1/19/18 – Senate Democrats Put Stake in Ground on DACA

While the US House passed a resolution to keep the government running into February, Senate Democrats plan to filibuster the funding bill.  Senate leadership announced they’ll stall over DACA, the act put into place under the Obama administration to prevent the deportation of illegal immigrants children who were brought into the country when their parents entered illegally.

Democrats have been pressured by DACA supporters in the past but have not moved on the issue earlier this session.  In the past, Republicans have been blamed more for government shutdowns that only furlough non-essential personnel.  Social Security checks will still go out and essential services will continue.  Furloughed employees have always been paid after the government “resumes” operations.

Republicans would need all of their members plus 10 Democrats to join them to defeat the filibuster that’s expected.

1/19/18 – Missing Boy Found Safe in Walker

Walker police say a young boy with Down Syndrome walked away from home last night but has been found safe.  The 13-year old apparently left his home in the 2100 block of Richview Avenue around 6:30pm Thursday evening.  While temperatures were in the upper 20’s and lower 30’s, it was still difficult to be outside.

Through a  coordinated effort with Walker PD, Kent County Search and Rescue, family, friends and neighbors, the boy was found safe about two miles from home.  Police say he was found around 8:15pm and taken to a local hospital as a precaution for hypothermia.

Police are thanking the public for their concern and assistance.

1/19/18 – MI Senate Leadership Joins Chorus Calling for Simon Ouster

Michigan Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekof and Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich have now publicly called for Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon to step down.  On Thursday, the pair who are often at odds politically, issued a joint statement saying they have lost confidence in Simon after Larry Nassar’s conviction on hundreds of abuse crimes.  Nassar was a doctor for USA Gymnastics but also a trainer and part-time professor at MSU at the time of the abuse cases.

The statement reads in part: “In light of recent news, it is clear that the Michigan State University Board of Trustees should act swiftly to remove President Simon from her position at MSU.  The Senate has lost confidence in President Simon’s ability to lead one of our state’s finest universities. The MSU community deserves better …”

Simon has faced criticism from various groups including abusive victims, families, other lawmakers and the press.  The MSU Board of Trustees has remained behind her and offered her a raise in December.  Simon directed the raise into a scholarship.

1/19/18 – Historic Relationship in Gymnastics Ends in Nassar Saga

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — USA Gymnastics is ending its long relationship with the Karolyi Ranch.

The organization announced Thursday that it has terminated its agreement to have the ranch outside of Huntsville, Texas, serve as the National Training Center. The decision came three days after Olympic champion Simone Biles expressed dismay at having to attend camps there, where Biles says she was sexually abused by a former national team doctor.

The ranch is the home of former national team coordinator Martha Karolyi and her husband, Bela. USA Gymnastics initially agreed to buy the training facility in August 2016 then backed out of the agreement following an investigation into sexual abuse by former national team doctor Larry Nassar.

Nassar has already been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison and is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to molesting girls at Michigan State University and his home.

1/18/18 – Grand Rapids “School Choice Expo & Winter Carnival”

The School Choice Expo and Winter Carnival is a free family friendly event offering GRPS students, their families, and prospective families the opportunity to learn about school choices while enjoying a fun winter celebration. Children’s activities include bounce house, games and activities, and prizes. Free dinner is also provided.

Grand Rapids Public Schools offers the largest selection of school choices in all of West Michigan, including many theme schools and Centers of Innovation. Theme schools offer the core curriculum through a unique lens, including environmental science, arts and music, global studies, leadership, Montessori, International Baccalaureate, and more. In many theme schools, students have the opportunity for place based education and exciting extracurricular programming to enhance their learning.

Centers of Innovation are unique public-private partnerships that offer students a rigorous classroom education along with opportunities to connect with professional mentors, complete job shadowing and internships, and earn college and trade school credits or career certification to prepare them for in-demand, high paying careers.

Principals from each theme school and Center of Innovation will be at the School Choice Expo and Winter Carnival to share information about their school, showcase what makes them unique, and answer any questions parents and students may have.

Seats are limited and applications are required for these schools. The application deadline is January 31, 2018. Applications are available online at apply.grps.org. A paper application is available at any GRPS school or the GRPS Administration Building, located at 1331 Franklin St SE. Applications are available in English and Spanish.

WHAT:     School Choice Expo and Winter Carnival

WHEN:     Thursday, January 18, 2018; 4:00-6:00 pm

WHERE:   Innovation Central

421 Fountain Street NE

Grand Rapids, MI 49503

COST:      Free!

1/18/18 – Michigan Senate OKs tax cut that goes further than ‘fix’

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Senate has approved a tax cut that goes further than fixing an unintended consequence of the federal tax overhaul.

A bill approved unanimously Wednesday and sent to the House would gradually raise Michigan’s personal tax exemption to $5,000, with future inflationary adjustments. That’s $700 more than what it will rise to currently, equating to an annual $30 tax cut per individual.

The Senate also plans to vote next week to create a state tax credit for dependent care, such as caring for children or elderly parents.

A couple with two dependents would save $490 a year.

Gov. Rick Snyder has proposed keeping intact and boosting Michigan’s personal tax exemption to offset unintended consequence of the federal tax cuts. But his administration has budgetary concerns with major tax cuts.

1/18/18 – Study: Overhaul is needed of how Michigan funds schools

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A new study says the base cost to educate a regular K-12 student in Michigan is $9,590.

That figure doesn’t include transportation, food or capital costs.

The report released Wednesday was funded by foundations and school groups. It says traditional and charter public schools should be funded equally, and transportation costs should be funded at $973 per rider.

The School Finance Research Collaborative — whose members also include former lawmakers — didn’t analyze how its proposals compare with existing funding. But the study suggests an overhaul is needed and says the base cost figure is the most important factor in new school-finance systems.

Researchers say there’s been too much focus on “equity” in funding when costs vary drastically depending on the district’s size, students living in poverty and other factors.

1/18/18 – Detroit church offers sanctuary to man facing deportation

DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit church is giving sanctuary to a Michigan man who is facing deportation to Albania.

Central United Methodist Church is offering sanctuary to 48-year-old Ded Rranxburgaj of Southgate, who is scheduled to be deported Jan. 25. The church declared itself a sanctuary church in 2017.

Rranxburgaj came to the U.S. with his wife 17 years ago. Rranxburgaj says he was granted temporary humanitarian status after his wife was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis more than a decade ago. He says he has no criminal record and has been working with immigration officials to gain legal status.

Immigration officials told Rranxburgaj in October that he was going to be deported because of tightening immigration enforcement under President Donald Trump’s administration.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Khaalid Walls said in an email Wednesday he expects to have information about the case Wednesday.

1/18/18 – Feared norovirus outbreak closes Grand Rapids campus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Davenport University says it’s closing its main campus in Grand Rapids until Monday after about 100 students there may have contracted a norovirus.

Davenport announced Wednesday the 3,000-student campus will closed Thursday through Sunday. It says all athletic events scheduled to occur on the campus over the next three days also have been cancelled or postponed.

The school says students started reporting illnesses over the weekend. Those showing symptoms have been asked to remain isolated from others.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says norovirus is a contagious virus that can be contracted through contaminated food or water, by touching contaminated surfaces or from an infected person. Symptoms typically include a sudden bout of vomiting, watery diarrhea with abdominal cramps and nausea.

1/18/18 – Veto override

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder has responded to lawmakers’ first override of legislation he vetoed by questioning how they plan to budget for the speedier tax cut for car buyers and a separate tax cut.

The Republican governor issued a statement Wednesday saying that “changing the tax code without a plan to pay for it challenges the conservative fiscal responsibility of the past seven years.”

In overriding Snyder, the Republican-led Legislature voted to speed up an existing law that lets those who purchase a car or RV subtract the value of their trade-in from the sales price of a new one for tax purposes. The legislation more quickly phases in how much of the trade-in value can be deducted.

Lawmakers say car buyers deserve a break from the “double tax.”

Snyder counters that under his watch, Michigan already is phasing out personal property taxes on businesses and increasing the property tax exemption for homeowners. The Senate on Wednesday also voted to raise Michigan’s personal income tax exemption.

1/17/18 – Whitecaps want your suggestions

COMSTOCK PARK, MI – As Old Man Winter has his grips on West Michigan, our thoughts drift toward warmer things: 75 degree days, trips to the beach and nights at Fifth Third Ballpark. Of course, when thinking about attending a Whitecaps game, you immediately think of ballpark food!

Deciding among the many great concession items can be overwhelming. So, starting today we’re helping with this decision by asking fans to submit ideas for what new food item they would like to have at Fifth Third Ballpark this year.

This is the ninth year that a food item submitted by fans will be on the menu. Past winners include the Declaration of Indigestion (footlong combination of stadium sausage and Philly Cheese Steak), Baco (a taco shell made of bacon), Dutch Love (combination of pot roast, cheese curds, French fries and turkey gravy), and last year’s winner, Beercheese Poutine (a heavenly combination of waffle fries, pulled pork, beer cheese and bbq sauce). The Beerchesse Poutine is such an unbelievably delicious combination that it took home Ballpark Digest’s “Best New Food Item” for 2017!

“The ideas we see from fans can get really crazy!” said Whitecaps Vice President Jim Jarecki. “The submissions from the fans show their passion for interesting foods, and it just blows us away every year.”

Submissions will be taken through Wednesday, January 31st. They can be made via e-mail at playball@whitecapsbaseball.com or through this link, which will also be available on the Whitecaps website, Facebook page, Twitter account and Instagram account. All submissions should be accompanied by a complete description and a picture, if possible.

The food idea submissions will then be pared down, and starting Tuesday, February 27th fans will be able to vote for their choice for the new 2018 concessions item. Voting will take place on the Whitecaps website, www.whitecapsbaseball.com. The winning entry will be on the menu for all fans to enjoy.

The Whitecaps open their 25th season on Thursday, April 5 against the South Bend Cubs at 6:35 pm. Season and group tickets are now on sale; individual tickets will go on sale in February. Complete ticket information, including season and group ticket prices and perks, is available at www.whitecapsbaseball.com.

 

1/17/18 – Another budget deadline draws near

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers are trying to come up with a plan to prevent a weekend government shutdown, saying GOP leaders now lack the votes to push their proposal through the House.

The setback comes as a deal between President Donald Trump and Congress to protect young immigrants from deportation also remains distant.

They are racing against a Friday deadline for pushing a short-term spending bill through Congress. If they fail, federal agencies will start shutting their doors over the weekend.

North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, the leader of the Freedom Caucus, says its members want added money for the military in the short-term spending bill.

1/17/18 – Cold and snow hit the South again

(AP) – The frigid air that brought snow and ice to the South has ushered in record-breaking low temperatures for New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as well as other cities in the South.

The National Weather Service said it was 21 degrees (-6 Celsius) before dawn Wednesday in New Orleans. That breaks the city’s record low temperature for the date, which was 23 degrees (-5 Celsius) set in 1977.

Baton Rouge also is seeing record-breaking temperatures. It was 15 degrees (-4 Celsius) there before dawn, breaking the record of 18 degrees (-8 Celsius) from 1977.

In Mississippi, the temperature in Hattiesburg dipped to 13 degrees (-11 Celsius) early Wednesday, breaking the previous record low of 14 (-10 Celsius). In the capital city of Jackson Wednesday morning, the temperature was hovering just above the city’s record low of 10 degrees (-12 Celsius).

 

Major delays are being reported at the world’s busiest airport in Atlanta.

The Federal Aviation Administration said early Wednesday that snow and ice have prompted officials to delay takeoffs. Some arriving flights also are being delayed more than an hour.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport said in a statement last night that crews were de-icing airplanes as wintry weather moved into metro Atlanta.

The flight tracking service FlightAware.com early Wednesday reported 90-minute delays at the airport in Memphis, Tennessee, a major hub in the U.S. air transportation system.

A wintry mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain has blanketed a large area of the South  stretching from southeastern Texas all the way to western Massachusetts. Many Governors are issuing a State-of-Emergency and telling people to stay home.

 

1/17/18 – Meteor?: Bright light, loud noise rattle Michigan residents

DETROIT (AP) — The National Weather Service says the bright light and what sounded like thunder in the sky across Michigan  may have been a meteor.

Meteorologist Jordan Dale says the weather service hasn’t been able to confirm that it was a meteor despite reports and videos received by the agency late Tuesday. But he says “it was not thunder or lightning or weather-related.”

Some residents reported their homes shaking.

The weather service and 9-1-1 dispatchers  say they received a number of calls.

Dale says the weather service is trying to determine what caused the light and noise, calling it “a rare occurrence.”

There were reports of the light being spotted Tuesday night from Michigan, to Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio and farther east.

Meanwhile the U.S. Geological Survey, reported a 2.0 magnitude earthquake near New Haven, Michigan about the time the light was seen.  The earthquake was very weak and occurred on the surface which means the loud sound could have produced a “shock wave”, or it could be part of the meteor’s impact.

1/16/18 – US allies from Korean War meet

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson huddles Tuesday with nations that fought on America’s side in the Korean War, looking to increase economic pressure on North Korea over its nuclear weapons even as hopes rise for diplomacy.

The 20-nation gathering in Vancouver comes days after a mistaken missile alert caused panic on Hawaii, a stark reminder of the fears of conflict with the North.

The meeting is hosted by Tillerson and his Canadian counterpart, Chrystia Freeland.

It was called before the recent start of talks between North and South Korea, the first in two years. President Donald Trump has also signaled openness to talks under the right circumstances.

Officials will discuss sanctions, preventing the spread of weapons by North Korea, and diplomatic options.

1/16/18 – Brawny pickups, futuristic SUVs star at Detroit auto show

DETROIT (AP) — It’s the year of the pickup truck at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit as General Motors, Fiat Chrysler and Ford unveil new trucks in a fast-growing and highly competitive U.S. auto market.

Fiat Chrysler will roll out a redesigned Ram truck, while GM’s Chevrolet brand is showing off the new Silverado. It’s the first time in at least 29 years that show organizers can remember two Detroit automakers unveiling new full-size trucks at the same Detroit event. Also, Ford is re-entering the small pickup market with a new version of the Ranger.

There also are concept SUVs from Nissan, Acura and Lexus that will show off the looks of utility vehicles of the future. And there are real SUVs too, from BMW, Jeep and Mercedes-Benz.

 

1/16/18 – Weight of fill material led to huge gas line fire

ORION TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan utility says the weight of 21 feet of fill material was responsible for a November gas line rupture and massive fire in Oakland County’s Orion Township.

Jackson-based Consumers Energy says Monday in a statement that the weight of the material “stressed the pipeline and caused it to sag due to the compressibility of the supporting organic soil layer.”

The utility says the material was added by a third party.

The fire started Nov. 20 on vacant land about 30 miles north of Detroit. The blaze eventually burned itself out. No injuries were reported.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said the office’s phone lines, including 911, were down as a result of the fire.

 1/16/18 – Michigan teachers union endorses Whitmer for governor

DETROIT (AP) — The Michigan Education Association has endorsed Gretchen Whitmer for governor.

The approximately 140,000-member union announced its support for Whitmer on Monday. It represents teachers, support staff, higher education faculty and staff and retirees across Michigan.

MEA President Paula Herbart said Whitmer’s support for educators and her commitment to the success of Michigan students makes her the strongest candidate for governor. As Senate Democratic leader, she opposed legislation that took 3 percent out of educator’s paychecks to pay for retiree health care.

Whitmer’s mother taught in the Lansing Public Schools, her grandmother taught in Waterford, and her grandfather was a superintendent in Pontiac.

The teachers union chose Whitmer over three other Democrats: scientist and businessman Shri Thanedar, ex-Detroit health director Abdul El-Sayed and former Xerox executive Bill Cobbs.

1/16/18 – Sports doctor will face dozens of his assault victims

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A judge is holding an extraordinary four-day sentencing hearing for a disgraced Michigan sports doctor who sexually assaulted young elite gymnasts.

Larry Nassar is returning to court Tuesday in Lansing. Dozens of women and girls who were victims will be allowed to speak. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina is expected to order a sentence Friday.

Nassar pleaded guilty to molesting females with his hands at his Michigan State University office, his home and a Lansing-area gymnastics club. He also worked for USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians.

The Michigan attorney general’s office is seeking at least 40 years in prison for the 54-year-old Nassar. He’s already been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for child pornography crimes.

Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles on Monday said she was among the athletes sexually abused by Nassar.

1/15/18 – Panic in Hawaii

HONOLULU (AP) — For many Hawaii residents, the ballistic missile false alarm was a preparedness wakeup call.

State officials have been trying to tell residents for months that if there is a missile headed for the islands, there will be little time to do much more than to get inside, stay inside and stay tuned. But that message didn’t seem to sink in until after the false alarm.

Residents and tourists remained rattled Sunday, a day after the mistaken alert was blasted out to cellphones across the islands with a warning to seek immediate shelter.

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission says it appears the Hawaii government didn’t have reasonable safeguards in place that would have prevented the transmission of a false alert.

1/15/18 – Foundations contribute $860,000 to greenway campaign

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (AP) — Two western Michigan foundations have together contributed $860,000 toward a trail effort that would connect Grand Haven in Ottawa County to Millennium Park in Kent County.

The Grand Haven Tribune reports that the funding for the Grand River Greenway Campaign came from the Grand Rapids-based Wege and Frey foundations.

A completed trail also would connect recreational areas between Grand Haven and Millennium Park.

The Ottawa County Parks Foundation plans to acquire 700 acres (283 hectares) of additional land and construct 27 miles (43 kilometers) of new trail. The newspaper reports that it will require $21 million in funding. The parks foundation is seeking $7.2 million in philanthropic gifts to leverage anticipated public funding.

1/15/18 – Rising Great Lakes water levels keep Michigan companies busy

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Rising water levels in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are keeping shoreline stabilization, dock and hoist companies in Michigan busy.

The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports that the Army Corps of Engineers says water levels for the two lakes averaged 580 feet in December, nearly two feet higher than the long-term average.

Officials predict water levels will have an overall increase of 4 to 6 inches this year.

Brandon Oaks owns the Silver Lake area-based Pure Harbor Dock and Boat. He says the rising levels means he constantly has work removing old docks and designing new ones that will clear the water.

Army Corps of Engineers Detroit district watershed hydrology chief Keith Kompoltowicz says water levels depend on snow accumulation across the Great Lakes basin and ice on the lakes.

 

1/15/18 – MLK Day

DETROIT (AP) — Numerous events are scheduled around Michigan to celebrate the birthday of slain civil rights icon the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

A rally and march are to start at noon Monday at Central United Methodist Church in Detroit, while volunteers will join the AmeriCorps Urban Safety Program by boarding up vacant houses on walking routes to a Detroit school.

The 33rd annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Peace Walk Celebration starts at 9 a.m. at Hope United Methodist Church in Southfield, north of Detroit.

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee founding member Diana Nash will speak at Lansing’s MLK Day event and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor will hold an annual symposium.

President Ronald Reagan signed a 1983 bill establishing the federal holiday which first was observed in 1986.

Some schools will be closed today.

All major retail stores should be open.

There will be no regular mail delivery today but UPS and FedEx will operate.

Closed today will be most banks and courts.

1/15/18 – Soo Locks to close for winter

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (AP) — The Great Lakes navigational locks at Sault Ste. Marie will close for the winter season Monday, enabling the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to handle a variety of maintenance projects.

The Soo Locks are located on the St. Marys River, which links Lakes Huron and Superior. More than 4,500 vessels haul up to 80 million tons of cargo, including iron ore, coal, wheat and limestone, through the locks each year.

During the seasonal shutdown, crews will upgrade or replace seals, valves, gears and other crucial parts of the Poe and MacArthur locks.

District engineer Lt. Col. Dennis Sugrue says the Army Corps puts a high priority on keeping the locks operating safely and reliably.

The locks are scheduled to reopen March 26.

 1/15/18 – Brawny pickups, futuristic SUVs star at Detroit auto show

DETROIT (AP) — It’s the year of the pickup truck at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit as General Motors, Fiat Chrysler and Ford unveil new trucks in a fast-growing and highly competitive U.S. auto market.

Fiat Chrysler will roll out a redesigned Ram truck, while GM’s Chevrolet brand is showing off the new Silverado. It’s the first time in at least 29 years that show organizers can remember two Detroit automakers unveiling new full-size trucks at the same Detroit event. Also, Ford is re-entering the small pickup market with a new version of the Ranger.

There also are concept SUVs from Nissan, Acura and Lexus that will show off the looks of utility vehicles of the future. And there are real SUVs too, from BMW, Jeep and Mercedes-Benz.

 

Ford Motor Co. says it’s doubling its investment in electric and hybrid vehicles and plans to introduce 40 by 2022.

Among them: A hybrid version of the F-150 pickup truck that is due out in 2020.

In 2015, Ford pledged to invest $4.5 billion to develop 13 electric and hybrid vehicles by 2020. At the Detroit auto show Sunday, the company says it’s doubling that to $11 billion. It plans to bring out 24 hybrids and 16 electric vehicles by 2022. Ford’s global markets chief says many current Ford vehicles, like its best-selling F-150, will get hybrid or electric versions.

“We want to make a statement about the company that we’re electrifying our iconic vehicles,” Farley says.

 

 

 

 

1/12/18 – Grand Rapids Remodeling and New Homes Show

The Grand Rapids Remodeling and New Homes Show takes place this weekend at the DeVos Place.                                                                     Those thinking of doing some remodeling of their current home or building a brand new one will find information available. There will be a number of seminars and exhibitors to provide helpful details and answer questions you my have.                                                                           The show takes place Friday (Noon – 9pm),   Saturday (10am – 9pm) and then Sunday (11am until 5pm).

More information is available at: buildremodelgr.com.

 

 

 

 

 1/12/18 – Ferry on St. Clair River shut down after ice damages dock

MARINE CITY, Mich. (AP) — A ferry connecting cities in the U.S. and Canada across the St. Clair River has been shut down indefinitely due to damage by an ice jam to its Canadian dock.

The Times Herald of Port Huron reports owners of the Bluewater Ferry announced the closure Thursday and aren’t sure when the ferry connecting Marine City, Michigan, and Sombra, Ontario, will resume operations. Extensive structural damage is reported at the dock.

Rob Dalgety, who owns the ferry with his brother, says contractors planned to assess the damage Friday and determine what steps are needed next. He says traffic on the ferry is typically slow this time of year, though it’s used daily by workers crossing the border.

Ice jams along the St. Clair River have caused some recent flooding as well.

 

 

 

 

 

1/12/18 – Michigan tax revenue projections see little change

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s tax revenue projections have changed little since eight months ago, meaning Gov. Rick Snyder and lawmakers are seeing no big surprises as they prepare to work on the next state budget.

The Snyder administration and legislative economists agreed to revised numbers Thursday. Combined revenue in the $23billion school aid and general funds is just $13.1 million more than previously estimated for the current fiscal year and $16.4 million lower than past estimates for the next budget year.

Economists are projecting steady economic growth in coming years along with wages and salaries growing by more than inflation.

The Republican governor will propose his budget in February. Talk of a tax cut is growing in the GOP-led Legislature.

 

1/12/18 – FCA to invest $1B in Michigan plant, pay out bonuses

DETROIT (AP) — Fiat Chrysler is moving production of heavy-duty trucks from Mexico to Michigan and paying bonuses to U.S. workers in response to the passage of U.S. tax reform late last year.

The automaker will invest $1 billion in its Warren Truck Assembly Plant to make the Ram Heavy Duty Truck starting in 2020. That truck is currently made in Saltillo, Mexico, where workers will continue to make commercial vehicles.

FCA says the Warren plant will add 2,500 new jobs.

The company also plans to pay $2,000 bonuses this spring to about 60,000 hourly and salaried U.S. employees. Senior executives won’t get the bonus.

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne says the company should adjust its manufacturing footprint to reflect “improvement in the U.S. business environment.” He says employees should also share in the tax savings.

 1/12/18 – Michigan State effort to help low-income science students

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State University says it’s rolling out scholarships over the next several years for low-income students who studied natural science at community colleges.

The East Lansing school says it aims to boost the quantity and quality of such students studying science, technology, engineering and math, and completing four-year degrees. Program officials say it is “essential” to broaden participation in the STEM fields and diversify the workforce.

Community college students transferring to Michigan State will get financial and academic support as well as professional development. The university is working with Mott Community College in Flint and Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor.

Money for the scholarships comes from a $4.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

The program is expected to start this fall and run through 2022.

 

 

 

 

 

1/12/18 – Parks to get additional funding

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan officials are recommending funding for 19 community and state parks, trails and sports facilities.

They would share more than $2.7 million from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is supported by revenues from gas and oil development from the outer continental shelf. A pot of money from the fund is divided among the states each year.

Funded projects are intended to broaden access to quality public outdoor recreation.

The state Department of Natural Resources endorsed a list of Michigan projects. It will be sent to the National Park Service for approval.

The list is available online .

1/12/18 – Michigan lawmakers to get more training

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Legislature is mandating more frequent sexual harassment training amid the national reckoning with sexual misconduct.

Until now, lawmakers were required to receive anti-harassment training after they were first elected to the House or Senate. Starting next week in the Senate and in February in the House, all legislators and staff will be required to attend training once a year.

The Legislature so far has not seen lawmakers publicly accused by name of sexual misconduct like in other statehouses across the country.

But some prominent political figures have detailed inappropriate behavior  and that women are reluctant to come forward.

1/11/17 – Hundreds search for victims of California mudslide

MONTECITO, Calif. (AP) — Hundreds of searchers are still hunting for survivors of the flash flooding and mudslides near Santa Barbara, California.

They slogged through ooze and poked long holes into the mud on Wednesday as they searched for victims a day after the massive debris flow passed through.

The death toll from Tuesday’s pre-dawn flash flood rose to 17 as more bodies were found. Another 17 were still reported missing.

Authorities are hoped to find them alive.

By Wednesday, some 500 searchers had covered about 75 percent of the inundated area in the search for victims.

1/11/18 – Iran-Iraq quakes not unusual

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey has confirmed that so far, seven separate earthquakes have struck along the Iran-Iraq border area in the morning hours. The scientist says it appears that all are aftershocks from a November temblor that killed over 530 people.

Geophysicist Randy Baldwin told The Associated Press on Thursday that such quakes should be expected in the region after the November 7.2 magnitude temblor.

Baldwin, speaking from Golden, Colorado, said that “it’s ongoing activity there. … If there was a stressed fault that’s ready to move, they happen like that until the stresses are relieved, so it’s not too unusual.”

The USGS says the preliminary magnitude of six of the temblors was at least 5, while the seventh was a magnitude 4.

 

 

1/11/18 –  US resisting Feb. 2 deadline for bond hearings for Iraqis

DETROIT (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department is asking for more time to comply with an order that would likely lead to the release of hundreds of Iraqi nationals who are under deportation orders.

In a court filing Wednesday, the government says it can’t schedule bond hearings by Feb. 2 without delaying hearings for others who are not part of the case. It wants 30 more days to comply with a decision by Detroit federal Judge Mark Goldsmith.

Goldsmith has blocked the deportation of 1,400 Iraqi nationals with criminal records so they can challenge their removal. Nearly 300 are jailed or in U.S. detention centers in about two dozen states.

The judge says anyone who has been held for six months should be released on bond unless they’re a public safety risk.

 

 

 

 

1/11/18 – Michigan sues company over chemical contaminants

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The state of Michigan has sued Wolverine World Wide over chemical contaminants in drinking water, saying the lawsuit is needed to formalize the footwear company’s response to the contamination and to reimburse the government for past and future costs.

The suit was filed Wednesday in federal court.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says while the Rockford, Michigan-based company has been cooperative, a judge should still order Wolverine to prevent endangerment to public health, abate the contamination and pay state enforcement and other costs.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, have been detected at or near an old tannery and a dump site north of Grand Rapids. Seventy-eight residential drinking wells have tested above an advisory standard.

Wolverine says the suit was anticipated and it’s working collaboratively with regulators.

1/10/18 – California storm, mudslides kill 13

MONTECITO, Calif. (AP) — A storm that slammed a California coastal community is over. The search for its victims is not.

Authorities in Santa Barbara County were still trying to reach new areas and dig into the destruction to find dead, injured or trapped people after a powerful mud flow swept away dozens of homes.

At least 13 people were confirmed dead Tuesday, at least 25 were injured and at least 50 had to be rescued by helicopters.

Those numbers could increase when the search is deepened and expanded Wednesday, with a major search-and-rescue team arriving from nearby Los Angeles County and help from the Coast Guard and National Guard along with law enforcement.

They’ll focus first on finding survivors.

“Right now our assets are focused on determining if anyone is still alive in any of those structures that have been damaged,” Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said.

The sheriff said “at least several dozen homes that have been either destroyed or severely damaged, and likely many other ones are in areas that are as-yet inaccessible.”

He said it’s likely they’ll find more people amid that destruction.

The search for the missing — whose numbers are uncertain — will continue through the night and then intensify after daylight Wednesday, authorities said.

1/10/18 – Carl Levin will try to broker deals in Flint water lawsuits

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — A judge says she plans to appoint former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin as a mediator in lawsuits related to the Flint water crisis.

Federal Judge Judith Levy says Levin would work with former Wayne County Judge Pamela Harwood. Levin represented Michigan in the U.S. Senate for more than 30 years before retiring in 2015.

Levy is overseeing much of the litigation related to Flint’s lead-tainted water. She’s meeting with lawyers again Thursday. Residents are suing city and state officials as well as companies that were hired to analyze the city’s water system.

In 2014 and 2015, Flint didn’t properly treat corrosive water that was pulled from the Flint River. As a result, lead in old pipes contaminated the water.

1/10/18 –  Workplace shooting leaves owner dead, employee wounded

CLINTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — The 61-year-old owner of a suburban Detroit fence company has been shot to death by one of his employees who also wounded a co-worker.

Clinton Township police Capt. Richard Maierle tells The Detroit News that the shootings occurred about 8:40 a.m. Tuesday at Reliable Fence and started with “an ongoing issue between the employees.”

A 34-year-old man was shot first. Maierle says that the gun went off and shot the man who died when other employees rushed over and tried to grab the weapon from a 24-year-old worker.

The 24-year-old man drove away, but crashed a mile or so away. He was arrested after leading officers on a foot chase.

WXYZ-TV reports that the wounded man was in critical condition at a hospital.

 

 

 

 

 

1/10/18 – Michigan sets standard for chemical contaminant in water

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan environmental regulators have adopted a state standard for emerging chemical contaminants that are being found in drinking water, a move they say will let them take regulatory enforcement actions against responsible parties.

The combined criteria for perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctanesfulfonic acid is 70 parts per trillion. That mirrors a federal advisory level set in 2016.

Department of Environmental Quality Director Heidi Grether said Tuesday having a state standard enables the state to issue violation notices and take legal action against parties who do not comply with cleaning up contaminated sites.

The chemicals were long used in firefighting, waterproofing, carpeting and other products. They have been identified at 28 sites in 14 Michigan communities, including near where footwear company Wolverine World Wild dumped waste decades ago north of Grand Rapids.

1/9/18 – Michigan Provides Data On State Schools Online

LANSING – Parents now have their own online dashboard that shows the performance of all K-12 public schools in Michigan and represents a new, improved level of transparency, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) announced today.

 

The Parent Dashboard for School Transparency, available at www.MISchoolData.org/ParentDashboard, is a combined effort of MDE and the Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI) – based on significant parent feedback on its planning, content, and design.

 

After the State Board of Education (SBE) adopted the Parent Dashboard school transparency concept last summer, the website was unveiled at the monthly Board meeting today.

 

This Parent Dashboard is an integral component of the state’s Strategic Plan to make Michigan a Top 10 education state in 10 years. It builds on the Strategic Partnership with Parents, Families, and Community Services that encourages and promotes meaningful, authentic engagement with parents and families.

 

“Parents asked and we listened,” said State Superintendent Brian Whiston. “I’m very pleased to make the Parent Dashboard available to parents and other Michigan education stakeholders who want a more complete picture of how their local schools are serving children.”

 

Whiston emphasized that the dashboard provides school building-level data important to parents or caregivers wanting to check the performance of their child’s school.

 

CEPI Director Tom Howell said the Parent Dashboard shows nearly 20 separate measures that parents say are important to them.

 

1/9/18 – US seeks dismissal of lawsuit over Marine recruit’s death

DETROIT (AP) — The U.S. government is asking a judge to dismiss a $100 million lawsuit over the death of a Marine recruit from Michigan.

The government says military injuries or deaths can’t be turned into federal litigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Zak Toomey says Raheel Siddiqui’s (Sa-DEE’-kee) death was a “tragedy,” and the U.S. Marines Corps has taken it “extremely seriously.”

Twenty-year-old Siddiqui died in 2016 in Parris Island, South Carolina. The Marine Corps said he took his own life by jumping from a stairwell after a confrontation with a drill instructor. The Corps also said it uncovered widespread hazing of recruits and young drill instructors dating back to 2015.

Siddiqui was from Taylor, Michigan. Attorney Shiraz Khan says the Marines withheld information about conditions at Parris Island.

A judge is meeting both sides on Jan. 18.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1/9/18 – Republican gubernatorial candidates plan town hall forums

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Republican gubernatorial candidates Brian Calley and Patrick Colbeck plan to participate in a series of town hall forums where voters can ask questions.

Details on dates, locations and formats have yet to be worked out, but Calley — the lieutenant governor — said Monday he’s envisioning one event per week for six weeks over January and February. Colbeck, a state senator, says GOP candidate Dr. Jim Hines will also participate.

A campaign spokeswoman for Attorney General Bill Schuette says he doesn’t plan to join the forums but “looks forward to debates and town halls as this campaign progresses.”

The GOP primary is in August. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder can’t run again due to term limits.

Calley says it’s important for voters to have a “side-by-side comparison” of Republican candidates.

1/9/18 – Michigan moves to boost personal state tax exemption

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration is proposing legislation so taxpayers can continue claiming Michigan’s personal exemption in the wake of the federal tax overhaul, and also is calling for a large state exemption increase.

The plan was first unveiled Monday by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, who is running for governor. The administration has warned that state taxes will rise if nothing is done. Calley tells The Associated Press that while 98 percent of the potential tax increase is because of how Michigan’s exemptions are linked to the U.S. tax code, Michigan’s personal exemption should be raised to address other issues such as the elimination of deductions for moving expenses.

Calley says the “simplest, most fair answer” to protect people is to increase Michigan’s $4,000 personal exemption to $4,500 by 2021.

1/9/18 – N. Korea restores military hotline with South

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean media say North Korea has restored a military hotline with the South, in the second reopening of a suspended inter-Korean communication channel in about a week.

All major inter-Korean communication channels had been shut down amid animosities over the North’s nuclear program in recent years. But North Korea reopened one of the channels last week as signs emerged of improving ties.

The two Koreas were holding rare talks at the border village of Panmunjom on Tuesday to discuss how to cooperate in next month’s Olympics in South Korea and improve their long-strained ties.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency cited an unidentified Seoul official as saying the North Korean delegation to the talks told South Korean negotiators that it had restored another communication channel.

1/9/18 – Orange ice cream bars recalled

DUNKIRK, N.Y. (Mlive)- A New York ice cream producer has recalled 320 cases of Meijer Purple Cow brand Orange Cream Bars.

Dunkirk-N.Y.-based Fieldbrook Foods Corporation issued the voluntary recall on Jan. 5 due to the possibility that the product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections.

The potential for contamination was noted after routine testing revealed the presence of the bacteria in another production lot that has been fully contained.

The recall is out of precaution for consumer health and food safety.  The company has suspended production and distribution of the product while it cooperates with the United States Food and Drug Administration to fully investigate the source of the problem.

The recalled Purple Cow Orange Cream Bars were sold in Meijer retail stores located in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, and Wisconsin, according to the FDA.

The product comes in a 12-ct. retail box and has a production date of Nov. 30, 2017 and a “best by” date of Nov. 30, 2018. No illnesses have been reported, but those who have purchased the product are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

1/8/18 – Air bag inflators

DETROIT (AP) — Japanese air bag maker Takata is recalling another 3.3 million faulty air bag inflators as it continues to expand the largest automotive recall in U.S. history.

The latest recalls cover frontal air bags in certain 2009, 2010 and 2013 vehicles. They’re made by Honda, Toyota, Audi, BMW, Daimler Vans, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Jaguar-Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Tesla.

Automakers will provide specific models in paperwork that will be filed later this month with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Notices of the expanded recalls were posted Saturday on the agency’s website.

Takata air bags can explode with too much force and hurl shrapnel into drivers and passengers. At least 20 people have been killed worldwide and more than 180 injured.

1/8/18 – Gas Prices-Michigan

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — AAA Michigan says gas prices statewide have declined by about 6 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 $2.63 per gallon. Prices are about 11 cents more than at the same point last year.

Michigan’s lowest average price was about $2.55 per gallon in the Bay City, Midland and Saginaw areas. The highest was about $2.66 per gallon in the Jackson area. It was the second consecutive week that the Jackson area had the highest average.

The Detroit-area’s average decreased about 3 cents to $2.64 per gallon.

AAA Michigan surveys daily fuel prices at 2,800 gas stations across the state.

1/8/18 – Boil Water Advisory

KALAMAZOO, MI (Mlive) — A precautionary advisory is being issued for municipal drinking water customers living in an area on the east side of Kalamazoo.

The city of Kalamazoo’s Department of Public Services is repairing a water main break on Shakespeare Avenue, between Lake Street and Stockbridge Avenue, that resulted in a temporary loss of pressure Sunday.

All water intended for drinking within the affected area should be boiled due to a temporary pressure loss that will occur within the water main during the repair.

Homes on both sides of the following streets impacted by the advisory:

  • Shakespeare Avenue – South from Lake Street to Clinton Avenue
  • E. Stockbridge Avenue – From western end of Street easterly to Schuster Avenue
  • Byron Avenue – From E. Stockbridge south to Egleston Avenue
  • Egleston Avenue – From Byron Avenue east to Schuster Avenue
  • Schuster Avenue – From Lake Street south to Clinton Avenue
  • Clinton Avenue – From Shakespeare Avenue to dead end east of Schuster Avenue

This advisory is precautionary. There have not been any confirmed tests showing bacteria present in the water main at the location of the break.

Initial sampling results will be available within 24 hours and the final set within 48 hours, according to a press release. The city expects the advisory will be lifted within 72 hours.

No special precautionary measures are necessary for water used for personal hygiene.

A Boil Water Advisory warns residents their drinking water may be contaminated. When a break occurs in a water main, or a complete loss of pressure in a significant part of the water system, there is the possibility for contaminants to enter into the water main while the repair is being completed.

1/5/18 – East Coast braces for a deep freeze following massive storm

BOSTON (AP) — East Coast residents are bracing for a deep freeze a day after a winter storm dumped as much as 18 inches of snow (46 centimeters) and unleashed bitter cold, hurricane-force winds and historic coastal flooding from the Carolinas to Maine.

Forecasters say Friday will bring a blast of record-breaking cold air and bitter winds that could make it feel as low as minus 15 degrees throughout much of the Northeast this weekend.

National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Hurley says mid-Atlantic states can expect temperatures in the teens while the Northeast’s coastal areas will see temperatures in the single digits.

He says the South won’t be spared the cold weather, either.

The frigid temperatures should persist through Sunday, when the Northeast residents will feel potentially record-breaking cold.

1/5/18 –Flights to resume Friday at Kennedy Airport

Flights suspended at John F. Kennedy International Airport because of a massive snowstorm are set to resume Friday.

Flights were suspended at JFK due to strong winds and whiteout conditions caused by a winter storm that has pummeled the East Coast with heavy snow and hurricane-force winds. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey says the flights will resume at 7 a.m.

Air traffic suspensions at LaGuardia Airport have been lifted, but authorities advise passengers to contact their airlines regarding specific flights.

The flight-tracking site FlightAware reports nearly 5,000 canceled flights across the United States. Those flights include more than two-thirds of flights in and out of New York City and Boston airports.

The storm roared up the East Coast and dumped as much as 18 inches (46 centimeters) of snow from the Carolinas to Maine. It also has unleashed record flooding.

1/5/18 – No charges after bar kicks out veteran, dog

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A prosecutor says no charges will be filed after a western Michigan bar asked a veteran and his service dog to leave the establishment in November.

Jerome Smith used the dog to manage post-traumatic stress disorder from his time as a Marine. Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker issued a legal opinion Thursday, saying Smith and the dog had the right to be in The Holiday Bar in Grand Rapids but the dog should have had a harness or leash.

The Americans with Disabilities Act allows a person with a disability to bring a service animal into businesses that serve the public. Businesses can ask a service animal to leave if they believe the animal’s behavior may threaten the health or safety of others.

The bar later issued an apology.

1/5/18 –  Michigan State Police community program seeks faith leaders

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State Police officials are seeking leaders from all faiths for a program aimed at fostering trust and improving public safety.

The program being expanded by the state police is dubbed CAUTION and stands for “Community Action United Team In Our Neighborhood.” Organizers say volunteers are designed to be a “quick response team for critical incidents” and a link between officers and residents.

Volunteers also receive training in areas including “ministering in a pluralistic environment” and “incident response and diffusing.”

The department’s Metro North Post in suburban Detroit issued a call this week for volunteers. CAUTION is recruiting religious leaders statewide after launching several years ago in Flint and then moving into other urban areas.

The program has been part of the “Secure Cities” effort to reduce violent crime.

 

 

 

 

 

1/4/18 – Meijer Gardens Announces 2018 Lineup

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, one of world’s most significant sculpture and botanic experiences, presents its 2018 calendar of events. Meijer Gardens continues to incorporate its core mission of exploring the duality of art and nature in the upcoming year’s events. Internationally acclaimed sculpture exhibitions, exciting horticulture shows, seasonal indoor and outdoor displays, concerts and educational programming are enjoyed by over 750,000 visitors annually.

We’ve included just some of the next few months activities.  For more information, visit meijergardens

 

Events & Exhibitions:

Orchid Show

January 27 – 28

Fee: Free

The Grand Room will be filled with beautiful orchids, competing for ribbons and the coveted American Orchid Society Awards. Purchase an orchid to take home as well as hard-to-find orchid growing supplies.

 

“Drawn Into Form: Sixty Years of Drawings and Prints by Beverly Pepper” exhibition

February 2 – April 29

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is honored to premiere a selection of 70 works from American sculptor Beverly Pepper from approximately the early 1950s through present day. From sketches capturing scenes of everyday life and landscape views to abstract explorations of space and form to technical drawings and independent prints, the exhibition will evidence one of the most profound artistic careers in recent memory. Born in 1922, Pepper is among the most prodigious and prolific sculptors in Contemporary art and a pioneering female force in the visual arts. Her career spans more than six decades and her work is found in many of the world’s most important public and private collections, including a significant number of civic and government plazas and courtyards across the United States and Europe. Timed to coincide with her 95th birthday, the ever-active artist has donated her entire body of graphic work to Meijer Gardens. Nearly 900 objects, including drawings, sketchbooks, prints and some models have been given, creating one of the most important resources for graphic work related to Contemporary sculpture anywhere in the world.

 

  • Five Great Women Sculptors

Sunday, March 18, 2 pm

Suzanne Eberle, Professor of Art History, Kendall College of Art & Design

Fee: Included with admission

 

Monumental sculpture is often closely associated with men. However, throughout the history of Modern sculpture many important female artists, including Beverly Pepper, have worked in a large scale. Join us for a discussion of five female sculptors, Beverly Pepper, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Louise Bourgeois, Barbara Hepworth, and Louise Nevelson – and their giant impression on the history of art.

 

  • A Maker’s Perspective: Artist-Led Gallery Walks

Tuesday, March 13, 6 pm

Mariel Versluis, Professor of Printmaking, Kendall College of Art & Design

Fee: Included with admission

 

Tuesday April 17, 6 pm

Adam Wolpa, Visual Artist specializing in printmaking

Fee: Included with admission

1/4/18 – Bob Young withdraws from US Senate race

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bob Young says he’s withdrawing from the field of Republicans seeking to defeat third-term Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow this year.

Young says in a statement Wednesday the GOP needs the “early selection of a consensus conservative candidate who will remain true to conservative values and the rule of law.” He says he’s “truly humbled and blessed” by the support he received.

Detroit-area business turnaround expert Sandy Pensler, businessman John James and historic preservationist Bob Carr seek Stabenow’s seat.

Young stepped down from the high court in April after serving there for 18 years. He was appointed to the state Supreme Court and state Court of Appeals by then-Gov. John Engler in the 1990s and later won elections to stay on the bench.

1/4/18 – Winter Storm claims 17 lives

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Residents across a huge swath of the U.S. are hunkering down, waiting out a massive winter storm packing snow, ice and high winds, followed by brutal cold, as it moves up the Eastern Seaboard.

The worst conditions stretch from the Carolinas to Maine, with the Northeast getting the brunt on Thursday.

It already has led to thousands of canceled flights and shuttered schools, as well as fears of outages and flooding.

Officials are urging residents to stay home so crews can clear streets and roads of what could be as much as foot or more of snow in some places. Boston could get as much as 14 inches.

The blast of winter weather and accompanying plunging temperatures has been linked to at least 17 deaths as far south as Texas.

 

 

 

1/4/18 – Trump on Bannon book

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says President Donald Trump was left feeling “furious” and “disgusted” after claims by his former top adviser Steve Bannon in a new book.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders complained Wednesday that the book contained “outrageous” and “completely false claims against the president, his administration and his family.”

Criticism by the White House was spurred by writer Michael Wolff that paints Trump as a leader who doesn’t understand the weight of the presidency.

1/4/18 – 3 cars on Amtrak train with 311 passengers derail

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — An Amtrak spokesman says three cars on a passenger train have derailed in Savannah, Georgia, but there were no injuries reported among the crew and 311 passengers aboard.

Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams says the Silver Meteor train No. 98 traveling from Miami to New York was backing slowly into the station about 10 p.m. Wednesday when two sleeper cars and a baggage car derailed. An emailed statement from Abrams early Thursday said the derailed cars remained fully upright and that the train was expected to continue its journey north.

Abrams says some of the sleeping car passengers were being put on a different train to continue their travel.

The statement didn’t say what caused the derailment in Savannah, where a rare snow slickened the coastal city Wednesday, hampering road travel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1/3/18 – Indian tribe sets Jan. 16 opening for new South Bend casino

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — An American Indian tribe is set to open its first Indiana casino to join three it already operates in southwestern Michigan.

The Pokagon  Band of Potawatomi  Indians announced Tuesday that the Four Winds South Bend casino will open to the public on Jan. 16. It will be Indiana’s first tribal casino.

The tribe says the casino will have about 1,800 games, four restaurants, three bars and employ about 1,200 people. The new casino is on South Bend’s southwest side, near the U.S. 31/20 bypass.

A study for the Casino Association of Indiana estimates the tribal casino will cut Indiana’s tax revenue by more $350 million in its first five years because it will reduce business at the state’s other casinos and won’t pay state gambling taxes.

1/3/18 – AAA Michigan says statewide average gas prices up 8 cents

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — AAA Michigan says gas prices statewide have gone up about 8 cents per gallon in the past week.

The Dearborn-based auto club said Tuesday the average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was about $2.68 a gallon. That price is 16 cents more than at the same time a year ago.

Michigan’s lowest average price was about $2.60 per gallon in the Marquette area. The highest was about $2.73 per gallon in the Jackson area.

The Detroit-area’s average rose about 4 cents to $2.67 per gallon.

AAA Michigan says the state has the country’s eighth most-expensive gasoline prices.

1/3/18 – Michigan tries to accommodate bikes

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — In the capital of the U.S. auto industry, drivers have been slow to accept that more Americans are choosing bicycles over cars for commuting or for fun and exercise.

Now Michigan is trying to make up for lost time by passing some of the nation’s strictest bike-safety regulations, including tough penalties on distracted motorists. While other states adopted bike-friendly safety laws in recent years, Michigan steered clear of the trend and watched as more riders got killed by cars.

If the proposals become law, Michigan cyclists would gain additional legal protections and motorists would have to wait for 5 feet of clearance before passing a bike — a wider berth than all but one other state.

Cyclists say it is time for the state with the Motor City to change.

1/3/18 –   Iraqi nationals challenging deportation win key ruling

DETROIT (AP) — Hundreds of Iraqi nationals held for months under U.S. deportation orders will get a shot at freedom while they fight their removal.

Detroit federal Judge Mark Goldsmith on Tuesday ordered immigration judges to release the detainees unless they’re a public safety risk. The order applies to people who have been held for at least six months.

The government must release detainees who don’t get a bond hearing by Feb. 2.

Goldsmith made some exceptions. He says a detainee can remain locked up if the government specifically explains why it objects.

In July, Goldsmith blocked the deportation of 1,400 Iraqi nationals to allow time to challenge their removal. But nearly 300 still are jailed or in detention centers in about two dozen states. The Trump administration wants them deported for crimes committed in the U.S.

1/3/18 – Winter storm forecast to dump snow from Florida to Carolinas

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Brutal winter weather is threatening to dump snow and ice on parts of the U.S. South that rarely see frozen flurries, much less accumulation.

The National Weather Service said a wintry mix of snow and freezing rain was expected Wednesday mostly along the southern East Coast. Up to an inch (2.5 centimeters) of snow could fall in Tallahassee, Florida, while 3 to 5 inches (8 to 13 centimeters) are possible in parts of North Carolina.

Coastal Savannah, Georgia, hasn’t seen measurable snowfall since February 2010. But it could get up to 2 inches (5 centimeters) of snow and sleet Wednesday.

Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach urged residents to stay home and off the roads, noting that many Southerners “aren’t used to driving in this kind of weather.”

 1/3/17 – 2 Democrats to be sworn in as senators, narrow GOP majority

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two Democrats are set to be sworn into the U.S. Senate, narrowing the Republican majority and complicating efforts by GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to advance the White House’s legislative agenda before the November midterm elections.

Doug Jones of Alabama is one of two new members who will take the oath of office on the Senate floor at noon Wednesday.

The other is Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, who was appointed to replace Democrat Al Franken. Franken resigned effective Tuesday after being accused of sexual misconduct.

They will narrow the Republican majority to 51-49.

Jones will represent one of the most conservative states and is stressing his desire to work with lawmakers from both parties. He is the first Alabama Democrat elected to the Senate in a quarter century.

1/3/18 – China welcomes Koreas ‘positive’ moves to talk

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — China has welcomed moves by North and South Korea to use next month’s Winter Olympics in the South as an opportunity for talks, saying it hopes the rivals will try to “meet each other halfway.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters Wednesday that China hopes “all sides concerned will seize this positive turn of events.”

South Korea on Tuesday offered high-level talks with North Korea to find ways to cooperate on the Pyeongchang Olympics. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Monday that he was willing to send a delegation to the Olympics.

Kim also said he has a “nuclear button” on his office desk, a fiery threat that President Donald Trump responded to by boasting he has a bigger and more powerful button than Kim.

Commenting on Trump’s tweet, Geng urged countries to “maintain restraint” and say things that are “conducive to alleviating the situation.”

1/2/18 – S. Korea offers to talk with North on Olympics cooperation

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea has offered high-level talks with rival North Korea meant to find ways to cooperate on the Winter Olympics set to begin in the South next month.

Tuesday’s offer came a day after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said in his New Year’s address that he’s willing to send a delegation to the Olympics, though he also repeated nuclear threats against the United States.

Analysts say Kim may be trying to drive a wedge between Seoul and its ally Washington as a way to ease international isolation and sanctions against North Korea.

South Korean Unification Minster Cho Myoung-gyon says the South proposes the two Koreas meet Jan. 9 at the border village of Panmunjom to discuss Olympic cooperation and how to improve overall ties.

1/2/18 – January Series

-The award-winning January Series of Calvin College is one of the leading lecture and cultural arts series in the country.  The series will begin Wednesday January 3rd and run through the 23rd.

Calvin will celebrate their 31st year of the series and will offer the free noon events for 15 weekdays in January.  Thousands will join them on the campus but there will also be more than 50 remote webcast sites across the continent and beyond to watch the live feed.

More information :  calvin.edu/january.

1/2/18 – New agenda for President Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has returned from an end-of year holiday to face fresh legislative challenges, midterm elections and threats abroad.

Trump is hoping for more legislative achievements after his pre-Christmas success on taxes. He plans to host Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin at Camp David next weekend to map out the 2018 legislative agenda.

Republicans are eager to make progress before attention shifts to the midterm elections. The GOP wants to hold House and Senate majorities in 2018, but must contend with Trump’s historic unpopularity and some recent Democratic victories.

Trump’s foreign relations challenges include North Korea’s nuclear missile program. On Monday, Trump criticized Pakistan in a sharp tweet accusing the nation of lies and deceit while taking American aid.

1/2/18 – More utility customers produced electricity in 2016

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The state says more utility customers in Michigan produced their own electricity in 2016 than the previous year.

Michigan’s Public Service Commission says 2,582 residential, commercial and industrial customers participated in the state’s net metering program, an increase of 427 from 2015.

Solar remains the leading form of energy generation. Wind is the second most popular.

The net metering program was established in 2008 and is available to customers of rate-regulated utilities, cooperatives, and alternative electric suppliers.

Net metering offsets part or all of a customer’s energy needs and reduces their electric bills. When customers produce more electricity than they need, power is provided back to the serving utility, permitting the customer to receive a credit.

The figures were included in the recently released Net Metering and Solar Program Report.

1/2/18 – Michigan community to hold meeting on calls to remove cross

LUDINGTON, Mich. (AP) — Officials in western Michigan will hold a meeting this month to get public feedback on calls for the removal of a large cross that’s stood along Lake Michigan for decades.

The Michigan Association of Civil Rights and the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation say the Father Marquette cross, which is maintained with public funding, is unconstitutional.

The Ludington Daily News reports the Pere Marquette Township Board will hold the special meeting Jan. 23 in Ludington.

The two groups say the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prohibits Pere Marquette Township from displaying and maintaining such religious symbols. Others contend the legal issues aren’t that clear cut.

Marquette was among the first Europeans to explore the area in the 1600s. The cross was built in 1955 on the spot where he supposedly died.

12/29/17 – Claire’s Recall

LOS ANGELES — Claire’s, which sells jewelry and accessories targeted to young women, has pulled some of its makeup products off the shelves, due to reports of cancer-producing asbestos.

Items include the bedazzled rainbow heart makeup set and metallic hot pink glitter makeup.

The company quietly announced the recall Saturday on its Twitter page, and put out a later statement. “We have taken the precautionary measure of pulling the items in question from sale … Once we have more information and have the results of the investigation we will take the necessary action. If you have items you wish to return in the interim period we will issue a refund.”

Earlier this year retailer Justice also recalled cosmetics after a Durham, N.C., TV station said the product had toxic substances, including asbestos.

Exposure to asbestos, once commonly used for building insulation, has been found to lead to certain types of cancers and tumors on internal organs.

Claire’s hotline is open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. EDT, 800-804-7194.    More information at:  claires.com

 

12/29/17 – New York City fire kills 12, sends residents scrambling

NEW YORK (AP) — Officials say New York City’s deadliest residential fire in decades spread through every floor of a Bronx apartment building within a matter of minutes, killing 12 people and sending other residents scrambling down fire escapes to safety.

The blaze broke out Thursday night on the first floor of a five-story building.

Mayor Bill de Blasio  says the dead include a child around a year old, while four more people are fighting for their lives.

Some tenants of the building climbed down fire escapes. But the flames moved so fast that many never made it out of their apartments.

Witnesses describe seeing burned bodies being carried away on stretchers and young girls who had escaped standing barefoot outside with no coats.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

12/29/17 – As deep freeze sets it, people urged to help most vulnerable

(AP) — As a deep freeze sets in across half the country, officials are urging people to help those most vulnerable, especially the homeless and the elderly.

Forecasters are warning people to be wary of hypothermia and frostbite from the arctic blast that’s gripping a large swath from the Midwest to the Northeast.

The prolonged, dangerous cold weather has sent advocates for the homeless scrambling to get people off the streets and to bring in extra beds for them.

The Ohio Department of Aging says older people are at increased risk from such severe cold, from medication side effects to falling risks. The department is encouraging people to check on family members, friends and neighbors.

Animal advocates are urging people to remember their pets and not to leave them outside.

12/29/17 – Contractor fined $101,000 over fatal Michigan arena collapse

HOLLAND, Mich. (AP) — A demolition company is facing a $101,000 state fine for safety violations found after a worker was killed at a western Michigan arena.

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration found five violations by Grand Rapids-based X-Treme Demolition Inc. related to the Aug. 1 collapse at the Holland Civic Center that killed 38-year-old Ruben Gomez-Vazques of Grand Rapids and injured another worker. The Holland Sentinel and Mlive.com reported Thursday the contractor was cited Nov. 28 for violations including improper fall protection and not having the floor supported.

Authorities say the workers were using a sledgehammer and jackhammer to remove concrete stairs when the floor collapsed from underneath them. Gomez-Vazques was trapped under concrete debris and died at the scene.

Officials from X-Treme Demolition didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.

12/29/17 – Frozen pipe causes flooding in Michigan State’s arena

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A broken pipe sent water pouring from the ceiling near an entrance to Michigan State University’s Breslin Center basketball arena.

Michigan State planning director Lynda Boomer tells the Lansing State Journal that an infiltration of cold air near the arena’s southwest entrance froze water inside a three-inch fire protection line Wednesday afternoon, causing it to break. Crews arrived within 10 minutes of the failure and shut off the damaged pipe.

Boomer says a damage estimate wasn’t immediately available but that the flooding wouldn’t impact Friday’s scheduled men’s basketball game against Cleveland State.

Video showed water coming through ceiling tiles and flowing across a concourse floor.

Boomer says crews were working Thursday to dry things out.

12/29/17 –  Grand Rapids eyeing public works yard redevelopment plans

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Three companies have submitted plans to redevelop a public works yard in Grand Rapids into new homes and room for shops.

A committee made up of city and development officials is looking at preliminary plans from Indianapolis-based Flaherty & Collins Properties that include a 2-tower luxury hotel. That plan also would feature housing units, retail space, a park and boardwalk.

Another company’s proposal includes housing, retail and a 10,000-seat multipurpose stadium.

The city accepted each of the three plans in October.

The television station says the site has been home to salt piles and dump trunks.

12/29/17 – Christmas Tree removal

(Mlive) -With the presents unwrapped and all the cookies eaten, that live Christmas tree may start to lose its luster as it dries and drops its needles.

There are free ways to get rid of that natural tree, but they depend on the community in which you live.

Read on to see how to get rid of your tree in Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Walker and Wyoming.

Grand Rapids

Residents in Grand Rapids have two options: drop off their live Christmas trees for free — or pay a small fee to have the city pick it up from the curb.

Drop-off sites are open from Dec. 27 to Feb. 2. They are:

  • Riverside Park (north entrance), 3151 Monroe Ave. NE
  • JC Family Park, 2531 Kalamazoo Ave. SE
  • Lincoln Park, 1120 Bridge St. NW
  • Huff Park, 2399 Ball Ave. NE

Residents could also choose to purchase a $2.50 purple bulk yard waste tag and attach it to their Christmas tree. The tree must be placed at the curb by 7 a.m. on trash collection day.

Tags can be purchased in the street-level customer service lobby at city hall at 300 Monroe Ave. NW. City Hall is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Some local stores may also have the tags available for sale.

East Grand Rapids

Residents of East Grand Rapids can have their Christmas trees picked up for free from the curb by the city’s public works department.

The city will pick up live trees during the first two weeks of January, according to the city’s regular yard waste collection schedule.

Trees should be free of stands and wired garlands. Wreaths with metal frames cannot be collected.

The next time the city will pick up Christmas trees will be in April when yard waste collection resumes.

Walker

Walker residents have three drop-off locations to choose from when recycling their natural trees:

  • Walker City Hall, 4243 Remembrance Road NW
  • Walker Community Park, 650 Cummings NW
  • Walker Fire Station #3, 1470 Three Mile Road NW

Trees could start being dropped off Tuesday, Dec. 26. The drop-off time frame is set to end on Saturday, Jan. 20.

Wyoming

Wyoming residents can drop off their live trees at the city’s yard waste site at 2660 Burlingame Ave. SW.

The yard is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, as well as from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the next three Saturdays: Dec. 30, Jan. 6 and Jan. 13.

Kentwood

Residents of Kentwood can drop off their Christmas trees for free at 5068 Breton Ave. SE.

City workers ask that people remove all the decorations from the tree, including lights.

12/28/17 – Michigan school district chief dies in apparent ladder fall

THREE RIVERS, Mich. (AP) — Authorities say the superintendent of a southwestern Michigan school district has died after apparently falling from a ladder while trimming tree limbs.

Michigan State Police say Roger Rathburn was found on the ground by family members Tuesday evening at Sauganash Golf Club in Three Rivers. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Rathburn was the superintendent of the 700-student Mendon Community School District. Police say Rathburn’s cause of death hasn’t been determined but he was alone on a ladder that was about 20 feet high.

A school district statement says Rathburn was a champion for kids with enthusiasm and his unparalleled commitment. The district says the staff is devastated by the tragic accident.

12/28/17 – Grand Rapids hospital resumes full care after heat returns

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A Grand Rapids hospital says it has reopened all departments a day after directing emergency patients elsewhere because it lost heat following a steam plant explosion.

Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Hospital says it fully reopened its emergency department late Wednesday morning.  The hospital limited its number of scheduled surgeries for Wednesday, with plans to resume a full surgical schedule Thursday.

The hospital lost heating after a boiler explosion late Monday at the Veolia Energy plant that provides steam for about 130 buildings in the city’s downtown area. The Grand Rapids Public Museum also closed Tuesday but reopened Wednesday.

12/28/17 – Michigan regulators: Tax cuts likely to reduce utility bills

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan regulators are ordering 13 utilities to study the impact of new federal tax cuts and how savings will be passed along to consumers through lower electric and gas bills.

The order was issued Wednesday during a special meeting called by the Michigan Public Service Commission.

Utilities have until Jan. 19 to file comments with the state on how they propose to return savings to customers.

Commissioner Rachael Eubanks says utilities will likely see a “significant” reduction in federal taxes, and their response to the state will “provide broader input regarding the appropriate avenue for how to extend benefits to customers.”

Commissioners want the savings calculated from the effective date of the federal law, which is next Monday.

12/28/17 – Calley signs law requiring use of prescription drug database

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan doctors will be required to check a prescription database before prescribing painkillers and other powerful drugs under new laws signed by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley.

Calley enacted the bills Wednesday while Gov. Rick Snyder is out of state.

The laws limit the amount of opioids that can be prescribed, require a “bona fide” physician-patient relationship to dispense drugs and require those being treated for an overdose to receive information on substance abuse services.

The requirement for health providers to use the recently upgraded Michigan Automated Prescription System takes effect in June. State officials say improvements to the system have put Michigan at the forefront of prescription drug monitoring technology.

Calley says the opioid epidemic has become a “national emergency,” and the state is “taking an all-hands-on-deck approach.”

12/28/17 – Putin calls St. Petersburg explosion terrorist attack

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin says Wednesday’s explosion at a supermarket in the country’s second-largest city was a terrorist attack.

At least 13 people were injured Wednesday evening after an improvised explosive device went off at a storage area for customers’ bags at the supermarket in St. Petersburg. Investigators say it was rigged with shrapnel to cause more damage.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Putin spoke Thursday at a military awards ceremony at the Kremlin but did not offer any details.

The president previously has spoken about Russia’s operation in Syria as a pre-emptive strike against terrorism at home.

12/28/17 –  Bitter cold weather takes hold of northern US

ERIE, Pa. (AP) — Bitter cold weather has taken hold of much of the northern United States and is expected to stay put for days to come.

Forecasters are warning of hypothermia and frostbite from arctic air settling in over the central U.S. and spreading east.

The National Weather Service reports International Falls and Hibbing, Minnesota, set record low temperatures Wednesday. International Falls, the self-proclaimed Icebox of the Nation, plunged to 37 degrees below zero, while Hibbing bottomed out at 28 below.

The freezing temperatures and below-zero wind chills come as people in Erie, Pennsylvania, continue to dig out from a storm that has dumped more than 65 inches on the city.

Meanwhile, wind chill advisories or warnings are in effect for much of New England, northern Pennsylvania and New York.

12/28/17 – Charity gets a jolt from tax law _ but due to drop next year

WASHINGTON (AP) — In this season of giving, charity seems to be getting an extra jolt because next year the popular tax deduction for donations will lose a lot of its punch.

Traditionally generous Americans may be feeling even more so this year, or maybe they’re concerned about the state of a deeply divided country and volatile world.

But a big reason is a lot more concrete: The newly minted tax law. The changes that will make it less advantageous for people to donate to charity in 2018 may be sparking a year-end stream of fattened contributions in anticipation.

The law doesn’t eliminate or even reduce the deduction for donations to charitable, religious and other nonprofit organizations. But those who switch to the standard deduction may be less inclined to donate.

12/28/17 – Massive bill to rebuild Iraq

MOSUL, Iraq (AP) — The Iraqi government estimates $100 billion is needed nationwide to rebuild cities and towns left in ruins by more than three years of war against the Islamic State group. Local leaders in Mosul, the biggest city held by IS, say that amount is needed to rehabilitate their city alone.

But so far, no one is offering to foot the bill.

The Trump administration has told the Iraqis it won’t pay for a massive reconstruction drive. Iraq hopes Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries will step up, and Iran may also take a role. The U.N. is repairing some infrastructure in nearly two dozen towns and cities around Iraq, but funding for it is a fraction of what will be needed.

12/27/17 – MSP Trooper Facing Homicide Charge Had Past Discipline Record

DETROIT (AP) — According to records obtained by The Associated Press, MichiganState Police tried but failed to suspend a trooper for his use of a stun gun months before he fired a Taser at a teenager who crashed an all-terrain vehicle and died.

Mark Bessner is charged with murder in the death of 15-year-old Damon Grimes, but it wasn’t his only incident involving a Taser.

State police wanted to suspend Bessner for 10 days for firing his Taser twice at a handcuffed man who was running away in 2016. But an arbitrator said there was no “just cause” for discipline.

In 2014, Bessner fired his Taser at a suspect who was handcuffed. He agreed to a five-day suspension, records show, but four days were eventually dropped.

Bessner was charged last week with second-degree murder in the August death of Damon Grimes.

 

12/27/17 – Meijer Announces Food Recall

Meijer is announcing a recall of apple products after listeria concerns.  The company says there are no reports of illness but they are asking people to return the products or simply dispose of them.

They are the Meijer brand Michigan Harvest salad, Shareable Waldorf Salad, and Fresh Cranberry Apple Stuffing Starter.

Contact the company directly with any additional questions.

 

12/27/17 – Winter Chill Setting In

CHICAGO (AP) — A white Christmas for much of the Northeast and Midwest has given way to bitter cold until the New Year.

Chicago-area National Weather Service meteorologist Amy Seeley says to expect colder-than-normal temperatures the rest of the week. Temperatures hovered around zero degrees in Chicago on Tuesday.

The city of Erie, Pennsylvania, issued a snow emergency after forecasters say a Christmas storm dumped a record 34 inches of snow on the area. Another 19 inches fell before dawn Tuesday, bringing the total to 53 inches.

Meteorologists warn of sub-zero frigid arctic air and dangerously cold wind chills.

Wind chill advisories or warnings are in effect for parts of several states, including Wisconsin, Michigan, New York and Maine. Meteorologists say frostbite is possible with as little as 30 minutes of exposure.

 

12/27/17 – US Continues to Hit Suspected Militant Targets

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The U.S. military says it has killed 13 members of the al-Shabab extremist group with a new airstrike in southern Somalia.

The statement from the U.S. Africa Command says the strike was carried out Sunday morning. A spokeswoman says it occurred about 50 kilometers (31 miles) northwest of Kismayo and that no civilians were killed.

The United States has carried out 34 drone strikes in Somalia this year after the Trump administration expanded military efforts against Africa’s deadliest Islamic extremist group.

Al-Shabab was blamed for the October truck bombing in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, that killed 512 people. Only a few attacks since 9/11 have left a higher death toll.

 

12/26/17 – Michigan Suffering From Winter Weather

Massive snowfall hitting Northern Michigan.  The National Weather Service says heavy lake effect snow will continue in west northwest flow favored areas through Wednesday as the coldest air of the winter surges into the Great Lakes. Areas of blowing snow, slick travel and low visibility will continue to create hazardous driving conditions.

In Central and Western Michigan we’ve not seen the same heavy amounts of snow but we certainly are experiencing the frigid temperatures largely associated with this arctic front.  Temperatures will struggle to get out of the very low teens all day.

 

12/26/17 – Christmas Sales Strong in 2017

Christmas on a Monday is being credited with helping shoppers part with a little more of their dollars.  Christmas sales were up this year over last, not by a huge amount but enough to make an impact on the sales ledger for the year.  Experts call it a big win for retailers, and those you bought presents for.

 

12/26/17 – Christmas Day Fire at Muskegon County Home

Seven people were able to escape a fire at their Fruitport Township home on Christmas morning.  However, a number of pets were unable to make it out of the home.  Firefighters were called to the Muskegon County home on Sheringer Road at about 3:10 a.m.  Crews credit working smoke detectors in the home for helping wake the family and help them escape.

 

12/26/17 – US Plans Cuts to UN

285 million dollars.  That’s how much the United States plans to cut from the UN budget.  Ambassador Nikki Haley made the announcement saying that inefficiencies and overspending are too often associated with the organization.  The US contribution accounts for about 22 percent of the overall UN budget.

 

12/22/17 – Congress takes a holiday break 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress is putting off until the new year some of its most disputed issues, including immigration, health care and the federal budget.

Before breaking for the holidays, the Republican-led House and Senate passed a temporary spending bill to avoid a government shutdown. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the measure on Friday before leaving Washington for a Christmas visit to his Florida estate.

Democrats were denied a vote on giving immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and in the country illegally an opportunity to become citizens. They expected to return to the issue when Congress meets after the holidays.

Also left unfinished is a bipartisan efforts to smash budget limits that are imposing a freeze on the Pentagon and domestic agencies.

12/22/17 – Air Force passes over Selfridge for F-35A fighter jets

HARRISON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Selfridge Air National Guard Base in suburban Detroit has lost out on a bid for F-35A Lightning, the nation’s newest fighter aircraft.

The Air Force announced Thursday it has selected Truax Field Air National Guard Base in Wisconsin and Dannelly Field in Alabama as the preferred locations for the next two Air National Guard F-35A bases. It said F-35As should arrive at those bases in 2023.

The Air Force also passed over bases in Idaho and Florida.

U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell, whose district includes Selfridge in Harrison Township, said in a statement that the selection process confirmed Selfridge’s standing among the top five bases in the country.

Sen. Gary Peters said Selfridge will continue to host A-10 fighters and remains a contender for F-35s in the future.

12/22/17 – Snyder renews law with limit on unpaid parking tickets

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation keeping intact a law that puts people’s driver’s license at risk if they have three unpaid parking tickets.

Michigan in 2012 enacted a law dropping the threshold from six unpaid tickets to three. The limit was due to rise to six again on Jan. 1.

The law lets courts notify people who fail to answer three parking violation notices that if they do not appear within 10 days, the secretary of state will be informed. The secretary of state then cannot issue or renew their driver’s license until the citations have been resolved.

Cities including Detroit and Grand Rapids say the policy has helped them collect parking fines.

Snyder signed the bill Thursday.

12/22/17 – Snyder signs bill delaying increases in motorcycle fees

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation delaying increases in registration fees and safety training fees for motorcyclists.

The hikes were scheduled to start taking effect two months ago. But now some will begin next month, others later in 2018 and some in 2019 under the law enacted Thursday.

The annual registration fee will rise to $25, a $2 increase. The initial endorsement fees will increase to $16, from $13.50, and renewals will gradually rise to $9 from $5.

The additional registration fee revenue will go toward an existing motorcycle safety education program, while some of the endorsement fee revenue will fund a new program promoting motorcycle awareness.

Michigan last year increased penalties for operating a motorcycle without the proper safety endorsement.

12/22/17 – Snyder signs bills in wake of unemployment fraud mistakes

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder has signed into law changes in how the state flags fraud in the unemployment benefits system in the wake of thousands of people being falsely accused.

The laws enacted Thursday reduce fraud penalties, improve identity theft protections and expand access to an advocacy group for claimants and employers accused of fraud.

Snyder, whose administration has faced criticism over the problems, says the bills will “modernize” the Unemployment Insurance Agency. He adds the new system will be fairer to those applying for benefits and protect people’s personal information.

The Snyder administration also is looking to create a state fund to compensate people who were falsely accused. It would help claimants who were refunded penalties and interest but have faced other financial hardships because of the fiasco.

12/22/17 – Judge won’t ease halt on license suspensions for poor

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — A judge won’t freeze an order that stops Michigan officials from suspending the driver’s licenses of people who can’t afford traffic fines.

Federal Judge Linda Parker turned aside aggressive arguments by the secretary of state’s office, which describes her injunction from last week as a “monkey wrench thrown into an enormous machine running at full speed.”

Parker says there’s a strong likelihood that the due process rights of poor people are being violated when their licenses are suspended for failure to pay traffic fines. But the judge also emphasized Thursday that she’s not ordering the state to restore anyone’s license at this point.

Parker says the secretary of state must guarantee that people have notice of an ability-to-pay hearing before a suspension.

12/22/17 – Township must issue Nestle water pump station permit

OSCEOLA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A judge says a bottled-water company should be allowed to build a pumping station as part of its plans to get more groundwater in western Michigan for the Ice Mountain brand.

Nestle Waters North America sued after Osceola County’s Osceola Township rejected a zoning permit. Nestle wants to withdraw up to 400 gallons (1,514 liters) a minute, with help from a pipeline booster station at SpringHill Camps, a summer camp.

Mason County Judge Susan Sniegowski ruled this week, ordering Osceola Township to issue a permit for construction of the station.

Nestle says it’s pleased with the ruling. Osceola Township says the judge improperly analyzed its zoning ordinance.

The permit dispute is separate from a decision to increase water output. That request is pending at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

12/21/17 – Police say ramming suspect is Australian citizen

SYDNEY (AP) — Australian police say the driver of a vehicle that rammed into pedestrians in Melbourne is an Australian citizen of Afghan decent who has a known history of drug use and mental health issues.

Police said in news conference late Thursday that there was no evidence or intelligence to indicate that the incident was connected to terrorism, but they believe the act was deliberate. They said counter-terror officials would remain involved in the investigation to be sure there was no connection.

Police said the 32-year-old driver was known to state police on “historical assault matters.”

Police said Thursday’s incident on a busy city street left 19 people injured.

12/21/17 – Lawmakers hoping to approve a must-pass spending bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers are hoping to approve a must-pass spending bill as the clock ticks toward a potential government shutdown this weekend.

House Republican leaders, however, are struggling to unite the GOP rank and file behind legislation that would punt most of their remaining work into next year.

Republicans leaving a closed-door meeting in the Capitol on Wednesday say the plan faces opposition from some defense hawks, as well as lawmakers worrying that an $81 billion disaster aid bill might get left behind in the rush to exit Washington for the holidays.

Lawmakers say that the GOP vote-counting team would assess support for the plan and that Republican leaders would set a course of action from there.

Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions says “there’s no specific direction right now” about the path forward.

Democrats oppose the bill because their priorities on immigration and funding for domestic programs aren’t being addressed.

12/21/17 – Michigan Supreme Court: Return $554M to school employees

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court says the state must return more than $550 million to school employees who had money deducted for retiree health care.

The court ruled 6-0 Wednesday.

School employees had 3 percent of their pay deducted for about two years under a law signed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm, but the law was declared unconstitutional. Snyder in 2012 signed a new law that has survived court challenges.

The Supreme Court says the 2010 law violated the contract clauses of the federal and state constitutions, and the state failed to show it was reasonable and necessary to further a legitimate public purpose.

Gov. Rick Snyder, who’d wanted to keep the money, says he’s “pleased that taxpayers will have resolution.” The money’s in escrow, so the decision won’t affect the budget.

12/21/17 – Michigan DNR firefighters to help with California fires

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A team of Michigan wildlands firefighters is heading to California to help put out fires that have been burning across the state.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said 20 firefighters left Wednesday and will be gone through early January. They will be on standby in the Sequoia National Forest.

The team includes 13 Michigan DNR firefighters. Seven others are from Michigan’s Bureau of Indian Affairs.

DNR Fire Section Manager Jim Fisher says the team could replace crews at fire stations or help with project that local departments can’t get done while their crews are out. They also could be assigned to fight any fires still burning.

Fisher says Michigan will be reimbursed for expenses to send the teams.

The fires have burned more than 270,000 acres since early December.

12/20/17 – New Tax code

Early this morning the Senate approved the tax code bill.

The House will need to come back and vote before the bill heads to President Trump.

The sweeping tax measure hit a bit of a glitch late Tuesday in the Senate when the House-passed bill did not comply with the Senate’s strict budget rules.

The House will need to vote on the changes that were made in the Senate.

President Trump says the measure will bring about the “biggest tax cut changes in history” and plans to discuss the measure at a news conference later this afternoon.

12/20/17 – Train Derailment-Speed Control

The rush to launch service on a new, faster Amtrak route near Seattle came at a deadly cost — critical speed-control technology that could have prevented a derailment was not active before the train set off on its maiden voyage.

Officials say work to install the GPS-based technology known as positive train control isn’t expected to be completed until spring on the new span where the train derailed.

Investigators say the train was going 80 mph (129 kph) in a 30 mph (48 kph) zone Monday when it raced off the rails. Three people were killed, and dozens were injured. Federal investigators say they are looking into whether the engineer was distracted.

Experts say a control system could have detected the speeding and automatically applied the brakes to stop the train.

12/20/17 – Delta wants someone to pay for its losses in airport outage

ATLANTA (AP) — The CEO of Delta Air Lines says the company will seek compensation for its losses after a power outage knocked out the Atlanta airport’s power supply and also its backup electricity for about 11 hours Sunday.

The blackout stranded thousands of passengers and led to the cancellation of more than 1,500 flights just ahead of the frenzied holiday travel period.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian tells The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he found it “shocking” that it took so long to get power restored. Bastian said he doesn’t know whether Georgia Power or Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was responsible, but said Delta will have conversations with both.

Bastian told the newspaper the airline may have lost $25 million to $50 million of revenue as a result of the blackout.

12/20/17 – Michigan governments sue to recover costs tied to opioids

DETROIT (AP) — Cities and counties across Michigan are the latest to sue drug companies and retailers over the consequences of excessive opioid use.

They want the companies to reimburse local governments for the costs of responding to the crisis.

Lawsuits were filed Tuesday in federal court by Macomb County, Detroit, Genesee County, Saginaw County, Grand Traverse County, Delta County, Chippewa County, Lansing and Escanaba. Wayne and Oakland counties filed a lawsuit in October over marketing practices.

Lawyers want the cases added to litigation that’s active in Ohio federal court.

Purdue Pharma, which makes OxyContin, agrees there’s an opioid abuse crisis. It supports efforts to limit the number of tablets during a first prescription.

The state says roughly 1,700 people died from opioid overdoses in Michigan in 2016, up 33 percent over 2015.

12/20/17 – Michigan knocks judge over major driver’s license decision

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — The state of Michigan says a judge issued a confusing, vague order that blocks officials from suspending driver’s licenses of people who can’t afford traffic fines.

In a court filing Tuesday, the secretary of state asked federal Judge Linda Parker to freeze her injunction while the agency appeals. The state says it is a “deep, unwarranted intrusion” into Michigan’s police powers.

The judge last week said there’s a strong likelihood that the due process rights of poor people are being violated. A civil rights group, Equal Justice Under Law, says Michigan doesn’t distinguish between people who intentionally skip paying fines and others who can’t pay.

The state says it will “take months” to alter computer systems at local courts to follow the injunction.

12/20/17 – Man killed when Amtrak train hits pickup truck in Michigan

LAWTON, Mich. (AP) — Police say one man was killed when an Amtrak train crashed into a pickup truck west of Kalamazoo.

The crash occurred Tuesday night in Lawton. Police Chief Jeffrey Mack says emergency responders found the man outside the pickup when they arrived on the scene. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Mack says witnesses told investigators they heard the truck’s engine revving just before the crossing’s warning lights and bell activated.

Amtrak spokeswoman Christina Leeds says Blue Water Train 364 was traveling from Chicago to Port Huron, Michigan, when it hit the vehicle around 7:30 p.m. Leeds says there were no injuries reported to the crew or the train’s 215 passengers.

Passengers were being taken by bus to the train station in Kalamazoo.

12/20/17 – Detroit judge mulling release of detained Iraqi nationals

DETROIT (AP) — A federal judge in Detroit is mulling whether to release hundreds of people whose deportations to Iraq were suspended but remain in custody.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith, who’ll hear arguments Wednesday, blocked the deportation of 1,400 people in July to allow time to challenge their removal in immigration court. About 275 are jailed or in detention centers in roughly two dozen states.

Government officials say the detainees have committed crimes in the U.S. and must be deported now that Iraq will accept them. Advocates say the detainees — many of whom are Christians who fear being tortured or killed if deported — deserve to be with their families as their cases wend through the system.

12/19/17 – Deadly train derailment

DUPONT, Wash. (AP) — An Amtrak train making the first-ever run along a faster new route hurtled off an overpass south of Seattle on Monday, killing at least 3 people.

Attention focused on the train’s speed. Federal investigators say the train was traveling at 80 mph in a 30 mph zone.

Bella Dinh-Zarr, an NTSB board member, said at a Monday night news conference that information from the event data recorder in the rear locomotive provided information about the train’s speed.

Dinh-Zarr says it’s not yet known what caused the train to derail and that “it’s too early to tell” why it was going so fast.

There were 80 passengers and five on-duty crew members on board when the train derailed and pulled 13 cars off the tracks.

12/19/17 – GOP set to roll $1.5T final tax bill through House, Senate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans in Congress are set to catapult sweeping $1.5 trillion tax legislation through Congress, hoping to get something to the White House before Christmas.

The Republicans’ final drive to deliver the tax package to an eager President Donald Trump begins Tuesday with a vote in the House. The Senate is expected to follow with its vote later in the day or on Wednesday.

Both tallies likely will cling along party lines. The GOP secured needed endorsements from wavering GOP senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Bob Corker of Tennessee on Friday, and moderates Susan Collins of Maine and Mike Lee of Utah came into the fold on Monday.

Now the biggest reshaping of the U.S. tax code in three decades is on a clear path to passage.

12/19/17 – Life sentence ordered for man in fatal shooting of jogger

MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) — A man convicted of killing a woman in western Michigan blew a kiss to the courtroom before he was sentenced to life in prison in one of two murder cases filed against him.

A judge approved Jeffrey Willis’ request to go back to the Muskegon County jail and skip the hearing. Spectators yelled “coward” when he was escorted from court Monday.

Willis was convicted in the fatal shooting of Rebekah Bletsch, who was jogging when she was killed in 2014.

Willis was arrested two years later when a teenager said he tried to kidnap her. The arrest jump-started investigations of the Bletsch homicide and the 2013 disappearance of gas station clerk Jessica Heeringa.

12/19/17 – Petitions submitted for Michigan redistricting ballot drive

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A group that opposes the political gerrymandering of Michigan’s congressional and legislative districts has submitted more than 425,000 signatures for a 2018 ballot drive.

The proposed constitutional amendment would create an independent commission to redraw the lines once a decade. The process is now controlled by the Legislature and governor, and is being criticized as too partisan.

More than 100 volunteers with the Voters Not Politicians ballot committee stood in a cold rain Monday to turn in boxes of petitions at the state Bureau of Elections in Lansing. They gathered the signatures without paying paid circulators, which is rare in Michigan politics outside of ballot drives for anti-abortion measures.

Voters Not Politicians says its success shows voters are tired of politicians who “rig the system.”

12/19/17 – Michigan State Police expand Angel Program 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State Police say a program to help people struggling with drug addiction is now available at all 30 of its posts.

The Angel Program allows people to walk into a post during regular business hours and seek help without fear of arrest or investigation.

If that individual is accepted into the Angel Program, a professional assesses and places them in a drug treatment program. A community volunteer known as an “angel” provides support and transportation during the process.

State Police Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue says the program is one solution to a drug epidemic that is killing more Michigan residents than car crashes.

The agency says 37 people have been helped across Michigan since the Angel Program launched in October of last year at the Gaylord Post.

12/18/17 – Delays at Atlanta airport

TLANTA (AP) — Passengers were being urged Monday morning to check with airlines for flight information as operations resumed in Atlanta following a power outage at the world’s busiest airport.

A tweet early Monday from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport said airport concessionaires and the security lines are open.

Georgia Power said a fire in an underground electrical facility caused a sudden power outage around 1 p.m. Sunday. That brought the airport to a standstill and grounded more than a thousand flights, leaving thousands of people stranded.

Power was restored around midnight.

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines is the hardest hit airline. In a tweet, the airline urged travelers to use its mobile app or website for booking assistance and updated flight status. Delta was also allowing people traveling to, from or through Atlanta through Tuesday to make a one-time change for no fee.

12/18/17 – Trump to unveil ‘America First’ national security strategy

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is poised to outline a national security strategy that envisions nations in a perpetual state of competition and de-emphasizes the multinational agreements that have dominated the United States’ foreign policy since the Cold War.

The Republican president will detail his plans Monday. They could sharply alter the United States’ relationships with the rest of the world.

The plan is to focus on four main themes: protecting the homeland and way of life, promoting American prosperity, demonstrating peace through strength and advancing American influence in an ever-competitive world.

12/18/17 – Powerful winds raise fire risk as crews battle blaze

LOS ANGELES (AP) — While crews got a break from slightly calmer winds on the lines of the enormous blaze threatening Santa Barbara County, much of the rest of Southern California was buffeted by powerful gusts that increased the wildfire risk across the region.

The National Weather Service forecast red flag conditions for extreme fire danger through Sunday evening for Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

Trees came down after wind gusts topped 70 mph (113 kph) in mountain areas and 50 mph (80 kph) along the coast.

With winds threatening to bring down power lines and spark more wildfires, Southern California Edison is considering turning off electricity to some parts of Malibu. Utility spokesman Paul Griffo says the coastal city is particularly vulnerable if strong Santa Ana winds continue to batter the area.

12/18/17 – Gas Prices

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — AAA Michigan says gas prices statewide have dropped by about 6 cents per gallon in the past week.

The Dearborn-based auto club says the average price for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline was about $2.45 per gallon. Prices are about 19 cents more than at the same point last year.

Michigan’s lowest average price was about $2.37 per gallon in the Traverse City area. The highest was about $2.62 per gallon in the Marquette area. It was the third consecutive week that the Marquette area had the highest average.

The Detroit-area’s average price dropped 3 cents to $2.47 per gallon.

AAA Michigan surveys daily fuel prices at 2,800 gas stations across the state.

 

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.

 

 

January 20

WCSG Top 10 – January 20th, 2018

The weekend is here and that means it’s time for a look at this week’s Top 10 songs!
January 20

Revelation 21:4

Saturday, January 20, 2018 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All […]