This is the Fourth of July week, so what better time to think about things related to our country and state? As you sit under that shade tree trying to beat the heat (perhaps with a frosty beverage in hand), it's a perfect time for rumination. 


For example, Americans are hitting the road in record numbers this week. If you want evidence just try turning left onto M-115 from North Boulevard. As you sit there for for a few hours watching the impenetrable line of traffic, notice the variety of vehicles passing by. So, here's the question. How many of those are American Made? It turns out there is not an obvious answer. 

A USA Today article pointed out: “Automotive parts are often sourced throughout the world, making it difficult to ascertain what's truly made in the USA. Another factor that complicates the equation: Sometimes foreign automakers manufacture vehicles with more American-made components than domestic automakers.” 



This leads us to's 2018 American-Made Index. “Now in its 12th year, the American-Made Index is an analysis of cars built in the U.S. to find out which ones have the greatest impact on the U.S. economy. analyzes more than 100 cars that are built in America and looks at each car's domestic-parts content, country of origin for its engine and transmission, assembly plant location and factory workforce.” 


The top ten most American-Made vehicles are: 1) Jeep Cherokee (Belvidere, Ill.), 2) Honda Odyssey (Lincoln, Ala.), 3) Honda Ridgeline (Lincoln, Ala.), 4) Ford Taurus(Chicago), 5) Chevrolet Volt (Detroit), 6) Honda Pilot (Lincoln, Ala.), 7) Acura MDX (East Liberty, Ohio), 8) Ford Explorer (Chicago), 9) Ford F-150 (Claycomo, Mo., and Dearborn, Mich.), 10) Chevrolet Corvette (Bowling Green, Ky.). To see how “American” your vehicle is, go to:


Most of those on the roads this week are in search of good, clean fun. If they want to steer clear trouble, they may want to avoid the states rated as the most sinful in the country. WalletHub did a study to determine this. “Some states are more well-behaved than others. WalletHub compared the 50 states across 38 key indicators of immorality. Our data set ranges from violent crimes per capita to excessive drinking to share of the population with gambling disorders.”


According to the study, the most sinful states are: Florida, California, Nevada, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, Illinois, Michigan, Arkansas, and Louisiana. The least sinful are: Vermont, North Dakota, Maine, Utah, and Iowa. The complete rankings are at:


When it comes to driving around Michigan, travelers may pass through towns and villages with names that are difficult to pronounce. The Detroit Free Press took note of this and came up with a list of these. “We pulled out 25 notable Michigan roads and destinations you're probably not saying right. Use this as a guide for your next Michigan road trip - or just to show off to your family and friends how smart you are.” The list not only has the correct pronunciations spelled out, but also has  listen feature which allows you to hear the correct pronunciation. (


At the top of their list is Mackinac (Mack-in-awe). My pet peeve is people who do not pronounce a “T” in the middle of a word, so I was happy to see Houghton on the list, which is pronounced "ho-ten" (and not “ho-en”). 


More good news on this front comes from the State of Michigan. “The State of Michigan has a full database of pronunciations for cities, townships, street names and even famous people. It's complete with quick audio files so you can listen for yourself how things are pronounced. Find it at:,4601,7-154-28313_54234-401841--,00.html. (The good people of Missaukee County will be glad to know that their correct pronunciation is on the list.)


One of the reasons that many people will be driving this week is to get to fishing spots. As it turns out, this pastime also links to the next big summer holiday, Labor Day, which leads us to the beginning of the high school sports season, which leads us to college sports, which leads us to college scholarships. Is that path circuitous enough for you? Hang with me. 


When you think of college sports and scholarships, you probably think of sports like football, basketball, and track. Right? Well did you know that bass fishing is a college sport? “Not only is it a sport, more than 1,000 universities and colleges compete on hundreds of lakes in 250-boat tournaments from late February until late October.”


Being on a college bass fishing team is a serious deal. “Sometimes these kids miss a whole week of school...They leave on Tuesday, drive 12 hours, then fish the next five days before driving back Monday.” 


Now, here comes the hook (pun intended) for Michiganders. One of the powerhouses in collegiate bass fishing is Adrian College, located in Lenawee County south of Ann Arbor. 


There's more. Bass fishing is not the only non-traditional scholarship sport at Adrian. “Adrian administrators, like their counterparts at a lot of smaller schools, began offering niche sports to attract a greater variety of students. Among the programs offered at Adrian now are acrobatics & tumbling, equestrian competitions, synchronized skating and crew.” (


So, enjoy the rest of your Fourth of July weekend. Try to stay cool. And remember, there are just 138 days left until the traditional start of ski season. 


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at and

2018’s Most Sinful States in America

(Click on or point to a state to get the ranking)

Source: WalletHub