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Big Rapids Daily News
News That Affects You Archives for 2015-03

God's Helping Hands of Mecosta Co. receives $2,500 donation

Remus area food pantry God's Helping Hands received a $2,500 donation from local farmer William Hough who was selected as a winner in America's Farmers Grow Communities, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund.

 

The program enrolls farmers for a chance to win $2,500, which is then donated to the farmer’s nonprofit of choice. Randy Piatt Executive Director of God's Helping Hands says receiving this money means a lot to their organization because it shows the community believes in what your doing and it allows them to continue to help those in need through emergency food services.  

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Rollover in Mecosta County sends Bay City woman to the hospital

 

A Bay City woman is in the hospital following a one vehicle rollover crash in Mecosta County.

 

Mecosta County Sheriff's Deputies say Janelle Zielinski of Bay City was heading south bound on US 131 when she lost control due to ice on the roadway. The accident happened near 22 Mile Road in Green Township.

 

Zielinsk ran off the roadway and overturned. She was transported by Mecosta County EMS to Spectum Health Hospital in Big Rapids for non-life threatening injuries. Deputies were assisted by Big Rapids City fire/Rescue.

 

 

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Organizers gearing up for "Dump & Run" event

Organizers of the annual Dump and Run event to be held on the campus of Ferris State University are hoping to to keep the success going. The event now in its ninth year, has receptacles placed around campus and at one off-campus location which allows students to donate items they won't be taking back with them when they leave for the Summer.

 

The effort is put on by the Immanuel Lutheran Church and Ferris to benefit people in need in the Big Rapids community. Marianne Wolken, the event’s chairperson, says this event is very gratifying for her since items like gently used clothing, non perishable food items, school supplies and others items will get to be used by kids, and those in need around the Big Rapids area. T

 

his year, the event will run from May 4th- 8th. If you would like to volunteer with sorting and pickup, you can contact Marianne at 231.972.7756  

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More Michigan residents relying on food banks

 

MIchigan's jobless rate is going down and there are improvements in the economy. but more and more people are also going to food pantries says Food Bank Council of Michigan spokesperson Phillip Knight.

 

1,792,200 unique clients. 38% have a household member with at least some college education, that was a little shocking as we did this research. 23% of households have members who have served in the military and 18% are seniors.”

 

 

 

Knight says hunger gets in the way of people helping themselves because, when people are hungry, it's all they can think about.

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Income on the rise in Michigan

 

A new report shows personal income in Michigan rose in 2014, but still lagged behind other states. A U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis shows Michigan's income growth was just above the national average of 3.9 percent.


Michigan's personal income for 2014 stood at $40,556 per capita. Michigan had the second-lowest per capita personal income of the Great Lakes States. Indiana had the lowest at $39,433. Illinois had the highest in the region at $48,120.


Nationally, the highest per-capita income was in Connecticut at $62,487. Mississippi has the lowest per capita income at $34,333.

 

 

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Second amendment advocates challenge law enforcement

 

The Ingham County Sheriff says some second amendment advocates in the state are trying to make a point about open carry in public schools, but they're going about it the wrong way.

 

They're trying to goad cops into arresting them so they can test that very law. It's terrible public safety. If we have no responsibility in the world, we have one to take care of our children.”

 

And, Sheriff Wrigglesworth says one way to help keep children safe is to keep all guns out of all schools.

 

 

 

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Woman hospitalized following accident in Green Twp.

 

A woman from Hersey is hospitalized following a one car accident on Saturday in Green Township.

 

The Mecosta County Sheriff's Office says the woman was northbound on Northland Drive just north of 18 Mile Road when she ran off the road, struck a highway sign, then a building and ran into a tree.

 

Deputies say the woman received serious injuries and was taken to Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital by EMS and was then airlifted to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids.

 

The accident remains under investigation.

 

 

 

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Two day chase lands fugitive in jail

 

A 26-year-old man from Sears is behind bars following a two day cat-and-mouse chase with Michigan State Police.

 

It all began on Thursday when a trooper from the Mt Pleasant Post learned that a vehicle driven by a subject with several warrants for his arrest was broken down on the side of the road. The trooper responded to the area and found the vehicle abandoned. Upon locating a telephone number for the suspect police spoke with him in an attempt to get him to turn himself in. The suspect stated he knew he had warrants and told the police, “you will not catch me.”

 

The next day the same trooper was on patrol and observed the suspect’s vehicle pass him with an equipment violation on M-61 near M-66 in Osceola County. The suspect was pulled over and ran from the vehicle into a wooded area. A perimeter was established and K9 units from the Mt Pleasant Post and the Osceola County Sheriff Department initiated a track. While the track was underway it was learned the suspect was possibly at the residence of an ex-girlfriend who was not home at the time.

 

Troopers went to the ex-girlfriends house and no one would come to the door. They then contacted the homeowner who informed them the suspect had just called her from inside her residence and he did not have permission to be there.

 

The homeowner gave police permission to enter the home. Once inside the residence a state police K9 team located the suspect hiding inside a bathroom cabinet. The suspect told Troopers he knew they were outside but “just thought you would go away.”

 

The suspect is being held at the Osceola County Sheriff Department with formal charges pending. His identity is being withheld pending arraignment.

 

 

 

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UPDATE: Father arrested in Amber Alert case

 

The father of a Port Huron girl reported missing Saturday morning is now in custody. An Amber Alert was issued for 6-year-old Hailey Betts Saturday morning, but was canceled after she and her father, Brett Betts, were found in Port Huron.

 

Brett Betts was taken into custody and is being evaluated at a Hospital in Ohio. Police say the father had gotten into an altercation with a family member and then threatened to hurt the girl before taking off.

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White Cloud teen pleads in child abandonment case

A Newaygo County teenager accused of abandoning her newborn back in July has pleaded no contest to fourth degree child abuse. Court records show the 15-year old White Cloud girl was originally charged with second-degree child abuse and child abandonment following the July 28 birth. A neighbor who was walking his dog discovered the newborn on the side of Marion Rd. The baby was placed in a temporary foster home, but the mother and father have said they want custody.

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Michigan's fastest growing counties include Wexford and Kent

A new report from the U.S. Census Bureau says the fastest-growing county in Michigan is Keweenaw County in the western Upper Peninsula, whose population rose 1.7 percent between 2013 and 2014.


Allegan, Kent, Ottawa and Wexford counties also showed population growth of at least one percent over the July 1, 2013 to July 1, 2014 period.


Kent County added more than 6,800 people over the period, more than any other county in the state. It was followed by Oakland County, which grew by more than 6,000.


Macomb, Ottawa and Washtenaw counties rounded out the top five. Wayne County is the most populous county in Michigan, with 1,764,804 residents, followed by Oakland County and Macomb County.
 

 

 

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Lawmakers move to address campus rape

 

Following new national statistics targeting Michigan universities, the legislature is moving to address campus rape in Michigan. Senator Rebekah Warren of Ann Arbor says university responses all across the state need to be better.

 

It's out of control, there's unfortunately a White House report that points to a few of our universities in particular saying we're not doing as good of a job as we should be in addressing allegations, and then taking care of those survivors who have been through something horrific on campus.”

 

The University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Grand Valley State University are singled out in that report.

 

 

 

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Tainted spinach recalled

Frozen spinach sold at West Michigan-based Meijer stores has been recalled due to Listeria concerns.


The packages of Meijer Organics Chopped Spinach is one of several products grown by a California farm and distributed nationwide by Twin City Foods in Washington state, which the FDA says may be tainted by the sometimes deadly bacteria.


The Meijer product included in the recall is a 16-ounce frozen package, with a ‘use-by’ date of February 2017, distributed in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.


Meijer says customers are urged not to eat the spinach and return the products at the point of purchase for a full refund.


Related recalls announced this week in connection with the same spinach include Carmel Food Group’s Rising Moon Organics frozen ravioli and several varieties of frozen meals by Amy’s Kitchen.


No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with the recall.

 

 

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Grand Traverse County man charged with child pornography

 

A man in Grand Traverse County is being charged with seven felonies involving child pornography.

 

Cameron McCardel has turned himself into authorities after police tracked him down through an undercover investigation. State police say they found about 100 photos and videos of child sexually abusive material on one of his computers.

 

The charges against McCardel include having and distributing child pornography and using a computer to commit the crime.

 

 

 

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Alternative to Proposal 1 is unicorns and fairy dust

 

Roger Martin, the man spearheading the campaign to sell proposal one on the may fifth ballot says there is no logical 'plan-b' should the ballot measure fail.

 

We're talking about unicorns and fairy dust now and we all know that's not going to happen. Virtually every plan-b that has been mentioned here has been something that won't fix the roads, and it won't pass. And if it won't fix the roads and it won't pass then it's a wish, not a plan. And we're talking, again, about fairies and pixie dust.”

 

That in reaction to talk in Lansing about a backup plan should voters reject Proposal 1 in May.

 

 

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Powdered alcohol dangerous say lawmakers

 

A state House lawmaker wants to ban powdered alcohol in Michigan. State Representative Scott Dianda of Calumet introduced a bill yesterday to make the sale, distribution and possession of powdered alcohol illegal. Senator Rick Jones of Eaton County says the product is a threat, and mostly to college students.

 

They've sprinkled it on their pizza, they've dumped it in other people's drinks. They also can smuggle it into bars if they're underage, put it in their water and drink with their buddies. This is a product that will be abused, it's not needed, like K2 and Spice, it's bad for us all.”

 

Powdered alcohol, which is marketed as Palcohol, is sold in 4x6 packages and creates an alcoholic drink when mixed with water.

 

 

 

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Wildfire season is upon us

 

The Department of Natural Resources is warning residents that wildfire season has begun. DNR fire prevention specialist Dan Laux says fire season gets going when dead grass and leaves become exposed after warm temperatures melt snow from easily ignited fields and forests.

 

He adds the unsafe burning of leaves, brush and other debris is a main cause of wildfires in Michigan. Officials remind residents that they needed a permit to burn yard waste and urge proper safety precautions while doing so.
 

So far this year the DNR has responded to 10 wildfires totaling 69 acres.

 

 

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Distracted driving causes the most accidents involving teens

 

A new report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety blames distractions as the major factor in 58-percent of all crashes involving teenagers. Spokesperson Susan Hiltz says the report cites the most common distractions causing teen crashes.

 

Interacting with one or more passengers is a risk for teens, cell phone use is, looking at something in the vehicle, looking at something outside the vehicle, singing or moving to music, and reaching for an object.”

 

Hiltz says parents of teen drivers should take a more active role in educating them about distracted driving.

 

 

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Baldwin prison facility gearing up to re-open

 

A correctional facility in Baldwin is being prepared to re-open. The North Lake Correctional Facility, owned and operated by GEO Group, Inc. out of Tampa Florida, has been closed since September of 2011.

 

An email sent out by the company's Human Resources Department stated, “The GEO Group, Inc. has been actively engaged in efforts to re-open (the North Lake Correctional Facility). We recognize the journey to accomplish this worthwhile endeavor has been lengthy and not without disappointment. We will be re-activating the facility the summer of 2015. Security staff will begin training late May.”

 

The Geo Group is a provider of correctional, detention, and community reentry services and currently has 15 positions listed as open for hire at the facility through jobs.net.

 

The company declined to be interviewed about the re-opening, but an email from their Vice President of Public Relations, Pablo Paez, said, “As a matter of normal business practice, our company surveys labor markets around our facilities in order to be prepared to support a potential future, prospective operation of these facilities.”

 

 

 

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Fatal horse and buggy accident

 

An accident between a horse and buggy and a pickup truck has turned fatal. The Montcalm County Sheriff's Office says 27 year old Andrew E. Miller, the buggy driver of the personal injury accident that occurred on March 19, succumbed to his injuries and passed away on Wednesday.

 

The accident occurred on Fitzner Road in Montcalm Township when a southbound Amish horse and buggy swerved into the path of the northbound pickup truck. The collision caused severe damage to both the buggy and the truck. The pickup driver was not injured. The horse died as a result of the injuries.

 

It's believed the horse tack may have been incorrectly connected, causing the horse to veer into the Northbound lane when the buggy driver attempted to stop the buggy. Alcohol or drugs are not suspected in the crash.

 

 

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County Health Rankings released

Mecosta and Osceola Counties are right next to each other when it comes to the overall health of those who live, learn, work and play there. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute Wednesday released their 2015 County Health Rankings and Road map ranking, Osceola county 34th overall healthiest and Mecosta County 35th healthiest out of all 82 counties. The rankings help counties understand what influences how healthy residents are and how long they will live. They also look at a variety of measures that affect the future health of communities, such as high school graduation rates, access to healthy foods, rates of smoking, obesity, and teen births. For more details visit www.countyhealthrankings.org/  

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UPDATE: Rosebush man arraigned on domestic assault charges

An Isabella County man who was taken to jail Tuesday naked on charges of domestic assault and malicious destruction of property has been arraigned.

 

56-year old Timothy Murray Mogg has been officially charged with two counts of domestic assault.
Mogg is accused of assaulting his wife while she was driving a pickup truck down an Isabella County Road. Police say Mogg is alleged to have smashed the rear window out of the pickup truck then physically assaulted his wife before taking control of the vehicle.


Mogg then reportedly drove his wife to a home in Isabella County where a family member attempted to intervene. Mogg reportedly assaulted the family member before a second family member separated the subjects. The 56-year old suspect was uncooperative and had removed his clothing in an attempt to wash off evidence of the physical assaults. Mogg is out after posting bond.

 

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Michigan has top snowiest cities this winter

Two cities in the Upper Peninsula top the list of the 10 snowiest, non-mountain cities in the United States.
The Washington Post reports that at a total of 157 inches, Marquette is actually running below average by about 11 inches. But Sault Ste. Marie has seen 158.7 inches, which is a solid four feet above its average through March 21.


The month of November really helped to put the Soo ahead of pace, when a record-setting 65.4 inches of snow fell according to the National Weather Service. The previous record November snowfall was 46.8 inches in 1989.


Maine had the next two entries on the list, Bangor at 131.5 inches and Caribou at 129.4 inches, while cities in New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania were also represented in the top 10.

 

 

 

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Penalty for underage drinking may be reduced

If you get caught drinking in Michigan and you're under the age of 18, you face possible fines and a misdemeanor on your record. But, Michigan State Senator Rick Jones says it's time to change the law.

 

I have just requested a bill to make it a civil fine. $100 the first time you get caught, $200 the second, and not go to a misdemeanor until the third. And, I've had prosecutors across the state ask me to do this.”

 

Jones, a former Eaton County sheriff, says such convictions are clogging up the court system.

 

 

 

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Community Town Hall Expo coming to Big Rapids

More than 40 area non-profits are converging on the campus of Ferris State University Wednesday offering up volunteer and job opportunities to the Big Rapids community. The Community Town Hall Expo will be held at the University Center,  

 

Michele Albright, Coordinator of Student Career & Volunteer Services says The Town Hall Expo is an opportunity for community service organizations and nonprofit agencies to come together to promote volunteer opportunities and possible employment, It’s also a way for students to partner with the community to enhance their learning outside of a classroom.

 

For more information, contact the FSU Center for Leadership, Activities and Career Services at (231) 591-2685

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Rosebush man arrested on domestic assault charges

A 56-year old Rosebush man is behind bars on charges of domestic assault and malicious destruction of property. State Police say they received a call from a woman who said she was driving a pickup truck down an Isabella County Road with her husband in the bed attempting to get to her.  The 56 year old Rosebush man smashed the rear window out of the pickup truck and reportedly physically assaulted the female driver before taking control of the vehicle. 

 

The suspect reportedly drove the woman to a home in Isabella County where a family member attempted to intervene.  The Rosebush man reportedly assaulted the family member before a second family member separated the subjects.  The suspect was uncooperative and had removed his clothing in an attempt to wash off evidence of the physical assaults.  The suspect was arrested a lodged at the Isabella Co. Jail.

 

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Michigan among highest in nation for unemployment

Michigan along with four other states recorded seasonally adjusted unemployment rates of 6.3 percent in January, meaning they all tied for the 11th highest rate in the nation among the 50 states.
 

According to figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Alaska, New Jersey, Connecticut and Oregon all had jobless rates of 6.3 percent in January along with Michigan.
 

Mississippi and Nevada at 7.1 percent had the highest unemployment rate. North Dakota again led the nation with the lowest jobless rate at 2.8 percent.
 

Michigan again had the highest unemployment rate among the Great Lake states. Minnesota had the lowest at 3.7 percent. Behind Minnesota came Wisconsin at 5 percent, Ohio and Pennsylvania both at 5.1 percent, New York at 5.8 percent, Indiana at 6 percent and then Illinois at 6.1 percent.

 

 

 

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Pure Michigan teams up with Google

State officials say a new partnership between Google and Pure Michigan will make Michigan's most iconic destinations accessible to people all around the world on Google Maps.
 

Using Google Trekker technology, attractions such as Mackinac Island, Sleeping Bear Dunes and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore - not previously accessible on Google Street View - now have 360 degree, fully navigable imagery that will allow potential travelers to explore these destinations to inspire and plan a visit to Michigan.
 

Lt. Governor Brian Calley say the initiative combines Michigan's natural beauty with innovative technology in a way that really speaks to all that the state has to offer visitors, residents and businesses alike.
 

Google’s partnership with Pure Michigan is the first state-wide Trekker Loan partnership in the Midwest.
The Trekker images, captured last fall, were unveiled today (Monday) at the 2015 Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism, being held in Grand Rapids.

 

More than 44,000 panoramic photos were taken by members and volunteers on the Pure Michigan team and the Department of Natural Resources, which borrowed the Trekker and traveled for four weeks to capture some of the scenes around the state.

 

 

 

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Debate over open carry in schools continues

Discussion continues in Lansing over the idea of banning open carry weapons in schools, but allowing concealed weapons. Michigan Association of School Boards lobbyist Don Wotruba says that's not a good idea.

 

That's, in some ways, no safer than it is now, and maybe worse because at least I can control in a school district what I can see. Having someone being able to carry in a school without us knowing creates, I think, an even greater safety hazard.”

 

Representative Gary Glenn from Midland is proposing legislation allowing school personnel to carry concealed weapons in school.

 

 

 

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Woman charged with open murder in stabbing death of her husband

A 28-year old Muskegon woman was arraigned Monday on an open murder charge in the stabbing death of her husband over the weekend.

 

Police say Angela Kelsey-Mahoney and her 35-year old husband John were fighting early Saturday morning when she stabbed him in the chest. He died at the hospital.
 

Police say the stabbing occurred while the couple was having a verbal dispute that apparently escalated. Friends have said the two had a volatile relationship.
 

Kelsey-Mahoney is being held on a $5,000,000 bond. She is expected back in court for a preliminary examination in April.

 

 

 

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Battle over funding religion based adoption agencies continues

The National Organization for Women is putting on the full court press to stop legislation now in the Michigan Senate that allows taxpayer supported faith based adoption agencies to refuse any arrangements that violate their religious beliefs.

 

NOW spokesperson Mary Pollock says the proposed law is discriminatory against gays and single parents. And, she says, proponents of the legislation aren't looking out for the best interest of children.

 

That their religious belief, which I think is kind of an irrational bias, should prevail over the interest of the child.”

 

The legislation has already been approved by the House.

 

 

 

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Two-year-old found in home with meth fumes

Three people in Roscommon County are under arrest for running a meth lab. Police say they were investigating a mobile meth lab that led them to a home in which there were extremely dense meth fumes.

 

Jamie Workman, Rachel Dimaria and Scott Dimaria were all taken into custody. The Dimaria's two year old daughter was found in the home, and was placed with a foster care agency.

 

 

 

 

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Michigan legislator expects pot to become legal

A leading opponent of recreational marijuana in the Michigan legislature believes it will be legalized as early as next year. Senator Rick Jones is a former county sheriff and says attitudes about pot are changing in the state.

 

As a parent, a grandparent and a former police officer, I don't think another social drug is going to be good for Michigan. But I do believe it will be on the ballot in 2016, and I think a lot of people will think this is a great way to make new taxes, to use pot to fix potholes and I think it will probably pass.”

 

Jones says he will oppose legalizing marijuana even if the issue is put before voters.

 

 

 

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Utility pole fire blamed for power outage

More than 8-thousand Consumer Energy customers have their lights back on following a power outage over the weekend.

 

Officials say the outage mainly affected customers in Clare County, but went as far north as Manton and west to Muskegon.

 

Crews have replaced a utility pole that caught fire due to faulty wiring at around 7 o'clock on Saturday.

 

 

 

 

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High speed chase across two counties lands a woman in jail

A 31-year-old woman from Rodney is in custody after leading police on a high speed chase through Mecosta and Isabella Counties.

 

Officials say the chase started in Barryton when officers attempted to stop a car for improper plates and came to a conclusion after police laid down spike strips, which the woman hit. She managed to drive another 10 miles before coming stuck near the intersection of South Rolland and West Jerseyville Roads where Deputies had to break the window on the car to pull the woman out.

 

She was found to have no license and had several outstanding warrants.

 

 

 

 

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Sheriff disagrees with open carry in public schools

The debate continues in Lansing on whether people should be able to openly carry firearms in Michigan's public schools. Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wrigglesworth says guns and buildings filled with school children are not a good combination.

 

How in the world could anybody know if a person's coming into your school carrying a AK-47, that they're for peaceful purposes. It just makes no sense and there are no shortage of people that would like to test that theory, and it just scares the heck out of me.”

 

However, some lawmakers, such as Mayville Senator Mike Green, would like to see a law that allows gun owners to openly carry their weapons in gun-free zones, like schools, saying it would be “better for everybody.”

 

 

 

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Guns and alcohol lead to trouble in Clare Co

 

Two men are in trouble with the law in Clare County following what appeared to be an afternoon of heavy drinking. The Clare County Sheriff's Department says officers responded to a residence in Franklin Township Thursday afternoon where they found three intoxicated men with evidence of an altercation involving gunfire.

 

Officials say an unidentified 32-year-old man was shot during an argument and was hospitalized for gunshot wounds and a high blood alcohol content. His condition isn't known at this time.

 

57-year-old James Dale Compton of Gladwin is being charged with tampering with evidence and resisting/obstructing a police officer. He also received notice as an habitual offender.

 

67-year-old John Louis Gallanty of Harrison is being charged with assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, felony firearm, and discharge a firearm in a building.

 

Compton and Gallanty were also said to have had high blood alcohol contents.

 

 

 

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Mecosta & Osceola Counties see sharp increases in unemployment rates

  

Seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates in January rose in all of the state’s 17 major labor market areas. According to the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget, total employment levels fell seasonally over the month in nearly all areas, while labor force levels were up moderately in the majority of regions. Spokesman Jason Palmer says Michigan’s major labor markets in January recorded typical seasonal payroll job reductions and jobless rate increases, however, unemployment rates since January 2014 declined in every metropolitan area and county in Michigan, while payroll jobs rose in every metro region. In Mecosta County, its unemployment rate rose 1.1% to 7.1% overall in January. In Osceola County its jobless rate rose 1.6% to 8% overall. Michigan's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in January was 6.3 percent.  

 

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Mecosta Co. Board of Commission listens to DNR proposal to develop Fred Meijer White Pines Trail State Park

An Official from the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources made a presentation to the Mecosta Co. Board of Comission to gain support of the DNR's effort to improve the unpaved trail sections of the Fred Meijer White Pines Trail State Park. 

 

DNR Represenative Matt Lincoln says their $4.1 million project covering mulitple counties would repave the trails with crushed lime stone, renovate bridges, improve drainage and wells.  In Mecosta County, 8 miles if the trail are paved while 16 miles are not. During the presentation, Lincoln said in order to pay for the project 76% of funding would come from the state and federal grants, 17% from private contributions and 7% from local contributions. 

 

The Mecosta Co. Board of Comission was unsure whether or not they will participate in the project until something more official and formal gets presenated to them. 

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Suspect arrested in a methamphetamine manufacturing conspiracy case

A Wexford County man faces life in prison after being arraigned on felony drug charges. 33-year old Daniel Morales of Cadillac has been charged with delivery/manufacture of methamphetamine, conspiracy, and other charges. The Traverse Narcotics Team says the charges stem from incidents in 2013. Due to his habitual offender status, Morales would face a maximum of life in prison on any of the counts if convicted.


 

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Second amendment advocate favors concealed weapons in school

A leading proponent of second amendment rights in the Michigan legislature is supporting a ban on 'open carry' of guns in schools. However, Mayville Senator Mike Green says he believes people should be able to take guns into schools if they are concealed.

 

Yeah, I kind of think that we need to look at that and I think if we could get the leadership, the administration, to go along with it, I think it'd be better for everybody.”

 

Negotiations over a bill to allow concealed carry in Michigan's public schools are ongoing.

 

Hear the story here...

 

 

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Killer heads to prison

A northern Michigan man is headed to prison for killing his estranged girlfriend last summer. 34-year old Erik Beauchamp was sentenced Wednesday to 37.5 to 60 years for second degree murder. A Wexford County jury last month found Beauchamp guilty in the shooting death of his 34-year old ex-girlfriend, Lindsey Morgan in August of 2014.


Beauchamp, armed with a shotgun and a revolver, allegedly broke into a home in Buckley where Morgan was staying, according to a police report. The shotgun went off when the two were involved in a struggle. Morgan ran out the door, and witnesses said Beauchamp shot her several times. Authorities arrested Beauchamp after an eight hour long search.


Beauchamp pleaded no contest to three other felonies related to the crime: killing and torturing a dog, assaulting police and using a dangerous weapon. In return, eight other charges were dropped.

 

 


 

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Animal abusers to be tracked online

Legislation is being re-introduced in both the House and Senate in an effort to crack down on animal abuse in Michigan. State Senator Rick Jones of Grand Ledge says the legislation will make sure that once a person has victimized an animal they will not be allowed easy access to another victim.


Under the bills, people convicted of animal abuse crimes would be placed into the Internet Criminal History Access Tool (ICHAT) database - a system set up and maintained by the Michigan State Police to allow the public to search for criminal offenders.
 

Animal shelters and animal control organizations would have access to the ICHAT system free of charge and would be required to check it prior to adopting out an animal. If a person is found to have been convicted of an animal abuse offense within the past five years, the organization would be prohibited from releasing the animal to that person.
 

The bills would also require a person convicted of an animal abuse offense to be prohibited from owning animals for a period of five years.
Last session, a bill package made it through both House and Senate committees but died during lame duck on the Senate floor.

 

 

 

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Police search for missing girl

 

The Mason County Sheriff's Office is searching for a 15-year-old girl that was last seen by her mother on Monday near Turtle Road and Sugar Grove Road in Sherman Township.

 

Chyenne Nicole Merrill is described as a white female with red hair and blue eyes, standing 5'1", weighing 160 lbs. She may be heading to the Chicago area.

 

Chyenne was reportedly at the Mason County Central Schools Tuesday morning, but did not attend any classes.

 

 

 

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$24.7M for outdoor recreation

The State of Michigan will be spending $24.7 million in grants for outdoor recreation projects. Legislation authorizing the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) grants for 69 recreation projects and land purchases was signed by Governor Snyder Tuesday.

 

He says the grants will help give local communities the ability to create quality recreation opportunities that encourage people of all ages and abilities to get outdoors.

 

 

 

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Security beefed up at Gerald R. Ford Int. Airport following bomb threat

Officials at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport are calling a bomb threat received this morning a “non-credible” threat. The airport received a bomb threat at 4:03 a.m. specific to the terminal building. Around 7:20 a.m., police concluded a search of the terminal and curb front area with canine teams and they found no threats. An airport spokesperson says that no flights were disrupted, but there is an extra police presence on scene.  

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MSU / UM football players suspended

Michigan and Michigan State have both suspended players from their football teams. MSU head coach Mark Dantonio released a statement Tuesday saying sophomore running back Delton Williams has been suspended indefinitely from team-related activities, but offered no further explanation.


Media reports say Williams was arrested late Monday night and is currently in custody at the Ingham County Jail in Mason. No charges have been filed at this point. Williams was expected to compete for the starting running back job with spring practice set to begin next Tuesday. He ran for 316 yards and five touchdowns in 2014.


Meantime, Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh released a statement that fifth-year senior offensive lineman Graham Glasgow has been suspended from the program after testing .086 on a Breathalyzer given on Sunday and violating his probation. Glasgow pleaded guilty last June to a misdemeanor charge of operating a vehicle while visibly impaired and was given a 12-month probation. The statement from Harbaugh said Graham will be subject to punishment through the judicial system, the student-athlete alcohol policy and the Michigan football program.


According to his attorney, Glasgow will have his probation extended six months, he will be monitored more closely and frequently and will have to perform additional tasks assigned by the court as a consequence.

 

 

 

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Four students arrested in high school gun incident

Four students at a Kalamazoo High School are under arrest after one accidentally fired a handgun inside a school's restroom.

 

Officials say Kalamazoo Loy Norrix High School was placed on lockdown Tuesday morning after a 10th-grade boy accidentally fired the gun in the boys bathroom.

 

Three other 10th-graders helped in hiding the gun, which police eventually found inside the backpack of one of the students. All four have been lodged in the Kalamazoo County Juvenile Home.

 

 

 

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Drug bust in Manistee Co.

A man from Wellston in Manistee County is under arrest for manufacturing meth.

 

Police say they found meth making materials at the suspect's home in Norman Township. Further investigation led them to the man's workplace where they found more meth making materials.

 

The suspect's identity is being withheld pending arraignment.

 

 

 

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More transparency in state government?

Some lawmakers in Lansing will be introducing legislation demanding more transparency and accountability of Michigan government officials. Michigan is one of just two states in the country where the governor, lieutenant governor and their offices and lawmakers are exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests. Senator Steve Bieda says there should be financial disclosure for all lawmakers and the Governor as well.

 

We're one of three states that do not have any financial disclosure. We're the only one with a full time legislature that doesn't. I think that says a lot that they have it at the national level. I think it's something that we need to make sure that people know that there's no conflict of interest.”
 

The Michigan Government Reform and Accountability Plan will also prohibit legislators from becoming lobbyists for two years after leaving office, require elected officials to disclose their income and investments and prohibit the awarding state contracts worth more than $100,000 to anyone who makes a contribution to officials who award those contracts.

 

 

 

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Mecosta Co. Emergency Manager says weather really helping out reducing "flood season"

During early spring time, residents in Mecosta County who live around the Muskegon River are at risk for flooding and ice jams. Mecosta Co. Emergency Services Manager Scott Schroeder says so far weather has been perfect compared to previous years. He says this winter was warmer than normal, and we haven't had a big heat wave which has contributed to the area having no flooding. 

 

However, if flooding does take place Schroeder says residents need to make a preparedness kit that includes food, water, phone charger, radio, and insurance papers. When flood season is over Schroeder says residents also need to be aware of wildfire season when trees and other foleage start to dry out.  

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Two sent to the hospital after car loses control and strikes tree in Austin Twp.

Two people were sent to the hospital after a car accident in Austin Township. Mecosta Co. Sheriff Deputies say it happened on 11 Mile near 130th Ave where the driver a 19-year old man from Rodney lost control after driving through an area with water over the road. After losing control of the vehicle, the driver went off the roadway and struck a tree. Both the driver and his 43-year old female passenger from Rodney were taken to Spectrum Health Big Rapids for non-life threatening injuries. The Sheriff's office urges motorist to use caution while drive through areas where there is water over the road.   

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Drive sober or get pulled over through April 7

A special “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” drunk driving campaign is underway through April 7. Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning spokesperson Melody Kindraka says they are partnering with 11-hundred members of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association to distribute basketball-themed drinks coasters with a designated driver related message.

 

As much as we encourage people to find a sober ride home, we did have more that 450 drunk driving arrests last year during this same time period. So, we hope that by putting those reminders with the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association members and also getting out through the media that people will heed our warning and make responsible decisions.”

 

The federally funded effort is in response to an expected increase in drunk drivers during the NCAA basketball tournaments, high school and college spring breaks and Saint Patrick's Day.

 

 

 

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Governor looks for ways to deal with $9B in tax credits

The State of Michigan currently owes the big three automakers and other businesses 9-billion dollars in tax credits. The Governor wants more transparency with the automakers in particular to find out when those tax credits will be cashed in. Steve Arwood of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation is in charge of the effort.

 

Transparency, and being able to look at these credits down the line for budgeting purposes. I would say that that's going fairly well, but that's probably as far as I'd like to go in that discussion simply because I'm dealing with individual taxpayers.”

 

The situation is because of big tax credits the state offered businesses in the past.

 

 

 

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Michigan Housing Development Authority says they've cleaned house

The Director of the Michigan Housing Development Authority, Wayne Workman, says they've cleaned up the problem of rogue travel by agency officials.

 

I would describe it as cleaned up. We've responded to every recommendation from the internal audit, so it should never happen again. A lot of changes are being made.”

 

Last year, the previous head of the Authority was discovered to have been traveling all over the world spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on the taxpayers dime.

 

 

 

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Mi Drive app updates

The Michigan Department of Transportation is encouraging users of its popular Mi Drive traffic information app to update it.

 

The update offers improved graphics, faster map loading, new map layer controls (including a reset button), the ability to select and save favorite camera views directly on the map for quick reference, and a filter to sort construction searches by county and route.

 

According to M-DOT, many of the changes were made in response to feedback from users.

 

 

 

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Drive to legalize pot

Michigan could be the next state to legalize marijuana if State Representative Jeff Irwin has his way. He is planning to introduce a bill that would essentially legalize marijuana for recreational use, and, he says legalizing marijuana could pump an estimated 50 to 100 million dollars into Michigan’s economy.

 

When opponents say that marijuana will become too easily accessible for kids - Irwin counters that control will come through regulation.

 

 

 

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Ticket scalping could become legal in Michigan

Ticket scalping in Michigan has been illegal since 1931, but critics, such as Michigan Citizen Action spokesperson Linda Teeter, says if you own a ticket, you should be able to sell it for what the market dictates.

 

If you choose to do that and say, oh my gosh, now that team is in the semi-finals and here I have this ticket and I paid $20 for it, but now the real value is such-and-such.”

 

Team owners and venue operators claim scalping will drive away fans and entertainers. A legislative committee is taking up the measure to make scalping legal again on Tuesday.

 

 

 

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Former city manager sentenced to probation

The former city manager of Traverse City will spend the next two years on probation.

 

Jered Ottenwess pleaded no contest to domestic violence and attempted assault of a police officer earlier this month. Ottenwess tested for a blood alcohol level of .395 during a drunken rampage at his home.

 

He resigned as city manager and is currently in a treatment facility for alcoholism.

 

 

 

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Owosso man charged with murder

An Owosso man is being charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of his mother and serious injury to his father.

 

Scott Pouillion, 43, is in jail in lieu of $1.5 million dollar bond. He's also charged with assault with intent to murder.

 

Pouillon is accused of killing his 64-year-old mother Cheryl Pouillon, assaulting his father 65-year old Donald Pouillon and damaging the couple’s home in Greenwood Township near Harrison late Sunday morning. Donald Pouillon remains in a Grand Rapids hospital in critical, but stable condition.

 

 

 

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Big Rapids City Commission approves the purchase of new water/sewer meters

Residents in the City of Big Rapids as well as Big Rapids township will be getting new water/sewer meters. The meters will cost a little over $45,000 between the two municipalities. The Big Rapids City Commission approved the purchase during last nights meeting at City Hall. Big Rapids Mayor Mark Warba says these new meters will allow homeowners to check their water usage in real time on their computer. Public Works Director Mark Gifford says he's hoping installation of the new water/sewer meters will take place in the next two months.  

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Two drivers injured in two car accident in Mecosta Co.

Two people were sent to the hospital on Saturday after a two car accident in Mecosta County's Green Township. Deputies say it happened on Northland Dr. near 18 mile where a Big Rapids man traveling southbound crossed the center line and struck a vehicle driven by a 18 year old woman from Big Rapids who was headed northbound. Both were taken to Spectrum Big Rapids hospital with non-life threatening injuries.    

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Campaign on Prop 1 heats up

A political consultant in Michigan says those trying to convince people to vote yes on Proposal 1 in May are turning turning to shock value in their campaign. Two commercials are now airing showing children being driven on “dangerous roads.” Pollster Tom Shields says the tactic is to be expected.

 

When you're starting below 50 percent on a ballot proposal, you need to do something to shock people to get them to do something that they're not normally accustomed to doing, and that's raising their own taxes.”

 

Whether the campaign is successful will be determined on May 5th.

 

 

 

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More deposits on bottles?

A bill is being considered in Lansing to expand the state's bottle deposit law to water bottles, as well as other non-alcoholic, non-carbonated drinks, such as juice and tea containers.

 

The bill, which would keep the deposit at ten cents per container, is sponsored by Senator Rebekah Warren of Ann Arbor.

 

Current law already requires containers of soda pop, beer and wine coolers to carry a ten cent deposit.

 

 

 

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Homicide investigation in Clare Co

The Clare County Sheriff's Department is currently investigating a homicide. Officials say a 64-year-old woman died from knife wounds and a 65-year-old man is in serious condition following an assault at a home on Beatrice Road.

 

Sheriff John Wilson says the suspect, a 43-year-old man from Owosso, broke several windows in the home and is believed to be the victims' son. The suspect then fled the scene in a semi tractor without a trailer and was spotted by a Clare City police officer along US 127. He was arrested shortly after in Isabella County.

 

 

 

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Does Snyder endorse adoption by gay couples?

Governor Rick Snyder says adoption in the state of Michigan is a good thing, but he wouldn't say whether or not that includes adoption by gay parents.

 

I was talking about family members and being a loving family as I believe. Yeah, and I didn't make a reference either way. I will stick with my original statement – loving family members and loving parents,” he said regarding statements made to the legislature.

 

The governor says he is in "discussions" with lawmakers about the issue.

 

 

 

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Proposal would give youthful offenders a break

Sponsors say a group of bills amending the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act will give youthful offenders a better break when it comes to criminal conviction records. Representative Marcia Hovey Wright of Muskegon says youthful offenders should be given the chance to clear their records.

 

Collectively, these three bills aim at insuring that youthful offenders who make a mistake in their youth are not punished for the rest of their lives.”

 

The HYTA is designed to allow those offenders a chance to turn their lives around without the stigma of a criminal conviction. Among other things, the bills ease age thresholds to allow those up to age 23 to be eligible. Currently it's 21. Sponsors see the measure as a way to give young offenders a better chance at a job later on and in the long run could ease the cost of Michigan's prison system.

 

The bills would allow a court to require a person assigned to youthful trainee status to maintain employment or attend a high school, high school equivalency program, community college, college, university, or trade school.

 

They also allow a court to subject the trainee to electronic monitoring during the probationary term if the offense had been committed on or after the individual's 21st birthday.

 

The bills were passed by the House and now move on to the Senate for consideration.

 

 

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Blaze at apartments in Isabella Co

One unit is destroyed and several others have smoke and water damage following a fire at an apartment complex in Isabella County. Firefighters from Mount Pleasant arrived at the scene around 8 o'clock Sunday night to find flames coming from the Jamestown Apartment complex on Isabella Road.

 

The fire was contained to one upper unit of the structure where the majority of residents are Central Michigan University students. No one was injured and the fire remains under investigation.

 

 

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Home destroyed in Osceola Co fire

A home in Osceola County is a pile of ashes following a fire this weekend.

 

Evart firefighters say the fire started at a residence on Negaunee Lake on Saturday and it took more than four crews several hours to extinguish the blaze.

 

Everyone in the home escaped and the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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Attorney General warns of tax scams

It's tax season, so Attorney General Bill Schuette is offering tips to Michigan residents to avoid IRS scams and tax-related identity theft. Schuette says con artists take advantage of tax season at the expense of Michigan taxpayers and notes that anybody contacting a consumer claiming to be from the IRS and asking for personal identifying information is a crook.

 

Some common scams include: high-pressure phone calls demanding over-the-phone payment for back taxes, emails claiming a tax refund is available and links to a website asking for personal information, and cash reward online surveys that ask for personal identifying information.

 

Schuette says the IRS will never initiate an e-mail to a taxpayer so e-mails purporting to be from the IRS are fraudulent. He encourages consumers to report fraudulent IRS e-mails or phone calls to the IRS.

 

 

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Big Rapids native makes big impression at SWSX

 

A Big Rapids native is making a big impression at this year's South by Southwest (SWSX) Festival in Austin, Texas. Mo Scarpelli, who graduated from Big Rapids High School in 2004, is co-director, co-producer and cinematographer of the film “Frame By Frame” which is being screened at SWSX.

 

Scarpelli explains the film is about four Afghan journalists who are in the vanguard of a post-Taliban Afghanistan where they are subject to threats from war lords, censorship and the suppression of women, among other obstacles to a free and open press.

 

“They're defying those odds to tell stories of Afghanistan and reshape the narrative of Afghanistan as more just a war-torn county.”

 

The idea for the film came about when Scarpelli's friend, Alexandria Bombach, received some video footage from Afghanistan. Scarpelli explains that the footage didn't match up with many people's preconceived notions of what the country is like.

 

“It was not at all like suicide bombs and nothing was crazy, there were no burkas, and she was like, 'Why do I always have this certain view of Afghanistan?' So she decided that she wanted to make a film there,” says Scarpelli.

 

Bombach asked Scarpelli to accompany her to Afghanistan acting as co-director, co-producer and cinematographer. She says the time she spent there changed her view of the country too.

 

“My co-director's from New Mexico and she said it's a lot like New Mexico, and she wasn't lying. Beautiful mountains and beautiful amazing, amazing people, hospitable people.”

 

The film was shot in 2012 after which Scarpelli and Bombach held a KickStarter campaign, raising $70,000 to put the film together. Scarpelli says they've been working on it ever since and the reception for their work at SWSX has been very positive and encouraging.

 

“It's going really, really well, we're so excited. And the reactions we've gotten are pretty strong, I mean people are very touched. It's been pretty amazing, we're actually pleasantly surprised. We thought that we were going to get lost in the mix here, but we found that actually, somehow, 'Frame By Frame' is standing out.”

 

The next step is to get the film “out to the world” by getting it to distributors and people who are interested in investing in the film. “Frame By Frame” is scheduled for screenings at film festivals in Atlanta and Cleveland and other U.S. venues with an international screening set for sometime later this year.

 

And, Scarpelli says she can't wait to bring her work home.

 

“It's really important to me to screen in Big Rapids. You know, it's like home. I want everybody there to see it.”

 

The film's trailer can be seen at http://www.framebyframethefilm.com/ . Scarpelli notes that the best way to find out when “Frame By Frame” will be coming to Big Rapids is to sign up for their email updates at the website.

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Grand Rapids teen faces additional charges in school bomb threat case

The Grand Rapids high school student charged last month with making death threats against three female students is now facing child pornography charges. 17-year old Matthew Herrington was arraigned Thursday on charges of being in possession of child sexually abusive material and making child sexually abusive material. Bond was set at $100,000.

 

Herrington was charged earlier this month on two counts of false report or threat of terrorism and is facing up to 40 years in prison. Police say he made Instagram threats targeting three girls at West Catholic High School last month.

 

Herrington admitted he was trying to scare the victims, but told investigators he had no intension of following through with the threats.  (MRN)

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State representative criticized for gay slur

State representative Al Pscholka is being criticized for a comment on the house floor this week, referring to the state of California as the "land of fruits and nuts," an expression seen by many as a gay slur.

 

Even California, the land of fruits and nuts, has deregulated this industry. I probably shouldn't have said that,” said Pscholka on the House floor.

 

Openly gay Representative Jeremy Moss of Southfield says while it's a play on words, "everybody knows it's just a derogatory term to refer to gay people as fruits." Pscholka apologized and says he did not intend to make an anti-gay slur.

 

 

 

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End of film tax incentive program heads to the Senate

A measure ending Michigan's film tax incentive program is heading to the Michigan Senate after being approved by the House this week. Grand Ledge Senator Rick Jones says the money used for the incentives is better spent elsewhere.

 

I'm not against movie credits, if the money is there. But we have other needs. We've got roads, we've got community health, we've got things we have to take care of.”

 

Debate on the bill in the Senate starts next week.

 

 

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Lawmaker seeks truce with criminal gangs

In an effort to stem gang violence in the state, State House Representative Harvey Santana says he's going to tackle the problem at the source by meeting with gang leaders in prison.

 

We're going to have a roundtable discussion with some of the leaders of the most notorious gangs in the State of Michigan. Latin Kings, Latin Counts, Crips, Bloods, Gangster Disciples, you name it. And, basically, what we're going to ask them to do is to give us peace and to come to a truce.”

 

Santana says in return for the truce, he's going to offer help in finding jobs for gang members and their relatives.

 

 

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GM reduces warranties

The powertrain warranty on Chevrolet and GMC vehicles will be reduced beginning with the 2016 models.

 

General Motors announcing it will now offer a five-year, 60-thousand mile warranty instead of the five-year, 100-thousand mile guarantee.

 

GM introduced the longer warranty in 2007 in an effort to attract buyers. Officials say they will invest the savings in technology items that appeal to consumers.

 

 

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Arrest made in sexual assault case

A 29-year-old man is under arrest after he sexually assaulted an underage girl according to Grand Rapids police.

 

The alleged assault took place at a home on Stonebrook Court North East at the Stonebrook Townhome Apartments on Thursday where the suspect left the scene prior to police arriving.

 

Detectives were able to locate the man at a home on Beckwith View Avenue North East where he was taken into custody.

 

Police say the suspect and the victim know each other, but no other details are being released at this time.

 

 

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Fmr. Beal City football coach arrested on a host of felony charges

The former Head Football Coach for Beal City High School was arrested this afternoon on numerous felony charges that he sent sexually explicit materials to his players over the past 4 years. 46-year old Louis Michael Rau of Weidman has been charged with one count of accosting a child for immoral purposes, 7 counts of distributing sexually explicit material to a child and 4 counts of furnishing/ selling alcohol to a minor. Police say the incidents occurred between 2011-2015, five victims were identified, with the youngest being 13. Rau is currently out on bond.  

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Woman hospitalized following Newaygo County fire

A Newaygo County woman is in the hospital following a mobile home fire late Thursday night. Firefighters say the home was a total loss when they arrived on the scene.

 

A man and a woman were in the home when the fire broke out and the man was able to pull the woman to safety. She was flown to the hospital with severe burns.

 

Five departments responded to the fire, which was was hampered by weather conditions. Firefighters said a fire hydrant was frozen and they had to go up a long, muddy and slushy driveway to get to the home.

 

The cause of the fire is under investigation and the victim's identities aren't being released at this time.

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GM recalls Chevy Volt

General Motors is recalling the extended range electric Chevy Volt because of a possible carbon monoxide risk.

 

When the Volt is in electric mode it’s very quiet so it’s easy for a driver to forget to shut it off and when that happens the battery drains and the gasoline generator starts and if the car is parked in the garage the fumes can get into the house.

 

Two people have been overcome by carbon monoxide after fumes built up in their houses. The fix will limit the time that a parked Volt can be left running.

 

The recall involves 64,000 Volts from the 2011 to 2013 model years.

 

 

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Three of eleven chopper crash victims from Michigan

Three of the victims of a military helicopter crash in Florida are from Michigan. The chopper went down on Tuesday during training off the Florida Panhandle with seven Marines and four soldiers aboard.

 

Authorities say Marine Staff Sergeant Andrew Seif of Holland, Marine Marcus Bawol from Warren and Trevor Blaylock of Lake Orion were aboard the helicopter when it crashed.

 

 

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Attorney General Bill Schuette apologizes

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is apologizing to two reporters who were issued subpoenas for notes and materials collected in connection to a lawsuit against the Department of Corrections. Schuette says on Thursday he called Huffington Post political reporter Dana Liebelson and Ann Arbor public radio station, Michigan Radio, reporter Cynthia Canty.

 

Liebelson in a series of social media posts, said she had been served two subpoenas last week for notes obtained "during a reporting trip on juvenile prison conditions." Canty was served a subpoena for audio and video recordings made during an interview with a lawyer for inmates suing the state for alleged sexual and physical abuse sustained as juveniles.


Schuette says he was out-of-town when news broke about the subpoenas. He says a mistake was made that should not have occurred and all subpoenas involving journalists will now need his approval.

 


 

 

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Former cop heading to trial for rape

A former Grand Rapids police officer will stand trial for raping an ex-girlfriend. 24-year-old Ryan James Bruggink of Byron Center is accused of going to his ex-girlfriend's home in Wyoming and assaulting her.

 

The woman testified in a district court hearing on Wednesday, saying he raped her at knifepoint with her seven-month-old baby in the same bed.

 

 

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Man who helped hide body sentenced

A Benton Harbor man who was convicted of helping to hide the body of a woman who died of a drug overdose last year is being sentenced to 90 days in jail and two years of probation.

 

41-year old Shannon Barber must also pay over three thousand dollars in restitution. Prosecutors say 29-year old Taylor Elzey died of an overdose at an apartment in Hagar Township last October, and acquaintances Tracy Manning and Stevie Viel got Barber's help in moving the body to an orchard in Benton Township.

 

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Convicted murderer takes plea

Convicted Wexford County murderer Eric Beauchamp is taking a plea deal that resolves 11 other felony charges in his case.

 

Beauchamp has agreed to plead no contest to three felony charges of assaulting a police officer, the use of a dangerous weapon and torturing/killing an animal. Prosecutors will drop 8 other charges in the case.

 

Last month, a jury convicted Beauchamp of second-degree murder for shooting and killing his estranged girlfriend, 34-year old Lindsey Morgan. Beauchamp also allegedly stole a neighbor's pickup truck and killed the man's dog.

 

 

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Bill to end film tax incentives heads to Senate

The Michigan House is approving a measure that ends Michigan's film tax incentive program. The vote was 58-51. The bill now heads for the Michigan Senate, where its future could be in question.

 

 

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Lawmaker wants to take Michigan out of Daylight Savings time

A proposal has surfaced in Lansing to remove Michigan from Daylight Saving Time.
State House Democrat Jeff Irwin of Ann Arbor says D-S-T has worn out its welcome, noting that after time changes in March, traffic and workplace injuries have gone up, presumably due in part to the loss of sleep over the time change weekend.
He says it originally worked to save energy when it was first devised, during World War I, but today it's no longer needed.
Changing Michigan's status can be done simply through legislative approval and a signature from the governor.  

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Lawmakers talking about cutting off welfare to parents of child truants

A legislative committee Wednesday opened testimony on a measure to codify a state rule which allows Michigan to cut off welfare to families if a child or children are habitual truants.
Supporters say the idea is to promote education. Terrence Beurer of the Michigan Department of Human Services says it serves to provide incentives to stay in school.   He says it's important that the legislature put the policy into law because requiring attendance as a condition of welfare increases chances of success for the child.
But opponents like Lisa Ruby of the Michigan Poverty Law Program, says while parents need to be responsible, the policy instead only serves to punish, by stressing out families. (MRN) 

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UPDATE: Arrest made in fatal fire, victims shot before blaze was set

 

A man is under arrest following a fatal mobile home fire. 32-year-old Corey Lee Lavalley is being charged with felony homicide after his mobile home in Dorr Township burned down on Tuesday.

 

The father of one of the victims says all three were shot before their house was set on fire. William McComber lost his 12-year-old daughter, Emma, the girl's mother, 33-year old Debra Sheppard and half-brother Corey LaValley, Jr. in the Tuesday afternoon blaze.

 

Corey Lee LaValley was arrested Tuesday night near Charlotte in Eaton County.

 

 

 

 

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Fire destroys part of historic downtown district in Isabella Co

 

A number of businesses are now in ashes following a fire in Isabella County. The buildings were in the historic district of downtown Shepherd.

 

Village Police Chief Michael Main says a laundromat, printing business and medical supply company are among the businesses lost and the burned buildings are unstable and will be demolished.

 

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

 

 

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Police searching for walk-in armed robber

Mount Pleasant Police are looking for a suspect in an armed robbery.

 

Authorities say the victims heard a knock on the door of a residence in the 800 block of Whitney and, when the door was opened, a man with a gun walked in an handed them a note demanding drugs and money.

 

The suspect is described as about six feet tall wearing a dark blue sweatshirt, jeans, leather gloves and a camouflage ski mask. Anyone with information is asked to call the Mount Pleasant Police Department.

 

 

 

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Fatality on Houghton Lake

An investigation is ongoing following a fatal snowmobile crash this weekend. Roscommon County Deputies were called to Houghton Lake Saturday night where they found Charles Pardo of Flint about 200 yards off shore.

 

Witnesses to the accident were performing CPR when police arrived, but Pardo died from his injuries. Deputies believe speed and alcohol were factors in the crash.

 

 

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One dead near Grand Rapids

One person is dead and another seriously injured following a two car crash this weekend.

 

Police say it happened at the intersection of US-31 and James Street in Holland Township on Saturday when 63-year-old Karolyn Rich failed to stop at a red traffic signal. A pickup truck hit Rich's car and rolled over.

 

Rich and the other driver, 40-year-old Brent Groenewoud, were taken to Holland Community Hospital. Rich was pronounced dead

shortly after. Groenewoud is listed in serious but stable condition.

 

 

 

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Frozen pipe the cause of sewage spill in Wexford Co.

 

Crews from Infrastructure Alternatives are monitoring the situation following a third sewage spill this winter in Wexford County's Haring Township. Project Manager Sierra Brown says the weekend spill was caused by a frozen sewer line near Fox Motors. Brown says less than 25 gallons of sewage is estimated to have been released on the Fox Motors lot during the overflow and did not make contact with any bare ground or surface water.  

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Chrysler recalls 700,000 vehicles due to faulty ignition switch

Once again there is a major recall from one of the “Big Three Automakers”. Chrysler is recalling 700,000 minivans and SUVs over a faulty ignition switch that may cause certain vehicles to stall without warning. Chrysler officials say  bumpy roads could cause these switches to slip into the 'off' position, effectively disabling the vehicle. Until the repairs can be made, officials ask that everything's removed from the keyring execpt for the ignition key. The recall applies to Dodge Journey SUVs, and Chrysler Town and Countries from 2008 through 2010.  

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Two drivers sustain injuries after car accident in Morton Twp.

Two people suffered injuries after a car accident in Morton Township. Mecosta Co. Sheriff Deputies say it happened  on Main St just west of Webber St where a woman from Mecosta failed to yield by pulling onto the road from in front of Mann's Hardware and struck a vehicle driven by a man from Jackson traveling west bound on Main St.  Non-Life threatening Injuries were sustained by both drivers.  

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Local lawmaker searches for alternative school funding

In light of increased school funding being left up to voters on the Proposition 1 vote in May, some lawmakers are looking for other ways to bring in more money for the state's schools. Representative Phil Potvin of Cadillac says bringing back old-fashioned bake sales is one idea.

 

The federal government came out with a mandate saying you could no longer have bake sales at your schools. The food is not nutritional,” he says.

 

In 2014, the federal government banned bake sales in schools that did not adhere to nutritional standards as part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 2010. Potvin says an exemption has been granted in other states and he'd like to see the same for Michigan.

 

I have gone to the state superintendent and requested that he give us an exemption on this and allow it to happen in Michigan and this has happened in 21 states.”

 

While states are allowed exemptions from the federal rules, the Michigan Department of Education said it opted to not allow any fund-raisers that don't meet the healthy standards after consultation with local schools.

 

Potvin says he has a bill waiting in committee granting the exemption.

 

 

 

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Snyder unreliable on environment

The Michigan League of Conservation Voters says The Snyder Administration is "unreliable" when it comes to protecting the state's land, air and water, based on a new report released by that group this week.

 

Michigan L-C-V Deputy Director, Jack Schmitt, says their 2013-14 "How Green Is Your Governor? Report Card" found Governor Snyder receiving an average "C" grade for 67 decisions he made concerning the environment and conservation during the second two years of his first term. That was the same as a mid-term grade given by the League two years ago.
 

Schmitt says Governor Snyder's worst marks came with his lack of protection of the Great Lakes, falling from a midterm grade of "C-plus" to an "F" in the latest report card.

 

Specifically, on March 19, 2013, the Department of Environmental Quality issued a permit for a sulfide mine within 200 feet of Lake Superior. July of 2013, Governor Snyder signed a bill that significantly weakened Michigan's wetlands protection program.”

 

However, he says, the Administration was supportive in the budget for conservation and environmental issues and with clean-air and energy policy, and the Governor deserves praise for his veto of a bio-diversity bill.


Schmitt say Snyder has a prime opportunity to score better this year as Michigan's Clean Energy Law is set to expire. The entire report card can be viewed at the Michigan League of Conservation Voters web site.

 

 

 

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International Women's Day

Tomorrow is International Women's Day. Make It Happen is the 2015 theme, encouraging effective action for advancing and recognising women. Merrill Lynch financial advisor Marie Vanerian says it's a day to take notice of women's advancements, but they shouldn't be taken for granted.

 

We tend to get, I don't want to say a little lazy, but a little bit lackluster about the fact that we're still far behind the eight ball when it comes to the gender gaps.”

 

Vanerian notes a record was broke this year in government with 104 women sworn into the 144th Congress. The first International Women's Day was held in 1911.

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Check smoke detectors while springing forward

The State Fire Marshal is urging Michigan residents to make it a priority to ensure your home is equipped with working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors as you set clocks ahead one hour and "spring forward" to Daylight Saving Time this weekend. Daylight Saving Time officially begins on Sunday morning at 2 a.m.
 

Rich Miller says the risk of dying from a fire in a home without working smoke alarms is twice as high as in a home that has working smoke alarms. 30 people died in house fires in Michigan last year. Miller says many homes still have only one smoke alarm and that's simply enough. He says there should be working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom and in the basement.


He recommends buying newer models of smoke alarms with lithium batteries that will last the life of the unit. Replace all smoke alarms every 10 years or sooner if they do not respond properly when tested. Test all smoke alarms at least once a month by using the test button and replace batteries once a year.
 

According to the National Fire Protection Agency, your risk of dying in a house fire is cut in half with a working smoke alarm. Approximately two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in properties where no smoke alarms were present or were not working properly.
 

Smoke alarms usually fail due to missing, disconnected, or dead batteries. People often remove or disconnect batteries because of nuisance activations - a chirping sound that warns of a low battery.

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Two year old baby murder trial continues

 

The Michigan Attorney General's office and the Mason County prosecutor are asking for a new judge in the ongoing Baby Kate case.

 

The prosecution has asked that Mason County Circuit Court Judge Peter Wadel step aside. Judge Wadel, acting as a district judge, is the one who dismissed murder charges against defendant Sean Phillips earlier in the case. The decision was overturned by Circuit Court Judge Richard Cooper and ordered that the murder case go to trial. But Coooper has since retired and Wadel is the chief judge of all of Mason County courts now, and assigned himself back to the case.
 

Prosecutors argue that Wadel acting as trial judge would create an "appearance of impropriety" because Wadel - acting outside his role as a circuit judge -- has already ruled on the same issues that would arise in the trial. They argue that the judge's impartiality could be questioned.

 

 

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Student killer pleads guilty

 

A Grand Rapids man is admitting to killing a 20-year old Michigan State University student in a robbery gone bad more than a year ago. Marquay McCoy, 20, pleaded guilty in Ingham County Circuit Court to second degree murder and armed robbery.
 

McCoy was accused of the shooting death of Dominique Nolff of Middleville and wounding his roommate, 20-year old Corbin Holwerda of Grand Haven, at their off-campus apartment in the Cedar Village apartment complex, just east of the school’s campus on January, 31 2014. He was on parole at the time.
 

McCoy faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced on April 8.

 

 

 

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Keep the water running

And even through the temperatures are getting warmer and daylight savings time starts this weekend, a sure sign of spring, authorities are advising residents to to keep following run water advisory guidelines.

 

City of Cadillac Utilities Director Jeff Dietlin says warmer air temperatures doesn't mean the ground has had a chance to thaw. He says the city will notify residents when it's safe to turn off their water.

 

 

 

 

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Seasonal Weight Restrictions start March 11th

Beginning next week the Mecosta Co. Road Commission is implemting its season weight restrictions on all county roads. The restrictions which begin March 11th at 8am are put into place to prevent potholes and other damage to roads. Anyone with questions about the restrictions can contact Road Commission Superintendent Tim Nestle at (231) 796-2611.  

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Money is not the only problem at poorer schools

Fifty-six Michigan schools districts are currently running a budget deficit. Michigan's superintendent of schools Mike Flannagan says the problem needs to be dealt with aggressively.

 

We have to deal with the poverty issues. It does have to do with economic development, but it also has to do with some other things that we can do as a state because it's obvious there's a pattern, and rural and urban poverty has a big impact on this and we need to deal with this in a more aggressive way.”

 

Flannagan also believes the growth of charter schools is adding to an enrollment instability problem, so he supports a moratorium on new charters.

 

 

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HS grad rates up

Michigan's high school graduation rate continues to improve as nearly 79 percent of high school seniors in the class of 2014 graduated within four years. According to data released Thursday by the Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Information, the state's graduation rate was 78.58 percent for the 2013-2014 school year, up 1.62 percentage points from the previous school year. It's the fourth year in a row the graduation rate among Michigan students has increased. The graduation rate was 74.33 percent in the 2010-2011 school year.


The Center's Director, Thomas Howell, says there's been a steady increase in graduation rates since 2011, when the more rigorous Michigan Merit Curriculum requirements took full effect.


At the same time, Michigan's dropout rate declined for the fourth consecutive year. In the 2013-14 school year, 9.61 percent of Michigan high school students dropped out of school. That's down from 10.54 percent in 2012-13. The dropout rate had been at 11.13 percent in the 2010-2011 school year.

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Right To Work for public employees?

One state legislator says police and firefighters in Michigan should be covered under the state's right to work law. Representative Gary Glenn says those public sector workers should be able to choose.

 

Arguably, the people who are willing to put their lives on the line for us everyday ought to be first in line to get the same civil rights protections that we give all other categories of employees in Michigan now, and that is the freedom to choose to join a union, pay dues to a union if they want to, but also be protected by law from being discriminated against or threatened with firing if they choose not, as a matter of conscience, to join or pay dues to a union.”

 

Michigan became the 24th state in the nation to pass right to work laws in December of 2012.

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Body from 34 year old murder identified

Police have identified a body discovered 34 years ago in Bossier Parish, Louisiana as Carol Anne Cole of Kalamazoo.

 

Cole's body was found in 1981 and officials say DNA samples provided by Cole's family and the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety match that of the victim.

 

Louisiana police say Cole had multiple stab wounds when she was found and they determined she had been killed in late 1980.

 

 

 

 

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Local lawmaker supports Prop 1

As both sides of the Proposition 1 controversy gear up for the May 5th election, State Representative Phil Potvin of Cadillac says the legislation appears to be the number one option for fixing the roads. Potvin says his constituents are already increasing taxes to fix their roads.

 

In Osceola County, as an example because it's one of the counties that I represent, 13 out of the 16 townships have already done this and they have a road tax in their townships supporting their own roads without the interference of the federal government and the state government.”

 

Potvin says the vote on Proposition 1 give the citizens a chance to say how the state's road should be funded.

 

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Prop 1 losing support

Republican Governor Rick Snyder will not get the support of GOP Attorney General Bill Schuette for the sales tax hike to fix Michigan roads. The May 5th ballot proposal increases the sales tax from 6 to 7 percent.

 

Schuette labels the measure a $1.9 billion "Christmas tree tax hike" saying Proposal One has more pot holes than some of Michigan's roads. The Attorney General's opposition comes during the same week that the Michigan Chamber of Commerce decided to remain neutral on the issue and the 25,000 member Michigan Realtors Association decided not to take a position.

 

 

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Film credits move toward legislative chopping block

Michigan's film industry is one step closer to losing state tax incentives. A group of lawmakers in the state House voted on Wednesday to end incentives for films made in the state. Opponents of the measure say the tax breaks create jobs in the state while opponents, like Charles Owens of the Federation of Independent Business says that's not so.

 

“Those jobs never pan out, that the amount of money invested by taxpayers is, frankly, wasted compared to what it would be if it was just invested in, say, roads or other infrastructure.”

 

The bill now moves to the full House for consideration; if passed, it moves to the Senate.

 

 

 

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City supplies citizens with bottled water

Many people in Michigan have been contending with frozen plumbing due to recent cold temperatures. The City of Manistee is going so far as to hand out cases of bottled water to those who have been without running water for days.

 

Manistee Public Safety Director Dave Bachman says they had to do something. The city is also opening the marina for public showers, restrooms and laundry. This is only the second time in Manistee's history that they've issued a running water notice.

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Six hospitalized in head-on collision

A number of people are hospitalized following a two car crash in Otsego County.

 

Police say a head-on collision occurred on Old 27, south of Charles Brink Road in Bagley Township Wednesday morning when a southbound pickup lost control, crossed the center line and struck a northbound car.

 

Six people were involved in the crash, and three were reported as seriously injured.

 

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CPL laws about to change

Starting this fall, Michigan residents seeking concealed weapons carry permits will no longer go their county gun board, but instead will head to their county clerk's office.

 

Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation on Wednesday making the county clerk's responsible for issuing concealed pistol licenses. The clerks will get some help from the Michigan State Police who will run background checks on applicants. That's to ensure licenses aren't issued to known criminals, the mentally unstable and people with domestic violence convictions.

 

Those familiar with the law say it simplifies the process and could spell an end to long wait lists. Michigan is the 47th state to retool its gun laws in this way. An online renewal system's already being planned.

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Run water advisories

A number of municipalities in our area are issuing run water advisories including Reed City, Baldwin, Mt. Pleasant, Manistee, Evart, Marion, Clare, Farwell and Harrison.

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Man pleads guilty in wife's murder

 

A 40-year-old man has admitted killing his wife and father-in-law in northern Michigan late last year.

 

Keith Ferguson of Kalkaska shot and killed his wife Tiffany at a home in Kalkaska County's Cold Springs Township November 18, 2014. He then shot and killed his father-in-law, James Webber, in Excelsior Township and later took a woman hostage.

 

Ferguson pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count each of first degree murder and second degree murder. He faces life in prison without parole when sentenced, which prosecutors says will likely happen sometime this month.

 


 

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Police officers get death threats

The police chief in the Grand Rapids suburb of Wyoming says the officers involved in the shooting death of a 31-year old man in January have received death threats. The officers who fired at Alan James have been on leave since the shooting took place and they have never been publicly named.

 

Officials say James had already fired 17 shots at officers with a 12 gauge shotgun on January 29th and was moving towards a loaded 30/30 rifle leaning against his house when officers shot him. He died about a week later after being removed from life support.

 

The threats have been made by members of the James family. No one has been charged, but police have not closed the door on that possibility. Kent County Prosecutor Bill Forsyth determined the police "honestly and reasonably believed that James posed an immediate threat" in finding the shooting broke no laws.

 

 

 

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U of M's Harbaugh rescues motorist

University of Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh made the transition to Michigan just in time for one winter driver. Michigan State Police Sgt. Mark Thompson says it all began when the rain and snow came down.

 

According to police Harbaugh pulled a 53-year-old woman from her overturned car in Ann Arbor Tuesday afternoon. Harbaugh was driving in the area with a member of the UM athletic staff Jim Minick - both men stopped and help in the rescue and first aid.

 

Two women were in the Jeep at the time, both wearing seatbealts. The driver was partially ejected through the driver’s side window, the 73-year-old passenger remained in the car when it overturned. Both women were taken to an area hospital treated for non-life-threatening injuries. The driver may get a ticket for speeding.

 

 

 

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Child sex abuse at home daycare

 

A southwest Michigan man is facing child sexual abuse charges. 46-year old Cary Jones of Three Rivers is accused of sexually assaulting children at a home daycare where he was a resident.

 

Attorney General Bill Schuette says Jones was home during a majority of the time that the children were being supervised by an employee at the daycare. He often provided transportation from school to the daycare and would sometimes be left alone with the children at the residence. The Department of Human Services revoked the daycare’s license after they received reports of children being sexually abused at the facility.

 

Jones was arraigned Tuesday in St. Joseph County’s 3B District Court on one count of First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct and eight counts Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct. Jones could face a minimum of 25 years in prison if convicted of the more serious charge. He is currently being held at the St. Joseph County jail.

 

 

 

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Student charged in death threats

 

The Grand Rapids teen who police say made Instagram threats targeting three girls last month is being officially been charged. 17-year old Matthew Herrington was arraigned Monday on two counts of false report or threat of terrorism and is facing up to 40 years in prison.

 

Detectives say Herrington told them he wanted to see the girls come to West Catholic High School with "fear in their eyes". Two girls were told "You two will be the first". Police say he told a third girl, "You will be number 5". Herrington admitted he was trying to scare the victims, but told investigators he had no intention of following through with the threats.

 

The honor student has been suspended and banned from diocese of Grand Rapids school property. Herrington will be back in court on March 12 for a probable cause hearing.

 


 

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Guns in school?

People attending an education conference in Michigan earlier this week told organizers that concealed weapons should be kept out of schools. Educators and Representative Adam Zemke agree.

 

But it's not a one size fits all, and I just don't think that expanding the use of everybody being able to carry a gun in a school is the solution,” he says.

 

Others at the conference say schools are actually safer if teachers are allowed to carry guns to class.

 

 

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Manton woman killed following car/train accident

A Manton woman is dead following a car/train accident up in Wexford County. Deputies say it happened in Cedar Creek Township, where 48-year old Kathryn Paddock was heading eastbound on 14 Road when she was struck by a northbound train. She was pronounced dead at the scene. 

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Referee protection law moves forward

Following an incident where a player punched and killed a referee at an adult-league soccer match in Livonia last year, a Senate Committee is approving a measure to toughen laws against those who attack referees and other officials in Michigan. But, Senator Patrick Colbeck says it sets a bad precedence.

 

I think this is bad precedent, bad law, we should be treating all people equal no matter what their profession is and what the circumstance is. An assault is an assault, a murder is a murder, and they should be treated equally across the board. As long as we're differentiating between one person and another person just on the basis of their profession, I can't support it.”

 

The bill now goes to the full Senate.

 

 

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Forfeiture laws challenged

Currently, police in the state of Michigan can enter your home and seize your property if they suspect you of drug dealing. Representative Jeff Irwin says this is a problem because the police then use the profits from the sale of that property to fund their own departments.

 

That creates all sorts of insidious incentives when those police agencies can use those dollars directly for their own compensation. And it also, just really turns on its head that whole concept of innocent until proven guilty. So, you have to convict the person before you can take their assets, I think that's a really simple fix.”

 

Irwin says he wants to see the current law changed.

 

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MDOT defends road construction audits

Amid the controversy surrounding Proposition 1 and road funding in the state, an auditor found that the State Transportation Department has been negligent in enforcing warranties on road work. MDOT Director Kirk Steudle says there's room for improvement, but he defends the department's handling of warranties.

 

We can get better at what we're doing. We've had some slip, we agreed we had some that slipped. In context, it's about 4 percent. So, 95, 96 percent of them were absolutely done on time perfect in every way,” he says.

 

The audit does, however, provide ammunition for those opposed to Proposition 1.

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Proposal 1 proponents want to share the wealth

Many people who are in favor of Propostion 1, which would increase the state sales tax by one percent and providing funding for a number of areas such as schools and local revenue sharing, say the potential new revenue stream shouldn't be used strictly for roads. Detroit Regional Chamber spokesperson Brad Williams puts it this way.

 

I've got a five-year-old daughter. I don't think of her as a special interest. I think she's special, but she's not a special interest. I don't think cops and firefighters are special interests, I don't think the working poor are special interests. But most significantly, to this question, I don't think the motorists in this state that expect safe and effective transportation are special interests,” he says.

 

Williams is a lobbyist for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

 

 

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State battles antiquated systems

 

While the state currently spends 22-million dollars a year dealing with the latest that tech-savy hackers can throw at their computer systems, other departments, such as the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, are also having problems keeping up with technology

 

"We actually still use COBOL, that was created in 1959. It's my understanding that there's one state employee that can work with that system and and if he ever retires, then I think we're in big trouble. So, we're hoping and trying to update those systems to get us in the modern era," says Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs Frank Waters.

 

Officials say most home computers are far more advanced than many systems in government around the country.

 

 

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Spring is on the way

There are sure signs that the long frigid winter is just about over. Detroit Tigers spring training is under way and the Department of Natural Resources is gearing up for it's annual statewide Frog and Toad Survey.

 

The DNR say its 20th annual survey will begin this spring in an effort help biologists monitor frog and toad abundance and distribution in the state. The DNR Wildlife Division coordinates and analyzes data for the survey, while volunteers throughout the state conduct the field work for the survey.

 

 

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Credit and finance number one

Attorney General Bill Schuette is releasing his annual list of the Top Ten consumer complaints in Michigan.

 

Credit and financial concerns were again at the top of the list with over 17-hundred written complaints in 2014. Gasoline, fuel and energy problems were second while complaints about telecommunications came in third.

 

Retail complaints and problems with motor vehicles including used car dealers and repair shops round out the top five.

 

 

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Cop charged with assault

 

A rookie Grand Rapids Police Officer is being charged with breaking into the home of his ex-girlfriend and sexually assaulting her.

 

Officials say 24-year-old Ryan James Bruggink of Byron Center is accused of going the his ex-girlfriend's home last year, pushing her down when she opened the door and assaulting her before he left.

 

Bruggink was suspended from the force in December, when the department was alerted of the charges.

 

 

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Corrections officer heading to jail

 

A former corrections officer with the Barry County Sheriff's Department is facing five years in prison. 45-year old Wayne Hoffman pleaded no contest last week to gross indecency between a male and female.

 

Hoffman resigned his position in May of 2014 when an investigation was launched into his alleged improper contact with female inmates at the Barry County Jail between August and December of 2013.

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Couple arrested on drug charges in Osceola Co.

A man and woman were arrested in Osceola County for cocaine possession. State Police say they pulled over the couple's car last night on US-131 near 7 Mile Rd. after a Trooper observed a traffic violation. A search of the suspect vehicle revealed the narcotics. The driver a 28-year old man from Taylor and passenger a 34-year old woman from Traverse City were arrested at the scene and taken to the Osceola Co. Jail where they were lodged. The couple is expected to be arraigned today in Reed City.  

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Teacher pleads guilty

 

A former teacher in northwest Lower Michigan already behind bars for a sex crime has admitted kissing a former student.

 

63-year-old Scott Tompkins pleaded guilty in Grand Traverse County to assault and battery. He was accused of kissing the former student on the lips and hugging her in late August while an instructor at the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District.

 

Tompkins admitted to assault with intent to commit sexual penetration in a separate case in Leelanau County.

 

 

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Michigan agency to get $3.5M for at risk mothers

Michigan’s program offering home visits to help vulnerable and at-risk mothers is getting a 3.5-million dollar federal grant through the Department of Community Health.

 

The program works to promote maternal, infant and early childhood health, development, and safety; school readiness; and strong parent-child relationships to improve health outcomes. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the grant will run through September 2017.

 

 

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Michigan film credits on the chopping block

The Michigan House Tax Policy Committee could vote this week on a measure to end Michigan's film tax credit program. Teamster Union members have said that if the credits go away, so will jobs, but Charles Owens of the National Federation of Independent Business says otherwise.

 

Those jobs never pan out, that the amount of money invested by taxpayers is, frankly, wasted compared to what it would be if it was just invested in, say, roads or other infrastructure.”

 

If approved, the incentives will end September 30th.
 

 

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Vote on county road millage could predict state funding future

The head of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network is looking at a failed road millage last week in Muskegon County as a preview of the statewide vote in May to fund road repairs. Rich Robinson says the more than two-to-one margin of defeat for the Muskegon County millage shows Governor Snyder will have to work very hard to sell the sales tax hike to the public.

 

 

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Governor looks to increase funding for cyberspace police

The Michigan State Police say that while hackers are attacking Michigan's computer systems on a daily basis, they're winning the battles. Matt Bolger of the State Police says they have five offices and 20 officers working on tracking the hackers.

 

They leave trails. In order to do anything on the internet, you have to go through the internet, and in order to go through the internet you kind of leave cookies along the trails so that the trick for law enforcement is to know how to track the cookies.”


Officials say the state stops over 700-thousand attacks on its IT network each day. Currently the state spends $22M on cyber security. In his 2016 budget, Governor Snyder is proposing a $7M increase.

 

 

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Right to Life wants Michigan license plate

Lawmakers in Lansing are considering a measure requiring the state to develop a "choose life" license plate in Michigan. Michigan Right to Life's Ed Rivet says Michigan is the only state along the I-75 corridor which does not have a "choose life" plate.

 

Everywhere I go in the State of Michigan I hear from snowbirds saying, 'Why don't we have a Choose Life plate? We see it when we go through Ohio, when we go through Kentucky when we go all the way to Florida.'”

 

Under the proposal, revenue generated from the plate sales would go to organizations which have projects promoting alternatives to abortion, such as Michigan Right to Life.
 

 

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Students tough out the winter in the U.P.

 

Schools in our area have recently lost a number of class days due to cold temperatures. But, Lake Superior State University President Thomas Pleger says it didn't stop their students when temperatures recently hit 40 below zero on campus.

 

Students safely made to class and business continued and we're in the U.P., and folks are tough up there.”

 

Pleger says he lives on campus and walks to his job.

 

 

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Technology may eliminate snow days

 

Instead of snow days canceling learning for the day, a leader in online learning in Michigan is suggesting that snow days should be 'online learning' days. Jamey Fitzpatrick of Michigan Virtual University says the tradition problem is weighing student safety with educational needs.

 

In the past - 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago - those two competing interests, there was no way that you could solve both needs. Today, with online and blended delivery models, we can.

 

Fitzpatrick notes that there was an average of nine and one-half snow days per district in Michigan last year.

 

 

 

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A scalper could be coming to an event near you

Michigan's 84 year old ban on ticket scalping would be repealed under a measure before a legislative committee. The bill says if you buy a ticket for any type of sporting or entertainment event, you can re-sell it for any price you want. Big Time Worldwide spokesperson Joel Schwartz says lifting the ban on scalping won't drive entertainers away from the state.

 

These people aren't going anywhere, from out of the state, they're going to continue to do business whether we make the change in the law or we don't. Supply and demand should dictate the price of the tickets.”

 

Opponents of the bill say it will leave Michigan consumers unprotected from ticket scalpers.

 

 

 

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SCOTUS ruling could have big impact on state

The U.S. Supreme Court will be deciding if the Affordable Care Act Coverage affects those in all states, or only those states that specifically passed a state marketplace exchange. Michigan does not have such an exchange and Governor Rick Snyder says Michigan may have to decide what to do with residents who could no longer afford health insurance.

 

That raises a question, should we be looking at a state exchange again, and that's a dialog I'd have to have with the legislature. It was interesting, at one point I had the House in favor of a state exchange, then I couldn't get the Senate, and then later the Senate wanted an exchange, and vice versa. So, that's a fair question that would have to be asked assuming the decision comes out in an adverse fashion.”

 

If the Court rules against the Obama administration, more than 5 million individuals will no longer be eligible for health insurance subsidies, shaking up the insurance market and potentially dealing the law a fatal blow. A decision likely will not be announced by the Supreme Court until May or June.

 

 

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Convicted murderer Beauchamp takes plea deal

Convicted Murderer Eric Beauchamp has taken a plea deal from prosecutors that resolves 11 other felony charges in his case. Beauchamp has agreed to plead "no contest" to three felony charges of assaulting a police officer, the use of a dangerous weapon and torturing/killing an animal. Wexford County prosecutors will drop 8 other charges in the case. Last month, a jury convicted Beauchamp of second-degree murder for shooting and killing his estranged girlfriend Lindsey Morgan last August, Beauchamp also allegedly stole a neighbor's pickup truck and killed the man's dog.  

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Three vehicle crash kills one near Rockford

A fatal accident has left one person dead near Rockford. Michigan State Police say the victim was killed in a three vehicle crash on 14 mile north east near Northland Drive. Another person was critically injured. The names of the victims aren't being released at this time. The accident remains under investigation.

 

 

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AARP warns of identity theft

A-A-R-P Michigan is joining a national effort urging consumers to better protect themselves from a variety of scams, led by those involving identity theft. A report from the Federal Trade Commission says Michigan ranks sixth nationally in identify theft complaints. A-A-R-P spokesperson Mark Hornbeck says their fraud watch network can help prevent scams like identity theft on the internet.

 

We tell folks to make absolutely certain that you know what you're dealing with when you're providing social security numbers or bank account numbers or anything like that.”

 

Identity theft was the third most reported consumer scam complaint in the state last year, just behind debt collection and telephone and mobile services.

 

 

 

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Attorney General withdraws subpoenas

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is directing staff attorneys to withdraw subpoenas served to reporters for notes and materials collected in connection to a lawsuit against the Department of Corrections.

 

Huffington Post political reporter Dana Liebelson, in a series of social media posts, said she had been served two subpoenas last week for notes obtained "during a reporting trip on juvenile prison conditions." Another subpoena was served to the Ann Arbor public radio station, Michigan Radio, for audio and video recordings made during an interview with a lawyer for inmates suing the state for alleged sexual and physical abuse sustained as juveniles.

 

All three subpoenas are related to a lawsuit against the state involving teenage prisoners alleging sexual assault.

 

 

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Measles cases in Michigan highest in at least 5 years

State health officials say Michigan has had 10 reported cases of measles, through the end of February, twice as many as were reported in 2014 and the most cases in at least five years.
A weekly report on infectious diseases says that preliminary and further testing could show the number of cases is fewer. But if the cases are confirmed, it could prove a worrisome sign for future reports later this year of the disease, which was essentially wiped out of the state roughly a decade ago.
According to the report, there were seven reported cases of measles in just the last week of February.  (MRN)

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Contaminated meat recall

Turkey lunch meat sold at a Holland market is being recalled because it may be contaminated with bacteria.


The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development issued the recall on Monday of a small amount of turkey sold between February 24 and March 3 at Earl's Meats in Holland.

 

The department says samples from the market tested positive for listeria monocytogenes. No illnesses have been reported in connection to the recalled meat.

 

 

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Fatal fire in Muskegon Heights

 

A young woman is dead following a house fire in Muskegon Heights. The victim is being identified as Charmena Levelston who was alone when the fire started at the back of the house on 6th street. Michigan State Police say Levelston had been living in the house for a couple of days and had a one year old baby. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

 

 

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Photo of nude student at local school

Police are investigating how a nude photo of a high school student turned up on a school issued iPad in Reed City. Officials say a student found the photo during class and turned it into a teacher.

 

State police have the iPad and cell phones of the students involved in the investigation. Superintendent Tim Webster says the school works hard to educate students about internet safety and the law. The investigation is ongoing.

 

 

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Governor doesn't want to drop film tax credits in October

The move continues in Lansing to repeal all new film tax credits in the upcoming state budget. but the governor is clearly not interested in a full repeal.

 

My view on that has been consistent for a long time. Basically, I don't view as simply turning it off as the appropriate answer.”

 

Snyder says the film tax credits should be capped for a number of years and then gradually ramped down.

 

 

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State tourism to top $100B

The impact of tourism on the state's economy is growing and could be ready to hit the 100-billion dollar level according to the Vice President of Travel Michigan, David West.

 

By 2013 data, total visitor spending was $18.7 billion, and this is direct spending so we don't include indirect or induced spendings, sort of the economic multipliers. We're working on that and we will have those numbers for the Governor's Conference which, in my estimate, will push us over $100 billion of tourism impact.”

 

West says promoting tourism isn't a cost, but an investment for the state.

 

 

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Don't go out on the ice

The U.S. Coast Guard is reporting that people are beginning to fall through the ice on the Great Lakes and has released a warning against walking on the shoreline pack.

 

Officials are asking people to use extreme caution on waterways since warmer temperatures are forecast through next Tuesday.

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Natural gas usage up for February

Record breaking cold weather in February led to record natural gas usage by homes and business in Michigan. Consumer's Energy spokesperson Dan Bishop says their customers used 11 percent more gas compared to February of 2014

 

New records were set breaking former records that were established more than 20 years ago in 1994.”

 

However, Bishop says natural gas usage for months other than February is actually down from rates of a year ago.

 

 

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Missing child found

 

Reed City Police say an 8-year-old boy feared missing is safe.

 

Authorities say Dameon Caine Danneffel was reported missing after being seen at the Reed City Elementary School yesterday afternoon initiating a brief man-hunt.

 

The boy was located sometime Monday night and police say foul play was never suspected during the incident.

 

 

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APRN's could help expand health care in Michigan

Advanced practice nurses would have the ability to provide certain services now handled only by medical doctors, under a measure being considered by lawmakers in Lansing. State Senator Mike Shirkey of Clark Lake is in favor of the idea.

 

If we don't do this, we will have made a decision to not expand the accessibility to the citizens of Michigan, particularly in the remote areas, by policy and I think that would be a big mistake.”

 

Shirkey says the measure would allow more health care coverage to those who need it.

 

 

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Governor says easing immigration laws could help Michigan

Governor Rick Snyder believes immigration can help Michigan and he's calling on both the Obama Administration and Congress to do something about easing immigration laws. He says immigrants could be a boon for cities such as Detroit.

 

And I want to encourage, in particular, immigration and challenge to communities such as Detroit. I think that would be a huge economic boom, and I've been working with the Mayor and the City Council on potentially having a good proposal there that we pitch to the national government.”

 

Snyder did not say when he might make such a pitch.

 

 

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FAA granting Michigan State Police statewide drone use

The Federal Aviation Administration has approved requests from the Michigan State Police to be the first agency in the country to be authorized to fly drones statewide.
State Police began training flights of the unmanned aircraft systems in February at the agency’s Lansing training academy. On February 25, the FAA granted the MSP's request for authorization to fly the drone for law enforcement support missions statewide.
Officials say potential missions include search and rescue, crime scene and crash investigations.  (MRN)

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Body cameras for police a good idea, but costly

A number of state lawmakers support the idea of having body cameras for police, but paying for it is another issue.

 

It's a good idea, although the cost is going to be great for small departments, so it would be nice if we had some federal budget to help out. I don't believe Michigan has extra money in this budget,” says Grand Ledge Senator Rick Jones

 

He adds that body cameras would help protect the police.

 

I'm not so sure that it would save anybody's life, but what cameras do is exonerate the police when they're doing the right thing.”

 

 

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