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Big Rapids Daily News
News That Affects You Archives for 2015-02

Pure Michigan going international

 

Pure Michigan spokesperson David West says they are now working to promote the state in the international market.

 

We have a big push going into southern Ontario and Toronto, we have a new rep firm in China. We're just expanding, with all of our brand partnerships that we have with the DNR, with MDOT, so they're really beginning to see the synergy of what Pure Michigan is doing for the State of Michigan.”

 

West says there's huge market potential for Michigan across the U.S. border.

 

 

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West Michigan man sues police

 

A man who says he was stopped, photographed and fingerprinted by Grand Rapids police despite committing no crime has filed a lawsuit challenging the practice.

 

Keyon Harrison says that he and other minorities have been targeted for photos and fingerprints. The lawsuit says he was a teen walking home from school when he was stopped in 2012.


The city denies that minorities have been targeted. It defends the practice saying it is used to identify juveniles or older teens who don't have photo identification.

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Michigan petroleum industry reacts to Keystone veto

Michigan's petroleum industry is reacting to President Obama's veto of the Keystone XL pipeline bill. Associated Petroleum Industries of Michigan spokesperson John Griffin says while the pipeline wasn't going to run through Michigan, the veto does impact the state.

 

We have many Michigan workers who travel around to work on these pipeline crews, plus we have a number of manufacturers that make pumps, gauges, different kinds of equipment used all across the country. So, we have a manufacturing base and a worker base that is impacted.”

 

Griffin says President Obama is going against public opinion with the veto.

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No measles in West Michigan

Two young children in West Michigan apparently do not have the measles. According to the Allegan County Health Department, lab tests have come back negative from the state Department of Community Health for a 15-month-old who was "clinically" diagnosed with measles last week. County health department director Dr. Richard Tooker says they're awaiting throat culture results for final confirmation.

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Man charged with assaulting toddler

A Belding man who had already been charged with making sexually explicit videos with children, and convicted of other sex crimes, now stands accused of raping an 18 month old girl. Police say 28 year old Eric Masters attacked the toddler in a Byron Township motel over an eight day period in 2012. Masters is also being investigated by the FBI for attacks in the West Michigan area and the Upper Peninsula in 2011 and 2013. He was arraigned on the most recent charges this week in Kent County Circuit Court. Masters faces life in prison and is being held on a quarter million dollar bond.

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SCOTUS opening briefs filed in same-sex marriage challenge

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse with their children at their home in Hazel Park, Mich.

 

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse with their children at their home in Hazel Park, Mich.

 

 

Opening briefs from the same-sex couple challenging Michigan’s ban on licensing same-sex marriages are now on file with the U.S. Supreme Court. Ann Arbor attorney Carol Stanyar says the case started because of the effect on children and that continues to be the focus.

 

"The children are actually parties in our case. We added the marriage challenge at the urging of Judge Friedman. These laws cause serious, persistent, wide-ranging injuries to children in particular.”

 

Plaintiffs in cases from Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee also filed briefs on Friday.

 

 

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Suspect arrested for break-ins at FSU student housing complex

 

A relative of a Ferris State University student is under arrest in connection with a number of Breaking and Entering incidents at the University Park Suites apartment complex in Big Rapids Township. Twenty-year-old Victoria Wyatt was taken into custody after a resident of the complex told police she came home around 8:00 am on Friday to find someone inside her apartment.

 

The suspect left and the incident was reported to the Mecosta County Sheriff's Department. Another BE was reported in the same building and additional suspicious situation involving what appeared to be the same suspect were reported in other buildings in the complex.

 

Wyatt was identified by management as someone who was not a student but a person who had been occasionally staying with a family member who does reside at UPS. Wyatt was arrested for the BE of the first reported apartment. Additional investigation led to evidence being recovered tying her to the other BE in the same building. Investigations continue into the other reported incidents at the apartment complex.

 

Wyatt is being held on a $20,000 bond for felony Breaking and Entering.

 

 

 

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Scam alert

 

Consumers Energy is warning its customers about a scam that includes a high-pressure demand for quick utility payments over the phone using a prepaid credit card. Director of corporate security Michael Williams says imposters have been focusing their efforts on small commercial customers such as restaurants and grocery stores. In the first two months of the year, customers have reported 241 impersonations. So far 10 customers have turned over nearly $13,000 to the criminals.

 

 

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CCA First Grade students donate Blanket to WISE

First-grade students in Carol Noreen’s class at Crossroads Charter Academy greeted WISE Child Advocate Lisa Start-
 
Spinner with big smiles and a donation for others when she came to speak to their class on Jan. 29. Start-Spinner 
 
explained the services WISE offers and how her job fits into the structure, as well as discussing safety plans with the 
 
children. The students then presented her with two tie blankets they had made in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 
 
WISE thanks the students for their gift and for thinking of others. Without the help and support of the community, WISE 
 
would not be able to provide the level of services it does today.

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Budget robbing Peter to pay Paul?

 

A plan to cut 250-million dollars from the state budget is is being approved in Lansing. Part of those cuts are being filled by taking money from the school aid fund, which was in surplus for the year. Democrat Hoon-Yung Hopgood says it isn't right.

 

How can we expect voters to go to the polls and support Proposal 1 when the legislature and governor can so easily take the money out from the other side? It's not fair, it's not right, and it needs to stop.”

 

The budget is over a half billion dollars in the hole and the state constitution requires it be balanced.

 

 

 

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Gun legislation heading to Governor's desk

 

Legislation scrapping Michigan's county gun board permit system is headed for Governor Rick Snyder's signature. The bills were approved by the Michigan House Wednesday, but House Democrat Jeff Irwin disagrees with the proposal.

 

What we're going to be doing with this change is we're going to be taking away the opportunity of local officials to apply that local knowledge to deny applications of people who have been visited by the police many, many times,” he says.

 

The bills have already passed the Senate, but they must return to that chamber for concurrence on amendments.

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Domestic cars fare better with Consumer Reports

While Lexus still finished as the top brand overall, American made vehicles are doing a lot better in Consumer Reports annual rankings of top cars and trucks. Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports director of automotive testing, says there are three top picks from American name plates for the first time in this century. And for the first time ever, a domestic brand is in Consumer Reports top 10. Buick jumped past Honda and BMW, with the Buick Regal now displacing the BMW 3-Series as the top sports sedan.

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Shutdown could affect Michigan communities

Michigan may feel the impact of a deadlock in Congress if a deal isn't reached to fund the U.S. Homeland Security Department. If Congress can't come to terms and the department partially shuts down Friday officials say 91 federal grants awarded to 84 Michigan communities to fund firefighter salaries, equipment and fire safety initiatives could be affected. Communities all over the state received grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency ranging from just a few thousand dollars to $25 million.

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Man hospitalized following vehicle crash and fire

 

A 51-year-old Montcalm County man is hospitalized following a collision and vehicle fire earlier today. Sheriff's Deputies say the Coral resident failed to stop for a stop sign while traveling eastbound on Church Road and collided with some trees across the road.

 

He was pinned in the vehicle when it caught on fire. Two passersby pulled the man from his truck and he was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening facial, chest and leg injuries. Police suspect alcohol played a role in the accident.

 

 

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Hollywood tax credit under fire

 

There's an effort underway at the state Capitol to kill the so-called Hollywood film tax credit of $50M. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce says there's not enough of a return on the investment and it's unfair to taxpayers to subsidize out-of-state Hollywood film producers. One Teamsters Union member complains that if you take away the tax incentive, you will take away their jobs.

 

You're trying to take jobs away. People were getting ready to move out of the state six, seven years ago, now they're staying in the state. We had one guy who was about to loose the roof over his head, he went from that to putting a roof over his head. We're working, we want to keep working, we just hope to keep this thing going,” he says.


The union says more jobs will be created in the movie industry if the state helps out.

 

 

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Road funding package could help poor children

 

A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that Michigan's child poverty rate could be cut in half when the positive effect of government programs and tax policies are taken into account. Kids Count in Michigan project director Jane Zender-Merrell says voting "yes" May 5th on the road funding package will help Michigan children in working families.

 

You look at child poverty in Michigan, it would be at 30%. But then if you look at the impact of all the cash as well as non-cash, what they call government transfers like food stamps, housing. When you factor all those in and earned income tax credit, it actually cuts child poverty in half.”

 

Merrell says 341-thousand Michigan children are lifted from poverty when such programs are available.

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Lawmakers scrutinize budget for corrections

State lawmakers continue to work on budget issues this week, including a large budget for corrections. Former Representative Joe Haveman, who now works with Hope Network, says cutting the costs of corrections depends on prevention rather than deterrence.

 

We really should look at how are we tougher on crime earlier. How do we keep somebody from becoming a criminal? How do we take youthful indiscretions and stop them and direct people before they make that kind of crime that puts them away for 15 or 20 years?”

 

Michigan currently spends over 2-billion dollars a year on corrections.

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U of M President says frat members should be punished for damages

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel says fraternity members who vandalized northern Michigan resorts in January should be held responsible.

 

We all have to be responsible, those kids are young adults. I'm not deciding individual punishment, they'll go through the same kind of internal processes students go through for violations of our student code of conduct,” he says.

 

Several fraternities caused more than 100-thousand dollars worth of damage at two northern Michigan resorts. The University of Michigan's Interfraternity Council is calling for the State Police, the university and national organizations to punish those responsible.

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Clare Co. couple arraigned on CSC charges

A Clare County couple is behind bars after being arrested on felony criminal sexual conduct charges. State Police say an investigation started last month when they learned 41-year old Jason Shannon of Clare County had been trading child sexually explicit materials with another man in the state of Kansas. Investigators executed a search warrant on Jason Shannon’s Sheridan Township home and seized computers and equipment used in the downloading and distribution. In a subsequent investigation, investigators discovered Jason Shannon and his female companion; 32-year old Crystal Little of Sheridan Township, may have been sexually assaulting a child as well, to which they subsequently confessed to investigators. Shannon and Little were arrested and arraigned today in the Clare County District Court. Jason Shannon's bond was set at $1-million dollars. Crystal Little’s bond was set at $100,000. The couple remains lodged in the Clare County Jail.

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