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Big Rapids Daily News
News That Affects You Archives for 2015-04

Big Rapids man arrested on drug charges

A Big Rapids man is behind bars on drug charges. 

 

60-year old Harry Craig McDonough is accused of being in possession of more than 200 marijuana plants at his residence. Charges were brought up after an investigation by the Central Michigan Enforcement Team. McDonough has been arriagned on one count of maintaining a drug house, one count of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and one count of manufacturing marijuana.

 

His bond was set at $100,000.  

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Gun rally in Lansing

 

The debate over allowing open carry of guns in Michigan schools continues after gun owners displayed their weapons in Lansing on Wednesday while ten school groups toured the Capitol building.

 

The gun rally was peaceful and gun owners say that's the way it is when you have guns in plain view.

 

State Senator Mike Green says he will sponsor legislation banning open carry in schools but allowing concealed weapons while Governor Snyder says he's against both open carry and concealed weapons in schools.

 

 

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Transportation Committee braces for Plan B on road repairs

 

The chairman of the state House Transportation Committee says lawmakers will come up with an alternative road funding plan if voters reject Proposal 1 on May 5th.

 

Representative Peter Pettalia says he's told members of his committee to prepare for overnight stays at the Capitol to craft a new deal.

 

Governor Snyder has said there is no "Plan B" if voters say no to Proposal 1 which would increase the sales tax, overhaul fuel taxes, end depreciation credits on vehicle registrations and more to put $1.2B toward road repairs.

 

 

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Contagious stomach illness reported at Reed City school

 

Reed City Public Schools officials sent parents a letter notifying them of a student who contracted Shigella, an infection of the bowels that causes diarrhea.

 

District Administrators says the case was found in the student population at GT Norman Elementary. Shigella can last up to five to seven days.

Administrators are taking measures recommended by the Central Michigan District Health Department to stop the spread the infection.

 

Students and staff members are asked to wash their hands before and after they eat as well as after going to the bathroom. If you have any questions, contact the Central Michigan District Health Department.   To read the letter sent to parents click HERE.

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Elliot-Larsen to include LGBTQ

 

Legislation is being introduced in both Michigan's Senate and House to expand the state's civil rights act to protect from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Backers say polls show that voters in Michigan overwhelmingly support the effort, and numerous business and religious leaders have called for the updates.

 

The measure would place the LGBTQ community under the same protections of the 1976 Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act that already exist for Michiganders on the basis of religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight or marital status.

 

 

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UPDATE: Two killed in three car accident in Osceola Co.

UPDATE: The Osceola Co. Sherrif's Department have released the names of the two people who passed away in the three car accident Monday. 

 

Scot M. Martin  31 yrs old from Stanwood, MI (Driver of the black Nissan)

James L. Gleason  27 yrs old from Bay City, MI  (Driver of the red GMC)

Name of the third driver is not released.

 

 

Two people were killed in Osceola County this morning after a three car accident. 

 

Deputies say it happned on M-115 near 22 Mile Rd. in Highland Township, that's where a Nissan crossed the centerline striking an oncoming north/west bound GMC. The driver of the Nissan, an unidentified male, was pronounced dead at the scene.

 

The driver of the GMC, a 26-year old Bay City man, was taken from the scene by ambulance but later died from his injuries at Munson Hospital Cadillac. The third vehicle involved was a Volkswagen driven by a 46-year old woman from Cadillac.  Her vehicle was struck by the GMC after the initial impact with the Nissan.  She received minor injuries.  The accident remains under investigation.  

 

Names are being withheld pending identification and  notification of next of kin. 

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No-fault insurance law too expensive?

 

Republicans in the state House are struggling to find enough votes to change Michigan's 37-year old no fault auto insurance law. Senator Joe Hune says the proposed reforms would save rate payers at least $200 every two years.

 

I think that's the base line, that's the base minimum amount. Many policies will see much, much higher savings.”

 

Opposition to the proposed changes is rising. The Michigan Health and Hospital Association has begun a TV ad campaign featuring a woman who was critically injured in an accident and will need care and therapy for the rest of her life. A recent survey found Michigan residents pay the highest premiums for auto insurance in the nation.

 

 

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Testimony on RFRA continues

 

Opponents of the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act told a State Senate committee on Tuesday the proposal is a license to discriminate, but supporters of the bill say it protects religious freedom. Senator Steve Bieda says he's not sure why Michigan lawmakers would want to pass a RFRA after seeing the national reaction to Indiana's passage of its own version of the law.

 

We saw the national response on that, it hasn't been favorable. I kind of liken it to somebody seeing somebody picking up a downed electrical wire, getting zapped, watching the guy incinerate and then walking over and doing the same thing.”

 

Christa and Jaime Contreras, a couple from Oak Park whose infant daughter was denied service by a pediatrician because they are gay, told the Senate Judiciary Committee RFRA is unnecessary because the U.S. Constitution already protects religion. The committee will hear more testimony on Wednesday.

 

 

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Correctional facility in Baldwin moves toward re-opening

 

The GEO North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin is another step closer to re-opening. The State House Judiciary committee moved legislation forward to allow prisoners to be housed there. North Lake was shut down in 2005 because of state budget cuts. The bill faces opposition from labor unions who say private prisons lack accountability.

 

 

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Murder suspect caught in Ohio

 

The run from police is over for a southwest Michigan man accused of killing his 79-year-old mother over the weekend.
47-year-old Monty Ray Menefee was arrested Tuesday morning by the Ohio State Patrol after troopers spotted the stolen truck he was driving.

 

Menefee's SUV was found abandoned in Allegan County's Casco Township on Sunday. Menefee had been the target of a manhunt since Lavonne Monta was found stabbed to death at an illegal makeshift home they shared in an old industrial building in Coloma Township early Saturday. Police believe she was killed on Friday.

 

 

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Michigan couple optimistic about Supreme Court ruling

 

U.S. Supreme Court justices have now heard more than two hours of oral arguments over same-sex marriage lawsuits that involve two Hazel Park women. April DeBoer and her partner Jayne Rowse are optimistic about their chances.

 

Justice Anthony Kennedy, a likely swing vote, posed tough questions to lawyers on both sides. Chief Justice John Roberts questioned whether it's the court's role to decide the issue, once and for all. Same-sex couples can now get married in more than 35 states and Washington, DC. A ruling is expected by late June.
 

 

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One week to go before vote on Prop One

 

With one week to go, another group has checked in on the effort to raise the sales tax to fix Michigan's roads. Green Party spokesperson Paul Homeniuk says Proposition One is bad legislation.

 

It sucks. It's a horrible proposal, we're letting the legislators not do their job. You notice it doesn't say 'road repairs,' its says 'transportation.' Two-thirds of the money for the first two years doesn't go to road repairs, it goes to paying off bonds, helping bankers and Wall Street out.”

 

Supporters contend reducing the deficit on the roads is a good idea. Michigan voters will decide the issue one week from Tuesday.

 

 

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Larceny in Mt. Pleasant

 

A Mount Pleasant man is behind bars is connection with a series of attempted break-ins. James Olden was arrested after employees at CME Misuba Corporation in Mount Pleasant called police about a man trying to break into cars. Officers also searched Olden's house a found a loaded gun that was reported stolen in 2007.

 

 

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SCOTUS ruling on gay marriage could effect Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Michigan

 

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday on the legality of Michigan's 2004 ban on gay marriage with a nationwide ruling expected in June. Equality Michigan spokesperson Emily Dievendorf says the ban should be over turned.

 

It is just, you have same sex marriage, you have equal rights and recognition under the law. There is great inconsistency right now, Michigan is one of just a handful of states that has no rights, really, for the LGBTQ community.”

 

The outcome of that decision could impact debate on a measure pending in the state Senate. The so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act would allow businesses to deny services to gay persons based on the business owners personal beliefs. Faith-based adoption agencies say they do not want to be forced to place children into homes that violate their religious beliefs. But opponents say such a law would be a license to discriminate against gays and others.
 

The Michigan Catholic Conference has declined to wade into that debate. Spokesman David Maluchnik says what happens at the Supreme Court level may or may not impact what's going on in Michigan. He claims that if a referendum were held today, Michigan's gay marriage ban would still stand.
 

Meanwhile the Senate Judiciary chair, Republican Rick Jones, has scheduled testimony on the proposal, but has not said if or when there would be a vote on it.
 

 

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Jerry Sandusky's son to speak on child sexual abuse in Michigan

 

The adopted son of former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is set to speak about preventing child sexual abuse at an event in Hudsonville. Matthew Sandusky will be the keynote speaker at the Children's Advocacy center's Advocates in Action luncheon May 14, at the Pinnacle Center.

 

His father, Jerry Sandusky was convicted in 2012 of 45 counts of child sexual abuse and was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison. During the high-profile trial, Matthew issued a statement saying he, too, had been a victim. Matthew and his wife, Kim, have since founded the Peaceful Hearts Foundation to advocate for child sex abuse survivors.
 

 

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Clare man faces home invasion charges in Isabella County

A 22-year old Clare man sits in jail on home invasion charges in Isabella Co.

 

State Police say they got a call Saturday evening about a home break-in and the suspect still inside the residence. When troopers arrived to the scene, they made entry into the home and arrested the 22-year old suspect who was hiding.

 

Duane Warner was arraigned in the 76th District on charges of burglary and larceny from a building. At the time of his arrest, Warner had additional warrants for his arrest out of both Isabella and Clare Counties.  

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Funding for sexual assault prevention in question

 

While Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Grand Valley State University are under federal investigation for their handling of sexual assault complaints, funding from the state for sexual assault education and prevention programs on college campuses is up in the air. Senator Curtis Hertel says the state should be able to find the money.

 

In a budget that's as large as this is, then I feel the $500,000 to help pay to prevent sexual assaults on campus, that's very disturbing.”


The Senate Appropriations Committee recently zeroed out the 500-thousand dollars the governor wanted to go towards sexual assault education and prevention on campuses across Michigan. As of right now a House Committee is keeping that funding in place.
 

 

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Supreme Court takes up Michigan marriage equality case

 

Is it the will of voters, or a court or law, that decides who can marry? The answer thousands of Michiganders have waited years for is almost here, as the U-S Supreme Court takes up the issue of marriage equality on Tuesday.

 

Fifty-seven-year-old Tari Muniz of Lansing has been with her partner Kim for nearly six years, and says she's optimistic the high court will rule that states have an obligation to perform same-sex marriages. She says she firmly believes the tide of public opinion has shifted in the 11 years since Michigan voters approved a same-sex marriage ban.

 

The Supreme Court could issue a decision in what is actually a consolidation of cases from Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee, at any time. However, most legal analysts believe a ruling will come toward the end of the court's term in June.

 

A candlelight vigil in support of marriage equality takes place on the Michigan State Capitol steps Monday night at 6:30.

 

 

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Religious Freedom Restoration Act moving through Michigan legislature

 

A legislative committee in Lansing this week will open testimony on a proposal that could exempt people from certain laws if those laws violate their religious beliefs. Under the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" proposal before the Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee, exceptions would be allowed if there is a "compelling governmental" interest. Michigan Catholic Conference spokesperson Tom Hickson says other state have similar laws.

 

We've got a rich case law history of legislation like this in many other states, 19 other states, and the federal government for over 20 years, and any if the wild claims we've heard just haven't come to be true.”

 

Supporters say this is to replace a similar federal law that had been thrown out by the courts and the Supreme Court said it would be up to the states to replace the protection. Opponents say such a law would be a license to discriminate against gays and others.

 

 

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Police shut down part of M66 for emergency plane landing

It was a scary few moments for a pilot who had to make an emergency landing on M-66 in Montcalm County.

 

Police say they briefly closed M66 in Montcalm County Friday between Lake Montcalm Road and Cannonsville Road so an airplane could take off. They say on April 7th, the crop duster, owned by a Lakeview company, had to make an emergency landing on M66 due to engine troubles.

 

The plane had been parked at a nearby apple orchard while repairs were made to the engine. The pilot was able to make a successful take off and M-66 was reopened to traffic.

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Child abuse prevention month

 

Several hundred people braved the chilly winds and gathered in front of the Michigan Capitol Thursday, to show support for Michigan's Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Day. Dr. Stephen Guertin of Sparrow Hospital in Lansing says everyone needs to be part of the effort to rid society of child abuse...

 

To win against child abuse takes an entire community. People who recognize what it is, people who say to themselves, 'This cannot stand.' People who decide to do something about it, who create a community of caretakers and people who put their money where their mouth is.”

 

The focus of the event, sponsored by the Children's Trust Fund, was to emphasize the power that individuals have in fighting child abuse, part of what supporters call "The Power of One."

 

 

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Athletic trainer accused of exploiting teens

 

A former teacher and volunteer athletic trainer is facing charges after secretly using his cellphone to make videos of undressed teenage boys in a training room.

 

Thomas Hamel of St. Ignace is charged with five counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and possession of child pornography. The alleged crimes took place from 2007 to 2012 in Mackinac County.

 

Hamel was arrested nearly two years ago on child pornography charges and taught for 32 years until retiring in 2009.

 

 

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Changes in Michigan's no-fault auto insurance laws possible

 

A Michigan House committee has approved a two-bill package reforming Michigan's no-fault auto insurance law. The votes were 9-to-6, with Republicans supporting and Democrats opposing.


Republican sponsors say it's an effort to reduce costs in the system. Democrats voted against the legislation, fearing it will short change those who need medical help, although sponsors note that it does not eliminate the unlimited coverage now part of Michigan law. They also emphasize that the bills now include a mandated 100 dollar rate reduction.


Democrat-sponsored amendments to roll back rates by larger amounts, including one as high as 40-percent, were rejected by the Republican majority on the committee.


The legislation also includes a small appropriation, which effectively prohibits any referendum in the future if the bills become law.
The package now goes before the Michigan House, which reconvenes on Tuesday.

 

 

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Company fined in worker death

 

Grand Rapids Plastics has been slapped with a $558,000 fine for safety violations related to a workers death last year.

 

Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) inspectors recently issued the fine against the Wyoming plastic injection molding company following an investigation into the death of 34-year-old Russell Scharenbroch.

 

Scharenbroch was crushed by a molding press after another employee cycled the machine while Scharenbroch was inside.

 

 

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$16B education budget passes House

A Michigan House committee has approved a nearly 16-billion dollar education budget - sending the bill to the full House for a vote. The bill would spend more per student than the governor wanted but does so in a roundabout way.

 

Instead of allocating money to specific programs, it lumps those dollars into one pool that goes to districts who can then decide how they want to spend it. Representative Sam Singh voted no on the budget and tried to amend the bill to cut the amount of funding cyber schools would receive.

 

Why are you giving ten times the amount, more than ten time the amount to these institutions that have no buildings, that have no transportation needs, that don't even deal with special education students?”


A Michigan Senate committee approved its own education budget earlier this week.

 

 

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Three area counties receive grants to improve veteran benefit claims

Three area counties have received a incentive grant from the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency  to make it easier to file a federal benefits claim with an accredited county veterans service officer.

 

$10,000 was awarded for Clare County Veterans Services to increase the accredited county veterans counselor to a full-time position. Meanwhile, both Montcalm and Osceola Counties received $20,000 to establish a county department of veterans affairs and hire a full-time accredited county veterans counselor.

 

Counties interested in applying for the County Incentive Grant program are encouraged to email Price at pricer5@michigan.gov or visit the members area of the Michigan Association of County Veterans Counselors website. Veterans can find their nearest benefits counselor by visiting MichiganVeterans.com or calling 800-MICH-VET (800-642-4838).

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Newaygo Co. teen sentenced in abandon baby case

A teenage girl in Newaygo County has been sentenced to six months probation after abandoning her newborn on the side of a road last July.

 

Police say a man taking a morning walk with his dog discovered the baby on Marion Rd July 28th.

 

The baby was placed in a temporary foster home, but the mother and father have said they want custody.  

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Mesick man arrested in connection to car theft

A Mesick man is in custody following an arrest in connection to a vehicle theft. State Police say they recovered a var that had been stolen in Wexford County.

 

Troopers received a tip that the 23-year old suspect was at a restaurant in the Traverse City area. They arrested the man without incident. He's currently lodged at the Grand Traverse County Jail on multiple warrants.    

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Marijuana and landlords

 

A Michigan House committee Tuesday approved a measure that codifies restrictions that a landlord may put on renters who want to smoke medical marijuana.


The House Judiciary Committee, on an 8-to-3 vote, sent to the full house a bill which allows landlords to prohibit medical marijuana smoking and growing, if the prohibition is in the rental contract. Sponsors cite cases where medical pot growers have damaged in the inside of rental units.


Some medical marijuana advocates blasted the bill, saying such language is already allowed under the law, and the measure is "a waste of time."


The bill does not affect those renters who consume medical marijuana in edible form, or as topical creme.

 

 

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Jerky for the Troops to be held Monday

Around 500 pounds of jerky will be heading out of Big Rapids April 27th and into the hands of military personnel all over the world as part of the 8th annual Jerky for the Troops event. The event will be held at CK's Place from 4-6pm allows residents to send packages filled with jerky and other items from home to members of the military stationed in the U.S. and overseas.

 

Colin Kelly says this event has personal meaning and is a way of saying thank you to those who serve. He says his brother was killed in Vietman after just 20 days and he wants to give back a peice of home to those men and woman who enjoy the outdoors and enjoy hunting and fishing here in Michigan.  Along with Jerky, packages are also filled with toothbrushes, candy, magazines and what Kelley says pieces of home.  

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Lawmakers move to get odd laws off the books

 

Did you know taking part in a walkathon is illegal in Michigan? State Representative Kurt Heise, chair of the House Criminal Justice Committee, explains why.

 

Apparently in the 1920's they had dance contests that would go on until, basically, the last man standing was the winner, and they were called 'walkathons.' To participate in a walkathon is technically illegal in Michigan.”

 

Heisee says it’s also against the law to dance to The Star Spangled Banner, to say anything shameful about someone for not accepting a duel and to curse within earshot of women and children.

 

A committee is considering whether to repeal these laws, and others, that are outdated or are too hard to prosecute.

 

 

 

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Municipal water prices going up in Cadillac

 

Water is about to become more expensive in Cadillac. That following a decision by Cadillac's City Council to increase water and sewage rates by three precent.

 

City Utilities Director Jeff Dietlin says the average customer's bill will go up by about one dollar and eighty cents per month. He says the city has seen growing gas and electric bills, plus extra costs for water main breaks from the past two harsh winters made the rate hike necessary.

 

 

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Religious based exemption law for adoption agencies moves through legislature

 

Faith-based adoption agencies in Michigan which claim a religious exemption would be allowed to decline services to certain potential adoptive parents without risk of losing taxpayer funding, under bills before a senate committee Wednesday. Representative Robert Wittenberg of Oak Park disagrees with the legislation.

 

I am what 106 of you are not. I am Jewish. These bills would allow Christian based adoption agencies to not work with me simply because I am not of the same faith. The legislation is worried about protecting the deeply held religious beliefs of the agencies that they could prevent me from adopting a child because of my deeply held religious beliefs.”

 

Supporters say faith-based adoption agencies should not be required to enter in any arrangement that would violate their beliefs.

 

 

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Morley woman faces drug charges

 

A Morley woman faces up to 7 years in jail after being arraigned in Mecosta Co. 

 

41-year old Rose Marie May is accused of illegally delivering prescription medications last month in Aetna Township. May has been charged with a host of felony counts including four counts of delivery of Hydromorphone, one count of delivery of Oxycodone, maintaining a drug house and four counts of felony firearm.

 

She's being held on $150,000 bond.  

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Study says State's economic recovery depends on roads

 

A national research group says in a new report that Michigan's economic recovery could be in jeopardy because of deteriorating roads and bridges and a lack of funding to fix them.


The report is from "The Road Information Program," a private non-profit group in Washington DC. The group says the percentage of Michigan’s major roads that are in poor condition increased significantly in recent years, from 23 percent in 2006 to 38 percent in 2014.


It also says driving on rough roads costs Michigan motorists a total of $4.8 billion each year in the form of extra vehicle operating costs, an average of $686 annually per motorist.
 

Further, the group also quotes in its press release, Denise Donohue of the County Road Association of Michigan, touting the need for voter approval of Proposal 1 on next month's ballot.
 

TRIP's webpage is sponsored by insurance companies, equipment manufacturers, distributors and suppliers, businesses involved in highway and transit engineering and construction, labor unions, and organizations concerned with an efficient and safe surface transportation network that promotes economic development and quality of life.

 

 

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Fight against Asian carp continues

 

While it continues to be talked about, there is still no action on keeping invasive Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. Resolutions are now before the Michigan Senate calling on the Obama Administration and Congress to close the connection between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. Michigan DNR spokesperson Tammy Newcomb says she supports the measures.

 

Over the past five years, 29 big head and silver carp have been captured immediately below the Brandon Road Lock and Dam, which is upstream and closer to Lake Michigan than what you'll hear as the 'stalled population front.' There are fish that still move past that and still pose a continued threat to us. So the resolutions today provide further leadership and support from the State of Michigan in moving forward to seek that long term solution.”

 

Newcomb says electric barriers designed to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes have not been working.

 

 

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Two suspects held in connection with CMU robberies

 

Two people are in custody in connection with a series of armed robberies in Isabella County. Michigan State Police say 19-year-old William Jones and 23-year-old Dewon Webb, both of Detroit, were arrested after police began an investigation of three robberies that occurred in at least two apartment complexes in Union Township.

 

Detective Sergeant Gary Green says the victims were all students of Central Michigan University and the robberies occurred during illegal drug transactions. Jones and Webb are cooperating with police and two more suspects are being sought.

 

 

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Canine Flu Outbreak: What dog owners need to know

 

Fears of the flu for Fido are running high with many Michigan dog owners, thanks to a rare strain of canine influenza that has sickened an estimated 1,100 dogs in Illinois and Wisconsin. 

Dr. Thomas Mullaney, acting director of the Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health with Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, says most dogs who catch this strain of the flu will have mild symptoms like a cough, loss of appetite, sneezing, or a runny nose, that only require supportive care. But he says it can take a more serious turn. 

"The dogs tend to typically get higher fevers," he says. "They tend to eventually develop difficulty breathing because they have signs of pneumonia, and in those situations the possibility of secondary bacterial infections occurs."

Mullaney says while the H3N2 strain is yet to appear in Michigan, any dogs that develop a cough or other respiratory symptoms should be seen by their vet. He stresses while many dogs have fallen ill, the fatality rate for this strain of canine flu is thankfully quite low.

Mullaney says this strain of canine flu is not a threat to humans, but it is highly contagious and can pass from dog to dog and even dog to cat, very quickly. For that reason, he says if an outbreak does hit Michigan, it's best to reduce the amount of contact animals have with each other. 

"Doggie daycares, and where you have kennel situations and where you eve have dogs congregating together where people walk their dogs," he says.

As with the flu in humans, Mullaney says common sense prevention measures will go a long way with canine influenza. 

"When you've handled dogs and worked with dogs, washing hands with soap and water, limiting contact between dogs, will probably reduce incidence and likelihood of occurrence," says Mullaney. (Mona Shand) 

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Residents can now file legal health care directives online

 

Michigan’s Peace of Mind registry website is now live, making Michigan residents the first to have their health care wishes accessible online.
 

The registry website is mipeaceofmind.org.
 

The sponsor of the law creating the registry, State Senator Jim Marleau, says residents can create an account on the site and submit their advance directives, which are legal documents allowing individuals to specify their patient advocates, religious preferences, and other decisions about their health care ahead of time.
 

The Lake Orion Senator says the registry includes a secure database providing health care providers access via the website to a patient’s advance directives.


The Michigan Department of Community Health oversees the registry, but it was developed and is maintained through financial support by Michigan’s Gift of Life Foundation.

 

 

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School bake sale restrictions could be lifted

 

A bill before a Michigan House committee would ease current restrictions on bake sales in Michigan public schools. A federal list of approved food items in public schools took effect this school year causing some bake sales to shut down because they sold items not on the approved list. School Nutrition Association of Michigan President Kristen Hennesey says bake sales not only can include unhealthy items, they also work against part of the learning curriculum in many schools.

 

My School Stores are curriculum based, and even they are saying don't allow the fund raising because it will interfere with what we're trying to do in our School Stores to teach students business sense.”

 

The federal list is meant to help address the growing obesity problem among school age children. Supporters of the bill say the federal government should not be dictating to local schools on bake sale policies.

 

 

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"Jaws of life" used after Gowen man hits tree

 

The Jaws of Life had to be used to extract a 53-year old Gowen man from his vehicle after he lost control and struck a tree in Montcalm Co.

 

Police say Paul Hamilton was traveling north on Fitzner Road when he lost control of his vehicle, left the roadway, overturned, and struck a tree. The jaws of life were used to get the driver out of the car.

 

Police say the exact time of the crash is not known and it's believed that Hamilton was involved in the collision several hours prior and remained pinned in his vehicle until a passerby came upon the scene. The 53-year old Gowen man suffered serious injuries. The crash remains under investigation

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Chippewa Lake man sent to hospital after ORV accident

A Chippewa Lake man was sent to the hospital after a ORV accident Sunday in Mecosta Co.

 

Deputies say it happened on 35th Avenue near 19-Mile Rd, that's where the 26-year old man was heading southbound on 35th ave traveling at a high rate of speed,when he lost control , left the roadway, striking a tree.

 

The Chippewa Lake man was not wearing his helmet and he was ejected. He was taken to a local hospital for non-life threatening injuries.  

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Meth lab busted in Cadillac

 

One man is under arrest and police say they expect more people to face charges after they found an apparent meth lab in Cadillac. Officers say they found meth making materials when they responded to a disturbance call at a condominium on Cobb Street over the weekend. Two men and a 22-month-old toddler were home at the time. The man in custody was already on parole.

 

 

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New M-Step testing creating problems for local school district

Students at local school districts are taking a new standardized test called the M-Step and its causing some headaches for some districts. The M-Step takes over for the MEAP test given to students.

 

Pine River Superintendent Matt Lukshaitis says after the first week of testing, there have been problems for students as well as teachers, he says attendance has been a problem so far and because of the new online testing, computers labs have been backed up.

 

Lukshaitis recently sent an email to state lawmakers expressing his displeasure for the new test saying it takes away teachers teaching and students learning in the classroom. He says email has received a large positive response from other teachers and administrators who are experienced the same type of headaches with the new test.  

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One person dead following rollover accident in Wexford Co.

 

One person is dead following a rollover accident in Wexford County's Cherry Grove Township.

 

Deputies say it happened on M-55 near S 25 Road where a westbound vehicle driven by 64-year old Cadillac woman crossed the center line and over corrected then ran off the road and over turned.

 

The driver was air lifted to a hospital, the front seat passenger sustained minor injuries and the rear seat passenger was pronounced dead at the scene. The accident remains under investigation.   

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Reed City man arrested in Big Rapids on CSC charges

 

A 44-year-old Reed City man is behind bars charged with several counts of criminal sexual conduct and habitual offender charges. Mark Wayne Ireland was arrested in the Big Rapids area on Thursday following a two month investigation by the Reed City Police Department.

 

Ireland was arraigned on four counts of CSC. Two counts of 25 years and two counts of 15 years. The prosecutor also filed for Habitual Offender status for several prior felonies with the possibility of life in prison.

 

Ireland remains in the Osceola County Jail on a $3M / $ 300,000 cash bond. Officials ask anyone who has any other information regarding Ireland to call the Reed City Police Department at 231-832-3743.

 

 

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Tougher domestic violence laws in the works

 

Republicans and Democrats in the Michigan House have joined forces to introduce a series of bills designed to strengthen domestic violence laws in the state. Representative Klint Kesto of Walled Lake has introduced a bill he hopes will stem repeat incidents of domestic violence.

 

We can't stop it from happening, but we're going to do everything we can to not allow it to happen again.”

 

Another bill would give domestic violence victims a legal route to terminate the parental rights of their abuser while a third would stiffen penalties for abusers who attack pregnant women.

 

 

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Trial scheduled for 20 year old murder case

Two Northern Michigan men will head to trial this summer in the nearly 20-year-old cold case murder of a Manistee County man.


65-year-old Pete Peterson and 49-year-old Robert Scott Knauss, both also of Manistee County, have been charged with first degree murder in the death of Vincent Adamczak, .
 

The 41-year old Adamczak was last seen in Wellston in August 1995, but wasn't reported missing until January 23, 2002.
 

This is the second time Peterson has been charged in the case. He was arrested and charged with open murder and felony firearm in May of 2012, but those charges were later dismissed.
 

In 2011, Rosemary Skyrzycki pleaded no contest to being an accessory after the fact of murder and agreed to testify as part of a plea deal.
 

The Manistee County Prosecutor’s office asked the Department of the Attorney General to take on the case and Peterson and Knauss were then arrested and charged with the killing of Adamczak in the fall of 2014.
Their trial is set to begin June 2. If convicted they face a sentence of life in prison without parole.

 

 

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Anti-gay business owner getting death threats

 

A west Michigan business owner claims he’s been the target of death threats after he announced he won’t serve gays.


Brian Klawiter, who owns Dieseltec Automotive Repair in Grandville, posted a message on his business’ Facebook page saying that he is a Christian, and that his company does not welcome “immoral behavior” - including homosexuality.
 

The post went viral and now has hundreds of comments, mostly from people calling him names and accusing him of bigotry; although a handful of supportive commenters commend him on his stance.


Klawiter has confirmed that he and his family have received death threats, with some saying they’d burn down his shop. He also said there have been people protesting outside his business.
 

In a new Facebook message posted Thursday, Klawiter said he doesn’t mind people expressing opposing views - but the threats are unacceptable.
 

A Grandville police sergeant said they haven’t received any calls regarding the alleged threats, but they are monitoring the situation. She said the department is deploying extra officer patrols in the area surrounding the business, to “make sure nothing gets out of hand,” and to “protect everyone” involved.
 

Discrimination based on sexual orientation has not been outlawed in Michigan, though several municipalities have local ordinances on the matter. Grandville, however, has made no such decision.
 

Klawiter is among those who doesn’t think the city should.

 

 

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Mecosta County Sunday morning liquor sales ban lifted

The Sunday morning liquor sales ban in Mecosta Co. has been lifted. Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the Sunday morning sales during its Thursday meeting.

 

During the public comments portion of the meeting, commissioners heard from a variety of business owners and residents that were in support of lifting the Sunday morning ban from 7am to 12pm. Most commissioners cited the small business economy improving as a reason for lifting the ban. Commissioners Linda Howard and Jerrilynn Strong both agreed that it's tough seeing Mecosta County restaurants, golf courses or bowling alleys lose potential revenue when customers go to another establishment in a county that allows the Sunday morning sales.

 

For a Mecosta Co. business to serve on Sunday mornings, the business must apply for a special permit for $160. Lenawee County is now the only County in Michigan that has the Sunday morning ban in place.     

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Tax credits eat into tax revenue

 

The Senate Fiscal Agency says the Michigan Business Tax was a big factor in state revenues falling $84 million below forecast in March.


The SFA says companies continued to file for credits owed, with refunds coming in $127.3 million higher than expected. Sales tax collections were also below the forecasted level last month by $63.7 million.
 

Revenues to the General Fund overall were $29.9 million below the forecast in March and revenues to the School Aid Fund, which heavily relies on the sales tax, were $48.4 million below expectations.
 

 

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Mecosta Co. Commissioners to discuss lifting Sunday morning liquor sales ban

The Mecosts County Board of Commission will be discussing and possibly voting on a measure that lifts the Sunday morning liquor sales ban in the county. Currently Sunday liqour sales are allowed from 12pm on but from 7am to noon they are banned.

 

The Issue was brought up during the April 2nd commission meeting by representative from the Tullymore Golf Resort who said they are losing revenue to other golf courses in counties that allow the Sunday morning sales. Mecosta County is one of two counties in the state that has this restriction.

 

Commissioners are asking the public for input on the issue during their meeting this afternoon at 3pm in the Mecosta County Building in Big Rapids.   

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State Republicans divided on gay marriage

 

With gay marriage legal in a majority of states and a decision expected in June from the U.S. Supreme Court on Michigan's gay marriage ban, Michigan Republicans find themselves in two camps. Those that clearly oppose same sex marriage and those which say it's time to remove anti-gay language from the party platform, such as Log Cabin Republicans spokesperson Brian Savage.

 

We need to appeal to voters and also stand up for other people's rights. We can have goals without it being a 'winner take all,' we need to have a real conversation about that within the party.”

 

Savage says young conservatives and moderate voices in the party need to stand up for equal rights for gays. Log Cabin Republicans is the nation’s largest Republican organization dedicated to representing gay and lesbian conservatives and allies.

 

 

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Tax breaks for the middle class?

 

Democratic lawmakers in Michigan are introducing a series of bills designed to provide tax breaks to the middle class in the state. Senator Curtis Hertel of East Lansing outlines some of the tax credits and deductions they'd like to see re-instated.

 

A tax credit for those paying off their student loans, a full restoration of the earned income tax credit, and reinstating the homestead property tax credit, we can loosen the grip of financial pressures on working families here in Michigan.”

 

Callie Melton of Casnovia says she got hit with a double whammy losing both the Earned Income Tax Credit and the per-child tax deduction and wonders why children have to sacrifice so that those who can most afford it get more tax cuts. Democrats are the minority party in both the House and Senate and say they’ve had trouble moving the needle on these issues.

 

 

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Teen accepts plea in murder case

 

A Holland teenager accused of raping and killing his cousin, then writing "My Bad" on a wall in her blood has accepted a plea deal.

 

Joshua Lee Keyzer murdered 21-year old Kassandra Keyzer last June at her home in Allegan County's Wayland Township. During the attack Keyzer also slashed his grandmother's throat, but she survived.

 

Keyzer was 15 at the time of the attacks. He is now 16 and will be sentenced to life in prison after a hearing scheduled for next month.

 

 

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Two in custody in Big Rapids car break-ins

 

Two people are under arrest related to a series of car break-ins around Big Rapids.

 

The Mecosta County Sheriff's Office says several cars had their windows smashed and items were stolen including a laptop, money and credit cards.

 

A 47 year old man and 44 year old woman from Grand Rapids are in jail waiting to be charged.

 

 

 

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Equal pay for women could become the law

 

A group of state lawmakers are pushing a series of bills designed to put women on equal pay footing with men in Michigan.


Lawmakers have been trying for years to move legislation to bridge the pay gap between women and men. And each year they come up empty handed. But State Representative Marcia Hovey-Wright from Muskegon predicts this year will be different due in part to the number of bills they've introduced -- eight as opposed to four -- and the fact they have mirrored their legislation after bills that have become law in other states.


The bills would, among other things, require employers to divulge salaries if someone asks, make it illegal to pay women less than men if they’re doing the same job and lay out penalties for doing so.

 

Michigan's pay gap is the 7th-largest in the country with women earning an average of 74 cents for every dollar men make, according to the American Association of University Women.
 

 

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Computer problems persist at new state department

 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is now official, representing the merger of two former departments and creating the largest department in Michigan Government. Governor Snyder says the idea is to better serve people, and bring more efficiency to that service, but Ingham County Representative Andy Schor says issues with the department's IT system is thwarting that goal.

 

The computer program continues to be a problem. They continue to put more money in it, but this is a program that really has major problems.”

 

Snyder says the IT system was under-invested in for a long time, which is something they're still recovering from, noting there have been significant investments in IT.

 

Court-appointed monitors report that while there have been improvements, the state's efforts to prevent foster children from being exposed to neglect and abuse continues to be a "persistent and dire problem."

 

 

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Group tries again to ban fracking in Michigan

 

A state board has given an anti-fracking group the green light to move forward with gathering signatures to place a question on the November, 2016 ballot that would outlaw fracking in Michigan. It's the third time the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan has tried to get the question on a ballot and spokesperson Luanne Kozma says this time, the public is on their side.

 

People are very concerned about water, their property, their property values, their property damage, their health.”

 

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce, however, argues against the groups plans. Chamber General Counsel Jim Holcomb calls the petitions deceitful.

 

"They're attacking property rights, they're imparing contracts -- there's a lot of negative consequences and the public is just not being informed," says Holcomb.


Volunteers for the anti-fracking group are expected to hit the streets with petitions on Memorial Day weekend.

 

 

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Church leader charged with sexual assault

 

A church youth leader in Grand Rapids is being charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in Newaygo County. Prosecutors say 20-year-old Ventson Lavail Humphrey Jr. attacked the girl at a cottage over Christmas break.

 

Humphrey is a member of Uptown Assembly of God in Grand Rapids, where he serves as a youth leader. Officials say the victim and Humphrey became friends and spent part of Christmas break with others at a home in Newaygo County's Croton Township.

 

Newaygo County Prosecutor Robert Springstead authorized a warrant on March 25 charging Humphrey with one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a minor, one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a minor, and two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.

 

 

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Seventy-year-old says no deal in child molestation case

 

A 70-year old West Michigan man accused of molesting a young girl has said no to a plea deal.
 

Lawrence Gibbons of Sparta is being held at the Kent County jail on a million dollar bond. He was offered a minimum sentence of 9 to 15 years for taking a deal.
 

If he is found guilty at trial, he could get 25 years, effectively a life sentence.
 

The 6-year old girl in the case will have to testify now. She says she was attacked at Gibbons home last summer.

 

 

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Traffic fatalities declining

 

The state is headed in the right direction in terms of traffic deaths, based on new statistics from the Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center. While overall traffic crashes increased by three percent last year, traffic deaths are down eight percentage points.

 

Office of Highway Safety Planning spokesperson Anne Readett says it's good news, but they won't know the reasons behind the decline without more research.

 

Sometimes it's one of those cases where we really don't know what's behind it, and other times we can pretty accurately pinpoint what might have been the reasons for declines. But, we found them in a number of areas – alcohol, drugs, motorcycle and bike fatalities are down fairly substantially.”

 

Readett notes, however, that any number of deaths on Michigan's roads is too many.

 

 

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Utility companies push to eliminate provider choice

 

Lawmakers on a Michigan House committee continue to weigh a package of bills that would revamp the state’s energy policy, which includes eliminating energy choice.
 

The big utilities lined up to support the bill during an hours long hearing Monday. Consumer's Energy VP of Government Affairs David Mengebier told the committee taking away the consumer's right to choose an alternative energy provider would, "restore fairness." DTE Energy President Steve Kurmas echoed a similar sentiment saying deregulation would, "crush families and businesses."

 

However, eliminating "choice" in electric service is not sitting well with voters according to Epic MRA pollster Bernie Porn.

 

The numbers are pretty strong, stronger than most proposals I have seen. It would almost, I think, be the equivalent of if a Democrat were to support cutting the minimum wage in half,” he said.


Some businesses also came out in opposition of the bill including Dow Chemical and Kalamazoo Public Schools.


"In the last thirteen-and-a-half years we've saved just over 1-million dollars through our electric choice," said Kalamazoo Public Schools Superintendent, Doctor Michael Rice.


The governor opposes the bill too.

 

 

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Report says local roads crumbling too

 

Nearly half of local roads that do not get federal aid are in “poor” condition, and only 10 percent in “good” condition according to new data released Monday by the state-run Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council.


The study comes less than a month before Michigan voters go to the polls on May 5 to cast their ballot on Proposal 1 which asks to increase the sales tax by a penny, as part of an effort to trigger more money for roads, schools and local government. County Road Association of Michigan director, Denise Donohue says nearly half of the paved local roads in Michigan rate below “5” on the standardized rating system, which means they’re a “poor” road on the cusp of failure if immediate action is not taken.


Experts believe recent harsh winters, unusually deep frost levels and the already-deteriorating condition of roads is to blame. Figures from the TAMC estimate that Michigan loses $3 million daily - $1 billion annually - in asset value on the state's public roads and bridges.
Donohue says state and local road agencies have struggled to preserve what they can with available funds but passing Proposal 1 will allow them to begin planning this summer for projects to begin as early as 2016.

 

 

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Argument leads to arrests at party

 

Two men from Mount Pleasant are under arrest for assault.

 

The Isabella County Sheriff's Department says 20-year-old Everett McClellan and 21-year-old Zachary Keehbauch were at a party in Union Township when they got into a fight with 25-year-old Guy Gregory from Grant.

 

Keehbauch apparently punched Gregory in the jaw and McClellan jumped on him causing serious facial injuries. Both assailants are being held in the Isabella County Jail.

 

 

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Man charged with killing his half-brother

 

A 25-year old man is being charged in the shooting death of his 37-year old half-brother in Allegan County.

 

Malcolm Dotson is charged with open murder and felony firearm. Sheriff's deputies found Damon Sheldon dead inside a home in Trowbridge Township on Friday. They also found Dotson asleep in another house on the property.

 

Officials say he admitted to investigators that he was upset with his half-brother when he leveled a rifle at Sheldon and shot him once in the head before burying him in a shallow grave.

 

 

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Two Mt. Pleasant men arrested after beating Grant man

Two men are in custody after a fight broke out at an apartment complex in Isabella County.

 

The two suspects, a 20-year old Mt. Pleasant man and a 21-year old Mt. Pleasant man are accused of beating up a 24-year-old Grant man, who was treated for injuries including orbital fractures, a broken nose, and cuts and abrasions to his head and face.

 

Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski said the three were attending a party when an argument broke out and the two Mount Pleasant men beat and seriously injure the victim. The two suspects are expected to be arraigned today.

 

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Carson City man arrested

A Carson City man is behind bars on charges of drunk driving, malicious destruction of property and careless discharge of a weapon. State Police say they received a report of shots fired and an individual stealing a street sign Lincoln Township.

 

Troopers located and pulled over the car matching the description, three occupants were inside the vehicle. During a search of the car police found a damaged street sign as well as a hand gun and three long guns.

 

The driver, 24-year old Dylan Kaleyta was arrested and lodged in the Isabella Co. Jail.  

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Program aims to get more Michigan students into college

 

A new program is being launched in Michigan to provide college advisers to high schools. Currently most high schools don't have specialists who help students find things like the right college and the best financial aid. Michigan College Access Network spokesperson Brandy Johnson says too often students who are right for college don't ever apply.

 

We recently found hundreds and hundreds of students every year that just nailed the ACT, scored in the mid twenties and high twenties, but never enroll and pursue secondary education. And when you disaggregate that data, it's not the high income students that do well on the ACT that don't go to college, it's the low income students.”

 

The advisers will be new college graduates who are experts in providing direction and advice to high schoolers seeking post-secondary education. Johnson is hoping that college advisers become the norm in all high schools eventually, as high school counselors often don't have the time to properly help students, since they have so many other responsibilities not related to college applications.

 

 

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SCOTUS set to hear Michigan's same-sex marriage case

 

Arguments regarding Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage are just over two weeks away. A group of cases before the US Supreme Court come from the Cincinatti-based 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which has been the only federal appellate court to uphold state bans on same-sex marriage, since the federal anti-gay marriage law was struck down two years ago.

 

Michigan for Marriage Coalition Manager Gina Calcagno says marriage promotes responsibility.

 

So much of the benefits that are tied to marriage are tied to that very basic concept of responsibility for one another.”

 

Arguments are scheduled for April 28th. A decision by the court is expected some time in June.

 

 

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New non-profit helps feed Wexford County families

 

A number of families in Wexford County have more well stocked pantries thanks to Living Tree Outreach. The new non-profit gave away some 5000 pounds of food to some 100 needy families over the weekend. Cadillac Resident Bob Reddick said he founded the organization after seeing the financial need in Cadillac and is hoping the non-profit garners enough support to open a facility in town.

 

 

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Stabenow backs Clinton

 

Michigan's senior U.S. Senator says Hillary Clinton has what it takes to be president of the United States. Debbie Stabenow says no other potential presidential candidate has more experience with world leaders than the former Secretary of State.

 

There's nobody running for president, man or woman, that knows every leader, has relationships, is smarter, tougher, more experienced to walk in to what is a very difficult world that we're now in.”

 

Stabenow and Clinton served together in the U.S. Senate. Clinton announced her candidacy on Sunday.

 

 

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Cadillac man faces 25 years in prison

 

A Cadillac man is facing up to 25 years in prison after an alleged assault and home invasion in Osceola County. 30-year-old Robert Allan Blackburn is being charged with domestic violence, assault and home invasion among other charges. The incident took place at a residence in LeRoy Township earlier this month.

 

 

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Heroin overdoses lead to arrests

 

Cadillac City Police say two people are under arrest after overdosing on heroin. Officials say the two were treated at Cadillac Munson Hospital for the overdoses on Saturday and were found to have outstanding warrants a parole violations. A third person was arrested on drug charges after an investigation led officers to a house in Cherry Grove Township.

 

 

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Body found in Wexford County

 

Police are awaiting the results of an autopsy on a body found in Wexford County.

 

Officials say the body was that of a man from Harrietta. It was discovered in a car near the intersection of West 38 Road and South 21 Road in Cherry Grove Township Friday night.

 

The cause of death is unknown, but police say they do not suspect foul play.

 

 

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Industry group pushes for fracking in Michigan

 

While an environmental group is calling for a complete ban on high-volume fracking in this state, the American Petroleum Institute says increasing production and export of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) through increased use of fracking could mean thousands of jobs and over two billion dollars more for Michigan's economy.


Kyle Isakower, Vice-President for Regulatory and Economic Policy at A-P-I, says a report has found that Michigan could generate 12, 600 more jobs and add up to $2.1 billion to an already $15 billion industry if the undeveloped natural gas is liquified and exported. He argues the practice of fracking has been environmentally safe in the past, and will continue to be monitored for potential cross-contamination of groundwater.
 

Isakower says the Energy Information Administration at the U-S Energy Department projects that natural gas production will grow from 70-billion-cubic-feet-per-day to more than 100-cubic-feet-per-day by the year 2040, and most of that will come as the result of fracking.
However, the Michigan Sierra Club argues that fracking is an environmental and health hazard, and should be banned, citing thousands of wells in Pennsylvania and Colorado that endanger air, water and public health.

 

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has called for more exploration of natural gas, and touted the state's positive track record for hydraulic fracturing.

 

 

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Man caught cooking meth with nine year old

 

A Clare County man is behind bars after police say they found him cooking meth in his home.

 

The Clare County Sheriff's Department says Daniel Wilson was taken into custody after they received a call from the MidMichigan Medical Center in Clare and found Wilson cooking the drug with his 9-year-old son in the house. Police say the boy is OK and is now with his mother.

 

Wilson is charged with possessing meth and having a meth lab. Authorities say there was another person cooking meth with him, but they left before deputies arrived.

 

 

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Legal marijuana proposals popular in Lansing

 

There is certainly no shortage of proposals floating about in Lansing in the effort to legalize the use of marijuana in Michigan for recreational purposes. Michigan Cannabis Coalition spokesperson Matt Marsden says legalizing pot makes economic sense for the state.

 

There's going to be new revenue that isn't going to be coming from a general tax increase.”

 

A House bill is expected soon endorsing legalized marijuana.

 

 

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Number of vaccinated students on the rise

 

The state has shown an overall improvement in the percentage of students who are not getting fully vaccinated.


The newly released figures from the Department of Community Health come before a new rule change that officials hope will improve that number of vaccinated students even more.
 

The figures show that of those parents opting their children out of vaccinations, the vast majority are doing so for philosophical as opposed to medical or religious reasons. That percentage declined compared to a year earlier, but was offset partially by more people claiming a religious exemption. Michigan has one of the highest rates of unvaccinated school children in the nation, ranking fourth overall during the 2013-14 school year.
 

The figures reported for the 2013-14 fiscal year include the first month of the 2014-15 school year. They look at kindergarteners, seventh graders and new students coming into a school who are vaccinated.
 

A new rule that took effect in January requires parents wanting a waiver to meet with a local public health official before being granted the waiver. Health officials are hopeful it will have more children with complete vaccinations in the coming years.

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Bomb threat at Interlochen

 

A student at the Interlochen Arts Academy is facing potential discipline after making a remark about a bomb in his dorm room.
 

The Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Department says the 17-year-old student made the threat an employee at the school Wednesday afternoon but later retracted the claim. However, sheriff's deputies still evacuated the dorm as a precaution while an explosives K-9 team searched the building.
 

No explosives were found. Charges are not expected to be filed.

 

 

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Woman pleads guilty in overdose death

 

A southwest Michigan woman is facing life in prison for her role in the drug overdose death of a 16-year-old boy.
 

Tara Tietsma of Watervliet pled guilty on Tuesday in Berrien County Circuit Court to a charge of delivery of a controlled substance causing death telling the judge that she gave the teen five methadone pills at a New Year's Eve party. Mason Mizwicki died several hours later.
 

The 36-year-old Tietsma testified that she never saw Mizwicki take the pills. She will be sentenced on May 4.
 

Tietsma's son, 17-year old Tyler Taylor, was waived to adult court on the same charge and several others on Tuesday and has a case conference set for April 15. He was 16 at the time of his friend's death.
 

Another 17-year-old, Caleb Cox of Bridgman, has been bound over for trial on a charge of delivery of a controlled substance.

 

 

 

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Teachers must increase pension contributions

 

The Michigan Supreme Court, on a 6-0 ruling, has upheld a state law that requires teachers to increase the amount they must put toward their pension plans. Under the law, teachers face cuts to their benefits if they don't put more of their pay toward their pension. The decision upholds rulings by two lower courts.


Unions had argued against the law. But Justice Stephen Markman wrote that the court held that "the act does not violate any provision of either the Michigan constitution or United States Constitution.”

 

The 2012 law had been put on the books to reduce an unfunded liability in the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System -- which at the time was $45B -- by more than $15B.

 

 

 

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Winter weather takes its toll on water wildlife

 

 

The Department of Natural Resources says this year's severe winter will take a toll on fish and other aquatic creatures.Officials say after the heavy ice and snow cover melts on Michigan's lakes the next few weeks it may be common to discover dead fish and other creatures such as turtles, frogs, toads and crayfish.


DNR fish production manager Gary Whelan says it will be particularly common in shallow lakes and streams and ponds but the winterkills are localized and typically do not affect the overall health of the fish populations or fishing quality.


Winterkill occurs during especially long, harsh winters similar to the one experienced this year. Shallow lakes with excess aquatic vegetation and soft bottoms are particularly prone to this problem.


Fish and other aquatic life typically die in late winter, but may not be noticed until a month after the ice leaves the lake because they are temporarily preserved by the cold water.

 

 

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Student killer heading to jail

 

A Grand Rapids man who admitted killing a 20-year old Michigan State University student in a robbery gone bad more than a year ago learned his fate Wednesday.


An Ingham County Circuit Court judge sentenced 20-year old Marqua McCoy to 32 to 48 years in prison. He pleaded guilty in March to second degree murder and armed robbery.
 

McCoy was convicted 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.

 

 

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Michigan on the top 10 list for taxes

 

Michigan is on the high end when it comes to local and state tax burden. The the personal finance website 'Wallethub.com' reports that Michigan is sixth highest in the country.


The study looked at all states and the District of Columbia. Michigan's 45th ranking improves to 35th when the cost of living index is factored in.


Michigan is 37th lowest in income tax, 44th in real estate taxes, 26th in vehicle property taxes and 11th in sales and excise taxes.
 

Alaska has the lowest taxes. Illinois has the highest.

 

 

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Parole violators behind bars

 

Four people are behind bars for probation violations and one for running a meth lab in Clare County. Police say law enforcement agencies from Clare and Isabella Counties teamed up to locate absconders and also found an active meth lab.

 

One 33-year-old Lake man was arrested for a probation violation. A 27-year-old man an a 30-year-old man, both from Harrison, were also arrested for probation violation.

 

One-52-year old Harrison man was arrested for a probation violation, failure to register as a sex offender and for six outstanding fugitive warrants and a Lake George man was arrested for manufacturing methamphetamine.

 

All are currently being held in the Clare County jail.

 

 

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Grant connects low income Michigan families with fresh foods

A program that allows low-income Michigan families to stretch their food assistance dollars will soon be able to help even more households bring home fresh fruits and vegetables, thanks to a major grant. Utilizing the Double Up Food Bucks program, Michiganders who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP benefits, can double their money when they shop at one of the 150 participating farmers markets in the state.
Oran Hesterman, president and CEO of the Fair Food Network, which administers the program, calls it a triple-win situation. "It enables low-income families to bring home more healthy food, while at the same time putting more money into the pockets of Michigan farmers," he says. "And it keeps food dollars circulating in the local economy." The Fair Food Network was recently awarded a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand the program, which was matched by another $5 million in private funds. According to Hesterman, the program will move into additional farmers markets and grocery stores over the next four years. More information is at the Double Up Food Bucks website at www.DoubleUpFoodBucks.org
Hesterman says the grant will also support new technology and other program innovations, all of which will add to what he calls a major policy success story. "Close to 90 percent of all customers who are using the program are telling us they're buying and using more fruits and vegetables when they use Double Up Food Bucks," he says. "And 85 percent of the farmers tell us they're making more money because the program is in place."
The Double Up Food Bucks program has strong support from Senator Debbie Stabenow, who fought to include SNAP incentive grants in the most recent farm bill, which was signed into law in East Lansing last year. (Mona Shand) 

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70th Avenue in Osceola County's Highland Township closed

 

The Osceola County Road Commission announced that 70th Avenue near Crocker Creek in Highland Township is closed indefinitely due to problem with the concrete culvert.

 

Officials say detours have been set up, direction traffic west on 20 Mile Road to 80th Avenue, then south on 80th Avenue to M-115 and then M-115 to 70th Avenue. 

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Reed City man accused of multiple sexual assaults

A Reed City man faces up to 15-years in prison after being accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year old boy.

 

18-year old Alexzander James Becker was arraigned on three counts of third degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of fourth degree CSC. According to court documents, the alleged incidents happened between August 2013 and February 2015 in Reed City.

 

Becker’s bond was set at $100,000.       

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Summer gas prices looking good for motorists

 

The U.S. Department of Energy says drivers can look forward to the lowest summer gasoline prices in about six years. The national average price is forecast to fall 32 percent from a year ago to $2.45 a gallon between April and September, the period when Americans do most of their driving.

 

That would mark the lowest seasonal average since 2009. For the year, the department’s Energy Information Administration expects gasoline to average $2.40 a gallon, down from $3.36 in 2014.

 

 

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State looking for new ways to fight prescription drug abuse

 

A new effort is underway in Lansing to fight prescription drug abuse. State Representative John Kivela of Marquette says they are working on a way to make sure that those who are prescribed a drug are actually taking it by using - what he calls - cutting edge testing.

 

Now, if I went and took a drug test, if I had a prescription for Oxycodone, they could tell, yep, John's got it in his system. But they can't tell you without this specialized testing how much I had in my system a week ago. That technology is out there, so we're going to try to get our arms around that this term.”

 

Police arrested 13 people in Escanaba two weeks ago for delivery of the drug Buprenorphine. Kivela says it is an example of a drug that is extensively prescribed in the area but being used for the wrong purpose.

 

 

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Water rates in Cadillac could be going up

 

City leaders in Cadillac want to increase water and sewer rates in order to replace old meters and keep up with routine system maintenance.

 

Cadillac City Council unanimously approved the introduction of an ordinance that will raise water and sewer rates in the city by three percent.

 

A public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for April 20th.

 

 

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White Cloud warning siren taken out of service

 

Residents of White Cloud will no longer hear their familiar tornado warning siren in the event of severe weather. Authorities say the 20-thousand-dollar price tag for a new siren combined with it's ineffectiveness in reaching all residents led to a decision not to replace the unit.

 

Director of Newaygo County Emergency Services Abby Watkins says her office will push alternative alert systems like social networking tools Facebook and Nixle, a platform used by over 8000 public safety agencies.

 

 

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Traffic accident near Reed City

Police are reporting a multiple car accident on northbound Bus 131 near Reed City. Motorists are advised to avoid the area if possible. No other details are being released at this time.

 

 

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Police warn about meth lab dump sites

 

Michigan State Police say four meth lab dump sites have been found near Lake City and Cadillac in Missaukee and Wexford Counties in recent days. Authorities warn that such dump sites are dangerous and often contain volatile chemicals.

 

The four sites were discovered by passers-by who called the police. Sergeant Scott Bates says people should look out for coal and camping fuel, stripped down batteries, or any type of tubing or tubing fastened to jars or bottles that may look like they're under pressure.

 

 

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Federal judge rules portions of Michigan Sex Offender law unconstituional

 

State and federal lawmakers are reviewing a ruling by a federal judge declaring portions of Michigan's Sex Offender Registry Act unconstitutional. Detroit judge Robert Cleland eliminated a number of the law's reporting requirements, particularly one requiring offenders to live at least a thousand feet away from school buildings.

 

In a written opinion, Cleland called the law vague, forcing both offenders and law enforcement to guess about school safety zones. He also struck down a mandate that offenders continually report new e-mail and messaging addresses and keep authorities up to date on phone numbers "routinely used" by the offender.

 

Some lawmakers are proposing rewriting the law to include more specific requirements.

 

 

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Lawmakers to tackle higher ed funding

 

When lawmakers return to Lansing next week, they'll resume work on the 2016 budget, including higher education funding. The House and Senate have different versions of the higher ed budget with the Senate agreeing with Governor Snyder's two percent increase while the House version provides just one percent for higher ed.

 

East Lansing Representative Sam Singh says a one percent increase is not enough.

 

As we had our conversation with business leaders of Michigan, they reminded us that we need to be investing about $100M more every year. With the cut that we have in this budget, we're nowhere near 20% of that number.”

 

The cut he refers to is the cut from two percent to one percent.

 

 

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UPDATE: Motorcyclist hospitalized after being hit, drunk driver identified and in custody

 

UPDATE: The driver of the pickup truck that was involved in the hit and run motorcycle accident that took place on M-82 near US 131 is now in custody.

 

The Montcalm County Sheriff's Office says 43-year-old Jeremy Gard of Stanwood has been arraigned on charges of operating while intoxicated causing serious injury and failure to stop at the scene of an accident resulting in serious impairment or death. Both charges are five year felonies.

 

Gard is being held at the Montcalm County Jail on a $10,000 Cash/Surety Bond.

 

A Howard City man is being treated for injuries he sustained in a motorcycle accident in Montcalm County just after midnight this morning. Deputies say they responded to a vehicle fire on Church Road just East of Amy School Road. While extinguishing the fire, a motorcycle was discovered wedged underneath the pickup truck. While still at the fire scene, deputies were notified of a personal injury motorcycle crash at the intersection of M-82 and US-131.

 

It was determined that the pickup truck involved had earlier collided with the motorcycle at M-82 near US 131 and continued to drive dragging the motorcycle to the point where it stopped on Church Road and caught fire. The motorcycle operator, a 58-year old Howard City man, was taken to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids. The motorcycle driver’s condition is not known at this time. The driver of the truck, a 43-year old Stanwood man, and his passenger were not injured in the crash or subsequent fire. 

 

The driver of the truck was arrested and charged with drunk driving. Additional charges for leaving the scene of a personal injury crash are also being sought. The suspect remains in the Montcalm County Jail.

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Tigers to host LGBT Pride Night

 

The Detroit Tigers are announcing that the team will host an LGBT Pride Night at Comerica Park, June 3, when they play the Oakland A's.

 

In the meantime, the A's will hold a Pride Night June 17th in Oakland. Also holding LGBT nights this year are the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs.

 

The Tigers' LGBT night is co-sponsored by the Detroit Regional LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

 

 

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State's real estate taxes among highest in the nation

 

Michigan has the eighth highest average real estate property taxes in the nation, according to the website wallethub.com. And, at $3,168, Michigan's average is over a $1,000 more than the national average.

 

The website notes that about $15B worth of homes are foreclosed upon in the U-S each year as the result of property tax delinquencies.

 

The highest real estate property taxes are in New Jersey. The lowest are in Hawaii

 

 

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Michigan's youth detention centers still needed says state legislator

 

Three youth detention centers in Michigan - Bay Pines Center in Escanaba, Shawono Center in Grayling and Maxey Boys Training School in Whitmore lake - are again slated for closure in the current state budget proposal and it's nothing new. The juvenile justice centers struggle each year for funding.

 

State Representative Ed McBroom of Vulcan says that is because there is an effort to privatize the service because it's cheaper. But McBroom says the state facilities are still needed.

 

Those agencies are choosing not to take certain kids. That leaves Bay Pines and Maxi and and Shawano with more expensive kids to take care of, so it's not fair to make that comparison that says, well we can do it cheaper, when your taking less expensive kids in the first place. And, also, I think that by having a few of these state run facilities, it forces those other ones to be more competitive – it keeps the pricing honest.”

 

The centers house youth ages 12 to 21 facing criminal offense. McBroom says the solution-focused treatment at the centers is a good alternative to traditional residential treatment. The detention facilities are a part of the Department of Human Service's Bureau of Juvenile Justice.

 

 

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Multiple vehicle accidents all due to distracted driving in Isabella County

 

Distracted driving is the cause behind a traffic snafu in Isabella County. Michigan State Police say it all started around 2:30 pm on Monday. A trooper was parked in the median crossover on US-127 near Coe Road and responded to an accident on southbound US-127 where one vehicle rear-ended another due to slowing traffic.

 

While the trooper was policing the first crash, the driver of a third vehicle about a quarter mile north lost control of their vehicle and rolled over in the median.

 

Soon after the first two crashes in the southbound lanes, another crash occurred when drivers were distracted looking at the crashes in the southbound lanes and one vehicle rear ended another vehicle with one of the two catching on fire.

 

Police say minor injuries occurred in the first two crashes and weather was not a factor in any of the incidents. The Isabella County Sheriff's Department blames all of the accidents on distracted driving.

 

 

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Mount Pleasant man charged with assisting wife with attempted suicide

A Mt. Pleasant man faces charges including attempting to assist a suicide for cutting his wife’s wrist in a failed Valentine’s Day suicide pact. According to a press release from the Isabella Co. Sheriff's Dept., 45-year old Patrick Bergeron, and his wife 46-year old Dena Marie McClain, were upset because no one wanted them to be together, Their solution, according to the release, was to commit suicide by cutting their wrists on February 14th.

 

Dena McClain stated she took approximately 20 Xanax and Patrick Bergeron drank approximately 1/5 of McMasters. Dena told her husband that she didn’t have the guts to cut her wrists and asked him if he would do it for her. He replied that he would. Patrick had several superficial cuts on his wrists. 

 

Patrick is currently lodged with the Michigan Department of Corrections in the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson, MI on a parole violation for consuming alcohol on Valentine’s Day. Assisting an Individual with Suicide is a Felony, 5 years and/or a $10,000 fine. Carrying a Dangerous Weapon with Unlawful Intent is a Felony, 5 years or a $2,500 fine.

 

 

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Help for military pay gap in the works

 

Michigan's junior U.S Senator Gary Peters says he's working on legislation to close the gap on a pay differential for those in the military.

 

They make less money when they're called to active duty and that can put a strain on their families and so often times employers will make up the difference. It's a little more difficult if you're a small business owner. We've introduced legislation that will (let) businesses that have 50 or fewer employees for a 20% credit on whatever that difference is.”

 

Executive vice-president for volunteers of America, Michigan, Patrick Patterson, adds the legislation is critical in helping other areas of need for veterans, especially in regards to homelessness.

 

 

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$300K awarded for water monitoring projects

 

The Department of Environmental Quality has awarded eight grants totaling nearly $300,000 to universities, local governments and nonprofit organizations for water quality monitoring projects around Michigan.


The largest of the grants was nearly $61,500 to Saginaw Valley State University to monitor E. coli in Bad Axe Creek to determine sources of contamination. Among other grants was more than $56,000 to Calvin College to test Plaster Creek in Kent County as part of an effort to use tributary testing to track contamination in waters not meeting E. coli standards, and more than $37,000 to Western Michigan University to test the effects of road de-icers on lake water chemistry in Kalamazoo County.


Funding for these grants was made available through the Clean Michigan Initiative-Clean Water Fund.
 

 

 

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STEM endorsement proposed for Michigan high school graduates

 

High School graduates could get a special STEM endorsement on their diploma under a measure before a Michigan state senate committee. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Bill sponsor John Proos of St. Joseph says the endorsement can provide an incentive to students to continue to take challenging courses.

 

They spend the last semester or two not continuing to learn at the high level that they ought to continue to learn. What if there were that incentive? That opportunity and incentive to have to have an endorsement on one's diploma, knowing that their future is right before them, and knowing that the jobs of today and tomorrow are right before them.”


A similar bill is before a house committee.

 

 

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Boating season sees levels up in the Great Lakes

 

t appears that water levels in the Great Lakes are it good shape for the new boating season. The news comes only two years after some of the lowest levels ever recorded.

 

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers says each of the Great Lakes are near or even above their historical averages for this time of the year

and will likely remain so for the next six months.

 

 

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Major construction project starts on U.S. 31

 

Construction is starting on U.S 31 on Monday in Grand Traverse County. The five lane highway is being squeezed down to two lanes in a one and a half mile stretch between Holiday Road and Three Mile Road.

 

The Michigan Department of Transportation says to expect traffic delays during the construction, but there is access to all businesses along the stretch. The project is expected to be completed by late June.

 

 

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Calhoun County man gets unwanted visit on Easter Sunday

 

Three people are in custody following and Easter Sunday breaking and entering incident. The Calhoun County Sheriff's office says a resident found a 30-year-old Battle Creek man, a 17-year-old girl and a 13-year old boy ransacking his home in Pennfield Township north of Battle Creek.

 

The homeowner says one was going through his bedroom closet and another was carrying a backpack filled with his belongings. The suspects fled the scene, but were identified by the resident when Deputies later tracked down the trio

 

The man was taken to the county jail on a charge of first-degree home invasion. The teens were taken to the Calhoun County Juvenile Home.

 

 

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Judge disturbed by images and threats, increases bond for high school student

 

The bond for the former Grand Rapids high school student charged with making death threats against three female students is being increased from $150,000 to $1M.


Kent County Judge Mark Trusock said he was disturbed with the images and threats detectives have found on Matthew Herrington's computer. Herrington is accused of making threats against West Catholic High School classmates on social media.
 

Detectives say he had an interest in the Columbine High School massacre and wrote that his crimes would be "the next blockbuster". Among the articles he looked up was one titled, "How to Brutally Murder a Female Student." They have also found 133 images of child pornography on his computer. Prosecutors say some of the images were of children under the age of 13.
 

The 17-year old Herrington is facing up to 40 years in prison on two counts of false report or threat of terrorism and hefaces charges of being in possession of child sexually abusive material and making child sexually abusive material.

 

 

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State natural resources bring big money to Michigan

 

State Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh outlines just how important DNR programs are to Michigan's economy, and why they need to be preserved, protected and supported. Creagh says DNR programs provide 22,000 jobs as part of the $22.8B "Pure Michigan" tourism effort, and a big part of that are visits to state parks and campgrounds.


The state currently offers 102 world-class state parks, 138 state forest campgrounds, 13-hundred boating access sites and 80 harbors, with the boating industry generating $4B a year.

 

Michigan's fishing industry generates $2.5B, while deer hunting brings in $2.3B a year and the state is number-one in the nation for snowmobiling each winter with 557-thousand miles of groomed trails, and 12-thousand miles of rails to trails areas for hiking, biking and off-road vehicle use throughout the spring, summer and fall months.


Creagh adds "shooting sports" are highly popular, attracting 800-thousand participants, generating $725M and creating seven thousand jobs each year.

 

 

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ORV accident in Mecosta County

 

A 30-year-old man from Big Rapids is hospitalized following an accident in Colfax Township. Police say the victim was riding a quad ORV and got his leg pulled under the rear tire.

 

The tire pulled the victim's leg into the axle causing serious injury. He was air lifted to Grand Rapids for treatment. The victim's identity is not be released at this time.

 

 

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Republican organization warns Michigan lawmakers against religious freedom bill

 

Michigan Log Cabin Republicans, part of the nation’s largest Republican organization dedicated to representing gay and lesbian conservatives and allies, has a message for Michigan's GOP lawmakers when it comes to religious freedom bills and expanding the state's civil rights law.

 

If they pull something like Indiana or an Arkansas, there's going to be outcry, there's going to be backlash. This is not 1993, it's not the same time as it was then.”

 

Chairman Brian Savage also says Indiana's problems with backlash after passing that state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act is a warning for Michigan lawmakers, as a similar bill is before the State Senate.

 

Governor Rick Snyder said this week he has no interest in signing a religious freedom restoration bill if the Elliott-Larsen civil rights act is not expanded at the same time. The bill passed the House in December, but died in the Senate. A state senator has introduced it again.

 

 

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Mecosta Co. to consider Sunday morning liquor sales

Mecosta County is one of two counties in the state that bans Sunday morning sales of liquor but that may change. Officials from Tullymore Golf resort have requested that the county board of commission allow the sales during 7am-12pm on Sunday.

 

Julie Schieber, director of food and beverage at the golf resort told commissioners Thursday, in 2014, just for our food and beverage department, our beer, wine and liquor sales were at $421,000, which is 35 percent of the total food and beverage sales. She also projected a 6% increase in sales for food and beverage, plus additional revenue if Sunday morning liquor sales were approved.

 

The Commission came to an agreement to consider approving the Sunday sales but would want a lengthy discussion about it. Commissioners would also like to have public input as well. Residents can voice their support or opposition to the issue during the commissions next meeting on April 16th at 3pm.  

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Virginia man killed in Isabella Co. car crash

 

A Virginia man was killed this morning after the car he was in failed to stop at a flashing red light and was struck by a taxi in Isabella County State Police say it happened at the intersection of S. Summerton Rd and E. Broadway Rd, that's where a south bound vehicle driven by a 31 year old Virginia male failed to stop at the flashing red light. His vehicle went into the path of an east bound taxi van which had a flashing yellow light. The taxi struck the south bound vehicle in the passenger door and a 26 year old male passenger in that vehicle was killed at the scene.

 

The taxi was occupied by the driver plus 5 other persons. The driver was a 28 year old from Mt Pleasant. The passengers were a 22 year old male, a 22 year old female, two 24 year old females and one 50 year old male. None of the passengers were wearing seat belts and all received varying degrees of injuries requiring them to be taken to McLaren Central Michigan for treatment. At the time of the crash the taxi was taking the passengers to the Soaring Eagle Casino. In total, seven people were transported to McLaren Central Michigan for treatment.

 

Alcohol does not appear to be a factor in the crash. The investigation is ongoing and once completed it will be forwarded to the Isabella County Prosecutors Office for consideration of criminal charges.

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Buckley man charged with accidental shooting

A Wexford County man has been charged with one felony count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon after accidentally shooting his wife in the leg.

 

State Police say the charges stem from an incident on March 1st at a home in Buckley when a 30-year old woman along with her husband Allen Thomas Wilkerson mishandled the 9mm loaded handgun and the firearm went off. The woman was struck in the upper thigh area.

 

She was taken to a Traverse City Hospital for non-life threatening injuries.

 

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Federal help may be on the way for Alzheimer's care givers

 

A new proposal has surfaced in the U-S Senate, aimed at those with a family member suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan says the proposal creates a new "care management planning session" for those newly diagnosed with the disease.

 

Hope for Alzheimer's is about creating a medicare benefit that both encourages doctors to do an early diagnosis, and then bring in the family, bring in the people in the community that actually can provide help. It' still an extremely serious, debilitating disease but there are things that can be done and we need to be supporting families to be able to make sure that they have the information they need.”


The measure, she says, will also encourage doctors to diagnose more patients with Alzheimer's, giving patients access to doctor visits, treatment options. Stabenow made the announcement in Lansing on Wednesday.


It's believed 185-thousand people in Michigan have Alzheimer's Disease.

 

 

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Proposal 1 not popular with Michigan's U.S. Senators

Neither U.S. Senator from Michigan seems to be a fan of proposal 1, which asks voters to increase the sales tax by a penny to trigger more money for roads, schools and local government. Senator Gary Peters says the measure is confusing at best.

 

I think voters would have preferred to see a direct link to roads, perhaps an increase there in the sales tax is one that's not directly linked to roads and that's why it's having difficulty right now.”

 

Senator Debbie Stabenow says she's not sure how she'll vote on the proposal.

 

 

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Tax deadline approaching

 

Tax Day is coming. Both state and federal income tax returns are due less than two weeks from today (Thursday) on April 15.


The Michigan Department of Treasury is reminding taxpayers that all state forms and instructions they need to finalize their 2014 tax returns are available on Treasury’s website at michigan.gov/incometax.
 

Officials say E-filing income tax returns has become a preferred method of filing for millions of taxpayers, with more than 80-percent of all Michigan income tax returns having been e-filed last year. Taxpayers can access information about free and low-cost e-file online, by visiting MIfastfile.org. Free e-filing is available based on adjusted gross income, age, or active military status.


Treasury officials also say E-filing is the easiest, most efficient way to file your return and receive your refund. Taxpayers can check the status of their refund on-line, by clicking the “Check My Income Tax Info” box on michigan.gov/incometax.


If you file a paper income tax return, Treasury recommends allowing the department 14 days to receive and enter it into the system before checking on its status.

 

 

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Most Michigan voters against Religious Freedom Restoration Act

 

A new poll shows most Michigan voters are against a business or nonprofit organization having the right to use religious beliefs as a reason for denying service to an individual. The poll by Lansing-based EPIC/MRA found just 26 percent of voters support businesses or nonprofits having such a right, while 65-percent are opposed.


The survey comes amid the controversy in Indiana, which enacted a Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Critics say the law allows businesses and nonprofits to refuse service to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
 

A Religious Freedom Restoration Act has also been introduced in the Michigan Senate, but sponsor Senate Republican Mike Shirkey says his bill has nothing to do with allowing an individual or business to use religious beliefs as a justification to refuse service to an individual. He says the measure is aimed at ensuring that governments cannot enact statutes or take other actions that would block a person from exercising her or his religious rights.
 

The poll of 600 potential voters was conducted Saturday through Monday. It has an error margin of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

 

 

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Vandals hit Morley Elementary School

 

Police are searching for suspects in a breaking and entering at the Old Elementary School in Morley.

 

The Mecosta County Sheriff's office says the suspects damaged windows, doors and ceilings in the building located at 156 East Seventh Street. They also discharged fire extinguishers and tagged walls with spray paint.

 

The incident is believed to have happened sometime last week. Anyone with information is urged to contact the Mecosta County Sheriff's

office.

 

 

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Sex offender sweep underway on Michigan's west side

 

Starting today (April 1st 2015) troopers with the Michigan State Police Cadillac Post will start checking addresses of the almost 700 registered sex offenders living in Benzie, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Manistee and Wexford Counties.

 

Michigan law requires registered sex offenders to report to law enforcement their address, vehicles driven, employment, internet identifiers, as well as name and location of institutions of learning they attend. Failure to disclose this information is a felony punishable by four years in prison.

 

Offenders are required to verify their information based on their conviction and tier level. Michigan has three tier levels. The 1 requires an offender to verify their information once a year for 15 years. Tier 2 requires an offender to verify their information twice a year for 25 years and Tier 3 offenders must verify their address four times a year for life.

 

During the next two weeks troopers will go to the listed residences of the offenders to verify the information they have reported to law enforcement. To check offenders on the public website or place tips, go to Michigan.gov/msp and click on online services.

 

 

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Police may soon be able to test for drugged driving during traffic stops

 

A state lawmaker is hopeful police will soon have access to a roadside drug test. Senator Rick Jones from Grand Ledge says police need to be able to test for drug as well as alcohol impaired driving.

 

It's a little plastic spoon with a little sponge on the end and you do a saliva test right at the roadside and you put it into a little test tube and in ten minutes you know if the person is on marijuana, cocaine, meth or whatever. That is very, very important to have that roadside component to stop drugged driving.”

 

Jones says the test is in the works and should be available soon.

 

 

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Mesick embezzler sentenced to probation

 

A man from Mesick will be spending the next year on probation for embezzlement.

 

Joseph O'Neil pleaded guilty to the crime after stealing thousands of dollars from an Applebee's restaurant in Garfield Township.

 

O'Neil was a manager at the restaurant at the time.

 

 

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Man found dead after break-in

 

Michigan State Police are treating the death of an 80-year-old Montcalm County man as a homicide.

 

Alan Nelson's home in Sidney Township and two others in the area were broken into during the weekend.

 

Police say evidence at the scene indicates that Nelson was murdered during the break-in.

 

 

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Drug bust in Mt. Pleasant

 

A Mount Pleasant man is facing drug charges following a traffic stop.

 

Police say they stopped Edward Jonaitis II for running a stop sign on Gaylord Street in Isabella County and found marijuana and cocaine in the car along with his four-year-old son.

 

Jonaitis reportedly told police he did a line of cocaine before he was pulled over.

 

 

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Police search for B & E suspect in Mecosta County

 

The Mecosta County Sheriff's Department is looking for the suspect in a breaking and entering Tuesday night.

 

Officials say the man broke the front window and entered Northland Grocery in Big Rapids at approximately 11:00 pm and made off with about $700. He is described as around 6 ft tall with a heavier build.

 

If anyone has information involving the case they are asked to contact the Mecosta County Sheriffs Department.

 

 

 

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