10/17/17 – Ford offers repairs to address Explorer exhaust gas concerns
DETROIT (AP) — Ford is offering to inspect and repair about 1.3 million civilian versions of its Explorer SUV at no cost to owners in response to complaints of exhaust fumes leaking into passenger cabins.
The company maintains the vehicles are safe, but says it will do the work because some customers are concerned.
Ford says it will send letters to owners of 2011 through 2017 Explorers starting the week of Nov. 13. Dealers will check for leaks in rear lift gate gaskets and seal them if necessary. They’ll also reprogram the air conditioning to let in more fresh air.
Spokesman Mike Levine says the work will be done regardless of mileage or whether the SUVs are under warranty.
U.S. safety regulators are investigating complaints of exhaust fumes and carbon monoxide inside Explorers.
10/17/17 – Off-duty officer placed on desk duty after striking man
DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit police officer has been placed on administrative duty after he was recorded on cellphone video using a baton to strike a man suspected of shoplifting from a retail store.
Police Chief James Craig said Monday that the 65-year-old officer failed to de-escalate the Oct. 8 confrontation at a Meijer store. The officer was off-duty and working as a security guard.
Craig said he will not seek charges against the 23-year-old man who suffered a broken tooth and bruised face.
Prosecutors are reviewing the case for possible excessive force use by the officer.
Attorney Geoffrey Fieger has filed a lawsuit on behalf of David Bivins against the Meijer Corp., the officer and other security guards at the store.
10/17/17 – Jury selection marks start of trial in jogger’s death
MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) — Jury selection is starting in the trial of a western Michigan man who is charged with killing a jogger, one of two homicides pinned on him in the Muskegon area.
Jeffrey Willis is accused of shooting Rebekah Bletsch in 2014 in Muskegon County’s Dalton Township. Investigators say bullets in the body matched a gun found in his vehicle.
Because of widespread publicity, hundreds of people could be screened as potential jurors, starting Tuesday.
Willis was arrested in 2016 after a teenager said he tried to kidnap her. That arrest led to charges in Bletsch’s death as well as the death of gas station clerk Jessica Heeringa, who disappeared in 2013. Her body hasn’t been found.
Willis has pleaded not guilty.
10/17/17 – Waste Dumps
BELMONT, Mich. (AP) — Another leather tannery waste dump site has been found in western Michigan, prompting worries that chemical-laced debris may be in a wider area than previously known.
Tedd Ryfiak, who lives near a former Wolverine World Wide dump site in the Belmont area, says he’s found waste including two rusty metal drums on his property and he’s concerned there may be more.
Wolverine said Monday it wasn’t aware of the waste at Ryfiak’s property but the company would remove it.
The waste is in addition to two already-known illegal dump sites in the area.
Waste sludge from the Rockford-based global footwear company’s tannery was dumped into unlined trenches and lagoons during the 1960s. The waste is blamed for high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in area groundwater.
10/16/17 – Big Brothers Big Sisters ends in Grand Rapids after 50 years
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A Grand Rapids social services agency is ending its affiliation with the Big Brothers Big Sisters national organization after more than 50 years of mentoring about 8,000 children.
The Grand Rapids Press reports that an agency official says that membership dues to big Brothers Big Sisters had cost the group about $20,000 a year. She says the organization had also discussed whether the Big Brothers Big Sisters model was best for the organization.
Big Brothers Big Sisters views mentoring as one-on-one and doesn’t recognize relationships that do not last a minimum of nine months.
D.A. Blodgett-St. John’s started a new program on Oct. 1 called D.A. Blodgett-St. John’s Mentoring Services. An agency official says the new program is structured to better fit the needs of the local community.
10/16/17 – California Wildfires
SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — Thousands of evacuees got the all-clear to return their homes after fire crews gained ground against devastating California wildfires.
While the danger from the deadliest, most destructive cluster of blazes in California history was far from over, the smoky skies started to clear in some places. People were being allowed to go back home in areas no longer in harm’s way. The number of those under evacuation orders fell from nearly 100,000 down to 75,000.
Those who were allowed back into gutted neighborhoods returned to assess the damage and, perhaps, see if anything was salvageable.
Nearly 11,000 firefighters were still battling 15 fires burning across a 100-mile swath of the state.
10/16/17 – Oil Rig Explosion-Louisiana
U.S. Coast Guard crews hoped to get a helicopter into the air as dawn broke Monday in their ongoing search for a man missing after an oil rig explosion in a lake near New Orleans.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Lexie Preston said that was the plan early Monday morning. She said the helicopter crew also would look to spot any sign of pollution on Lake Pontchartrain, if there is any.
Kenner city officials said authorities at the scene reported that cleaning chemicals ignited on the surface of the oil rig platform, causing the blast Sunday night. At least seven people were injured, five of them critically.
Authorities said Jefferson Parish drinking water will remain safe because it is pulled from the Mississippi River and not the lake.
10/16/17 – Hearing scheduled for Saugatuck marina development plan
SAUGATUCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — State environmental regulators will take public comments on a plan to build a private marina and nearly 40 home sites near the Saugatuck Dunes State Park.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Saugatuck High School. Officials will host a question-and-answer session at 6 p.m.
The 300-acre property once belonged to oil tycoon Aubrey McClendon, who proposed large-scale development before his death last year.
Its new owner is moving ahead with development plans.
Permits from the DEQ and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are required to remove sand and build the marina off the Kalamazoo River where it meets Lake Michigan.
The Corps wants a survey to determine whether there are archaeological resources at the site, once a lumber town.
10/16/17 – Gas prices
DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — AAA Michigan says gas prices statewide have risen by about 11 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 $2.52 per gallon. That’s about 26 cents more than at the same point last year.
Michigan’s lowest average price was about $2.49 per gallon in the Marquette area. The highest was about $2.58 per gallon in the Traverse City area. Previously, AAA Michigan says the Marquette area had the highest average price for four weeks in a row.
The Detroit-area’s average rose about 7 cents to $2.50 per gallon.
AAA Michigan surveys daily fuel prices at 2,800 gas stations across the state.
10/13/17 – School gets bottled water amid tests for hazardous chemicals
ROCKFORD, Mich. (AP) — Officials are shutting off drinking fountains and providing bottled water at a middle school in western Michigan as they test water for possible hazardous chemicals from a decades-old tannery waste dump site nearby.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced precautionary measures Thursday at East Rockford Middle School. The agency says there’s no evidence of contamination in the Rockford school’s drinking water but says precautions will be taken until test results come back within about two weeks.
Wolverine World Wide used chemicals at its former tannery in Rockford to waterproof leather for Hush Puppies shoe manufacturing. Dump sites have turned up in the area, with contamination including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.
State toxicologists say exposure to PFAS have been linked to cancer as well as other health issues.
10/13/17 – 2 counties sue drug manufacturers over opioid marketing
DETROIT (AP) — Two Michigan counties say they are suing about a dozen drug manufacturers and distributors for deceptive marketing and sale of opioids.
The joint lawsuit was announced Thursday by Wayne County Executive Warren Evans and Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.
It alleges that drug manufacturers are using a “concerted, coordinated strategy to shift the way in which doctors and patients think about pain and to encourage the widespread prescribing and use of opioids.”
Officials say there were 817 opioid-related deaths in Wayne County last year, up from 506 the year before. Oakland County opioid-related deaths rose from nine in 2009 to 33 in 2015.
Last week, Newark, New Jersey, announced it was suing several opioid manufacturers, saying they downplayed the risk of opioid addiction and overstated the drugs’ long-term benefits.
10/13/17 – County will ask Supreme Court to review prayer ruling
WASHINGTON (AP) — A North Carolina county will ask the Supreme Court to review a ruling barring it from opening its meetings with Christian prayers.
The First Liberty Institute, representing the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, filed papers Thursday with the high court asking it to consider the case.
In July, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond ruled 10-5 against the county. The judges said that while prayer itself is not unconstitutional, the commissioners’ practice of leading the prayers themselves and inviting the audience to join, always in the Christian faith, violated the First Amendment by establishing Christianity as a preferred religion.
The Richmond court’s ruling is at odds with the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati, which found in September that such prayers are constitutional in a case out of Michigan.
10/13/17 – Pakistan says hostage rescue proves it’s an ally
WASHINGTON (AP) — Pakistan says the successful rescue of a U.S.-Canadian family held for five years by Taliban-linked extremists proves the country is an ally against terrorism.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria says the Pakistani raid that led to the family’s rescue, which was based on a tip-off from U.S. intelligence, shows that Pakistan will act against a “common enemy” when Washington shares information.
U.S. officials have long accused Pakistan of turning a blind eye to groups like the Haqqani network, which was holding the family. Earlier this year, U.S. President Donald Trump warned Pakistan to stop harboring militants.
On Thursday, Trump praised Pakistan for its willingness to “do more to provide security in the region” and said the release suggests other “countries are starting to respect the United States of America once again.”
Caitlan Coleman of Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, and her husband, Canadian Joshua Boyle, were abducted in 2012. They had three children in captivity. Pakistani officials say the family was flown out of Pakistan on Friday, but it’s unclear where they are headed.
10/13/17 – Californians under siege try to fight fires
SONOMA, Calif. (AP) — Northern California communities have been battered from wildfires that are nowhere near over.
They’re trying to save or recover what’s left of their homes, find lost loved ones or mourn their dead, with the constant threat of the fires still looming.
The death toll climbed to 31 on Thursday, making it the deadliest week of wildfires in California history.
Hundreds more are injured or missing.
In areas where they were able, cadaver dogs were sniffing through the ashes.
A total of 21 fires spanning at least 300 square miles (777 square kilometers) are burning, most of them less than 10 percent contained.
Evacuees fled to friends’ houses, shelters and even beaches.
10/13/17 – Trump calls ‘Obamacare’ a ‘broken mess’
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is calling the so-called “Obamacare” law a “broken mess” after his move that’s likely to roil insurance markets.
Trump tweeted Friday that “piece by piece” his administration will begin the process of “giving America the great HealthCare it deserves!”
The White House said late Thursday it would immediately halt payments to insurers under the Obama-era health care law.
The subsidies help lower copays and deductibles for people with modest incomes. Stopping the payments would trigger a spike in premiums for next year unless Trump reverses course or Congress authorizes the money.
10/11/17 – California wildfires continue to grow
(AP) – 17 major fires are burning north of San Francisco. New evacuations are still being ordered. At least 17 people have died in the wildfires. Some 2,000 homes, businesses and other structures have been destroyed.
Authorities say just about anything could have started any one of the fires due to the dry conditions and high winds. Gusts of 30 to 40 mph are expected today.
President Trump spoke with the Governor of California to let him know that the federal government will stand with the people of that state and help.
10/11/17 – Puerto Ricans leave for US mainland as storm woes linger
MIAMI (AP) — Lourdes Rodriguez fled Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria filled her home in the northern town of Vega Baja with mud, ruining mattresses and other belongings. She thought it would be a short stay with her daughter in Florida, but three weeks later there’s still no power or water back home.
In San Juan, Efrain Diaz Figueroa, 70, sat listening to a battery-powered radio amid the wreckage of his home, its walls collapsed into the yard and clothes and mattresses soaking in the rain. A sister was coming to take him to family in Boston.
Tens of thousands of islanders left for the U.S. mainland to escape the immediate aftermath of the storm. With conditions back home still grim, many find themselves scrambling to build new lives away from the island.
10/11/17 – Tropical Storm Ophelia expected to become a hurricane
MIAMI (AP) — Tropical Storm Ophelia is moving southeastward in the Atlantic and is expected to become a hurricane overnight or on Thursday.
The storm’s maximum sustained winds Wednesday morning are near 65 mph (100 kph).
As of 5 a.m. EDT, Ophelia, which isn’t currently a threat to any land, was centered about 785 miles (1,265 kilometers) southwest of the Azores and moving southeast near 6 mph (9 kph).
10/11/17 – Michigan Legislature OKs update to concussion training laws
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Coaches and others involved in youth sports would have to complete concussion awareness training at least once every three years under legislation headed to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.
The bill cleared a final step in the Michigan Senate Tuesday.
It would update 2012 concussion laws that required a concussion protocol for youth athletes and an awareness program for coaches, volunteers and others. The legislation would add a requirement that concussion training be completed once every three years, unless the state Department of Health and Human Services recommends more frequent training.
The state would have to periodically review the training program.
The bill would also clarify that universities and colleges do not need to secure parental waivers for students participating in intramural sports.
10/11/17 – Michigan Legislature approves leaky fuel tank bill
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan would spend more money reimbursing gas station owners to clean up leaky, environmentally risky fuel tanks under legislation sent to Gov. Rick Snyder.
The Republican-controlled Senate passed the bill 26-10 Tuesday months after House approval. Democrats were opposed.
The measure would create a program allowing gas station operators to be reimbursed for addressing leaks from underground petroleum tanks discovered and reported before late December 2014. They currently can be reimbursed for leaks discovered after that point.
Critics say Michigan’s first responsibility is cleaning up known threats at abandoned gas stations — not helping owners of sites already cleaned up.
Supporters counter that Michigan has surplus revenue that’s accumulating more quickly than can be spent solely on orphan sites.
10/10/17 – Wildfires across California ravage towns and cities
SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — A relentless onslaught of wildfires in Northern California is ravaging wineries, rural towns, and whole neighborhoods.
Authorities say at least 10 are dead, at least 100 are injured and at least 1,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed. All three figures were expected to surge in the coming days as more information is reported.
The city of Santa Rosa and its 175,000 residents felt much of the damage, with strip malls, business parks, hotels and subdivisions swallowed up by the fire.
Smaller towns and vineyards in wine country were also hard hit, their residents forced to flee.
Taken as a group, the fires are already among the deadliest in California history.
10/10/17 – Water testing near dump finds chemicals in expanded area
BELMONT, Mich. (AP) — Testing has found unsafe levels of hazardous chemicals from a decades-old tannery waste dump site in western Michigan in private residential drinking water wells in an expanded area.
The Grand Rapids Press reports that multiple properties near Belmont have tested positive for high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. State toxicologists say exposure to PFAS have been linked through human studies to cancer as well as other health issues.
The Wolverine World Wide dump site is in Kent County’s Plainfield Township.
Wolverine used the chemicals at its former tannery in Rockford to waterproof leather for Hush Puppies shoe manufacturing. The company says it’s providing water filtration systems to homeowners whose wells have tested over a federal advisory level for chemicals in drinking water.
10/6/17 – 2017 Art Prize winners
GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. (WZZM) – The winners of the largest annual public art event were announced Friday, Oct. 6, 2017.
Out of the 1,346 artist entries – ‘A. Lincoln’ a ‘penny’ portrait of former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, by Richard Schlatter, won the public vote of $200,000.
“I think the whole message of Lincoln resonated with the people, especially with what is going on right now,” Schlatter said afterward. ” Lincoln is ranked number one president we have had.”
“The public has chosen work that is large scale, iconic and familiar, and one that reflects qualities that are widely admired — patience, skill and considerable labor. ” said Christian Gaines, ArtPrize Executive Director.
The jury chose ‘The Heartside Community Meal‘ by Seitu Jones, which united more than 250 local community members around a long table at Heartside Park for a healthy, locally-grown meal. Jones will also take home a $200,000 prize.
“This was a project that came out of love for the community,” Jones said. “There are folks there who are living in these hundred thousand dollar and more condominiums and folks who are living on the streets there and this was an attempt to bring those folks together.”
“Seitu’s work speaks to some of the key issues in America now,” said jury member, Gaëtane Verna. “ Access to food, access to community, and people being able to create a space of conversation, exchange and synergy for everyone. He speaks to what is important in the context of the ‘now’ in his practice, not just the ability to paint or draw.”
Category Award WinnersTwo- Dimensional
– Public Vote: ‘A. Lincoln‘ @ Amway Grand Plaza, by Richard Schlatter from Battle Creek, MI
– Public Vote: ‘Lux Maximus Fused Glass, Copper, Bronze and Metal’ @ Grand Rapids Art Museum, by Daniel Oropeza from Costa Mesa, CA
– Juried: ‘Flint’ @ Fountain Street Church, by Ti-Rock Moore from New Orleans, LA
– Public Vote: ‘Oil+Water’ in the Grand River, by Ryan Spencer Reed from Ludington, MI and Richard App from Grand Rapids, MI
Outstanding Venue Juried Award
All the ArtPrize Nine venues will remain open through Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, so there is still time to check out some of the winners.
Independently Organized Award Winners
An additional $30,000 in prizes were also awarded to winners of categories created by ArtPrize partner organizations.
Best Short Film: ‘RED SKIES’ by Bret Miller, determined by public vote.
Best Feature Film: ‘THE VIETNAM WAR’ by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, determined by public vote.
WYCE ArtPrize Song of the Year: ‘Do It 4 the Love’ by The Great Ones, determined by public vote.
Youth Collaboration Award: ‘You Be You’ at DeVos Place Convention Center, by Hudsonville Public Schools, determined by public vote.
Contemporary Black Art Award: ‘Searching’ at The Fed Galleries @ KCAD, Kendall College of Art and Design, by Le’Andra LeSeur from Jersey City, NJ, determined by independent jury.
Artista Latino Award: ‘Lux Maximus Fused Glass, Copper, Bronze and Metal’ at Grand Rapids Public Museum, by Daniel Oropeza from Costa Mesa, CA, determined by public vote.
Asian Artist Award: ‘Grandfather’s Friend, and Arrival Times’ at Amway Grand Plaza, by Warren King from New York, NY, determined by public vote.
Asian Artist Award: ‘Owl’ at Grand Rapids Police Department, by YanFang Inlow from Alameda, CA, determined by public vote.
Fountain Street Church and American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan Social Justice Award: ‘Flint’ at Fountain Street Church, by Ti-Rock Moore from New Orleans, LA, determined by independent jury.
Fountain Street Church and American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan Social Justice Award: ‘State of Exception’ at Fountain Street Church, by Patrick Foran from Buffalo, NY, determined by independent jury.
Veteran’s Public Vote Award: ‘Crowns of Courage’ at DeVos Place Convention Center, by Steven Stone, Amanda Gilbert and Dave Burgess from Grand Rapids, MI.
Veteran’s Juried Award: ‘YD 1342 8648’ at 20 Monroe Live, by Matias Garcia Jr. from Fulton, NY.
9/8/17 – What You Can Do If Your Personal Information Was Compromised
An estimated 143 million Americans may have had their personal information compromised due to a breach at Equifax. The company is one of the three largest credit bureaus used to determine credit worthiness. Equifax has set up this website to address the problem: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com
- Once you are at the website click on the link “Potential Impact”
- On this web page you’ll see a large red button that says, “Check Potential Impact” – click on that link and follow the directions.
If you do find that your information may have been compromised, contact Equifax. They are offering a free year of credit monitoring but do remember you are free to choose another monitoring service.
8-28-17 – Relief Agencies Helping Assist in Disaster Response
LOCAL DISASTER RELIEF
Christian Reformed Church/Reformed Church – World Renew
Keys for Kids
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
West Michigan Catholic Churches
NATIONAL DISASTER RELIEF