnam was also an interesting experience because it incorporated improv and had audience volunteers,” explained Cortney Roles, who played Marcy Park.
Upon entering the Theatre guests could choose to be a part of the play themselves and improv with the cast during the show. Guests were given directions and name cards after they volunteered. The play was created in a magical way so that every volunteer ended up misspelling a word eventually and leaving the cast to finish performing the musical.
The musical was about a group of elementary to middle school students competing in a district wide spelling bee hosted by two staff members. The play shows the background of each student in the competition and helps the audience know their struggles in a comedic way. It concludes with announcing a winner of the bee and a short song and dance.
“This musical was an amazing experience…It was such a fun show to be a part of, especially due to the high energy of the cast. Putnam was made great by the talent of the cast and crew that made it happen,” said Roles.
The next production that the SC4 Players will be performing is titled, “My Town” and it will be on March 17-20 in the Fine Arts Theatre.

Skippers Men’s Basketball gearing up for conference play

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Chris Nelson
Guest writer

It was November 13, and I had just finished watching the SC4 Women’s basketball team dominate their opposition with ease and was happy to learn the Men’s team was up next. I decided to stay and watch this game as well, however something triggered the fire alarms in the gymnasium and the building was evacuated outside to the chilly November evening while the Fire Department verified the building for safety. Having recently relocated to Port Huron from San Diego, it must have seemed colder to me than it actually was, and I decided at that point to head home. After sitting in on a recent Men’s team practice I now regret leaving that evening.
The 2015-16 Men’s squad is made up of only a few returning athletes from last year’s team mixed with a talented influx of new players, however the returning sophomores are very good and the team expects to be much improved from last year. I was fortunate to get an opportunity to talk with a few of the Skippers players who were clearly enthusiastic about this season. Sophomore Jason Watts is known to be the most prolific dunker on the team, being described as a Dwight Howard style power dunker. Jason stated, “We play together more, and have a lot more guys who want to work at it and learn together.”
Players from the Men’s team expressed that in both practice and in games thus far they are getting a lot better, learning to play together while becoming more comfortable with each other and the talents each teammate brings to the court. Sophomore point guard Jay Springs commented, “Compared to last year, the chemistry of the team is a lot better, right from the beginning in setting our goals. With conference games in January, we’re still a work in progress, still trying to figure each other on the court. Got to get better in practice, stay healthy.”
It is a close structure with this group, and it was evident they enjoy being on the court together. Xavier Edwards, a strong all around post player and rebounder who reminded me of NBA star Larry Johnson said, “Love these guys, they’re my family, I like the team, it’s a good team this year for sure.”
Freshman point guard Josh McClelland responded, “We can really do something in this conference. Everybody can defend well. Every game and practice were getting a lot better.”
Hard work ethic and the determination to improve as a team are obviously shared attributes for these players, and it is exhibited without difficulty. When asked if there were any final comments, the answer was simultaneous from the group “Go Skippers!”
While watching the Skippers at practice, Christopher Parker was brought to my attention, the Skippers leading scorer who is averaging roughly 27 points per game this season. Parker, a sophomore guard, has an effortless shot that never seems to hit the rim, only net. I think I saw him miss one shot, not sure though, because everything else went in. He is a natural talent on the court, moving with ease in transition, always seeming to be in the right position at the right time, and his jump shot was fast, smooth, and automatic.
Currently the Skippers are focused on the start of conference play in January, and same as the Women’s team, the conference is one of the strongest in the nation considering that the Skippers Eastern Division has two nationally ranked teams in it with Schoolcraft as the #1 team overall, and Mott at #13.
Head Coach Dale Vos commented on the significance of the conference strength saying “Our conference is so good top to bottom, there are no bad teams. We know Schoolcraft is going to be very very good, they’re ranked the #1 team in the country right now, they return 7 or 8 guys from the team that won the conference last year. Macomb will be a much better team, Oakland is always good, Mott is always good. There is never a night off.”
Coach Vos was also excited for the season to continue on, describing this year’s contingent as a uniquely balanced team that shoots the ball very well from outside the lane including three pointers, while also possessing a solid inside game that can score efficiently from the post. Despite being undersized in some positions, this years’ team has a nice mix that can run floor on a fast break when the opportunity presents itself, but also has the composure and patience to execute the set offense when a five on five situation occurs.
Leaving the Skippers practice midway through, I found myself really looking forward to seeing their next home game. Heck, they do have the talent, but I recognized most the camaraderie and genuine enjoyment they had while getting pushed through a hard practice. Fist bumps and high fives at practice? I don’t remember that at practice from when I played in school, but here it was.
Upcoming home contests for the Skippers will be Wednesday Dec. 9 against Rochester College JV @ 7:30 pm, and Lake Michigan Community College on Saturday Dec. 12 @ 3pm. Conference home slate vs Macomb Community College starts on Wednesday, Jan. 6 @ 7:30 pm, followed by a Wednesday, Jan. 13 matchup vs Wayne County CCD @ 7:30pm.

Dancing in the Land of Sweets

Review of the 26th Annual Production of the Nutcracker
Jenelle Kalaf
Photo Editor

The classic Christmas story of a girl and her beloved gift from her uncle came to life on McMorran’s stage for the 26th year for 3 shows.
The Nutcracker Ballet Theatre Company presented “The Nutcracker,” the tale of Clara, played by Claire Montgomery, 15, her Nutcracker, played by Brandon Harneck, and his battles with King Mouse, played by Carman Idoni, and her travels into the Land of Sweets.
When she enters the magical land, she is greeted by the Snow King and the Snow Queen, played by Hannah Buggy and Dan Thompson.
The theatre filled with “Oohs” and “Aahs” from children as the dancers act out fights and dolls coming to life.
Children could be seen dancing to the music with a Nutcracker in hand. Parents and grandparents took photos and danced along, bringing the meaning of the holidays and togetherness alive.
This tradition comes back each year with young dancers from around the Blue Water Area, and sometimes from out of state, all are volunteered.
The Nutcracker Ballet Theatre Company is a non-profit organization. During the intermission, raffle tickets could be purchased to go towards a large Nutcracker signed by the whole cast. All ticket and raffle sales go straight to next year’s production and they accept donations all year round.
For any young dancer interested in joining this tradition, auditions are held in spring, and dates will be announced on the website.
For more information on auditions or donations, visit www.porthuronnutcracker.org.

A different kind of Internet and TV

Google promises to join the world in the best possible way
Jenelle Kalaf
Photo Editor

Google brings us many services, such as search engines, social media, email services, online storage, video sharing capabilities, smart phones, and smart glasses.
While all of these services are helpful and used by many, what do they all require?
Internet. And does Google have plans.
The Google Fiber project was made with one idea in mind: Connect the world.
It’s an Internet and TV service that starts with a basic price of free for up to seven years. To receive the service, you’d have to pay a one-time $300 fee for installation. This only covers just a basic, steady Internet connection.
For $130 a month (and a waived installation fee) you get 1000 Mbps (Megabits Per Second) of download speeds and a DVR box for on demand services through Google.
The Blue Water Area is dominated by high prices controlled by Comcast. While they offer good service, the highest mbps offered is 105, costing $90 a month. That’s not even including any TV package.
Cheap to free Internet, cheap, great cable service, what the catch?
Google is only offering the service in about four cities right now. Google’s idea, to connect everyone, is expensive, and the low cost don’t cover much.
While it’ll take a while for the service to get to us, it serves as a lesson to all who think they aren’t being swindled.
Google has their hands in many, many projects, and make most of their money off of web ads, they have shown the world that your Internet, which has become a basic need in our world, can be fairly priced.
Comcast and Time Warner own many networks and studios, and yet feel the need to rack up the price of something we can’t find another supplier for, which means more money for them.
Don’t fret, these amazing deals and prices are on their way. Google just needs to take their time to do it right. Google’s looking to see who will offer already existing fiber network, certain population ranges, places out of Verizon’s coverage (biggest competitor), or a willing city government.
So, interested? Check out Fiber.Google.com for more information and call your local government. Right now, making the idea known to the Blue Water Area is the largest step into making the world a little less stressful and a little more connected.

James Freed

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A profile of Port Huron’s city manager
Mel Buskirk
Copy Editor

“I couldn’t resist the idea of coming back to Port Huron,” James Freed said during an interview on Tuesday, Dec. 1. “I’ve always loved Port Huron. I love the people of Port Huron.” Freed returned to the Blue Water area when he became the city manager of Port Huron on June 9, 2014.
He had spent his childhood here, growing up just outside of Port Huron in Kimball Township. In middle school, his family moved near an Air Force base in Dayton, Ohio where they stayed for five years. His father, a pastor, then moved the family to the west side of the state for work. Freed graduated high school in Coldwater, Michigan.
After high school, Freed pursued political science at the University of Indiana. Minoring in social work and international relations, he realized that social work wasn’t right for him. “It was more addressing the problems after they happened. I prefer to prevent them from happening.”
He then pursued public policy, acting as a policy advisor for different senators and representatives and assisted them in their campaigns. “I didn’t really like the politics aspect of it. I didn’t really like the politics of it at all,” he said reflectively, “but I was really fascinated with the policy aspect.”
In order to achieve his degree, Freed had to complete a practicum in which he gained real world experience by serving as assistant city manager in the city of Walled Lake, Michigan in 2007. As assistant city manager he put together proposals, spoke before the city council, and worked with almost every department, including the downtown developmental authority, putting together their initiatives.
After finishing his degree in 2008, Freed was sworn in as the village manager of Lakeview, Michigan. This made him the youngest city manager in U.S. history at the age of 23. Freed proudly touted his achievements of cutting costs, reducing the size of government, and surviving the recession.
The neighboring town of Stanton, Michigan took notice of these achievements. Through a shared service agreement, Freed became the city manager of both Stanton and Lakeview before the age of 25. He continued to serve both cities for about six and a half years until the city of Port Huron became available.
“I had never anticipated on moving,” Freed said. “I was a known quantity. Everyone knew who I was; I knew who everyone else was. I had a good relationship with the council. I had a secure job and I was making good money, about the same as I am now actually. But I couldn’t resist the idea of coming back to Port Huron.”
Despite all of these achievements, Freed says his greatest achievements are the small ones in Stanton and Lakeview. He claims those achievements – brokering shared service agreements with cities and countywide organizations, bringing people together that have never worked together, the cost saving shared service agreements and collaborations between Lakeview and Stanton — highlight good government. He also gives credit to his staff during his time in those cities, “I really pride myself in finding the most brilliant people and convincing them to work for me. So, I found a bunch of people smarter than me and convinced them to come work for me, and they all did excellent work.”
Looking to his career so far in Port Huron, he’s proud of working with the city government to balance the budget for the first time in 15 years and cutting government by $1.7 million all without laying off anyone within his first year of service to the city.
Freed enjoys being the city manager of Port Huron. “One of the things I like about being city manager is that it’s a tough job, it’s really stressful, but I really feel like I’m having an impact on people’s lives. Sometimes you have to deliver tough news that people don’t want to hear – but that’s called leadership.” Freed also said, “People ask, ‘Are you burned out yet?’ and the truth of the matter is I’m more passionate today than I was a decade ago when I first started in government.”
With that passion, Freed is focused on the future. “Now, one of the biggest projects I’m working on is highlighting what the effects are on the next generation and proposing the question, ‘How do we build a stronger, more prosperous future for the next generation?’” Freed continued, “If you play politics, you’re worried about the here and now. But if you’re really in this for the people then you’re looking down the road. You are less worried about self-preservation and more focused on leaving the legacy for the next generation. That’s what I’m focused on.”
To improve the community for the next generation, Freed is focused on what he calls the “less sexy” aspects of public policy – infrastructure, the balance sheet, paying down debt and unfunded liabilities, making sure that the water and sewer system are financially viable, making sure our police and fire departments have what they need to be successful, and getting away from a culture of politics by moving towards a culture of servant-hood leadership.
He intends to lead the culture of servant-hood leadership by example. When asked about why he chose to pursue political science and government roles, Freed responded, “I was in high school during 9/11. That really had a profound impact on me. So I got involved in the political process and government. I really felt like it was one of those times where I was too young to join the armed forces, I was only a sophomore in high school, so I volunteered in local civic groups and started going to the council meetings, getting involved in the local political parties. I thought, ‘How could I build a stronger community? A stronger world?’ When you’re young and idealistic, you always chase those things. But, that’s why I started.”
With all the civil and political unrest in the world, from North Korea to France, the Middle East to here in the United States, it’s difficult to think of a solution to try to fix the world. Freed reflected, “Even when you’re young, you always want to go out and change the world. I thought, if I really want to change the world I need to go home and fix my home town. If you really want to change the world, you should focus on fixing the community you come from. I believe that all politics are local.”

Searching for Home

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The European Refugee Crisis through the eyes of those experiencing it firsthand
Katie Hunckler
Staff Writer

An ocean away, there lies a crisis. Driven out by fear, people are fleeing from their homes and setting out on an indefinite journey, desperately searching for a place where they are safe and welcome.
The European Refugee Crisis has been a major topic of discussion recently, especially as political decisions are being made with regards to the matter. Yet what is the reality of it? How is it perceived differently by those who are seeing it through their own two eyes?
Nilüfer Çetik, 21, of Istanbul, Turkey provided some answers. “At first, people disliked to see them [the refugees] around,” said Çetik. “They were poor, they were escaping from the camps and live on the streets. They were considered as a life threat.”
However, attitudes have shifted. “Today, the community shows sympathy and also feels empathy for them,” said Çetik.
“Sometimes I hear that people in Europe blame Syrian refugees about ISIS. However, we know that they also escaped from them and this is why they are homeless,” said Çetik. She also noted that since the prominent religion of Turkey is Islam, it’s easier for them to accept that ISIS is not the Syrians’ fault.
Life is not exactly a piece of cake for the refugees. “People want to make more money out of refugees,” said Çetik. “They load buses and boats to double or triple their normal capacities.” This leads to many dangers in the travel itself. “In summer, everyday a boat sank,” said Çetik. “Sometimes security forces could help them, but mostly people died.” These boats mostly take people across the Aegean Sea from southwest Turkey to the Greek islands, where it is easier to enter Europe undetected.
Even those who do make it face continuing hardships. Çetik told of a Syrian family living near her school. Seven or eight people live together in a small house that is not in healthy living condition, and the youngest boy sells paper towels outside the campus gate. “This family is one of the lucky ones,” said Çetik. “Usually, refugees cannot find a proper place for a human in order to sleep.”
Aleksandra Grujic, 17, of Novi Sad, Serbia has observed similar circumstances for the refugees there. In August she traveled to Austria and crossed the Hungary-Austria border. “It was so sad to see those people and children sitting on the grass, trying to cross the border,” she said.
“The biggest problem for Serbia was in September I think, when both Croatian and Hungarian borders were closed and refugees literally had nowhere to go, so they stayed here,” said Grujic. “And of course, we provided them with food and everything, but it was a big attack on Serbia’s already low budget.”
According to Grujic, the borders are now open, but some hotels filled with refugees and Syrian restaurants remain in Novi Sad.
Stiliyana Kirilova, 17, of Plovdiv, Bulgaria noted that the refugees there are largely perceived as a threat. “The influence in Bulgaria for now is only the fear,” said Kirilova, “because we have been told that there isn’t a safe place in Europe and the main terrorists’ aim is to make all the Europeans frightened when they are going out.”
Maria-Yoana Stoynova, 18, of Plovdiv, Bulgaria has also noticed an atmosphere of fear surrounding the events. “I hope things get better, because many people are afraid that the third world war is about to take place,” said Stoynova.
“In France, you have heard, the situation is very dangerous, and everyday we hear about bombs in France and in Syria,” said Stoynova. “In short, this is all we talk about and listen to everyday.”
Brad Janiszewski, 22, of Chicago, IL spent ten weeks in Greece on a study abroad program this fall, and he noticed the opposite. “It’s strange,” said Janiszewski, “I was there for three months and I never really heard that many people talk about it… I mean it’s a big issue going on, you’d think people would talk about it.”
When he did hear people talk about it, Janiszewski noticed two general attitudes towards the refugees: some people felt the refugees were ruining everything they had and were depleting their resources, while others felt the need to take the refugees in, to care for them and house them.
Janiszewski encountered many refugees during his time in Greece. His group handed out food and water to the 2000 to 3000 Afghan refugees in Victoria Square in Athens, as well as giving showers and shavers elsewhere. In one place, they even played soccer with the kids.
“One thing I think we gotta know, we gotta understand, is that these are people,” said Janiszewski. “These are people that come from families, people that have jobs, people that had a house, a life, and that for whatever reason, normally, whether it be just warfare or terrorism, they decided to leave that.
“I remember the guy I was talking to,” said Janiszewski. “They took a 3000 mile journey across the Middle East, got on a little boat made for about probably like 12 people and they put 60 people on it or something like that. And they were being shot at. All for the chance that they could have a better life.”
It seems that the refugees are misunderstood in many capacities, and they recognize that. “We met a lot of refugees, and this happened to me multiple times,” said Janiszewski. “The people would come up and they’d be like, ‘Hey, we’re not ISIS, we’re not all terrorists.’ I wouldn’t even bring it up, like I wouldn’t even be starting the conversation, and they would just tell us that… Like they were so ashamed of that and they were so ashamed that people would think that’s what they were that they wanted to discredit it right off the top.”
Although he thinks it’s likely that ISIS is present in the refugees somewhere, Janiszewski feels that most of the refugees are truly hurting people who are looking for a better life. “The hard thing is distinguishing who is who,” he said.
Will these people ever find a place they are safe and welcome? Will they ever find home? The answer remains a mystery for many as they continue their journeys.