Northern Michigan correctional facilities more than just prisons

Senator Wayne Schmidt

Senator Wayne Schmidt

Last year, under very unfortunate circumstances, state leaders closed the Pugsley Correctional Facility to help balance the budget.

I believe that that decision was made in haste and without considering what the prison and its staff were doing to help rehabilitate inmates — and with little thought to the impact the prison’s closure would have on the employees, their families and surrounding communities.

Since then, I have had the pleasure of visiting three other state correctional facilities located in the 37th Senate District. After touring the Kinross facility last year and the Newberry and Chippewa correctional facilities this month, and after meeting with wardens, corrections officers, and some inmates, I am as convinced today as I was last year that our state prisons are doing great things to help rehabilitate and reintroduce inmates back into society.

The Newberry prison, for example, helps to provide education and training for some inmates to become Occupational Safety and Health Administration certified electricians and plumbers. These are viable skills that can help those individuals obtain well-paying jobs that are in high demand. In addition to these vocational trade offerings, Newberry also offers GED and mental health programs.

At Chippewa, academic and vocational programs are also offered, including a program that trains inmates for a future in the food service industry. One training program I found particularly remarkable is one that allows some inmates to train dogs to become service dogs for the blind.

Having visited these places and having talked with their impressive staffs, it is as important to me as it ever has been to make sure that our state correctional facilities are properly funded to ensure the good work they are doing can continue. Further, by making sure the facilities remain open and funded, we can also help ensure the economies of the surrounding communities.

As Pugsley was an economic driver to the village of Kingsley, Fife Lake Township, and Grand Traverse County, so too are Newberry and Chippewa to their communities in Luce and Chippewa counties. These facilities have served the eastern Upper Peninsula for 28 years and 21 years, respectively, supporting those local economies, jobs and schools — not to mention their contributions in rehabilitating inmates.

When it was announced last year that Pugsley was to be closed, I said it was “a place that offers the types of services we seek when looking to improve our state’s correctional system.” The Newberry and Chippewa correctional facilities, I believe, stand as examples of places that offer those types of programs as well.

I am grateful that the Newberry and Chippewa facilities are located in the 37th Senate District, and I am appreciative of the wardens, corrections officers and other staff who do such great work there. I look forward to their serving our part of the state for many, many years to come.


Sen. Schmidt to host May coffee hours

Senator Wayne Schmidt

Senator Wayne Schmidt

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt will hold coffee hours with constituents throughout the 37th Senate District next month.

The senator will be available to answer questions and provide information and assistance, as well as take suggestions on issues affecting communities and businesses in the district. No appointment is necessary.

For more information or to contact Schmidt, please visit or call 517-373-2413.

Sen. Schmidt’s May coffee hours are as follows:

Monday, May 8
11 a.m. – noon
Tilted Skillet
115 Main St.
East Jordan

1 – 2 p.m.
Mama’s Kitchen
730 E. Cayuga St.

3 – 4 p.m.
Bayview Inn
5074 U.S. 31
Traverse City

Friday, May 19
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
North Perk Coffee
308 Howard St.

3 – 4 p.m.
Biere de Mac Brew Works
14277 Mackinaw Hwy.
Wawatam Township

Friday, May 26
11 a.m. – noon
Great Waters Coffee
301 Newberry Ave.

1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
Studebaker’s Restaurant and Lounge
3583 I-75 Business Spur
Sault Ste. Marie

4 – 5 p.m.
Yankee Rebel Tavern
1493 Astor St.
Mackinac Island


***PHOTO ADVISORY*** Sen. Schmidt meets with Wolverine Elementary School students at the Michigan Capitol

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, welcomed fourth-grade students from Wolverine Elementary School to the Michigan Capitol on Wednesday. Schmidt talked with the students in the Senate chamber about the state’s representative form of government and answered their questions.


Editor’s note: For a print-quality version of this or other Schmidt photos, click the image or visit