8/18/17 – Spain pauses for a moment of silence
-The country of Spain is on high alert but they gathered today and took a moment to remember the victims of yesterday’s terrorist attacks. 14 people died after two events took place where vehicles were driven into a crowd of people. A van tore through crowds in Barcelona, Spain in what witnesses say was an attempt to hit as many people as possible. The terror attack took place in Las Ramblas, a Barcelona hot spot. Police have taken at least 3 people into custody. Meanwhile, a similar terror attack took place in the Spanish city of Cambrils hours later. 1 woman died and others were injured. Police say they killed 5 terrorists responsible for the second attack.
The local government says the two attacks are linked as is an abandoned van and a house south of Barcelona destroyed in an explosion in which a man was killed on Wednesday night.
8/18/17 – Board OKs petitions for redistricting, sick time, pot drives
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan elections board has cleared three more groups to proceed with drives to put statewide proposals on the 2018 ballot.
Advocates of empowering an independent commission to draw congressional and legislative districts had the form of their petition approved Thursday by the Board of State Canvassers. The Legislature and governor currently handle redistricting, drawing complaints that the process is too partisan.
The board also approved petition forms for groups wanting to guarantee paid sick leave for employees and to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
Another marijuana legalization initiative is well underway. Unlike that one, the new proposal would not tax the drug.
Activists must now gather hundreds of thousands of valid voter signatures in a six-month window to qualify for the November 2018 ballot.
8/18/17 – 3 arrested after drone drops cellphone, drugs to prison yard
IONIA, Mich. (AP) — Michigan prison officials say three people have been arrested after trying to use a drone to smuggle a cellphone and drugs into a prison.
Michigan Department of Corrections says two guards at the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in the western Michigan city of Ionia heard the drone in the prison yard shortly before 4 a.m. Thursday. Moments later, the drone dropped a package near a housing unit. The Corrections Department says that as officers responded to the scene, the drone dropped a second package.
Department spokesman Chris Gautz says local law enforcement officers detained three people in a vehicle near the prison about 110 miles (175 kilometers) northwest of Detroit.
Michigan State Police spokeswoman Shanon Banner says the three haven’t been charged yet. Authorities haven’t released their names.
8/18/17 – Michigan city dropping Robert E Lee name from showboat
LOWELL, Mich. (AP) — A western Michigan city is stripping the name Robert E. Lee from its new showboat.
Lowell City Manager Mike Burns said in a statement Thursday a committee this year has been considering new names for the boat, which it expects to begin building next year. He says officials in the city 16 miles (25 kilometers) east of Grand Rapids “recognize that the name is offensive to many.”
The boat named for the Confederate Civil War general was closed in January due to safety concerns, and the city received a state grant to build a new showboat.
The Robert E. Lee was built in 1935 to resemble riverboat steamers that traveled the Mississippi River. It was rebuilt in 1979 after a storm damaged the first one.
8/18/17 – Western Michigan man killed in crash with car fleeing police
NORTON SHORES, Mich. (AP) — Police say a shoplifting suspect fleeing police in a stolen car collided with an SUV, killing a 92-year-old western Michigan man.
The Norton Shores Police Department says the crash Thursday morning killed Duane Quigg of Norton and left his passenger, 90-year-old Elaine Carsok of Norton Shores, seriously injured.
Police say an officer had pulled over a 39-year-old Grand Rapids man suspected of shoplifting, but when the officer stepped out of his vehicle, the suspect sped off. Then say the officer ended the pursuit but continued following and observed the crash.
Police say attempts to revive Quigg at the scene were unsuccessful.
They say multiple warrants for the suspect’s arrest had been issued.
8/18/17 – Michigan State University rejects white nationalist event
DETROIT (AP) — Michigan State University has denied a request to rent space to a group headed by white nationalist Richard Spencer.
The university said in a statement Thursday that the decision was made “due to significant concerns about public safety.” It cites last weekend’s “tragic violence” in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Michigan State officials say they support “freedom of expression” but their “first obligation” is to safety and security on campus.
Spencer calls the decision “obvious censorship.” He says “there’s a clear legal precedent” for him to speak.
The University of Florida also denied a request by Spencer’s National Policy Institute to rent space for a September event.
Spencer has popularized the term “alt-right” to describe a fringe movement that’s a mix of white nationalist, white supremacist, anti-Semitic and anti-immigration beliefs.
8/18/17 – Possible Michigan tornado knocks down trees, flips trailer
KINGSTON, Mich. (AP) — Severe thunderstorms that moved across Michigan spawned at least one possible tornado, knocking down trees and flipping over a trailer.
The National Weather Service says the tornado was reported Thursday evening near the Tuscola County community of Kingston, about 70 miles (115 kilometers) north of Detroit. Crews were expected to survey the damage on Friday to confirm the intensity of the storm.
There were no reports of injuries.The weather service says there also were reports of a funnel cloud near the Tuscola County village of Millington and a possible tornado in Sanilac County, but no severe damage. The storms also brought heavy rains to parts of the state, causing some roadway flooding on Thursday.
8/17/17 – Secretary of State computer system
Michigan’s Secretary of State is moving forward with its effort to modernize its computer system, putting a new jolt of life into a process that’s had several stops and starts.
In a news release sent Tuesday, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said the plan, dubbed Customer and Automotive Records System (CARS), would replace the state’s mainframe system dating back to the 1960s. The vendor for the project is FAST Enterprises, and it is expected to be fully completed over the next five years.
“The people of Michigan and Secretary of State staff deserve better than the out-of-date computer system we have,” Johnson said. “Now we are moving forward with our partner FAST Enterprises to make a much-improved system a reality. FAST has a proven record of success launching similar projects on time and on budget for many other state motor-vehicle agencies.”
As part of the project, vehicle and driver records will be converted into a customer record system that updates in real time. The Secretary of State’s office expects the technology change will allow for more self-service options in the future.
DXC Technology — formerly known as Hewlett Packard Enterprise — was initially contracted for the $49 million Business Application Modernization project in 2008, which was meant to replace the mainframe-based computer system used by the Secretary of State.
8/17/17 – 1 person killed, another injured in two-car crash
KALAMAZOO, MI (Mlive)– One person was killed and another was injured in a two-car crash early Thursday, according to the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety.
The crash happened about 3:44 a.m. near the intersection of Woodward and Kalamazoo Avenues in Kalamazoo.
Police said when officers arrived on scene, they found one vehicle on its roof. The driver of that vehicle was killed.
The second driver was able to climb out of his vehicle. He was transported to Bronson Methodist Hospital where he is in stable condition.
The intersection of Woodward and Kalamazoo Avenues will be shut down while police investigate the crash and work to clear the scene.
Drivers are asked to seek an alternate route during their morning commute.
Anyone with information on this incident is asked to contact the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety at 269-337-8994 or Silent Observer at 269-343-2100.
8/17/17 – 5 missing after Army helicopter crashes in ocean off Hawaii
HONOLULU (AP) — A multi-agency team is scouring the ocean off Hawaii for five soldiers who were aboard an Army helicopter that went down during a nighttime training exercise.
An Army spokesman says another helicopter in the exercise lost visual and radio contact with the missing UH-60 Black Hawk on Tuesday night.
Two pilots and three crew members were on board. The Army says it has notified the soldiers’ families.
Honolulu Fire Department search and rescue crews found pieces of fuselage and a helmet about 2 miles (3 kilometers) off Kaena Point on Oahu.
In April, one crew member was killed and two others were injured when an Army helicopter crashed onto a golf course in Maryland.
In 2015, 11 crew members were killed when an Army helicopter crashed into the water in Florida.
8/17/17 – Rep. Vern Ehlers dies at 83
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Vern Ehlers, a research physicist who served 17 years representing a western Michigan congressional district, has died. He was 83.
Melissa Morrison, funeral director at Zaagman Memorial Chapel, said Wednesday that Ehlers died late Tuesday at a Grand Rapids nursing facility.
Ehlers, a Republican, decided against seeking re-election in 2010. He previously was a state lawmaker and taught physics at Calvin College.
In Congress, he sought protections for the Great Lakes and funding for math and science education.
Republican Rep. Fred Upton, who served with Ehlers, said he was “so well-respected on both sides of the aisle, hard-working and always a teacher at heart.” He says his “common-sense voice … is all too rare in today’s political climate.”
A funeral service for Vern Ehlers will take place August 24th at Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church. Visitation will also take place at the church next Tuesday and Wednesday.
8/17/17 – Unemployment Benefits
WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans applied for jobless aid last week, as the number of people seeking benefits remained close to historic lows.
The Labor Department says that weekly unemployment applications fell by 12,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 232,000. It was the largest decline since mid-July. The less volatile four-week average slipped 500 to 240,500.
Applications closely reflect layoffs. Jobless claims have come in below 300,000 for 128 weeks in a row. That’s the longest such stretch since 1970, when the U.S. population was much smaller.
The unemployment rate has fallen to a 16-year low of 4.3 percent. The government’s jobs report for July showed that U.S. employers added 209,000 jobs. More Americans have been coming off the sidelines and finding jobs.
8/16/17 – Michigan lowers requirements for English-proficiency test
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Department of Education has announced it will reduce the overall score students need to receive on an English-proficiency test after an earlier change made it more difficult for students to transition out of English learner status.
MLive reports that educators and school districts in the state had expressed concern over the WIDA ACCESS test’s rigorous scoring system after less than 1 percent of Michigan students reached the minimum score during the 2016-17 school year.
Data from the department says typically between 13 and 15 percent of the state’s more than 97,000 English language learners receive an overall score high enough to transition.
In addition to a minimum score on the test, students must demonstrate proficiency on state reading assessments in order to transition.
8/16/17 – US flag with swastika hung over G.R. highway
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — The Grand Rapids Police Department is asking for the public’s help with identifying a man who hung an American flag with a swastika painted on it from an overpass over Interstate 196.
Police say officers were called to the overpass before 7 a.m. Monday on a report of a man who was seen hanging the flag from the overpass.
Officers removed the flag about 10 minutes later just after arriving on the scene.
Police say the suspect is described as a male in his 20s with black hair and wearing a leather jacket. He was seen walking in the grass down toward the highway.
8/16/17 – Gov. Snyder kayaks in the Upper Peninsula to promote tourism
MUNISING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder has kayaked around Grand Island in Lake Superior to promote tourism.
Snyder began a tour of the Upper Peninsula on Tuesday by paddling near Munising and later visiting the Pictured Rocks Interpretive Center. He says he and other officials went under an arch and into a “beautiful” cave, calling the experience “pure Michigan.”
He told reporters he saw three eagles in one tree alone. Officials are focused on promoting Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and other popular tourism spots as a destination other times of the year — not just summer.
Later, Snyder promoted professional trades instruction programs at a high school in Ishpeming.
His U.P. tour will continue Wednesday in Marquette, Kingsford and Hermansville.
8/16/17 – Michigan private schools
DETROIT (AP) — The Michigan appeals court has turned down an appeal in a dispute over public aid for private schools.
A judge last month put a freeze on $2.5 million for fire drills, inspections and other state requirements at private schools. The money was approved by lawmakers in 2016, but critics say it violates the Michigan Constitution.
The appeals court on Monday said it found no grounds to get involved immediately. It means the injunction will stand. The court still is determining whether private schools can intervene in the lawsuit by public school groups.
Michael Steinberg of the American Civil Liberties Union says Michigan tax dollars can’t go to private schools, directly or indirectly.
8/16/17 – Memorial for Charlottesville victim
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Mourners will gather in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Wednesday to honor the woman who was killed when a car rammed into a crowd of people protesting a white nationalist rally.
A memorial service for Heather Heyer is scheduled Wednesday morning at a downtown Charlottesville theater. Attendees were asked to wear purple, Heyer’s favorite color, in her memory.
The 32-year-old was a Charlottesville resident and legal assistant. Heyer’s mother described her daughter as a courageous, principled woman and firm believer in justice and equality.
The man accused of driving the car that slammed into the crowd has been charged with second-degree murder in her death.
Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas said this week that his department is working with Heyer’s family to ensure the safety of those at vigils and other memorials.
8/15/17 – Help for Home Heating
Lansing, MI — Although summer is still in full swing, now is the time to think about heating your home this winter, as tax credits are still available to help residenst of modest means stay warm.
The Michigan Home Heating Credit is based on household income and size, and is available to both homeowners and renters.
Whitney Skeans with Consumers Energy says the funds can go a long way toward helping vulnerable residents.
Skeans say even if your income doesn’t require you to file taxes, you may still qualify for the credit, which offers benefits beyond heat help.
The deadline to apply for the credit is September 30th and the application can be found on the Dept. of Treasury website, at Consumers Energy’s assistance site, at Secretary of State branches, and at most public libraries. Free help in filling out the form is available by dialing 2-1-1.
8/15/17 – Rockford Community to help support Corner Bar
(Mlive) – Much of downtown Rockford was closed Monday due to a fire at the Corner Bar. It occupied the oldest building in Rockford which was built in 1873.
While crews continued to fight the fire into the afternoon the staff set up a hot dog stand around the corner handing out free hot dogs to residents and crews helping to fight the fire.
The owners say they plan to rebuild. In the meantime they are working to help find jobs for their employees. Other businesses are also reaching out.
The fire broke out just before 5 a.m. and appears to have started in a back dumpster.
Thursday evening, a fundraiser is being held at Uccello’s on Main Street in Rockford to help those impacted by the fire.
8/15/17 – Divers recover body near site of Lake Superior boat mishap
MUNISING, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say divers searching the waters of Lake Superior for a missing person after a boating accident have recovered a body.
Michigan State Police say the Alger County Dive Team located the body Monday near the site of the accident near Au Train Island. The name of the person hasn’t been released.
Police say a large wave swamped a pontoon boat Sunday evening, sending all seven occupants overboard. Six of the occupants were rescued and treated for hypothermia.
The island is located a short distance off shore between Marquette and Munising.
8/15/17- Grants available to support urban forestry projects
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is taking applications for grants supporting tree plantings and other activities that boost urban and community forest growth.
Officials say up to $90,000 in federal funds is available for projects around the state. Applicants can seek up to $20,000, depending on the project type.
All grants require a one-to-one match of funds. They can be cash contributions or services.
Local governments, nonprofit organizations, schools and tribal governments are eligible to apply.
In addition to planting trees, grants can be used for urban forest management, planning and training. Arbor Day celebrations and materials also can be funded.
Applications must be postmarked by Sept. 22.
Funded projects must take place on land that’s owned by or accessible to the public.
8/15/17 – Lightning is zapping fewer Americans, not more
WASHINGTON (AP) — Lightning — once one of nature’s biggest killers —is claiming far fewer lives in the United States, mostly because we’ve learned to get out of the way.
In the 1940s, when there were fewer people, lightning killed more than 300 people annually. So far this year, 13 people have died after being struck, on pace for a record low of 17 deaths. Taking the growing population into account, the lightning death rate has shrunk more than forty-fold since record-keeping began in 1940.
People seem to be capturing the phenomenon more on camera than before, making it seem like something new and sizzling is going on in the air. Separate videos last month of a Florida lifeguard and an airport worker being hit by lightning went viral. Both survived.
8/15/17 – Deadly rally accelerates removal of Confederate statues
(AP) – The deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, is fueling another re-evaluation of Confederate statues in cities across the nation.
It’s happening in much the same way that a mass shooting by a white supremacist inside a South Carolina church accelerated the removal of the Confederate flag. Statues are being removed or slated for removal in Gainesville, Florida; Baltimore, San Antonio and elsewhere.
In Gainesville, a statue known as “Old Joe” was returned Monday to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which erected it in 1904.
Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe says the government shouldn’t glorify a chapter of history that is “a testament to America’s original sin.”
Meanwhile, protesters in North Carolina toppled a nearly century-old statue of a Confederate soldier on Monday at a rally against racism.
Activists in Durham brought a ladder up to the statue and used a rope to pull down the Confederate Soldiers Monument that was dedicated in 1924. A diverse crowd of dozens cheered as the statue of a soldier holding a rifle fell to the ground in front of an old courthouse building that now houses local government offices.
Seconds after the monument fell, protesters began kicking the crumpled bronze monument.
The Durham protest was in response to a white nationalist rally held in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend. Authorities say one woman was killed Saturday after one of the white nationalists drove his car into a group of peaceful counter-protesters.
8/14/17 – Top US military officer warns NKorea that US military ready
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The top U.S. military officer is warning during a trip to Seoul that the United States is ready to use the “full range” of its military capabilities to defend itself and its allies from North Korea.
A spokesman says Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford also told his South Korean counterparts Monday that the North’s missiles and nukes threaten the world.
Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is also meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. He will then travel to Japan and China.
The trip follows a week in which President Donald Trump waged a war of words with North Korea, declaring the U.S. military “locked and loaded.”
North Korea, meanwhile, has threatened to lob four intermediate-range missiles into the waters near the U.S. territory of Guam.
8/14/17 -Blaze at Corner Bar causes ‘devastating loss’ to Rockford community
ROCKFORD, MI (Mlive)– Rockford’s Corner Bar is likely a total loss after an early morning fire broke out, leaving the building extensively damaged.
Rockford Police and Fire Chief Dave Jones called the loss “devastating” for the city of Rockford.
“Everyone knows the Corner Bar is a destination,” he said. “Everyone I talk to about the city of Rockford talks about Corner Bar … It’s very tough for the city. This is our landmark. This is one of our signatures.”
Fire crews were dispatched just before 5 a.m. Monday, Aug. 14, to a report of a structure fire at Corner Bar, 31 N. Main St. in downtown Rockford.
Fire responders reported flames showing from outside of the building on the rear side, Jones said. The cause and origin of the fire hasn’t been determined yet, but police said there’s a grease trap and dumpster in the back of the building where the flames were first spotted.
Around 6 a.m., there was an explosion in the basement of the building. Jones said there were firefighters inside before the explosion, but they made it out safely beforehand.
As of 8 a.m., crews were continuing to battle a gas fire inside while DTE personnel attempted to shut off gas to the building. Jones said the the city’s gas lines and shutoffs are “fairly well-mapped” but personnel were having a difficult time located the shutoff, which might be inside the building.
8/14/17 – Vigil calls for united stand against racism
Vigils were held across the country Sunday to honor the victims of a weekend attack in Charlottesville, Virginia. A car plowed into a “Unite the Right” rally. Heather Heyer died and several others were injured. The attack targeted counter-protesters, who were fighting back against a group protesting a decision by the city to take down a confederate statue.
20-year-old James Fields Jr., is the man accused of plowing his car into counter protesters at the white nationalist rally in Virginia. He is expected to be formally charged today.
Protesters, decrying hatred and racism converged around the country on Sunday, saying they felt compelled to counteract the white supremacist rally that spiraled into deadly violence.
8/14/17 – Gas prices continue to go up
DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — AAA Michigan says gas prices statewide have risen by about 7 cents per gallon in the past week.
The Dearborn-based auto club says late Sunday the average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was about $2.49 per gallon. That’s about 23 cents more than at the same point last year.
AAA says the lowest average price was about $2.43 per gallon in the Jackson area. The highest was about $2.52 per gallon in the Ann Arbor area.
The Detroit-area’s average rose about 3 cents from a week ago to $2.47 per gallon.
AAA Michigan surveys daily fuel prices at 2,800 gas stations across the state.
8/11/17 US-131 Crash Closes Stretch Near 10 Mile
It appears a two-vehicle crash has shut down a portion of US-131 near Rockford. The crash involves a charter bus at 10 Mile road in the northbound lanes. The off ramp is also closed. You are encouraged to avoid the area.
Get off at Post Drive or 14 miles and double back.
8/11/17 – US/South Korea Not Calling off Training
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Military officials say they plan to move ahead with large-scale U.S.-South Korea exercises later this month that North Korea, which is finalizing plans to launch a salvo of missiles toward Guam, claims are a rehearsal for war.
The exercises are an annual event, but come as Pyongyang says it is readying a plan to fire off four Hwasong-12 missiles toward the tiny island, which is U.S. territory and major military hub. The plan would be sent to leader Kim Jong Un for approval just before or as the U.S.-South Korea drills begin.
The exercises are expected to run from Aug. 21-31 and involve tens of thousands of troops on the ground and in the sea and air. Washington and Seoul say they’re meant as a deterrent against North Korean aggression.
8/11/17 – Paris Attack Suspect Not Able to be Interviewed
PARIS (AP) — A man suspected of ramming his car into French soldiers has been transferred to a Paris hospital but remains too badly injured to face questioning or prosecution.
A judicial official said the man was brought to the capital Friday by helicopter from a hospital in Lille, and was not in a condition to speak to investigators.
The official said no other arrests have been made over Wednesday’s attack, which injured six soldiers. The official was not authorized to be publicly named.
Police have identified the chief suspect as 37-year-old Algerian Hamou Benlatreche, known to police as a suspect in minor crimes but not as someone with radical beliefs. Benlatreche was arrested in northern France and police said officers opened fire to subdue him.
The motive for the attack remains unclear.
8/9/17 – Infant Swimsuit Recall
Meijer Corporation is announcing a recall on infant swimsuits. 22 thousand Wave Zone One Piece Zip Infant Swimsuits are being recalled for snaps that can break loose and pose a choking hazard. The suits were sold between Jan. 1 and July 17 and come in sizes 0-3 months to 24 months. Any questions, you can call Meijer corporation directly or visit any Meijer store for a refund.
Meijer Customer Service – (800) 543-3704
8/9/17 – Election Results August 8, 2017
Residents of Spring Lake rejected an effort to dis-incorporate the village. 63 percent of voters wanted to remain a village and current Village President Joyce Verplank-Hatton is planning to resign today. Verplank-Hatton announced earlier that regardless of the outcome, she planned to step down.
Grand Rapids has filled two seats for city commissioner in the 1st and 2nd wards. Incumbent Joe Jones retained his 2nd Ward seat with 51 percent of the vote. Jones took to Facebook to say that he was ‘blessed beyond measure’ to have the support of residents working for his re-election.
Pastor Kurt Reppart won the first ward chair with 52 percent of the vote, beating Christine Mullan and former City Attorney Catherine Mish.
By just 16 votes, Godwin Heights residents voted to renew a public school operating millage.
Grand Haven voters will see Incumbent Mayor Geri McCaleb and challenger Mike Fritz faceoff in the Nov. 7 general election for a new two-year term as mayor.
Muskegon residents will also have a runoff for the Mayor’s seat in November. Incumbent Stephen J. Gawron will face Will Springstead in the November general election.
8/9/17 – Open House Seat Race to Feature Unique Candidates
MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) — Results show a city commissioner and TV marketing executive will face off in a November election for a term in the Michigan House of Representatives that was left open after the death of an Upper Peninsula legislator.
According to preliminary results, Sara Cambensy, a Marquette commissioner, advanced in Tuesday’s special Democratic primary in the 109th District with about 36 percent of the vote. Jeremy Hosking, a former regional manager for U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, had less than 35 percent.
Two other Democrats were seeking to advance.
The Republican candidate is Rich Rossway, a TV marketing executive who serves on Marquette’s school board and Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. He was unopposed.
The district leans Democratic and covers four U.P. counties. Rep. John Kivela took his own life in May after a drunken driving arrest.
8/9/17 – Paris Police Search for Attack Suspect
French police are stopping cars and drivers in the Paris region as they search for an attacker who rammed a dark-colored BMW into a group of soldiers before fleeing.
A security official said Wednesday afternoon that authorities have carried out several stops but have not turned up a suspect or arrested anyone. Six soldiers were injured in the attack.
Government spokesman Christophe Castaner said “all means are mobilized to neutralize the person or persons who are responsible.”
He said President Emmanuel Macron discussed the attack at a previously scheduled security meeting Wednesday and a subsequent Cabinet meeting.
Two police officials say that authorities are focusing on a hunt for a single attacker but can’t rule out that others could have been involved in the attack in the Paris suburb of Levallois. The officials say that surveillance cameras at the scene captured images of the car’s license plate and details they hope will help in the search. The officials were not authorized to be publicly named.
8/4/17 – Gerald R. Ford International Airport continues to grow
The Gerald R. Ford International Airport continues to soar when it comes to passenger growth.
More than 1.3 million people — reflecting a 4.2 percent bump over last year — flew out of the Grand Rapids airport in 2016, according to data released from the Federal Aviation Administration.
The FAA tracks only commercial passengers flying out of airports for its statistics.
Ford’s total is more than the 14 smaller commercial service airports in Michigan combined, which had over 1.2 million passengers.
West Michigan’s largest airport is the 80th busiest in the country, and 85th busiest in cargo operations. Helping to drive that growth has been an uptick in both business and leisure travel, said Jim Gill, the airport’s chief executive, in a statement.
“We are now the ninth busiest airport in the Great Lakes region,” Gill said.
But other regional airports are seeing growth as well.
The Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport had 26 percent growth in 2016 with 154,242 people boarding flights.
The Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City had a 6.5 percent increase with 233,865 outgoing passengers, while Muskegon County Airport’s totals climbed 6.3 percent to 18,165 passengers.
Going against the trend was Capital Region International Airport. The Lansing airport’s passenger count dropped 10.6 percent to 161,714 in 2016.
Ford is on track for another record year. In the first 6 months of 2017, passenger service is up 6.6 percent.
The airport has invested $45 million on improvements over the past 2 years, including a streamlined security check-in, new restrooms, business centers and restaurants.
The state’s second biggest airport offers nonstop service to 24 major market destinations with more than 120 daily nonstop flights.
Low cost carrier Frontier recently announced it was returning to Ford with non-stop service to Denver and Florida.
8/4/17 – Toyota, Mazda plan EV partnership
TOKYO (AP) — Japanese automakers Toyota Motor Corp. and Mazda Motor Corp. said Friday they plan to spend $1.6 billion to set up a joint-venture auto manufacturing plant in the U.S. — a move that will create up to 4,000 jobs.
The plant will have an annual production capacity of about 300,000 vehicles, and will produce Toyota Corollas for the North American market. Mazda will make cross-over models there that it plans to introduce to that market, both sides said.
The companies will split the cost for the plant equally.
Toyota said that it changed its plan to make Corollas at a plant in Mexico, now under construction, and instead will produce Tacoma pickups there.
President Donald Trump had criticized Toyota for taking auto production and jobs to Mexico.
8/4/17 – Ex-Greenville city official sentenced for health care fraud
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A former top municipal official in western Michigan has been sentenced to 28 days in jail and 150 hours of community service after pleading no contest to health care fraud.
Former Greenville Public Safety Director Mark Reiss also received a suspended 30-day sentence during his sentencing Thursday in Montcalm County Circuit Court. WZZM-TV reports the jail time will be served in 14, two-day weekend increments.
Prosecutors say the 50-year-old Reiss and his ex-wife, Christine Reiss, defrauding an insurance company by allowing her to remain on his city health insurance after they divorced in 2014. He resigned in February.
Christine Reiss was sentenced in June to 50 days in jail and probation and ordered to complete community service. She paid $110,000 in restitution.
8/4/17 – Michigan village mulls disincorporation
SPRING LAKE, Mich. (AP) — A divisive ballot measure next week will ask citizens in a small western Michigan village whether to allow their local government to create a mechanism by which the village can disincorporate.
The Grand Rapids Press reports that if Spring Lake voters approve the charter amendment Tuesday, the village of about 3,200 people could start what would be a lengthy process of eliminating all village taxes while discontinuing specific services only the village provides.
Disincorporation supporters say their local government has grown too powerful, and claim residents pay an unnecessary “double tax” which underwrites salaries of village administrators.
Opponents characterize the measure as Village President Joyce Hatton’s fight to “destroy” the village’s small but proud identity and follow through on a campaign promise that won her Spring Lake’s top executive seat.
8/4/17 – VW executive scheduled to plead guilty in emissions scandal
DETROIT (AP) — A German Volkswagen executive is scheduled to plead guilty in Detroit in a scheme to cheat emission rules on nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles.
Oliver Schmidt is due in U.S. District Court on Friday. He is charged with conspiracy and fraud.
Schmidt is a former manager of a VW engineering office in suburban Detroit. He was arrested in January.
VW admits using software to get around emission standards. The company pleaded guilty in March and agreed to pay $4.3 billion in penalties, on top of billions more to buy back cars.
Schmidt is accused of telling regulators technical problems were to blame for the difference in emissions in road and lab tests.
Most of the VW employees charged in a scheme are in Germany and out of reach of U.S. authorities.
8/4/17 – Congress recessing, leaving much undone
WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers are scattering for their summer recess, leaving much undone and a frustrated President. President Trump was hoping to repeal Obamacare.
Senators did confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court but they failed to make much progress on a tax overhaul or infrastructure bill.
8/4/17 – Flames engulf 86-story residential skyscraper in Dubai
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Dubai says firefighters have brought the blaze that broke out overnight in one of the world’s tallest residential towers under control.
The fire engulfed the skyscraper and sent chunks of debris plummeting below. More than 40 floors of the 86-story Torch Tower were burning on one side of the building and residents could be seen crying. Several said the fire broke out just after 1 a.m. on Friday.
Dubai’s Civil Defense announced at about 3:30 a.m. that the blaze was under control and that no injuries were reported.
It was the second time that the more than 1,100-foot-tall (335 meters) tower has been ravaged by fire. The tower, located in the popular waterfront Marina district, caught fire in February 2015. No one was reported killed in that blaze.
8/3/17 – Help for Michigan disabled
-According to the U.S. Census, around 10% of Michigan’s population under the age of 65, have a disability. The Michigan Achieving a Better Life Experience, or MiABLE program, has helped families save more than $2 million dollars for disability-related expenses in the 9 months since it was launched. It is a savings account that offers investment and tax incentives for families and others who wish to save for individuals with disabilities. During the month of August, the state is trying to raise awareness for the program. Information can be found at: miable.org or calling 844-656-7225.
8/3/17 – Workers killed, hurt in arena floor collapse identified
HOLLAND, Mich. (AP) — Authorities have identified the construction workers killed and injured after a section of floor collapsed at a western Michigan arena.
The Holland Department of Public Safety says the collapse Tuesday at the Holland Civic Center killed 38-year-old Ruben Gomez-Vazques of Grand Rapids. He was pronounced dead at the scene after being trapped in debris for about 15 minutes.
It says injured worker 41-year-old Rafael Hernandez-Alvarez of Grand Rapids has been released from a hospital.
Both men worked for X-treme Demolition Inc., a subcontractor on the 63-year-old arena’s renovation.
Capt. Keith Mulder says the two were demolishing a small section of cement floor on the second level when it collapsed and both workers fell.
General contractor GO Construction said Wednesday that renovations have been halted while the collapse is investigated.
8/3/17 – Central Michigan gets disaster relief
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — President Donald Trump has made a disaster declaration for four Michigan counties that sustained widespread damage amid severe storms and flash flooding in June.
The announcement Wednesday makes federal funding available to residents and business owners in Bay, Gladwin, Isabella and Midland counties for things such as temporary housing, repairs and low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses. The assistance also will aid the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe within Isabella County.
Trump’s declaration also means communities statewide are eligible to participate in a program to help reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and property from natural hazards.
Gov. Rick Snyder had asked Trump for the disaster declaration.
8/3/17 – Pickup crashes into suburban Detroit bus stop
WARREN, Mich. (AP) — A suburban Detroit mayor says a pickup truck crashed into a bus stop, and reports say several people have been hurt.
Warren Mayor Jim Fouts says the truck’s driver was making a sharp right turn, lost control and smashed into the bus stop, where four to five people were waiting. The wreck occurred around 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Fouts tells WWJ-TV “two people were kind of trapped underneath the pickup” and rescue crews were trying to extricate them.
WWJ and WJBK-TV report several people were hurt, but the extent of their injuries wasn’t immediately known.
Nearby sandwich stop employee Christopher Lofton says the driver left the crash scene to use a bathroom at his store while people remained underneath the truck.
Warren police say they had no information on the crash they could release.
8/3/17 – Severe Weather-Michigan
FLINT, Mich. (AP) — Thunderstorms packing heavy rains caused flash flooding in parts of Michigan, stranding drivers in the Flint area and snarling traffic on Detroit-area freeways.
The storms Wednesday evening brought several inches of rain in places.
Flint residents Charlie Pearce and Felicia Ostrander helped pull people from shin-high waters after seeing live video of the flooding on Facebook. Among those they helped was Nancy Dixon, who tells The Flint Journal she was heading home from work when her car stalled.
Flooding stopped traffic during Wednesday evening’s rush hour period in the Detroit area. Parts of freeways including Interstate 75, I-94 and the tunnel under downtown Detroit’s Cobo Center were affected. Power was knocked out to thousands of utility customers.
More rain was expected Thursday in Michigan.
8/3/17 – Explosions in Greektown
— Authorities say an underground electrical cable failure caused explosions in downtown Detroit that sent manhole covers into the air and prompted the evacuation of a restaurant and hotel.
No injuries were reported following Wednesday night’s blasts in the city’s Greektown area and utility DTE Energy Co. says electrical service wasn’t affected. Crews worked Thursday to make repairs.
Fishbone’s restaurant and the Atheneum Suite Hotel in Greektown were evacuated.
Pastor Willie Thornton, who was visiting Detroit from Kansas City, Missouri, with his family, tells The Detroit News that the hotel shook.
The Detroit Free Press reports at least three explosions were heard at Fishbone’s.
Deputy Fire Commissioner David Fornell says the force of the explosions also blew a door off a nearby building and damaged a car.
8/2/17 – Police Searching for Robbery Suspect
Local police agencies believe one man may be responsible for a number of robberies this summer. Grand Rapids Police and Kent County Sheriffs are searching for 33-year old Jason Savickas. They believe he’s behind seven holdups including a bank robbery this morning in Grand Rapids.
He is described as five feet, 10 inches tall, wieghting 150-170 pounds and with short brown hair and blue eyes. He was last seen driving a dark blue or purple 2001 Oldsmobile Intrigue four-door with a Michigan license plate DNL-1257.
If you spot a man matching this description, do not approach. Savickas is considered dangerous.
8/2/17 – Man denied murder charge appeal in Michigan bike crash case
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Court of Appeals will not hear an appeal of second-degree murder charges against a man involved in a fatal bicycle crash last year.
A three-judge panel wrote July 28 that Charles Pickett Jr.’s leave to appeal was denied “for failure to persuade the Court of the need for immediate appellate review.”
Pickett is charged with five counts of murder, five counts of driving while intoxicated and four counts of reckless driving related to the June 2016 crash. Police say he plowed into a group of bicyclists in Cooper Township, killing five and injuring four.
Defense attorney Alan Koenig argued in the April application that the prosecution’s evidence wasn’t enough to send Pickett to trial for second-degree murder.
Pickett’s trial is scheduled for Sept. 19.
8/2/17 – 1 dead, 1 hurt in Michigan civic center ceiling collapse
HOLLAND, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say one worker has died and another has been injured after a section of ceiling collapsed at a western Michigan civic center.
Capt. Keith Mulder of the Holland Department of Public Safety says an employee of a subcontractor working on a renovation of the Holland Civic Center was pronounced dead at the scene after being freed from debris.
Mulder says a second worker was injured and hospitalized.
The names of the workers were not immediately released.
Mulder says a small section of ceiling near an entrance collapsed. The cause of the collapse wasn’t immediately known.
Mayor Nancy DeBoer called the collapse “a very tragic accident.”
The civic center built in 1954 is undergoing a $16.5 million renovation. It hosts sporting events, concerts, theatrical productions and other programs.
8/2/17 – Michigan delays posting proposed health insurance rates
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan will wait another month before posting rate increases proposed by health insurers that sell coverage on a government marketplace, due to uncertainty over President Donald Trump’s threat to stop billions of dollars in government payments to insurers.
The state Department of Insurance and Financial Services was supposed to publish the proposed rate hikes Tuesday. But it won a 30-day extension from the federal government, citing “uncertainty” over whether insurers will be reimbursed for providing required financial assistance to low-income consumers.
Open enrollment for 2018 begins Nov. 1 and continues through Dec. 15.
Nine insurance companies want to participate in the federally-run Michigan Health Insurance Marketplace.
8/2/17 – Court keeps Great Lakes wolves on endangered species list
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — A federal appeals court is keeping gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region on the endangered species list.
A panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday upheld a district judge’s 2014 ruling that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had acted prematurely by removing federal protections from wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Wolves had nearly disappeared from the region when they were designated as endangered in the 1970s. They now total about 3,800.
Federal and state regulators say they’ve recovered and should be returned to state management, which could include allowing wolf hunting.
Environmental groups say they’re still vulnerable.
The appeals panel said the government hadn’t reasonably considered factors including loss of the wolf’s historical range.
8/2/17 – Test Missile Launched
The U.S. Air Force has successfully launched an intercontinental ballistic missile in a test on the California coast.
The unarmed Minuteman 3 missile was launched Wednesday morning from Vandenberg Air Force Base.
It was the fourth such test this year. The most recent was in May.
The Air Force says the test was to check the readiness, effectiveness and accuracy of the weapons system.
Minuteman missiles are regularly tested with launches from Vandenberg that send unarmed re-entry vehicles to a target area in the middle of the Pacific.
However, the latest launches come amid tensions with North Korea as that nation develops its own ICBMs.
8/2/17 – Asian Carp Challenge
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Got an original idea for keeping Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes? It could earn you some good money.
Michigan’s “Invasive Carp Challenge” is underway. Gov. Rick Snyder says the state is accepting proposals for shielding the lakes from the invasive fish, which have infested the Mississippi River watershed. Scientists say if they become established in the lakes, they could crowd out prized native species.
Scientists and engineers in the region are working on the problem. But the state wants to inspire creative thinkers worldwide to offer innovative solutions.
Officials will accept proposals in any phase of development, from concept to design to field-tested models.
Written proposals will be accepted through Oct. 31. One or more winners will share up to $700,000 in cash awards.
8/2/17 – Worker dies after tire apparently explodes in Michigan
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say a 45-year-old man has died after a tire on a large front-end loader apparently exploded in southwestern Michigan.
The explosion was reported Tuesday at a business in Kalamazoo. The Kalamazoo Gazette reports that workers say he had been using the front-end loader to move wooden industrial pallets. WWMT-TV reports the sound of the explosion was heard throughout the area.
Police say they found the man with severe traumatic injuries and attempts to save him were unsuccessful. His name wasn’t immediately released.
The death is under investigation.
8/2/17 – Residents evacuated after freight train derailment, fire
HYNDMAN, Pa. (AP) — Part of a freight train has derailed in Pennsylvania setting three train cars afire and prompting emergency officials to evacuate nearby homes.
No injuries were reported.
Bedford County 911 coordinator Harry Corley says six cars on the CSX freight train derailed about 5 a.m. in Hyndman, about 100 miles (161 kilometers) southeast of Pittsburgh. A nearby residential garage caught fire and residents in a 1-mile radius (1.61-kilometers) were urged to leave their homes.
Corley says some of the train cars were filled with flammable liquid asphalt, but it wasn’t immediately clear whether the derailed or burning cars were carrying the asphalt or something else.
CSX spokesman Rob Doolittle says the company is working with first responders to protect public safety and CSX personnel. No word on what caused the derailment.
8/1/17 – National Night Out
-2017 National Night Out takes place tonight. It’s an opportunity to get to know your neighbors better and an enjoyable way to promote neighborhood spirit.
Thousands of communities nationwide will provide events that aim to promote police-community partnerships, crime, drug, and violence prevention, safety and neighborhood unity.
Special events are planned such as block parties, cookouts and youth activities.
8/1/17 – DeVos to make visit to Grand Rapids
GRAND RAPIDS, MI — U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos will visit Grand Rapids Community College, the Department of Education announced.
On Tuesday, Aug. 1, DeVos plans to tour the Culinary Kitchen, Machine Lab and apprenticeship facilities at GRCC, the Department of Education said.
The visit is meant to highlight the apprenticeship and workforce development programs offered at Grand Rapids Community College, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Education.
The visit will be from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The first stop will be at the Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center, 143 Bostwick Ave. NE. The second stop will be at Leslie Tassell Michigan Technology Education Center, 622 Godfrey Ave SW.
Press credentials with photo identification are required to enter the school. Credentialed media should RSVP, the Department of Education said.
8/1/17 – Deadly Motorcycle Crash
ALLENDALE, MI -(Mlive)- A 55-year-old motorcyclist was killed Monday evening when his bike was struck by a vehicle in Allendale.
Gregory Lewis Pierson, of Grand Rapids, died after he sustained injuries in the two-vehicle crash. He was not wearing a helmet, police said.
Ottawa County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched around 9 p.m. Monday, July 31, to the crash on 48th Avenue north of Lake Michigan Drive in Allendale.
Preliminary investigation determined that a 22-year-old Highland woman was northbound on 48th Avenue when she attempted to turn into University Park. While doing so, she struck a southbound motorcycle driven by Pierson.
The first officers on scene performed CPR in an attempt to resuscitate Pierson. He was pronounced dead a short time later by paramedics.
The woman driver was not seriously injured.
Assisting deputies at the scene were Allendale Fire, Grand Valley State University Police, and Life EMS. The incident remains under investigation.
8/1/17 – Courthouse-Loaded Gun
ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (AP) — Two people arrested after a loaded handgun was found inside a purse during a security screening at a county courthouse in southwestern Michigan have been sentenced to time behind bars.
40-year-old Arnelda Jackson was ordered Monday to spend two years in prison followed by another 19 months to five years. He earlier pleaded guilty to charges including being a felon in possession of a firearm.
His wife 37-year-old Molly Jackson was sentenced to four months in jail after earlier pleading guilty to carrying a concealed weapon.
Arnelda Jackson says he didn’t know his wife had the gun in her purse in May at the Berrien County courthouse. Molly Jackson said she’d forgotten it was there. The Jacksons are from Wyoming, near Grand Rapids.
8/1/17 – Driver get probation for crash that killed 2 cyclists
JACKSON, Mich. (AP) — A motorist who authorities say fatally injured two bicyclists in southern Michigan has been sentenced to two years on probation.
The Jackson Citizen Patriot reports the judge also ordered 76-year-old Raymond McKnight of Brooklyn, Michigan, to pay $1,520 in fines and fees at his sentencing Monday.
McKnight pleaded no contest in June to two misdemeanor counts of committing a moving violation causing death. A no contest plea isn’t an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing.
Authorities say McKnight was driving Oct. 7 in Jackson County’s Norvell Township when his car struck 66-year-old Mary Massengill and 62-year-old Deborah Patterson while they rode on the shoulder, a designated bike path. Massengill died at the scene and Patterson died later.
McKnight’s lawyer has said it was an accident.
8/1/17 – Crews replace aging water lines in nearly 1,800 Flint homes
FLINT, Mich. (AP) — Nearly 1,800 additional homes in Flint have had service lines replaced in the latest phase of an effort to help fix the city’s lead-tainted water crisis.
Mayor Karen Weaver’s office says about 2,700 homes have had aging water lines replaced since March 2016 under the FAST Start initiative. The program’s goal is to replace nearly 20,000 lead-tainted lines in Flint by 2020.
Flint was under state control when it switched from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River in 2014 to save money. The river water was not properly treated to prevent pipe corrosion.
Elevated levels of lead later were found in some children.
The city has since returned to Detroit’s system.
8/1/17 – Record number of Michigan schools to begin early
DETROIT (AP) — A record number of school districts in Michigan are bypassing the state’s 11-year ban on starting school before Labor Day and opening their doors to students in August.
The Detroit News reports that more than 120 school districts across the state have received waivers from the Michigan Department of Education that release them from the requirement to start school after the late summer holiday.
A bill was introduced by Republican Sen. Marty Knollenberg in March seeking to allow Michigan schools to open before Labor Day without state approval. State officials say the bill remains on the Senate floor and isn’t expected to impact the upcoming school year. Knollenberg said Friday that the bill is in the best interest of the state’s schoolchildren.
8/1/17 – New Chief of Staff makes some major changes
WASHINGTON (AP) — By all indications, new Trump White House chief of staff, John Kelly, is not afraid to challenge his commander-in-chief.
The decorated retired Marine general who served three tours in Iraq was tapped by President Donald Trump to bring order to a chaotic West Wing.
Kelly began to make his mark Monday, dumping newly appointed communications director Anthony Scaramucci just days after his hiring, and restructuring a dysfunctional command structure that has bred warring factions.
From now on, all senior staffers — including the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and chief strategist Steve Bannon — will report to Kelly instead of the president.
Some outside the White House say those and other changes are long overdue.
7/20/17 – More kids are hungry during the summer
-In Michigan, only 11.9% of kids who get free school meals, receive summer meals.
We tend to burn more calories over the summer to keep cool and that increases the need for summer meals for low-income children funded by the government. So non-profit groups are coming together to raise awareness. A hotline has been developed where callers can find out where summer meals are being offered for kids & where the closest food pantry & soup kitchens are located. The info is available at: 1- 866-3-HUNGRY.
7/20/17 – Senator McCain diagnosed with brain cancer
-Arizona Senator John McCain has been diagnosed with an aggressive type of brain tumor called glioblastoma. The news follows McCain’s surgery last Friday to remove a blood clot above his left eye. The 80-year-old senator and his family are reviewing further treatment, including a combination of chemotherapy and radiation.
The senator and chairman of the Armed Services Committee, had been recovering at his Arizona home. His absence had forced Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to delay action on health care legislation.
7/20/17 – Tony Perkins in West Michigan
-Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council will be speaking at Parkside Bible Church in Holland,14461 James Street, on Friday, July 21 at 7:30 p.m.
He is a special guest speaker for the Grace Gospel Fellowship’s annual Family Bible Conference. He will be sharing on the topic of “Strength from Government” and the public is invited to attend the Friday evening session at no cost.
Tony Perkins is the host of a daily, nationally syndicated radio show, Washington Watch with Tony Perkins. He frequently appears as a guest on national news programs and talk shows.
7/20/17 – Invasive red swamp crayfish
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Officials say an invasive crayfish native to the Mississippi River and the Gulf Coast has made its way to Michigan.
The state Department of Natural Resources says multiple numbers of red swamp crayfish turned up recently in a Novi retention pond and in Sunset Lake, in the Kalamazoo County town of Vicksburg.
They are Michigan’s first known sightings of live red swamp crayfish, a popular menu item in the South.
Nick Popoff of the DNR says the crayfish dig deep burrows that damage infrastructure such as dams, levees and irrigation systems. They compete with native crayfish for food and habitat.
Popoff says getting rid of them is difficult.
DNR staff will monitor both locations to see how far the crayfish have spread, while using nets and traps to capture them.
7/20/17 – Michigan’s unemployment rate falls to 3.8 percent in June
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent during June while the number of people in the workforce continued to decline.
The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget announced Wednesday the June rate compared to a rate of 4.2 percent during May and was a full percentage point lower than the June 2016 rate of 4.8 percent. The national rate in June was 4.4 percent.
The agency says Michigan’s workforce shrunk by 29,000 during June. The number of unemployed workers fell by 20,000 and total employment declined by 9,000.
Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives Director Jason Palmer says the June decline in the unemployment rate reflected a second consecutive month of a reduced labor force after several months of steady workforce growth in 2016 and early 2017.
7/20/17 –GOP targets Endangered Species Act
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional Republicans are moving forward with legislation to roll back the Endangered Species Act, amid complaints that the 44-year-old law hinders drilling, logging and other activities.
House and Senate committees were holding simultaneous hearings Wednesday on bills to revise the law and limit lengthy and costly litigation associated with it.
The bills come as a federal court lifted federal protections for gray wolves in Wyoming and the Trump administration is removing protections for grizzly bears in and near Yellowstone National Park.
House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop said the bills would curb excessive litigation and allow officials to focus on actual species conservation.
Rep. Raul Grijalva, the panel’s senior Democrat, said the endangered species law “does not need congressional meddling to work better. What it needs is congressional support.”
7/20/17 – Woman convicted of murder in parrot case
WHITE CLOUD, Mich. (AP) — A jury has convicted a western Michigan woman of first-degree murder in the shooting death of her husband in a crime apparently witnessed by the man’s pet parrot.
The Newaygo County jury deliberated about eight hours before finding 49-year-old Glenna Duram guilty Wednesday of killing 46-year-old Martin Duram. He was shot five times in May 2015. Glenna Duram suffered a head wound in what prosecutors said was a suicide attempt, but survived.
Martin Duram’s ex-wife, Christina Keller, has said that after the slaying, the pet parrot, Bud, repeated “don’t (expletive) shoot” in Martin Duram’s voice. Keller took ownership of the bird after Martin Duram’s death.
Duram is due to be sentenced Aug. 28 on the murder and a felony firearm charge.
7/20/17 – Michigan officer fatally shoots suspect during altercation
SAGINAW, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say a Michigan man pulled over on suspicion of drunken driving was shot to death after he attacked two police officers.
State Police Sgt. Duane Zook says 39-year-old Farhad Jabbari of Saginaw was pronounced dead at the scene Wednesday after being shot during the altercation. Zook says one officer suffered an arm wound and was hospitalized. The second officer suffered facial and eye injuries and was treated at a hospital and released.
Zook says the fight began after Jabbari was placed in a police cruiser. He says the arresting officer opened the cruiser’s rear door after noticing the suspect’s movement was not typical of a person who was handcuffed. That’s when Jabbari allegedly attacked.
Saginaw Township Police Chief Don Pussehl says it’s unclear who shot the officer or whether the man had a gun.
Zook says Michigan State Police is investigating the shooting.
7/20/17 – Underwater lab helps track Lake Erie water toxins
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — A robotic underwater laboratory has been deployed in Lake Erie to detect toxins produced by harmful algae that threaten city water supplies.
The project is intended to prevent recurrence of a 2014 tap water contamination crisis that prompted a do-not-drink order for more than 400,000 residents of Toledo, Ohio, and southeastern Michigan.
The device is positioned on the lake bottom, where it can provide about one day’s notice if highly toxic water drifts toward the Toledo intake system.
The federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative paid $375,000 for the lab.
Timothy Davis of the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor says Lake Erie will get two more of the devices next summer.
Data from the three labs will help produce short-term algal bloom forecasts for the area.
7/19/17 – GOP panel presses ahead on budget plan
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are pressing ahead with a budget plan designed to help the party to deliver on a GOP-only effort to overhaul the tax code.
The plan before the House Budget Committee on Wednesday also features promises to cut more than $5 trillion from the budget over the coming decade, though Republicans only appear serious about actually enacting a relatively modest $203 billion deficit cut over the same period.
The importance of the effort has been magnified by the cratering in the Senate of the Trump-backed effort to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law, leaving a rewrite of the tax code as the best chance for Trump to score a major legislative win this year.
7/19/17 – Fishing boat catches fire
LUDINGTON, Mich. (AP) — A recreational fishing boat has sunk in Lake Michigan after catching fire.
The Ludington Daily News reports all five people aboard the 31-foot boat were rescued, and one was treated for smoke inhalation.
A crew on a nearby fishing boat helped the boaters after the fire began Tuesday morning off Ludington State Park. The Coast Guard and local authorities also responded.
The names of the vessel and the occupants were not immediately available.
7/19/17 – Smokestack demolished
MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) — A 70-year-old smokestack on the site of a former paper mill in western Michigan has been demolished.
The Muskegon Chronicle posted video of the implosion, which left behind rubble and cloud of dust Tuesday morning in Muskegon. The demolition of “Power House Stack No. 1” came amid concerns by city officials that it might collapse if left standing.
Police set up a perimeter around the site to keep onlookers safe from asbestos-laden dust. The newspaper reports officials had determined it was too dangerous to remove asbestos from the smokestack before demolition.
Another smokestack, the 72-year-old “recovery boiler chimney,” still stands at the former Sappi Paper Mill site. Crews will remove asbestos paint prior to demolition.
Plans call for the site to be transformed into the Windward Pointe mixed-use development.
7/19/17 – Municipalities must prefund retiree care
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A task force created by Gov. Rick Snyder says municipalities should prefund the cost to provide health insurance to newly hired employees in retirement.
It’s one of four recommendations issued Tuesday by the group, which studied $17 billion in unfunded health care and pension liabilities. The task force failed to find consensus on benefit changes such as capping employers’ health costs and moving new hires into 401(k)-only plans.
It says there’s no one-size-fits-all approach but recommends implementing a “fiscal stress test” for municipal retirement systems and creating a board to review local finances and help develop corrective actions.
The task force was at odds over the powers of the proposed Municipal Stability Board, settling on a more limited role.
Snyder wants lawmakers to act as early as the fall session.
7/19/17 – Frontier adds flights from Grand Rapids to Orlando, Denver
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Frontier Airlines is adding flights from Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids to Orlando International Airport beginning in December.
The Denver-based carrier announced the four weekly nonstop flights on Tuesday. It also said it will add service from Grand Rapids to Denver International Airport that is expected to begin next spring.
Frontier said the Grand Rapids flights are among 85 new routes nationwide that it is adding.
Frontier last served the Grand Rapids market in 2013.
7/19/17 – $400,000 for water expenses
FLINT, Mich. (AP) — The Flint campus of the University of Michigan is getting $400,000 from the state for costs related to the city’s water crisis.
The money is part of the new budget signed last week by Gov. Rick Snyder.
University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald says the money is partial reimbursement for the school’s response to the water emergency. Water drawn from the Flint River caused lead to leach from old pipes, contaminating the city’s water system.
Fitzgerald says the Flint campus has spent more than $815,000 since 2015 on a variety of steps to ensure a safe water supply. They include new faucets and fountains, bottled water, inspections and labor.
Fitzgerald says staff and students at the Flint campus volunteered to test blood and provide health information to residents.
7/19/17 – Seminar offers ideas for reusing wood
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A workshop this week in Grand Rapids will provide information on ways to reuse wood that’s removed from city trees during routine maintenance.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says the seminar would be especially helpful for arborists, municipal tree care workers and forestry professionals.
It’s scheduled for Thursday at 9 a.m. at Blandford School. The cost is $35.
City trees provide numerous benefits. They shade buildings, provide wildlife habitat, clean the air and filter water. But some must be removed because of insect or storm damage.
DNR urban forestry manager Kevin Sayers says many such trees end up in landfills or as mulch. But some could produce high-quality lumber for furniture, paneling or “green” building materials. Finding new uses for the wood can reduce disposal costs.
7/19/17 – Appeals court tosses suit in jobless benefits fraud case
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan appeals court has tossed a class-action lawsuit filed by people who were falsely accused of defrauding the unemployment benefits system by an automated computer program.
A panel ruled 3-0 Tuesday that the three plaintiffs waited too long to sue, reversing the state Court of Claims.
The case centers on whether the men were hurt when the Unemployment Insurance Agency incorrectly notified them of the fraud findings or when the state intercepted their tax refunds, garnished wages and forced repayment of unemployment benefits. Judges Michael Gadola, Patrick Meter and Karen Fort Hood said the trial court “did not properly consider when plaintiffs were harmed,” and the clock began ticking when they received notice of the fraud determinations.
7/18/17 – Brides Scramble For Dresses And Information After Alfred Angelo Stores Close Abruptly
Days after dozens of Alfred Angelo Bridal stores closed with little or no warning, brides and their loved ones have been struggling to track down dresses they’ve paid for — and making contingency plans if they can’t find them.
Alfred Angelo reportedly closed all of its 61 bridal stores at the end of business last Thursday night as part of its plan to file for bankruptcy, infuriating customers and leaving employees in the lurch. The lawyer handling the case says she has received more than 7,000 emails about it.
Faced with looming wedding dates, brides, their mothers and other members of wedding parties are using Alfred Angelo’s Facebook page to discuss how to retrieve dresses they’ve already paid thousands of dollars to purchase.
Meanwhile other bridal stores are also stepping up to help.
7/18/17 – Arizona floods
TONTO NATIONAL FOREST, Ariz. (AP) — With nine family members already dead from a flood that roared through an Arizona canyon, rescuers on Tuesday will continue the search for a tenth who was swept away.
Detective David Hornung of the Gila County Sheriff’s Office said Monday night that dozens of fresh volunteers from around the state are expected to come help search for 27-year-old Hector Garnica.
Hornung says that while the search team will include cadaver dogs, they still hope to find him alive.
Garnica was in the canyon on Saturday at a swimming hole to celebrate his wife’s birthday. She and their three children were among the nine dead.
Five other people were rescued, some of them clinging desperately to trees.
7/18/17 – Family Fare rolling out ‘Fast Lane’ pick up service at 25 Michigan stores
GRAND RAPIDS, MI (Mlive)– SpartanNash plans to roll out a new pick up service called “Fast Lane” at 25 Family Fare stores across Michigan, the grocer announced Monday, July 17.
The click-and-collect program is now available at the Grandville Family Fare store, at 3960 44th St SW, the first location to offer the service.
SpartanNash operates 87 stores in Michigan, of which 61 are Family Fare stores.
The Byron Township-headquartered company plans to add the service to 50 stores in the company’s nine-state footprint in 2018. The grocer operates 151 stores in total.
The next West Michigan stores to join Fast Lane will be announced in the coming weeks, the company said.
“Our click-and-collect program takes our company’s digital customer experience to a whole new level,” said Ted Adornato, SpartanNash executive vice president of retail operations, in a statement. “The entire Fast Lane experience is tailored to fit the needs of our on-the-go store guests, while providing quality products at an affordable price.”
SpartanNash’s announcement comes as more grocers are offering pick up or delivery service as online retailer Amazon continues to expand into the grocery segment. Last month, the online retail giant announced plans to acquire organic grocer Whole Foods Market in a deal valued at $13.7 billion.
7/18/17 – Priest awaits sentencing after plea in embezzlement case
CORUNNA, Mich. (AP) — A 70-year-old priest accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Michigan church is awaiting sentencing after reaching a plea agreement in the case.
The Rev. David Ernest Fisher pleaded guilty last week to embezzlement. He was initially charged with seven counts, but prosecutors agreed to drop other charges after Fisher pleaded to embezzling between $50,000 and $100,000.
Fisher is jailed ahead of sentencing, which is Sept. 22 in Shiawassee County Circuit Court.
Fisher was pastor for 23 years at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Owosso, 90 miles (145 kilometers) northwest of Detroit. Fisher retired in 2015 and moved to Grand Forks, North Dakota. The Catholic Diocese of Lansing has said $450,000 was missing.
Authorities say the church’s new pastor noticed figures were off with the parish’s finances.
7/18/17 – Jet skiers who plowed into a flock of Canada geese
NORTON SHORES, Mich. (AP) — Michigan conservation officers are looking for two jet skiers who plowed into a flock of Canada geese, killing one and injuring others.
The State Department of Natural Resources released a witness’ video Sunday that shows the two people circling around with their watercraft on Mona Lake and then running over a flock of geese.
Officers say at least three geese were injured and one was killed on July 10. They describe one jet ski as purple and the other white and yellow. The drivers are both described as Caucasian and one of them with long hair.
Lt. Gerald Thayer says it’s important that “justice is served.”
The department says killing geese illegally is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and fines up to $500.
7/18/17 – Farmer blocked at market
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan city is defending a decision to keep an apple grower away from its outdoor market because of his views on gay marriage.
East Lansing urged a judge Monday to reject an injunction that would force the city to bring Stephen Tennes back to the market.
Tennes has said he won’t allow gay couples to get married at his Eaton County farm, which is a popular place for weddings. In response, East Lansing didn’t invite him to sell fruit this year.
East Lansing says vendors must follow its civil rights ordinance, and views Tennes’ stand as discrimination.
7/17/17 – Speech may be a clue to mental decline
A study suggests that changes to your speech may indicate you’re developing thinking problems. More pauses, filler words and other verbal changes might be an early sign of mental decline, which can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers had people describe a picture they were shown in taped sessions two years apart. Those with early-stage mild cognitive impairment slid much faster on certain verbal skills than those who didn’t develop thinking problems. It’s more than the occasional “um” or trouble recalling names that plagues many people as they age.
If confirmed, the work at the University of Wisconsin in Madison suggests that speech analysis might be a way to help screen people for very early signs of mental decline.
Results were discussed Monday at an Alzheimer’s conference in London.
7/17/17 – Flash floods in Arizona
TONTO NATIONAL FOREST, Ariz. (AP) — Adults, teens and children as young as 2 were enjoying a summer afternoon by cooling off in an Arizona creek when the gentle waters turned deadly.
A Saturday storm unleashed 6-foot-high floodwaters, dark with ash from a summer wildfire, onto the unsuspecting family and friends visiting a Tonto National Forest swimming hole. The torrent carried away tree branches and other debris and left a wake of nine bodies.
Rescuers recovered the remains of five children and four adults. Their identities have not been released.
A 13-year-old boy from the same group was still missing Sunday.
Authorities planned to resume the search for the boy Monday using a helicopter as well as search dogs.
The National Weather Service estimated up to 1.5 inches of rain fell over the area in an hour.
7/17/17 – Dropouts in Mackinac race
MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. (AP) — Strong winds and waves have caused roughly two dozen boats to bow out of the annual 333-mile sailboat race from Chicago to Mackinac Island, Michigan.
Race organizers say 29 boats have exited as of Sunday afternoon. That included Windquest, a decorated vessel owned by Amway heirs Dick and Doug DeVos.
Another boat, the High Priority 2, capsized in the overnight hours of Saturday and Sunday. Race spokeswoman Tracy Gladden says four sailors were rescued by a boat launched from a U.S. Coast Guard cutter.
Infinite Diversion, a 62-footer, was first to finish Sunday morning in the Cruising Division. That division left Chicago on Friday and the Racing Division fleet left Saturday. About 300 boats overall are competing.
First held in 1898, it’s the oldest annual freshwater distance race in the world. Winners are determined based on a handicapping system.
7/17/17 – Gas Prices
DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — AAA Michigan says gas prices statewide have fallen by about 8 cents per gallon in the past week.
The Dearborn-based auto club says late Sunday the average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was about $2.34 per gallon. That’s about 2 cents less than at the same point last year.
AAA says the lowest average price was about $2.24 per gallon in the Benton Harbor area. The highest was about $2.40 in the Jackson area. It was the second week in a row that the Benton Harbor area had the lowest price and Jackson had the highest.
The Detroit-area’s average was down about 4 cents from a week ago to $2.37 per gallon.
AAA Michigan surveys daily fuel prices at 2,800 gas stations across the state.
7/14/17 – Health Care Fraud
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. prosecutors have charged more than 400 people with taking part in health care fraud and opioid scams that totaled $1.3 billion in false billing.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the charges Thursday. Officials say those charged include more than 120 people involved in prescribing and distributing narcotics. In prepared remarks, Sessions calls it the “largest health care fraud takedown operation in American history.”
Among those charged are six Michigan doctors accused of a scheme to prescribe unnecessary opioids. A Florida rehab facility is alleged to have recruited addicts with gift cards and visits to strip clubs, leading to $58 million in false treatments and tests.
Sessions says nearly 300 health care providers are being suspended or banned from participating in federal health care programs.
7/14/17 – Pres. Trump applauds French military in parade
PARIS (AP) — President Donald Trump is applauding as various French military units march by during the Bastille Day parade.
At one point, Trump saluted a combined group of American Army and Navy troops and Marines taking part in the annual event in Paris.
Trump’s brief visit to Paris — he arrived Thursday morning — is intended to celebrate the French day of national pride and commemorate the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into World War I.
Trump often boasts of his commitment to bolstering America’s military. He watched enthusiastically from the parade stand as the French military showcased its tanks and fighter jets, including many U.S.-made planes.
7/14/17 – Snyder OKs new recreation projects, allows switchblades
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder has signed laws authorizing additional outdoor recreation and land acquisition projects in 87 Michigan communities while also lifting a state prohibition against switchblades.
Other legislation enacted Thursday limits local governments’ ability to keep buildings from being sold to charter schools and authorizes the sale of a former state Senate office building.
The bills are among 15 signed Thursday, as Snyder continues reviewing a flurry of measures approved before the Republican-led Legislature broke for much of the summer.
Lawmakers say the ban against spring-assistance knives is unnecessary and enforcement was uneven.
Snyder OK’d $47.6 million for 27 land acquisitions and 87 development projects proposed by the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund. The fund consists of royalties paid by oil and gas companies for mineral rights.
7/14/17 – Overdose deaths up last year; most involve opioids
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — State officials say overdose deaths jumped by 18 percent last year in Michigan with the majority of cases involving opioid abuse.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that nearly 1,700 of the 2,335 overdose deaths in 2016 were opioid-related.
There were 1,275 opioid-related deaths in 2015.
Opioids include heroin, prescription opioids, and nonpharmaceutical fentanyl.
The state’s Health and Human Services department has launched a media campaign to raise awareness about opioid use, treatment options and proper storage and disposal of prescription drugs.
Earlier this year, Michigan received more than $16 million in Opioid State Targeted Response funds from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The grant is being used to promote prevention and increase access to treatment by funding state initiatives.
7/14/17 – Audit: Women’s prison
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — State auditors have found problems at Michigan’s women’s prison, saying required searches of inmates, staff and cells weren’t conducted.
An audit released Thursday involves the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti.
Auditors say nearly a quarter of cell searches and prisoner shakedowns weren’t done during the weeks examined, and the prison documented 58 cell searches that it didn’t conduct. Auditors say not conducting all required searches makes it less likely that contraband will be discovered, compromising the safety of staff and inmates.
The state Corrections Department says it agrees with the findings and will comply. Spokesman Chris Gautz says it’s “unacceptable” for employees to not follow procedures and disciplinary action may be taken.
Gautz says auditors flagged the most “material” conditions inside a Michigan prison in a dozen years.
7/14/17 – Michigan to steer new school workers into 401(k)-only plan
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder has signed into law a plan to steer more newly hired school employees into a 401(k)-only retirement benefit instead of one with a pension.
Republicans say Thursday’s move will prevent future underfunding, while teachers unions worry the measure could ultimately lead to closing the pension system entirely to new hires.
Starting Feb. 1, new school workers will be automatically enrolled in a 401(k)-only plan like what state employees receive. They could opt out and instead pay more of their salary toward a pension than current school workers do, assuming more of the risk of underfunding.
New school employees have qualified for both a pension and a small 401(k)-type plan since 2010.
It’s unknown how many new hires will take just the 401(k). Currently, 20 percent do.
7/14/17 – Gymboree and Crazy 8 stores working through bankruptcy
-Children’s apparel retailer Gymboree filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this summer and plans to close about 350 stores as they work to restructure.
This week the company officials announced that the closing list will include a number of local Gymboree stores and Crazy 8 stores in West Michigan including those at Rivertown Crossings, Woodland Mall and the Lakes Mall in Muskegon.
7/14/17 – Mel Trotter Ministries reaches beyond Grand Rapids
KENT COUNTY – Kent Intermediate School District estimates that 2,098 school age children experienced homelessness last school year. These districts include 20 public schools and several private and charter schools in Kent County.
The majority of the services to help struggling families connect to resources are concentrated in downtown Grand Rapids.
Mel Trotter Ministries was invited to form partnerships with organizations in rural areas to address the crisis together. The outreach advocate connects individuals and families in crisis with resources to help them overcome barriers such as a lack of housing, finances, transportation, domestic violence and other issues.
Last summer, 191 families were on the waiting list to get into emergency shelter in Kent County.
7/13/17 – Trump honors US World War II veterans in Paris
PARIS (AP) — President Donald Trump is honoring American World War II veterans during a ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Paris.
The president is noting in a video clip posted to his Twitter account that the bonds between the U.S. and France were “forged in the fires of war.”
Trump was joined at the outdoor event by three American veterans of the D-Day landings in Normandy in June 1944. The president is calling them “real heroes” who “fought for freedom in its hour of need.”
Trump is meeting later this afternoon with French President Emmanuel Macron and holding a joint news conference.
7/13/17 – McDonald’s super-sized order
ROMEOVILLE, Ill. (AP) — McDonald’s is trying to reverse its fading popularity in the United States by catching up to a landscape that has evolved around it.
The supersized efforts include expanding delivery, digital ordering kiosks in restaurants, and rolling out an app that saves precious seconds in ordering times. CEO Steve Easterbrook says the definition of convenience has changed, and that the company hasn’t modernized.
But the company that helped define fast-food is trying to better fit into changing American lifestyles in an increasingly crowded marketplace, with many competitors chasing similar efforts. For the third year in a row, the number of McDonald’s locations in the U.S. is set to shrink. And at established U.S. locations, the frequency of customer visits has declined for four straight years.
7/13/17 – Deal to expand GI education bill
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional Republicans and Democrats have reached initial agreement on the biggest expansion of college aid for military veterans in a decade. It would remove a 15-year time limit to tap into benefits and boost money for thousands in the National Guard and Reserve.
The deal being announced Thursday is a sweeping effort to fill gaps in the post-9/11 GI Bill amid a rapidly changing job market. It builds on legislation passed in 2008 that guaranteed a full-ride scholarship to any in-state public university, or the equivalent payout for a private school. Veterans would get additional payments for completing science and engineering courses.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the House will act this month on the bill, calling it the “first phase to get the whole VA system working again.”
7/13/17 – Police body camera law
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Beginning in January, Michigan will have rules in place for the disclosure and retention of audio or video recordings from body cameras worn by police officers.
Legislation signed by Gov. Rick Snyder Wednesday exempts the recordings from public-records request under certain circumstances, including if the recordings were made in a “private place.”
Recordings also will be kept private during ongoing criminal or internal investigations but only for listed reasons such as public disclosure interfering with law enforcement proceedings or invading personal privacy.
Body camera recordings retained as part of civil lawsuits will not be considered public records.
The law also requires law enforcement agencies that use body-worn cameras to develop a written policy regarding their use by officers.
7/13/17 – Events mark 104th anniversary of President Ford’s birth
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Events marking the 104th anniversary of President Gerald Ford’s birth are planned in western Michigan.
The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation hosts a lecture Thursday and a wreath-laying tribute Friday in Grand Rapids.
The lecture, “Why Trade Matters,” will be delivered in the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum auditorium by Carla Hills. She was Ford’s Housing and Urban Development secretary and later a trade representative.
The wreath-laying will be conducted at Ford’s tomb.
The museum also will hold a community event July 22 marking the commissioning of the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier. The commissioning ceremony, live from Virginia, will be shown inside and outside the facility.
Ford, who died in 2006, was a Grand Rapids congressman before becoming vice president and then president following Richard Nixon’s 1974 resignation.
7/13/17 – Michigan OKs tax breaks for firms adding jobs
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Qualified companies that create hundreds or thousands of Michigan jobs would receive state tax incentives under bills approved by lawmakers.
The votes Wednesday come six years after Gov. Rick Snyder and fellow Republicans ended such breaks in favor of a scaled-back economic development program.
Advocates say the new incentives are structured better and will help Michigan compete with other states to land new good-paying jobs. Critics call the Snyder-backed legislation “crony capitalism” and say it comes at the expense of individuals who also deserve a tax break.
Snyder has pushed for passage of the “Good Jobs” program this summer, as Michigan tries to persuade Taiwanese electronics contractor Foxconn to build a 5,000-employee display panel factory in the state.
7/12/17 – 10th-inning homer gives AL 2-1 All-Star win
MIAMI (AP) — A new-look All-Star Game ended with an old-time score.
Robinson Cano homered off Cubs closer Wade Davis leading off the 10th inning and the American League beat the National League 2-1 Tuesday night in an All-Star Game dominated by this era’s flame-throwers, rather than its standout sluggers.
Craig Kimbrel wiggled out of a jam in the ninth and right fielder Justin Upton made a lunging catch in the 10th to help the AL win its fifth in a row. And for the first time since 1964, the rivalry is all even — 43 wins apiece with two ties, and each side has scored exactly 361 runs.
Miguel Sano put the AL ahead in the fifth with a bloop RBI single off Alex Wood. Yadier Molina tied it in the sixth with a home run against Ervin Santana.
Molina had just entered behind the plate in the top half and snapped off an All-Star first — Nelson Cruz pulled a phone out of his uniform pants and asked the catcher to snap a photo of him with umpire Joe West.
Davis wasn’t with the Cubs last fall when they won the World Series for the first time in 108 years. He was acquired in a trade from Kansas City to fortify the bullpen, and was the only Cubs player in this showcase. Chicago has struggled this season, going into the break at 43-45.
Cano, the game’s MVP, sent a hanging curve off the back wall of the right-field bullpen, then blew a bubble with his gum when rounding the bases.
Cano’s homer came exactly 50 years after the previous All-Star Game to end 2-1 in extra innings, when Tony Perez hit a tiebreaking 15th-inning homer off Catfish Hunter in the NL’s 2-1 win at Anaheim, California. Perez, now a Marlins executive, was among eight Latin-born Hall of Famers who threw out ceremonial first pitches.
7/12/17 – Massive iceberg has broken off in Antarctica
LONDON (AP) — Scientists say a vast iceberg has broken off from a key floating ice shelf in Antarctica.
Scientists at the University of Swansea in Britain said Wednesday the iceberg broke off from the Larsen C ice shelf. The iceberg, which is likely to be named A68, is described weighing 1 trillion tonnes (1.12 trillion U.S. tons) — or having twice the volume of Lake Erie.
The process, known as calving, occurred in the last few days. Researchers are watching closely to see whether climate change is affecting the phenomenon.
Adrian Luckman of Swansea University says the event has been anticipated for months and that researchers will continue to monitor “the fate of this huge iceberg.”
7/12/17 – Church Funds-Theft
ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (AP) — A church treasurer in southwestern Michigan has been sentenced to 30 days in jail after more than $40,000 in church funds was reported missing.
The Herald-Palladium of St. Joseph reports 34-year-old Cecily Cogswell-Finehout of Benton Harbor also was ordered last month to pay $42,055 in restitution for embezzling from the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Coloma, where she was treasurer for two years.
Some checks from church members were cashed but no records kept that they were received. Cogswell-Finehout told authorities she had been writing unauthorized checks to herself from the church’s bank account. She says she used the money to help pay her bills.
Authorities say the embezzlement took place between March 2015 and January 2017. She’ll also be on probation for five years.
7/12/17 – Governors Meeting
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The nation’s governors are gathering this week amid great uncertainties for their states.
Proposed changes to the nation’s existing health care law will be front and center as Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate seek ways to salvage their overhaul effort.
Governors from both parties have spoken out against elements of the most recent bill, which could have enormous consequences for the states. The National Governors Association has called on the Senate to give governors a say in shaping any reforms.
Their summer meeting begins Thursday in Rhode Island and will include an address by Vice President Mike Pence. Governors from over 30 states and the territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have said they will attend.
Other topics will likely include Medicaid funding and climate change.
7/12/17 – Michigan State study of electric fish
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State University researchers have received a $1.5 million grant to study the genetics of electric fish.
The fish can generate electric fields in the water outside their bodies.
Scientists have long used them for neurological studies. More recently, they’ve developed information about the fishes’ genetic codes that could make them helpful models for a broader range of medical research, just as mice, zebrafish and fruit flies are used.
Biologist Jason Gallant says he’s trying to kick-start programs for investigating the connection between genes encoded in the DNA of electric fish and the physical expression of traits encoded by those genes.
He says developing genetic tools for monitoring and manipulating gene activity in electric fish would enable their use to address fundamental questions of biology.
7/12/17 – US judge halts Iraqis’ deportation until court review
DETROIT (AP) — A federal judge has halted the deportation of 1,400 Iraqi nationals, many of them Christians, while the orders to remove them from the U.S. are reviewed by the courts.
U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith issued a 24-page opinion Tuesday asserting jurisdiction in the case over the objection of the Justice Department. He scheduled a Wednesday hearing to discuss matters in the case.
Goldsmith earlier blocked the deportations while he considered whether he had jurisdiction over the case. The Justice Department insists a U.S. District Court judge doesn’t have jurisdiction in the immigration matter.
Many of the Iraqis, including 114 rounded up in the Detroit area last month, fear torture or death if returned to Iraq. The government says they face deportation because they committed crimes in the U.S.
7/11/17 – US soldier arrested after pledging loyalty to Islamic State
HONOLULU (AP) — An active duty U.S. soldier is in custody on terrorism charges after authorities say he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and said he wanted to “kill a bunch of people.”
The FBI arrested Sgt. 1st Class Ikaika Kang in a suburb of Honolulu over the weekend after a yearlong investigation.
Kang made an initial appearance in court Monday.
A 26-page affidavit from an FBI Special Agent filed in court Monday detailed how Kang thought he was dealing with people working for Islamic State but who were actually undercover agents.
Kang’s defense attorney says it appears his 34-year-old client may suffer from service-related mental health issues of which the government was aware but neglected to treat. Lawyer Birney Bervar declined to elaborate.
7/11/17 – Military plane crash
ITTA BENA, Miss. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis says the KC-130 that crashed in Mississippi and killed 16 people was from the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina.
Tillis, who represents North Carolina, said in a statement Tuesday morning that he and his wife are extending their deepest condolences to the families of the Marines who were killed, as well as to the Cherry Point station and the community of Havelock.
Tillis said the crash is a reminder of the dangers that military personnel face even on training missions.
The North Carolina senator is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel.
The refueling aircraft crashed Monday afternoon in a soybean field in rural Mississippi, killing at least 16 people aboard.
No other details were immediately available on the crew members and where they lived.
7/11/17 – New venue for ArtPrize
(Grand Rapids) – ArtPrize 9 will add another new venue this fall and it won’t be downtown Grand Rapids. The Gerald R. Ford International Airport will host some art entries this fall. They will welcome artists and visitors who plan to use the airport but they are also hoping others will drive over and participate. This year’s ArtPrize will take place from Sept. 20 – Oct. 8, 2017.
7/11/17 – Events to honor 2 bailiffs
ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (AP) — A memorial walk and candlelight vigil are planned to honor two bailiffs who were killed last year during an inmate’s escape attempt from a southwestern Michigan courthouse.
The events honoring Ronald Kienzle and Joseph Zangaro are Tuesday night. Participants will walk from the Berrien County courthouse to the Berrien County Law Enforcement Memorial.
Larry Gordon of Coloma Township was arrested in April 2016 and was accused of holding a 17-year-old girl hostage for two weeks and giving her methamphetamines in exchange for sex.
Authorities say the 44-year-old was handcuffed July 11, 2016, when he disarmed and wounded one deputy at the courthouse, then shot the two bailiffs before being fatally shot by other bailiffs.
Kienzle and Zangaro were honored in May at a national law enforcement memorial service.
7/11/17 – Indiana girl dies after being pulled from water in Michigan
GALIEN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say a 7-year-old Indiana girl has died after being pulled from a swimming hole in rural southwestern Michigan.
The Berrien County sheriff’s department says Sadie Geigler of Michigan City was taken Monday night to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Rescuers had responded to a report of a drowning at a rural property in Galien Township, which is located near the Michigan-Indiana state line. Authorities say two other girls were swimming with her and tried unsuccessfully to help her. They weren’t injured.
The death is under investigation by the sheriff’s department.
7/11/17 – Free Slurpee
IRVING, Texas (AP) — 7-Eleven stores across the country are giving away free Slurpee drinks to celebrate the convenience store chain’s 90th birthday.
This marks the 16th straight year 7-Eleven has given out its iconic frozen drink on July 11th or 7/11. The company expects to hand out 9 million free small Slurpees during the promotion that runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time.
7-Eleven was launched in 1927, and the Slurpee was first introduced in 1966. The company says it has sold 7.4 billion Slurpees since its introduction.
7/10/17 – Storm cleanup continues
-Consumers Energy says there are still several hundred people in West Michigan without power following last weeks storm. Most of those are in Ottawa County. Crews from other states have home to help. The power company says over 152-thousand of their customers lost power following the storm that moved through early Friday morning. Service should be restored by today.
Tree removal services have also been extra busy and the Better Business Bureau warns of those who may try to scam you. Make sure you ask for their business information and then check for reviews.
Over the weekend some waste drop off sites extended their hours so residents could haul branches and yard waste.
7/10/17 – Gas Prices
DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — AAA Michigan says gas prices statewide have risen by about 13 cents per gallon in the past week.
The Dearborn-based auto club says late Sunday the average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was about $2.42 per gallon. That’s about 14 cents more than at the same point last year.
AAA says the lowest average price was about $2.38 per gallon in the Benton Harbor area. The highest was about $2.48 in the Jackson area.
The Detroit-area’s average was up about 8 cents per gallon from a week ago to $2.42 per gallon.
AAA Michigan surveys daily fuel prices at 2,800 gas stations across the state.
7/10/17 – Western Wildfires
OROVILLE, Calif. (AP) — Two major wildfires in California have forced nearly 8,000 people out of their homes.
About 4,000 people evacuated and another 7,400 were told to prepare to leave their homes as fire swept through grassy foothills in the Sierra Nevada, about 60 miles north of Sacramento. In Southern California, at least 3,500 people evacuated as two fires exploded in size at separate ends of Santa Barbara County and a third one threatened homes near a town in San Luis Obispo County.
ELSEWHERE IN THE WEST
Firefighters have been able to build containment lines around about half the wildfire that forced the evacuation of hundreds of people near Breckenridge, Colorado.
The Canadian province’s three biggest fires, which have grown in size to range from 9 to 19 square miles (23 to 49 square kilometers), have forced thousands of people to flee.
7/10/17 – Register for August election
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan residents have until Monday to register to vote in next month’s election, which will be the first to feature the state’s new election equipment.
Not all Michigan communities have elections Aug. 8, but many have issues on the ballot. Voters in Detroit will cast ballots in a mayoral primary.
Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says in a statement that people in 63 communities will see new ballot counting machines, but voters will still be marking a paper ballot. The communities in 11 counties will use new optical-scan voting systems.
Additional communities will get the machines for November’s election. By August 2018, all cities and townships statewide will have the new equipment.
7/10/17 – Aquinas College plans $3.1M educational center in Ireland
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A Catholic, liberal arts college in Grand Rapids is planning a $3.1 million educational center for its study abroad program in Ireland.
MLive reports that students attending Aquinas College’s four-month program are expected to have access to the International Residential Education Center in the village of Tullycross in the fall of 2019.
The privately-funded project will include a newly built education hub with a 50-seat auditorium, library, group study rooms, video conferencing facilities and meeting rooms. The center will also have nine renovated iconic thatched cottages to accommodate up to 40 students and faculty.
Ireland-based community development organization Connemara West is leading the project.
Aquinas College has sent students to study abroad in Ireland for nearly 45 years.
7/10/17 – Court nixes big drug bust
ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan appeals court is throwing a flag at the seizure of 15 pounds of marijuana in southwestern Michigan.
The court says the marijuana can’t be used to prosecute a Florida man. The court says detaining Kevin Kavanaugh while state police waited for a drug-sniffing dog violated his rights.
The appeals court says it’s applying a legal precedent by the U.S. Supreme Court and throwing out Kavanaugh’s conviction.
His car was stopped on Interstate 196 in Berrien County in 2014. The appeals court says the traffic stop should have ended when Trooper Michael Daniels said he only would give a warning for Kavanaugh’s driving violations.
The trooper called for a police dog when Kavanaugh declined to allow a search of the trunk.
The 3-0 decision was released Friday.
7/10/17 – Divers recover teen’s body
WATERFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A 15-year-old Detroit-area boy has apparently drowned while swimming in Cass Lake in Waterford Township.
The Oakland County sheriff’s office says sonar devices helped locate Mohammad Wutwut’s body early Sunday morning in nine feet of water about 300 yards from shore.
The body was recovered by divers from heavy bottom growth and weeds in the lake, northwest of Detroit.
Sheriff’s deputies say the teen was with friends Saturday afternoon and was having difficulty swimming.
Members of the sheriff’s office dive team arrived at the lake about 15 minutes after authorities received a 911 call for help, but were not immediately able to find the teen.
An autopsy is scheduled Monday morning.
7/7/17 – Storm cause damage in West MI overnight
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Thunderstorms packing winds exceeding 60 mph caused damage across Michigan, knocking out power to tens of thousands of customers.
Trees and power lines were knocked down by the storms, which started Thursday night and continued Friday morning. Heavy rain and hail are reported in places. Consumers Energy says more than 130,000 homes and businesses it serves lost power.
The utility says restoration efforts are taking place and will likely continue through the weekend. It says the northeast and western portions of the state were hit hard.
The National Weather Service says winds up to 65 mph were reported in the Grand Rapids area. Some trees and large tree limbs were knocked down in suburban Detroit. DTE Energy reported scattered power outages in the Detroit area on Friday morning.
7/6/17 – Earthquake in Montana
LINCOLN, Mont. (AP) — An earthquake strong enough to rouse sleeping residents more than 30 miles (48 kilometers) from its epicenter struck western Montana early Thursday.
The U.S. Geological Survey says a magnitude 5.8 earthquake hit just after midnight about 6 miles (9.7 kilometers) southeast of Lincoln.
A magnitude 4.5 quake rattled the same general area about a half-hour later.
The Independent Record reports that people felt the magnitude 5.8 earthquake as far away as Bozeman, Idaho, and Great Falls.
A 76-year-old resident of Helena, which is about 34 miles away from the quake’s epicenter, said it was the strongest seismic activity that he had ever felt.
Ray Anderson said his wife told him the temblor woke up the dogs.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or damages.
7/6/17 – President Trump in Poland
(AP) – President Donald Trump says that he is eager to expand U.S. partnerships with Poland, especially when it comes to exporting energy. President Trump delivered a speech in Warsaw, Poland and said he wants to make sure that the country and its neighbors are “never again held hostage” to a single supplier of energy.
President Trump gets ready for the Group of 20 summit in Germany. He also is planning a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
7/6/17 – Hundreds of houses remain evacuated near ski resort
BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. (AP) — Evacuation orders for hundreds of homes remain in place as a wildfire rages near Colorado’s Breckenridge Ski Resort.
The fire, one of several burning across the West, was reported by a mountain biker late Wednesday morning and is consuming beetle-killed trees in the White River National Forest about 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) from the resort.
It had scorched about 80 acres (32.4 hectares) and forced the evacuation of 463 homes near the resort.
The fire has not burned any structures and died down as temperatures cooled Wednesday night. Evacuation orders were expected to remain in place until midday Thursday.
Several other fires dot the West, including one that was burning near a nuclear facility in Washington state and another in Wyoming that forced the evacuation of a campground.
7/6/17 – Rep. Scalise readmitted to intensive care
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington hospital where House Majority Whip Steve Scalise is recuperating from a gunshot wound says he has been readmitted to the intensive care unit.
MedStar Washington Hospital Center says the Louisiana congressman is back in intensive care because of new concerns for infection. Scalise was in serious condition Wednesday night.
Scalise and four other people were injured last month when a gunman opened fire on a Republican baseball practice in nearby Alexandria, Virginia. U.S. Capitol Police and other officers returned fire and killed the gunman.
The congressman was struck in the hip and the bullet tore into blood vessels, bones and internal organs. He has undergone several surgeries and had been upgraded to fair condition.
7/6/17 – Southwestern Michigan College expansion
DOWAGIAC, Mich. (AP) — A community college in southwestern Michigan is expanding its nursing and health education building in an attempt to combat a growing shortage of nurses that seems particularly acute in the area.
The South Bend Tribune reports that Southwestern Michigan College has launched a $9.6 million initiative to more than double the size of the nearly 50-year-old building. Work is expected to begin this summer to update the building with the latest health instruction technology.
The expansion will allow the two-year college to increase its nursing and health education enrollment capacity by about 40 percent.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 19 percent job growth for registered nurses by 2022, resulting in over 1 million job openings.
The building is expected to open for classes in the fall of 2018.
7/6/17 – Public meetings begin on underwater oil pipeline options
HOLT, Mich. (AP) — Public meetings are beginning on a report listing alternatives to pipelines carrying oil beneath the waterway where Lakes Huron and Michigan meet.
The analysis by Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems Inc. was released last week. It presented six choices for dealing with Enbridge Inc.’s Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac. The pipeline runs from Wisconsin through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula before dividing into two lines on the lake bottom.
Environmental groups want the 64-year-old line decommissioned, saying it’s unsafe. Enbridge says it’s in good condition.
Among options in the report are rerouting the line, installing new pipes in tunnels or trenches and making no changes.
The first meeting is Thursday at Holt High School in the town of Holt.
It begins at 5 p.m. EDT and will be livestreamed at http://mipetroleumpipelines.com
7/6/17 – Kalamazoo County approves new identification card program
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — Kalamazoo County has decided to create an identification card program for residents who lack documents needed to get a state ID.
The Kalamazoo Gazette reports the county Board of Commissioners’ 6-5 vote Wednesday was split along party lines, but the Democratic majority approved a resolution creating the program.
The resolution authorizes an initial budget of $60,000 to begin the program in January. It also creates an advisory board that would report to the Board of Commissioners.
The program will ensure an estimated 27,000 residents without a state-issued ID still have access to government and commercial services. Residents would be required to prove their residency status with several documents. However, state and federal programs may not recognize the ID.
7/6/17 – Canadian man indicted in Flint airport stabbing
FLINT, Mich. (AP) — A Canadian man repeated the Arabic phrase “Allahu akbar” prior to being arraigned for a knife attack on a police officer at an international airport in Flint.
The Flint Journal reports that Amor Ftouhi repeated “God is great” in Arabic several times Wednesday in federal court in Flint.
“Allahu akbar” also was yelled when Lt. Jeff Neville was stabbed June 21 at the airport, northwest of Detroit.
Ftouhi was indicted Wednesday on charges of committing an act of violence at an international airport and interfering with airport security.
The native of Tunisia lived in Quebec. The stabbing occurred five days after Ftouhi legally entered the U.S.
Neville has been released from a hospital and on Tuesday took part in a Flint-area Independence Day parade.
7/5/17 – Lake Death
DOWAGIAC, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say a man has died after being thrown from a personal watercraft and hit by the vehicle at a lake in southwestern Michigan.
The crash happened Tuesday at Magician Lake in Cass County. The sheriff’s department says 28-year-old Derek Jackson of Gobles hit a wave and was thrown from the watercraft. He was taken to a hospital in South Bend, Indiana, where he was pronounced dead.
The St. Joseph County, Indiana, coroner’s office determined that Jackson drowned. The Cass County sheriff’s department says the crash is under investigation.
7/5/17 – Effort to make Legislature part-time
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Lt. Gov. Brian Calley is starting a new effort to make Michigan’s Legislature part-time.
The Detroit News reports Calley’s Clean Michigan Committee announced Monday it submitted a new petition with revised language to the Secretary of State.
The new petition would generally require lawmakers to finish the regular legislative session by April 15 each year. The previous version sought to limit the regular session to 90 consecutive days.
In a statement, Calley says his group has learned about legal strategy opponents plan to use try to defeat the effort. The Portland Republican says the group decided “to take every step to ensure voters have their say on this important reform.”
The Clean Michigan Committee had struggled to get the Board of State Canvassers to approve the original petition language.
7/5/17 – North Korea Missile Launch
WASHINGTON (AP) — Tensions with North Korea are on the rise. This, after the United States concluded that North Korea’s latest missile launch was indeed an intercontinental ballistic missile, the kind capable of reaching the U.S.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called the development a “new escalation of the threat” to the U.S. The United Nations Security Council is to hold an emergency session on Wednesday afternoon.
Previously, North Korea had demonstrated missiles of short and medium range but never one able to get to the United States.
In a show of force directly responding to North Korea’s provocation, U.S. and South Korean soldiers fired “deep strike” missiles into South Korean territorial waters on Tuesday.
U.S. military officials say that exercise was a show of U.S.-South Korean solidarity.
7/5/17 – Vice-President in Grand Rapids
-Vice-President Mike Pence made his way to the Grand Rapids area Tuesday to take part in the 4th of July parade in Grandville. He landed at the Ford International Airport around 10:30 a.m., walked in the parade down Wilson and then headed back to Washington D.C. to take in the fireworks show.
U.S. Congressman Bill Huizenga from West Michigan snapped a picture with himself, Vice President Pence and Governor Rick Snyder, as they and family members walked during the parade. Grandville had to arrange extra security for the event and a large crowd turned out for the parade.
7/4/17 – Police clear Grand Haven State Park beach
-Police evacuated the beach at Grand Haven State Park Monday night. Some 300 people were involved and police reported 8 to 10 fights that broke out. In an effort to control the large crowd, police were forced to shut down the park and it was cleared out around 10 PM.
7/4/17 – No personal data
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s secretary of state says she will comply with some requests for voter information from President Donald Trump’s voting commission, but personal data won’t be released.
Ruth Johnson posted a response on Facebook on Monday, five days after the commission said it was asking states for information, including partial Social Security numbers and dates of birth.
Birth years are fair game, but Johnson says Michigan law puts a shield on Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers. She says some basic voter information has been public for decades, including registrations and election participation history.
Trump’s national commission was formed to investigate allegations of U.S. election fraud. Michigan found that at least 31 people voted twice last fall, although their names haven’t been released.
7/4/17 – Woman dies after jumping into Gun Lake
ORANGEVILLE, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say a woman has died after jumping into a western Michigan lake to help her husband following a collision between a boat and a personal watercraft.
The Barry County Sheriff’s Office says 54-year-old Melanie Cybulski of Hastings died Sunday after being found floating on her back and not breathing following the crash a day earlier on Gun Lake.
Sgt. Julie Jones says 54-year-old boater Eric Cybulski jumped into the water to help 18-year-old Jacob Baker of Grand Rapids after the teen was floating face-down in the lake following the collision. He and others held the teen’s head out of water but he began to tire, and his wife jumped in to help him. Neither Cybulski was wearing a life jacket.
Baker and Eric Cybulski also were treated at hospitals.
7/4/17 – US marks Independence Day
NEW YORK (AP) — Americans are celebrating their country’s birthday with big-time fireworks, small-town parades and the quirky spectacle of competitive hot dog eating.
In New York, throngs are expected to watch the annual Macy’s fireworks blowout and the Nathan’s Famous frankfurter-chomping contest on Coney Island on July Fourth.
In Washington, President Donald Trump is observing his first Independence Day in office by hosting a White House picnic for military families, followed by a fireworks viewing event for military families and staffers.
In Boston, one of 14 original copies of the Declaration of Independence will be displayed at a museum, and hundreds of thousands of people are expected at the city’s fireworks show.
Meanwhile, more than 15,000 new citizens will be sworn in during more than 65 Independence Day-themed naturalization ceremonies across the country.
7/4/17 – North Korea ICB missile
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s military says it is analyzing with the United States whether North Korea really has test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Cho Han Gyu, director of operations at South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a televised briefing that South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities are determining whether a missile launched Tuesday has ICBM capability, as North Korea claims.
The launch was the latest in a series of tests by North Korea as it works to develop a nuclear-tipped missile that could reach the United States.
Cho said the missile demonstrated an improved range over an intermediate-range missile that North Korea tested on May 14.
President Donald Trump is criticizing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after that country’s latest missile launch, asking, “Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?”
Trump says on Twitter that it’s “Hard to believe that South Korea … and Japan will put up with this much longer.”
And he urges North Korea’s biggest ally, China, to “put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”
South Korean officials said early Tuesday that North Korea had launched another ballistic missile toward Japan, part of a string of recent test-firings.
The Defense Department says it is working to confirm the initial reporting.
Shortly before Trump’s tweets, the White House said he had been briefed on the South Korean report.
Independence Day Fireworks and Parades
10am Children’s Parade (staging at Headly St and Ada Drive )
Main Parade will start off immediately following
Fireworks – Dusk (Ada Christian School
Allegan (JULY 3)
Parade starts in the downtown area
Parade starts at Lot D3 on North Campus Drive
Fireworks at W.K. Kellogg Airport at dusk
Reading of Declaration of Independence, Musical Fountain, Fireworks to follow program
East Grand Rapids
Parade starts at Wealthy and Sherman
Fireworks at Reeds Lake at dusk
Hollyhock Lane Parade begins at 8 a.m at Calvin and Alexander streets
City parade begins at 5:00pm at Lyon and Ottawa Avenue
Parade starts at Wilson near 44rd Street
Fireworks at Grandville Middle School at dusk
Fireworks at Holland State Park at dusk and Kollen Park at 2pm
Kalamazoo (JULY 3)
Fireworks at Kalamazoo Speedway following 7pm races
7/3/17 – Motorcyclists killed in crash
HUDSONVILLE, MI(Mlive) – Police identified Joshua Ross, 27, of Kentwood, as the motorcyclist killed Saturday, July 1, in a crash.
The crash happened around 5 p.m. on Corporate Grove Drive and 32nd Street.
Witnesses told police that the motorcyclist, riding west on 32nd Street, was traveling “at an extremely high rate of speed” when he lost control of the motorcycle and crashed, Ottawa County sheriff’s deputies said.
Ross was taken to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital where he died.
He was not wearing a helmet, police said.
7/3/17 – Train cars derail in Washington state
STEILACOOM, Wash. (AP) — Authorities say several passengers suffered minor injuries after parts of an Amtrak passenger train derailed in Washington state.
Amtrak and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office says the locomotive and the baggage car of the Amtrak Cascades train derailed around 2:30 p.m. near the town of Steilacoom. The train runs between Vancouver, Canada, and Eugene-Springfield, Oregon.
The train, which was carrying 267 passengers, derailed near the Chambers Bay golf course, which was the site of the 2015 U.S. Open.
Amtrak says all passengers were evacuated and provided with alternate transportation.
The cause of the derailment is under investigation.
7/3/17 – Michigan State road trip
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Representatives of Michigan State University are embarking on a road trip this month to promote research, education and innovation linked to the East Lansing school.
The three-week, seven-community tour dubbed “The Great State Road Trip” kicks off July 17. It aims to highlight the work of faculty, staff and alumni across Michigan.
Stops include East Lansing to showcase rare isotopes and biomedical research, Detroit for community medicine and composite materials, Flint for public health and Hammond Bay for sea lamprey management and Great Lakes health.
Other destinations are Chatham for agriculture and farming, Holland for renewable energy storage and Traverse City for media, visual and performing arts.
7/3/17 – Lake Michigan beach ownership
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Supreme Court will decide who owns the land immediately adjacent to Lake Michigan.
The (Northwest Indiana) Times reports that Don and Bobbie Gunderson claim their land on Lake Michigan extends to the water’s edge, meaning no one can access the beach by their house without permission.
The state says it owns the land in a trust for all residents up to the “ordinary high-water mark.”
Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher says the state was granted the land at statehood in 1816. He says the state must control beach erosion, which it can’t do effectively if nearby homeowners are allowed to claim the beach as their own.
Justices will receive written briefs and likely hear oral arguments later this year before issuing a decision, likely in 2018.
7/3/17 – Judge extends suspension of Michigan aid to private schools
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A judge has extended a freeze on $2.5 million in state aid for Michigan private schools at least until a court hearing Wednesday.
Opponents are challenging the appropriation to private schools for fire drills, inspections and other state requirements. They say it violates the Michigan Constitution’s ban on aid for non-public schools.
Weeks ago, the state agreed not to spend the money until July 1 while the legal challenge was being pursued by public school groups. But the lawsuit now is tied up over procedural issues in the state appeals court.
Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Diane Stephens extended the freeze Friday. She’ll hold a hearing after the holiday.
7/3/17 – Cost of owning a vehicle in MI
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The cost of owning a car or truck in Michigan is going up by $10.
Starting Saturday, the Catastrophic Claims Association will collect $170 per registered vehicle, up from $160. The insurance fund was created to reimburse insurers for claims that exceed $545,000.
The fee is added to insurance bills. The rate lasts for 12 months and can go up or down each year.
Critics say the Catastrophic Claims Association should open its books so the public can understand how it sets the rate. But Michigan courts have said the records aren’t covered by the Freedom of Information Act because lawmakers granted an exception.
6/30/17 – Cougar spotted in lower Michigan
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan wildlife officials have confirmed the presence of a cougar in the Lansing area — the first to be verified in the Lower Peninsula.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said Thursday the animal — also referred to as a mountain lion — was spotted by a resident on June 21 as it tried to cross a road. It was seen in Bath Township near the DNR’s Rose Lake State Wildlife Area.
DNR officials say they don’t know where the animal came from. It could have migrated from states farther west, as was the case in recent years with cougars in the Upper Peninsula that had been genetically tested.
Three dozen cougar sightings have been documented in the Upper Peninsula since 2008. Officials haven’t confirmed a breeding population in Michigan.
6/30/17 – Flood damage assessed in central Michigan
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. (AP) — Preliminary assessments show flood damage to public and private property in a central Michigan county is near $90 million.
The damage to roads and homes appears to make Isabella County the hardest-hit among four that have declared states of emergency in the wake of heavy rains and flooding that began June 23.
Midland County officials say bridges and roads sustained about $13 million in damages. Bay and Gladwin counties also reported road damage.
Uncertainty hangs in the area as farmers weigh whether they should replant drowning crops or wait for drier weather. National Weather Service officials say there’s a chance of rain the next three days.
About 25 acres of soybeans and six acres of corn were destroyed in Randy Recker’s 61-acre farm in Isabella County. He says he doesn’t worry about the weather because he can’t control it.
6/30/17 – Western Wildfires
PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. (AP) — Authorities expect to allow more evacuated residents to go home and to reopen a major route through an Arizona community that barely escaped destruction when a huge wildfire swept into town.
State Route 69 though Mayer should re-open Friday. But thousands of evacuees will not be able to go home for days as the fire continues to burn in brush and forest about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of Phoenix.
The incident commander for the fire that has consumed about 45 square miles (116.55 sq. kilometers) got a big cheer Thursday evening when he announced at a community meeting that crews had secured lines around about 43 percent of the blaze. Still, John Pierson warned several hundred people that the fire could cause more damage.
6/30/17 – Michigan health chief could face more charges
FLINT, Mich. (AP) — A special prosecutor says the head of Michigan’s health department could be hit with additional charges in the Flint water investigation.
Nick Lyon is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of a man who had Legionnaires’ disease. Lyon is accused of covering up news of the outbreak in 2014 and 2015.
Special prosecutor Todd Flood told a judge Thursday that he might seek additional charges, depending on test results. He says he needs to “ferret that out.”
Lyon is director of the Health and Human Services Department. He’s pleaded not guilty. His lawyers want the case to move quickly.
Michigan’s chief medical officer, Dr. Eden Wells, is charged with obstruction of justice. Rich Baird, an adviser to Gov. Rick Snyder, told state employees that the charges are an “incredible overreach.”
6/30/17 – Enbridge Inc.’s Line 5
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Michigan officials have released a consulting firm’s draft report listing alternatives for dealing with twin oil pipelines beneath the waterway where Lakes Huron and Michigan meet.
The state commissioned the report as environmental groups push to decommission the nearly 5-mile-long (8-kilometer-long) section of Enbridge Inc.’s Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac, which was laid in 1953. State Attorney General Bill Schuette endorsed a shutdown Thursday.
The report by Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems Inc. lists six choices. Among them are continuing to operate the pipelines or removing them. Others include building a new pipeline that wouldn’t cross open Great Lakes waters; moving Line 5’s oil through other pipelines; using rail cars, trucks or barges to transport oil; or putting new pipelines in the straits that would run through a trench or tunnel.
The report doesn’t endorse a particular alternative but analyzes each for technical and cost feasibility.
6/30/17 – Hunter gets jail, big fine in illegal deer bait case
ITHACA, Mich. (AP) — A man convicted of dumping illegal loads of corn and sugar beets to lure deer in central Michigan has been sentenced to 45 days in jail.
Dexter Sysak of Saginaw County can’t hunt again until 2023. He also must pay roughly $15,000 in fines.
Sysak was accused of excessive baiting, killing a nine-point deer over bait and failing to wear hunter orange last November. The incident occurred at an old golf course in Gratiot County.
Conservation Officer Joseph Myers says someone made an anonymous tip to the state’s poaching hotline. He described the trail of deer bait as a “cobblestone road of sugar beets.”
The 40-year-old Sysak was sentenced last week.
6/30/17 – Sentenced for health fraud
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — The ex-wife of a former police chief who used her husband’s health insurance after they divorced in 2014 has been sentenced for health care fraud.
Christine Reiss says she thought a jury would find her innocent. She was sentenced Thursday to 50 days in jail, with credit for 50 days she spent behind bars while awaiting sentencing. She also was placed on probation and must complete community service.
She paid $110,000 in restitution to Blue Cross Blue Shield. A jury earlier convicted her of three counts of health care fraud and acquitted her of seven counts.
Former Greenville Public Safety Director Mark Reiss in May pleaded no contest to health care fraud. He resigned in February as public safety director in the city after serving in the position since 2013.
6/29/17 – Travel Restrictions
(AP) – The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this week, lifted key components against new travel restrictions. New criteria for visa applicants require a close family or business tie to the United States.
A limited version of the policy will be enforced starting at 8 p.m. tonight and then a full hearing will get underway later this fall.
A coalition of groups in opposition, call the order religious discrimination, since the 6 countries involved in the ban have mostly-Muslim populations. The President calls it a matter of security.
6/29/17 – Recalled fireworks
The Consumer Product Safety commission issued a recall of more than 36,000 TNT Red, White and Blue Smoke fireworks. The recalled fireworks are made to create smoke but have exploded unexpectedly after being lit, posing burn and injury hazards to consumers. The fireworks were sold by retailers such as Meijer, Walmart and Target.
6/29/17 – 4th of July travel
MDOT is removing lane restrictions on almost 75% of their road and bridge projects for the holiday weekend. It will begin 3PM Friday and continue until 6AM next Wednesday.
More than 1.48 million Michiganders are expected to travel from home for the Independence day weekend. 94 out of the 129 projects statewide will have lane restrictions moved.
Meanwhile the Coast Guard will partner with law enforcement agencies across the Great Lakes to crack down on drinking and boating during Operation Dry Water.
The national awareness and enforcement campaign focuses on reducing the number of maritime alcohol and drug related accidents and fatalities.
6/29/17 – Worker dies in fall at Detroit sports arena
DETROIT (AP) — A worker has died after falling 75 feet (23 meters) at the Little Caesars Arena worksite north of downtown Detroit.
Deputy Detroit Fire Commissioner David Fornell says the 46-year-old man was in cardiac arrest when paramedics arrived about 8 a.m. Wednesday.
Other workers had started cardiopulmonary resuscitation which first responders continued. The man was taken to a Detroit hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Fornell says officials were told the man was an electrical worker and may have fallen from a catwalk. He says the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration likely will investigate.
The arena will be home to the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and the NBA’s Pistons. It is scheduled to open this fall.
6/29/17 – Gov. Snyder OKs unattended vehicle, electronic registration bills
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Drivers will be able to leave their vehicles running unattended on private property under legislation signed by Gov. Rick Snyder.
The law enacted Wednesday leaves intact a prohibition against running a vehicle unattended on a highway. The measure was introduced after a Detroit-area man was ticketed $128 for leaving his vehicle unattended in a driveway during the winter.
Snyder also signed legislation allowing motorists to show proof of their auto registration to a police officer electronically. It is similar to a 2015 law that lets those pulled over to show proof of their auto insurance on a phone or other mobile device instead of a hard copy.
6/29/17 – Michigan sues Flint for not approving water deal
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The state of Michigan is suing Flint, alleging that the city council’s failure to approve a recommendation to buy water long term from a Detroit-area system is endangering a public already troubled by a lead-tainted water crisis.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in federal court.
The state Department of Environmental Quality had previously threatened legal action if the council did not approve Mayor Karen Weaver’s recommendation or a reasonable alternative by Monday.
The council instead approved a short-term extension of its contract with the Great Lakes Water Authority, against the wishes of Mayor Karen Weaver, who is backing a 30-year contract.
State and federal officials do not want Flint to change water sources a third time after a fateful 2014 switch resulted in lead contamination and other issues while the city was under state management.
6/29/17 – New Christian based healthcare center to open in G.R.
(GRAND RAPIDS)- A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Wednesday for a new West Michigan faith based Christian healthcare facility.
The Christian Healthcare Center is based on a medical service model that provides primary care but cuts insurance companies out of the process, providing care to patients at a monthly rate.
The facility and physicians are licensed and board certified. The office will begin seeing patients July 5th and anyone of any faith is welcome.
The Christian Healthcare Center is located on the East Beltline between 4 and 5 Mile Road, north of Grand Rapids.
Their website says the primary objective for their center is to improve the quality of healthcare for fellow believers. They infuse medical care with both sound, evidence-based medical knowledge and spiritual care.
CHC patients pay a monthly membership fee, in exchange, members secure same day or next day appointments, extended office visits and 24-hour access to the Centers’ providers. Routine tests and procedures are included. Privately insured patients may seek reimbursement for such costs on their own.
More information is available on their website at: chcenters.org.
6/28/17 – Pence to visit Ohio
-Vice-President Mike Pence is scheduled to visit Ohio today to meet with small business owners near Cleveland. The White House says he will discuss the President’s economic agenda and priorities for making changes to the health care law.
Senate Republican leaders Tuesday, delayed any voting on their health care overhaul until after the Fourth of July recess. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that allows GOP leadership time to work to get enough votes.
6/28/17 – Flint water cases
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The state of Michigan has authorized spending $4 million more to defend its environmental agency and current and former regulators against criminal charges and lawsuits related to Flint’s water crisis.
The State Administrative Board approved the additional funds Tuesday as part of a plan to also extend contracts by one year for outside lawyers working on the cases. The amount allotted for the Department of Environmental Quality for the next fiscal year is now $8.5 million instead of $4.5 million.
The state has spent millions of dollars on Flint-related legal bills and Attorney General Bill Schuette’s criminal investigation of lead contamination and a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak.
Schuette has filed charges against 15 current and former state and local officials. Numerous Flint residents have sued the state and others.
6/28/17 – Oil leak in rural Calhoun County
CONVIS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Cleanup crews are likely to be working this week and next week at an oil leak in Calhoun County.
The Department of Environmental Quality says approximately 4,000 gallons of oil and 20,000 gallons of brine water leaked from a steel line at an oil well. The well belongs to Omimex Energy in Convis Township, northeast of Battle Creek.
The DEQ says the leak was discovered on private property on June 12.
A state geologist, Kristy Shimko, says there’s no threat to public health or safety. She says the oil migrated to a low wet area, which has been isolated by a clay berm.
6/28/17 – Raising motorcycle fees
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Senate is expected to take a final vote on legislation to raise registration taxes and safety training fees for motorcyclists.
The bill on Wednesday’s agenda would increase the annual registration fee to $25 — a $2 increase. It would boost initial endorsement fees to $16 from $13.50 and renewals to $7 from $5.
The additional registration fee revenue would go toward an existing motorcycle safety education program, while some of the endorsement fee revenue would fund a new program promoting motorcycle awareness.
Michigan last year increased penalties for operating a motorcycle without the proper safety endorsement.
6/28/17 – Montreal man back in US court
burns. Names haven’t been released.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, but Fornell says it appears to have started accidentally in the home’s kitchen.
Fornell says two distraught family members who arrived after the fire was extinguished also were taken to a hospital, including a woman who had an apparent anxiety attack.
6/27/17 – Change graduation rules
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s high school graduation requirements would include a mandatory career readiness course under recommendations announced by Gov. Rick Snyder.
Snyder on Monday urged lawmakers to change the graduation requirements, known as the Michigan Merit Curriculum, to make them more flexible and to mandate that a career exploration/job skills class be completed in seventh or eighth grade. He also says computer science should count as meeting a foreign language requirement and students should be able to meet health and physical education requirements by completing career health programs.
Snyder says the proposed “career pathway” changes are among a number of ways the state could better help students train for jobs in the trades and other in-demand sectors. He also wants to boost career counseling and to expand career and technical education.
6/27/17 – Indiana and Michigan fight facility fire
MOTTVILLE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — More than a dozen fire departments from Michigan and Indiana have responded to a massive blaze at a Michigan facility near the state line.
The fire started at a mulch manufacturing facility near Mottville on Monday afternoon. Authorities say flames have engulfed more than a dozen acres.
Michigan transportation officials say they’re shutting down a St. Joseph County highway.
Fire officials say the wind and piles of recyclable material are making the fire difficult to contain.
Authorities have not released details on a cause.
No injuries have been reported.
6/27/17 – Iraqi deportations
DETROIT (AP) — A federal judge in Detroit has barred the federal government from deporting any Iraqi nationals from the U.S. while he determines whether he has authority to further postpone their removal.
Judge Mark Goldsmith’s order lasts 14 days. He made an identical decision last week for 114 Iraqi natives recently rounded up in the Detroit area. His new order, signed Monday night, extends to 1,400 people under deportation orders. Not all are in custody.
They fear they will be persecuted, tortured or killed if returned to Iraq. Many are Christian. The U.S. wants to kick them out for committing crimes now that Iraq has agreed to accept them.
The goal of those targeted for deportation is to suspend the process so they go to an immigration judge and seek a permanent reversal.
6/26/17 – GFIA Passengers to Use New Checkpoint
All passengers at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport will now move through one security checkpoint.
The first time passengers headed for both concourses were able to utilize the new security went through it on Sunday. Concourse B passengers have been using the system since the start of the month. Now screeners are processing travelers through the one station. Airport President and CEO Jim Gill says “We could not have asked for a smoother transition bringing all of our passengers together in our new consolidated checkpoint.
As part of a 45 million dollar Gateway Transformation Project, the checkpoint is one of several updates that includes new terrazzo flooring, bathrooms and nursing rooms as well as family restrooms. Also included will be new food options and retail space.
Phase One of the project is expected to be completed by August.
6/26/17 – Boat safety enforcement in Michigan
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan law enforcement plan increased enforcement of boating safety laws as the Fourth of July holiday approaches.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says this year’s Operation Dry Water campaign runs from June 30 to July 2. The agency says hazardous accidents can happen when boating is combined with alcohol and drug use. Officials are asking boaters to operate watercraft while they’re sober, wear a life jacket and take boating safety courses.
Lt. Tom Wanless is Michigan’s boating law administrator with the agency. He says the effects of alcohol and certain medications are increased on the water because of sun, heat, wind, motion and noise.
Boating under the influence is punishable in Michigan by fines of up to $500, community service and up to three months in jail.
6/26/17 – Bill would ban use of Redskins mascot
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan lawmaker has introduced legislation that would ban the use of the Redskins mascot for public schools in the state.
Republican state Sen. Wayne Schmidt of Traverse City serves Michigan’s 37th Senate District, which covers the northwest part of the Lower Peninsula and the eastern part of the Upper Peninsula.
His district includes five tribal governments and Schmidt says his legislation was crafted with their help.
He tells WOOD-TV that “the term ‘Redskin’ is highly offensive. Especially to Native Americans, to American Indians.”
Schmidt says the tribal nations aren’t saying to get rid of all references to Native Americans or American Indians, but the term “redskin” is particularly offensive to them.
His bill was introduced Thursday and so far it has no co-sponsors and remains in committee.
6/26/17 – Detroit judge to consider US freeze on Iraqi deportations
DETROIT (AP) — A federal judge in Detroit will consider whether to put a temporary national halt on the deportation of Iraqi nationals recently rounded up by U.S. authorities.
Judge Mark Goldsmith will hold a hearing Monday on the request by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU wants to expand its case beyond the roughly 114 detainees arrested in the Detroit area. It says there could be more than 1,000 detainees nationwide.
Goldsmith signed a 14-day freeze Thursday. He said he needed time to determine if he has jurisdiction.
The detainees fear they could be persecuted in Iraq, which has agreed to accept them. They want to suspend the deportations so they can further argue that their removal would be dangerous.
The U.S. government says they’re being deported because they committed crimes.
6/26/17 – Gas Prices
DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — AAA Michigan says gas prices statewide have risen by about 4 cents per gallon in the past week.
The Dearborn-based auto club says early Monday the average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was about $2.36 per gallon. That’s about 12 cents less than at the same point last year.
AAA says the lowest average price was about $2.33 per gallon in the Marquette area. The highest was about $2.39 in the Ann Arbor area. It’s the second consecutive week that the Ann Arbor area had the highest average.
The Detroit-area’s average was relatively unchanged from last week at about $2.36 per gallon.
AAA Michigan surveys daily fuel prices at 2,800 gas stations across the state.
6/26/17 – Colombia capsizing
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — President Juan Manuel Santos has arrived at the Guatape reservoir in Colombia where a tourist boat capsized and said that 122 people were either rescued or found their way to shore. He said that six people had died and another 31 were missing.
Rescuers including firefighters from nearby cities and air force pilots were searching for survivors at the reservoir near Medellin where the El Almirante sank with about 160 passengers on board. A flotilla of recreational boats and jet skis rushed to the scene, pulling people from the boat as it went down and avoiding an even deadlier tragedy.
“Nobody really knows what happened,” said Santos, adding that naval officials were brought in to carry out an investigation.
Earlier, Margarita Moncada, the head of the disaster response agency in Antioquia state, had said that according to a preliminary nine people had been killed and around 28 were missing. The discrepancies in the number of fatalities could not be immediately reconciled.
6/26/17 – Supreme Court
WASHINGTON (AP) — Before the Supreme Court justices begin their long summer break, they’re poised to act on the Trump administration’s travel ban and a separation of church and state dispute involving a Missouri church playground.
But something could overshadow rulings in those high-profile cases: If Justice Anthony Kennedy were to use the court’s last public session on Monday to announce his retirement.
Kennedy has given no public sign that he would step down this year, but he turns 81 next month and has been on the court for nearly 30 years. Kennedy’s departure would allow conservatives to take firm control of the court.
Meanwhile, the court is considering whether to allow the administration to immediately enforce a 90-day ban on visitors from six mostly Muslim countries.
6/26/17 – Takata files for bankruptcy
UNDATED (AP) — Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of faulty air bag inflators.
The company announced the expected action Monday morning Tokyo time. Takata confirmed that most of its assets will be bought by rival Key Safety Systems, based in suburban Detroit.
Takata was done in by defective inflators that can explode with too much force when they fill up an air bag, spewing out shrapnel. They’re responsible for at least 16 deaths and 180 injuries and touched off the largest automotive recall in U.S. history.
6/23/17 – 8 K-9’s To Receive Protection Vests
Grand Rapids K-9 officers will receive a special donation of body armor specifically designed for them. Through the Vested Interest in K-9’s organization, eight K-9’s will be outfitted with protective gear sometime in the next 8-10 weeks. Each vest, designed to withstand a bullet or stabbing, will be embroidered with a recognition specifically designated to a fallen officer.
Grand Rapids Police K-9 Supervisor Darren Geraghty feels this donation will make a significant difference in the protection of the four footed officers. “Our canine unit takes pride in our ability to provide a safer community, for the citizens who live in our region, and for the officers who patrol our streets. Thank you Vested Interest in K-9’s, for providing these vests for our dogs.”
Vested Interest in K-9’s is a charity located in East Taunton, MA, whose mission is to provide bullet and stab proof vests to K-9 units to law enforcement and related agencies, across the country.
6/23/17 – Pence visits Focus on Family
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence’s will visit Focus on the Family today.
Pence will visit Colorado Friday for the 40th anniversary and take part in a special chapel.
6/23/17 – Senate gives final approval to $56.7 billion budget
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A $56.7 billion state budget is headed toward Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk after the Republican-led Senate gave it final approval on mostly party-line votes.
The bills approved Thursday include more money for K-12 schools, universities and community colleges. There is less for prison spending and environmental cleanup.
Republicans say the budget includes record spending on K-12 education, money to train new state troopers and addresses debt in the teacher retirement system.
Democrats say while the plan is better than one adopted earlier by GOP lawmakers, money used to steer newly hired school employees into a 401(k)-only retirement benefit should have been used to repair deteriorating roads and bridges.
6/23/17 – Attacker may have targeted Flint for airport
FLINT, Mich. (AP) — The FBI says a Canadian man from Tunisia may have chosen to attack a police officer in Flint, Michigan, simply because it has an international airport.
David Gelios, head of the FBI in Detroit, says investigators have found no personal connection between Amor Ftouhi and Flint or Michigan. But Flint’s airport is called Bishop International Airport.
Gelios says Ftouhi “did want to identify an international airport.”
The 49-year-old from Montreal is charged with stabbing Lt. Jeff Neville in the neck Wednesday. The officer is recovering.
The FBI is investigating the attack as a possible act of terrorism but Gelios says the agency has “no information” that the attack was part of a wider terrorism plot.
Investigators also say Ftouhi tried to unsuccessfully to buy a gun when he entered the U.S.
6/23/17 – Detroit judge halts deportation of Iraqi Christians
DETROIT (AP) — A judge has temporarily halted the deportation of more than 100 Iraqi Christians living in the Detroit area who fear torture and possible death if sent back to Iraq.
U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith Thursday halted their deportation for 14 days while he decides if his court has jurisdiction to hear their plight.
The Justice Department said the detainees must go to immigration court to try to remain in the U.S., not U.S. District Court.
Most of the 114 Iraqis are Chaldean Christians, but some are Shiite Muslims and converts to Christianity. They were arrested about June 11 and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said all have criminal convictions.
The American Civil Liberties Union says they fear torture or death in Iraq, which agreed to accept them.
6/22/17 Propane Tank Causes Explosion at Recycling Plant
Three small one-pound propane tanks caused an explosion at the Kent County Recycling Center on Wealthy Street. One person was taken to a local hospital for medical treatment.
The tanks were inside a baler when they exploded. Even though the camping style cylinders are considered disposable, they are not recyclable.
Here is video of the explosion.
If you have a tank in need of disposal, you can drop off a tank of any size at one of these locations.
South Kent Recycling& Waste Center, 10300 South Kent Drive, Byron Center.
North Kent Recycling & Waste Center, 2908 Ten Mile Road, Rockford.
6/22/17 – Immigration arrests
DETROIT (AP) — Government lawyers have told a judge that he doesn’t have the authority to halt the deportation of more than 100 Iraqi nationals from the Detroit area.
Judge Mark Goldsmith held a hearing Wednesday in federal court. The U.S. Justice Department says the detainees must go to immigration court to try to stay in the United States, not U.S. District Court.
But attorneys for the Iraqi natives say they could be deported before they can appear in an immigration court.
The American Civil Liberties Union says most of the 114 recently arrested Iraqis are Chaldean Christians. Many have been in the U.S. for decades. They fear torture or death if sent back to Iraq.
Goldsmith didn’t make an immediate decision. The government says no one will be deported before next Tuesday.
6/22/17 – 7 children among 12 injured in Michigan highway crash
KALAMAZOO TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Seven children and five adults have been injured in a multi-vehicle crash along a western Michigan highway.
The Kalamazoo County sheriff’s office says a vehicle driven by an 18-year-old Kalamazoo man crossed the median on U.S. 131 in Kalamazoo Township about noon Wednesday and struck two other vehicles headed in the opposite direction.
Ages of the injured children range from six months to 13 years old. Authorities say their injuries were not life-threatening. The adults range in age from 18 to 57.
A 20-year-old passenger in the vehicle that crossed the median was in critical condition Wednesday.
The crash remains under investigation.
6/22/17 – AAA predicts record heavy travel over July 4th weekend
DALLAS (AP) — Americans are expected to put down the TV remote and hit the road in record numbers for the July 4th weekend.
Auto club AAA said Thursday that it expects 44.2 million people will travel at least 50 miles (80 kilometers) from home, a 2.9 percent increase over last year’s record for the holiday.
The vast majority will go by car. But airline travel over the holiday is also expected to rise for the eighth straight year.
6/22/17 – US airport stabbing
FLINT, Mich. (AP) — A Canadian man from Tunisia accused of shouting “Allahu akbar” before wounding a Michigan airport police officer in a stabbing authorities are investigating as an act of terrorism remains in custody after appearing in federal court.
Amor Ftouhi is charged with committing violence at an airport following Wednesday’s attack in Flint. He appeared in court hours later to hear the charge. A bond hearing is set for next Wednesday.
A criminal complaint says the 49-year-old Montreal resident stabbed Lt. Jeff Neville with a large knife after yelling “Allahu akbar,” the Arabic phrase for “God is great.”
The FBI says Ftouhi said something similar to “you have killed people in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and we are all going to die.”
Neville was stabbed in the neck. He’s recovering at a hospital.
The Flint Journal, citing court officials, reported that Ftouhi is a dual citizen of Canada and Tunisia.
6/22/17 – Tropical Storm Cindy
Tropical Storm Cindy has made landfall in southwestern Louisiana, bringing rain and the threat of flash flooding and tornadoes.
As of about 4 a.m. CDT Thursday, the storm was centered about 30 miles (48 kilometers) west-southwest of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and is moving north near 12 mph (19 kph).
The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Cindy’s maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 40 mph (64 kph) with continued weakening expected over the next two days.
Already, the storm has been blamed for one death Wednesday: A 10-year-old boy from the St. Louis area was killed on an Alabama beach when he was struck by a log that washed ashore.
Floating colonies of fire ants could form in flood waters as Tropical Storm Cindy trudges inland.
That’s the warning from Alabama state officials, who say the insects known as red imported fire ants can present a potentially serious health threat to people and animals during severe flooding.
6/21/17 – Michigan school principal & son found dead
BUSHNELL TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Police say a school principal and his disabled son were found dead in what appears to have been a murder/suicide.
The bodies of George Heckman and his 28-year-old son Grant were found Monday night in a van on a rural road in Montcalm County’s Bushnell Township. Autopsies were performed Tuesday.
George Heckman was principal at Pewamo Elementary School. The 52-year-old was supposed to become the new superintendent of the Pewamo-Westphalia district but failed to appear at a school board meeting Monday night.
The current superintendent, Garth Cooper, says Heckman’s son had “severe physical disabilities.” He says George Heckman’s death is “tragic” for his family and a “great loss” for the community.
The Heckmans lived in Westphalia in Clinton County.
6/21/17 – Nestle water pump station
OSCEOLA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A zoning appeals board has dealt another setback to a bottled-water company that wants to pump more groundwater in western Michigan.
Nestle Waters North America had appealed the Osceola Township Planning Commission’s decision in April to deny a request for a permit to build a new pumping station. MLive.com reports a zoning appeals board on Tuesday let that denial stand.
Nestle says it’s disappointed with the decision.
The Osceola Township Zoning Board of Appeals was split on the appeal. The planning commission had denied granting Nestle the permit for the pipeline booster station at Spring Hill Camp. It’s part of the company’s proposal to withdraw up to 400 gallons per minute from a well in Osceola County.
Nestle’s state permit request on its pumping plans is pending.
6/21/17 – Flags in Michigan lowered
LANSING,Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder ordered U.S. and Michigan flags to be lowered to half-staff Wednesday, June 21, on all state buildings and within the state Capital complex in honor of Comstock Township Fire Chief Edward Switalski, who died Tuesday , June 13, while on duty.
A service in his honor will be held today at noon at the Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo.
A funeral procession will begin at 9 a.m. from Langeland Funeral Home on 9th Street and end at Wings Event Center just before the funeral.
6/21/17 – Lawmakers leave for vacation
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan House has adjourned for three weeks without voting to OK tax incentives for companies that add jobs in the state at a time the hunt is on for Foxconn, a Taiwanese electronics contractor that’s considering building a U.S. factory.
House Speaker Tom Leonard said Tuesday he’s concerned that Gov. Rick Snyder cut a deal with Democrats that would “undermine Republican caucus priorities.” He declined to elaborate and said he’s waiting for Snyder to return from a European trade trip to address House Republicans’ concerns.
Snyder has said Michigan could soon land large-scale business expansions that each total thousands or hundreds of jobs if the House acts.
The Michigan House has approved a $56.7 billion state budget after an agreement was finalized between Republican leaders and Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration.
The GOP-led chamber voted 64-43 for a general budget Tuesday and 72-35 for the education budget. The Senate is expected to take final votes Thursday before the Legislature’s summer recess.
Majority Republicans say the state would spend about 2 percent more in the fiscal year starting in October, if federal dollars are factored in. They emphasize that overall spending would rise no more than inflation and be down slightly in the general fund.
Democrats say money should be diverted from savings to fix deteriorating roads because a GOP-passed 2015 transportation funding plan is being phased in too slowly.
6/21/17 – Tropical Storm Cindy
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Residents and officials along a stretch of the Gulf Coast from the Florida panhandle to eastern Texas are keeping an eye on Tropical Storm Cindy.
The storm formed Tuesday in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s expected to move slowly toward the Louisiana-Texas line. But the heaviest rain bands were to the east. And the National Weather Service says it poses a threat of dangerous flash flooding.
Forecasters say some areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida could see a foot of rain.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a state of emergency Tuesday because of the threat of torrential dangerous high tides and rip currents. Other state and local officials along the coast were mulling similar declarations.
6/16/17 – University of Michigan regents approve free-tuition program
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The University of Michigan will offer four years of free tuition for in-state students whose families make less than $65,000 annually.
The school says it’s “Go Blue Guarantee” starts Jan. 1. Regents approved it Thursday as part of the $2 billion fiscal year 2018 general fund budget for the Ann Arbor campus.
Chair Mark Bernstein says the guarantee is expected to increase socio-economic diversity on the campus. It will not cover room and board, but students also may be eligible for additional aid to cover non-tuition costs.
Tuition for in-state students at Michigan is about $7,413.
Bernstein says funding for the program is generated from out-of-state tuition and university cost containment.
The university says the program will not reduce need-based financial aid for students who parents earn more than $65,000.
6/16/17 – At least 14 people injured when deck collapses
PORT SHELDON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Authorities in Ottawa County, Michigan say at least 14 people were injured when a deck collapsed at a venue in a West Olive park.
The incident occurred Thursday evening at Weaver House, a renovated house built in 1902 that is rented out for events.
Ottawa County Sheriff Steve Kempker said about 25 people were on the back deck when it gave way in the middle and collapsed. Kempker said none of the injuries are considered life-threatening.
Authorities say about 118 people were at the Weaver House for an event hosted by the North Ottawa Community Health System. The event was being held to thank donors who funded a new emergency room.
Kempker said doctors and nurses in attendance “jumped right into the emergency mode” after the collapse. He add that “probably made a big difference here for a lot of people.”
Authorities say the cause of the collapse is not yet known.
6/16/17 – More U.S. Troops headed overseas
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Trump administration official says the Pentagon will send almost 4,000 additional American forces to Afghanistan, hoping to break a stalemate in a war that has now passed to a third U.S. commander in chief.
The deployment will be the largest of American manpower under Donald Trump’s young presidency.
The official says the decision by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis could be announced as early as next week.
It follows Trump’s move to give Mattis the authority to set troop levels and seeks to address assertions by the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan that he doesn’t have enough forces to help Afghanistan’s army against a resurgent Taliban insurgency.
The official wasn’t authorized to discuss details of the decision publicly and demanded anonymity.
6/16/17 – Claims from Russia
BEIRUT (AP) — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says he can’t definitively confirm the death of the Islamic State group’s leader in a Russian airstrike.
The Russian Defense Ministry claimed earlier Friday that IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a Russian strike in late May, adding that the information about his death was still “being verified through various channels.”
Asked about the claim at a news conference in Moscow, Lavrov said: “I don’t have a 100-percent confirmation of the information.”
He added on a cautious note that if al-Baghdadi’s death is confirmed, its importance mustn’t be overestimated. Lavrov said that “past examples of similar actions to strike the leadership of terrorist groups were presented with much enthusiasm and pomp, but the experience shows that those structures later regained their capability.”
6/15/17 – Additional charges in Flint Water Crisis
Five people have been charged with involuntary manslaughter in Michigan in an investigation of Flint water crisis.
The charges are related to the death of an 85-year-old man who had Legionnaires’ disease. The five include Nick Lyon, head of the Michigan health department.
The others are people who were already facing charges in the state’s investigation of how Flint water system became poisoned with lead.
They are: Darnell Earley, who was Flint’s emergency manager when the city used the Flint River; Howard Croft, who ran Flint’s public works department; Liane Shekter Smith; and Stephen Busch. Shekter Smith and Busch were state environmental regulators.
6/15/17 – Foxconn, assembler of iPhones, eyes Wisconsin for plant
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Taiwanese company that assembles Apple’s iPhones and other electronics is considering building a plant in Wisconsin that could employ thousands of people.
A person with direct knowledge of the negotiations who was not authorized to speak publicly confirmed to The Associated Press on Wednesday that the state is in talks with Foxconn. At least one other state, Michigan, is also pursuing the plant.
President Donald Trump alluded to negotiations with an unspecified company during a visit to Milwaukee on Tuesday, saying Gov. Scott Walker might get “a very happy surprise very soon.”
Walker’s administration deferred comment to the state’s chief economic development agency. Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation spokesman Mark Maley said the agency doesn’t comment on pending or potential opportunities.
Foxconn has said the plant could employ 50,000 people.
6/15/17 – Michigan legislative panels OK teacher pension changes
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Legislative committees approved legislation that would steer more newly-hired school employees into 401(k)-only retirement plans.
The bills OK’d Wednesday would require the Office of Retirement Services to offer the option between a hybrid pension and 401(k) plan or a defined contribution plan on or after Feb. 1.
It also would enroll workers in the 401(k)-only plan unless they choose otherwise within 75 days, and would create a trigger to close the hybrid plan if funding fell under 85 percent.
Nick Ciaramitaro, chairman of a coalition of public-sector labor unions, opposed the Senate bill. He says people’s economic lives are on the line and those affected haven’t had the chance to fully review the language of the legislation.
The bills are being discussed in both chambers.
6/15/17 – Area Fire Chief fatally struck by vehicle
COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say a fire chief has died after he was struck by a passing vehicle while responding to a reported crash along Interstate 94 in southwestern Michigan.
The Kalamazoo County sheriff’s department says its officers and the Comstock Township fire department responded Wednesday night and found an unoccupied vehicle along the eastbound lanes.
They were preparing to leave when the passing vehicle lost control and struck Comstock Township Chief Edward Switalski as he stood near the rear of his rescue vehicle. The sheriff’s department says Switalski was pronounced dead at the scene and the driver who struck him was taken to a hospital with injuries.
The cause of the crash is under investigation. No injuries were reported related to the initial call that brought Switalski to the scene.
6/15/17 – D.C. area shooting
DETROIT (AP) — Family members of Matt Mika say the Michigan native suffered multiple gunshot wounds and remains in the intensive care unit in critical condition after surgery.
Mika was wounded Wednesday when a gunman opened fire at a baseball practice, injuring a congressman and others.
His family said in a statement late Wednesday that they expect Mika to remain hospitalized for at least several days. The family said, “we continue to be in disbelief that he would be part of this heinous attack.”
Mika is a former aide to Michigan Republican congressman Tim Walberg. He is director of government relations for Tyson Foods Washington, D.C., office and has worked for the company for more than six years.
Mika’s family described him as “a very thoughtful, fun-loving person who is competitive and loyal; all things which contributed to his continued commitment to the Congressional Baseball Game.”
— Lawmakers are returning to the Capitol and, they hope, to some semblance of normalcy a day after a rifle-wielding attacker opened fire on Republican lawmakers as they practiced for a charity baseball game. House GOP Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana was critically wounded in the attack that also injured aides and Capitol police. The assailant, who had nursed grievances against President Donald Trump and the GOP, fought a running gun battle with police before he, too, was shot and later died.
6/14/17 – Great Lakes levels
DETROIT (AP) — A wet spring season has experts predicting that summer water levels for the Great Lakes could be higher than normal and above last year’s mark through early fall.
The Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Detroit District announced Monday in its six-month water level forecast that summer water levels on lakes Superior, Michigan-Huron, St. Clair and Erie will be at their highest since 1996-1998.
The group’s forecast data also shows that as of Sunday, Lake Ontario is up nearly 3 feet (nearly 1 meter) from the level it was at this time last year. The lake exceeded its highest elevation ever for June, which was set in 1952.
Year-round recording of Great Lakes water levels has occurred since 1918.
6/14/17 – House OKs legislation to combat opioid addiction in Michigan
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The state House has approved legislation to create an opioid prescription abuse program for Michigan school districts to follow and let Medicaid pay for patient detoxification and rehabilitation services for people with addictions.
The bills passed Tuesday also would prevent doctors from giving prescriptions without written parental consent and let pharmacists refuse filling prescriptions suspected of having forged doctors’ signatures.
Opioids include heroin, prescription opioids, and nonpharmaceutical fentanyl.
Nearly 2,000 people died in 2015 in Michigan from drug overdoses. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Michigan and some other states are facing opioid epidemics.
The bills now return to the GOP-controlled Senate, but likely won’t be taken up until September after lawmakers return from break.
6/14/17 – Pension deal steers more teachers to 401(k) plan
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Newly hired school employees would automatically be enrolled in a 401(k)-only retirement plan unless they opt out within 75 days and instead choose a blended pension benefit that would cost more of their paycheck under a deal struck between Gov. Rick Snyder and Republican legislative leaders.
The change agreed to Tuesday would apply to teachers and other school workers hired on Feb. 1 or later and cost the state much less than an earlier version of legislation introduced last month. That’s according to a summary of the agreement circulated to GOP senators at a caucus meeting and obtained by The Associated Press.
New hires now qualify for a pension and a small 401(k).
Under bills that could begin advancing Wednesday, they would default into a 401(k)-only plan like what state employees receive. They could still pick a pension, but it would cost them more than what teachers now pay.
6/14/17 – US college student released by North Korea
CINCINNATI (AP) — An American college student who was released from a North Korean prison is finally home but in a coma and undergoing treatment at an Ohio hospital.
An airplane carrying Ohio native Otto Warmbier landed in Cincinnati late Tuesday night. The 22-year-old was then taken by ambulance to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
Warmbier was serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor in North Korea for alleged anti-state acts.
In Warmbier’s hometown of Wyoming, just outside of Cincinnati, residents tied ribbons to trees and said news of his release had sent waves of shock and joy through the community.
The State Department secured Warmbier’s release at President Donald Trump’s direction.
A hospital spokeswoman says Warmbier’s family is expected to hold a news conference Thursday morning at Wyoming High School.
6/14/17 – Fire broke out in London high rise
LONDON (AP) — London’s Fire Brigade says that a structural engineer and urban search and rescue crews have assessed the stability of the burning tower block in west London and believe it is not in danger of collapsing.
The brigade says “it is safe for our crews to be in there.” It added the cause of the massive fire is not known at this stage.
The 24-story apartment block was still engulfed in thick black smoke Wednesday morning some 10 hours after a fire first broke out. An unknown number of people have died and about 50 others were sent to hospitals.
6/13/17 – Teen killed in car/train crash
ZEELAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say a western Michigan teenager has died after her car collided with a train.
The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office says 17-year-old Samantha Lubbers of Zeeland Township had just left a private driveway Monday afternoon when the collision occurred.
Officers say the car slowed as it approached the crossing but then proceeded onto the tracks. The train struck the passenger side of the car, which rolled over. Lubbers was extricated by first responders and airlifted to a hospital, where she died.
She was a student at Covenant Christian High School.
Officers say the CSX train was traveling approximately 35 mph and had 33 cars.
6/13/17 – Baby found in visitor’s car
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Police say they’re interviewing a woman believed to be the mother of a newborn apparently abandoned inside the car of a hospital visitor in western Michigan.
Police say the baby was found Monday morning after the visitor returned to his car at Mercy Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Rapids.
They say the 24-year-old woman is cooperating with investigators. It’s unclear whether she knows the man in whose car the baby was found.
Police also say the baby’s in good health and appears to have been born within the last three days.
Michigan allows people to surrender a newborn baby to emergency service providers, including hospitals, without fear of being charged. Parents may also call 911 to surrender a child.
Child Protective Services also is investigating.
6/13/17 – Opening forest roads to off-road vehicles
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Officials are inviting public comment on a plan to open thousands of miles of state forest roads to off-road vehicles in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula.
The Department of Natural Resources manages the roads. They provide access for habitat improvement, timber management, fire control and outdoor recreation.
Historically, they’ve been closed to off-road vehicles unless designated parts of ORV routes.
But a law enacted last year says all the region’s state forest roads will be open to ORVs unless the DNR closes them. The change takes effect in January 2018.
The DNR has developed a map of the roads and scheduled meetings for June 19 in West Branch, June 20 in Cadillac and June 21 in Gaylord to get feedback.
Comments can be made by viewing the online map .
6/13/17 – Kids Count
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — An annual report reveals that about 22 percent — or 486,000 Michigan children — lived in poverty in 2015.
The 2017 Kids Count Profile by the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation was released Tuesday and looks at health, education, economic well-being and family and community as part of a national effort to improve conditions for children and their families.
It also says about 32 percent of Michigan children lived in households were parents lacked secure employment.
Nationally, 21 percent of children lived in poverty in 2015 and 29 percent lived in households were parents lacked secure employment.
The report lists Michigan at 32nd among states in child well-being. New Hampshire was ranked first, followed by Massachusetts and Vermont. Mississippi was ranked last.
6/13/17 – Unattended Vehicles
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Legislation up for a vote in the Michigan Senate would let residents legally leave a vehicle running unattended on private property.
The bill , which won House approval last month, was proposed after a Detroit-area man was ticketed $128 for leaving a car running in his driveway as the vehicle warmed up.
A state rule requires people to stop the engine and remove the ignition key before letting a vehicle stand unattended. The legislation would keep the prohibition in place only for vehicles parked on public streets, but not if they are equipped with a remote-start feature.
The Senate plans to vote Tuesday, and the bill is expected to soon go to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.
6/13/17 – Legal fight over the travel ban
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Another appeals court, another defeat for the Trump administration.
The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday refused to reinstate President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting travelers from six mostly Muslim countries.
Another federal appeals court, the Virginia-based 4th Circuit, last month also refused to reinstate the travel ban. The administration has appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court justices could order an unusual June argument and try to resolve the travel ban lawsuits before they leave for the summer. They also could essentially do nothing, leaving the two appeals court rulings in place.
One reason the court might feel some responsibility to act is because the administration has asked for expedited review. The court typically also has the last word when a federal court strikes down a law or presidential order.
6/13/17 – Dennis Rodman arrives in North Korea
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Former NBA player Dennis Rodman has arrived in North Korea on his first visit since President Donald Trump took office.
He told reporters before departing Beijing airport on Tuesday that he is “just trying to open a door” with North Korea.
Rodman has received the red-carpet treatment on four past trips since 2013. He also has been roundly criticized for visiting during times of high tensions between the U.S. and North Korea over its weapons programs.
6/13/17 – Sessions to face sharp questions
WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Jeff Sessions is preparing for sharp questions from his former Senate colleagues about his role in the firing of James Comey and his Russian contacts during the campaign. They will also ask about his decision to recuse from an investigation into possible ties between Moscow and associates of President Donald Trump.
The public testimony Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence committee should yield Sessions’ most extensive comments to date on questions that have dogged his entire tenure as attorney general and that led him three months ago to step aside from the Russia probe.
Lawmakers for weeks have demanded answers from Sessions, particularly about meetings he had last summer and fall with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
6/12/17 – 1 year since Pulse massacre
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A year after the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, residents in Florida were remembering the 49 patrons who were killed at a nightclub with three services at the Pulse club and a large evening gathering in the heart of downtown Orlando.
Gov. Rick Scott ordered flags around Florida to be flown at half-staff Monday, and at noon, church bells throughout Orlando were scheduled to ring 49 times.
Monday’s services culminate days of events to honor the 49 people killed and dozens wounded in the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub on June 12, 2016.
6/12/17 – Pipeline beneath Straits of Mackinac passes
MACKINAW CITY, Mich. (AP) — Pipeline company Enbridge says an oil pipeline beneath the Straits of Mackinac in northern Michigan has passed federally required pressure tests.
The test took place Saturday on one pipeline that’s part of Line 5.
Enbridge pumped the line’s west segment with water and kept pressure high for 8 hours. Enbridge officials told reporters in a conference call Monday the line is fit for service and no leaks were found.
A second pipeline, called the east segment, will be tested soon.
The pipelines were built in 1953. Line 5 carries about 23 million gallons of crude oil and liquid natural gas daily between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario. A nearly 5-mile-long section, divided into two lines, runs along the bottom of the straits area where Lakes Huron and Michigan converge.
6/12/17 – Alzheimer’s awareness
DETROIT (AP) — The Alzheimer’s Association Greater Michigan Chapter is encouraging people to form teams and participate in an event to raise awareness about the disease.
Spanning 16 hours, The Longest Day takes place from sunrise to sunset on June 21 — the Summer Solstice.
The private, nonprofit voluntary health organization says teams can hold fundraisers like dance-a-thons, golf outings and bake sales to honor loved ones dealing with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.
Alzheimer’s Association Greater Michigan Chapter President Jennifer Lepard says about 5.5 million people in the United States, including more than 180,000 in Michigan, have the disease.
Gov. Rick Snyder has proclaimed June 2017 as Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in Michigan.
6/12/17 – Deadly weekend on MI lakes
(AP) — At least 5 people have died in Michigan lakes.
Police say a 27-year-old Lansing man was found floating face-down Saturday night in Lake Michigan at Holland State Park. Yellow flags were flying at the time, a warning to swimmers that the water could be risky.
Across the state in Wayne County, a 61-year-old man drowned in Belleville Lake.
A 23-year-old woman disappeared while swimming at Clear Lake in St. Joseph County, 40 miles south of Kalamazoo.
In northern Michigan, authorities say a Grayling man went under in Lake Margrethe in Crawford County.
A kayaker was found in the West Bay of Elmwood Township in Leelanau County.
6/12/17 – Grand Rapids Public Museum plans exhibit exploring brains
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — The Grand Rapids Public Museum is planning a new exhibit that will allow visitors to explore the brain.
The exhibit titled “Brain: The World Inside Your Head” opens Sept. 16. It uses special effects, hands-on learning activities, video games, optical illusions and interactive displays to show how the brain functions — and how it can malfunction as well.
Those involved say the exhibition seeks to make brain-related disorders easier to understand. It’s scheduled to run through Jan. 7.
Upon entry into the exhibit, visitors will walk through a tunnel of flashing fiber-optics to illustrate networks of neurons firing and communicating. The exhibit also shows comparisons between the human brain and animal brains as well as explores brain development.
6/12/17 – Immigration arrests
DETROIT (AP) — The arrest of dozens of Chaldeans in southeastern Michigan by U.S. immigration officials has prompted a protest at a detention center in Detroit.
Martin Manna, an Iraqi-American Christian advocate who is president of the Chaldean Community Foundation, tells the Detroit Free Press about 40 people were arrested, mostly Sunday. He says family members of the Catholics with Iraqi roots who were arrested indicate most had criminal records and were awaiting deportation.
MLive.com reports nearly 100 people protested Sunday at a Detroit detention center.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement didn’t confirm details, but spokesman Khaalid Walls says in a statement the agency “regularly conducts targeted enforcement operations during which additional resources and personnel are dedicated to apprehending removable aliens.”
He says the focus is consistent with “routine, targeted arrests” by ICE.
6/9/17 MI Plan For College Graduates to Receive Student Loan Assistance
(Photo credit: Caitlin_Murbach@Photobucket)
The thought of making that first student loan payment after graduation can be a daunting prospect, especially if you aren’t sure where the money is going to come from.
The Michigan Department of Treasury is starting a one year pilot program for those who might be facing financial challenges. The plan is to assist delinquent student loan borrowers by providing free financial literacy information and one-on-one counseling. Those Michigan student loan borrowers who are currently delinquent can opt-in to the program.
Part of the program involves creating and following a budget, develop a repayment plan and understand their credit scores.
For more information visit loanassistmichigan.org
6/9/17 – Britain’s parliamentary election
LONDON (AP) — In the big book of political blunders, Theresa May’s decision to hold a snap election to solidify her Brexit mandate will rank among the most memorable _ and the most unnecessary. Her party’s huge lead in the opinion polls made the prospect too tempting to pass up, but she finds herself now without a parliamentary majority.
Though the British election result, which saw Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party lose its majority in the House of Commons, has thrown another complication into the start of the talks over Britain’s exit from the EU, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the Commission is ready to start.
“As far as the Commission is concerned, we can open negotiations tomorrow morning at half past nine,” he said in Prague. “So we are waiting for visitors coming from London. I hope that we will not experience further delay in the conclusion of these negotiations.”
6/9/17 – 2 men charged with plotting terror attacks
NEW YORK (AP) — Federal authorities say they’ve interrupted efforts to identify potential terrorism targets in New York City and Panama by arresting a man Michigan and another in New York.
Court papers unsealed Thursday charge the two men with providing support to a terrorist organization.
Samer El Debek of Dearborn, Michigan, was arrested June 1 in Livonia, Michigan, while Ali Kourani was arrested in the Bronx. Both men are being held in New York City.
Defense lawyers did not immediately comment.
In a statement, authorities say the men tried to provide support to Hezbollah’s Islamic Jihad organization after receiving military training from the group.
They say El Debek looked for potential targets in Panama, including U.S. and Israeli embassies, while Kourani surveilled American targets, including military and law enforcement facilities in New York City.
6/7/17 – Boosting pay, mileage rate for jurors
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan residents who serve as jurors could get a pay raise and a higher mileage reimbursement rate starting next year.
The state House unanimously sent Gov. Rick Snyder legislation Tuesday requiring that jurors be paid $30 for their first full day instead of $25. They would get $45 for each subsequent day, above the current $40 rate.
Mileage reimbursement would double to 20 cents a mile.
The proposed pay increases — the first since 2003 — would begin next April as long as a state juror fund has more than $2 million. It had a $10.5 million balance last fiscal year.
The bills’ supporters say while compensation isn’t intended to reimburse jurors for all out-of-pocket expenses, it should at least cover parking and lunch.
The Chain Gang and Kalamazoo Strong, held a ride to remember the victims and to raise money for a memorial statue to honor those who were victims.
Two more rides are planned for Thursday. At 6 p.m., one will complete the 28 miles that the 9 cyclists originally had started last year and then a Ghost Ride for 12 miles to and from the memorial site.
6/7/17 – Budget bills for colleges approved by panel
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s 15 public universities would get an overall 2 percent boost in state funding under legislation ironed out by lawmakers.
A Republican-led conference committee voted 5-1 for the $1.6 billion higher education budget bill Tuesday, with one Democrat in opposition. Schools’ funding increases would range from 1.5 percent to 2.7 percent. Five universities’ state aid would remain below levels from seven years ago.
Legislators are advancing spending measures after setting targets without Gov. Rick Snyder due to an impasse over closing the pension system to newly hired school employees. It’s unclear if the full Legislature will vote without a deal with the Republican governor.
Twenty-eight community colleges would see an overall 1 percent funding boost under another bill approved Tuesday. Increases would range from 0.6 percent to 3.2 percent.
6/7/17 – Great Lakes dredging
DETROIT (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers district in Detroit says it has received an additional $16.5 million from Congress for dredging and infrastructure repairs in the Great Lakes region.
District engineer Lt. Col. Dennis Sugrue says the funding will be used for the most critical needs at six harbors.
Locations of dredging projects scheduled for Michigan include Inland Route at a cost of $615,000; Little Lake Harbor for $540,000; and Leland Harbor for $500,000.
Spending for repair, replacement or construction projects will include $6.2 million for Portage Lake Harbor; $3.7 million for the St. Marys River and Soo Locks; and $500,000 for Grand Haven Harbor.
Funding also was designated for environmental infrastructure work in Oakland County and a study of deepening the Saginaw River.
6/7/17 – Deadly double attack in Iran
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency says 2 security guards have been killed and more than 30 people wounded in attacks on the parliament building and the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Assailants armed with rifles stormed the parliament building Wednesday and one of the attackers blew himself up inside, where a session had been in progress. Another group of attackers, including a second suicide bomber, struck the shrine, Khomeini.
6/6/17 Police Officer Attacked in Paris
(Photo Credit: Photobucket)
Paris police say an unidentified assailant has attacked a police officer near the Notre Dame Cathedral, and the officer then shot and wounded the attacker.
A police spokesperson told The Associated Press that the officer used his weapon to shoot the attacker in Tuesday’s incident. The spokesperson, who was not authorized to be publicly named, said the attacker was being hospitalized.
A police union official, Cedric Michel, said a man armed with a hammer went after the police officer who was patrolling on the esplanade in front of Notre Dame Cathedral. Michel said the attacker was “neutralized” by police.
It is unclear whether the attacker was acting alone. Paris police are now opening a counter-terrorism investigation.
6/6/17 – 3-year-old drowns in backyard pool
PARK TOWNSHIP, MI (Mlive) — Ottawa County Sheriffs are investigating after the apparent drowning of 3-year-old boy, Capt. Mark Bennett said.
Authorities responded to a home in the 17000-block of 3rd Street around 2 p.m. Monday, June 5 on a report of child found at the bottom of a pool.
Police said Cairo Klaasen was playing in the backyard, near the pool, with his parents close by.
The parents lost sight of their son and found him unresponsive at the bottom of the above-ground pool.
Klaasen was removed from the pool and first responders tried to resuscitate him. He was transported to Holland Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
6/6/17 – Medicaid costs $800M under GOP bill
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Top officials in Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration say it could cost Michigan up to $800 million a year to keep the state’s Medicaid expansion program at current enrollment levels if cuts approved by the U.S. House are enacted.
State Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon gave the estimate Monday during an event in which Snyder aides and advocates defended the expanded Medicaid program.
The House bill, which is pending in the Senate, would halt extra federal funds in 2020 that 31 states get for former President Barack Obama’s expansion of Medicaid — the federal-state health care program for poorer and disabled Americans.
Lyon and state budget director Al Pscholka indicated Michigan would not have enough money to keep the entire Medicaid expansion intact.
6/6/17 – Gerald R. Ford medal
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Former President Jimmy Carter is being honored with the Gerald R. Ford Medal for Distinguished Public Service.
The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation is making the announcement Monday at an event at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington D.C. In a video message recorded earlier in Atlanta, Carter noted that he shared “mutual respect” for Ford and an “intense personal friendship.”
Ford was a congressman from Grand Rapids, Michigan, before becoming vice president and then president. He died in 2006. Steven Ford said in a statement that his father and Carter “illustrated to the nation that politics can be handled with dignity, class and respect.”
Past recipients of the medal include former President George H.W. Bush in 2016 and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 2010.
6/6/17 – Oakland University approves tuition increase
ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Oakland University in suburban Detroit has approved a tuition increase for the 2017-18 school year.
The 3.74 percent tuition increase approved Monday by the school’s board is an average of new rates for full-time resident underclassmen and upperclassmen. The school says that in-state graduate students will see a tuition increase of 3.75 percent.
The new rates are part of the university’s $271.5 million budget.
The Detroit News reports other public universities in Michigan are scheduled to set tuition rates in the coming weeks, with the University of Michigan approving rates on June 15, Michigan State University on June 21 and Wayne State University on June 23.
Oakland University’s campus spans more than 1,400 acres in the Oakland County cities of Auburn Hills and Rochester Hills.
6/6/17 – Amazon-Prime-Discount
NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon is offering a discount on its Prime membership for people who receive government assistance.
Amazon says customers who get benefits like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, can pay $5.99 per month for membership, which would include free shipping and unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Prime Video. The regular annual membership is $99 per year. But those who cannot afford to pay up front have to pay $10.99 a month for the same benefits.
Amazon’s Prime program, with the perks it brings, has created strong habits among shoppers as competition is keen. Amazon says it wants to make the program more accessible. Walmart, which has the second-biggest share of online sales, has been trying to close the gap with Amazon.
6/6/17 – Kremlin has denied claims
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Kremlin has denied claims from a U.S. government intelligence report that Russian hackers attacked at least one U.S. voting software supplier before last year’s presidential election. The classified National Security Agency report, which was published online on Monday by The Intercept, said Russian military intelligence agency GRU attacked the software company and sent spear-phishing emails to local election officials around October and November.
6/5/17 Griffins Prepare for Game 3 of Calder Cup Finals
In front of a sellout crowd, the Griffins used double overtime Saturday to beat the Syracuse Crunch and pulled out to a 2-0 lead in the series.
Now they have a little time to get ready to put this series away and bring another championship to the city. And they’ll use the time to prepare for a team with their backs against the wall.
While the Griffs been perfect at home, their opponent has also enjoyed the home cooking. The Crunch are a stunning 9-0 at home in the 2017 playoffs and are 15-1-1 when they get out to a lead in the first and second periods.
But the Crunch record tells a significant struggle for the team. They suffer from being down in the first two periods and have a hard time coming back. Out of six games where they trail by the end of the second period, they’ve only managed one win.
Both teams are spending several days recovering after the double overtime game on Saturday. Game Three is set for Wednesday at War Memorial Stadium at 7pm.
6/5/17 – Gas Prices
DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — AAA Michigan says gas prices statewide have risen by about 7 cents per gallon in the past week.
The Dearborn-based auto club says late Sunday the average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was about $2.50 per gallon. That’s about 9 cents less than at the same point last year.
AAA says the lowest average price was about $2.43 per gallon in the Marquette area. The highest was about $2.54 in the Grand Rapids, Muskegon and Holland areas.
The Detroit-area’s average was up about 3 cents from last week to about $2.48 per gallon
AAA Michigan surveys daily fuel prices at 2,800 gas stations across the state.
6/5/17 – Free Fishing Weekend
DETROIT (AP) — State officials say they’re offering a free fishing weekend this month.
The state Department of Natural Resources says anglers can fish without a license from June 10-11. However, other rules will apply. State officials will also waive the regular entry fee for vehicle access to all of Michigan’s 103 state parks and recreation areas.
The state has observed free fishing weekends each year since 1986 as a way to promote the state’s resources.
Michigan has more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline and 11,000 inland lakes.
6/5/17 – Boat collides with cargo vessel
GROSSE POINTE SHORES, Mich. (AP) — A man has been rescued from Lake St. Clair after a 17-foot boat collided with a 400-foot cargo vessel off Grosse Pointe Shores, northeast of Detroit.
The Coast Guard tells The Detroit News that the collision occurred about 11 a.m. Sunday.
The man operating the recreational boat was thrown into the lake. The Coast Guard says he swam to a buoy where he was picked up by a rescue crew.
His boat sank.
The cause of the collision was under investigation.
6/5/17 – Detroit officer wounded
DETROIT (AP) — Police say a person who apparently trying to rob an off-duty Detroit police officer outside a store critically wounded the officer before being fatally shot in an exchange of gunfire.
Detroit police Chief James Craig told reporters the officer went into the store on the city’s east side about 11 p.m. Sunday and a surveillance video shows a person with a gun ran at him after he went back outside. Craig says the 27-year-old officer fatally shot the person.
Craig says the officer was shot twice and was taken to a hospital for surgery. Names of those involved weren’t immediately released.
Craig says that after the shooting someone approached the dead person and the officer, apparently taking their guns before fleeing. That person is being sought by police.